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.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak

06/14/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

In just a week’s time, Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing crew will be headed out to Pikes Peak to compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). At 14,110 feet tall, and boasting over 156 turns, Pikes Peak features some of the scariest turns on the planet, no better exemplified than with the “Bottomless Pit” corner which boasts a 3,000 foot sheer drop down the mountain. Yates will of course be racing his 240hp electric motorcycle up the hill climb course, and will have a distinct advantage over his ICE competitors, as the extreme altitude won’t affect the fastest electric pizza delivery bike in the slightest.

We’re really excited here at Asphalt & Rubber for Chip’s participation in the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, not only because we like Chip’s mantra of taking ICE bikes head on with his SWIGZ.com racing machine, but also because we think the PPIHC is the ideal event to showcase how electric motorcycles have actual advantages over internal combustion engines. Starting at roughly 9,400 feet, ICE bikes will be already down on power at the start of the race, and will only continue to lose power as their engines struggle to breath on the 12.5 mile race to the clouds (electric bikes of course aren’t meaningfully affected by the thinning air at altitude).

Caption this Photo: Learning Process

04/21/2011 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Normally in our “Caption this Photo” series we just fire up a provoking picture, drop-in a photo credit, and let you the readers haver your way with it in the comments section; but for today’s photo, I thought our selection deserved a little background story, since not everyone is familiar with what Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing team has been up to this past year.

Having a day of testing in the desert outside of Victorville, California, the SWIGZ crew have been practicing with Larry Kleinschmidt to hone Chip’s dirt-riding skills, as the team is set to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb later this year. Yates is an accomplished road racer, but his dirt racing experience stems from four-wheeled endeavors, not two — hence the coaching from Kleinschmidt to help tackle the 2.6 miles of dirt road that still remain on the Pikes Peak course.

Chip Yates Hits 190.6 MPH at the Mojave Mile Shootout

04/11/2011 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Chip Yates and his crew might be SOL for the electric motorcycle racing season, after both the FIM and TTXGP lowered their maximum allowable weights for electric race motorcycle, but that hasn’t stopped the Southern Californian engineer from taking on the gasoline-powered bikes on their own turf. Already showing that his SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike can compete with the WERA racers in the Heavyweight Twins class, Yates was out at the Mojave Mile this weekend seeing what sort of top speeds his electric motorcycle could produce. The answer to that question is quite succinct: 190.6 MPH.

While the team is laying claim to the “Fastest Electric Motorcycle in the World” title, the distinction comes with a couple caveats as the Mojave Mile is a single-run event, meaning there’s no return-run the opposite direction that would meet the requirements for a land speed record (the official LSR for an electric motorcycle is 173.388 MPH). Additionally, previous top speed passes from other electric motorcycle makers have been conducted on salt flats, which typically suck 10% off the top speed compared to those run on asphalt. Still as Yates pointed out to us, the purpose of the entry was to prove his technology and see what bike would do, simply stating “it was a really fun weekend event” in his eyes.

Gas vs. Electric: Chip Yates Takes Podium Finishes in WERA Heavyweight Twins at Fontana [UPDATED]

01/09/2011 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Race results from both races, video of the first race, and a photo from SWIGZ Racing.

Reports are coming in from Fontana (AutoClub Speedway if you will) this evening, where Chip Yates the SWIGZ Racing team were competing against the gasoline-powered liter bike v-twins in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike & Superstock race classes earlier today. Hitting at one point 158mph on the banked walls of Fontana, Yates finished an impressive 2nd place in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superstock class, and had another podium finish (3rd place) in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike class, racing against KTM RC8 and Ducati 1198 Superbikes.

Chip Yates’ Electric Motorcycle Will Take On Gas-Powered Competition in WERA Race

12/09/2010 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

After first seeing the TTXGP and then FIM e-Power race series lower their maximum bike weights to 250kg, thus barring the 266kg SWIGZ race bike from competing, Chip Yates and his SWIGZ.COM race team seem to be making the best out of a bad situation, and have announced that they will compete in the WERA Pirelli Sportsman Heavyweight Twins Superbike class race being held at California Speedway on January 9, 2011.

Promoting an advanced KERS system, Yates has been touting his 194hp electric race bike as being comparable to gasoline-powered supersport machines, and now he will have the opportunity to prove that point on the track. With performance parity to internal combustion engine such an important issue with electric motorcycles, SWIGZ is the first team to take on the old guard head-on, with this first race being the first public working exhibition of the SWIGZ KERS design.

Chip Yates On SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike Progress

02/09/2010 @ 8:22 pm, by John Adamo7 COMMENTS

Last week I had a chance to ask Chip Yates some questions over email about the progress of the SWIGZ.COM Pro Racing Electric Superbike program. Chip’s responses tell us his team’s ambitious performance goals are on track and they are quickly signing on sponsors. SWIGS.COM Pro Racing remains the only electric motorcycle race team to put the cards on the table for 2010 in regards to target performance.

In late 2009, Chip announced he had assembled a team including two MIT grads turned aerospace engineers to develop an electric superbike to compete in the TTXGP race series. The press release mentioned some very impressive and somewhat controversial goals for the SWIGZ.COM bike including the ability to turn AMA SuperSport lap times (GSX-R600) and a KERS system to return braking energy back to the battery.

Since the announcement, the electric motorcycle racing landscape has changed dramatically with the entrance of the FIM e-Power series and the TT Zero race replacing TTXGP at the Isle Of Man. Some races have conflicting schedules that will force teams to choose one event or the other. Chip explains what series the team will run and which they will not. Unfortunately the team is not releasing any of the electric drive specs and vendors yet but some details should be announced next month.

See the full Q&A with Chip Yates after the break.