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.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar

02/03/2011 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

When the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer debuted at EICMA in 2009, it looks like we weren’t the only ones smitten by the bike’s retro yet refined presence. Moto Guzzi’s creation also caught the eye of the purveyor of pixels himself, Luca Bar of Luca Bar Designs, as the Italian designer plans on having a V7 in his garage, albeit with a slightly different look and feel from the stock model.

Basing his design off the endurance racers of the 1970’s, Bar is constructing a streamlined forward fairing for his Guzzi. Of course the process is added by his talented eye for design, which brings us the render you see here. Staying true to the classic lines of the Clubman, we think there might be more demand for such a piece than just the one destined for Bar’s garage.

Pierre Terblanche Leaves Piaggio for Norton

01/13/2011 @ 9:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.

2011 Pricing and Availability for Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, & Piaggio Motorcycles and Scooters

12/28/2010 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.

Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010

04/30/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Piaggio Group is reporting an 11.2% increase in its first quarter 2010 sales across its motorcycle and scooter subsidiaries compared to last year’s numbers. The group netted  €2.9 million for Q1, which is noticable increase from its €4.7 million loss in Q1 of 2009. For motorcycle sales alone, the company saw a 12.4% increase unit sales, with the European market leading the charge.

Millepercento Alba Arrives at EICMA

11/25/2009 @ 10:38 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Alba-Millepercento-EICMA-1

What you see above is the Millepercento Alba sportbike, a custom street machine made from a Moto Guzzi twin-cylinder, four-valve, 1200cc motor. Millepercento started out life as a dealership, specializing in Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini, Benelli and MV Agusta motorcycles. After a sordid history the dealership found new management in 2005, and rekindled its presence as a Moto Guzzi race tuner. The bi-product of that rekindling of course is the Alba sportbike model shown here.

EICMA: Mea Culpa Moto Guzzi

11/21/2009 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto-Guzz-V12-concept-EICMA

We suspect there’s a Moto Guzzi PR agent homeless in the streets of Milan right now, after not one, but two mix-ups have occurred. First, there was the debacle of press information stating the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer was a production model. And second, there’s what appears to be a naming mix-up between the Moto Guzzi V12 X concept and Moto Guzzi V12 Strada concept.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer

11/12/2009 @ 6:31 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

The Moto Guzzi booth at EICMA was full of eye-candy, unveiling their V12 concepts (V12 LE, V12 Strada, and V12 X) to a packed crowd and much fan-fare, Moto Guzzi hardly hyped the little gem that is the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman racer. The bike caught our eye, and the concept has a little something for everyone: a longitudinql v-twin motor, a catching color scheme, and cafe racer styling. Click past the jump for more details and photos of the V7 Clubman racer up-close.

Moto Guzzi V12 X Concept

11/10/2009 @ 1:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Moto-Guzzi-V12-Strada-concept-2

Moto Guzzi’s second concept from EICMA is the Moto Guzzi V12 X (also check out the Moto Guzzi V12 LM & Moto Guzzi V12 Strada). Also built around the Mandello 1,200cc v-twin motor, the X is shorter and reminds a lot of the aptly named Aprilia Mana X with its banana seat and snubbed nose. Photos and more after the jump.

Moto Guzzi V12 Strada Concept

11/10/2009 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Moto-Guzzi-V12-X-concept-1

The last in Moto Guzzi’s trio of Mandello based concepts is the Moto Guzzi V12 Strada (also read about the Moto Guzzi V12 LM & Moto Guzzi V12 X). While the LM separates itself from the group with its design, the V12 X shares very similar cues with the V12 Strada. Whereas we thought the Strada was more minimalist, the X seems to have more meat on its bones.

Moto Guzzi V12 Le Mans Concept

11/10/2009 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Moto-Guzzi-V12-LM-concept-3

Moto Guzzi has made three concepts for this year’s EICMA show, all based around the Mandello 1,200cc v-twin motor. Unveiled en masse, the Moto Guzzi V12 Le Mans (LM), Moto Guzzi V2 X, and Moto Guzzi V12 Strada are all striking concepts, but the V12 LM was the star of Moto Guzzi’s unveiling, and shows the brand’s aggressive designs and focus for the future. Photos, details, and an official “description” after the jump.