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.

Zero Motorcycles Raises Another $2 Million

02/03/2011 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Zero Motorcycle continues to raise money despite the wallowing economy, dropping another $2 million into its war chest during a $2.4 million round. The news of this funding comes shortly after we’ve gotten word that the Santa Cruz company plans on building a production facility for its electric motorcycles, and as of yesterday secured distribution in Mexico. While Zero hasn’t said what it plans to do with these newly acquired funds, we imagine the purpose will go something along the lines of the famous Daft Punk song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

Zero Motorcycles Habla Español

02/01/2011 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Your favorite electric motorcycle company from the sunny beach town of Santa Cruz is about to get some more international appeal, as Zero Motorcycles has announced today that it will expand its dealer network south of the border and into Mexico. Signing local distributor Dofesa Aventura (the Mexican distributor for Polaris and its Victory motorcycle brand), Zero’s S and DS models are immediately available for demo rides, and the rest of Zero’s line-up is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

This move continues Zero’s agressive international presence, as the brand already entered the European market back in 2008, and completes Zero’s presence in North America as Zero Motorcycles are already available in the United States and Canada as well.

Zero Motorcycles Scores Another Local Grant

09/28/2010 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Zero Motorcycles may not be amassing as large of a war chest as Brammo, but the Santa Cruz company is getting a lot of free money and help from its local governments. Scoring a $177,906 grant (free, as in beer, money) from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD), Zero intends to use the money to continue its R&D efforts in developing its drivetrain components. This money will be added to the $900,000 grant that the California Energy Commission gave Zero last much, whose funds were then matched by the City of Santa Cruz and other investors.

Zero Motorcycles Amassing a War Chest of Money

08/05/2010 @ 6:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Zero Motorcycles has secured a $900,000 grant from the California Energy Commission for the company to begin development of a new advanced compact electric powertrain. The city of Santa Cruz is matching the grant with an additional $900,000; and with other contributions, Zero has raised a total of $1.84 million dollars. This figure would seem to be in addition to the $5.5 million the company raised earlier in the year. The powertrain Zero is developing is rumored to have multiple speeds, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it was water-cooled.

Watch TTXGP at Infineon Raceway

05/26/2010 @ 2:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

In case you weren’t able to attend the inaugural North American TTXGP electric sportbike race at Infineon Raceway two weekends ago, we’ve got a bevy of photos and videos to make you feel like you were right there at the Sonoma track (minus a lack of wine). Above we have the full race from the perspectives of Zero/Agni’s #21 Shawn Higbee and #14 Kenyon Kluge (courtesy of Zero Motorcycles). And after the jump, we have photos and clips from the race and practice sessions. Enjoy.

TTXGP: Zero/Agni Takes Victory at Infineon After An Early Battle with Lightning Motors

05/16/2010 @ 1:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

TTXGP’s inaugural North American race is in the bag at Infineon, as race fans got to see two close battles for first and third place this weekend. Blasting off the line was the yellow Lightning Motors bike, or the “Flying Banana” as it’s become known here in the paddock. Lightning’s rider, Michael Barnes, made quick work of Shawn Higbee and his Zero/Agni race bike off the line and on the straights, showing a very strong power package.

With all the power on-board though, Barney was limited  by his heavy and bulky bike, and wasn’t able to carry that speed into the corners as well as Higbee and his more slight Agni bike. Higbee, known for carrying a lot of corner speed, made up a lot of ground on Lightning, making it a close battle between the two riders.

Zero/Agni Sits On TTXGP Pole – Lightning Close Behind as Both Teams Do Sub-Two Minute Laps

05/16/2010 @ 3:52 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Qualifying ended today at Infineon Raceway, with nearly all the riders improving on their times in the day’s later qualifying session. While all the entrants will get to compete in the race regardless of whether or not they qualify, the two outings for Saturday gave us a preview as to what we can expect on Sunday’s race. As we’ve mentioned before, the Zero/Agni motorcycle looked very strong with Shawn Higbee at the helm.

Also looking confident was the “flying banana” fielded by Lightning Motors. Piloted by Michael Barnes, Barney took the yellow lightning machine around the course at a pace that was just seconds off what Higbee & Co. were lapping. We know the yellow bike has a lot of power on-board, and could give Zero a run for their money if they’ve been sand-bagging it during the practice sessions. Finishing out the top three was Thad Wolff and his stunning Norton, which blended a little bit of old with new with his streamlined retro bike chassis. Click past the jump for photos from qualifying and a full list of results.

Zero/Agni Dominates at TTXGP Practice

05/14/2010 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

TTXGP hit American soil here at Infineon Raceway today, with two zero-emission practice sessions under its belt for the day. Although dubbed an historic moment, today’s big winner probably wasn’t the sport of electric motorcycle racing, despite ZeroAgni put on a strong performance during the practice sessions. At the helm of the ZeroAgni bike was AMA privateer Shawn Higbee, who looked the part on the former Team Agni Isle of Man bike. Higbee was carrying tons of corner speed, and was the only electric sportbike rider to lap the course at near sportbike speed, and to really go the distance lap-wise.

Zero/Agni Running Isle of Man Bike at Infineon

05/13/2010 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

As we get ready for TTXGP’s first race in the United States this weekend (and apparently the AMA is racing with them too, who knew?), more details are emerging about what we can expect from Sunday’s race. Our operatives caught Team ZeroAgni and K² out at Thunderhill last week, and saw a modified Zero S (K²’s entry), and a GSX-R piloted by Shawn Higbee taking laps around the track. With the GSX-R clearly not TTXGP legal, we were left to speculate what AMA privateer Higbee would be riding at Infineon, and now we know: it’s the inaugural TTXGP winning bike from Agni Motors (you can see the bike re-painted above, with it’s noticeable “tank-plank” protruding).

Spotted: What Do a Zero S, Suzuki GSX-R, and Shawn Higbee Have in Common?

05/07/2010 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

UPDATE: It looks like Zero is using Team Agni’s GSX-R based electric motorcycle, which won the inaugural TTXGP last year at the Isle of Man. Picture in the comments posted by our very own John Adamo (skadamo).

They were all at Thunderhill Park Raceway yesterday testing for Team ZeroAgni, that’s what. With a Suzuki GSX-R (600 we’re assuming, but impossible to tell) and a modified Zero S that was sporting the K² logo, the team from Santa Cruz was out getting their lean on with some special help from Shawn Higbee, of AMA privateer fame. The assumption from these findings is that Zero Motorcycles was out pacing the K² Zero S, against the sportbike to see how the two compare. We can only assume that the added presence of Buell-tour-de-force Higbee means the AMA rider has been tapped to pilot ZeroAgni’s race bike at Infineon on May 16th.