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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

11/04/2014 @ 9:54 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design.

A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg).

Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike. The design is clean and minimal, and true to Husqvarna’s roots both as a motorcycle brand, but also as a member of Scandinavian minimalism.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

11/04/2014 @ 8:51 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today.

Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin.

Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup.

Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

MV Agusta Stradale 800 — A Rivale with Bags

11/04/2014 @ 8:10 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We sort of spoiled the fun with the MV Agusta Stradale 800, thanks to our Bothan spies. Nevertheless, here is a comprehensive gallery of the latest “new model” from Varese. Essentially a detuned MV Agusta Rivale 800 with touring bags and a windscreen, the Italian company says we can expect to actually see this model available in a timely fashion.

Making 115hp (down 10hp from the Rivale) and adding 7lbs in bulk, the Stradale shares a new larger fuel tank with its Rivale sibling. The Stradale also sits lower to the ground, giving up .7″ in minimum ground clearance, for a total of 4.92″ in ground clearance.

Interestingly enough, the Stradale has the same front suspension travel as the Rivale, and gains .8″ in rear suspension travel over the Rivale, to 5.91″ of rear suspension travel. Suspension is done by Marzocchi up front, and Sachs in back, same as on the Rivale.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory – More of a Good Thing

11/04/2014 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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True to Aprilia’s typical form, where there is a base model, there must be a “Factory” model to go with it. 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory builds off the Tuono V4 1100 RR, and adds Öhlins suspension, upgraded brakes, and forged aluminum wheels to the package offering.

Like the Aprilia RSV4 RF superbike, the Tuono V4 1100 Factory comes with a special livery, so everyone knows you dropped the extra coin on the go-fast parts, which we think is rather fetching. This is how you make what is already the best streetfigther even better. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR – Refining Perfection

11/04/2014 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the first photo of the new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, which as the name implies gets a modest displacement increase for the 2015 model year. Tacking on an extra 5hp, for a total of 175hp at the crank, the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 also gets the second-generation APRC electronics package, as well as other chassis refinements.

Coming in two trim levels, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR is now the base model, and shown here. The top fairing has been changed for both models, and now replicates the three headlight design found on the RSV4 RR. These changes also allowed 3 lbs to be trimmed from the Tuono, which should please the performance-minded.

Aprilia RSV4 RF — Premium Wheels, Paint, & Suspension

11/04/2014 @ 6:12 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR represents a solid update to Noale’s already impressive superbike. Making 201hp, and dropping three pounds, the RSV4 RR features a bevy of other finer detail refinements, include a second-generation APRC electronics package. So how do you make a motorcycle like that better? Enter the Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Taking the Aprilia Race Package, which adds Öhlins suspension pieces and forged aluminum wheels, and adding a special livery that honors Aprilia’s racing success, you get the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RF.

Aprilia hasn’t mentioned how much the RF will be over the RR, but we don’t think they will have any trouble selling them. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR — 201hp of Italian Superbike

11/04/2014 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Details of the Aprilia RSV4 RR have finally surfaced, and it seems the folks at Noale have not been resting on their laurels, having just won the 2014 World Superbike Championship. As such, the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR makes a cool 201hp from its 999cc V4 engine, with peak torque coming in at 84.81 lbs•ft at 10,500 rpm.

Not only does the 2015 Aprilia RSV4 RR make 16hp more than its predecessor, but it’s also three pounds lighter (1.5kg). Aprilia says the power gains come from reducing internal frictions, improving combustion efficiency, and fluid dynamic efficiencies. These changes allow the RSV4 RR to rev higher than before, and thus make more power.

KTM 1050 Adventure – Cheap ADV, But Not for the USA

11/04/2014 @ 3:58 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Rumors about KTM coming out with a budget-focused, no thrills ADV bike appear to be true, as the 2015 KTM 1050 Adventure has broken cover at the 2014 EICMA show. The 1,050cc v-twin engine makes a modest 95hp, and can be detuned for A2 license uses in Europe.

The European note is important, as the KTM 1050 Adventure won’t be coming to North America anytime soon, as once again KTM leaves American and Canadian riders out in the cold, on the new model front.

2015 BMW F800R — Goodbye Winky Face

11/04/2014 @ 3:21 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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For the 2015 model year, the BMW F800R gets a mild re-working. Most noticeable about the 2015 BMW F800R is the revised headlight, which drops the classic BMW “wink” for a more standard light can. Other changes include a peppier motor, which puts out 90hp (up from 87hp on the previous model), while peak torque remains at 63 lbs•ft.

Off-road riders will enjoy the shorter gear ratios for first and second gear, as well as the new suspension components (USD front forks), dual-front brake discs with radial calipers, optimized ergonomics with a lower seat (-10mm), and improved handlebars and rider foot pegs.

The farings, radiator shields, front mudguard, and wheels have also been changed on the 2015 BMW F800R, while BMW Motorrad has added new color options for next year’s bikes.

As with all BMW models, ABS is standard on the F800R, though Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) are optional items.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 – The Ultimate Street Bike?

11/04/2014 @ 2:22 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja H2 street bike has finally debuted at the EICMA show, giving motorcycle fans a glimpse at the road-going counterpart to the Kawasaki Ninja H2R track-only machine. Based around the same 998cc supercharged inline-four engine, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 makes an astonishing 207 hp with ram air, 197hp without. For reference, the Ninja H2R makes 305hp, without ram-air.

Kawasaki has designed its supercharger system to have two-step gear-ratio, allowing for maximum boost and low and high engine speeds, and the supercharger impeller reaches 130,000 rpm when the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is at its 14,000 rpm redline. Peak torque is 98 lbs•ft, at 10,500 rpm, with the supercharger primarily helping to broaden the powerband for better street riding.