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.

KTM Plans New Smaller V-Twin Engines, Husqvarna Too

12/02/2014 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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A quick look at KTM’s recent additions to its model lineup sees significant attention being given to the company’s large and small-displacement machines, yet the middleweight bikes have remained seemingly untouched.

That seems set to change, according to an interview MCN had with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer.

Saying that KTM would develop new v-twin engines in the 600cc to 800cc range over the next three years, the Austrian company seems set to its entire lineup revamped within the next few years.

More Power for the Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 in 2015?

08/20/2014 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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It looks like Suzuki is getting ready to update its sport bike offering, as Suzuki Motor America has gotten new emissions filings from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R600 and 2015 Suzuki GSX-R750.

New CARB emissions are required when manufacturers make modifications to the engines of the machines that they are selling in the Golden State, which means that we can expect updates for the Suzuki GSX-R600 & Suzuki GSX-R750 (with no change in CARB’s weird weight measurement figures, an entirely new model is unlikely).

2013 Honda CBR600RR – Botox for an Aging Supersport

11/12/2012 @ 3:41 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

It is hard to believe that the Honda CBR600RR will turn five-years-old in 2013, but the Japanese supersport has long been neglected in the Honda line-up. Actually, the phonomenon has not been limited to the 600cc sport bike, as the Honda CBR1000RR has also been left to whither in the sun for far too long. With the 1,000cc superbike getting a makeover for 2012, it looks like the CBR600RR is finally getting its turn, as well.

As such, the 2013 Honda CBR600RR gets a set of new fairings, which we must admit are rather fetching (the bodywork is good for a 6% reduction in drag, according to Honda). The Japanese company also says that the revised front section improves RAM-air, and thus midrange torque. We won’t being to tell you what’s wrong with that statement, but suffice to say the design helps the 599cc motor breath better.

Other changes include a revised ECU package, 12-spoke wheels, Big Piston forks (BPF), and re-tuned rear shock. Honda is even throwing its “Electronic Combined Anti-Lock Braking System” (C-ABS) on the 2013 CBR600RR. Wowzers. Colors are Red, Repsol Edition, & White/Blue/Red. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, which surely means a price increase is headed the Honda CBR600RR’s way.

Benelli BN600 – Italy’s Other Street-Naked

11/07/2012 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

A Chinese-owned Italian brand, Benelli makes some of the most beautiful motorcycles we have ever seen (Benelli Tornado anyone?), but the company has been rather absentee since getting acquired by the Qianjiang Group. Sure, Benelli seems to walk out a new variation of the Benelli TnT or TRE-K just about every year or so, and the Benelli Due has been a work in progress since before the first Obama administration, but for the most part, Benelli has been phoning it in when it comes to its proper motorbikes.

That seems to be changing though, as at EICMA the Italian brand will debut the Benelli BN600 — an 80hp, 600cc, inline-four street-naked. Building off the same established Benelli road-bike aesthetic, the BN600 (we cant tell if that that is Mandarin for either ‘horrible motorcycle name’ or ‘Benelli Naked 600cc’) is an interesting new model from Italy’s other motorcycle manufacturer, as it adds yet another street-naked to the Benelli line, and is close in displacement to the 118hp Benelli TnT 899.

And Here is the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6…

09/12/2012 @ 6:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Just like the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1, the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6 gets an update to its blue, red, and black motorcycle livery color scheme choices. Available in September 2012 (wait, that’s…now!), the new R6 is just like the old R6, but umm…newer. Yeah, we are having a hard time writing anything of note about the tuning fork brand’s latest true-600cc supersport offering.

The new colors do look like an improvement over last year’s though, and the Graves-inspired racy Team Yamaha Blue/White color scheme is our favorite from the bunch. Is it worth the $200 price premium ($11,190 MSRP)? We’re not so sure about that, but it is nice. Photos after the jump.

2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 Get Face Lifts and 20lbs of Liposuction for 2011

10/05/2010 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Suzuki made a design departure in 2009 when it revamped its GSX-R1000, while leaving the GSX-R600 & GSX-R750 unchanged aesthetically. Finally bringing the two smaller middleweight gixxers in-line with the larger superbike, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 get not only a face lift for the new model year, but also a revised engine package that has ample weight trimmings. While the new Suzuki GSX-R600 & GSX-R750’s won’t make more power than the 2010 models, the revised motor and other components shed roughly 20lbs off both the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 (413lbs wet) & 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 (416lbs wet).

Making the weight-loss program possible, Suzuki went in with its surgical knife and dropped weight in a variety of places, primarily focusing on the bikes’ four-cylinder motor. Losing 4lbs in the motor alone, Suzuki lightened the pistons by 14% and the connecting rods by 12%, while increasing the ventilation holes between the cylinders, helping reduce pumping losses and improve combustion efficiency. Relocating the ECU has saved .6lbs in weight from wiring, which is sort of crazy and impressive at the same time. The new exhaust system sheds 3lbs from the prior models’, while revised injectors increase fuel efficiency by 10% and meet the strict Euro III emission standards. More info and photos after the jump.

2011 MV Agusta F3 Will Be a 600cc Triple – Official Teaser Photos Released

09/17/2010 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Get your first glimpse of the MV Agusta F3 here.

In what can only be described as a terse press release, MV Agusta has released two teaser photos of its upcoming MV Agusta F3, the three-cylinder supersport bike that Claudio Castiglioni hopes will save his company. Known to be using a three-cylinder motor, it has been previously reported that the MV Agusta F3 would be a 675cc machine, just like the Triumph Daytona 675. However the Italian brand has confirmed that it will be using a 600cc displacement for its street machine, while giving us a glimpse of the bike without its F4 camouflage.

Double Take: 2010 Honda CBR600RR Leyla Scheme

09/08/2009 @ 9:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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When Honda showed off its new “Leyla” paint scheme for the new middle weight CBR600RR, the name had us a little confused, but the sometimes clever folks at MCN have spotted what many in the industry (including us) missed. That black & white camo-eque paint job is in fact a woman…moaning in delight…we think her name is Leyla. Take a second look, and you’ll see it.

Just New Clothes for the 2010 Honda CBR600RR

09/04/2009 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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In addition to the 2010 CBR1000RR, Honda has also announced the 2010 CBR600RR. Like the fireblade, the 600cc middleweight gets a revamping to its color choices.

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Moriwaki Shows Next Installment of MD600 Moto2 Racer at Indianapolis GP

09/02/2009 @ 7:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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On display at Indianapolis this weekend was Moriwaki Engineering’s latest iteration of their MD600 race bike. Fans could see both their Mk. V, and Mk. VII bikes on display, and were also treated to seeing the Moto2 bikes take to the GP course at Indy.

Moriwaki is one of several companies that hopes to provide chassis and full bike solutions to Moto2 teams in 2010, and have also been developing a consumer oriented version of the MD600 that would be available to privateer racers and track day enthusiasts alike.