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.

Yamaha TMAX Comes to America for 2015

02/13/2015 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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It would be easy to dismiss the Yamaha TMAX as just another scooter being added to Yamaha USA’s 2015 lineup, but the two-wheeler is all the rage in Europe and Japan, where it serves the interests of young speed fiends and hardcore customizers alike.

Hoping to use that popularity to bring new riders into the Yamaha brand, Yamaha Motor is bringing the venerable TMAX to US soil for the first time…and we’re actually pretty excited about that (not that Yamaha will ever let A&R critique a bike at a press launch).

US Motorcycle Industry Up 3.8% in 2014

02/09/2015 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The Motorcycle Industry Council has tallied the numbers from 2014, and is happy to report that the US motorcycle industry grew 3.8% last year. Participating motorcycle manufacturers reported that 483,526 two-wheelers were sold in 2014, with growth across all sectors except in scooter sales.

The off-road segment sold particularly well, seeing an almost 11% gain over 2013’s numbers, with 81,013 units going thru dealership doors. Dual-sport sales were up 3.6% with 34,497 units sold, while on-road sales were up a modest 3%, for 334,488 units sold.

Report: KTM Abandons Electric Scooter Project

10/15/2014 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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KTM seems to have a tumultuous relationship when it comes to electric vehicles. The Austrian company was the first OEM to announce an electric product, back in 2011.

Then in 2013, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer announced that the timing wasn’t right for electrics…and then promptly debuted the company’s E-Speed electric scooter, several days later.

KTM has since revamped its electric dirt bike program, showing three new Freeride E models at EICMA (MX, Enduro, and Supermoto).

So maybe then it’s without surprise that word is going around that KTM is canning its E-Speed project, ahead of its expected 2015 debut.

Mahindra Building a Plant in Michigan for Electric Scooters

05/22/2014 @ 5:07 pm, by Aakash Desai5 COMMENTS

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Two wheeler division of Indian heavy industry conglomerate, Mahindra, plans on building $3000, 30-mph electric scooters for the North American market right in good ‘ol Michigan.

The scooter, called GenZe, will feature a luggage compartment, under-seat phone and laptop chargers, an LCD display that is essentially a smartphone instrument panel, and a potentially innovative seat that supports you in a sitting and standing position.

The GenZe website is actually pretty attractive, and Mahindra’s PR firm/team goes through great lengths to tell us why the GenZe is the solution for the ills of failing urban transportation infrastructure. Noticeably absent are any real specifications about the thing—like range, power, weight, etc.

Yamaha Tricity – A Three-Wheel Leaning Scooter with CVT

03/25/2014 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Yamaha is trickling out its Thailand-built models, and while we wait for the debut of the Yamaha YZF-R25 250cc sport bike, the tuning fork brand has an interesting new scooter for the world market: the Yamaha Tricity.

A three-wheeled leaning scooter, the Yamaha Tricity features a 125cc motor with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Designed to sell primarily in Thailand, the Tricity is a fairly premium and feature-packed scooter for that market, and Yamaha hopes to sell over 10,000 of them in Southeast Asia, Japan, and Europe.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launch Outed by Website Metadata

03/24/2014 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It is a brave new world when it comes to the internet and motorcycle companies, and I have no problem saying that Asphalt & Rubber has broken a number of stories simply because we bring a different set of skills to the table when it comes to sniffing out a lead: namely we’re a bunch of nerds, who spend far too much time with computers.

Motorcycle OEMs are still coming to grasp with this internet thing and how the opening of information has changed the landscape, and that is where Yamaha got itself into trouble today. Just hours ahead of their launch, we can confirm that Yamaha is ready to drop the Yamaha R25 250cc sport bike and the Yamaha Tricity three-wheel scooter.

This isn’t exactly new information — it has even been hotly tipped by a number of publications, including A&R — but where the information comes from certainly is: Yamaha’s website metadata.

Yamaha YZF-R3 and More to Debut Next Week?

03/17/2014 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has setup a teaser website, complete with countdown clock, for a new motorcycle(s) that should break cover next week. With just over eight days on the clock, at the time of this writing, we won’t have to wait long as we speculate to what Yamaha is brewing for us.

The general consensus so far is that we will see the Yamaha YZF-R25 and Yamaha YZF-R3 twin-cylinder sport bikes, which should come in either 250cc or 300cc formats, depending on which country we are talking about. Yamaha teased us with the YZR-R25 concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, and recent trademark filings in the United States and Europe have tipped off the YZF-R3 model.

From Yamaha’s teaser video we get a quick line drawing and head-on render of a sport bike, which looks very close to the R25 model we saw in Tokyo, which helps fuel the small-displacement sport bike fire further. Also seen in the video is some sort of urban maxi-scooter, along with its presumably accompanying engine. More details as we get it.

BRD Working on an Affordable Electric Scooter?

02/19/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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I was just in the BRD Motorcycles office the other day, and managed to get a glimpse of a near-production version of the startup’s RedShift supermoto/motocross platform. A more refined version of the prototype I rode in December 2011, though fundamentally and visually a very similar machine, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are eagerly awaiting the release of these lites-class bikes.

Unfortunately for my brief tour, the BRD team took away my phone, and gave me only vague responses to my questions about the RedShift in exchange. I can’t fault them on either account — the San Franciscan company doesn’t mess about with the “spy photo” nonsense, and would rather comment on realities, rather than push marketing hype.

CEO Marc Fenigstein did say that the company would have some announcements very soon though, which I would presume to be about additional company funding, which in turn leads to more concrete delivery dates of production bikes. Of course, time will tell on that.

However, one of those announcements might have been leaked out in one of the company’s job postings though: a cheap, powerful, affordable electric scooter for 2015.

Hero RNT 150 Diesel Scooter Concept – Our Kind of Crazy

01/30/2014 @ 10:54 am, by Aakash Desai10 COMMENTS

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Coming from left field but hitting it squarely in the “awesome” section, Hero recently unveiled a 150cc diesel engine powered motorcycle called the “RNT”. The oil burner, with its square lines, flat surfaces and 1980’s Sci-fi aesthetics looks fantastically practical and more like a scooter than a motorcycle.

The RNT concept weighs about 300 lbs, has a top speed of 44mph, and a tank capacity of 1.5 gallons. At that weight, the Hero RNT 150 is quite pudgy compared to your typical 150cc scooter but the potential benefits of the increased efficiency and range of the Diesel might make up for that.

To top it all off, the concept features two wheel drive. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Hero goes forward with this concept.

Ducati CEO Denies Scooter Plans

12/30/2013 @ 2:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With the internet buzzing yet again about rumors of Ducati planning to build a scooter model, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali has also once again had to dismiss any truth to the matter. Talking to MCN about the matter, Domenicali said simply that “A scooter is not in the foreseeable future for Ducati.”

Domenicali went on to explain that small-displacement machines were not in the cards for Ducati and the brand’s foreseeable future, with the Italian motorcycle company electing instead to focus on niches with the larger displacement categories. It is no secret that Ducati is looking to introduce a scrambler-style model for the 2015 model year, and other models are presumably in the works as well.