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.

For Sale: One Italian Motorcycle Company – Slightly Used

02/18/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Moto Morini’s bankruptcy has been going painfully slow, but it’s all about to come to a head, as the Italian company will be put up on the auction block April 13th. The Super-Saver Moto Morini package includes all the appropriate intellectual property, assets, and equipment (sans motorcycles, which are being sold separately) for the cool sum of €5.5 million. Should no one want the whole kit ‘n kaboodle, a cheaper price of €2.6 million will be set for the production complex with two years use included. These prices are of course the auction’s guide prices.

Moto Morini Opening Again…Sorta Not Really

01/19/2011 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Don’t get too excited Moto Morini fans, the Italian brand isn’t making a comeback from the dead as of yet. However Piero Aicardi, Moto Morini’s receiver (the person in charge of handling the company’s affairs during the liquidation/bankruptcy process), wants to re-open the Bologna factory to assemble 45 bikes that are apparently sitting in parts at the factory.

With 16 Scamblers and 29 Granpasso’s capable of being built, Aicardi foresees that Moto Morini could open temporarily to build the 45 bikes, which would sell for €6,300 – €7,100 ($8,500 – $9,600), and use the proceeds to pay off some of Moto Morini’s debts.

Get a Moto Morini on the Cheap [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 6:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Moto Morini’s liquidator has now announced that all the available units have been sold.

As the dust continues to settle around Moto Morini, the Italian marque sees an expiration date looming in its future. Pushing its final days into September of this year, as the company looks for a new potential buyer, assets of this motorcycling misadventure continue to be sold. While many were upset at Moto Morini closing its doors, the good news is that the company has an ample stock of bikes, which it is now selling for severely discounted prices.

The Death of Moto Morini – Acquisition Deal Falls Through as Garelli/Berlusconi Walk Away

06/14/2010 @ 12:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We were hoping to hear something definitive about the Moto Morini acquisition early this week, and the news arrived right on schedule…but just not what we thought we’d hear. Unable to reach an agreement with the trade unions, Paolo Berlusconi’s company, New Garelli, which was created specifically for the takeover of Moto Morini, has backed out of the acquisition of the historic Italian brand.

In their statement, New Garelli cites the company’s inability to reach a mutual agreement with the labor unions as it’s main reason for backing out of the deal. With no other buyers in the mix, and the trade unions seemingly an immovable object, Moto Morini seems destined for the dead pool. Find the company’s statement after the jump.

Moto Morini Purchase Almost Complete

06/09/2010 @ 8:28 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After getting his first offer to purchase Moto Morini rejected by the local unions, Paolo Berlusconi looks to have overcome the setback, and could finalize the purchase of the other Bologna brand by as early as next week. This news comes after provincial administrators called an emergency meeting, which resulted in some concession by Berlusconi.

At the center of the controversy is the number of workers Berlusconi will keep on at the Bologna-based plant. According to reports, this number has been increased from 20 to 26, out of total of 57 workers who worked at the plant before it entered into receivership. This concession does not come without consequences though.

Unions Put the Kibosh on Moto Morini Acquisition

05/18/2010 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

You have to love labor unions sometimes. Faced with the prospect of being completely out of work, the labor union negotiators have rejected a proposal from Paolo Berlusconi that would save Moto Morini from going completely out of business. Of course us Americans can relate to this plight, as we just recently watched the UAW try to pull the same tactic while the US automotive industry crumbled around them. The blocked agreement is obviously bad news for Moto Morini, but Berlesconi is likely not done pursuing the troubled Italian manufacturer.

Oberdan Bezzi’s Second-Take on a Bimota/Moto Morini – MMB2 FighterMotard

04/21/2010 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Just a couple days after Oberdan Bezzi inked this incarnation of a Bimota MMB1 (Bimota Moto Morini), he brings us this drawing of a streetfighter/hypermotard version of his imaginative cross-pollination of the two Italian brands. The drawing of course looks great, but we have our same criticism from his previous render…it looks more of the same.

We were pretty tough on Bezzi for his prior design, and the problem is we take these drawings as compared to each other, whereas in the real world there would be only one iteration of these designs, which no doubt would look fantastic on its own. We especially appreciate how Obiboi has channeled Bimota’s genius in the frame design. So with that, we still hope for a change of inspiration from the Italian designer, but we’d gladly welcome any of these bikes in the A&R garage.

Obiboi Does a Bimota Moto Morini MMB-1

04/19/2010 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Topically Moto Morini has been in the news lately with its rumored saving from the dustbin by Paolo Berlusconi, and as such Oberdan Bezzi has inked another sketch that sees the Italian manufacturer linking up with Bimota to create the MMB1, the first Moto Morini powered Bimota motorcycle. The pairing seems a bit odd, as Moto Morini isn’t exactly known for its amazing motor design, although we are a sucker for a good v-twin here at A&R. Additionally, Bezzi’s design reminds of sketches of his that we’ve seen before, surely in his imaginary world Bimota would find a new vein of motorcycle design to explore Moto Morini with?

Moto Morini Saved From Bankruptcy? – Paolo Berlusconi Makes €2.9 Million Offer

04/13/2010 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Quirky Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Morini has reportedly been saved from the chopping block by Paolo Berlusconi. If that names rings a bell, it should because Berlusconi is the brother to Italy’s Prime Minister, and owns Garelli scooters. The Italian businessman has also been recently linked to acquiring MV Agusta, which if both transactions go through could see Berlusconi owning the parts of a formidable Italian motorcycle company. Berlusconi has reportedly made a €2.9 million offer for Moto Morini which includes the company name, infrastructure, and rights to past and future product lines.

Reports of Moto Morini’s Death Appear to Be Un-True

12/09/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

After we posted yesterday that Moto Morini had shut down its production line, amid the Italian company’s financial problems, other publications began covering the company’s complete closure. This caught the folks at Moto Morini off-guard, who while on an extended day-off, insist they are still keeping the production line functioning, if admittedly at a significantly reduced capacity.