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What is one more press launch for today’s news cycle, am I right? A bit of a shakeup to the lineup, the Monster Energy Yamaha team debuted in Jakarta today, and as you would expect from the name, the energy drink company takes over as title sponsor from Movistar.

The names and faces are the same though, with Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales at the helm of the 2019 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP race bike, which has a new livery on its side.

This is it, the final countdown. The new year is already starting its first hours in other parts of the world, and we won’t have long to wait until 2019 is upon us here in the United States of America.

So, allow us to squeak in just one more “2018 in review” type of story, as I wanted to share with our readers the most important motorcycles that we saw this year – and also got to ride.

The list is an interesting one, as not only is it comprised of a number of machines that lead their segments, but also we picked motorcycles whose debuts carried gravitas for the industry.

As such, these are the motorcycles that defined 2018 model year, and now we only have a matter of hours to begin seeing the bikes that will shape 2019 for motorcyclists.

If you were hoping to get your hands on a Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR superbike, well…you have probably missed your chance.

A limited production of only 20 motorcycles, the Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR sales window was open for less than 24 hours, before the bike completely sold out.

Based off the machine that won this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, which in turn is based off the original R1 livery design from 1999, the Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR is quite the looker and it comes with a bevy of go-fast parts.

The Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR is one special machine, and only 20 of them will be made worldwide.

That production number helps commemorate the fact that this is the 20th anniversary of the YZF-R1 superbike, and the bike also helps give a nod to the fact that this year Yamaha won the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race an unprecedented fourth time in a row.

A track-only machine, the Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR will be painstakingly built by members from the Suzuka-winning Official Yamaha Racing Team crew. Though it is littered with parts from the GYTR catalog and other sponsors, Yamaha is curious mum when it comes to any performance figures about the bike.

It surprising to us that there is so little investment in technologies and business in the two-wheeled space by the established players.

Maybe it is the conservative nature of the motorcycle industry, or maybe it is because motorcycle companies are just miserably bad at corporate development. Whatever the reason may be, it makes today’s headline an intriguing one.

This is because Yamaha Motor Corp. in Japan has just set aside $100 million to invest in technologies and business startups, over the next 10 years. 

Next up on our analysis of the EICMA show in Milan are the Japanese brands: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha.

You can usually count on the Big Four to bring out some popular new bike launches and intriguing concepts to EICMA, and this year...well...the Japanese brands phoned it in, for the most part.

Before we get into Jensen's complete feeling of disappointment, I first have to apologize because I failed you as a publisher. Much of the disappointment that comes from the INTERMOT and EICMA shows comes from the implications of the Euro5 emissions standards. As a publication, we should have prepared you  better for this reality, and we didn't.

There is very little incentive right now for a motorcycle OEM to release a new model. Euro5 comes online for new models in 2020, and for existing models in 2021, which means that many of the motorcycle brands are holding onto their new bike launches for those model years.

As such, the 2019 model year is very much a "development year" for the industry. This doesn't change the fact that the Japanese brands had a weak showing in Milan, especially compared to the Europeans, but at least it explains why...for the most part.

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As we expected, the GRT Yamaha squad is moving out of the World Supersport Championship, and into the World Superbike Championship for the 2019 season.

Riding for the GRT Yamaha squad is not who we expected however, though it will be two big names in the sport: former world champions Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese.

Melandri makes the defection from Ducati, where he was reportedly paying for his ride, to Yamaha. He hopes to best his fifth place in the 2018 championship standings. Meanwhile, Cortese comes into the World Superbike racing having just won the World Supersport Championship title.

Factory-backed in World Supersport last year, the GRT Yamaha team will keeps its factory status next year as well, which leaves Yamaha with four factory-backed YZF-R1 racing machines on the grid in 2019.

The Yamaha YZF-R1 clocked its 20th anniversary this year, a monumental achievement for the original 1,000cc superbike.

Potent from its first debut in 1998, the YZF-R1 is still at the top of the heap, winning the 2018 MotoAmerica Championship, as well as an unprecedented four-in-a-row victories at the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.

To help celebrate this birthday, Yamaha Motor has been touting a throwback livery on its racing machines, and now the Iwata brand is making that red and white livery available to its European fans.

More than just a paint job though, this 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR superbike has some very trick parts, which will make the 20 lucky souls who buy one very happy.

When the Yamaha Niken debuted, we didn’t know what to make of this leaning three-wheeler. Yamaha pitched the Niken as a sport bike, but our time riding it in the Alps showed a machine that was better suited for touring.

Seemingly following that feedback, the Yamaha Niken GT has come for the 2019 model year, debuting at the EICMA show in Milan, and it offers more touring-focused features for three-wheel enthusiasts.

Perhaps the perfect touring platform, the move makes sense for Yamaha, and the Niken needs few changes in order to adapt to this new concept.

We have been waiting a very long time for the Yamaha Ténéré 700, with the machine first debuting as a concept in 2016. A no-show at the 2017 EICMA show, the Yamaha T7 concept instead went on a worldwide promotional tour.

So, surely we thought that the 2018 EICMA show would announce the Yamaha Ténéré 700 as ready to go…yes and no. The Yamaha Ténéré 700 is finally coming as a production motorcycle…but not quite yet.

Expected as a Fall 2019 model in Europe, off-roaders eager for a middleweight adventure-touring bike will have to wait another year. If you happen to live on this side of the pond however, we have even worse news for you.

The Yamaha Ténéré 700 will be a 2021 model year machine in the USA, debuting in the second-half of 2020, making this perhaps the most disappointing new model release at the Milan trade show.