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.

Ty Howard Flogs the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R

06/01/2011 @ 6:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

KTM-sponsored rider Ty Howard got some track time with the new 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R, and the Texan seems to be very positive about the changes the Austrian company has made to its already potent superbike package. Instead of aiming for more power, KTM’s goal was more rideability (though the Ready to Race brand did manage to squeeze a few more ponies out of the 2011 machine).

Thus, it’s fitting that changes include a new fueling system, new crankshaft, heavier flywheel, and dual-spark ignition. The 2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R is probably our favorite track bike, so we have high hopes for the 2011 edition when we finally get a chance to test one. Check out Ty’s impressions of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R after the jump.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R: 175hp…Sorta

11/12/2010 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

If you’ve heard any loud thuds while visiting A&R the past two weeks, it’s been us falling over ourselves over the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R. For 2011, the new RC8 R gets a number of refinements to its already stout package, and for the spec sheets racers the most drool-worthy stat perhaps is the bike’s modest power boost to 175hp, up from its base of 167hp. There’s a kicker to that power figure though, it comes from switching the base engine map, which is designed for 91 octane (AKI rating, which is what we use here in the USA), to a 93 octane map.

It could seem like we’re splitting hairs here, but unless you live next to a race track where gas stations will often carry the 93 octane rated fuel, you’ll be risking pinging KTM’s beautiful 1195cc motor with the lower-rated fuel, and be relegated to using the 170hp engine map while on the street. We don’t know how RC8 R owners will only handle 170hp on the street, hopefully the photos after the jump will help.

More Photos of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R

11/04/2010 @ 2:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

If you are like us, you were left wanting more when the first images of the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R leaked ahead of its EICMA debut. It is hard to imagine how KTM could improve upon the RC8 R platform, but the Austrian company did so anyways, upping the performance level to 175hp, while adding some hot new color schemes for 2011. If you have the means to afford one, we highly recommend picking up this v-twin monster – it’s simply superb. Check out the 18 photos after the jump, and bring a washcloth.

2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Leaks Ahead of EICMA

10/29/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

According to the folks at Hell for Leather, KTM is not only updating the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R with a bevy of eye-catching color schemes (see the drool-worthy gallery after the jump), but has also taken it upon itself to upgrade the Austrian bullet with an additional 7hp or so, bringing the RC8 R’s final total up to 175hp (torque gets a modest increase of 1.5 lbs•ft, totaling in at 93.6 lbs•ft).

Installing a new crankshaft, heavier flywheel, and dual-plug ignition, KTM hopes that the new 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will not only be more powerful than its predecessor, but also smoother and easier to ride. We found the 2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R to be one of the best bikes we’ve ever ridden on the track (we are partial to v-twins though), so the idea that the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will build upon an already exceptional package tickles our fancy quite a bit.