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.

Ride Review: Ducati 1199 Panigale

02/15/2012 @ 1:28 am, by Lorenzo Gargiulo29 COMMENTS

Fresh from the Ducati 1199 Panigale international press launch at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, our friends from OmniMoto.it have been kind enough to share their experience on Ducati’s newest flagship model, since Asphalt & Rubber wasn’t one of the American publications invited to test Borgo Panigale’s latest creation ( to let Ducati know that you want to see A&R at future events!).

Our Italian brother in arms, OmniMoto’s Lorenzo Gargiulo shares his initiation to the 1199, while riding around one the world’s most expensive race circuits…the lucky bastard. With much thanks to him, enjoy Lorenzo’s review and continue to countdown the months until A&R will get its own chance to flog the Ducati 1199 Panigale in a similar manner. -Jensen

It is a known fact that journalists like to complain to motorcycle manufacturers, because some OEMs give you too little notice before a press event, while others fill up your calendar with possible dates way before they have something set on their own schedule. In the present case, Ducati told us about this event almost two months ago, which for this writer has led to an incredible amount of performance anxiety that has lasted until today.

Consider this: we are testing a new bike, which is set to take the scepter as the Queen of all the Superbikes, and it is to be tested on a new track, the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, where no journalist in the world had ever done a lap aboard a motorcycle. Accordingly, there was enough anticipation and excitement surrounding the event to make it difficult for anyone to fully process the true performance potential of the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. Fortunately, the Panigale did not disappoint our expectations, and instead went way beyond them, unleashing breathtaking performances.

Yas Marina Circuit + Troy Bayliss + Ducati 1199 Panigale S

02/13/2012 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

The International press launch of the Ducati 1199 Panigale is underway in Abu Dhabi this week, with initial reports on Ducati’s flagship superbike being very positive. A track usually reserved for cars, not bikes, the Yas Marina Circuit is really something to behold. Situated on a man-made island off the Abu Dhabi coast, the Middle-Eastern track cost a cool $1.32 billion to construct back in 2009, and holds the distinction for being one of Formula One’s night races.

Such a setting is of course appropriate for Ducati to introduce its latest creation, and the Italian company will be showcasing the first production motorcycle with an LED headlight, the first sport bike with electronically-adjustable suspension, and of course putting journalists on the company’s much-talked-about “frameless” monocoque chassis design. Expected on dealer floors in April, the base model Ducati 1199 Panigale will cost $17,995, while the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S Tricolore” will hit the wallet for $27,995 MSRP.

While we wait for the Panigale to come across the Atlantic Ocean, Ducati has put together this video of Troy Bayliss taking a lap around the 21 turns of the Yas Marina Circuit. It’s an oddly edited video, but should bring grins to the Ducatisti in your life. Be sure to turn your speakers up to hear the Superquadro v-twin motor in all its glory.

The Dainese D-Air Racing Airbag Suit Comes to America

01/26/2012 @ 7:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Getting a look at Dainese & AGV’s 2012 collection, Asphalt & Rubber was down in Orange County earlier this week to see the highly anticipated Dainese D-Air Racing leather suit, which has a four liter airbag system that helps reduce the risk of injury during a motorcycle crash. Dainese has been working on the D-Air Racing system for 10 years now, and after soft-launching the airbag suit in Europe, the Italian company is ready to bring the game-changing technology to American soil.

If you watch MotoGP or World Superbike, you have likely already seen the roughly one pound (650 grams) D-Air Racing suit at work, as riders like Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Leon Haslam, and Max Biaggi have been wearing Dainese’s airbag leathers while racing, and have also been providing the company with feedback on the D-Air’s design and development. In addition to deploying an airbag that protects a rider’s neck, chest, and shoulders, the Dainese D-Air system also provides a telemetry package that track riders can use in lieu of a basic motorcycle data acquisition system.

BRD RedShift SM Breaks Cover with Gas Parity

08/03/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

We’ve been following the guys at BRD since the beginning of the year, and this scrappy San Francisco company has finally busted out of stealth mode with its first electric motorcycle line: the BRD RedShift. With a goal of meeting or exceeding parity with gasoline-powered two-wheelers, BRD’s first foray into the motorcycle industry is an interesting one, as the RedShift line brings true 250cc four-stroke power to the electric realm. Producing 40hp from the company’s proprietary water-cooled AC motor, the BRD RedShift SM produces more power than a Honda CRF250R while tipping scales at less than 250 lbs in supermoto trim (less than 240 lbs in MX-spec).

The RedShift line is BRD’s first line of motorcycle, and will feature three different purpose-built trims. The Supermoto (SM) model will be BRD’s on-road city bike, while the MX model will be the company’s enduro offering. BRD has also factored fleet sales heavily into its business plan, and will have a vehicle, designated as the RedShift PD, that will be available for government and private fleet usage. Point of sale and warranty work will stem from a standard dealer model, which will be aggressively built out over the coming months, and plays back into the company’s mantra that electric vehicles don’t need to be different from gas bikes, just better than them.

Motus MST – Here Comes America’s Sport-Tourer

03/08/2011 @ 11:27 am, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

After much waiting, Motus Motorcycles finally launched its MST sport-tourer to the public today. Unveiled at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Motus’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, the American motorcycle manufacturer will head to Florida for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show on Thursday, March 10th for a more public showing.

Developed in conjunction with Pratt & Miller Engineering, the Motus MST features the KMV4 motor, a 1,645cc V4 push-rod style engine that include gasoline direct-injection technology (GDI). Power for the Motus MST prototype is said to be 161hp @ 7,800 rpm; 122 lbs•ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm, while the bike tips the scales around around 500 lbs dry. Motus will be riding the MST around the United States to show off their work, meet with supporters, and look for dealers interested in carrying the line.

LCR Honda: This is How You Launch a MotoGP Team

02/01/2011 @ 9:59 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Testing has already gotten underway and concluded at Sepang today, meaning the teams of MotoGP have released their livery for the next season with varying degrees of fanfare and showmanship. It’s no surprise then that we found a couple photos of the LCR Honda RC212V adorned with a seductive Playboy bunny affixed to it, in what surely has to be the best GP team launch in 2011.

If you read Asphalt & Rubber on a religious basis (we are your motorcycling zen temple, right?), you’ve likely divined by now that I’ll chastise just about any company that uses the premise that “sex sells” (nothing boils my blood more than this cleverly short, yet misguided maxim), and that I love a good scrappy startup that’s got more hustle than funding (case in point: A&R is a penniless motorcycle startup trying to make it in this crazy online world).

So how does a the multi-million dollar motorcycle racing team with half-naked women draped all over their machinery get such accolades from our humble motorcycle blog? Because LCR Honda is the epitome of innovation on the business side of MotoGP racing.

2011 Honda RC212V – Not All Bikes Are Created Equally

01/31/2011 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Repsol Honda made its 2011 MotoGP season debut today, showing off its three-man team of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso, along with the 2011 Honda RC212V, which will compete against the Yamaha YZR-M1 and Ducati Desmosedici GP11. An oddity in the GP paddock, HRC will field the three riders under one roof, having wooed Stoner away from Ducati after the Australian rider and Italian team had spilled bad blood in the 2009 season.

While Stoner was originally supposed to have his own team, presumably under the Red Bull banner, Repsol finally stepped up to the plate with its pocketbook when the Red Bull deal failed to materialize. Having three top riders in one team left some doubts as to how Honda was going to manage its talented rider pool, and a cursory look at the different machines that each rider will field sheds some light on the subject.

WSBK: PATA Racing & Haga Show Off 2011 Livery

01/22/2011 @ 8:43 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

Pata Racing Team Aprilia launched its 2011 World Superbike entry today at the Verona Motor Bike Expo in Italy. The largely white Aprilia has a large PATA logo on the side with accents of green and blue and other sponsor decals. As expected, Noriyuki Haga will be the sole-rider for the team that formerly fielded Jakub Smrz first on a Ducati then Aprilia for the 2010 season. The bike was unveiled by Team President Daniele Carli and Team Manager Marco Borciani, who also underscored the previous announcement that Aprilia is officially supporting the team, though no one officially from Aprilia attended.

Nitro Nori successfully stirred up some interest by saying, “I’m not worried about Max Biaggi! I think I can start winning again with this bike, and try to reach my goal of 60 career wins. Then I can retire…I’m aiming for the title, but my first objective will be to beat the factory Aprilias.”

Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – Christmas Comes Late in Italy

01/12/2011 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

If you are a Ducati owner, Valentino Rossi Fan, Italian, or have more than a passing interest in MotoGP, then today is the day you’ve had marked on your 2011 calendar (with perhaps the Valencia test being the date of 2010). Finally released from his contractual obligations with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi can officially begin his duties working for Ducati Corse this week, and Ducati has already capitalized on the moment by showing off Rossi’s new leathers to great fanfare. Now the pièce de résistance and the end to our torment, Ducati has finally debuted the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at the 2011 Wrooom media event, a joint launch event between Ferrari and Ducati held in the Dolomite Mountains.

Antonio Banderas Unveils Moto2 Race Bike

04/06/2010 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Late in 2008 Antonio Banderas bought the 125cc/250cc GP teams of Motomondiale to the tune of €6 million. With Moto2 starting for the first time in history this week, Banderas has unveiled his new team: Jack & Jones by Antonio Banderas. At a press launch Monday, Banderas personally unveiled the Moto2 race bikes the team will be using. Unfortunately, he left his mask, cape, and sword at home.