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.

2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Mega Gallery

03/04/2015 @ 2:29 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

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The international press launch for the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 is underway, and accordingly we have a mega gallery of high-resolution photos for you to ogle over. While the 2015 model looks much like its predecessor, Ducati says the adventure-sport machine is all new, from the ground up.

The chassis is new. The engine is the new 160hp Testastretta DVT motor, which has Desmodromic Variable Timing on both the intake and exhaust valves. And while the large-stroke of the styling cues are obviously similar, Ducati has changed the subtle strokes of the Multistrada’s design.

Like the Ducati 1299 Panigale, the new Multistrada comes equipped with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which aids the motorcycle in applying traction and stability control electronic systems.

Also, the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” package is also standard on the new Multistrada, while other options include the LED “cornering” headlight, the Ducati Multimedia System, and other electric tidbits.

The ADV bike also comes in a variety of flavors, first base and “S” trim. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 then comes with five different flavors: Sport, Touring, Enduro, Urban, and D-Air — the latter of course being a collaboration with Dainese and its airbag equipped apparel, which is only available in Europe.

The base model starts at $17,700 while the “S” model has an MSRP of $19,700.

We have 111 high-resolution photos for you to peruse, download, and generally lust over — after the jump of course. Enjoy!

2015 Honda RC213V Livery Mega Gallery

02/02/2015 @ 10:13 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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HRC unveiled its factory MotoGP team this weekend in Bali, Indonesia — giving us our first glimpse of the Repsol Honda livery for the 2015 season.

Both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were in attendance, which is no surprise considering how important the Indonesian market is for Honda.

The Indonesian unveil also helps the two GP riders to have only a short hop now to Malaysia, to start the MotoGP season with the first official test a Sepang International Circuit.

As for the 2015-spec RC213V, things remain mostly the same to the layman’s eye. Red Bull’s sponsoring and support of both Pedrosa and Marquez, as well as the Repsol Honda team, is more prominent, and displayed on the belly pan fairing of the bike.

We’ll let you play spot the differences in the photos after the jump, they are super-sized high-resolution shots, so they might take a minute to load. Enjoy!

Ducati 1299 Panigale Mega Gallery

01/31/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Panigale launch is just wrapping up in Portimao, and while Asphalt & Rubber isn’t there to tell you all about Ducati’s new flagship model, we’ve got a bevy of high-resolution photos of the new superbike for you.

With 205hp from its bored out v-twin Superquadro engine, the 1299 is said to be beast. Thankfully Ducati has put some of the most advanced electronics on the new Panigale, including one of the first inertial measurement units (IMU) on a motorcycle — an acronym we suspect we will be talking a lot about in the next few years.

Unfortunately, our analysis today is limited to the refined looks of the Ducati 1299 Panigale, which has minor aesthetic changes from the 1199…most notably, the wider front cross-section, for better wind protection and aerodynamics.

We’ll have more to say when we’re finally allowed to swing a leg over one, until then enjoy all 167 wallpaper-ready photos after the jump.

2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 & Team Livery Mega Gallery

01/28/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Yamaha is ready to go racing in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship, and the Japanese OEM debuted today its factory team and racing livery. Of course riding for Yamaha Racing are Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and their weapon of choice will be the Yamaha YZR-M1 GP race bike.

2015 does not see too much changing in the MotoGP rulebook, so the 2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 is fairly close in spec to the 2014 model, though you can be certain that Yamaha and its team of engineers have not been wasting the off-season time with idle hands.

This season sees Abarth, the tuning brand of Fiat, as an official sponsor of the Yamaha MotoGP team, re-igniting the two company’s previous collaboration when both Rossi and Edwards worked for the Iwata-based manufacturer.

We won’t bore you with anymore details, we know you came for the high-resolution photos. You’ll find plenty of them, in all their bandwidth-busting glory, after the jump.

Ducati Scrambler Mega Gallery

12/13/2014 @ 12:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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As with every international press launch from Ducati, there comes a bevy of photos from the Italian company’s latest machines — the Ducati Scrambler is no different.

If you didn’t read our review of the Ducati Scrambler, the tl;dr version boils down to the budget-minded machine being a good, though perhaps uninspiring, motorcycle for the money. However, just as important as the motorcycle is Ducati’s focus with the Scrambler Ducati brand, which is clearly aimed at catering to the “younger” hipster crowd…perhaps to a fault.

The key of course is the price, which starts at $8,500 for the red Scrambler Icon ($8,600 for the yellow model we tested), and goes on up to just below $10,000 for the Full Throttle, Classic, and Urban Enduro models.

The clear winner in the “scrambler” segment, if there is such a thing from the OEMs, the real trick with the Ducati Scrambler however will be with the Italian company’s marketing efforts, which we have already discussed ad nauseum.

Today, we are just here to show you some of the gorgeous photos that came about from Ducati’s recent trip to Palm Springs, and the press launch which is still actually underway at the time of this writing.

You will note that we have included the aftermarket and apparel photos, something we usually omit for these mega gallery postings. We figured they were just as integral to the bike’s look/image/aesthetic as the machine itself. You’ll also note there are photos from the press launch as well, to give you an idea of the event and a look behind the scenes.

Over 220 high-resolution photos await you after the jump. Enjoy!

2015 BMW R1200RS Mega Gallery

10/10/2014 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Our last mega gallery from BMW Motorrad’s INTERMOT debut, the 2015 BMW R1200RS borrows from both the R1200RT and S1000RR in its design elements. A rebirth of the RS brand, BWM is again loading-up its lineup with sub-segment models. A sportier sport-tourer in design than the RT, the RS still uses the same water-cooled boxer engine as the RT.

The headlights are positively borrowed from the BMW S1000RR, perhaps to add more language to the RS that this is a sporty two-up ride. BMW has certainly added a bevy of photos of the R1200RS being used two-up, with our dynamic couple wearing leathers while they explore what looks like the Spanish coastline.

It will be interesting to see what the press thinks of the 125hp boxing twin, as our biggest complaint has been its lack of power. A fine enough lump on the R1200GS, we wonder if the wasserboxer will show its weakness more heavily with this sport model. Then again, we suppose the BMW S1000XR is for that power-hungry crowd — which brings us back to BMW’s very crowded two-wheeled lineup.

2015 BMW R1200R Mega Gallery

10/02/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Though the addition of BMW’s water-cooled engine to the 2015 BMW R1200R was a move everyone saw coming down the pipe, the German company’s extensive style shift on the BMW R1200R was perhaps a move unexpected.

The classic looking roadster of before is now replaced with a more aggressive design — though perhaps not as aggressive as the BMW Roadster Concept that we saw earlier this year.

Still, the new BMW R1200R is a handsome machine that incorporates both mild-touring capability with a fun sporty ride. Since we had a tough time pulling images off BMW’s press site earlier this week, because of all the traffic from INTERMOT, here’s a “mega gallery” of 181 high-resolution images. Enjoy!

2015 BMW S1000RR Mega Gallery

10/01/2014 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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We had 12 kinds of trouble with BMW’s press site during INTERMOT, as such our stories on their new bikes were woefully under-stocked with images. To make that up to you, we’re going to bring you some “mega galleries” of high-resolution photos of the Bavarian machines. First up, the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

A bike we spotted out testing ahead of the trade show season, we knew that BMW Motorrad had some changes in store for the S1000RR.

New for 2015 is a revised the frame geometry for better handling, an engine that has been massaged for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and a bulk weight that has been reduced by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS).

BMW says it gained the extra power by revising the cylinder head on the 998cc inline-four engine. A larger airbox, along with shorter intake lengths also help boost the peak horsepower on the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

To get the S1000RR on a diet, BMW has dropped the front silencer on the exhaust, for a healthy weight reduction of 6.6 lbs. The frame on the 2015 BMW S1000RR is lighter as well, and boasts refined positions for the steering head angle, wheel castor, wheelbase, and swingarm pivot. There is even a new battery, which shaves another 2 lbs off the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

Cruise control (yup) and semi-active suspension (BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control), has also been added to the updated superbike. Blah, blah, blah…you’re here for the photos, huh? We have 169 hi-res beauties for you after the jump. Enjoy!

2015 Ducati Monster 821 Mega Gallery

06/24/2014 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Ducati is hosting its press launch of the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in Bologna right now, which means that the Italian motorcycle company also just released a ton of high-resoltuion photos of its new water-cooled baby Monster on the interwebs.

Visually very similar to the Monster 1200, the Monster 821 distinguishes itself with lower-spec components, and more noticeably with a double-sided swingarm.

Featuring the same 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) that is found on the Ducati Hypermotard and Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 tips the scales at 395.7 lbs (dry) – just 5 lbs less than its 1,200cc counterpart. Other features include traction control, ABS brakes, and a ride-by-wire throttle.

Expect to see the 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in  a Ducati dealership near you next month. Pricing is set at $11,495 for the in red and white models, while the “Dark” is priced at $10,995.

2014 Ducati Monster 1200 Mega Gallery

02/17/2014 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 has officially debuted for the world press, which means we get a bevy of hi-res photos of the street-naked on location at the Canary Islands.

Fitted now with Ducati’s water-cooled Testastretta 11° engine, the new Monster 1200 gets a significant power boost over its predecessor — 135hp for the base model and 145hp for the S model, compared to the Monster 1100 EVO’s 100hp.

While the classic Monster lines have been retained, Ducati has updated the Monster 1200 to a more modern aesthetic; and the new Monster even uses its own version of Ducati’s “frameless” chassis design, with the subframe and headstock bolting directly to the v-twin engine’s cylinder heads.

A very clean look in person, even all 196 of these high-resolution photos don’t do the Monster 1200 justice. You have to see it in person; but until then, enjoy the photos after the jump.