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.

LEAKED: Here is the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Cruisers aren’t really our forté, here at Asphalt & Rubber, but breaking stories is…so, without all the typical fanfare, we bring you the first full photos of the upcoming 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. The Stead is murdered out and visually appealing, with black engine covers, black fenders, black forks…hell, even the tires are black. Under the hood is Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, which is an air-cooled 1,811cc v-twin good for 73hp and 100 lbs•ft.More technical features include ABS as standard, a keyless ignition system, cast wheels, and a solo seat. Our Bothan Spies suggest an MSRP of $17,000, and more accessories (all black, natch) than you can fit into the belly of a Tauntaun. Expect to see the Indian Chief Dark Horse launch officially on February 13th elsewhere.

Washington State Weighs Pro Lane-Splitting Law

The Washington State Legislature has a pro lane-splitting bill on its 2015-2016 docket, HB 1515. The law is moderately written, adopting a 10 mph speed differential between the motorcycle and traffic, with a 35 mph speed cap, as acceptable during lane-splitting activities. Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize these provisions as being more restrictive than the California Highway Patrol’s now defunct guidelines. Lane-splitting is a near-and-dear topic to us here at A&R, as we believe a national effort to legalize the practice should be mission #1 for the American Motorcyclist Association.

Ride Review: Honda Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT)

07/22/2010 @ 6:05 am, by Tim Hoefer10 COMMENTS

Perhaps bigger news than the bike itself is the Honda VFR1200F’s much-anticipated dual-clutch transmission (DCT) model. What Honda has developed for the sport bike world is an automatic shifting technology to enhance the rider’s experience. Automatic transmissions are a rare breed in motorcycling, and we have no doubt that some of you out there may be asking: Isn’t part of being on the road and on the bike, about feeling personal freedom? Or mastering your machine with skill and control? As kids in high school didn’t we make fun of our friend that couldn’t drive a stick? Is DCT an upgrade or a substitution? Well folks, that was the other reason Asphalt & Rubber got to test ride the new VFR1200F, and we put the DCT through its paces.

Ride Review: 2010 Honda VFR1200F

07/20/2010 @ 6:07 am, by Tim Hoefer8 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was recently invited by Honda America to test ride the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F in both configurations of the standard manual-shifting model, and the all new and highly anticipated ‘automatic’ model with the dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Santa Barbara, California served as our amazing backdrop as we took to the road on the new VFR. On our first circling of the bike it did not take much time to figure out why the VFR community has nicknamed this model the ‘Buffalo’. Given it’s dominant headlight and fuel tank that carries a similar curve of a buffalo profile, the bike is however anything but ugly or slow.

Honda VFR1200F Concept Sketches

06/22/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

At the American press launch of the 2010 Honda VFR1200F we got our dirty little mits on a bevy of information about the new sport-tourer from Honda. As we dive through the information this week, and tell you our thoughts on Honda’s flagship motorcycle, we thought we’d start off with how the 2010 Honda VFR1200F came about, from concept to conception. Check out the renders after the jump.

Honda UK Recalls 392 VFR1200F’s [UPDATED]

06/14/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATED: In addition to the 392 VFR1200F’s being recalled in the UK, 519 units are being recalled in France, and 165 are being recalled in Italy (with 2 engines presenting this defect).

Honda VFR1200F owners in the United Kingdom might have to bring their bike back to the Honda mother ship as Honda UK is recalling 392 VFR’s for metal shavings that may have ended up in the engine. A problem that could possibly lead to a motor failure, the condition appears only to affect VFR1200F’s that were manufacturered during a specific time period.

Yamaha R1 to Get Dual-Clutch Transmission?

06/08/2010 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Visordown is reporting that Yamaha is planning an electronically controlled dual-clutch transmission for a future version of its YZF-R1 superbike. Taking a page from the Honda VFR1200F’s DCT setup (check for our ride report on this in the next few days), Yamaha is looking to implement a simpler DCT system than the one found on the Honda VFR, with a clutch on either side of the motorcycle gearbox.

Yamaha’s DCT is different from the Honda unit, which employs an input shaft the runs through the other input shaft, and has the clutches all on one side of the motor. Instead of this all-in-one arrangement, Yamaha is using a split input shaft that’s half the normal length, with each half attached to an opposing clutch. The overall affect is a much simpler arrangement, but is not as compact or light as the Honda DCT.

Watch the Honda VFR1200F Be Built Every 90 Seconds at Kumamoto Factory

02/02/2010 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Honda’s factory in Kumamoto is a high-tech enviormentally friendly facility that might just be as innovative as the new VFR1200F. Churning out a new VFR every 90 seconds, Kumamoto’s wrenches are all digitally linked, and store build information for each individual motorcycle. Did worker X have a habit of over-tightening the connecting rods? If so Honda can track exactly which bikes were affected by his/her mistake, pinpointing the problem. That’s pretty cool in our book.

Check out the video after the jump for more information about the Kumamota plant and watch the VFR1200F get put together.

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

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

Cylon-VFR1200

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

2010-honda-vfr1200f-action-shots-7

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

2010-honda-vfr1200f-action-shots-8

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

2010-honda-vfr1200f-action-shots-5

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.