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.

Electric: The KTM Freeride E is Finally Ready for Primetime

09/17/2014 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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KTM is finally ready to bring its electric dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E, to the general public, after pump-faking the machine at EICMA three years ago. During that rather large time gap, KTM has realized the errors of its initial design, and has since opted for a liquid-cooled PMAC electric motor, which puts out 21.5hp and 31 lbs•ft of torque.

The Lithium-ion battery pack has also been refined, and is now easily swapable (lift-up the seat, and unscrew four screws). With about an hour’s worth of riding time, according to the KTM wristwatches, the integrated battery and BMS unit has 2.6 kWh on-board, and fully charges in 80 minutes (80% in 50 minutes) when hooked up to the KTM quick charging system.

The Austrians are making two electric models available: the enduro KTM Freeride E-XC and the supercross KTM Freeride E-SX. So far, it looks like the machines are only available in Europe, where KTM has its electric E-Park riding parks. A supermoto is expected as well for the 2015 model year. Pricing for the Freeride E-SX is set at €10,995 in Germany (VAT included), while the Freeride E-XC will cost €11,295.

Red Bull Straight Rhythm SX Event Is a Go

06/19/2014 @ 5:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Late last year we told you about a new supercross concept that Red Bull playing around with, called Red Bull Straight Rhythm. Basically the real world realization of the video game Excite Bike, Red Bull’s Straight Rhythm features what can only be described as an SX course, minus the turns.

A half-mile of jumps and whoops, Straight Rhythm tests a rider’s ability to manage the rhythm sections of an off-road course. The initial videos of the concept seemed intriguing, and now Red Bull has pulled the trigger on hosting a live event.

As such, the first Red Bull Straight Rhythm competition is scheduled for October 4th, 2014 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. Racing a best of three head-to-head races against their competitors, racers will advance via a bracket format.

Red Bull Straight Rhythm = Real Life Excitbike Course

11/12/2013 @ 3:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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As a member of the Nintendo-generation, nothing tickles my fancy more than to see an homage to some of the classics, and for motorcyclists is there any title more prolific than Excitebike? I think not. So it warms my gamer hearts to see that Red Bull has explored the idea of a real-life Excitebike course with its “straight rhythm” project.

Red Bull says that the course is “an innovative evolution of supercross where a track is ‘unwound’ — there are no turns, just a half-mile-long straight rhythm section. By isolating the whoops, triples, doubles, table tops and step on/offs, riders must focus exclusively on reading the terrain directly in front of them, correctly judging their speed for precise distance and control.”

To us, it looks like the energy drink company is hoping to make the Red Bull Straight Rhythm a new type of racing spectacle, and is using names like James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Marvin Musquin, Jessy Nelson, Cole Seely, and Justin Bogle to hock the new course format. Check it out after the jump, and be sure to pick who you are rooting for before they get started.

Photos: The Mud of SX at Daytona

03/12/2012 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

AMA Supercross was in Daytona this past weekend, and apparently so was the rain. While the day’s earlier sessions were relatively unaffected, the evening’s main event looked like it was held in the bogs of the Florida Everglades, rather than the Daytona International Speedway.

With the AMA shortening the 450 race by four laps, many competitors still dropped out mid-race, leaving James Stewart to win with a comfortable seven and a half second lead. Similarly, the lites-class ran the course with three fewer laps than previously planned, with Justin Barcia continuing his dominance of the 2012 season.

While virtually every sport is more fun when played in the mud, after looking at the photos from Daytona, we are sure many racers will be glad to be leaving Florida behind them.

SX Riding Tips, Slow-Mo Footage, & James “Bubba” Stewart

01/06/2012 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

We should probably just go ahead change our name to Dirt & Rubber already, as A&R is on an off-road kick today. We’ve shown our fair share of slow-motion MotoGP videos from our friends at Red Bull, and today the brand that gives you wings has a treat for you dirt bike enthusiasts. Incorporating some great dirt track shots with James “Bubba” Stewart talking about the basic theories of motorcross racing, Red Bull has a nice little promo video here for Bubba and the Yamaha squad. Learning patented tips like “turn the bike like no other and get it done,” and “the Bubba scrub” we expect our street-leaning selves to be riding at JS7‘s level in no time at all. Video goodness after the jump, and be sure to note the slow-mo exhaust puffs at the 1:50 time marker.

You Can Always Count on KTM for Some Good Photos

12/07/2011 @ 10:50 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

We don’t cover the off-road sector of motorcycling too often (we’re really trying to put the “asphalt” in the Asphalt & Rubber around here), but KTM makes us wish we broke that vow to the tarmac more often. Sending us these photos of the official Red Bull/KTM Factory Supercross Team practicing at The Ranch in Anza, CA, the Austrian brand certainly seems “ready to race” (oh, brother), but with the lens of Frank Hoppen at the ready, Red Bull/KTM factory riders Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen, and Marvin Musquin looked the business as well.

I’ve waxed on before about how KTM really is the standard by which other motorcycle companies should rate their marketing materials, and these photos are no different. Keep in mind that KTM employs a variety of photographers, over varying locations worldwide, yet consistently comes out with stunning well-shot photos, which all have a touch of the KTM style. That’s almost as impressive of a feat as the body of work itself. But enough about that, onto the goodness after the jump.

Kiska Helps Decorate the 2012 KTM SX Bikes

05/31/2011 @ 3:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Out of all of the industrial design firms that dabble in the motorcycle industry, it has to be the angularly inclined folks at Kiska who we admire the most. Responsible for more than their fair share of “Ready to Race” motorcycles and cars, the Austrian firm has brought us favorites like the KTM RC8 Superbike, KTM Crossbow track car, and the recently debuted KTM 125 Duke street bike.

Helping KTM spruce up its 2012 line of dirt machines, we’re digging the chrome on white color scheme…and we’re not even dirt bike guys. To describe the work in the words of Paris Hilton: “that’s hot” and you can check out more of the 2012 after the jump.

Brammo Going Racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX

04/26/2011 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Asphalt & Rubber Bothan spies were hard at work over the weekend. Taking a break from finding ALL of the Easter Eggs in the A&R office, the Bothans did what they do best, and found the entry list to the AMA Mini Moto SX that’s going on next week in Las Vegas.

Sure enough in the paperwork was our favorite Ashland-based motorcycle company, which isn’t surprising since Brammo likes to go racing, but raises some eyebrows since you might recall the Mini Moto event is an off-road supercross-style race. Since a company doesn’t just decide to go racing on a whim, this surely must mean that Brammo has dirt bikes on the brain.