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.

Hopper to BSB Reportedly A Done Deal – Still Not Official

01/10/2011 @ 7:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Confirming earlier rumors (x2), reports are coming out of the Crescent Racing’s British Superbike team that Anglo-American John Hopkins will be riding for the Suzuki-based team in the upcoming 2011 season. While no signatures have reportedly been made, Crescent Racing Team Manager Jack Valentine is calling Hopper’s ride for the now non-factory Suzuki team (Relentless by TAS has been tapped by Suzuki to be its “factory team” for 2011 in BSB) a “done deal,” as Hopkins has already begun training for his new assignment, and is eager to get back to racing.

The British Superbike series seems like a last hope bid for Hopkins, who is coming off a controversial season with Team Hammer’s M4 Suzuki squad. Team owner John Ulrich blasted Hopkins on the WERA message board late last year, all but accusing the American-born rider of lying to him about his physical health before the start of the 2010 season.

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper

12/10/2010 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Being the fine British blokes that they are, MCN was able to get ahold of Crescent Suzuki Boss Jack Valentine, and ask him about the validity to the rumors suggesting that the British Superbike team is pursuing John Hopkins as a possible rider for the 2011 season. Confirming that the rumors were true, but that nothing has been agreed to yet, Valentine told MCN that “Crescent are in discussions with former MotoGP star John Hopkins, who is now fully fit again and finished on the podium in the last two rounds of the AMA series.”

Ulrich Says Hopper ‘Misled’ About His Fitness for 2010

12/09/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

John Ulrich, the man behind both Team Hammer and publication Roadracing World, seems to be content on airing his dirty laundry about rider John Hopkins on the WERA board this week. In his postings, Ulrich accuses Hopkins of keeping secret his hand’s deteriorated condition, and misrepresenting his physical fitness and readiness for the 2010 season. This issue has lead to Ulrich saying he won’t work with Hopkins ever again, despite Ulrich discovering the Anglo-American rider at a young age, and essentially jump-starting his motorcycle racing career.

If true, these acts and omissions could amount to fraud and misrepresentation on Hopkins’ part, and our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is less than enthralled about Ulrich failing to take proper due diligence before signing the rider.

Rumor: John Hopkins to British Superbike?

12/08/2010 @ 9:44 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Don’t call the silly season over just yet, as the rumor mill has begun to churn away on Anglo-American John Hopkins. Finishing 10th in the AMA American Superbike Championship, Hopper had a mixed season with the M4 Suzuki squad, missing several races because of a wrist surgery. Now finally on the mend, Hopkins is being linked to the Crescent racing team in the UK, which is headed by former Rizla Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning, and if true could be heading back to his other motherland for the 2011 racing season.

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper

03/13/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Known only to us as “The Sparrow“, we just got some tips from our insider in the AMA. The Sparrow goes on to tell us that rumors of Miguel Duhamel making a return to AMA racing at Fontana are untrue, and the actual rider listed as “TBA” is instead Tyler Odom. The Sparrow also goes on to say that John Hopkins has been incredibly unhappy with the performance of his GSX-R1000, faulting the motor as having less power than the rest of the field. While indications seem to suggest that’s not the case, Yoshimura has put together a new lump for Hopper that looks to have plenty of juice, but will it pass scrutineering after the races? Continue reading for the full report from The Sparrow.

Garry McCoy Confirmed with FB Corse

02/01/2010 @ 3:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

This weekend Garry McCoy signed a two-year deal with FB Corse that sees the Australian rider making a return to premiere GP racing. The move comes just days after McCoy was dropped by one of Triumph’s Factory WSS team, BE1 Racing, and FB Corse got the official “peace out” from John Hopkins. With McCoy likely to find only teams in Moto2 looking for riders, the timing for both parties couldn’t have been better. Details after the jump.

John Hopkins Confirmed for AMA with M4 Suzuki

01/30/2010 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We can finally retire the Hoppergate tag (saying this pretty much assures its continued use unfortunately), M4 Suzuki has issued a press release that confirms what Asphalt & Rubber already knew (hat tip to The Sparrow), John Hopkins will be riding in the AMA American Superbike team with Team Hammer. This news comes despite the fact that FB Corse has repeatedly insisted that the American rider was committed to them for the 2010 season, and they now chastise Hopper for backing out of the team at the last minute.

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List – FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone?

01/28/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.

Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.

Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.

BREAKING: John Hopkins to Race in AMA for 2010

01/26/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Our sources are indicating that John Hopkins is close to closing a deal to race in the AMA Pro Racing series for 2010, and will be making an announcement about his contract with M4 Suzuki (Team Hammer) as early as this weekend (but more likely after Hopper’s test on the M4 Suzuki scheduled for next Tuesday the 2nd). This news seems to be the final chapter (we hope) in the ever increasing Hoppergate scandal, and also seems to be the last nail in the coffin for FB Corse‘s hopes of having the American ride on their MotoGP team.

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press

01/18/2010 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hoppergate continues on as it would seem MotoGP upstart, FB Corse, has their kneepucks in a bunch about the press they’ve been recieving lately from “websites on the other side of the ocean.” This would seem to be a poke in the eye to publications like RoadRacing World (and others), who have cast some doubt on John Hopkins’ commitment to FB Corse, as the former MotoGP rider has yet to sign a contract with the Italian team.