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.

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.

Catalunya Ends Colin Edwards’ 141 MotoGP Starting Streak

06/05/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

If there’s a Cal Ripken Jr. of MotoGP, it would have to be the Texan Tornado himself, Colin Edwards III. For the past 141 MotoGP races, the American has been on the starting line come Sunday morning (and Saturday morning if it’s for the Dutch TT).

This weekend’s race at Catalunya would have been Edwards’ 142nd GP start, but medical officials were not too keen on Colin’s idea of gridding-up with the MotoGP field, and doing a single lap to maintain his streak (CEIII broke his collarbone on Friday). Thus, Edwards’ record for consecutive GP starts will have to stand at 141 races.

Dani Pedrosa to Miss the Catalan GP

06/02/2011 @ 8:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

More bad luck for Dani Pedrosa, as Repsol Honda has announced that the Spanish rider will indeed miss the Catalan GP this weekend, electing instead to heal further his broken collarbone. Pedrosa injured his shoulder at the French GP two weeks ago, clipping the curb after he crashed in an incident that involved Marco Simoncelli. For his part, Simoncelli had to do a ride-through penalty, and will be meeting with the MotoGP Race Direction during this race weekend to further explain his actions on and off the race circuit.

For Pedrosa, it was hoped that he could recuperate in-time for his home GP outside of Barcelona; however, due the bone healing slower than anticipated he has been forced to follow a more conservative treatment. Now the question is which race Pedrosa will return back to MotoGP at, as the MotoGP calendar is now hitting six races in the next eight weeks. Pedrosa’s injury comes at the worst time of the season, and hopefully he can be back on the saddle of the Honda RC212V by the Silverstone round.

Dani Pedrosa Goes in for Shoulder Surgery – Questionable for Catalan GP Participation

05/19/2011 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa seems fated to ride forever injured, having broken his right collarbone at the French GP during an incident with Marco Simoncelli. Coming off serious issues with his left shoulder, breaking that collarbone at the Motegi round last year, Pedrosa has to contend again with a performance limiting ailment, during what otherwise seemed to be a promising season. After contemplating his options for a few days and talking further with his doctors, Pedrosa decided to undergo surgery for his broken shoulder, having a titanium plate inserted to hold the fracture together.

Dani Pedrosa Has Successful Second Surgery

04/06/2011 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

As planned, Dani Pedrosa went under the knife after the Spanish GP, hoping to relieve the pain in his shoulder caused by the plate that was decompressing his left subclavian artery. The procedure was preformed by vascular surgeon Dr. César García-Madrid and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joaquim Casañas at the Teknon Medical Center in Barcelona, and the operation has been considered a success after tests showed a return of subclavian flow.

Update on Dani Pedrosa’s Shoulder Condition

03/23/2011 @ 5:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Leading into the Qatar GP the talk was all about Repsol Honda, namely the blistering fast paces of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, who seemed to be on a different level from everyone else, even teammate Andrea Dovizioso. However after seeing Pedrosa’s race performance be hampered by a lingering shoulder injury that, which was causing his arm to go numb and lose strength during the race, question marks began to develop over whether the Spaniard would be able to fight for the Championship like he did last season.

Responding to these worries, Repsol Honda has released a press release that talks more about Pedrosa’s shoulder condition, which was questionable at the end of the Qatar GP. After returning from Doha, medical checks performed on Pedrosa confirmed that his shoulder was not 100%, but was only suffering from a small stretch in the plexus, which is gradually improving, but will need more time to finish healing completely.

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP

01/31/2011 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

More eye candy for Ducatisti and Valentino Rossi fans, as Ducati has released a video of Rossi’s test at Misano on board the 1198 SP. Testing his shoulder’s fitness level, Rossi admitted to being in considerable pain during the test, which doesn’t bode well for the Italian as the 2011 season rapidly approaches. Before Rossi will take to the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 under the lights of Qatar, MotoGP is slated to run at Sepang this week. With such little time passing since this test on the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, we imagine the outing at Malaysia will still be painful for the Italian, as he tries to further hone in the GP11 for racing duty.

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano

01/26/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.

Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).

If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.

Melandri’s Shoulder Healing After Successful Surgery

12/30/2010 @ 5:30 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

This off-season would have been bumpy enough for Marco Melandri, moving from the Gresini Honda MotoGP team to the factory Yamaha WSBK squad, but he’s been suffering from a “big pain with no reason,” that forced him to go for a scan on December 17th, and then have surgery on his right shoulder. Originally, even the official WSBK site posted that it was a “false alarm,” as “a scan did not reveal anything.” However, the Italian underwent a successful surgery just before Christmas. It appears that Melandri will be ready for racing when the season begins in two months’ time.

According to the Yamaha Racing, “the Italian opted for a clean-up procedure in order to reduce risk of further aggravation…there was no damage to ligaments therefore a straightforward ‘tidying’ took place and a ‘staple’ attached – that will erode naturally over time – will add extra stability.” Melandri’s doctor, Giuseppe Porcellini, recently performed surgery on Valentino Rossi’s shoulder. Melandri was restless in the hospital after the surgery, as most would be, simply tweeting on Christmas Eve, “paìnfull [sic] night but in a very good mood.. Wanna go home! :-)”

Valentino Rossi Goes in for Surgery

11/15/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

While Dani Pedrosa has been spared the surgeon’s knife for his broken collarbone, Valentino Rossi underwent his surgery this weekend for his injured shoulder, which will see the new Ducati rider out of action for 90 days. Rossi’s shoulder, which was a bigger factor in the 2010 season than the rider’s broken leg that saw him miss four races, was injured in April during a motocross cross-training accident, and plagued the Italian throughout the latter half of the 2010 season.

Surgeons at the Cervesi di Cattolica hospital preformed an arthroscopic procedure on Rossi’s supraspinatus tendon and glenoid ligament, encountering no complications in the procedure. Recovery times for this type of surgery typically last 12 weeks, which should mean that Rossi will be fit enough to test early next year at MotoGP’s second testing session.

Dani Pedrosa Won’t Require Surgery

11/15/2010 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After breaking his collarbone in Japan, Dani Pedrosa went through tremendous effort to return to MotoGP racing as soon as possible, and underwent surgery that installed a metal plate into his shoulder, allowing the Spaniard to swing a leg over his Honda RC212V at Phillip Island. While the daunting task of riding only two weeks after surgery proved too much for Pedrosa, the top Honda rider still took part in the Valencian and Portuguese GP’s, despite suffering from pain, a loss of strength, and numbness in his left arm.

Worried that the condition could be due to nerve damage, Pedrosa was faced with a potentially career-ending situation as he flew back to Spain last week to undergo tests. Fortunately for the Spanish rider, his condition appears to stem from inflammation around the nerves and in his collarbone, which are causing his symptoms. Doctors have advised Pedrosa to rest for four weeks, while he undergoes inflammation treatment, and then start his rehabilitation in December.