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.

Casey Stoner Leads MotoGP Testing at Sepang

02/22/2011 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Casey Stoner set the pace today at MotoGP’s second off-season test at Sepang. The Australian, and the rest of the four factory Honda riders, proved to be very impressive on the Malaysian track, as the 2011 Honda RC212V seems to be hitting its stride just before the season opener in Qatar in a few weeks.

The Honda riders don’t have things all sewn up though, as the Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo was looking very fast, as were Americans Ben Spies and Colin Edwards. Earlier in the day, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi even cracked into the Top 5 on the standings, and despite finishing the day just over a second behind Stoner, the Italian was upbeat about the team’s progress and his physical condition.

Photo of the Week: It’s Called Marlboro Ducati for a Reason

01/24/2011 @ 8:52 am, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

Editor’s note: Scott Jones will graciously be running a weekly series of his best photos from the AMA, WSBK, and MotoGP racing events here on Asphalt & Rubber. For more of his work, you can catch him at ScottJones.net.

Besides the Rossi-Ducati situation, how Casey Stoner will fare with HRC’s 2011 bike is on everyone’s mind, not least of all Jorge Lorenzo’s, who was just quoted as saying Stoner, not Rossi, would be his main competition in 2011. Stoner’s rookie MotoGP season showed flashes of brilliance, ruined repeatedly by a Michelin front tire that was not up to the demands Stoner placed on it.

Back on a Honda, Stoner will have the magnificent Bridgestone front tire without the Ducati’s temperament to manage at every corner, plus several years’ experience and a world title in his pocket since that rookie season. Given what Stoner got out of the Ducati, he should be very dangerous indeed on HRC’s final 800cc bike.”

Traffic.

09/19/2010 @ 1:03 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Photo: Courtesy of Bridgestone Corporation © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati – Officially Official

08/15/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.

Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.

V-Day Will Be Sunday after the Race

08/12/2010 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Asked when he would announce his move to Ducati his future plans during the pre-race press conference today, Valentino Rossi confirmed that he would make an announcement after Sunday’s Czech GP race. The next few days will probably be the longest ever to occur in Italy, but we all must wait a little longer for the the arrival of V-Day, and to know what we already know.

Valentino Rossi Signs Two-Year Contract with Ducati

07/09/2010 @ 3:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

UPDATE 3: Ducati has officially announced signing Valentino Rossi.

UPDATE 2: Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will race with Ducati in 2011.

UPDATE: Ducati & Yamaha have made a gentlemen’s agreement to delay the announcement of Rossi’s move until after Laguna Seca, in exchange for letting the Italian test the Desmosedici GP10 at the Valencian Round.

Let’s avoid the the “scoops”, “exclusives”, and “OMG’s”, and just say that Asphalt & Rubber has received word from a trusted source that Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year agreement with Ducati, that’s set to be announced on Monday…and boom goes the dynamite (sorry, we couldn’t resist). The Rossi/Ducati fantasy has been put forth for years, with the fervor on the subject reaching its pinnacle this season, as Ducati reportedly wafted a €15 million salary (almost double Yamaha’s offer) in front of the nine-time World Champion.

Likely less to do with money, and more about prestige and priority, the announcement comes on the heels of Casey Stoner’s exodus from the Ducati team, as the Australian has jumped ship back to HRC, in what is to be some sort of multinational threesome with energy drinks involved. Ok Italy, it’s almost time to change the sheets, this wet dream is nearly a reality. Stay tuned for Monday.

BREAKING: Stoner Officially Leaving Ducati at the End of the Season – HRC Announcement Imminent

07/09/2010 @ 2:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATE: HRC has announced that they have signed Casey Stoner for the 2011 season, and that he will likely ride with both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

Now officially official, Ducati has officially announced what we’ve known for months: that the Australian rider would be leaving the Marlboro Ducati team at the end of the 2010 season.

The relationship was first marred last season when Stoner came under a mysterious illness (too mysterious for some commentators), missed a number of races, and since then has been seemingly the bond between Stoner and Ducati has been unsalvageable. Compounded by poor results so far this season, rumors intensified as links between the Australian and HRC became evident.

While Stoner has not mentioned where he will ride for the 2011 season, an announcement about his move to Repsol Honda is expected later today.

Silly Season: Ducati Offers Rossi €15 Million & Benefits – Yamaha Reduces Salary to €9 Million

06/24/2010 @ 2:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The Italian press is buzzing about the latest silly season info regarding Valentino Rossi, and where he will be racing next year. According to Corriere dello Sport, Ducati has upped their offer to Rossi to €15 million and has included provisions that would allow the Italian to race later with either Ferrari F1 or Fiat Rally teams once he’s finished with motorcycle racing.

Now…you’d expect Yamaha to up its ante on the nine-time World Champion, right? Not quite. Instead Yamaha has reduced Valentino’s Rossi contract price from the €14 million they current pay him each year to €9 million. More on the reasoning behind that after the jump.

Stoner’s Mechanics Given Notice

06/21/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

GPweek.com is reporting that Casey Stoner’s mechanics in the Marlboro Ducati garage have been warned “that they may have to seek new employment for next season.” If true, this is a strong indication that Ducati does not expect the Australian GP Champion to return to the Italian team for the 2011 season. While many sources are quick to make the link that this means Rossi is inbound to the Ducati team, we’re still hesitant to subscribe to that faulty logic.

Stoner “Has Already Decided to Go” to Honda

05/25/2010 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Crash.net is reporting that Casey Stoner has already made his mind up to leave Ducati, according to a high-ranking Marlboro Ducati team member. While rumors were rife a couple weeks ago that Stoner had signed a deal to ride with HRC in the upcoming season, parties were quick to correct that nothing had been signed, and this was still rumor. Rumor it might be, but the skinny in the MotoGP paddock is that Stoner has basically come to terms with riding with Honda in 2011, with the contract ready to go, but still sans signatures.