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.

John Hopkins Signs with FB Corse MotoGP Team

12/21/2009 @ 5:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

MotoGP new comer FB Corse has announced that they’ve signed John Hopkins to their 2010 season debut. When FB Corse first hit our radar back in September, the new MotoGP team stated that they had not secured a rider, but were keen on signing American John Hopkins to their racing efforts.

After things fell silent on the Italian front, we broke the news that John Hopkins has since been in talks about a possible ride in the AMA Pro Racing series with Pat Clark Motorsports. It would seem that PCM’s AMA Deathstar will have to go on hold for now, as FB Corse has officially announced that Hopper will be riding with them next year. Hopper will join the FB Corse team in Milan on January 21st for the team’s official presentation.

MotoGP: Championship Battle in the Rain of Sepang

10/25/2009 @ 3:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Malaysian-GP-rain-MotoGP

After providing three days of sunshine for the Sepang race track, the heavens opened up today with a downpour of rain 30 minutes before the commencement of the Malaysian GP. The change in weather caused the penultimate MotoGP race to be delayed by 45 minutes as everyone waited for the monsoon to abate to a drizzle. With riders having no reference for the wet Malaysian course, it seemed like all bets were off. Click past the jump for spoilers and more.

MotoGP: Qualifying from the Malaysian GP

10/24/2009 @ 7:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Valentino-Rossi-qualifying-MotoGP-Sepang-Malaysia

On its second to last stop of the season, MotoGP heads to Sepang, Malaysia for the 2009 running of the Malaysian GP. Looking to clinch the MotoGP Championship is Valentino Rossi, who really only needs to finish in the top 10 of the next two races to keep his Championship status alive. The situation is more dire for Jorge Lorenzo, who needs to grab as many points as he can this weekend, and hope that Rossi makes a mistake along the way. More on this, after the jump.

MotoGP: Portuguese GP, Oh What a Difference a Day Makes in Estoril

10/05/2009 @ 7:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Valentino-Rossi-MotoGP-Estoril-Portuguese-GP

MotoGP racing hit Estoril Portugal this weekend, and all eyes were on Casey Stoner as he took to motorcycle racing for the first time since taking three races off to help sort out his medical condition. Stoner’s return provided a quick reprieve to the Fiat-Yamaha camp, where riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo continue to battle for precious Championship points. With a 1-2 qualifying, Sunday’s race easily telegraphed itself to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. Spoilers and race results after the jump.

MotoGP: Qualifying at the Portuguese GP & The Prodigal Son Returns

10/03/2009 @ 7:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Jorge-Lorenzo-qualifying-estoril-portugal-motogp

30 points separate teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in the MotoGP Championship, and as they battle in these last four races for the title, they now have to contend with Casey Stoner once again, who could take away precious points from the Fiat-Yamaha pair. While Stoner’s return to MotoGP, after a three race respite, has grabbed the media’s attention, the real race for the Championship rests squarely on one team’s shoulders.

MotoGP: Championship Standings after Indianapolis

08/30/2009 @ 5:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

MotoGP-Championship-standings-Indy-GP

After MotoGP’s stop at Indianapolis this weekend, the Championship Standings have shuffled themselves again. Click through the jump to see the latest points totals.

MotoGP: Championship Heats Up at Indianapolis GP

08/30/2009 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Jorge-Lorenzo-MotoGP-Indianapolis

The second running of the Indianapolis GP found much better weather than last year, with a bone dry track this time around. With a strong showing from Dani Pedrosa all week, the Americans on the second row, and a lot of contracts still up in the air, the 75,000 fans at The Brickyard were treated to a great showing of GP racing as the Championship takes another step to completion.

Nicky Hayden has Best Finish of the 2009 Season While at Catalunya – 10th Place

06/16/2009 @ 11:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Nicky-Hayden-15th-place

While its hard to top the finish we saw at Catalunya this weekend, we’re afraid the 1-2 Fiat Yamaha podium may have overshadowed some other highlights from the Catalan event. Namely, we’re talking about Nicky Hayden’s best finish in MotoGP this season: 10th place. Taking into account Nicky’s early season injury from Qatar, and aggravating crash at Motegi, we understand if the American isn’t at a full 100% physically. After all, neither is Dani Pedrosa who had to dope up for this weekend’s race, and was only able to finish a modest 6th in Catalunya.

After Barcelona, 3-Way Tie in MotoGP

06/14/2009 @ 8:35 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Jorge-Lorenzo-Catalunya-three-way-tie-motogp

After today’s amazing race in Catalunya, the MotoGP Championship standings have become a three-way tie for first place. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Casey Stoner each have 106 points apiece, in what is becoming a closely fought season.

MotoGP Championship Still Up for Grabs

05/17/2009 @ 2:35 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

jorge-lorenzo-motogp-championship-standings

After Round 4 at Le Mans, The MotoGP Championship is still up for grabs, if not more so than before. Four riders: Lorenzo, Rossi, Stoner, and Pedrosa, are all in a dead heat for the Championship title. Running down the list are further surprises, with Marco Melandri in 5th place (tied with Andrea Dovizioso), just 23 points (or a race win) away from the top of the field.

Colin Edwards can claim the title of best in the US, with his 7th place slot, 31 points back from leader Lorenzo. Meanwhile, Nicky Hayden, a former MotoGP Champion himself, is disappointedly 15th out of 18 riders, 57 points behind first place.

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