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.

Monster To Sponsor Yamaha’s Factory MotoGP Team?

12/21/2012 @ 3:04 pm, by David Emmett15 COMMENTS

It is looking increasingly likely that energy drink company Monster is to take on a role as co-sponsor of Yamaha’s MotoGP team. Spanish website Motocuatro is reporting that Yamaha has bought Jorge Lorenzo out of his personal sponsorship by rival energy drink maker Rockstar and that both Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are to carry Monster sponsorship on their leathers and on the fairings of their Yamaha M1s for 2013 and 2014.

According to Motocuatro, the story started earlier this year, after Lorenzo renewed his contract with Rockstar, and Valentino Rossi announced he would be signing with Yamaha. Both Rockstar and Monster had been in talks with Yamaha to step up their sponsorship of their riders – both men have personal contracts with their respective energy drink brands – to increase exposure for the brand.

At first, Motocuatro reports, Monster showed an interest in moving up as co-sponsor on Rossi’s bike, gaining the same level of sticker coverage as ENEOS, the Japanese oil brand which also adorns the Yamaha’s fairings.

In response, Rockstar started negotiations with Yamaha to match Monster’s offer, meaning that both Lorenzo and Rossi would have equal levels of energy drink sponsorship on their bikes. Lorenzo would have Rockstar stickers, while Rossi would have Monster badges.

Where Will Rossi End Up Racing in 2013 and Beyond?

07/23/2012 @ 5:31 pm, by David Emmett15 COMMENTS

It has been an intense week or so for speculation about the next and biggest cog in MotoGP’s Silly Season merry-go-round. The question of Valentino Rossi’s future has filled the media, with multiple, and sometimes conflicting, stories appearing in the international press. So, that Rossi should dominate the headlines is logical.

After all, with Casey Stoner retiring, and the futures of Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez all settled, Rossi’s decision will determine not just where he lands, but also to a massive degree it will determine who will fill the rest of the seats in MotoGP next year.

Rossi’s choice is fairly straightforward: he can elect to stay at Ducati and hope that Filippo Preziosi can soon provide him with a competitive bike; he can take up the offer he is believed to have from Yamaha to join the factory team; or he can accept a ride with a satellite Honda team aboard a full-factory RC213V.

During his daily briefing with the press at each race weekend, Rossi has suggested that his primary focus is to stay with Ducati and make the Desmosedici competitive. Yet all of the news stories in the past 10 days have been suggesting that Rossi is close to signing a deal with Yamaha, with the sponsors backing the deal varying depending on the source.

So what is the truth? Just where will Valentino Rossi end up next season? Is it possible to make any sense of the rumors and conjecture that surround the future of the nine-times World Champion? Let us examine each possibility, and see what we can piece together.

Video: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmets, Part 2

07/14/2012 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Monster’s series on Valentino Rossi’s Mugello helmets continues (Part 1 here), with this second installment just teasing out the nine-time World Champion’s signature special Mugello helmet. The video is certainly less wordy than the first, and from what we can gather, Rossi will have a ring of flowers on his head for the Italian GP.

With MotoGP to take to the historic Italian track for FP3 and Qualifying in just a few hours, we shouldn’t have too long to wait to see the final product from Aldo Drudi. Until then, this video will have to suffice. Check it out after the jump.

Video: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmets, Part 1

07/12/2012 @ 10:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It looks like Monster Energy has a nice video series cooking with Valentino Rossi, just ahead of the nine-time World Champion racing in front of his home crowd this weekend at the Italian GP. Of course, Rossi is known for his special helmets at the Mugello round, and 2012 will be no different, as The Doctor once again has trusted Aldo Drudi to paint him a special AGV lid for the race.

Usually a surprise to race fans, the last few years we have been getting peeks of the Drudi’s work on Twitter, usually from Rossi’s mechanics Alex Briggs. But for this year, Monster and Rossi have teamed up to make a special multi-part promo video to promote the helmet, and the race.

Yeah sure it’s a promotional work for Monster (a personal sponsor of Rossi), but it is actually pretty interesting to hear Valentino, in his own words, explain the significance and meaning behind his and Drudi’s collaborations.

If this first part is any indication of what is to come, we should be in for a nice little web series this race-weekend, though no one is expecting a miracle from Rossi and the Ducati Corse team in their results. Check the video out after the jump.

Video: John McGuinness – A Legend in the Making

06/18/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

John McGuinees, the King of the Mountain, could quit road racing today and go down in history as a legend of the sport. The thing is though, Mr. McPint is showing no signs of slowing down, and in reality McGuinness is at the top of his game — adding two more race wins from the 2012 Isle of Man TT to his impressive total. Nineteen wins to his name, McGuinness was favored to win his 20th in the Senior TT, after coming in second during the TT Zero competition.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt in the TT paddock that McGuinness will break the twenty-win barrier, a feat only ever accomplish by one other man: Joey Dunlop. But, fate has a cruel way of changing our expectations. Three wins in a TT fortnight is no easy matter, and no one wants to win more than John McGuinness himself. So, it goes to show you a bit about the man when you learn that McGuinness was instrumental in the canceling of the Senior TT, since his voice hold some of the most weight with the riders and Race Control — even though his own racing interests would have been served best by the race’s continuation in adverse conditions.

On that Saturday’s Senior TT, no one wanted to make more history than McGuinness — of course he wanted to do so in an entirely different way than what occurred. It will now be a long wait before he can lay claim to that twentieth IOMTT victory trophy, but John McGuinness isn’t too worried about that I suspect, and I reckon he has his eyes leveled firmly on the horizon, staring at what would seem to be an impossible an impossible number that starts with three.

Josh Hayes to Test Yamaha YZR-M1 at Valencia

10/04/2011 @ 8:23 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Racing Champion Josh Hayes will get a chance to swing a leg over some MotoGP machinery later this year, as the American rider will get to ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad at the post-season test in Valencia. Taking place immediately after the final 2011 MotoGP round in Valencia, Hayes will ride Colin Edwards’ 800cc Yamaha YZR-M1, as the Texan Tornado will presumably be released from his Tech 3 duties so that he can begin testing his CRT bike at the first 2012 season test. The ride is joint-promotion by both Monster and Yamaha USA, and it also sees Josh Hayes’ better half, Melissa Paris, riding Bradley Smith’s Tech 3 Tech 3 Mistral 610 Moto2 race bike at the Spanish test.

Ducati Monster 659 – Australia’s New LAMS Learner

04/29/2011 @ 7:46 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

According to our friends at Ducati News Today, Ducati Australia has announced that it will begin offering a Ducati Monster 659, a Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) compliant motorcycle for learning motorcyclists. Something we reported on back in March, the Monster 659 is a repurposed Monster 696 that complies with Australia’s laws and restrictions regarding motorcycle purchases by new riders.

Though with this news the Monster 659 has been official announced, it still is not clear how Ducati arrived to its 659cc displacement for the Ducati Monster 659. Logic would dictate either a reduced bore size, or a shortened stroke, with the latter being our best guess, but Ducati Australia so far has been mums the word about it.

Radical Ducati Il Mostro Kit

04/21/2011 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It should be apparent by now that we loves us some Radical Ducati here at Asphalt & Rubber. And why shouldn’t we be? Those Spanish desmoholics have put out some really impressive motorcycles the past few years, not only putting their small shop on the map, but Spain as a whole as a budding venue of custom motorcycles (check out the work fro Sbay for more Spanish goodness for instance). The process at Radical Ducati is pretty simple, take parts collected from various Bologna motorcycles, mash them up with some creative flare, add-in some custom fabrication, and presto: you have some unique motorcycles that embody the best of Ducati’s designs.

Now typically if you wanted your own Radical Ducati you’d have to fork over a hefty amount of money, and the figure out how to get your masterpiece back to respective your country of origin. While this technically remains true, you can now at least give your Ducati Monster the Radical treatment, as those crazy Spaniards have come out with the Il Mostro customization kit for the Ducati Monster 696, 796, & 1100.

New Ducati Learner Model Coming to Australia?

03/18/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

News coming from our good friends at Ducati News Today, tell us that according to one Australian dealer, Ducati is set to debut a small-displacement learner motorcycle that would adhere to Australia’s Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS). Fraiser Motorcycles is stating that Australia will get the new model in the coming months, and good money says that the bike is a modified Monster 696.

Whether that machine will have a smaller bore or shorter stroke is up for debate, but we imagine whichever is cheapest to produce will likely dictate the answer. Also expect to see some sort of deliberate power reduction used in the design, as Australia’s LAMS calls for a 201hp/metric ton horsepower-to-weight ratio.

2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO

11/01/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati has updated the Monster 1100, giving it the EVO treatment, which brings with it +5hp on top (for a total of 100hp), while keep torque at 76 lbs•ft. The 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO also benefits from Ducati’s electronics package, which now includes standard ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), and Ducati Data Acquisition (DDA) as standard OEM equipment.

Fitted with a two-canister side exhaust (you can debate if this is being channeled from the Diavel or the Streetfighter), the Monster 1100 EVO tips the scales at 373lbs, 4lbs less than the 2010 Monster 1100 ABS. In addition to these goodies, Ducati has also revised the sitting position by adding a new seat and a 20mm higher bar-riser, there’s some nice rally stripes thrown into the mix.

Diehard Ducati fans will be sad to hear the Monster 1100 EVO is fitted with the APTC wet clutch, making for smoother transmission work, but perhaps less Italian soul (this means the entire Monster line will now have wet clutches). Photos after the jump.