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.

BRD Motorcycles Raises $4.5 Million in Series A Funding

10/01/2014 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It has been a long time coming, but we have some good news from the folks at BRD Motorcycles, as the electric motorcycle startup has just closed a $4.5 million Series A funding round.

The investment round was led by Spanish investment firm Modara Technologies, which was joined by Cedarville Investments, Tesla Motors founders Martin EberhardMarc Tarpenning, and Pedro Zapata Gil, the CEO of Baluarte Real Estate in Spain.

To-date that makes $8.2 million in capital raised by BRD, and now the San Francisco startup will be able to go ahead with production on its BRD RedShift electric dirt bike and supermoto offerings. BRD will show the production-ready RedShift MX & RedShift SM at the AIMExpo in two weeks’ time, which will retail for $14,995 and $15,495, respectively.

BRD Working on an Affordable Electric Scooter?

02/19/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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I was just in the BRD Motorcycles office the other day, and managed to get a glimpse of a near-production version of the startup’s RedShift supermoto/motocross platform. A more refined version of the prototype I rode in December 2011, though fundamentally and visually a very similar machine, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are eagerly awaiting the release of these lites-class bikes.

Unfortunately for my brief tour, the BRD team took away my phone, and gave me only vague responses to my questions about the RedShift in exchange. I can’t fault them on either account — the San Franciscan company doesn’t mess about with the “spy photo” nonsense, and would rather comment on realities, rather than push marketing hype.

CEO Marc Fenigstein did say that the company would have some announcements very soon though, which I would presume to be about additional company funding, which in turn leads to more concrete delivery dates of production bikes. Of course, time will tell on that.

However, one of those announcements might have been leaked out in one of the company’s job postings though: a cheap, powerful, affordable electric scooter for 2015.

Why It’s a Big Deal that Zero Motorcycles Is Coming to an MSF Course Near You

06/21/2012 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

For as much harping as I do about Zero Motorcycles, here comes some news from the Scotts Valley company that even my cold heart can appreciate. For those who don’t know, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has very strict criteria for the motorcycles that its classes can use during the hands-on portion of their curriculum. The various restrictions include things like seat height, displacement, weight, power, and so forth. Additionally, the classes concern themselves with the cost of the bikes themselves, the cost of maintaining the machines, and the cost of the replacement parts, which invariably will be needed as new riders cut their teeth on two-wheeled transportation.

Getting the nod from the MSF that the Zero XU can be used for its rider courses, Zero Motorcycles’ urban commuter is the first electric motorcycle to be certified for use in the popular rider training program. Not only a boon to the California-based company, the news is a step-forward for the MSF, as the clutchless, gear-less, noiseless, and effortless motorcycle is the ideal platform for a new rider to learn how to safely ride a motorcycle. Best of all though, the news bodes well in training soon-to-be motorcyclists more effectively, as well as increasing the likelihood of attracting otherwise disinterested riders into the world of motorcycles.

Video: BRD Proves Electrics Can Hoon Too

02/13/2012 @ 5:46 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BRD Motorcycles continues to make progress with the company’s first electric motorcycle: the BRD RedShift. Asphalt & Rubber thoroughly enjoyed our time on BRD RedShift SM prototype when I rode it around the Infineon karting track, which makes me confident that the San Franciscan company’s small legion of wait-listed buyers will be pleasantly surprised by the electric motorcycle’s pep when it becomes available later this year.

Producing now a quick video of the BRD RedShift SM hooning around San Francisco, it could be that the guys at BRD want to build a little buzz about the RedShift before the company goes to Indianapolis to woo potential dealerships at the Indy Dealer Expo. Or maybe, the over-aged children at BRD couldn’t help but have a little fun between their 25hr work days. Either way, stunt rider Ryan Moore finds a way to put his creative and electronically-powered stamp on all the fine neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Bonus points for the pan-around shot in front of the Broadway strip clubs guys…not that we’ve been there.

Video: Riding the BRD RedShift SM

12/09/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

During our chance to ride the BRD RedShift SM prototype, Wes Rowe was on-hand to document the event with photos and video. Sidelined by legal technicalities at Infineon Raceway (damn lawyers), Wes still managed to grab enough footage from outside the fenced-in perimeter of the karting track, and made this short promo video of the BRD RedShift SM. A day choked full of journalists, investors, racers, and extremely curious petrol heads, my time on the RedShift was short, but very intriguing.

Considering that BRD hopes to be delivering bikes to customers this time next year, the RedShift SM is already a very polished machine. Still true to its prototype name though, we had some technical issues during the test, but because electrics are powered by software, not mechanics, the team was able to clear the blue screen of death, and smooth out the lurching issue we encountered. What would have taken weeks in re-tooling and machining, was accomplished essentially overnight. Is the power of the electric drivetrain sinking in yet people?

Pay no attention to the no-talent internet hack at the 1:20 mark. No one really likes him.

Ride Review: BRD RedShift Supermoto Prototype

12/04/2011 @ 10:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

It is a rare opportunity when a journalist gets to swing a leg over a prototype motorcycle. Virtually assured by definition to have perceivable flaws, effectively all the companies in the motorcycle industry prefer to keep the public and media at arm’s length until they have massaged their work into something that is ready for primetime consumption. Testing the BRD RedShift SM electric supermoto at Infineon Raceway today, we could attribute our good fortune to the fact that BRD Motorcycles (faster-faster.com) does not subscribe to the motorcycle industry’s status quo.

Conversely, we could also just as easily say that the boys at BRD are easily crazy enough to let a couple moto-journalists test the only existing example of what nearly a million dollars in motorcycle technology builds you, and the fact that those journalists are online blogger internet nerd types, well that just proves BRD’s insanity, right?

That notion of craziness comes almost without question though, as you would have to be crazy to think that you can take on the major OEMs in their own backyard. You would have to be crazy to give up the security of your day job to start a new venture in the worst recession since the 1930’s, crazy to convert your successful existing business into a risky startup, crazy to spend your accumulated life savings so every dollar raised goes into the company’s shared vision.

There is something crazy about what is going on with a small motorcycle startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as I not-so-prudently signed my life away on the test ride disclaimer today, Asphalt & Rubber got to see what manifestations BRD’s farce had produced since we last saw the BRD RedShift SM in August of this year.

BRD RedShift Price & Specs – $14,995 (MX) / $15,495 (SM)

09/28/2011 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

After several months of testing and refining the BRD RedShift electric motorcycle, pricing and technical specifications from BRD Motorcycles has just graced our inbox. Wanting to make sure the BRD RedShift SM & RedShift MX lived up to the company’s hype, BRD has been reluctant to quote exact figures and prices until the San Francisco startup was confident it could back up those announcements with actual product performance. True to our prediction at the time of the BRD RedShift SM’s launch, the MX version will come with a $14,995 price tag, while the SM supermotard will tack on an extra $500 for a $15,495 MSRP.

Making 40 peak-horsepower, the BRD RedShift touts 250cc bike specs, especially with its 260/265 lbs (SM/MX) curb weight for street use (headlight and switchgear). In racing trim, both the SM & MX shed an additional 10 lbs. Because of the interest being generated in the police-style model (RedShift PD), BRD will make the model available with its more robust tail section, hard luggage, and more powerful electrical system for powering electrical components. These added components add an additional 35 lbs to the RedShift’s base weight, though the PD model is expected to be the company’s best selling model, as public and private fleet vehicles are increasingly pressured to include electrics into their vehicle pools.

Up-Close with the BRD RedShift SM Electric Supermotard

08/09/2011 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

After launching its electric equivalent of a 250cc four-stroke supermotard, A&R spent a little quality time with the BRD RedShift SM at its future production facility in San Francisco. That’s right, not only is BRD hoping to tackle gas bikes head-on (we hear they only want to race in gas events), but the company, thanks to some clever design work, will be producing its electric motorcycles in the otherwise expensive SF/Bay Area. Instead of using a chassis architecture that would require hand or machine welds (the latter being far more expensive to setup for small production), BRD is using a combination of a casting and milling build process to create a motorcycle frame that is dependent more on machine operation, than worker labor. This means labor costs will be low, and production is limited only by how many milling machines the small startup can keep running at anyone one point in time.

Looking at the photos, you will have a hard time finding a weld on the RedShift’s frame, as the four pieces that make the main chassis are designed to be bolted together. Replacing what would normally be a single-cylinder thumper, BRD’s bright orange 5.2 kWh battery pack is exposed for aesthetics, and in conjunction with the powder blue and avalanche white bodywork, the overall livery hints at the Gulf Racing color scheme, without screaming it. At 40hp and tipping scales allegedly at the 250 lbs mark in its current form (we hear word it actually weighs less than 250 lbs at present), BRD thinks there’s more weight to be lost in the bike as the company refines the motorcycle for production.

The BRD RedShift SM is wearing prototype wheels from OZ Racing in these photos, which are made from forged aluminum, and reportedly are so light as to be practically buoyant. Overall the fit and finish of BRD’s pre-production model looks very nice, and as long as the SF company can keep that kind of build quality in its final product, it should be off to a strong start. Due to hit the streets before the KTM Freeride makes it stateside, it will be interesting to see if Zero can put out an offering next year to match the claimed performance specs from the RedShift. Similarly, it will be interesting to see if the Brammo Engage will make its debut with its six-speed gearbox by that time as well.

At a rumored $15,000 a pop, the price tag is hefty compared to gas equivalents, but that hasn’t kept orders from flooding BRD”s offices the morning after the RedShift’s launch last week in San Francisco. For those craving more photos of the BRD RedShift SM, we have 24 hi-res shots waiting for you after the jump.

BRD RedShift SM Breaks Cover with Gas Parity

08/03/2011 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

We’ve been following the guys at BRD since the beginning of the year, and this scrappy San Francisco company has finally busted out of stealth mode with its first electric motorcycle line: the BRD RedShift. With a goal of meeting or exceeding parity with gasoline-powered two-wheelers, BRD’s first foray into the motorcycle industry is an interesting one, as the RedShift line brings true 250cc four-stroke power to the electric realm. Producing 40hp from the company’s proprietary water-cooled AC motor, the BRD RedShift SM produces more power than a Honda CRF250R while tipping scales at less than 250 lbs in supermoto trim (less than 240 lbs in MX-spec).

The RedShift line is BRD’s first line of motorcycle, and will feature three different purpose-built trims. The Supermoto (SM) model will be BRD’s on-road city bike, while the MX model will be the company’s enduro offering. BRD has also factored fleet sales heavily into its business plan, and will have a vehicle, designated as the RedShift PD, that will be available for government and private fleet usage. Point of sale and warranty work will stem from a standard dealer model, which will be aggressively built out over the coming months, and plays back into the company’s mantra that electric vehicles don’t need to be different from gas bikes, just better than them.