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.

WSBK: Big Changes for Team Hero EBR in 2015

12/03/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

2014-Team-Hero-EBR-1190RX

Despite an abysmal year in the World Superbike Championship last season, Team Hero EBR will return to the WSBK paddock for 2015. The team’s return is perhaps in name only, as major changes have been made to EBR’s WSBK presence, which will continue to be based out of Italy.

Most notable is Team Hero EBR’s new riders — Larry Pegram and Niccolo Canepa — with Pegram having double-duties, as he will act as the Team Manager in charge of the Pegram Racing crew, which will take over running the Team Hero EBR program.

Erik Buell Racing 1190RX to Debut at AIMExpo

09/20/2013 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

erik-buell-racing-1190rx-teaser

Heavily teased, we now know that Erik Buell Racing will debut its EBR 1190RX sport bike in mid-October, at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. Tipped to be a more affordable version of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, the 1190RX has been spotted with a seat for a pillion, has an uber-aggressive headlight, and will likely come without its premium suspension, wheels, and braking components.

“This is the culmination of decades of dedication, innovation and teamwork,” said EBR Founder Erik Buell. “We have been working to create a pure rider’s machine and a true world brand. From the heartland and the heart of America, these are extraordinary motorcycles that discerning riders everywhere will be passionate to own.”

Breaking: Hero MotoCorp Buys 49.2% Stake in Erik Buell Racing for $25 Million

07/01/2013 @ 9:34 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

erik-buell-racing-america

A plethora of Indian Financial publications are reporting that Hero MotoCorp has bought a 49.2% stake in Erik Buell Racing for $25 million. Hero MotoCorp is India’s largest two-wheel manufacturer, and for a year now has partnered with Erik Buell Racing for technical development, as well as sponsoring the American company’s AMA Pro Road Racing team for the past two seasons.

Today’s news confirms numerous rumors we have heard about the Hero investing in EBR. Acquiring only 49.2% of Erik Buell Racing, Hero has only a minority stake in EBR, and while we cannot confirm the information, we would imagine that the odd 49.2% ownership was done to keep Erik Buell as the majority shareholder in his company.

27 Years of Buell Motorcycles

03/04/2013 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

buell-motorcycles-poster-crop

If the American motorcycle brand was still in business, this year would have been the Buell Motorcycle Company’s 30th birthday. Treated more like a line on the cash flow sheet to its parent company Harley-Davidson than a true self-supporting motorcycle brand, Buell motorcycles suffered from not being “Harley enough” for the Bar & Shield devout, and conversely wasn’t adopted by the non-believers because of its extensive compromises with the Milwaukee brand.

Still, in its 27 years, Buell Motorcycles managed to build a cult following of riders, though the numbers in its ranks were never enough to make the brand truly profitable. With Harley-Davidson facing dire straights during the recent economic depression, the company circled the wagons around its core assets, and closed the doors to Buell Motorcycles in the process.

The ethos of the brand continues with Erik Buell Racing though, which soon after its creation released the EBR 1190RS superbike — a race-ready motorcycle that isn’t too dissimilar from the Buell 1125R sport bike. We still don’t know what the future holds for Erik Buell’s new company, though a bevy of models are on his company’s product road map. We think if you polled a few former Buell owners, they would want to see this poster (full-size after the jump) updated.

Erik Buell Racing Raises $20 Million from Foreign Investors – Plans to Build $20,000 Motorcycle

07/20/2012 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

It has just been announced that Erik Buell Racing has received $20 million in funding from foreign investors. A part of the federal government’s EB-5 program, the deal was brokered by FirstPathway Partners, a company that specializes in facilitating the funding of companies through wealthy individuals that are abroad. The announcement is a boon for EBR, as the company has struggled for financing since it began operations after the closing of Buell Motorcycles by Harley-Davidson.

The $20 million in funding will go towards building more affordable models, says the Milwaukee-based company. In turn, this news means that Erik Buell Racing will need to bring on more staff, and expand its facility for production at a greater volume (54,000 square feet says Buell). Erik Buell Racing hopes to start selling $20,000 street bikes once it gets its business in order for larger volume, with the expectation being that those models will be similar to the EBR 1190RS, though without such high-spec components.

Beeler’s Law

04/01/2012 @ 9:49 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

“As an online discussion about motorcycles grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Erik Buell or Buell Motorcycles entering the conversation approaches a value of one.” – Beeler’s Law

Hero MotoCorp Eyes Purchasing Ducati? Erik Buell Racing?

03/05/2012 @ 3:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Two weeks and two separate rumors about Hero MotoCorp’s acquisition warpath. Last week the Indian motorcycle manufacturer was said to be eyeing a minority equity stake in Erik Buell Racing. Having already hired the American sport bike maker to help innovate on some of Hero’s upcoming small displacement machines, the two companies sweetened the deal with Hero becoming the title sponsor to EBR’s AMA Pro Superbike racing effort.

This week the spotlight shines on Ducati Motor Holding, which has quietly been for sale for almost a year now. Originally wooing an acquisition from Mercedes-Benz, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has been linked to a variety of other companies, as well as a public offering on an Asian stock index. With our sources telling us that Ducati has been trimming the fat from its books in order to make its earnings more attractive, Hero MotoCorp is the latest potential buyer to enter the fray and to talk to bankers about a Ducati acquisition.

Video: EBR Nation Part 3 – “Made in America”

08/10/2011 @ 7:38 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has another installment of its “EBR Nation” video set, with part three of the YouTube series focusing on EBR’s “Made in America” credential. Unlike the previous videos (Part 1 & Part 2), it’s hard to get behind this one, as Buell and his crew go back to the well with their “it’s made in America, so you should buy it” philosophy/sales pitch. The short clip starts out well enough, with Buell saying “over the last few years there was a feeling that the dream of America is getting away from us.” Whether you believe that is actually true or not, there certainly has been a movement expressing this very idea after watching the credit market collapse, and seeing someone like Buell trying to make something out of the ashes of the recession is a bit inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the same reused tagline that because something is built in the USA it is somehow automatically better that the competition. This sort of continued thinking its precisely what put Buell out of business the first time around, and like the reused action shots for this video (you may have seen many of these quick-cuts in Parts 1 & 2, and a couple are even used twice in Part 3), you get tired of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again with no result.

The whole idea behind Erik Buell Racing was that it was a company that could flourish from outside Harley-Davidson’s thumb, and the whole purpose of the EBR 1190RS was that it was supposed to be an American superbike that we could appreciate on the merits. The fact that all of this is being done by Americans, in America, is all the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Rant over. The video is after the jump.

Video: EBR Nation Part 2 – “Fingertips”

07/27/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Erik Buell Racing has the second part to its strobed-out EBR Nation video series (previously titled “The Making of the EBR 1190RS”), and we see the videos go from previously a more narrative take to a more promotional role (that’s marketing for yah). Like the Prologue, “Fingertips” has Geoff May talking about the bike, with a few sound bites from Erik Buell himself sprinkled in for good measure.

One of May’s more interesting comments is that the EBR 1190RS handles so well, that you’d have to go down to bikes half its displacement to find similar handling characteristics. Worthy praise for sure, though it’s probably a bit too soon on the heels of the Daytona Sportbike fiasco under Harley-Davidson’s reign.

There’s unfortunately little information to learn from the segment, which is a shame considering how few riders will actually get to experience the 100 hand-made 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles that will be produced (assuming EBR hits its production goals). Hopefully when Buell tips his hand more on the RX, SX, and AX models it’ll mean more attainable motorcycles for riders with mortal-sized wallets. Made for the true Buelltisti, you’ll get your East Troy fix after the jump.

The Making of the EBR 1190RS: Part 1 (Prologue)

07/19/2011 @ 1:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After unveiling the $40,000 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike to the public last year, and recently taking the EBR 1190RS to Mid-Ohio for its AMA Pro Superbike racing debut, the guys at EBR are ready to show some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into America’s newest sport bike.

In what looks to be a several part video series, we’re given the prologue of the making of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, complete with sounds from Buell’s own record label, Rat Pak Records, and some seizure inducing footage (we actually like the production work, but worry about our epileptic readers watching this video…no, really).

So far we have little to go on as to where this “EBR Nation” series is headed, but there is one Geoff May talking some hyperbole about the EBR 1190RS (the latest AMA paddock scuttle-butt says that he will not be with the Erik Buell Racing team next year), and it closes with a fitting message from Erik Buell himself. Check it out after the jump, and check back here for more of these videos as we get them.