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.

Bimota BB3 Will Debut at EICMA

11/02/2013 @ 9:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Last year we were wowed by the Bimota BB2, and not necessarily in a good way. The boutique Italian brand has a reputation for making rolling pieces of art that feature production motors with Bimota’s own chassis genius. While the BB2 was powered by the venerable BMW S1000RR’s inline-four engine, Bimota failed to live up to its end of the bargain, which made the Bimota BB2 an interesting, although rather unappealing, effort.

From what our sources have told us, that project has since been taken out behind the woodshed, and to help make up for things, a clean-slate Bimota BB3 will debut at this year’s EICMA show. The first machine to debut under Bimota’s new owners, Marco Chiancianesi and Daniele Longoni, the BB3 again features an S1000RR power plant, and from what our sources have been telling us, the BB3 swaps the BB2’s throwback retro look for a 21st century racing aesthetic.

Bimota Now Swiss Owned?

09/12/2013 @ 9:40 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Known just as much for its exotic motorcycles, as its tumultuous relationship with financial solvency, Bimota as a company is a bit of a quagmire. The Italian motorcycle house showed its racing chops with the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike, debuted a bevy of Ducati-powered models last year, and the Italians have branched out with the BMW S1000RR-powered Bimota BB2.

Now announcing a change in its ownership, Bimota has seemingly been bought by a still-unnamed Swiss financier. With production expected to stay in Rimini, Italy and with Italians said still to be managing the company, it seems that Bimota has just found a deeper wallet to extract cash from. At least, that what appears to be the case from Bimota’s bizarrely worded press release.

Bimota BB2 – Where Retro Meets the BMW S1000RR

11/14/2012 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Our favorite news from the 2012 EICMA motorcycle show has to be the one where Bimota announced that it has entered an agreement with BMW Motorrad to use the BMW S1000RR motor in its rolling pieces of moto-art.

Using an almost exclusive diet of Ducati motors for its most recent creations, it only takes a quick look at the Bimota DB7, DB8, DB9, & DB11 to see that the boutique Italian bike builder has hit a bit of rut with its design inspiration. Our hope was that the partnership with BMW would change that.

Getting our first glimpse of the Bimota BB2, courtesy of sak_art design, the folks behind the machine, we can see our prayers haven’t gone unanswered. A clear homage to the Bimota BB1, the BB2 has some of the now-retro lines that distinguished Bimota so well in the early 1990’s.

Perhaps it is not the obscene hyperbike some were expecting when the S1000RR was tapped for duty, but there is an interesting blend of new and old in the Bimota BB2. Photos after the jump.

2013 Bimota DBx – An Enduro You Want to Get Dirty With

11/13/2012 @ 8:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We promise, this is our last Bimota posting for the day (unless something juicy breaks regarding the recently announced Bimota BB2) — we did save the best for last though. Simply called the Bimota DBx, what we see here is Bimota floating another non-superbike concept out to the public to gauge its reaction. Bimota, we’ll make this real easy for you: BUILD THIS BIKE.

A Bimota DB10 with a severe affliction for getting its feet dirty, the Bimota DBx is probably the most expensive dual-sport we have ever seen. Öhlins TTX forks and four-way adjustable shock for suspension, Brembo monoblocs for brakes (2 x 300mm discs up front, 200mm in the back), carbon fiber everywhere, and machined pieces of billet aluminum that are ruining our Christmas wish list…every criticism you could level at Bimota this model year might easily be redeemed with this motorcycle.

Though we doubt any DBx machines will see off-road duty, there is a 19″ front wheel, with a 17″ rear wheel or optional 18″ unit for the rear, which are all laced up and ready to ride on their mixed-terrain Pirellis. Weighing 385 lbs dry, and making 95hp, the Bimota DBx isn’t the lightest or most powerful motorcycle in this class, but it definitely is the sexiest. Pardon us, we are late for the pants party.

Bimota DB10R – The Last Air-Cooled Hypermotard Standing

11/13/2012 @ 8:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The big news from Ducati at EICMA has to be the debut of the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard and its more touring focus sibling the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada. Trading in their two-valve air-cooled lumps for a 110hp 821cc liquid-cooled v-twin engine, we are sure there are some Ducatisti who had there cooling fins ruffled by that move. Never fear, Bimota is here.

Using Ducati 95hp 1,078cc air-cooled engine that was in the original Ducati Hypermotard 1100, the Bimota DB10 debuted last year as a tasteful alternative to the maxi-motard from Bologna. Back again this year, Bimota has up-spec’d the DB10, with the 2013 Bimota DB10R coming with a bevy of more carbon fiber goodness.

2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia – Now with an Italian Flag

11/13/2012 @ 6:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The middle child to the Bimota DB8 and Bimota DB11, we showed you the Bimota DB9 Brivido last year with the superlative that it was the best looking Ducati Diavel we had ever seen. Of course, that statement was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the Bimota DB9 does share the Testastretta 11° motor with the Ducati, and Bimota hopes the DB9 Brivido will be a sportster variant to this very crowded area of the company’s model line-up.

Honestly, we don’t know why Bimota didn’t stop with the DB8 and move on, instead of building two more motorcycles off the same motor and chassis (god only knows how many variations stem from the DB8, DB9 DB11, and DB12 combined).

It’s not that we don’t like the Bimota DB9 Brivido (though, the headlights do offend us in an elbows-on-the-table sort of way), it is just that we hate to see the boutique Italian brand run this design for everything it is worth..even if they throw a supercharger on it.

Trotting the Bimota DB9 Brivido back out to EICMA for a second year in a row, the Italian brand calls this 2013 Bimota DB9 Brivido Italia. You know, because they put the Tricolore on it. Beautiful and boring at the same time, there is a reason we have buried this article today in the middle of the brand’s other more intriguing offerings from EICMA.

XXX: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia

11/13/2012 @ 6:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Do you like carbon fiber? Do you like steel trellis frames? Do you like 160hp motorcycles that weigh 390 lbs dry? Well then, we have just the thing for you: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia.

Pretty much the Bimota DB8 with some “Italian” themed paint, we won’t go into too much detail since the DB8, DB9, & DB11 share pretty much everything except the bodywork…which is probably the only criticism you can lobby at any of those machines.

Bimota sent us these up-close high-resolution photos of the Bimota DB8 Italia from EICMA, and we thought we’d share them with our loyal readers. Enjoy.

2013 Bimota DB11 – The Bitter to Know the Sweet

11/13/2012 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

If you were as blown away over the supercharged 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX as we were, you might have not realized that we forgot even to introduce the Bimota DB11 to you in the first place. A fully faired sport bike with a 1198cc Ducati Testastretta 11° engine held in its beautiful steel trellis and aluminum-plate frame, the DB11 puts out a reasonable 160hp and less reasonable 97 lbs•ft of torque.

At 385 lbs dry, the 2013 Bimota DB11 makes a good argument for being a robust sport bike, even if most of them will sit in the garages of collectors. Using the same frame design as the Bimota DB9 Brivido, we must admit that the design aesthetic here is also getting some mileage, which sort of detracts from the “my pants are fitting oddly” problem that Bimotas generally generate.

2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked – Hub-Center Steering for Two

11/13/2012 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

In my list of the Top 10 motorcycles ever, I think the Bimota Tesi 3D would make a strong showing. A truly unique machine, the lack of fairings only serves to showcase the hub-center steering mechanism, making the Tesi 3D an intriguing work of both art and science.

Separating the braking forces from the suspension travel, on paper motorcycle’s with hub-center steering have a significant mechanical advantage over their traditional counterparts, in reality though they have failed to live up to the hype on the track.

A product of either riders who are groomed to expect the workings of traditional linear fork suspension systems, or simply a answer to question that wasn’t asked, hub-center steering hasn’t exactly taken off…yet.

The Bimota Tesi 3D perseveres though, and for the new model year, Bimota has made my Tesi 3D obsession more conducive to my social agenda with motorcycles. This is all the excuse I need to share the photos after the jump with you. Enjoy.

2013 Bimota DB12 – The Most Expensive Multistrada Ever?

11/13/2012 @ 1:31 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

While we wait to here the specs on the upcoming Bimota BB2, the boutique Italian firm’s rekindled collaboration with the German motorcycle manufacturer, Bimota continues to work with Ducati lumps, both of the air and liquid-cooled variety. One of the more intriguing concepts put forth at EICMA, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is an expression of an uber-exotic Ducati Multistrada 1200.

Unlike the supercharged Bimota DB11 VLX, the Bimota DB12 will remain naturally aspirated in its 160hp state, but like how the Multistrada 1200 was part of the Bologna Brand’s movement away from being solely a sport bike company, the DB12 represents the same movement for Bimota. Already showing a dirt bike at last year’s EICMA show, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is clearly the Italian brand taking a step back, and testing the waters with this design direction.