Has Ducati’s Success Flat-Lined?

The saying goes that one time is a fluke, two times is a coincidence, but three times…three times is a trend. Looking at Ducati’s last three years of sales (2012-2014), which spans only a 2% margin of growth, by definition one has to conclude that the Italian company is experiencing sales stagnation. Granted each of the last three years have been record years for the Italian motorcycle company’s sales figures, but each year has been a nudging over the last. Is all of this a sign that Ducati has lost its magic, seemingly during the leadership transition from Gabriele del Torchio to Claudio Domenicali? Or is there growth to be had from the Italian brand, now that it is owned by Audi AG? We examine that thought in more detail, after the jump.

Analyzing the MotoGP Michelin Tire Test

The departure of Bridgestone and the arrival of Michelin as the official tire supplier to MotoGP is an extremely delicate operation, in terms of marketing, tire development, and motorcycle set up. This posed problems for the Michelin test, held on the fourth day of the Sepang MotoGP test. After the factory test riders had tried the Michelins at the first Sepang test, it was the turn of the MotoGP regulars. With major money on the line, the PR gag-order was enforced rigidly, and observed religiously. No official times were released, nor made unofficially available by the teams. A range of times have seeped out from journalists present, but given that only a few laps were timed by a few people out of practice with using a stopwatch, those times can be taken as guidelines only.

Colin Edwards Part of MotoAmerica’s TV Team

MotoAmerica has announced its lineup of TV announcers for the series’ telecast on CBS Sports Network, and the trio is a mix of familiar faces. Motorcycle racing veteran Jonanthan Green will be calling the races from the booth (many World Superbike fans will recognize his voice), and the man helping Green analyze the race should sound familiar as well, as it will be MotoGP star and two-time WSBK Champion Colin Edwards. While the boys are in the booth, Crisy Lee will continue her role as pit lane reporter, something she did with AMA Pro Road Racing under the DMG administration. While CBS may have to hold its hand over the censor button on Colin’s microphone, we think that fans will be pleased with the Texas Tornado’s addition, and the insight he will bring as a veteran racer.

Ride Review: 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 & R1M

The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
Thus, the 4.5km Brabham circuit provided a world-class test track for the 100 journos who descended from all over the globe to experience the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M for the first time. The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle. Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ABS Comes to America for $14,399

A late announcement to the Suzuki motorcycle lineup, the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 comes with the banner headline of adding anti-locking brake system (ABS) and a bold new “Suzuki Racing Blue” graphics package (BNG) to the venerable superbike. The added safety of ABS is at least a welcomed change to the now seven-year-old model version of the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Meanwhile, the graphics package is designed to make a link between the GSX-R1000 and Suzuki’s MotoGP race bike, the Suzuki GSX-RR — even though the street bike pre-dates its racing counterpart all the way back to when Suzuki was last entered in the premier class.

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.

Nicky Hayden to Undergo More Surgery on His Shoulder

02/05/2012 @ 12:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse rider Nicky Hayden was back in the SF Bay Area this week, and no he wasn’t in town for the Occupy Oakland movement that had the ghetto bird circling above A&R HQ all night. Returning to Fremont, CA to see Doctor to the Stars Dr. Arthur Ting, Hayden’s scans revealed damage to the American’s cartilage in his shoulder and muscles on his back.

These injuries caused Hayden to have to sit out most of the Sepang MotoGP test last week, lapping only a handful of laps each day in Malaysia before letting Ducati test rider Franco Battaini take over. Being the true red-blooded football loving American that he is, Hayden is surely watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, but is scheduled to go under the knife on Monday to further assess and repair his injuries.

WSBK: John Hopkins Amputates Finger

01/16/2012 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

On his way to recovery, in more than one way, John Hopkins may not be the man he used to be after this weekend. Having a number of surgeries and complications with his right hand after his MotoGP wild card crash at Brno, Hopper finally resorted to having the top of his right ring finger amputated on Friday. Set to start physiotherapy in about a week and to back on the bike in three weeks, Hopkins hopes to be ready in time for World Superbike’s season-opener at Phillip Island in six weeks’ time.

Consulting with physicians before the surgery on Thursday, the amputation of part of Hopper’s finger was viewed as the best way to resolve his continuing problems with his hand, and ensure that his 2012 WSBK season would remain intact. Hopkins has a lot riding on this season, as he and Crescent Suzuki are hoping to continue the momentum from the 2011 British Superbike Championship. With Hopper hoping to return to MotoGP in 2013, we don’t think the Anglo-American’s resolve to accomplish that goal can be questioned at this point.

John Hopkins Withdraws from the Malaysian GP

10/22/2011 @ 9:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

It’s starting to become a bad joke for the Anglo-American rider, but John Hopkins has had to withdraw another wild card opportunity. Citing complications with the finger he broke back the Czech GP, Hopper has unfortunately had to call it quits in Sepang before Sunday’s race. Re-breaking the knuckle on his third finger on his right hand, Hopkins awoke yesterday to a swollen and immovable joint, which made riding the Suzuki GSV-R an impossibility.

Surely a disappointment for the talented rider, who has made no secret about his desire to get back into MotoGP, the move is also a blow to Rizla Suzuki, which as hoping to get some buzz this weekend, as the team negotiates plans for the 2012 MotoGP season with the Japanese factory. Hopper will stay in Malaysia to support the team throughout the race and cheer on teammate Alvaro Bautista, before he heads back to America for surgery.

Jorge Lorenzo Has Successful Finger Surgery – Will Miss Malaysian GP, Maybe Valencia

10/17/2011 @ 9:05 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Yamaha has released a statement saying that factory MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo underwent successful surgery to his left ring finger in Melbourne after Sunday’s Australian GP. Lorenzo injured his hand during a violent tankslapper coming out of Turn 12 during the race warm-up session at Phillip Island. The tragic incident caused the Spanish rider to miss racing in Australia, effectively handing the 2011 MotoGP Championship to Casey Stoner. Thankfully however, early reports indicate the injury will not be career-threatening, and Yamaha is reporting that as a result of the surgery, no functionality will be lost in either Lorenzo’s finger or his hand.

John Hopkins Undergoes More Surgery

09/19/2011 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

With just one more round left in the 2011 British Superbike Championship, John Hopkins has undergone more surgery, again having his hand operated on for injuries he sustained after crashing at the Czech GP back in August. The surgery comes as a surprise as the BSB season is so close to completion, along with the fact that Hopkins’ dominate wins at Donington Park shoved him to the front of the points leader board in the Championship standings.

“There was a lot of pain in my fingers at Donington Park and I knew it wasn’t right and in fact I was very worried I’d aggravated the injury. So I rushed back to see my surgeon on the Monday,” explained Hopper. “The X-Rays showed that my middle finger wasn’t locating properly in the second knuckle. Fortunately the bone area that had previously been crushed was now nicely healed and so my surgeon was able to put in screws and plates so as to stabilize the finger.”

Photo of the Week: Iron Man

07/18/2011 @ 9:53 pm, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

Two operations on the same collarbone in two months, that collarbone being the second one broken this season, and a win in his second race back in action. Remarkable. Though tragically fragile for a motorbike racer, Dani is as tough as old boots and one of few individuals fast enough to challenge for the MotoGP title.

At the beginning of the year I prayed to the speed gods that Dani could finally have a season without injuries, but he didn’t get very far into the schedule in spite of my wishes. Can he now please have half a season with no injuries? If he manages that, he may not win the title, but the racing will certainly be better.

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.

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! :-)”

Nicky Hayden Goes in for Surgery – Opts Out of Boob Job

11/23/2010 @ 6:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

“Getting a boob job… Lol O boy think the drugs are kicking in cuz all these nurses are 10’s…” read a tweet by Nicky Hayden, and under different circumstances we’d be very concerned for the former MotoGP World Champion’s mental health. Here in Northern California today, Hayden went under the knife of Dr. Art Ting at the Fremont Surgery Center for an operation on Hayden’s wrist.

Nicky Hayden had been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome this season, with his hand and fingers losing feeling and going to sleep during races in the latter half on the season. According to Hayden the surgery went according to plan, and the Ducati rider will be back in Kentucky for Thanksgiving. No word on how things with the nurses worked out.

Source: Nicky Hayden (twitter) & Superbike Plant