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.

Pirelli Debuts New Qualifying Tires for SBK Superpole

05/08/2009 @ 5:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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At Monza this week, Pirelli will be debuting a new qualifying tire solution for the World Superbike Championship. Taking a page from what Bridgestone is doing in MotoGP, the 200mm qualifying tire will include markers that will help indicate what tires are being selected during the Superpole competition. Pirelli tires will sport non-permanent white “long P” markings and yellow lines, which have been imprinted on to the tire’s surface. These markings will offer spectators and presenters a way of identifying what is happening during the Superpole in regards to tire choices.

WSBK: Jake Zemke to Replace John Hopkins at Monza

05/05/2009 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Stiggy Racing Honda has confirmed that Jake Zemke will replace injured rider John Hopkins for the Monza round of the World Superbike Championship. Hopper had a big off at WSBK’s stop in Assen which left the American with a dislocated hip and fractured femur. Hopper hopes to be back on the bike by WSBK’s stop at Miller Motorsport Park, although that goal seems lofty. In the interim, Zemke will have to fill his shoes.

WSBK: Assen Race 2 Results

04/26/2009 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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It was Ben Spies again who took the holeshot of Race 2. Building off of his performance in Race 1, the American again began building a lead early on in the race. But wait! There’s more, continue reading for the full report from Race 2 of World Superbike at Assen.

 

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WSBK: Assen Race 1 Results

04/26/2009 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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In Assen, Holland, it was Ben Spies who took the holeshot in Race 1, launching off the line from pole position and into turn 1 of the Dutch course.  Spies was followed by Max Neukirchner and Noriyuki Haga, neither of whom could touch the American’s lead position after turning just one lap around the course. As Haga closed in on Neukirchner it seemed there would be a good battle for second brewing, but the German made a mistake in the GT chicane and tossed his bike. He would finish 13th for the day. However, Race 1 at Assen wasn’t about to disappoint. Continue reading for a woefully inadequate description of one heck of a Superbike race that was WSBK Race 1 at Assen.

 

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Spies Wins Dutch Superpole at Assen – 4th WSBK Superpole Win in a Row

04/25/2009 @ 10:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In Assen, Ben Spies took his fourth Superpole win in a row by besting the existing pole record by 7/10ths of a second, with back-to-back 1’36.6 laps. Nipping at the heels of Spies, and the only other man to break into the 1’37’s, was Jakub Smrz and his Guandalini Ducati. Continue reading for the rest of the front row, and the Superpole results.

 

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful

04/24/2009 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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If you were to ask John Hopkins what his least favorite track is right now, we’d bet good money the American would say the Dutch track Assen. The last time Hopper was in Assen, he smash his leg in a huge crash, which left him sitting out of two races, and struggling in pain for the rest of the season. Now, after only four laps around the course this year, Assen has shown its teeth again for Hopper. During the free practice today Hopkins dislocated his hip in another big crash, and there is doubt surrounding his return to riding by Sunday.

 

WSBK: Valencia Race 2 Results

04/06/2009 @ 2:39 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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After his poor start in the first race, further pressure was put on Spies who now stood 35 points behind Noriyuki Haga because of his crash out in Race 2. Surely Haga felt the pressure too, knowing that the American wouldn’t make the same mistakes a second time. With the Championship already playing out in the third stop of the WSBK tour, Race 2 already had more than just a purpose. Continue reading for spoilers from Race 2 of the Valencia World Superbike Races, and to see how Race 2 sorted itself out.

 

WSBK: Valencia Race 1 Results

04/06/2009 @ 2:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The World Superbike Championship visited Valencia this weekend. With three poles and three wins in a row, all eyes were on Ben Spies at the start of the first Superbike race, wondering if the American could close the 10 point lead that Noriyuki Haga had over him. A sweep of the weekend’s races, could mean that Spies could be leading the series, or at the very least tied with Haga, depending on how the Japanese rider fared. Conversely, Haga with a strong showing could lengthen his early lead over the field. With Spies showing almost a full second on Haga at the Superpole, this would be no easy feat. Continue reading for spoilers from Race 1 of the Valencia World Superbike Races, and to see how Race 1 sorted itself out.

 

Spies Wins Valencia Superpole, Third Pole for 2009

04/04/2009 @ 5:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Ben Spies lead 19 other riders to Superpole victory in Valencia today. While tactics were mixed, Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes were left behind after the first session, and will have to start from the 5th row tomorrow. Joining them will be Ruben Xaus, who crashed out on a fast lap before he had the chance to set a time good enough to qualify.

 

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda

03/19/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: Roberto Rolfo announced on his website that he would be leaving Stiggy Racing, due to “reasons beyond his control.” Those reasons beyond his control would seem to be: John Hopkins joining Stiggy Honda, having sponsorship coming with him, and generally not performing that well last season.

It seems the rumors were true. According to Roadracing World, John Hopkins is officially racing with Stiggy Honda’s World Superbike team. John Hopkins’ agent Bob Moore confirmed the news that that Hopper will be riding a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike Championship series, starting with the next round at Valencia, which starts April 3rd.