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.

Benelli BN251 – Return of the Small-Displacement Italian

11/03/2014 @ 2:28 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Benelli-BN251

Brands like Ducati, Vespa, and Benelli can trace their roots back to post-WWII Italy, where infrastructure and roads were shattered, and the country desperately needed a cheap, reliable, and effective way to navigate from Point-A to Point-B.

Enter the rise of the motorcycle to meet those needs; and from that, what has become over half a century of motorcycle culture in Italy. The first Italian motorcycles were really just bicycles with motors, and as more proper machines came into being, they were still tiny in displacement.

Therefore, the quintessential Italian motorcycle was what we would call today a small-displacement bike. Benelli is getting back to those roots now, introducing the Benelli BN251 at this year’s EICMA show.

2015 Suzuki GW250F — A Fully-Faired 250cc for the USA

10/02/2014 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2015-Suzuki-GW250F-1

Suzuki has finally brought a full-faired small-displacement machine to the US market, announcing today the 2015 Suzuki GW250F. As the name implies, the Suzuki GW250F is really just the GW250, with full-fairing bodywork.

The move is perhaps the mother of necessity, as Suzuki doesn’t have a proper motorbike to go head-to-head with the Kawasaki Ninja 300, Honda CBR300R, or Yamaha YZF-R25.

With the small-displacement war well underway in the United States, Suzuki Motor America surely felt that something beyond just the Suzuki GW250 was needed, and hence the GW250F was born.

Kawasaki Working on a 250cc Four-Cylinder?

06/24/2014 @ 2:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

four-cylinder-kawasaki-indonesia

According to the Indonesian publication TMC Blog, Kawasaki is working on a performance-oriented 250cc four-cylinder…and they have the supposed photos to prove it. The news should be well-received by those who remember the high-revving small-displacement Japanese machines of just a few decades ago.

Southeast Asian markets, like Indonesia’s, are driven by graduated taxes on motorcycle displacement. For the Indonesian market, machines 250cc to 500cc in displacement receive a 60% tax rate, while machine over 500cc are taxed at 75%. Unsurprisingly then, bikes under 250cc are accounting for the lion’s share of motorcycle sales.

Working against that taxation plan is the growing middle class in these regions, with consumers able to purchase more expensive motorbikes, and looking for more performance in the process. This trend is what helped bring the Yamaha R25 to market (and production) in Indonesia, along with the slew of other ~250cc machines we’ve seen from Honda, Kawasaki, and KTM.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Debuts in Indonesia

05/19/2014 @ 11:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Yamaha-YZF-R25

The wait is finally over, as the Yamaha YZF-R25 has been revealed to the world, at a press launch in Indonesia. Based aroun a fuel-injected 249cc parallel-twin engine, which makes 35.5hp and 16.7 lbs•ft of torque, the YZF-R25 is Yamaha’s response to the newly revived 250cc sport bike category, which Honda and Kawasaki have been dominating, as of late.

Built in Indonesia, and being released into that market in July of this year, Yamaha sees 12,000 units being sold worldwide in the next 12 months for the R25 — a number we suspect will grow as more markets added.

Yet Another Look at the Yamaha YZF-R25

05/14/2014 @ 11:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

yamaha-yzf-r25-low-res

There is only a week until Yamaha reveals its 250cc sport bike, the Yamaha YZF-R25, but glimpses of the machine continue to make their way onto the internet. We skipped the completely unidentifiable tail light photos, but have already brought you some good looks at the YZF-R25’s front-end.

Today, we bring you an unfortunately low-resolution look at the R25’s profile, in its entirety. How will this Indonesian-made parallel-twin compare to bikes like of the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja 250R? Only time will tell.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launched Confirmed for May 20th

05/09/2014 @ 8:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

yamaha-yzf-r25-teaser

Yamaha Indonesia has spilled the beans on when the Yamaha YZF-R25 will be available, and that date is just a few days away: May 20th.

Yamaha is pitching the Indonesian-built, 250cc, parallel-twin sport bike as a miniature Yamaha YZR-M1, thus making a link between the R25 to Yamaha’s MotoGP racing program — a smart move considering how wildly popular MotoGP is in Indonesia currently.

Small-Displacement BMW Motorcycles Debuting in 2015

05/08/2014 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

tvs-draken-concept

I had to check the date on when we last talked about BMW and TVS partnering up to build small-displacement motorcycles together, and it looks like it was almost exactly a year ago. In that timeframe, the two companies have been quietly working, but rumors have started to heat-up as to when we could see a sub-500cc BMW motorcycle.

A cynic’s response might be that BMW doesn’t want to be perceived as late to the small-displacement party, especially since its sub-500cc machines won’t be ready until Q3/Q4 of 2015.

With Honda, Kawasaki, and KTM already debuting their 250cc & 300cc  models, and Yamaha & Triumph set to debut 250cc machines shortly, it seems the only manufacturer without a small-displacement offering either available or in the works is Ducati.

Yet Another Solid Photo of the Yamaha YZF-R25

04/30/2014 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

yamaha-yzf-r25

Unfortunately, the Yamaha YZF-R25 isn’t slated to debut until May 2014; but as luck would have it, the month of May starts tomorrow. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the R25 is leaking like a sieve all over the internet.

We brought you some very nice photos of Yamaha’s 250cc sport bike earlier this morning, and now we have another good glimpse of the Yamaha R25 from the front.

In this shot we get a good glimpse of the YZF-R25’s headlight, which reminds us of the redesign Honda did to the CBR600RR. Clearly visible on the side fairing is the “R25″ logo, so we know we are dealing with the real thing. Unfortunately though, the photo is pretty low-resolution, so it’s hard to gauge fit and finish.

Proper Spy Photos of the Yamaha YZF-R25 in the Wild

04/29/2014 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Yamaha-YZF-R25-spy-photo-tmc-blog-01

Last week, alleged photos of the much-anticipated Yamaha YZF-R25 made their rounds on the internet. The shots in question were really just of a tail light and tail section, which honestly could have been of anything — so, we passed on running them.

We get it, it had been a slow news week in the motorcycle world…but the photos had no substance, and we really just don’t go for the whole linkbait thing here. We’d make you a Top 10 list as to why, but you wouldn’t believe what we’d type next (did you see what we did there?).

Anyhoo…today we have something of some real substance: our first proper shots of the Yamaha R25, courtesy of our Indonesian friends over at TMC Blog. Giving us a proper view of the R25’s profile and front fairings, we know that this is the R25 because of the teaser film released during Yamaha’s RevStation site.

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launch Outed by Website Metadata

03/24/2014 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

yamaha-r25-code

It is a brave new world when it comes to the internet and motorcycle companies, and I have no problem saying that Asphalt & Rubber has broken a number of stories simply because we bring a different set of skills to the table when it comes to sniffing out a lead: namely we’re a bunch of nerds, who spend far too much time with computers.

Motorcycle OEMs are still coming to grasp with this internet thing and how the opening of information has changed the landscape, and that is where Yamaha got itself into trouble today. Just hours ahead of their launch, we can confirm that Yamaha is ready to drop the Yamaha R25 250cc sport bike and the Yamaha Tricity three-wheel scooter.

This isn’t exactly new information — it has even been hotly tipped by a number of publications, including A&R — but where the information comes from certainly is: Yamaha’s website metadata.