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.

Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple

10/02/2012 @ 3:18 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Debuting a three-cylinder concept at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Yamaha is teasing the hypothesis of a tuning-fork brand triple with a crossplane crankshaft.

A technology that was developed in MotoGP for Yamaha YZR-M1, and then handed down to the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2009, the unique qualities of the crossplane inline-four cylinder motor has been a key component to Yamaha’s potent, yet ridable machines.

Taking that same idea, and then applying it to a three-cylinder engine, Yamaha hopes to create a new motor that will appeal to street riders.

2013 Zero Motorcycles – 137 City Miles & 54 Horsepower

10/02/2012 @ 1:51 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Zero Motorcycles continues to upgrade its model line-up, with the 2013 Zero Motorcycles bikes getting a motor and battery upgrade. Offering bikes now in 8.5 & 11.4 kWh packages, Zero claims city mileage ranges to be 103 & 137 miles, respectively. The motors on the Zero S, Zero DS, and Zero MX have been bumped up to 54hp spec, the Zero XU retains its 27/28hp configuration, and the new Zero FX gets a 44hp lump.

The big addition to the family is the 2013 Zero FX (pictured above), which follows the lines of the Zero DS dual-sport, but uses the same chassis as found on the MX. The Zero FX appears to be the more off-road capable version of the Zero DS. While the DS will have 8.5 & 11.4 kWh options for its battery packs, the Zero FX will come with only 2.8 & 5.7 kWh unit options — the same as the Zero XU and Zero MX. Pricing on the Zero FX starts at $9,495.

The added battery and power boosts should help keep Zero Motorcycles in check with Brammo, which is set to finally bring its Brammo Empulse R street bike to market later this year. With 2013 rumored to have a “Brammo Killer” in the line-up, we’re not quite sure if the Zero S design lives up to the hype, even with its upgraded power train, but considering the sales figures between the two companies, we might be wrong on that assessment. Photos after the jump.

Second-Generation Ducati Testastretta 11° Gets Dual-Spark?

09/19/2012 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

If you are anything like us, yesterday’s announcement of the revamped 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 line left more questions than answers. Semi-active suspension on a Ducati? A Second-generation Testastretta 11° motor? Give us the deets Bologna! Surely both these changes are going to make it beyond just the MTS 1200 in the Ducati model line-up, yet Borgo Panigale is mums the word on what these changes are exactly, beyond their actual existence.

We do have some clues however, since Ducati released photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo motorcycles. A close look at the forward-facing cylinder head shows a feed for a second spark plug (2013 model on the left, 2012 model on the right), while the absence of the usual obnoxiously gold-colored forks raises some eyebrows as to whom Ducati is using to source its new “Skyhook” semi-active suspension.

Video: 11 Months, 3000 Pictures, & A Lot of Coffee

06/29/2012 @ 3:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

This may not be strictly motorcycle-related, though we are pretty sure most motorcyclists can relate to the time and effort it takes to take apart a four-cylinder motor and put it back together again. As if refurbishing a motor bought off eBay, and swapping it out for a junked one that is still in the car wasn’t hard enough, our protagonist decided to document the whole process with thousands of photos. Originally only intending to use the snaps to ensure all the pieces went back together in the right spots, a short animated movie clip was born from his efforts. Enjoy it after the jump, and thanks for the tip Chris!

Ducati Corse Testing a New Engine at Mugello Next Week

06/17/2012 @ 2:40 am, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

Ducati is to test the latest version of their Desmosedici GP12 engine next week at Mugello. Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi said that Franco Battaini is to start testing the bike, complete with the new engine, next week, in preparation for handing the machine over to Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi for a final test on the Monday after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. If that test is successful, then both factory Ducati riders will have the new engine available as part of their allocation from Laguna Seca, the race directly after Mugello.

Call Your Mother Because Here is the Ultimate Ducati 1199 Panigale Photo Gallery

02/17/2012 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ducati has been hogging the news the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the debut of the most important motorcycle the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has ever released. With Ducati up for sale and being valued at €1 billion, the Ducati 1199 Panigale sets the record straight that Bologna has not strayed from its sport bike and racing heritage with the release of bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and Diavel. With Ducati hosting the Panigale’s international press launch in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit (click here to let Ducati know that you wish A&R had been invited to this launch), the initial reports from the assembled press is that all the concerns about Ducati, its frameless chassis design, and its future can be laid to rest.

With a hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, a ride-by-wire throttle, rider-selectable “riding mode” system, and 15,000 mile major service intervals, the Superquadro v-twin motor alone is a major step for Ducati with its Superbike engine design. And, if you add in the first full-LED headlight on a produciton motorcycle, the first electronically-adjustable suspension on a sport bike, the first motorcycle engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle, the total package of the 1199 redefines the word “superbike” and takes the next logical technological step forward in this market segment…and we’ve got over 160 images of the Ducati 1199 Panigale waiting for you after the jump.

Cutaway Photos of the Ducati Superquadro Engine

01/31/2012 @ 7:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

I was flipping through some photos from the 2011 EICMA show, and found these shots of the Ducati 1199 Panigale‘s Superquadro engine. Unfortunately at the show, Ducati had its 1199cc v-twin motor behind a Lexan case, which created a bit of a glare, reflections, and of course had smudges from the touchy-feely Italian crowd. But still, the photos give a good idea of what’s going on in Ducati’s most-advanced production engine to date, and are better than just looking at the CAD renders (photos & movie).

If you look at the shots very closely, you can almost see where the 195hp and 98 lbs•ft of torque is lurking inside. Visible are the gear/chain-driven cams, which help aid the 15,000 mile service interval (and help avoid the almost yearly Ducati tax that came with the old motor design). Also visible is the new wet slipper clutch ride-by-wire system, which help complete the Superquadro’s departure from what we used to think of as iconic elements to Ducati’s twins. Photos after the jump.

Leaked: 2012 Zero Motorcycles Model Range Is Set to Debut Brammo Empulse Killer

11/06/2011 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Our first proper leak ahead of the upcoming EICMA show in Milan is now officially in the bag, as Asphalt & Rubber has gotten word on Zero Motorcycles’ 2012 electric motorcycles. Completely revamping its model range, our sources tell us that the 2012 Zero Motorcycles will have all-new motors, battery packs, and bodywork. Talking in numbers, the battery pack options will be 6kWh & 9kWh, with prices expected to be $11,000 and $13,000 respectively. Perhaps the most compelling news (and there’s plenty to be compelled about with this news) is that Zero Motorcycles plans to have the new models under production in December, and on dealer floors by January.

Ducati Superquadro Motor in Photos

10/14/2011 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

I’ll admit, I’m pandering to the crowd on this one. When we brought you the first images and details of the Ducati Superquadro motor, a recurring theme in the comments was how the motor bordered on art. While I’ll agree that a finely-built motorcycle has an aesthetic worthy of the MoMA (I fully expect the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale to be jaw-dropping beautiful), a motorcycle engine might be a tall order.

Content to let that one go and move on, Ducati ruined the whole thing by posting a bunch of artsy fartsy images of the 90°, overly-square, 195hp v-twin motor. Now, even I’m not bull-headed enough to avoid putting two and two together, so here you go you Ducatisti Asphalt & Rubber readers, more images of the Ducati Superquadro engine for you to drool over. Enjoy.

Video: Ducati Superquadro Motor [UPDATED]

10/10/2011 @ 4:29 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati has added English subtitles to the video. Huzzah!

We don’t know why Ducati only has this video out in Italian, but there’s some good bike porn of the Ducati Superquadro motor being developed and worked on, not to mention some shots of the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Hopefully Bologna posts up an English version of the video (we’ll add it if/when they do), so the rest of the motorcycling world can hear about the company’s new Superbike engine. Until then, our translation goes something like, “the bike, it goes a verrry fasst!”