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.

MV Agusta Brutale 675 Video Teases All Trepistoni

10/27/2011 @ 1:33 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

It clearly must be almost time for the EICMA motorcycle show, as manufacturers are out in full-force teasing their 2012 model year motorcycles. One of the more anticipated models set to be unveiled in Milan, Italy is the MV Agusta Brutale 675, the naked counterpart to the still unavailable MV Agusta F3 that debuted at EICMA last year. While MV hasn’t been teasing the three-cylinder (tre pistoni) street bike as heavily as the F3, the Brutale 675 is just as important to the Italian brand in bringing the company back to profitability.

Expected to sell in the €9,000 range, the Brutale 675 will go up against other premium brand nakeds, namely the Ducati Streetfigher 848 and Triumph Street Triple. Want to get your first glimpse at the MV Agusta Brutale 675? Check out the teaser video after the jump.

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover

10/24/2011 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Officially breaking cover now, the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer continues the British company’s revamping of its adventure-tourer line. Featuring a 1200cc three-cylinder motor, the Tiger Explorer is the bigger brother of the popular mid-sized Tiger 800, which debuted last year after much build-up. Sans a few spy photos and some rumormill, Triumph has taken a decidedly different and more low-key approach in getting buyers excited about the new Tiger, though we think Triumph fans will like what they see.

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160

06/20/2011 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

We brought you some of the first pictures of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 all the way back from the 2009 EICMA show. Originally slated as 2010 model-year bike, the R160 has taken a while to make its way into dealer showrooms. The pinnacle of the TnT line, the R160 is presumably worth the wait with its 157.8hp, 88.5 lbs•ft of torque, and 474 lbs ready-to-ride curb weight. As with anything though, the devil is in the details, and the Benelli TnT R160 is no different.

There’s something about Adrian Morton’s design with the TnT that we’re drawn to like a moth to flame, nearly bringing one into this author’s stable of motorcycles (I wouldn’t mind a Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 too). Plagued with electrical issues though, the TnT line perpetuates the Italian stereotype of finicky and unreliable motorcycles trapped in otherwise gorgeous veneers. Seeing the Benelli TnT R160 in 2009, we were disappointed on the fit-and-finish of the bike, as the pitted and cloudy carbon exterior seemingly matched the interior: unrefined.

With the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 now ready for dealer showrooms, Benelli’s top streetfighter seems to have benefited from a better build process, and we hear that some of the electrical issues have even been resolved. While we’ll reserve judgment as to whether the bike can maintain a positive net charge at a stand-still, it sure is stunning in its final form. There are 55 high-resolution photos of the new Benelli TnT R160 waiting for you after the jump.

First Sounds of the 2012 MV Agusta F3

06/13/2011 @ 4:56 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MV Agusta brought out its new three-cylinder sportbike, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, to its annual international gathering of owners and enthusiasts, and as you would expect in this digital age, the cameraphones and video cameras were in full-swing as it rolled out of the truck. The F3’s design was clearly not complete in-time for the 18th annual gathering, as parts of the bike noticeably looked un-finished or were inoperable (there are no turn signals in the mirrors for instance, and we hear the LED tail light didn’t work).

But that all matters for not, as what we really want is to hear that triple purr, and these videos don’t disappoint in that regard. If anything actually, the MV Agusta F3 sounds subdued, likely because of noise and emissions standards in the EU becoming more and more strict. We imagine some aftermarket kit will help put some life into that exhaust note, but we’re sure MV fans will enjoy the silky smooth sound of the MV Agusta’s new three-cylinder lump. Two videos await you after the jump.

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.

Concept: Bimota TB-1 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/02/2011 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

For his latest work, Oberdan Bezzi imagines a three-cylinder Bimota that uses Triumph’s 675cc three-cylinder motor. Dubbed the Bimota TB-1 by the Italian designer, Bezzi brings up an interesting point with his sketch, namely that when the MV Agusta F3 comes it will, for all intents and purposes, be in a class of its own. You can’t really argue the point that there is yet-to-exist a premium well-designed supersport triple on the market right now (sorry Daytona owners), and Bezzi says that Bimota could easily come into this space with such a bike as seen here.

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined

01/06/2011 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Triumph for some time now has had these glaring holes in its model line-up, which it has only begun to address with the launching of bikes like the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

One hole that still remains in this Swiss cheese product offering is a liter class sportbike. Up until the recent release of the 2011 Triumph Daytona 675R, the Daytona 675 has been single-handedly holding down Triumph’s sportbike offering; while the British company’s naked plus-sized Speed Triple has nearly become the Branch Davidian of the street biking cult status, giving Triumph fans plenty of ammo to speculate upon when Triumph would release a fully-faired 1050cc three-cylinder machine that came from the best of these two bikes.

Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept

11/02/2010 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Unveiled at EICMA today, Husqvarna has brought to the Italian motorcycle show a special three-cylinder concept motorcycle dubbed the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept. Using three Husqvarna dirt bike cylinders with a common crankcase, the 993cc v-triple (one in two cylinders, one vertical cylinder) is strikingly unique beyond its peculiar power plant. Slammed to the ground, the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept takes obvious design cues from Husky’s dirt and motard line. Coupled to that low-slung chassis are spoked rims matted to fat street tires, making the Mille 3 looks like it would be more at home on drag strip than anywhere else.

Although there might be a hidden market segment somewhere between dragsters and motards (we know we like this 3-1-2 exhaust system), Husqvarna doesn’t intend for the Mille 3 Concept to be any sort of production machine. Instead the German-owned Swedish firm that is based out of Italy merely wishes to express flex its designing ink, and we imagine the good press doesn’t hurt things either (how many times do you here us talking about Huskies on A&R?). Photos after the jump.

MV Agusta F3 Unwrapped

10/31/2010 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Photos of the MV Agusta F3 have been posted to Asphalt & Rubber.

After teasing us relentlessly with spy photos of the MV Agusta F3, the Italian company’s three-cylinder supersport finally bares all in this photo. The recently repurchased MV Agusta is pinning high-hopes on the middleweight machine, hoping to attract wouldbe buyers with a low price-point that Claudio Castiglioni said could start as low as €9,000.

While it remains to be seen if Castiglioni can achieve that goal, a higher-spec F3 is also expected to hit the market in the €10,000-€11,000 range, which should have a direct 1:1 price conversion to US dollars if MV Agusta keeps its pricing scheme in place.

MV Agusta is also expected to come out with a smalled Brutale-esque machine that also uses the F3’s three-cylinder power plant. While The MV Agusta F3 is expected to official debut this Tuesday in Milan during the EICMA show, it’s not clear if the “Brutalina” will also debut at the event, or will make an appearance later next year. Click on the photo above and after the jump for 4,000 pixels of F3 goodness, and check out the gallery after the jump.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple Outed by Triumph

09/27/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Triumph is either really trying hard at leaking information about the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple and its other motorcycles ahead of their unveiling, or there is an intern in the UK right now whose job is about to go under the axe. Either way, the keen eyes at Visordown have spotted the fact that Triumph has outed the new Speed Triple in its online accessories catalog. While not showing the whole bike yet, we do see that the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple gets a much needed face lift, along with a substantially lighter frame. Could this be the street naked of 2011? We’re starting to think so.