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.

Spy Photo: BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Caught Testing

06/08/2012 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Pictures of a supposedly naked version of the BMW S1000RR have surfaced on MotoRevue, as the motorcycle was caught testing at BMW’s proving grounds by spy photographers. Showing an S1000RR-esque motorcycle with a half-fairing, the motorcycle would be just the second addition to BMW’s true sports bike line, after the S1000RR itself of course.

Expected to be a detuned version of the superbike variant, we can expect horsepower north 160hp, flat bars, and improved ergos from such a design experiment (in order to compete with the Aprilia Tuono V4 R and Ducati Streetfighter 848), though there is some reason to give pause about what these photos actually mean.

Aprilia Tuono V4 R Finally Coming to America – $14,999

12/01/2011 @ 10:33 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

You wouldn’t know that the Aprilia Tuono V4 R even existed if you went to Aprilia’s USA website, though the fire sale of the older Tuono 1000 should at least raise an eyebrow. That being said, Aprilia USA is set to bring the new, as in debuted at EICMA last year, Aprilia Tuono V4 R to our American shores. Set to hit dealers in March 2012, Aprilia USA has at least gotten one thing right with the 2012 Aprilia Tuono V4 R, and priced the streetfightered RSV4 with $14,999 MSRP.

That puts the base model Aprilia Tuono V4 R a full $4,000 cheaper than the $18,995 MSRP 2012 Ducati Streetfighter S, and $2,000 more than the $12,995 MSRP Ducati Streetfighter 848. With that price point, Aprilia has aggressively positioned the Tuono V4 R against Ducati, its biggest competition in the performance-oriented street-naked segment. With 167hp on tap, there is plenty to get excited about with the Aprilia Tuono V4 R, and true to its ethos, the Tuono V4 R is basically a de-tuned Aprilia RSV4 R superbike without its fairings.

Photos and Video of the Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/29/2011 @ 7:19 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Now that the European press launch of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 is over (we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the US press launch…le sigh), some more professional photos and a video of the new middleweight Streetfighter have hit the interwebs. Of course Ducati is really pushing the revitalization of the Italian yellow paint scheme, but we think the matte black “Dark Stealth” version will turn a few heads, and admittedly, this author wishes his Streetfigher 1098 had the red frame on the Rosso Corsa version of the Streetfighter 848.

At $12,995 MSRP, the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is $1,000 cheaper than the Superbike 848 from which it gains its roots (and shares the $13k price point with the Superbike 848 “Dark”). With the added benefit of Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and a 132hp Testastretta 11° motor with longer service intervals, Ducati has refined the Streetfighter 848 to be more civil for its for its urban hooligan duties, while maintaining an appropriate amount of uncouthed sensibility. 19 photos and a video after the jump.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848

09/12/2011 @ 10:02 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

After Asphalt & Rubber first announced the bike back in July, the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 has finally made its official debut (with a little teaser help from Nicky Hayden). Expanding Ducati’s Streetfighter brand to now include two bikes (we’ll have to wait a little longer for the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198), the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is certainly not a shocking release. True to the streetfighter movement’s ethos, the Streetfighter 848 is a stripped-down version of the Superbike 848, with a twist.

As we predicted, Ducati has brought over the Testastretta 11° engine configuration for the smaller Streetfighter, meaning not only will the Streetfighter 848 have a wet-clutch, but also a 15,000 mile valve service interval. While Ducati is mum on many of the new SF 848’s details, the Bologna brand says the bike will come with the Ducati Traction Control system (DTC), and from what we can see in the photos, unsurprisingly lower-spec Brembo brakes and Marzoochi forks, instead of the Superbike 848’s monoblocs and Sachs units.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 Spotted in the Wild

08/08/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

It didn’t take long for a “spy photo” of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 to emerge from Bologna, and it looks like Ducati wants to tease out the yellow paint job it plans to bring to the smaller displacement Streetfighter. The five-bolt arrangement on the rear-wheel hub is a give away to the fact that an 848 motor lurks in the Streetfighter shown, as the current Streetfighter 1098 uses a six-bolt pattern because of the more powerful 155hp motor. With the Ducati Superbike 848 EVO motor making 140hp (and also sporting a five-bolt rear hub pattern), we can expect that the Ducati Streetfighter 848 to lose 10-15 ponies from its superbike compatriot.

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie

07/29/2011 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Take one Kawasaki H2 750 motor, recently decommisioned from drag strip duty we might add, throw in a plenty of bling parts, for measure include one deliciously white powdercoated frame, and you’ve got one seriously trick bike that is sure to go “kwikasfaki” (295lbs, 135rwhp, 9.3 down the ¼ mile if you’re a numbers person). Oddly enough, that’s exactly what one member on the Custom Fighters forum, named cabbie, did (full build thread here), and the result is Pamela-Anderson-in-a-wet-leotard-on-a-windy-day stunning.

While everyone is busy trying to murder out every piece of their motorcycles with the darkest shades of dark (quick diversion: has anyone noticed how the OEMs are all finally catching onto the styling trend?), cabbie is going the other way with his design: all white everything. The result is a bright and eye-catching bike, and oh…check out those three gorgeous two-stroke exhaust pipes. We’d write more, but we’ve soiled ourselves. More photos after the jump.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 & Ducati Streetfighter 1198 Coming in September

07/27/2011 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Yelling at the top of our lungs words like “Scoop!” and “Exlclusive!” or the now more trendy “OMGLOLWTFBBQ” really isn’t our style, and let’s be honest, anyone with half a latte for a brain who had been paying attention to Ducati’s line-up the past few years could easily predict the Italian company’s next move with the Streetfighter line. That being said, we’ve gotten details from several highly credible sources that Ducati will debut to the public two new Streetfighters in September.

Replacing the Streetfighter 1098 is the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198, which as the name suggests, will get a 100cc displacement increase (full disclosure: an example of this motorcycle sits in my garage (said bike is shown above from a cool light-painting photo shoot that Scott Jones did), thus making me forever biased towards the original liquid-cooled v-twin wheelie monster from Bologna).

The catch however is that the new motor will not come from the leftover Superbike 1198 mills, and instead Ducati is using the Testastretta 11° motor (as seen in the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel) in the new Streetfighter 1198, meaning the motorcycle will by pass the bi-yearly Ducati tax (a valve job around here is roughly $1,000), and instead get hit with a perhaps more yearly 15,000 mile valve adjustment intervals (thank you Jesus!).

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike

06/15/2011 @ 7:34 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Here’s an interesting twist: instead of going through the trouble of setting up some sort of “spy shot” moment, and leaking it to the press, Husqvarna has cutout the middleman, taken its own photos, and sent them to web and print publications. Because of this, the use of the “spy shot” label is probably not appropriate, though we’d make arguments that it hasn’t been an appropriate label in many other situations as well. Leaving that subject for another time, what you really wanted to see is the new 900cc Husqvarna street bike in almost all of its glory.

Concept: Bimota TB-2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/06/2011 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Last week Oberdan Bezzi inked his concept for a Triumph-powered Bimota, dubbed the Bimota TB-1. That fully-faired alternative to the MV Agusta F3 naturally needs a naked streetfighter variant, and accordingly Bezzi has penned today’s latest concept sketch, which he calls the Bimota TB-2 675. Featuring the Triumph 675cc three-cylinder motor, the Bimota TB-2 675 competes against its donor the Triumph Street Triple, and goes head-to-head with the heavily anticipated MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3.

Light Painting the Ducati Streetfighter with Scott Jones

05/12/2011 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Wanting to play a bit with a photography technique called light painting, Scott Jones stopped by the Asphalt & Rubber office yesterday with camera and penlight in-hand. We moved some tables out of the work room, and threw some tarps over our skylights, only to realize that achieving a perfectly dark studio is a task much easier said than done. Maning the light switch, I got to play “photo bitch” while Scott shot a couple dozen or so exposures.

Luckily we have some photogenic subjects here in the office, as Scott spent the next two hours shooting my Ducati Streetfighter in the dark with long shutter speeds (I’m really surprised one of us didn’t trip over something in the process). There are various ways to play with the light in this setting, but Scott focused on exposing individual parts of the motorcycle with a pen light, which created a more dramatic effect. Check out after the jump some of the fruits of Scott’s labor.