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.

Even More Photos of the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Leak

10/17/2014 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Yesterday we brought you the first official photo of the Yamaha FJ-09 tourer, which had been accidentally added to the Yamaha FZ-09 gallery on the Yamaha NA press site. Today it seems that leaks in Yamaha continue for the FJ-09, as our Dutch friends at Nieuwsmotor have discovered a bevy of press images, ahead of the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09’s debut at EICMA next month.

Based around the FZ-09/MT-09 platform, the FJ-09 uses a similar three-cylinder engine as the sport nakeds, though looks to have more suspension travel and other touring elements. Picking up where the Yamaha TDM left off as a middleweight sport/adventure-tourer, the Yamaha FJ-09 could be a very interesting addition to Yamaha’s lineup.

With the FZ/MT line showing great value for the performance, Yamaha could be set to release a very adorable machine for ADV and sport-touring riders. With the name trademarked with the USPTO, we can expect to see the Yamaha FJ-09 in the American market. Get excited.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 — Coming to the USA Too

09/30/2014 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The good times don’t stop rolling with the new Kawasaki Versys 650, as the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 is confirmed to be coming to the United States as well. We already got a glimpse of the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 from yesterday’s leaked photos, which showed the revised bodywork from Kawasaki.

Getting official details now, we know that the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 makes relatively minor improvements technically over the previous model. Longer travel suspension has been added, and the 17″ wheels have been beefed up, both in order to aid going on off-road excursions.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 Is Coming to America

09/30/2014 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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If you liked what you saw yesterday, when we posted leaked photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650, then you will like even more what we have to say now, as Kawasaki USA has confirmed that the all-new Kawasaki Versys 650 is coming to the United States as a 2015 model year bike. The official announcement is set for the AIMExpo in October, so there is no pricing yet for the US market.

As we saw in the leaked photos, the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 has a revised headlight design, and new fairings that improve wind deflection around the rider. The 649cc parallel-twin engine has also been reworked, producing more horsepower and getting better fuel economy in the process.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure – Even with 180hp, Is This the Safest Motorcycle in the World?

09/30/2014 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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KTM wasn’t bashful about wedging the 1301cc lump from the KTM Super Duke R into the company’s ADV offering, as the Austrians were fairly frank about 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure debuting at INTERMOT. There may not be too many surprises about the adventure-tourer then, but it certainly is a stout package from KTM.

Obvious is the massive horsepower that the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is putting down, but KTM has also infused control into the ADV bike. Bosch’s MSC “cornering ABS” system is standard, as is traction control, cruise control, and semi-active suspension from WP. LED cornering headlights are also standard, while an electronic hill hold control (HHC) can be fitted as an option.

Of note is that the 1290 Super Adventure does not use the exact same engine as the 1290 Super Duke R. The two machines use the same cylinders, connecting rods, and pistons, but KTM’s engineers built a special crankshaft and cylinders for the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which also has a heavier flywheel than the Super Duke R.

2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS – Wee-Strom Gets a Beak

09/30/2014 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The leaks ahead of INTERMOT turned out to be true, as the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT broke cover today in Germany. Taking its cues from its 1,000cc sibling, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is visually very similar to Suzuki’s other ADV bike, though at its center is the same tried-and-true 645cc v-twin engine.

Noticeable differences to the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, beside the engine of course, are the wire-spoked wheeles, side-by-side dual headlight (the V-Strom 1000 has a stacked headlight). Like the V-Strom 1000 though, the V-Strom 650XT comes with a 19″ front wheel (17″ rear).

At 474 lbs at the curb, the V-Strom 650XT ABS is a lighter option to the V-Strom 1000, and gives the Triumph Tiger 800XC & BMW F800GS a good run for their money — expect the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS to be priced aggressive, as such.

LEAKED: Photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000

09/29/2014 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It’s the day before the INTERMOT press day, which means leaks are coming left and right, as the villainy and scum that are moto-journalists get their hands on embargoed information from motorcycle manufacturers. Kawasaki seems to be the biggest leaking sieve, as a photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 has already surfaced.

Now our friends at Nieuwsmotor have gotten their hands on the photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 and 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650. First up is the updated Kawasaki Versys 1000, which has mostly revamped bodywork, when compared to the 2014 model. We are expecting there to be few technical changes for 2015, though an adjustable windscreen has obviously been added.

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally Breaks Cover

09/25/2014 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Set to debut at INTERMOT next week, the Italians have taken the wraps off the 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally — a more adventure-focused variant of the Aprilia Caponord 1200.

The changes are subtle, but to the point, as the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally comes with a 19″ wheel up front (a 17″ wheel remains in the rear), as well as side boxes, auxiliary lighting, skid plate, and crash bars.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

09/12/2014 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

09/10/2014 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015.

Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand.

With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Photos: Here is the 2015 BMW S1000XR

08/20/2014 @ 3:28 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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It has taken various names in the press (e.g. the BMW S1000F), but trademark applications in Germany and in the USA tell us that the Bavarians have settled on calling their new sport-tourer the BMW S1000XR — and it is debuting in just a few weeks’ time at the INTERMOT show in Cologne.

Luckily for us, a spy photographer has caught the 2015 BMW S1000XR out testing ahead of its debut, with only the badges and headlights covered in tape. While we already had a good view of the BMW S1000XR when it was testing, these photos reveal the off-the-assemblyline shape of the latest Bavarian machine, and we like what we see.