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.

Recall: 2007-2008 BMW K1200S & K1200R

10/16/2012 @ 3:50 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

BMW is recalling over 2,000 K-bikes from 2007 & 2008 for brake fluid that could foam under certain conditions. Affecting BMW K1200 S, K1200 R, and K1200 R Sport motorcycles, if the brake fluid foams, it could lead to reduced braking power, which in turn could result in a crash. BMW owners at risk to the foaming brake fluid will have their motorcycles retrofitted with a screen insert from BMW, free of charge.

Saturday Summary at Motegi: Of Close Racing, More Hot Brakes, & Educating Marc Marquez

10/13/2012 @ 10:14 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Another Brno, that is the hope of every MotoGP fan around the world after qualifying sessions like the one at Motegi on Saturday. The breathtaking battle in the Czech Republic, which saw Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo on each others’ tails all race long and the result settled in almost the final corner, was the natural outcome of two equally-matched men on very different, but equally-matched machines. There was nothing to choose between the two during qualifying at Brno, and there was nothing to choose between them during the race.

Motegi is shaping up to be similar. Both Lorenzo and Pedrosa have very similar pace, and both have the consistency, the talent, and the desire to push to the end. Jorge Lorenzo may have taken pole – the 50th of his career and one of his finest, with a blistering lap in near-perfect condition to destroy the existing pole record – but Pedrosa’s race pace is fractionally faster than that of the polesitter. Where Lorenzo’s near-robotic consistency has him lapping in the low 1’46.1s, Pedrosa is posting high 1’46.0s. The two men are separated by hundredths of a second only, and appear to have the measure of each other.

The wildcard in all of this is chatter. The problem, which has plagued the Honda all year, reappeared with a vengeance in the middle of qualifying for Pedrosa, leaving him struggling to get up to speed and to mount a serious challenge for pole. “Suddenly I had some big chatter,” Pedrosa said at the press conference, “I was in and out of the box trying to change things.”

The problem was all the more unsettling for being so unexpected. “It’s a bit strange,” Pedrosa said. “We didn’t have chattering in the morning or yesterday, just today in the qualifying. Not even in the first part of the qualifying.” Whether the issue is being caused by the setup Pedrosa uses when chasing a qualifying time remains to be seen, but if Pedrosa’s crew cannot eliminate it in tomorrow’s warm up, the Repsol Honda man’s title chances could be over.

2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Gets ABS & Brembo Brakes

10/02/2012 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

It’s hard to believe that for over a decade, the Suzuki Hayabusa has gone relatively unchanged from its original form. Sure, there have been some updates — a nose-job here, a face-lift there, but let’s be honest, the engineer responsible for the Suzuki GSX1300R has mostly just been pushing paper around his desk since the Clinton administration.

That tradition has not come to a close for the next model year, though the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa does get some massaging from the Japanese brand. Updated with an anti-locking brakes system (ABS), the 2012 Suzuki GSX1300R, as it name implies, joins the rest of the GSX-R family in getting Brembo Monobloc calipers.

2013 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE

10/02/2012 @ 4:40 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Sorry Ducatisti, there is no Panigale-inspired supersport-class Ducati Superbike this model year, but those Italians have made an update to their sport bike line-up for new year with the 2013 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE. Sort of like the 2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE that was debuted last year at EICMA, this one has an aluminum tank, but with the added bonus of a special two-tone “Ducati Test Team” livery.

The Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE also has Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Quick Shift, an Öhlins rear shock, and upgraded 330mm brake discs. Certainly not what anyone was misguidedly hoping for from the Bologna brand at INTERMOT, but you have to admit, that’s one dead sexy paint job. Expect the real Ducati goodness to drop next month at EICMA. More photos after the jump.

Recall: 2011 & 2012 Zero Motorcycles

07/11/2012 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Zero Motorcycles has submitted a recall with the NHTSA that includes units from its entire line-up, built for the 2011 & 2012 model years. The issue stems from a faulty brake light switch, which may not illuminate the rear brake light when the front brake lever is pressed without strong force.

The recall affects 450 units of Zero Motorcycles’ on-road units, which includes the following machines: 2011-2012 Zero DS, 2011 Zero MXD, 2011-2012 Zero S, 2012 Zero X, 2011 Zero XD, 2011-2012 Zero XU. Because the brake light may not illuminate while the motorcycles are under braking, Zero Motorcycles will recall the affected units starting around July 16th.

BMW Makes ABS Standard on All Its Motorcycles

07/06/2012 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

In introducing its 2013 line-up of returning models (as well as the updated F700GS & F800GS), BMW has announced that it has made anti-locking braking systems (ABS) a standard option on all of its motorcycles. The move is a part of larger safety initiative called Safety 360, which sees the Bavarian company taking a three-pronged approach to rider safety by focusing on: safety technology in the vehicle itself, safety derived from rider equipment, and safety derived from rider training.

Pre-empting the likely introduction of laws making ABS required on all motorcycles in the European Union by 2016, BMW is the first motorcycle manufacturer to make the braking technology standard on all of its models. Fittingly, back in 1988 the German company was the first motorcycle manufacturer to introduce ABS to production motorcycles, and again is the market-leader in this space.

Video: Got Brakes?

06/12/2012 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Whether your Sunday mornings are spent watching the AMA, BSB, WSBK, or MotoGP Championships (bonus points if nodded for each one of those), the image of watching a motorcycle lift its rear-wheel off the ground under heavy braking is surely a common occurrence to you. For amateur racers, the experience can be a bit unnerving at first, and even the professionals sometimes miscalculate the available traction, braking distance, and entry speed associated with such a maneuverer.

Such was the case with one Brazilian Superbike racer, who found himself on the wrong side of an endo, and headed into slower traffic at a corner’s entry point. With his rear-wheel lifted well off the ground, our protagonist makes perhaps the worst decision for the situation: he grabs more front brake. The rest writes itself, and we again thank the proliferation of on-board cameras in modern motorcycle racing for bringing us another tasty clip. Video after the jump.

Friday Summary at Catalunya: On Weather, Ducati Upgrades, And The Cost Of Monopolies

06/02/2012 @ 5:19 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

After the fickle weather which has dogged the first three European rounds of MotoGP, the first day of practice at Barcelona weekend got off to a dry, warm and sunny start. It was just what the teams and riders needed, some dry track time to work on the issues they face: for Honda, the chatter which they have suffered since the introduction of the RCV213V in the middle of last year, for Ducati, the lack of rear grip and poor drive out of corners, and for Yamaha, well, nothing really, it’s a pretty good bike as it is.

Conditions were pretty near ideal, though the blazing afternoon sun made the track a little too hot to get the best out of the tires, and it showed in the times. In the MotoGP class, Jorge Lorenzo posted a time well inside the race lap record, while in Moto2, Thomas Luthi obliterated the outright lap record in the morning session. Only Moto3 lagged behind, the brand new four-stroke class still a way off the times set by the 125cc bikes which they replaced.

126,000 Honda Goldwings Recalled for Faulty Brakes

12/05/2011 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda has issued a recall with the NHTSA because of a fault with the master cylinder on the Honda Goldwing. Affecting 2001-2010 & 2012 models, the secondary master cylinder for the Goldwing’s combined braking system could have a fault that causes the rear brake to engage and drag. Because this could destabilize the motorcycle, and poses a potential fire danger from heat caused by excessive friciton, Honda is recalling all 126,000 Goldwings the issue could potentially affect.

The Top 10 Late-Brakers at Mugello

07/05/2011 @ 4:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Brembo has released a list containing the Top 10 late-brakers at the Italian GP in Mugello. Taken from teams’ telemetry from the Qualifying Practice, Brembo compiled the list based off who was applying the most braking force coming off the front straight-away, and into Turn 1. Of note, the list was based off only teams who use Brembo brakes, which means LCR Honda and San Carlos Gresini Honda were left off the list (they use Nissin), we therefore don’t have data for Toni Elias, Hiroshi Aoyama, and Marco Simoncelli.

The San Donato bend at Mugello sees riders slow from 203 mph coming down the long straightaway to 75 mph into the apex of the first turn. One of the first tracks on the MotoGP calendar, Mugello recently repaved its course, meaning the Italian track has become especially smooth and grippy, and under the weekend’s sun, it was warm and ready for MotoGP action. Make your guesses now as to whom was the King of the Brake Lever, and check your answers after the jump.