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.

Photos: Ducati Desmosedici GP15

The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is a machine that has been long in the making. It represents Gigi Dall’Igna’s next step forward for the wayward Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and it is the dubious honor of holding the hopes of Ducati fans around the world, who see the machine as the silver bullet that will return Ducati to the forefront of racing prowess — no pressure. The most obvious change that can be seen on the GP15 is the re-routing of the exhaust, with the undertail pipes collecting on the right-hand side of the machine, rather than coming in from both sides and meeting in the middle. Can you spot any other changes in the high-resolution photos after the jump? Let us know in the comments.

Politics & Corruption: Why There Isn’t a Race in Indonesia

If anyone needed any further proof that Indonesia is important to the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the fact the Repsol Honda team chose Bali as the location to launch their 2015 MotoGP project should remove any doubt. But if Indonesia is so important to the manufacturers, and to MotoGP, why is there not a race there? Over the course of the MotoGP test at Sepang, I had a few conversations with people on the subject. On the record, the story was always the same: we need a suitable track, and as soon as one exists we will be happy to go there. Off the record, however, they were much less optimistic.

A Requiem for Kenji Ekuan & The Kando of GK Design

Industrial design is not a commonly known, much less well understood, profession. To some it suggests arranging equipment inside factories, to others it means some kind of product engineering. In reality it is the search for, and expression of, human satisfaction in inanimate objects that are mass produced. That’s quite a mouthful, and to the average person it may sound like jiberish written for some pretentious coffee table book, but it is the truth. At least, it is one version of the truth as seen by the GK Design Group of Tokyo, Japan. If you ride motorcycles, then you are intimately familiar with the work of this large and internationally respected studio. Since only its second production bike, the indigenously designed YA-1, every Yamaha motorcycle since 1958 has been crafted by GK.

Are You The MV Agusta F4 RC?

What look to be official photos of the MV Agusta F4 RC have leaked out onto the internet, along with a slide from MV Agusta’s media presentation on the machine. The photos give us our first glimpse into Varese’s homologation special, complete with a special two-can exhaust by Termignoni. The leaked slide confirms some of the numbers being thrown around about the F4 RC, namely that it will have 212hp, 81.86 lbs•ft of torque, weigh 175kg dry, and cost €36,900 (we already know that the MV Agusta F4 RC will cost $46,000 in the USA). Information from a leaked slide last year has already told us that MV Agusta has radically overhauled the F4 RC’s engine, designing a new cylinder heard, new crankshaft, new camshaft, as well as adding bigger fuel injectors, lighter pistons, and titanium connecting rods.

Kenji Ekuan, Designer of the Yamaha VMAX Has Died

Mainstream news is mourning the death of Kenji Ekuan today, as the 85-year-old Japanese industrial designer is one of the most influential artists in Japan’s modern era, and is most well-known for his designing of the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. Ekuan’s lesser-known works though include a number of motorcycle designs for Yamaha, including the now 30-year-old Yamaha VMAX motorcycle, which makes his passing even more meaningful to motorcyclists around the world. Kenji Ekuan founded GK Industrial Design after WWII, and his company helped shape the way Japan rebuilt itself after the world war.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Clarifying MotoGP’s Spec-Software Path for 2015 & Beyond

12/22/2014 @ 1:38 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

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When the minutes of the latest meeting of MotoGP’s ruling body, the Grand Prix Commission, were unveiled, there was one passage which confused many who read it.

The press release included a paragraph on the spec software which is to be adopted for all MotoGP bikes from the start of the 2016 season. The passage read as follows:

It was already announced that Factory teams in the MotoGP class must move to using unified software with effect from 01 July 2015. It has now been confirmed that different teams, using machines from the same Factory, may use different versions of the unified software. 

The wording seemed to suggest that from 2016, factory teams would still be allowed to use a different version of the ECU software to that used by satellite and private teams.

Triumph Recalls Multiple Models for Faulty ECUs

12/09/2014 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Triumph is recalling a number of its models for faulty engine control units (ECUs), which may improperly activate the bikes’ fuel injectors.

The recall affects the 2014 and 2015 model year Triumph Thunderbird, Thunderbird ABS, Tiger 800,Tiger 800 ABS, Thruxton, and Bonneville motorcycles manufactured between February 6, 2014 and August 7, 2014.

It’s not clear how many total motorcycles this recall affects, as Triumph lists the number currently as “0” with NHTSA, but given the number of models involved and the wide timeframe given on the production dates, we would expect a massive number of motorcycles to be involved.

Milwaukee Yamaha Strikes Deal with Isle of Man TT – Ian Hutchinson & Josh Brookes Confirmed to Race

02/27/2014 @ 3:06 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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After an announcement in early January that Milwaukee Power Tools had withdrawn its support of Shaun Muir’s Yamaha team, due to a major rule changes that restricted the use of aftermarket ECUs, it looked as though Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes might have had to sit out this year’s Isle of Man TT; and had the team been forced to run factory ECUs, it would have placed them at a serious disadvantage and left them unable to be competitive.

Although there is no word on exactly how the team managed to negotiate an exception to the new rule change, the Isle of Man TT Press Office has confirmed that Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes will be riding for the Milwaukee Yamaha Team in this year’s TT. Both riders are scheduled to compete in the Dainese Superbike TT, two Monster Energy Supersport TT races, and the Pokerstars Senior TT event.

motoDNA: The Jerkiness of Jerky Motorcycle Throttles

02/14/2014 @ 3:45 pm, by Mark McVeigh34 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber is please to bring you the motoDNA column, which will be written by our good friend Mark McVeigh, of the motoDNA Motorcycle Academy.

Mark is a former international 250cc racer, as well as a former MotoGP engineer. His unique experience and perspectives on motorcycle dynamics and racing will be a regular feature on A&R. Enjoy!

In these high tech days of electronic fuel injection, you would expect motorcycle throttle response to be smooth as. However many of the latest bikes have a snatchy and jerky throttle response; especially around town at low speeds — feeling more like a switch than a throttle.

This is not just plain annoying, but makes holding a steady throttle in corners and riding in town tricky, often becoming a bigger problem in wet and slippery conditions. On the track, life can be even more difficult when the bike is closer to the edge of the tire, due to higher lean angles.

The throttle controls not only acceleration and traction but has a large influence on our bikes handling including weight transfer, steering and stability. The throttle is also our connection to the rear tire. If it’s linear and smooth, this is reflected in our riding performance.

We expect modern bikes to have smooth and accurate throttle response; but in fact throttle response is worse these days compared to carburettors of old. Why? In one word – Emissions.

MotoGP Drops “CRT” Name for “Open” Class Designation

10/17/2013 @ 8:25 am, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

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When it was announced that the claiming rule was to be dropped and the rules would be changed for 2014, one of the main questions was what to call the new class. After some complaining early on, MotoGP fans had become used to the CRT name, and understood what was meant by it.

With the choice of software now determining how much fuel and how many engines a team can use – 24 liters for the spec Dorna software, 20 liters for factories using their custom software with the spec Magneti Marelli ECU – there was no easy and obvious nomenclature for the bikes.

Under the first draft of the rules, the bikes were divided into two categories: “MotoGP” and “MotoGP with factory option”. That appears to have encountered resistance, however, and so a new name has been found for the non-factory bikes: for 2014, non-factory bikes will be referred to as ‘Open’ entries.

Recall: 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300

08/12/2013 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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It would seem that even the popular Kawasaki Ninja 300 isn’t immune from the plethora of recalls we have seen the past few weeks, as Kawasaki Motors Corporation is recalling certain 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS motorcycles manufactured between July 16, 2012 and April 27, 2013.

Too Loud for Japan – The Ducati 1199 Panigale Gets Ruined for the Japanese Market

08/14/2012 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler51 COMMENTS

We have to feel sorry for our Japanese readers today, as a crime against motorcycling has occurred in the Japanese motorcycle market. The bike of 2012, and arguably one of the more beautiful designs to come out of Bologna (don’t worry 916 fans, we still like the Tamburini classic more), it turns out that the Ducati 1199 Panigale was a touch too loud for the Japanese market, and modifications had to be made before it is released to the island nation next month. Some extra baffle, maybe some tuning to the ECU, and no big deal right? Well…no, not quite.

2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Price Slashed to $16,499

02/14/2011 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

KTM must have read our wish list for Christmas (we originally asked for a reduced price and free puppy with every purchase), as not only has the Austrian company improved upon its already impressive KTM 1190 RC8 R v-twin awesomebike, but they’ve considerable slashed the RC8 R’s MSRP. Prices so low, they’re practically giving the bike away, the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will retail for $16,499 — a nearly $3,500 price reduction from the 2010 model (the RC8 R effectively takes over the price point of the RC8, which has been discontinued for 2011).

Making 175hp (with the right fuel), the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R benefits from a dual spark plug ignition setup that features two different spark plugs for different ignition points. Improving not only performance levels, the new spark plug configuration also gives the RC8 R a 12% fuel economy increase, while decreasing emissions. Also new for 2011 is a new crankshaft and flywheel which have increased masses (100g & 1,000g respectively) to smooth out the power pulses of the RC8 R.

Recall: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200

01/14/2011 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Ducati is issuing a recall notice with the NHTSA for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 adventure-tourer motorcycle. Affecting 1,196 units, the MTS 1200’s recall stems from an ECU problem that could see the motorcycle stall while idling with the clutch disengaged (something we experienced when testing the Multistrada 1200 last year). To fix the problem, affected owners must take their bike to a Ducati dealership, where the ECU will be re-flashed with a modified firmware package.

Recall: Kawasaki Vulcan

10/27/2010 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is recalling some 2009 & 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan cruisers because of a faulty ECU issue. Apparently when riding the motorcycle, if a rider pulled-in the clutch and coasted down the road, some Vulcan’s were stalling the motor because of an improper setting in the bike’s software. Since a stalled motorcycle at speed could cause an accident, Kawasaki is issuing a recall for these affected Vulcan’s, which will see dealers replace the bike’s ECU with one that has the correct software settings.