Has Ducati’s Success Flat-Lined?

The saying goes that one time is a fluke, two times is a coincidence, but three times…three times is a trend. Looking at Ducati’s last three years of sales (2012-2014), which spans only a 2% margin of growth, by definition one has to conclude that the Italian company is experiencing sales stagnation. Granted each of the last three years have been record years for the Italian motorcycle company’s sales figures, but each year has been a nudging over the last. Is all of this a sign that Ducati has lost its magic, seemingly during the leadership transition from Gabriele del Torchio to Claudio Domenicali? Or is there growth to be had from the Italian brand, now that it is owned by Audi AG? We examine that thought in more detail, after the jump.

Analyzing the MotoGP Michelin Tire Test

The departure of Bridgestone and the arrival of Michelin as the official tire supplier to MotoGP is an extremely delicate operation, in terms of marketing, tire development, and motorcycle set up. This posed problems for the Michelin test, held on the fourth day of the Sepang MotoGP test. After the factory test riders had tried the Michelins at the first Sepang test, it was the turn of the MotoGP regulars. With major money on the line, the PR gag-order was enforced rigidly, and observed religiously. No official times were released, nor made unofficially available by the teams. A range of times have seeped out from journalists present, but given that only a few laps were timed by a few people out of practice with using a stopwatch, those times can be taken as guidelines only.

Colin Edwards Part of MotoAmerica’s TV Team

MotoAmerica has announced its lineup of TV announcers for the series’ telecast on CBS Sports Network, and the trio is a mix of familiar faces. Motorcycle racing veteran Jonanthan Green will be calling the races from the booth (many World Superbike fans will recognize his voice), and the man helping Green analyze the race should sound familiar as well, as it will be MotoGP star and two-time WSBK Champion Colin Edwards. While the boys are in the booth, Crisy Lee will continue her role as pit lane reporter, something she did with AMA Pro Road Racing under the DMG administration. While CBS may have to hold its hand over the censor button on Colin’s microphone, we think that fans will be pleased with the Texas Tornado’s addition, and the insight he will bring as a veteran racer.

Ride Review: 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 & R1M

The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
Thus, the 4.5km Brabham circuit provided a world-class test track for the 100 journos who descended from all over the globe to experience the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M for the first time. The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle. Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ABS Comes to America for $14,399

A late announcement to the Suzuki motorcycle lineup, the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes with the banner headline of adding anti-locking brake system (ABS) and a bold new “Suzuki Racing Blue” graphics package (BNG) to the venerable superbike. The added safety of ABS is at least a welcomed change to the now seven-year-old model version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Meanwhile, the graphics package is designed to make a link between the GSX-R1000 and Suzuki’s MotoGP race bike, the Suzuki GSX-RR — even though the street bike pre-dates its racing counterpart all the way back to when Suzuki was last entered in the premier class.

Would You Buy This $280,000 Motorcycle?

We have seen a lot of limited-run motorcycles here at Asphalt & Rubber — some have been intriguing, and some have been…well, not. With exclusivity of course comes a price tag of sizable proportions, but it is rare that we see a motorcycle break into six-figures, let alone pass the quarter-million dollar mark. But here we are with the Yacouba Feline. We have featured the work of Yacouba Galle before, as the French designer has done a bit of work in the industry, including a bolt-on design kit for the MV Agusta Brutale, which he calls the Bestiale (a name that might make Anglophones cringe a little). Unlike the Bestiale though, the Feline is a full-on motorcycle, not just a kit…and if you like what you see, it is going to cost you a mint.

XXX: The 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Endurance Race Bike is Pure Sex…with a Headlight

The long-winded “Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Racing” team is ready for FIM Endurance World Championship action this year, especially with the all-new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle. The new R1 offers state-of-the-art electronics, as well as near-200hp from its crossplane four-cylinder engine, and the French team is looking to capitalize on those improvements in the EWC for 2015. Yamaha France took the 2014 title in a convincing fashion, so it will be interesting to see what riders David Checa, Kenny Foray, and Mathieu Gines can accomplish with their new toy. We’ve got a bevy of high-resolution photos for you, after the jump.

Not-A-Review: 2015 MV Agusta Motorcycles

As promised, here is the second part of our trip down to Fontana, California to meet with MV Agusta USA, go over the company’s new business plan for not only America, but also worldwide, and to ride the current crop of their 2015 machinery. I should preface right out of the gate that this is not a review in regards as to what you’ve come to expect from Asphalt & Rubber. I am not-so-cleverly calling this a “not-a-review” assessment of MV Agusta’s 2015 models. I say this because we had a very limited amount of time on each bike, as there was roughly 10 machines to divide our attention amongst. Think of this article as not far from someone test riding a bunch of motorcycles at a dealership, with similar duration and limits put in place…except that this someone rides motorcycles for a living.

Analyzing The Ducati Desmosedici GP15

Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati’s 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: “Emozionante” and “tanto lavoro”. Both were extremely apt. Getting from where Ducati was to where it is now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed “tanto lavoro”, a lot of hard work, and they still have “tanto lavoro” ahead of them. The results were “emozionante”, a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday. For good reason, the GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before.

Some Thoughts on MV Agusta & A Story About Two Letters

MV Agusta USA recently invited a slew of journalists down to Fontana, California in order to talk about the company’s new business plan, and to ride its current lineup of motorcycles on the infield course. This article is “Part 1″ of that experience, as I wanted to separate my thoughts on MV Agusta, MV Agusta USA, and the general motorcycling climate into one story, and then have my “not-a-review” of the machines for another article. Got it? Ok, let’s go. It is probably easiest to start with where MV Agusta is as a company. MV Agusta has a started a new three-year business plan, which sees the company pushing into a full-range of motorcycles, pushing outside of its Italian boundaries, and pushing out of the “luxury” brand segment.

Ducati Diavel Titanium – A “Bold” Limited Edition

11/03/2014 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Ducati describes the Diavel Titanium as making “a bold statement” and “wanted to take the bold and unique Diavel to a whole new level of prestige and desirability.”

We’re pretty sure that many uses of the word “bold” really just means bold new graphics for the Diavel, as the Titanium paint job and titanium panels (fuel tank and headlight covers) on the Ducati Diavel Titanium are really what set Bologna’s newest power cruiser apart from its predecessors.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Diavel Titanium is certainly an attractive looking version of the Diavel, though the machine lacks the Desmodromic Variable Timing that is debuting on the 2015 Ducati Multistrada — something we would have liked to see on the stout power cruiser.

2015 Ducati Diavel Mega Gallery

03/03/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Announced today at the Geneva Motor Show, the updated Ducati Diavel is being called a second-generation model, though the power cruiser offers only modest changes for the new model year.

For most riders, the key differences are the addition of the Testastretta 11° DS engine, new exhaust system, and full-LED headlight. These changes come with an additional $1,000 price tag to the “Dark Stealth” base model, and two Diavel Carbon machines (Ducati Red & White Star).

Peak power is the same (162hp) though comes in at 9,250 rpm rather than last year’s 9,500. Like the Dual Spark engine update on the Multistrada, the power range has been broadened, with more power lower in the revs than before. Peak torque is up though, to 96.3 lbs•ft — up from the 94 lbs•ft of last year.

Visually, the big changes are the stock exhaust (tailored to look more like the Ducati Performance Termignoni exhaust), as well as the radiator guards and LED headlight. It’s the headlight element that will catch most people out visually though.

Fans of the Diavel design will enjoy the refresh and modern tech, however if you happen to be in the group that never cared for the looks of Ducati’s Devil, we imagine the change will do little to woo you over. We fall into the latter group, as we’ve never been big fans of the Monster aesthetic, until we saw the Monster 1200 of course.

Without having swung a leg over the machine, we expect the “second-generation” Diavel to be just as much fun to ride as its predecessor. Low, comfortable, and fast…there isn’t much to dislike once you’re behind the handlebars of this machine. Expect to see bikes in or after April; but until then, enjoy the high-resolution photos we have after the jump.

2015 Ducati Diavel Unveiled – DS Engine & LED Headlight

03/03/2014 @ 12:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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As expected, Ducati has unveiled an updated version of the Diavel power cruiser today at the Geneva Motor Show, during Volkswagen’s presentation. Expected to hit dealerships from April onwards, the 2015 Ducati Diavel features a Testastretta 11° DS engine, a new exhaust system, and a new full-LED headlight.

With the additional of the “Dual Spark” engine, top power remains the same as before, at 162hp, while mid-range power has been improved upon. Tipping the scales at 452 lbs dry, 11 lbs lighter than before, the updated Diavel is pretty much the same everywhere else though.

A New Ducati Diavel Cometh?

02/26/2014 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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According to users on Diavel-Forum.com, Ducati dealers have been telling customers to get ready for an updated version of the Ducati Diavel, which should break cover Monday, March 3rd.

The surprise unveiling for the 2014 model year will see the Ducati Diavel get a host of improvements, most notable the dual-spark Testastretta 11° DS motor. Other updates are said to include a revised headlight, new exhaust, indicators, and side panels.

If the reports turn out to be true, we should see the Diavel get a modest power boost from the Testastretta 11° DS engine (likely only in the mid-range, as was seen on the Multistrada 1200).

Expect a small premium for the model over the standard Diavel, with three trim levels being available, including a “Dark” base model and a high-end “Carbon” model.

First Photo of MV Agusta Dragster 800

01/15/2014 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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When the brand from Varese debuted the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 at last year’s EICMA show, the folks at MV Agusta told us to expect two more machines in early 2014. One of those machines we have known about for sometime, the MV Agusta Dragster 800.

Taking a cue from the Ducati Diavel, the Dragster is supposed to be a more laid back version of the Brutale; however the only thing we have known for sure is the machine’s name, which showed up in trademark and patent filings. Today however we get our first glimpse at the new MV Agusta Dragster 800, though not too much is given away by the photo.

2013 Ducati Diavel Strada – Now We’ve Seen Everything

11/12/2012 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

What happens when you take a Ducati Diavel and raid the Ducati Performance parts bin? You get the 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada. After seeing the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, it is clear that the Bologna Brand has touring on the brain, and thought that the Diavel should get some extra attention at this year’s EICMA show (although, maybe not as much as the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada, & 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R).

Designed with longer trips in mind, the Diavel Strada features improved wind protection, higher handlebars (15mm) that are also swept farther back (60mm) making for a more comfortable sitting position. Other additions include a gel seat and heated grips, as well as two auxiliary power outlets that are fed by a higher-output generator. For the pillion, a backrest has been included, and of course there is 41 liters of side luggage available.

Not exactly our cup of tea, but then again we have never been a big fan of the Diavel’s styling (riding the beast is a whole different matter though), but we imagine there are some would-be Diavel owners who would jump at the chance to tour on Ducati’s sport-cruiser. Photos and video after the jump for you intrepid souls.

Ducati North America Q3 2012 Sales up 24%

10/24/2012 @ 7:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Ducati North America has some impressive Q3 2012 sales numbers, as the Italian brand is up 24% over the same time period from last year. Its ninth-straight quarter of retail sales growth, Ducati North America owes a great deal of its success surprisingly to the Ducati Diavel, which was Bologna’s strongest model for growth in September. Ducati North America’s sales were up 40% in September.

Ducati hopes that 2012 will be a record year for the company, with sales from the Ducati 1199 Panigale helping fuel that enthusiasm. While Ducati remains bullish about the Panigale’s sales, our Bothan Spies have hinted that the new superbike hasn’t exactly met the initially high-sales expectations.

Recall: Ducati Diavel Kickstands

08/15/2012 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ducati is recalling 27 units of its Ducati Diavel sport-cruisers because of kickstands that may bend at the pivot point — yes, the jokes about the Diavel’s portliness practically write themselves here.

Affecting bikes made from May 25th, 2012, through June 28th, 2012, Ducati is recalling the Diavels because a bent or broken kickstand could allow the motorcycle to fall over, which has the risk of injuring the rider or someone near the motorcycle.

Ducati Diavel Cromo Adds Bling to the Devil

11/07/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

In addition to the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale and Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse, the Bologna brand has one more that it is debuting at EICMA this year: the Ducati Diavel Cromo. Similar to the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition, the Diavel Cromo is really more of a restyling of the Italian power cruiser than a new model. Adding mirrored finished pieces to the Diavel, we imagine Ducati is trying a little bit harder to go after the blinged cruiser demographic with this one, as the Ducati Diavel Cromo sports a chrome-like fuel tank panel, retro-style seat, and laser-etched air intakes.

Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition Breaks Cover

09/05/2011 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Mercedes-Benz and Ducati continue to circle each other, as the two iconic brands hammer out the details of how an Italian motorcycle company would fit inside a German automobile manufacturer. While the bean-counters and pencil-pushers get that shotgun marriage’s pre-nup arranged, we get to see interesting co-branding “partnerships” like this: the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition. While we’ve seen plenty of AMG-tuned cars in Ducati adverts, events, and press materials, this is the first time the sacred three-letter name has graced the haul of one of Bologna’s steads.