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January 2015

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The Ducati 1299 Panigale launch is just wrapping up in Portimao, and while Asphalt & Rubber isn’t there to tell you all about Ducati’s new flagship model, we’ve got a bevy of high-resolution photos of the new superbike for you.

With 205hp from its bored out v-twin Superquadro engine, the 1299 is said to be beast. Thankfully Ducati has put some of the most advanced electronics on the new Panigale, including one of the first inertial measurement units (IMU) on a motorcycle — an acronym we suspect we will be talking a lot about in the next few years.

Unfortunately, our analysis today is limited to the refined looks of the Ducati 1299 Panigale, which has minor aesthetic changes from the 1199…most notably, the wider front cross-section, for better wind protection and aerodynamics.







We’ll have more to say when we’re finally allowed to swing a leg over one, until then enjoy all 167 wallpaper-ready photos after the jump.







Officially, testing for 2015 MotoGP season starts in five days time, on Wednesday, 4th February. Unofficially, it started yesterday, when Yamaha and Honda’s test teams gathered at Sepang to pre-test a number of parts and prepare the way for the arrival of the factory riders, who arrive in Malaysia next week.

Normally, test teams test in secret – a local journalist and photographer was told in no uncertain terms he would not be welcome at the track – which means their work goes unnoticed. Unfortunately for Honda – or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective – HRC had a very high-profile test rider at Sepang.

Casey Stoner spent a couple of days on the 2015 Honda RC213V, and he made a couple of posts on his Instagram and Twitter accounts gave a few clues about the test.













The third, and last, Ducati Scrambler concept from the Verona Motor Bike Expo, the “Scrambler Café Racer” by Mr. Martini is exactly what the name implies: a cafe racer styled scrambler motorcycle.

Mr. Martini appropriately added a high-mount exhaust to his “scrambler” and retained the Scrambler’s Pirelli knobby tires. The addition of a cafe racer fairing though is an interesting choice, and leaves this concept straddling the two staples of hipster motorbiking in the custom scene.

We’ll let you decided whether this doubles the “post-authentic” nature of the Scrambler, or if the work is just an overload of the self-ironic.













Just a year after being acquired by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, Husqvarna Motorcycles posted an all-time sales record of 16,337 units. The tally is the most the Swedish brand has ever sold in its 111 year history, which is perhaps surprising considering the company’s tenuous history as of late.

With those record sales, Husqvarna also posted over €100 million in revenue, a key metric for the brand, as it struggles to grow into KTM’s more exclusive and upscale counterpart.







2014 did not go to plan for Yamaha. After the first four races of last year, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo trailed the Repsol Hondas by 76 points in the team championship, and Yamaha was 33 points behind Honda in the manufacturers standings. Marc Márquez was in the middle of an unbeaten run, Dani Pedrosa backing him up strongly.

There were a lot of good reasons for Yamaha’s troubled start. Yamaha was struggling to get a smooth throttle response from a liter less fuel, the new Bridgestone tires were less suited to the YZR-M1’s need for high corner speeds, and Jorge Lorenzo arrived at the start of the season out of shape, after neglecting his training after surgery during the winter.

2015 looks like being the polar opposite. At the launch of their 2015 campaign, the Movistar Yamaha team looked forward with some optimism. Building on the progress made in the second half of 2014, the bike is much more competitive, Valentino Rossi arrives motivated by his strong season, and Jorge Lorenzo is lean and fit, having spent all off-season preparing. They are ready for big things.













The Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike is perhaps one of the most beautiful machines to grace the pages of Asphalt & Rubber, as it comes with ample portions of avant-garde design and outside-of-the-box chassis design inklings.

We also like the Vyrus 986 M2 because its true to the ethos of the Moto2 class, where chassis designers were free to build around a spec-motor and racing package.

But, instead of getting a buffet of wild designs, we saw a race to the middle. The differences between the chassis provided by companies like Suter, Kalex, FTR are so minute that the smallest of changes can shake up the standings on race day.







It’s something we have talked about before, here at A&R, but the short explanation is that race teams are conservative entities, and developing a radically new chassis is a massive undertaking full of risks.

Well, it look like Vyrus is up to the the task and that danger, as the company is going racing with its Vyrus 986 M2 design in the Spanish CEV Moto2 Championship.







The second of three custom Ducati Scrambler designs unveiled at the Verona Motor Bike Show, “Scratch” by Officine Mermaid is perhaps closer in design to what we connote when thinking about a scrambler motorcycle, than say the design we first showed you by Deus Ex Machina.

Stripped down to only the bare essential pieces of metal, treated to look more rustic than its birth certificate implies, and complete with taped-over headlight, we have some “Grade A” hipster bait right here from Dario Mastroianni and his crew.







Yamaha is ready to go racing in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship, and the Japanese OEM debuted today its factory team and racing livery. Of course riding for Yamaha Racing are Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and their weapon of choice will be the Yamaha YZR-M1 GP race bike.

2015 does not see too much changing in the MotoGP rulebook, so the 2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 is fairly close in spec to the 2014 model, though you can be certain that Yamaha and its team of engineers have not been wasting the off-season time with idle hands.

This season sees Abarth, the tuning brand of Fiat, as an official sponsor of the Yamaha MotoGP team, re-igniting the two company’s previous collaboration when both Rossi and Edwards worked for the Iwata-based manufacturer.







We won’t bore you with anymore details, we know you came for the high-resolution photos. You’ll find plenty of them, in all their bandwidth-busting glory, after the jump.







Rather perversely, a lot of the talk at the World Superbike test at Jerez has not been about World Superbikes at all. Which is a shame, as the 2015 World Superbike championship promises to be particularly fascinating, with testing times very close indeed.

Instead, there was a real kerfuffle about the slowest bike on the track, the one being ridden by Kenny Noyes and Dominique Aegerter.

The cause of the fuss? The fact that it was a Kawasaki, a further development of the Open class bike raced by the Avintia Racing team in MotoGP last year, has generated a mountain of speculation that Team Green is preparing a comeback to MotoGP, bringing all four major Japanese factories back into the premier class.







The truth was a good deal more prosaic.







Italian boutique builder Vyrus has already released a kit to turn your Honda CBR600RR into the fetching Moto2 race bike, and now Vyrus is offering a similar kit for Ducati motorcycle owners.

The offer seems to extend to both air-cooled and water-cooled Ducatis, and typical of Vyrus, the options for your new machine are only limited to what obscene amounts of money can buy you.







At the Verona Motor Bike Expo, Ducati presented the first customized Ducati Scrambler models. As you may remember from our review, this $8,600 machine is pitched with a heavy lifestyle component, and Ducati hopes that fat margins on t-shirts and jackets will overcome the thin margins on the model itself. To that end, the Italian company has gone to great trouble in making the Scrambler “cool” for the younger “post-authentic” crowd.

As such, Dario Mastroianni (Officine Mermaid), Filippo Bassoli (Deus Ex Machina), and Nicola Martini (Mr. Martini) were given the first crack at modding Ducati’s newest model. The results have been interesting, and first up on our pages is the “Hondo Grattan” by Filippo Bassoli and the Deus Ex Machina crew in Milan.