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.

Suzuki SV1000S Concept by Luca Bar Design

03/25/2014 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 is perhaps the most intriguing motorcycle to come from Hamamatsu in a long while, as the Japanese brand has been dormant ever since the economic dustup of 2009 and onward. A revival of new motorcycles from Suzuki, the V-Strom 1000 also represents the OEM finally building a proper offering for the ADV segment.

Building upon the V-Strom 1000, our friend Luca Bar imagines new life coming into Suzuki because of the adventure-tourer, and it isn’t hard to imagine other new machines from the V-Strom’s platform.

For a product line that is full of holes, one such plug could be the revival of the Suzuki SV1000 series, and Bar has put together both a naked and half-fairing editions of this well-loved model.

58 Hi-Res Photos of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

09/23/2013 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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In case you missed it this morning, Suzuki dropped more details on its upcoming 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike. Building off its predecessor’s v-twin engine, Suzuki have coaxed nearly 100hp from the 90° twin, while adding the company’s first traction control system ever on a production-model motorcycle.

We expect the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 to hit US soil with a price tag in the $12,500 range, making this ADV bike a very lucrative two-wheeler for any price-conscious motorcyclist who wants to get his (or her) feet dirty, while still having a great on-road experience.

To help whet your appetite on the new V-Strom’s impending official release, there are 58 high-resolution photos waiting for you in the gallery after the jump. Enjoy.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Details Emerge

09/23/2013 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Since its concept debut at the 2012 INTERMOT show, details of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike have slowly dribbled from the Japanese manufacturer’s lips. Giving us today a healthy dose of technical specifications and photos, Suzuki seems all but ready to debut its new V-Strom 1000.

Featuring a 1,037cc v-twin engine, which makes a peak 99hp at 8,000 rpm and 76 lbs•ft at 4,000 rpm, Suzuki has added a traction control system (a first for Suzuki) and ABS into the mix as well.

Nine Questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru – The Man Behind the Upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000

07/05/2013 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

I am not going to lie to you, after the jump is a set of very “marketing-heavy” videos from Suzuki about the upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike. But since A&R readers are a clever bunch, and well-versed in smelling out the industry bullshit, I thought we would post these videos up anyways, since there are some interesting things going on with the new V-Strom concept.

Featuring nine questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru, the Product Planner in charge of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, we get a sense of where the Japanese factory is coming from with its first proper modern ADV bike, and the lengths Suzuki has gone to ensure it meets the expectation of the existing devout Strom fan base.

Involved with the V-Strom 650 project, as well as wee-Strom owner, Ichimaru-san seems like the perfect choice for the person to guide the V-Strom 1000 project. We have heard plenty of stories coming out of Suzuki about the new V-Strom, so it will be interesting how closely the concept machine that debuted at EICMA is to the production model (expected to debut at this year’s EICMA show).

Price will be key for Suzuki, who will already have to compete for the non-BMW mindshare with the very stout Yamaha Super Ténéré.

More Photos of the Suzuki V-Strom Concept

11/13/2012 @ 7:49 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Suzuki is remaining fairly tight-lipped about its V-Strom Concept it is showing at EICMA in Italy, which first broke cover last month at the INTERMOT show in Germany. Simply saying that the model will eventually be built (in 2014?), it is not clear how close what we see here is to the production version.

A much needed revamp to its adventure bike offering, the real question for the Japanese company will be whether the new Suzuki V-Strom will be too little too late. Photos after the jump.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Concept – Coming in 2014?

10/02/2012 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

While the KTM 1190 Adventure and BMW R1200GS were grabbing all the headlines from INTERMOT today, we think the real news from the adventure-touring section is the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 concept, a nearly production ready bike that will debut in 2014. While Suzuki V-Strom owners we preach from the mountain the off-road prowess of their bikes, the truth is that Suzuki did not have adventure-touring on its mind when it built the V-Strom 1000 (or 650 for that matter), with the emphasis more on the touring side of that designation, than the adventure.

A quick look at the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Concept for the 2014 model, and that has clearly changed. A bit late to the party, Suzuki has finally put together what looks like a serious ADV bike, which will likely rival other Japanese ADV bikes like the Yamaha Super Ténéré, and give BMW, Ducati, KTM, and Triumph buyers some serious pause before they plop down the extra cash on those premium market bikes.