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.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Max Biaggi Breaks World Superbike Record with 203.1 mph Top Speed at Monza

05/07/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It was Suzuki who drew first blood, breaking the 200mph barrier at Monza, but it was Max Biaggi who set the bar the highest today during World Superbike FP1 practice. Clocking 203.21 mph (nearly 327 kph) down the straight, Biaggi broke the WSBK top speed record, but still fell short of the all-time superbike record, which was also set at Monza, and also by an Aprilia.

Last week, Fabrizio Pellizzon clocked 203.4 mph on his CIV spec’d Aprilia RSV4. Either way you look at it, the Alitalia Aprilia team is sure to be a force in Italy this week.

A Graphical Representation of a Win at Jerez

05/06/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Did you ever wonder what a MotoGP win looks like on paper? Take away the close-passes, the high-speed wobbles, and on-air commentary, and all that’s left behind is the truth in the lap times. No excuses, no almosts, the above is a graphical represenation of what coming back from a 3.75 second deficite looks like at the storied Spanish track of Jerez, which saw Jorge Lorenzo win by over half a second when it was all said and done. Click here for a higher-res version.

Source: E_Bland

Zero Not Racing A Mavizen at Infineon TTXGP

05/01/2010 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

After hearing that Werkstatt Racing and Repair would soon be taking delivery of the first Mavizen to hit US soil, our ears piqued because we were under the impression that Zero Motorcycles must surely have recieved their Mavizens already, after announcing that the team would field two Mavizen bikes in the TTXGP series a while back.

With that apparently not the case, rumors suggested that Zero would be using another non-proprietary chassis at the first round of the TTXGP series at Infineon Raceway. While Zero wasn’t able to comment on their racing plans to us before the weekend, we do have some clues on what the company has up its sleeve from what we know already. More after the jump.

Aprilia RSV4 Race Replica Coming?

04/29/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoBlog.it is reporting that Aprilia is set to release a race-spec replica of its RSV4 superbike. While the rumor is not clear if this will be a track-only model, or street-legal race rep like the Desmosedici RR, what is clear is that the bike is expected come with a WSBK spec motor, chassis, and electronics package.

With a price tagged rumored to be around €50,000, the race replica RSV4 certainly won’t be cheap if it’s built, but compare that price to the €90,000 price tag that comes on Ducati’s 1198RS race bike that teams have to purchase from Bologna if they want to compete in WSBK, and the RSV4 starts looking very affordable. However, with most rumors, we’re not sure this story is all that it’s cracked up to be. Keep reading for our analysis and thoughts.

MotoGP and WSBK Battle Over Valencia Exclusivity

04/20/2010 @ 6:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Dorna (MotoGP) and Infront Sports (WSBK) are to battle over the exclusive rights to race at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain. Home to the Valencian GP, the venue has also played host to the World Superbike Championship since 2000. As one of the larger and most popular venues, the track is the cornerstone for both races series, and in one of the most fruitful motorcycle racing markets…and Dorna wants it all to itself.

Betti Wins FIM e-Power Championship at Le Mans

04/19/2010 @ 10:34 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

This weekend France played host to the FIM’s first round of the e-Power Championship, which took place in Le Mans. Starting before the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance World Championship race, only five riders took to the starting line, with Belgian rider de Ridder not making it to venue. Taking the first win in the FIM’s first zero-emission motorcycle race was Thomas Betti, the son in the father-son duo of Betti Moto.

FIM Releases e-Power Entry List for Le Mans

04/14/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The electric sportbike season is rapidly approaching us, and the first event is the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Le Mans. With six bikes and five teams on the entry list, the race will be sparse with entrants and could see the field shrink further if rumors are right that suggest one bike might be jumping ship to the Italian TTXGP series. Despite all this, the FIM’s first race has a great venue. Set to take place April 16th, the e-Power Championship launches just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans World Endurance Championship race in Sarthe, France.

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia

04/12/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

World Superbike headed to Valencia, Spain this weekend for the third round of the WSBK season. With a strong Superpole by Cal Crutchlow, all eyes were on the Sterilgarda Yamaha to see if a surprise victory would occur. With the Championship heating up as riders are vetted into place, Valenica would prove to be a battlefield this weekend with more than one rider firing a warning shot across the proverbial bows of their competitors, signaling their intention to compete.

New Media Meets the Old Guard in MotoGP

04/11/2010 @ 11:58 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Editor’s Note: This guest post by David Emmett was originally posted on his site MotoMatters under the title of “Editor’s Blog: Old And New – How Media Is Changing”. We thought Emmett was so on-point with his assessment of the use of the internet and social media in motorcycle racing, and the industry as a whole, that we asked him to reproduce his post here on Asphalt & Rubber. To put his post in complete context, Emmett just finished working this weekend as Fiat-Yamaha’s live blogger during the Qatar GP, where he wrote, tweeted, and hustled his way around the MotoGP paddock as the only online journalist with a permanent Dorna press pass. For more of an account of his time in Qatar, and for all your other racing news needs, you should visit his site at MotoMatters.com (after first reading Asphalt & Rubber first of course).

The comment that I have probably received most since I started this blog was “I want your job!” And frankly, I have to pinch myself to see if this is still all really happening, so it is a sentiment I can completely understand. Being allowed to work in the MotoGP paddock and up in the press room feels like a genuine privilege, and being surrounded with people who share the same passion is truly remarkable.

I often wonder at how this all came about. Just over four years ago, I posted a season preview on the Adventure Rider motorcycle forum, and now, I learned today, I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna. In the intervening years I have worked hard both to keep learning as much as I can about racing, and communicate my passion for the sport to a wider audience. It has cost me blood, sweat, tears, and more money than I like to think about, but all these would have been to no avail if it wasn’t for one factor: The Internet.

WSBK: Valencia Sees Cal Crutchlow Take His Second Superpole of the Season

04/10/2010 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

While the MotoGP season kicks off this weekend, World Superbike is making its third stop of the 2010 season, this time at Valencia Spain. Winning his second Superpole of the season, Cal Crutchlow from Yamaha Sterilgarda put his Yamaha R1 into the #1 position. Followed by town favorite Carlos Checa (2nd) and Max Biaggi (3rd). The trio of riders have been very strong so far this year, which the same cannot be said for the factory-backed Xerox Ducati team. Both Haga (11th) and Fabrizio (10th) found themselves knocked out of qualifying after Superpole 2.