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.

World Superbike Considers 300cc Class & More

12/24/2014 @ 11:56 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-RC390-detail-05

At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series.

There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series’ long term future.

The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next.

In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.

The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems.

Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two rounds are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.

The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series.

Up-Close with the Yamaha YZF-R3

10/18/2014 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

2015-Yamaha-YZF-R3-up-close-8

This week we not only go a chance to see the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 unveiled at the AIMExpo, but also we had the chance to see the R3 up-close in the flesh. The budget-minded sport bike shows the obvious signs of more cost-effecient construction and fitted components, yet retains the fit-and-finish you would expect from a Yamaha motorcycle.

This makes the R3 a prime candidate for aspirational riders, who want an affordable first motorcycle that looks the part of a proper sport bike. Track enthusiasts and veteran riders though will be disappointed with the Yamaha YZF-R3’s non-adjustable KYB suspension, box swingarm design, and bulky chassis — this is still a 368lbs (wet) motorcycle.

Here’s the Honda CB300F & Yes, It’s Coming to America

07/10/2014 @ 2:28 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2015-honda-cb300f

We first caught wind of the 2015 Honda CB300F back in March, and at the time we didn’t expect to see the naked small-displacement machine until the autumn trade shows. Well, Honda has proven itself full of surprises, because not only has Big Red debuted the Honda CB300F to the world, but American Honda has also confirmed the model for the United States.

Basically a Honda CBR300R without all of its fairings, the Honda CB300F offers a more upright sitting position, and a little bit less racer flair. At the heart of the CB300F is the same fuel-injected 286cc single-cylinder thumper, which has a longer 8mm stroke than the venerable Honda CBR250R, and thus accounts for its 37cc advantage in displacement.

Perhaps the best part about the 2015 Honda CB300F though is the price tag, which is downright affordable at $3,999 MSRP ($400 less than the CBR300R).

American Honda hasn’t locked down a delivery date for the USA, simply saying that the new model will be hitting Honda dealers in the fall of this year. From what we understand, that’s when you can expect to see the Honda CBR300R as well.

Official: 2015 Honda CBR300R Coming to America

06/03/2014 @ 2:01 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Honda CBR300R

As we expected, the Honda CBR300R will be coming to the North American market, as American Honda has confirmed today that the single-cylinder machine as a 2015 model.

Though available in August later this year, Americans shouldn’t feel too bad about the 286cc machine coming late to the US, as even European markets have had a delay on receiving the machine, which officially debuted for that market at EICMA last year.

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.

Yamaha YZF-R3 and More to Debut Next Week?

03/17/2014 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Yamaha-RevStation-teaser-01

Yamaha has setup a teaser website, complete with countdown clock, for a new motorcycle(s) that should break cover next week. With just over eight days on the clock, at the time of this writing, we won’t have to wait long as we speculate to what Yamaha is brewing for us.

The general consensus so far is that we will see the Yamaha YZF-R25 and Yamaha YZF-R3 twin-cylinder sport bikes, which should come in either 250cc or 300cc formats, depending on which country we are talking about. Yamaha teased us with the YZR-R25 concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, and recent trademark filings in the United States and Europe have tipped off the YZF-R3 model.

From Yamaha’s teaser video we get a quick line drawing and head-on render of a sport bike, which looks very close to the R25 model we saw in Tokyo, which helps fuel the small-displacement sport bike fire further. Also seen in the video is some sort of urban maxi-scooter, along with its presumably accompanying engine. More details as we get it.

Yamaha Trademarks “YZF-R3″ & “R3″ Name for Motorcycles

01/16/2014 @ 4:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha-R25-Concept-02

Could the next Yamaha sport bike be a triple? That’s been the rumor for some time now, but there hasn’t been too much evidence to support the matter. Just last week, Yamaha Motor Corporation filed for trademarks in the European Union and United States that include “YZF-R3″ and “R3″ names for motorcycles.

The first reaction to the news is that Yamaha is finally reading a three-cylinder versions of its popular YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 machines; however, with some understanding of Yamaha’s naming conventions, the more likely assumption to make from this trademark filings is that Yamaha is readying a 300cc class sport bike, likely along the same veins as the Yamaha YZF-R25 concept that was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.

2014 Honda CBR300R Breaks Cover in China

10/17/2013 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2014-honda-cbr300r-abs

Not content to have only the Honda CBR250R as its small-displacement offering, Honda Motor Corp. announced at the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition in Chongqing yesterday that the 2014 Honda CBR300R would be its latest “world model” motorcycle, with production set to start at Honda’s Thailand factory.

Details on the small-displacement motorcycle are next-to-nonexistent, with Seiji Kuraishi, Chief Operating Officer for Honda China simply stating that “Honda is exhibiting the world premiere of the CBR300R, a global motorcycle model for which Honda is planning to begin production in Thailand in the future. The market introduction of this model in China will be discussed in the future.”

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 – Coming to America for $4,799*

09/13/2012 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

There is not much that we don’t already know about the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300. It looks pretty much exactly like the re-designed 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R that broke cover in Indonesia earlier this year. The EPA already spilled the beans on the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s 296cc displacement and 40hp, and we know that the Ninja 300 is the peppier fuel-injected cousin to America’s dreadfully under-developed Ninja 250R…and now we know that the bike will come to the American market for next year.

Tipping the scales at the curb with 387 lbs, with its 4.5 gallons of fuel, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 isn’t a featherweight, but it isn’t a slouch either. In fact, when it comes to a sporty learner-class motorcycle for the American market, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 may very well be the bike of choice.

In a category where prospective buyers are raiding the couch cushions for a down payment, price is king. And with its $4,799 starting MSRP, the Ninja 300 is an expensive option, but is it still a bargain?