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.

MotoGP: New Rules for 2013 & 2014 – Penalty Points, Quickshifters, Cost Caps for Parts, Flags on Dashes & More

12/20/2012 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Following its meeting last week, today the GP Commission has released a bevy of rules for the 2013 & 2014 MotoGP Championship. An interesting mix of rules that stem from issues had this past season, the GP Commission has also drafted some regulations that aim at further reducing the cost of the sport.

For starters, Race Direction now has a penalty point system at its disposal, which can be used to address riders who are continually being warned of unsafe behavior. The points accumulate over the course of the season, and have thresholds with escalating consequences. If that doesn’t make your eyes roll and your mouth mutter “Marc Marquez” then Moto2’s new quickshifter approval rule probably will.

While all three classes will see a number of provisions to help control costs, the most interesting is the capping of brake and suspension prices, which will see the cost of service contracts also limited. The latter point is especially important, as parts suppliers have gotten around previous caps by merely rolling the lost costs into extremely expensive servicing fees and agreements.

On a more geeky and technical note, an optional in 2013, mandatory in 2014, in-dash flagging system will be put in place. Presumably useful for all situations, the system sounds like a direct response to Jorge Lorenzo’s complaints after crashing in Valenica while going through lapped traffic. The full list of new rules is after the jump.

2013 Triumph Daytona 675R: A Bargain Racer for $13,499

11/13/2012 @ 3:59 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Like the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675, the “R” model of Britain’s three-cylinder supersport has gotten a number of refinements and changes for the new model year. Virtually every aspect of the Triumph Daytona 675 has been seen to, and we won’t rehash those changes here (head over to our article on the base model for the full-monty).

Commanding a $1,900 premium over the base model, the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R adds a TTX rear shock and NIX30 inverted forks to the mix, along with a new quick shifter, higher-spec Brembo monobloc brakes, and some carbon fiber bits.

Would we spend the extra green for the Daytona 675R over the base model? Yup, but the better question is whether you would buy the Triumph Daytona 675R over the MV Agusta F3. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Look for the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R in dealerships come February 2013.

2013 MV Agusta F4 Gets Traction Control, Öhlins Electronic Suspension, Ride-by-Wire, & More

11/10/2012 @ 1:02 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MV Agusta is teasing its 2013 MV Agusta F4 line ahead of the upcoming EICMA show next week, and the company from Varese, Italy has massaged in some extra goodness into its premier superbike. Not giving us the full monty, MV Agusta is willing to admit that the F4 will come in three flavors: the MV Agusta F4, MV Agusta F4 R, & MV Agusta F4 RR.

For 2013, the key feature updates include upgraded Brembo M50 monobloc brakes, Öhlins electronically controlled suspension, ride-by-wire throttle control, and the MV Agusta MVICS electronics package with eight-way adjustable traction control.

We don’t have word on the F4’s key performance specs, but in its teaser video MV Agusta lets it slip that at least some versions of the 2014 MV Agusta F4 will have titanium con-rods and a redesigned crankshaft (by the way, did you see the new running lights in the photo above?).

Thus, expect the F4 to get a power boost that puts it properly in the 200+ hp realm (many media outlets fail to realize that the current F4 Corsacorta motor makes 201 CV, which equals 198hp). One of the most beautiful motorcycles you could hope to own, MV Agusta may be getting a bit derivitive with the F4’s design, but the company lives up its “Motorcycle Art” tagline, as always.

We have got a bunch of screen captures and a teaser video for you after the jump. Stay tuned next week for the 2013 MV Agusta F4’s official launch, where we’ll bring you all the photos and technical spec available.

Moto2: Marc Marquez Accused of…What Exactly?

11/06/2012 @ 2:34 pm, by David Emmett27 COMMENTS

The Moto2 paddock in Phillip Island was awash with rumors of cheating, and not for the first time. There have been accusations of cheating by Marc Marquez’s Monlau Competicion team running around the paddock for most of the two years the young Spaniard has been racing in Moto2, accusations which we have been reporting on since earlier this year.

The rumors in Australia centered round illegal manipulation of the spec HRC ECU fitted to all Moto2 machines. The German magazine Speedweek suggested that Marquez’s team had been able to load an illegal map on to the ECU, capable of overriding the quickshifter function and preventing fuel from being cut when the quickshifter was used. This, Speedweek claimed citing an unnamed technician, is what the Monlau team had been doing, and this explained his superior acceleration.

MV Agusta Brutale 800 – Too Much of a Good Thing?

11/02/2012 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

It made a lot of sense when MV Agusta debuted the four-cylinder side of its Brutale line, as the oddly positioned MV Agusta Brutale 920 was absent from the now exclusively 1,078cc range. Priced close to the MV Agusta Brutale 675, the Brutale 920 likely would have cannibalized sales from its three-cylinder successor.

For a moment there, it seemed MV Agusta was about to shy away from its previous strategy of over-saturating market segments with multiple varieties of similar bikes, but luckily today, balance has been restored in Italian motorcycle land, as the Varese brand has announced the MV Agusta Brutale 800.

2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC – WSBK Tech for the Masses

02/25/2011 @ 11:50 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Fresh off its victory in the 2010 FIM World Superbike Championship, Aprilia is bringing its WSBK tech to the masses. Designated as Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), The Italian company first debuted its 8-stage adjustable traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and a quick shifter package on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC, which debuted at the 2010 EICMA show. Now the company from Noale is bringing that same electronics package to its more affordable Aprilia RSV4 R street machine as a standard feature on the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC.

Along with the added APRC system, the Aprilia RSV4 R APRC features an improved motor lubrication system, and the first three gears are spaced for better acceleration. The exhaust system has also been lightened by 2kg (just under 5 lbs).

The 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC also comes with the same 200/55 x 17 dual-compound rear tire that’s found on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC. Other changes include lighter wheels, a fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock, better fuel consumption, and some new graphics. Pricing will be $16,999 in the United States, and £13,999 (exc. OTR) for our brothers in apex across the pond.

2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 Gets Free Traction Control, Data Acquisition, and Quick Shifter – $16,495 MSRP

10/12/2010 @ 8:12 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Along with the loaded 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, the Bologna factory is helping sell-out its current Superbike line by offering other Ducati Performance parts on its base model Superbike 1198. Keeping the 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198’s price at $16,495 MSRP, Ducati is throwing in its Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Data Aquisition (DDA), and Ducati Quick Shifter (DCA) systems in for free. Schwing!

If you were previously in the market for a Ducati Superbike 1198 S, but didn’t necessarily need the Öhlins suspension, this could be the bike you’ve been waiting for (although it is hard to turndown the new SP model and its race-ready parts list).