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.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 — Three Cylinders of Budget Touring

11/03/2014 @ 3:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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A bike that we know has been coming down the pipe for quite some while, the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 (or the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer, as our European readers will know it) is finally a reality. No more trademark applications, no more CARB filings, no more leaked photos, the budget-minded three-cylinder sport-tourer is here, debuting at the EICMA show today.

As expected, the Yamaha FJ-09 is based off the Yamaha FZ-09 platform, gaining longer suspension pieces and more touring features for its purpose. The windscreen, handlebars, and seat are all adjustable, allowing one to tailor the ride to their preferences. And with a 4.8 gallon fuel tank, that ride can go quite some distance.

Like the FZ-09, the FJ-09 comes with a ride-by-wire throttle, ABS brakes, traction control, and adjustable riding modes. Yamaha also has a range of accessories for the Yamaha FJ-09, helping riders add luggage and other touring items to the new sport-tourer.

Available in either Matte Grey or Candy Red, the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 will be available in the USA and Canada. American riders can expect the new FJ-09 to be in dealers in November 2014, with a price tag of $10,490 MSRP.

Recall: Yamaha FZ-09 Headlight Harness

09/23/2014 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Yamaha Motor Corp. USA is recalling 5,300 units of the Yamaha FZ-09 motorcycle because of faulty headlight harness. The recall affects only 2014 model year machines, and comes about as the FZ-09’s headlight harness is too short.

Thus, when the handlebars are turned fully to the left or right, the harness may break near the coupler, or the coupler may disconnect from the headlight bulb.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

09/06/2014 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before.

We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations.

Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally – Three Cylinders of Hoon

11/07/2013 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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We wouldn’t call it a new model from Yamaha, but one of the new releases from the tuning fork brand at the 2013 EICMA show is the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally.

A collection of bolt-on pieces for your Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 for us Americans), the Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally started life as dealer-made bike in Europe, but Yamaha liked it so much it has become an official option when buying the new three-cylinder street bike.

A pretty aggressive working over on the otherwise conservative MT-09, the Street Rally includes new fuel tank shrouds, side number plates, and fork covers, which give the MT-09 a more supermotard look.

The Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally is also trimmed in a “Tech Graphite” paint scheme; and lastly, headlight covers, knuckle guards, along with wider footrests and a slimmer seat complete the package.

2014 Yamaha MT-07 — Two Cylinders of Value

11/04/2013 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Releasing the Yamaha FZ-09 (the Yamaha MT-09 for you Europeans) this year with much success, Yamaha seems set to do an encore performance, having taken the wraps off the 2014 Yamaha MT-07 tonight in Milan.

Whereas the FZ-09 was powered by a 850cc three-cylinder engine, the MT-07 makes-do with a 270-degree crank 689cc parallel twin lump, which is good for 74hp and 50 lbs•ft of torque. Other key figures are the Yamaha MT-07’s 395 lbs wet weight and 3.69 gallon fuel tank.

Yamaha MT-DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/18/2013 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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By now you have surely seen the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 naked/standard/street bike from our favorite tuning fork brand. Featuring a 847cc three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 65 lbs•ft of torque, all within a 414 lbs curbside hulk, the FZ-09 has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is the bike’s $7,999 price tag.

Like we said in our first assessment of the Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha has really hit the nail on the head with a solid middleweight street bike, save for a few design elements that look a bit off to our eyes. We aren’t too worried about it though — an aftermarket exhaust here, a couple cosmetic tweaks there, and just about any motorcyclists can stamp the FZ-09 with their own unique look.

The first of many triples to come from Yamaha, it is easy (perhaps too easy, reading some of the comments left here on A&R) to put the Yamaha FZ-09 into other market segments.

With some longer suspension and armor, an adventure bike could be born from the FZ-09. Just as easily, put some saddlebags, a taller windscreen, and change the ergonomics a tad, and a sport-tourer you have…and that’s exactly what Luca Bar has done here with his Yamaha MT-DM 850 concept.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.