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.

Yamaha VMAX Carbon – Celebrating 30 Years of VMAX

It is hard to believe that the venerable Yamaha VMAX has been around for 30 years (it is even harder to believe that the VMAX has only seen one design revision in that timeframe as well), and so Yamaha is bringing out a special edition model to celebrate this special motorcycle. The 2015 Yamaha VMAX Carbon is exactly as the name implies: a VMAX drag bike laden with lightweight carbon fiber. In total, the VMAX Carbon’s tank cover, front and rear fenders, and side covers are all made from carbon fiber. Yamaha has teamed up with Akrapovic as well, and as such the Slovenian company’s slip-on mufflers complete the exhaust system and the changes to this beastly drag bike.

What Does a Cylon Centurion and the Honda VFR1200F Have In Common? Too Much

12/17/2009 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Because of our good friends at SoCal Buell Riders, we have to spend the rest of the day replacing the A&R office keyboards, which are now soaked with this morning’s coffee. You have to admit though, the headlight on the new VFR does borrow heavily from the Centurion’s jaw-line…enough to make one wonder if it’s from the 13th colony of Kobol. If you have no idea what we’re talking, you need to watch more Battlestar Galactica.

2010 Honda VFR1200F US MSRP Set at $15,999

12/07/2009 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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A few weeks ago we announced that the Honda VFR1200F would cost nearly €15,000 in the European market, and speculated that the price here in the US would be $15,000 +/- about a grand. Well it looks like we were right, as American Honda Motors has announced that the base model 2010 Honda VFR1200F will come with an MSRP of $15,999.

2010 Honda VFR1200F European Pricing at €14,990

11/19/2009 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Honda Europe has announced the base model pricing for the 2010 Honda VFR1200F. In its manual transmission form, the new sport-tourer will set you back €14,990, while the pricing for the DCG equipped VFR1200F has yet to be determined. Honda has gone through other measures to make the new VFR more affordable, more on that after the jump.

Video: The Press Meets the VFR1200F in Japan

10/27/2009 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Those motorcycle journalists who braved the 12+ hour flight to Japan for the Tokyo Auto Show did not do so in vain as a select group got a chance to take the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F out for a spin on the track. In what is not only a rare glimpse of fine motorcycle journalism, we get to see footage of the look and feel of the new sport-tourer. Check out the video after the jump.

Photos: What Does the Most Advanced Motorcycle Engine Look Like?

10/14/2009 @ 9:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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The 2010 Honda VFR1200F is the most advanced motorcycle ever to come out of Honda’s factory, and is probably one of the most innovative motorcycles ever. A large portion of the technology that separates the VFR from the rest of the pack is the all new V4 power-plant that Honda engineers say is a trickle down product from their MotoGP racing efforts. Features and photos after the jump.

2010 Honda VFR1200F Breaks Cover

10/08/2009 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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After 10 years of waiting, VFR owners can rejoice in the announcement of the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F. Actually comprising of two models, the VFR will come in a standard model, and a model equipped with the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Available in the Spring of 2010, the VFR1200F will make 172hp, and 95lb•ft of torque from its 1,237cc V4 motor. The new VFR is a big girl though, tipping the scales in Europe at 588lbs, and here in the US at 591lbs. If you want the dual-clutch model,  expect a bike that weighs a staggering 613lbs. Pictures, videos, and specs after the jump.

Honda VFR1200 to Launch on Thursday

10/05/2009 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Honda is set to officially release the new VFR1200 this week, with a website launch scheduled for 3AM (PST) this Thursday. The site is devoid of any substantial information at this point in time, but the not so secret Honda VFR12000 has already graced our pages on a couple of occasions, which gives us an idea on what to expect Thursday.

Spy Shots of the Honda VFR1200 in the Wild

09/19/2009 @ 7:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Those Italians over at MotoBlog have found the new 2010 Honda VFR1200 out in the wild doing some road testing. The sport-tourer, which will feature variable cylinder management, and a dual-clutch gear box, is found this time with matching red saddle bags, completing the overall tourer look of the motorcycle. If you parlo italiano, head over to MotoBlog, and check out the rest of their shots.

Honda Talks About the VFR1200 V4 Motor

09/14/2009 @ 7:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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As Honda continues to dribble out all the details on the VFR1200, more information about the V4 motor is starting to surface, and it is shaping up to be one of the most technologically advanced power plants in the motorcycle world.

You’ve probably already read about how the VFR1200 will incorporate a dual-clutch gearbox, and now Honda has released more information on the V4 configuration itself, which will include space/weight-saving design elements, cylinder deactivation, and a unique firing order. Video, patent diagrams, and more after the jump.

2010 VFR1200 Dual-Clutch Transmission Details

09/08/2009 @ 8:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

As we edged closer to the official unveiling of the 2010 Honda VFR1200F, more details about the bike are starting to emerge. This latest detail confirms the rumor that the new VFR would be fitted with a dual-clutch transmission, making it the first motorcycle to incorporate such a gearbox design.

Similar to the DSG clutches found on Audi and Volkswagon cars, the Honda dual-clutch transmission will incorporate two clutches that alternate what gears they actuate, making for rapid shift times. Click past the break for pictures, video, and more on the VFR1200 transmission.