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.

Maybe There is Hope for Humanity After All?

06/18/2013 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

medusa

I will keep this post short. Recently we posted that the reported demise (and ensuing celebration) of American Chopper was a bit premature. It appears that our favorite juicing bike builder, Paul Teutul Sr., wasn’t quite done with the limelight, despite sending Orange County Choppers merchandising into bankruptcy, alienating two of his sons, and generally making motorcyclists look like a bunch of neanderthal’s with tribal tattoos, leather pants, and sleeveless shirts (we call it the Chopper Trifecta).

No, it seems someone told Paul Sr.that  he should give the small screen another shot, and the Country Music Television (CMT) wanted to oblige — for reasons still not fully understood by this author. The catch though was that Paul Sr. needed a compatriot — someone to focus his mercurial temper upon, and you know…to do the actual building of the bikes. With over a month now lost in that pursuit, OCC has yet to find someone desperate enough for TV stardom to fill the spot. Huzzah!

OCC Coming Back to TV? — Universe Collapses in on Self

05/03/2013 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

hyrda

After a very public father/son break-up between Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr., a steroid-ring scandal involving Paul Sr., and finally a bankruptcy proceeding, it appears that Orange County Choppers is the impossible to kill multi-headed hydra of doom that we all knew it was, as the custom chopper shop is once again headed to the small screen and recruiting some talent, on and off the show.

Looking for “someone who will work alongside Paul Senior, running the shop and helping build some of the best custom motorcycles in the world,” OCC says it will be back on television with a new show later this month (last we heard, the show was still looking for a creative director too). Please for the love of god, will someone give this man the attention he craves so dearly??! Or, just shoot us in the face.

Say Goodbye to Orange County Choppers Merchandising

02/06/2013 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

american-chopper-orange-county-choppers

Fresh off the moto-press newswires, we get word that Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC, the merchandising arm of Orange County Choppers, has sought protection in bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

Listed as having $1.12 million in assets and $1.44 million in debts, Hudson Valley Merchandising LLC will be given a trustee by the court, who will then likely dismantle the company and its assets in order to make the company’s creditors as whole as possible.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Paul Teutul Sr. Joins the Cast of Celebrity Apprentice

01/04/2012 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

NBC has announced its cast for the next installment of Celebrity Apprentice, the game show where b-list celebrities supplicate themselves to the marrow-sucking Donald Trump (it’s actually great television if you’ve never caught an episode). Joining a cast comprised of Adam Carolla, Arsenio Hall, Clay Aiken, Tia Carrere, and others, Celebrity Apprentice will also see Orange County Choppers’ Paul Teutul Sr. take on the challenges of Mr. Trump.

Roid Rage? Paul Sr. Named in Illegal Steroid Case

02/07/2011 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

In a case being prosecuted in Florida, a former dentist has plead guilty to supplying a number for high-profile athletes and celebrities with various steroid and performance-enhancing drugs. Among the names being pulled out of his business records is Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Choppers and the popular television show American Chopper.

According to the seized documents, Paul Sr. received dozens of prescriptions for steroids and HGH (human growth hormone). The scripts for these drugs were written by the plaintiff in the case, Dr. James M. D’Amico, along with three other Florida physicians, culminating in over a four years of use.

This news of course comes as virtually no surprise to anyone who has ever watched the show American Chopper.

Paul Sr. Quietly Selling Bikes from His Personal Collection

01/31/2011 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Add a 1943 BSA M20 to the list of bike’s available from Paul Teutul Sr.’s personal collection.

Paul Teutul Sr. cannot seem to stay out of the news lately. First the senior Teutul sued his son for ownership of Orange County Choppers, invoking a minority buyout clause that would pay Paul Jr. the market value of the business, which was allegedly valued at nothing, thus robbing Paul Jr. of his shares.

Then just recently at the end of the last week we learned that GE Capital and OCC were in disagreement over the terms of OCC’s loan from the credit company. Displeased by having to pay full-price on a devalued building, Paul Sr. has stopped paying back his loans to GE Capital, which have resulted in the financing firm filing for foreclosure on the custom chopper crew.

Allegedly Paul Sr. has the money, but wanted to sway GE into renegotiating the loan. While we were skeptical of this claim, it’s interesting to note that Paul Sr. has since quietly put two motorcycles from his personal collection up on eBay (a Ariel T-5 & BSA B33).

Using the account of OCC Head Assembly and Technician Supervisor Nicholas Hansford to list the bikes, it looks like at least two more motorcycles (maybe an A&R reader can help us identify them) are set to go up for sale. While Hansford has a video of the BSA B33 sitting in his YouTube channel, two other unlisted bikes (another BSA and a Norton) are included in the channel with video titles labeled “bikes for sale.”

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and it all sorta makes you wonder what’s really going on in Orange County, New York. More info on the auctions after the jump.

Orange County Choppers Facing Foreclosure

01/27/2011 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, only have basic cable, and don’t frequent moustache competitions, you’ve likely heard of Orange County Choppers, American Chopper, and the Teutul family. Originally started by father (Paul Sr.) and son (Paul Jr.), the small theme bike builders of Orange County Choppers came to fame when The Discovery Channel (later moved to The Learning Channel) picked them up for its hit show American Chopper.

Usually centering around a bike with spider theme, and the generally dysfunctional relationship between Paul Sr. and his sons, the show almost hit the skids when Paul Jr. left the company to start his own venture Paul Jr. Designs.

As the father and son battle out in court over a stock buyout between the two Teutuls (Paul Sr. has a 80% share, Paul Jr. 20%, and there’s some interesting buyout clauses in their ownership agreement), Discovery pitched a new concept for the show, calling it American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, which follows the two motorcycle shops as they struggle to build bikes in the moments when they aren’t trying to destroy each other. Throwing chairs while discussing business issues is just good family fun and a totally appropriate way to communicate with another person, right?

Whether you take Junior’s side or Senior’s, or even follow the melodrama as it still airs on television (or TMZ), there’s a very real possibility that Orange County Choppers could go into foreclosure, as GE Capital has reportedly not received a payment from Paul Sr. in sometime.

American Chopper is Back: Senior vs. Junior

04/09/2010 @ 2:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler233 COMMENTS

That’s right your favorite motorcycle show to hate, American Chopper, is back on TLC for another season, this time pitting father against son. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior centers around both Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. building motorcycles in a sort of head-to-head competition. The father-son duo hasn’t spoken in over a year, which has created a great deal of drama in what was hailed as the last season of the original show. It looks like that drama is set to return to a television near you.

American Chopper Cancelled by TLC

02/08/2010 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler81 COMMENTS

UPDATE: American Chopper is back as American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior. The new show sees both Teutuls going head-to-head in bike build offs at their respective workshops.

The Learning Channel (TLC) has finally given the television series American Chopper the boot, releasing information that show’s season finale will debut this Thursday at 9pm (8pm Central). We can only conclude that the show’s demise comes as a result of the ongoing rift between Paul Teutul Sr. and his sons, in particular his former partner Paul Teutul Jr. The two Paul’s are locked in a legal struggle regarding ownership of the American Chopper business, which has bled onto the television screen.