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 Q2 2014 Sales Up 5.1% – Another Record Quarter

08/05/2014 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad’s second-quarter sales results are in, and the German brand has not only another record quarter to report, but also an all-time six-month top-sales record as well.

Selling 42,259 units in Q2 2014, BMW Motorrad sales are up 5.1%, with revenue up 11.2% to €528 million (€55 million EBIT). This sales volume represents an all-time second-quarter high for BMW motorcycles sales.

The news also makes the first half of 2014 the best six-month period, in the 90 years of BMW Motorrad’s history, of BMW motorcycle sales, with revenue up 9.8% to €1 billion, and unit sales up 9.3% to 70,978 units.

BMW GS Series Breaks the Half Million Production Mark

03/20/2014 @ 8:07 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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This week marks a milestone for BMW Motorrad, as the company rolled its 500,000th boxer-twin GS series off the production line, fittingly a BMW R1200GS.

Designed to be the perfect blend of an off-road and street bike with everyday drivability, the top-selling GS series has captured the hearts and minds of adventure enthusiasts for the past 34 years.

BMW Motorrad Had Best Sales Year Ever in 2013

01/17/2014 @ 1:20 pm, by Aakash Desai3 COMMENTS

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Just days after issuing a North American recall for 50,000+ of their motorcycles, BMW Motorrad issued a press release to talk about its successful sales sales volumes. For 2013, BMW achieved its third all-time sales high of 115,215 vehicles, an 8.3% increase over the previous year. Of that total, 14,100 were sold in the United States.

WSBK: Chaz Davies Hits the Wind Tunnel Ahead of Monza

05/09/2013 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad Goldbet SBK’s Chaz Davies had some homework ahead of this weekend’s World Superbike round in Monza, as the Welshman spent time in BMW’s high-speed wind tunnel to work on his aerodynamics with the BMW S1000RR. With Monza being one of the fastest courses on the WSBK calendar, a rider’s ability to have the optimal body position down the the track’s long sections, where speeds can easily exceed 200 mph, is a crucial element to race-day success.

“It was a really interesting afternoon”, said Davies. “When testing on a track, you try new development parts and different settings but you are not working on your body. So it was great to experience in a stable environment with my riding position, to move myself around on the bike, to have elbows and shoulders in different positions and to then see in the data what difference it makes.

Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain – 2013 Dakar Rally

03/13/2013 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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With the sale of Husqvarna to Pierer Industrie AG, the 2013 Dakar Rally marks the last time that the BMW Group will collaborate with Speedbrain GmbH for its rally and off-road racing duties — a partnership that has lasted since 2006.

Helping commemorate their last outing together, the Speedbrain’s factory-backed Husqvarna team has put together a little tribute video of its final Dakar campaign. Will the team live on with another brand? Only time will tell, but it would seem BMW’s off-road racing days are over.

BMW Motorrad Sells Husqvarna to Pierer Industrie AG

01/31/2013 @ 10:26 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Calling it a “strategic realignment” for BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group has confirmed the rumors and sold Husqvarna Motorcycles to Pierer Industrie AG, the holding company of KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. Saying the parties would not disclose the terms or purchase price of the transaction, the press release from BMW Motorrad was surprisingly light on any actual information.

Touting BMW’s commitment to urban mobility and electric vehicles, the German company will now focus solely on the BMW Motorrad brand. With reports saying that BMW Motorrad will not venture back into the dirt bike market, the company will maintain its on-road focus for the foreseeable future.

Husqvarna Showing Life? 2012 Up 15% with an Asterisk

01/09/2013 @ 5:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Normally when we talk about Husqvarna’s sales, it is about how the German-owned, Italian-run, Swedish-in-name-only brand is slowly collapsing in on itself like a dying star. Not so in 2012 though, as Husqvarna sales to dealers were up a solid 15.7% (10,751 units) over the 2011 figures (9,286 units).

Holy shnikeys Batman, but with numbers that sounds almost too good to be true, a closer examination of Husqvarna’s sales figures sheds some interesting facts. Fans of the brand, may not like what they have to hear after the jump.

BMW ConnectedRide Could Help Drivers See Motorcyclists

10/15/2012 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

If you have ridden motorcycles for any extended period of time, you likely have had a “moment” with an automobile — it happens to every rider. Motorcycles have a small visual profile when viewed from the front and rear, and we move around in our lanes, favoring the sides or the middle, depending on the road and traffic conditions. We change velocities with ease, accelerate much quicker than a car, and in a predominantly four-wheeled society, drivers are conditioned to look for an automobile in their mirrors, not a motorcycle.

I can barely go a week without hearing a story from a fellow motorcyclist about how he or she was cut-off by some “cager” that was either not paying attention, or worse, intentionally out to injure them. The truth is, there is no great car conspiracy to run motorcycles off the road, though some drivers do let their road rage get ahead of them, not realizing that a car is two-ton rolling weapon. A great component to being a seasoned motorcyclist is riding defensively, which includes understanding that lawful riding doesn’t always mean prudent riding.

A large portion of my “near misses” I saw before they even happened. A driver on a phone, a car hugging one side of the line, a gap forming in a lane during traffic, all these things are enticements to a driver to change lanes rapidly and without caution. These conditions should also be signals to a rider to be weary of the four-wheeled vehicle near them, as the burden is on us as motorcyclists to ensure our own safety on the road — we are silly to place that burden on someone else, especially someone within the relative safety an automobile provides.

When I hear these near-miss stories, what I rarely hear are the events that happened 30 seconds before the incident. Did the motorcyclist change lanes? How long had they been behind / next to / in front of the car in question? Did they see the driver in his or her mirror? If so, what were they doing? Sure, when they came over into your lane, nearly running you off the road, they were legally at fault, but you were in the wrong to think they wouldn’t do such an act.

Motorcycles conform to traffic patterns that are different from those used by automobiles. It is entirely possible for an attentive driver to check for a clear lane, and within the time it takes to signal and move lanes, a previously unseen motorcycle can take that space. All the “Look Twice” campaigns in the world cannot overcome the reality that if a motorcyclist puts him or herself in a rightful, but dangerous position, a bad outcome can still occur. But what if cars and motorcycles talked to each other?

Husqvarna TR 650 Terra – An Off-Road Strada

07/12/2012 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna TR 650 Strada, our favorite German-owned Italian-based Scandinavian-branded motorcycle company has released a 21-inch-wheeled version of the Strada that is destined for more off-road use. They call it the Husqvarna TR 650 Terra. Using the same 652cc water-cooled single-cylinder DOHC motor, the Husqvarna Terra also makes 58hp and 44.25 lbs•ft of torque, just like the Husqvarna Strada.

Tipping the scales a bit lighter than its road-going sibling, the Terra has a dry weight here in the United States of 368 lbs (410 lbs wet). Available with ABS as an option in other markets, it appears our more feature-reluctant American riders will only be given the non-ABS variant of the pseudo off-road machine (apparently Husky isn’t a part of BMW’s pledge for universal ABS). While the Terra shares many components with the Strada, BMW Husqvarna hopes that the minor changes between the two bikes will help facilitate the Husqvarna Terra’s more off-road oriented purpose in life.

BMW Motorrad Posts Best Quarter Ever…Again

04/10/2012 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Writing about BMW Motorrad’s quarterly sales announcements is starting to become an exercise in mad libs, and I really should just create a template that is full of praise and positive comments, leaving blank only the spots where the figures of units sold and percentage growth should go. Since I have no such template at my disposal, here we go again with the back-slapping about BMW’s sales juggernaut. Read onward for more sales news from Zie Germans.