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.

Video: Watch William Dunlop Chase Down Ian Hutchinson at Triple-Digit Speeds at the IOMTT

05/29/2014 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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A typical practice day spent at the Isle of Man TT starts in the evening, as the roads close just around dinner time (the Isle of Man’s latitude means the sun sets near 10pm). One finds a good vantage point before the roads close though, which also means choosing a spot that will provide their specatating for the next fews hours, as getting around the Mountain Course is nigh impossible once the bikes get going.

Those few hours are spent watching racers scream by at triple-digit speeds, until the sessions end and the roads re-open. Grabbing a quick bite to eat, spectators typical congregate at the bars where they drink, or the home-stays they sleep, and share what they saw on the course with their mate, over drinks and food of course.

As the night comes to an end, the TV stations air their coverage of the day, which pieces together the day’s events, and adds a cohesive narrative to what was before just a single-corner vantage point. Rinse and repeat this for nearly a week, and you have an idea of why the Isle of Man TT is so special, and less of a race and more of an event.

IOMTT: Grandstand Paddock with Richard Mushet

05/28/2014 @ 9:41 pm, by Richard Mushet1 COMMENT

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After a glorious Tuesday evening practice, the weather was looking decidedly gloomy before this evening’s session. Due to an abundance of cloud cover and impending showers, I can honestly say that my decision to shoot from Lezayre wasn’t the best idea I’ve had so far this TT.

Unfortunately the session was stopped, after most riders had only managed a solitary lap, due to an incident at the top of Barregarrow. Combined with the failing light and ever-heavier rain showers on the Northerly sections of the circuit (including myself at Lezayre) the Clerk of the Course cancelled all sessions this evening.

Due to a lack of racing action I will leave you all with a few sights from around the paddock today, and hopes for better weather (and light) for tomorrow’s practice.

IOMTT: Rain Cancels Wednesday Practice After Just One Lap

05/28/2014 @ 5:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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More rain has gotten in the way of the Isle of Man TT’s practice sessions, as Wednesday evening’s events came to a halt after only one lap around the Mountain Course. With rain hitting a few spots of the course, and an incident at the top of Barregarrow, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson had no choice to but to call the night’s events to an end as the rain increased.

The incident at Barregarrow involved newcomer Laurent Hoffmann, who was airlifted to Nobles Hospital, and is reported to have leg injuries as a result of the crash. By the time that crash had been cleared, Mother Nature turned up the waterworks, and that was the end of things.

IOMTT: Greeba Castle with Tony Goldsmith

05/28/2014 @ 2:51 pm, by Tony Goldsmith3 COMMENTS

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We were treated to perfect conditions for Tuesday evenings practice and after a bit of deliberation I decided to go to the Greeba Castle section of the course.

Greeba Castle is a tight S-bend lined with trees and Manx stone walls. The riders have been flat on the stop for two or three miles before breaking hard into this section. The first left-hander is taken quite slowly before they drive through the right-hander and out into a pocket of sunlight, before disappearing out of sight and onto the Alpine section.

I hadn’t photographed there before, in truth I had been put off a little as I’d heard it was tricky as you are perched on top of 5 1/2 foot wall. As the sun was shining I decided it was the perfect night to go and try it out.

The stories I’d been told of the wall were not exaggerated, and not being as mobile as I once was once took a few attempts to get up. You might be thinking that 5 1/2 feet doesn’t sound very much, but when you are sitting on it, planning an escape route, it looks like 10 feet.

Thankfully I didn’t have to throw myself from the wall, the only problem encountered where the dreaded Manx Midges. My head has started itching again as I begin to think about the little bastards.

IOMTT: Quarterbridge with Richard Mushet

05/28/2014 @ 1:34 am, by Richard Mushet2 COMMENTS

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After arriving by ferry, late on Monday evening, my TT began tonight at Quarterbridge. Following on from Monday night’s perfect conditions, the course was once again bathed in glorious sunlight, which provides a challenge in itself to achieve the ideal exposure on your images.

Quarterbridge is situated just beyond the first milestone and provides the first “real” corner of the Mountain course, after the iconic (and flat-out) Bray Hill and Ago’s Leap sections. Riders approach the corner while braking downhill, before attempting to hit the apex and carry some decent speed as they get back on the throttle to head towards Braddan Bridge.

Other than listening to the loudspeakers erected around the circuit, the only hint of approaching bikes is the distant screaming of a redlining engine shortly followed by numerous downshifts. If you’re lucky, you can catch the flash of a rider’s helmet through the dense foliage on the inside of the turn’s approach. For the TT, this is more than the usual notice, especially when compared to faster sections, some of which have a non-existent lead time to take your shot.

The fading sunlight provided a dramatic backdrop later on in the solo sessions, but left the sidecars looking a little dull once the sun had dipped beneath the surrounding tree line, but that’s merely one of the many challenges you face when shooting this legendary circuit.

IOMTT: Cronk-y-Voddy with Tony Goldsmith

05/27/2014 @ 7:52 am, by Tony Goldsmith7 COMMENTS

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After a delay of 48 hours due to adverse weather, practice for 2014 Isle of Man TT finally got under way in perfect conditions on Monday evening.

I decided to go the end of the Lambfell section where the riders crest a rise and wheelie onto the the Cronk-y-Voddy straight. I’m not sure of the speed they are doing at this point but it must be in the region of 140mph.

Standing on the hedge this is a relatively straight forward shot, despite the speed as you can see the bikes approaching and the camera can track them.

Sitting on the hedge to lower the angle, which is my preference, is more challenging as you don’t see the riders until the last minute. I ended up with more pictures in the bin than I would have liked, but that’s the challenge of photographing the TT.

I’m not sure what the weather has in store for us this evening so a decision on where to go will most likely be made at the last minute.

Isle of Man TT Start Moved to Monday, On Account of Rain

05/25/2014 @ 2:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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It’s not a good start to festivities over at the Isle of Man, as the 2014 Isle of Man TT has seen its first day of practice washed out by the rain. Saturday’s opening day was called by Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson, as rain hit the small nation island in the evening.

As such, Saturday’s schedule will be added to Monday’s, with the newcomers speed-controlled untimed laps for solo riders starting at 18:15, with the sidecar newcomers starting their first lap at 18:30. The sessions originally slated for Monday (Superbike, Superstock, and Supersport) will get underway at 18:45, as was originally planned.

2014 Isle of Man TT Practice & Race Schedule

05/24/2014 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The 2014 Isle of Man TT is finally underway…sort of. With heavy rain on the Isle of Man today, the scheduled practice sessions had to be abandoned for safety reasons. The weather for Sunday is looking better though, and thus tomorrow will likely mean the practical start for what we consider to be motorcycling’s greatest event.

This year US fans will be able to follow the Isle of Man TT on the Velocity channel. If that’s not a part of your TV package, don’t worry; we’ve got some great TT coverage coming your way, straight from the Isle of Man. So stay tuned to Asphalt & Rubber for the latest on the Isle of Man TT sessions and happenings.

To aid in planning your sleep schedule, please find the provisional schedule of sessions after the jump.

“TT Microworlds” – The Isle of Man TT, In Miniature

05/17/2014 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is only a few weeks away from starting, so naturally we want to whet your appetite for one of motorcycling’s greatest events. Here is the TT from a slightly different perspective though, called “TT Microworlds” — the work product of Manx film producer Glenn Whorrall.

Using a tilt-shift filiming technique, which creates a narrow band on the frame where the shot is in focus, Whorrall has employed the simple effect to make the Isle of Man TT look as if it was being done in miniature form, perhaps in a hobbyist’s workshop.

Hardcore cinefiles will probably deride the extensive use of the sometimes gimmicky technique, but we just like anything that has to do with racing motorcycles. For the few minutes of your time, it’s worth a watch.

Guy Martin to Race the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

05/05/2014 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It seems Guy Martin, the barely understandable, though immediately lovable road racer of Isle of Man TT fame will compete in the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. One of the stars of the Isle of Man TT, and perhaps the fastest man on the Mountain Course who has never won an IOMTT race, Martin’s involvement with “The Race to the Clouds” has been a long time coming.

The organizers at the PPIHC have long been trying to get riders and teams from the Isle of Man TT onto the Pikes Peak road course, in an effort to bolster the race’s international appeal and reputation, as well as breathe new life and interest into the historic American race.

Our sources say a special effort was made to lure Guy Martin, who was the centerpiece personality in the Isle of Man’s Closer to the Edge film, and it seems those efforts have finally paid off with this latest news.