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.

BMW Unscripted: Tiffany Coates

12/30/2010 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Drawing from the same vein the as the BMW Films made in 2001 & 2002, the Bavarian brand has made some short videos that feature unique BMW owners doing what they do best with their German vehicles, and in the case of Tiffany Coates that means riding her BMW R80GS (named Thelma) just about everywhere humanly possible.

An accomplished adventure rider and a celebrity in the genre, Coates has hit five continents on her BMWs. While her narration gets a little advetorial at points, Coates’s travel book, experiences, and perspective, along with the imagery BMW shot for the video, easily make up for it with this rich short film. Check it out after jump, and let us know if you’ve gotten the itch to go exploring after hearing Tiffany’s story.

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré

11/21/2010 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was recently one of a few blogs, along with the usual suspects from the American media, to be invited out to Arizona for Yamaha’s press launch of the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer motorcycle (because we know Americans have no idea what to do with an accented “e”, think “tay-nay-ray” for pronunciation…or just cheat like us and say “ten-air-ray”). The earth is orange here in Arizona, and between the mesas and evergreen forests, Sedona makes for a picturesque setting, that’s away from the bustling metropolitans and city life. This serves our purpose well as its an ideal environment to show-off the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré against the desert’s beautiful backdrop and star-filled skies, but it also serves as the type of destination Super Ténéré owners would likely visit on Yamaha’s new motorcycle, putting us right in the shoes of the target customer.

A market segment based around compromises, adventure-tourers sit somewhere between the juxtaposition of dirt and touring bikes. Based on the idea that the journey doesn’t end where the road does, the adventure-tourer market has taken over from the Harley-Davidson crowd as the next expression of freedom on the open road. Essentially created by the BMW GS series, it is impossible to talk about adventure bikes without mentioning the GS, but other manufacturers as well have entered into this growing market, coming up with different ideas on what riders are looking for when they want to escape from the daily grind.

Built to ride both on and off the street, adventure bikes pose the unique problem of having to decide where to make the trade-offs between these two different purposes, and in this regard we find the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré, leaning more heavily to the street side of this equation than say the BMW R1200GS. As a publication that centers around street bikes generally (hence the name Asphalt & Rubber), we too lean towards the street side of that equation, making the Yamaha Super Ténéré a strong congruency to what we look for in this motorcycle segment, and a bike we wouldn’t mind adding to our stable of daily riders and long-distance tourers.

First Look: Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/01/2010 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

While Honda won’t release more info on its new 800cc V4-based adventure bike and 1,200cc V4 adventure concept until a day or two from now, the folks at Oliepeil snapped this photo of the Honda booth, which shows a bike very similar to Honda’s teaser image. Looking very GS-esque, it will be interesting to see the results on Honda’s foray into the adventure bike segment with a V4 motor.

Source: Oliepeil.nl

Honda Teases Last Sketch of Its V4 Adventure Bike

10/27/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease its V4-based adventure bike ahead of its unveiling at EICMA next week. Finally showing off the actual lines of the machine, Honda has clearly made a cross between the CB1000R and VFR1200F in this design. Tall and purposeful, the concept clearly has the extra travel to soak-up an uncertain path, but Honda insists the bike is designed for on-road use. We dig the single-sided swingarm, but it will be interesting to see how Honda finishes off the exhaust pipe, and of course the final fit and finish of the design as a whole (the tail, like on the VFR1200F, seems to be an afterthought).

Honda Releases Another V4 Adventure Concept Teaser

10/19/2010 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease us with concept sketches of its VFR inspired middleweight adventure bike, this time with a drawing of the bike head-on. Expected to have a smaller displacement than the VFR1200F sport-tourer, the advenutre-esque concept will fit a V4 power plant in a more upright and exposed frame and bodywork.

Showing the stacked headlight design, Honda’s new V4 will have a slim profile for better high-speed stability and engine/rider cooling. Honda is also saying that a “floating” instrument cluster will come on the bike, which should help keep eyes pointed down the road’s path.

Honda VFR Adventure Concept – A Naked VFR1200F?

10/14/2010 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Released in Italy today, Honda has taken the wraps off a concept drawing that shows a new crossover motorcycle, based off the VFR1200F. Super-imposed over the shape of the new VFR, this new concept rendering shows a largely reduced fairing, in anticipation of its more “adventurous” segment orientation. If rumors are to believed on the internet, the bike may not share the same 1237cc displacement as its sport-touring cousin, and instead will sport a middleweight displacement (800cc’s seems to be a popular number).

This new VFR is one (or two?) of eight new models Honda has said it will debut in Milan. One of the other rumored models is a 1200cc concept bike, which will reportedly be a 2012 model year motorcycle with Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the rest of what Honda has in store for us.

2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 Rumors Heat Up

09/21/2010 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After letting the cat out of the bag about the 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, speculation almost immediately began about what other machines in the 2011 Aprilia line-up could be using the 1200cc mill as well. While we still await word on a Shiver 1200, the company from Noale seems set to debut a restart to its well-aged Tuareg line. Expected to be unveiled at the EICMA show later this year, the 2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 was hinted at by Roberto Colaninno, head of the Piaggio Group, during the company’s Milan HQ launch party.

Video: 2011 Triumph Tiger Cub – Chassis Details

09/01/2010 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Triumph continues its march of slowly releasing information about its 800cc three-cylinder Tiger Cub adventure bike, which will come in two varieties for buyers. For those inclined to go off the beaten path, a 21″ front-wheeled knobby is available, while those with asphalt in mind can hit the twisties with a 19″  front wheel.

More Details on the 2011 Triumph Tiger Cub

08/05/2010 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Triumph is right on schedule, releasing more information about its two upcoming adventure bikes. Set to have a smaller displacement than the Tiger, the 2011 Triumph Tiger Cubs will feature a long-stroke three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that the compact triple will be ideal for road and dirt use, allowing you “to do the business” (yeah, we can’t believe they said that) with the bike’s torque-on-tap power plant. Photos and video after the jump.

Longer Triumph Adventure Video

07/19/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Were the 30 or so seconds of the Triumph Adventure promo too short for you? Fortunately the A&R summer intern came stocked with some mad computer haxor skillz, and was able to grab the extended version playing on the Triumph website. With more shots of the Triumph adventure bike nestled in the longer version, get ready to enjoy some more teasers of what is being rumored at the long-awaited Triumph Tiger Cub. Video after the jump.