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.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

New Colors Only for the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/12/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Unless Yamaha has some Steve Jobs-esque “one more thing” trick up its sleeve for its 2013 sport bike line, fans of the tuning fork brand should prepare themselves for a color and graphics package-only update to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6.

Simply stating that the “2013 YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 come back in a variety of new and exciting colors,” Yamaha’s press release is void of any mentioning of an update to the R1 or R6’s electronics package or other technical add-ons, let alone any revision to the major components of the machines.

With Honda already showing us its re-styled Honda CBR1000RR for 2012, and Kawasaki and Suzuki expected to stay the course with their liter-bike models, it would seem the only guaranteed change in sport bike offerings from the Big 4 for 2013 is the revamped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, which sees the same chassis outfitted with a 636cc motor and new bodywork. Humpf.

What is perhaps more interesting is that there appears to be no movement from Yamaha or Suzuki in bringing a 250cc class sport bike to the American market — thus leaving all the quarter-liter fun to Honda and Kawasaki. Photos of the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 are after the jump.

Up-Close with Ian Hutchinson’s Swan Yamaha R1 Superbike

06/11/2012 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson may not be a household name here in the United States, but over on the Isle of Man, “Hutchy” is a pretty big deal. Winning five solo-class races in the 2010 season, the English rider’s hot-streak was cut short after a tragic closed circuit racing accident, which saw him sidelined for the 2011 TT fortnight. Suffering another leg injury going into the 2012 racing season, Hutchinson was still physically not 100% as he headed to the TT, with the Swan Racing Team making obvious adjustments to his Yamaha YZF-R1 to accommodate Hutchy’s injured leg.

While Hutchinson would ride through the pain, he was noticeably off the pace during this last TT meeting. While a large component of those results are surely products of his physical state, where were compound by the fact that his practice and racing schedule has been truncated, many also wondered about Hutchinson’s mental state as well. Twice beaten, once shy, one Swan team member explained to me that when you looked into the his eyes as he got on board the bike, there was something there that didn’t exist before in Hutchy’s eyes. “Fear?” I asked. The team member wouldn’t comment further.

Cardboard Yamaha R1 Model is so Awesome It Hurts

06/05/2012 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

For some time now, Yamaha Japan has had some fun downloadable paper craft sheets that make a variety of paper art motorcycles (if you haven’t made a paper YZR-M1 yet, you are really not living life). Taking that thought a step further, Jack Chen from Australia has made a scale 2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 out of cardboard.

Roughly 60% the size of the genuine road-going version, Chen used Yamaha’s sheets as the basis for his masterpiece, and then super-sized the proportions. Skill, patience, and scissor control…you sir are a cardboard motorcycle Jedi, and we salute you. Photos after the jump.

Photos: Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART)

04/18/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Campaigned by Yamaha’s Austrian subsidiary, the Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) has an impressive history in the FIM World Endurance Championship. Finishing third at the 76th Annual Bol d’Or 24 hour race, YART was the top Yamaha squad on the rostrum, and even upset the Yamaha France’s factory team: Team Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube.

YART was the 2009 WEC Champion, and over the last 10 years, the Stryia-based squad has finished in the Top 5 eight times. Not quite the pedigree that comes with the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), but YART is a serious contender for the 2012 World Endurance Championship and is already giving the factory Suzuki squad a run for its money. It also so happens, that their 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 is one trick looking race bike — photos after the jump, naturally.

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/26/2011 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

We’re not sure if Ben Spies drives a shaggin’ wagon when he goes to track days, or if he spaces out during the rider briefing with a lollipop firmly planted in his mouth, but trouncing the other riders with his “advanced” status sounds about par for the course for the GP racer. Helping Yamaha sell the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 and its “born from MotoGP” traction control system, Spies plays the star in another video from the Japanese manufacturer.

Riding his 50th WGP Anniversary R1 out to some unidentified track for a bit two-wheeled schooling for some other Yamaha riders, we’re not really so sure about the story involved with this video, but as far as motorcycle industry videos go, it is not the worst we’ve seen. The photography, on the other hand, is stunning. Photos and video after the jump.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 – Traction Control Cometh

09/14/2011 @ 10:20 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 has broken cover, and the biggest feature the lightly tweaked liter-class bike boasts is a new seven-level traction control system (for our brothers in arms across the pond, a six-level traction system is being used…consider that punishment for your European ways). Other material changes include a revised engine map for smoother power delivery in the lower and middle rpms, while the footrests, triple clamps, headlight marker lamps, front cowl, and exhaust guards & end caps have also been revamped for 2012. More after the jump.

The Yamaha MotoGP Replicas You Can’t Buy

05/12/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

If you’re reading this post, then you are already too late to own a Yamaha YZF-R1 with MotoGP replica bodywork. For starters, the bikes were offered by Yamaha France, making local delivery here in the US a little challenging, even if you could pony up the €15,999 ($22,750) asking price. Second, race replica R1’s were gone almost immediately after being offered on the French website. If the price seems a bit steep, consider the fact that the machine would be delivered in person at the French GP by its appropriate MotoGP rider (there’s also a bit of Yamaha and team swag involved in the purchase price).

If you’re a die hard Lorenzo, Spies, Edwards, or Crutchlow fan, this opportunity by Yamaha France would probably be a once in a lifetime moment, but what we think is really special is that Yamaha left the Japanese support stickers on the bikes’ livery, not only drawing further ties to the MotoGP machines, but also noting a point in time that changed Japan, the world, and the motorcycle community…good stuff. More photos after the jump, but be forewarned that the yellow and black Tech3 paint scheme is extra drool-worthy on the R1.

2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 – Now With Skulls

09/24/2010 @ 5:43 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Yamaha has quietly released information on the 2011 Yamaha YZF-R1 on its website, and as expected there are few changes for the new year. With plenty of R1’s sitting in the factory, Yamaha took a slugging during the recession, and is still unloading leftover inventory onto dealers. To help sell those 2011 Yamaha R1’s though, the tuning fork brand has thrown some new paint on the faster red ones…and by new paint we mean skulls with wisps of fire and brimstone.

Photo: Rossi at Brno [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 7:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

UPDATE: According to Brivio, Rossi just finished 46 laps with a best time of 1’59.135. He reports Rossi as being tired, but his leg and shoulder are feeling better.

Fiat-Yamaha Team Manager Davide Brivio snapped this photo of Valentino Rossi as he left the team box at Brno this afternoon in the Czech Republic. So far Rossi has completed 18 laps around Brno, and will hold a press conference after this last session.

According to GPone.com, Rossi’s best lap on his first run was in 2′01.200, while on the second run his best lap was 2′00.600 with the same track temperatures as yesterday’s WSBK races. Compare that to Cal Crutchlow’s Superpole time of 1′58.018 just a few days ago in similar conditions.

Source: Twitter

Videos: Rossi Lapping at Misano Test

07/08/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Italy was abuzz yesterday as Valentino Rossi took to the track, testing at Misano, after nearly a month long hiatus. Breaking his shin during a highside at Mugello, Rossi was able to get back in the saddle this week partly because of his extensive use of a hyperbaric chamber, which super-saturated his body with oxygen and increased his body’s healing power, but it is also because the Italian World Champion is just that dedicated to racing.

One lucky spectator at Misano was able to catch a number of Rossi’s laps on video, as the Italian completed 26 laps, over two sessions, on the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Superbike. Rumors peg the carbon-clad WSBK R1 as being one of Cal Crutchlow’s bikes. Crutchlow is a favorite candidate to move into MotoGP (with Monster Tech3 Yamaha) next season, if Yamaha loses Rossi to Ducati in 2011. Check the videos out after the jump.