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.

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.

Norton is Coming to the America – Former Ducati CEO Heading Operations in USA

12/01/2010 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The historic British motorcycle brand Norton is set to return to the United States with its Commando 961’s next year. Heading up Norton’s push into the US market is former Ducati North America CEO Dan Van Epps, who also served time with Ducati in Bologna, acting as the company’s Director of Overseas Markets and Head of Product Marketing. Starting in May 2011, Van Epps and his crew will begin importing Norton Commando 961 Sport, Café Racer, and SE models. Built off the classic Norton lines, the Commando 916 series features a 916cc fuel-injected parallel twin motor, along with Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes.

Norton MotoGP Racer Imagined by Oberdan Bezzi

08/27/2010 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has seized on the news that Norton intends to field a MotoGP bike in 2012, and came up with a drawing of what that British-born race bike could look like. The Italian designer sees Norton using a carbon-framed chassis to house its four-cylinder motor with pneumatic valves, and of course with a British rider at the helm. Obiboi sees Norton rocking the white paint-job, but we’re hoping that Norton will choose a color that stands out from the pack a bit more…British Racing Green perhaps?

Source: Oberdan Bezzi

Norton Returning to MotoGP Racing

08/19/2010 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

German magazine Speedweek is reporting that Norton will be back in GP racing for the 2012 season with a two-man team. Speedweek‘s highly respected Austrian journalist Gunther Wiesinger has received word that Norton has requested two spots on the 2012 MotoGP grid, and has signed a request to join the series when it returns to the 1000cc format. It’s unclear at this time if Norton will be entering as a claiming rule team (CRT), or be listed as a factory prototype, which could have a dramatic affect on the team’s success in the series.

Norton NRV700 in the Works – 210HP Rotary by 2011

03/25/2010 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

We were disappointed last summer when the Norton NRV588 didn’t take a lap at speed around the Isle of Man circuit during the TT, but that didn’t stop the British racing team from clocking 178mph on the salt flats. It looks like Norton Racing has taken the data they’ve learned from the NRV588 and plan to refine the machine into a 700cc race-spec motorcycle that’s an evolution of the current 588cc pocket rocket. Altough Norton plays it coy on their website, rumor has it that they’re reportedly eying the British Superbike series and maybe even a World Superbike comeback within the next three years.

BUB: Norton Racing NRV588 Hits 173 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats During Bub Week

09/08/2009 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Norton Racing let it all hang out that last few days of Bub Week’s motorcycle speed trials at Bonneville this past week, and we know this for two reasons: One, check out the lad on the far left of the above photo, he’s not sucking in that gut, that’s just pure British sexiness at its finest. Secondly, the Norton Racing team is coming back from the salt flats with a recorded speed of 173 mph.

BUB: Norton Prepares for Bonneville Land Speed Record in 2010 with Rotary Powered NRV588

09/01/2009 @ 7:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

In contrast to Confederate Motorcycles’s forth year on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Norton Racing is also present at Bub Week with their rotary-powered NRV588, trying their luck for the first time out on the salt. With no FIM sanctioned class to race in, Norton isn’t going for a land speed record per se, but instead hopes that their efforts this year will provide the adequate momentum to have a sanctioned LSR class for rotary motorcycles in 2010.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M

08/18/2009 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Pebble-Beach-1957-Manx-Norton-Featherbed-40M-1

One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.

Norton Rotary a No Show at IoM TT – Parades Instead

06/13/2009 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The 2009 Isle of Man TT was to be the return of Norton motorcycles to the island and its Mountain Course. It has been 16 years since the British manufacturer raced the city streets of the Isle, and we eagerly awaited their return to the TT, and the showing of their rotary motor powered NRV 588 race bike. We, like many others, were disappointed then to see the Norton only shuffle around on a parade lap, and not tearing down the asphalt in the quest for absolute speed.

Norton NRV588 Rotary Testing at Donington Park

04/10/2009 @ 12:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

You may remember the news that Norton was preparing an entry into this years Isle of Man TT. Visordown has caught up with the British team at Donington Park recently, and has posted a video of the Norton team testing the rotary motor powered NRV588, and running it on their dyno. The bike sounds vicious, and the glowing exhaust pipes, menacing. It won’t be long now until we can see the fruits of Norton’s labor. Watch the video after the jump.

Norton to Return to the Isle of Man TT for 2009

11/28/2008 @ 7:54 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

It was only a few months ago that Norton Motorcycles had the spark of life breathed back into it. A UK businesman named Stuart Garner bought the rights to the Norton brand, and set up a factory and officespace for the company near the famous Donington race track.

Rumors place Norton as currently developing a streetbike called the Commando for the 2009 model year. Likely as a part of that product launch, Norton has announced that they will be entering into the Isle of Man TT in 2009 as well with 20-year-old Michael Dunlop taking the helm. More on this and the NRV588 with pictures after the jump.

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