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.

First Official Photos of the 2011 Ducati Diavel – Traction Control, ABS, Multiple Driving Modes, & 456lbs

10/12/2010 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Ducati USA just sent us a larger version of the photo posted on Facebook (enhanced version above). Check out the key entry for the trunk under the tail, and how the tail lights extend past the tail section to function as turn signals as well.

Ducati has just released the first official images of the 2011 Ducati Diavel on its website and Facebook page, thus beginning the teasing process as we lead up to the EICMA show in Milan in three weeks (and confirming the name Diavel in the process). Showing the ass end of the power cruiser, we get our first good glimpse of the carbon tank on the Diavel (rumors are the Ducati Diavel will come in two trim levels). Ducati has also announced that the Diavel will sport ABS, Ducati Traction Contorl, multiple riding modes, and weigh 456lbs.

Ducati has also confirmed that the 2011 Ducati Diavel will use the Testastretta 11° engine found on the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200, but has coyly made no mention of power figures, leading us to take an educated guess that the “Devil” makes a bit more power than its sport-touring cousin.

Smaller details are starting to come out as well, as we see the frame will get some red paint (as inked-in earlier), along with a central racing stripe down the tank and tail. We’ve brightened up the close-up photo after the jump, but don’t expect to see anything more than some pieces from the Ducati parts bin.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track

10/06/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

We told KTM when we rode the 1198 RC8 R that it was the perfect bike for the track. Agile steering, gobs of v-twin power, sure-footed suspension…there really wasn’t anything more we could ask from the Austrian manufacturer (except maybe a price reduction and a free puppy with every purchase). Someone at KTM must have agreed with our sentiments, because the Ready to Race firm has taken that mantra to the next level with the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R Track, it’s ready to race incarnation of the KTM 1198 RC8 R.

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Becomes Officially Official

10/06/2010 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Finally breaking cover officially, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R made its official debut at Intermot this week. For 2011, Kawasaki has taken a ground-up approach to building its liter-bike offering, and the Japanese company has its eye squarely on racing in World Superbike for 2011. Developing the race bike ahead of the street model, the new ZX-10R should prove to be a monster of a machine with its 197hp at the crank power figure (207hp with ram air) and 436.6lbs curb weight (+12lbs for ABS). However, for the US market the bike will get watered down by 10hp or so for emissions, which Kawasaki is quietly trying to downplay.

As we reported earlier when the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R leaked, Kawasaki like many other brands is bringing an optional ABS system to the sportbike genre, but Japanese firm has also brought a very sophisticated traction control system to the party, which will be a standard option. Taking measurements every 5 milliseconds from the front and rear tire pickups, throttle position sensor, engine speed, and other inputs, Kawasaki’s S-KTRC, according to the company, is the most advanced traction control system to-date in the consumer market. With pricing starting at $13,799 MSRP (+$1000 for ABS), we’d certainly hope it’s the most advanced sport bike on the market.

2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 – The Fully Faired Z1000 Tourer

10/05/2010 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Rumors have been swelling about Kawasaki introducing a full-faired version of its popular Z1000 street naked, and at Intermot today those rumors became true. Dubbed the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 (the bike is going by the Kawasaki Z1000S or Z1000SX name in other markets, which has lead other sites to misreport the model name for here in the US), the new heavyweight 1000 street bike uses the same 1043cc motor as the current Z1000, and remains largely unchanged from the Z1000 except for some modifications to make the bike fit a more touring-oriented segment.

Fitted with an adjustable windscreen and hard-mounts for panniers, Kawasaki hopes that the new Ninja 1000 will fill a sportier-touring role in the company’s line-up. Likely realizing that Z1000 owners like to log some miles on their bikes, the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 seems to be Kawasaki’s response to these adventurers’ wants, needs, and criticisms.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011

10/05/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki made a design departure in 2009 when it revamped its GSX-R1000, while leaving the GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 unchanged aesthetically. Finally bringing the two smaller middleweight gixxers in-line with the larger superbike, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 get not only a face lift for the new model year, but also a revised engine package that has ample weight trimmings. While the new Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750’s won’t make more power than the 2010 models, the revised motor and other components shed roughly 20lbs off both the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 (413lbs wet) & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 (416lbs wet).

Making the weight-loss program possible, Suzuki went in with its surgical knife and dropped weight in a variety of places, primarily focusing on the bikes’ four-cylinder motor. Losing 4lbs in the motor alone, Suzuki lightened the pistons by 14% and the connecting rods by 12%, while increasing the ventilation holes between the cylinders, helping reduce pumping losses and improve combustion efficiency. Relocating the ECU has saved .6lbs in weight from wiring, which is sort of crazy and impressive at the same time. The new exhaust system sheds 3lbs from the prior models’, while revised injectors increase fuel efficiency by 10% and meet the strict Euro III emission standards. More info and photos after the jump.

2011 Suzuki GSR750 Unwrapped

10/05/2010 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The street-naked segment, what used to be known as the “standard” motorcycle segment, is heating up this year as another Japanese OEM enters the fray with the official announcement of the 2011 Suzuki GSR750. Suzuki’s answer to the growing middleweight street bike segment, the GSR750 is like the Yamaha FZ8 in that it uses a de-tuned sportbike motor (sourced from the GSX-R 750), and employs a relatively cheap and basic frame and component set to make an affordable, yet punchy, bike for the street warrior.

With power in the 120hp range, and weight expected to be under 420lbs dry, the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 stacks up decently well on the spec sheet (compared to its competition at least), and knowing that swap-over aftermarket parts from the GSX-R line should bolt up nicely, the new Suzuki GSR750 should be popular with the modder crowd. No word yet if Suzuki plans on selling the 2011 Suzuki GSR750 in the United States, but we expect the Japanese company will take a page out of Yamaha’s book, and make a late entry into the model year.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple – Johnny 5 Lives!

10/05/2010 @ 3:20 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

As children of the 1980’s, we grew up with movies that promised us a future where tracked military robots would learn what it means to love and be human in a humorous yet adventurous manner. While we doubt we’ll see Johnny 5 unveiled at the Intermot show in Germany this week, Triumph is trying fulfill this need of ours as best they can. Officially showing its 2011 Triumph Speed Triple (photos of the bike leaked ahead of Intermot when it was shown on the Triumph’s accessories page), the British company has completely re-worked its larger streetfighter offering, and is slowly winning our hearts.

The biggest improvement for the new Speed Triple is the bike’s all-new aluminum frame. Initially reported to drop the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple’s weight by 40lbs, the bike tips the scales at 471lbs with a full-tank of gas, which is only several pounds lighter than the 2010 model’s curb weight, but that doesn’t mean Triumph has been lax in its revisions. More details and photos after the jump.

2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 Breaks Cover

10/05/2010 @ 1:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The wrappings have been taken off the 2011 Aprilia Shiver 750 ahead of the Intermot show in Germany this week, with the middleweight street naked getting an adjusted rider position that should prove to be sportier than previous models. With a narrower seat, and revised foot and hand positions, new Shiver 750 owners will find themselves hunched over more as they slam through city streets and canyon roads (we’re not too sure about Aprilia’s claim that a “sportier” riding position will be “perfect for longer hauls”). This concludes everything new about the 2011 model compared to the 2010, thank you for reading.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.

Valentino Rossi Goes to Ducati – Officially Official

08/15/2010 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.

Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.