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.

LEAKED: Here is the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Cruisers aren’t really our forté, here at Asphalt & Rubber, but breaking stories is…so, without all the typical fanfare, we bring you the first full photos of the upcoming 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. The Stead is murdered out and visually appealing, with black engine covers, black fenders, black forks…hell, even the tires are black. Under the hood is Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, which is an air-cooled 1,811cc v-twin good for 73hp and 100 lbs•ft.More technical features include ABS as standard, a keyless ignition system, cast wheels, and a solo seat. Our Bothan Spies suggest an MSRP of $17,000, and more accessories (all black, natch) than you can fit into the belly of a Tauntaun. Expect to see the Indian Chief Dark Horse launch officially on February 13th elsewhere.

Washington State Weighs Pro Lane-Splitting Law

The Washington State Legislature has a pro lane-splitting bill on its 2015-2016 docket, HB 1515. The law is moderately written, adopting a 10 mph speed differential between the motorcycle and traffic, with a 35 mph speed cap, as acceptable during lane-splitting activities. Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize these provisions as being more restrictive than the California Highway Patrol’s now defunct guidelines. Lane-splitting is a near-and-dear topic to us here at A&R, as we believe a national effort to legalize the practice should be mission #1 for the American Motorcyclist Association.

Ronin – 47 American Street Bikes Like No Other

10/01/2014 @ 1:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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You will have to go back almost five years to remember Magpul’s Ronin motorcycle concept. Based off the Buell 1125R chassis and engine, the Magpul Ronin was very refreshing and different approach to an American street bike.

Fast-forward to the present, and Ronin Motor Works (the company spun out of Magpul to make the Ronin motorcycle) is ready to sell its first 12 units of the avant-garde bike.

Key items on the Ronin include a linkage fork design, with a Penske shock handling the bumps traveling up the aluminum girders. Our favorite feature, the radiator has been place high up, near the handlebars, and features an integrated headlight design.

Bottpower’s BOTT XC1 Cafe Racer Rendered

03/06/2014 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Earlier this year, we announced to you that Bottpower was working on a café racer version of its XR1 street-tracker motorcycle. Using a Buell XB as a donor bike, the Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer kit transforms the big-displacement American twin into something a little bit more hipster.

Though we are not big on the café racer scene (you wouldn’t know it, looking at our posts lately though) we have been enchanted with the work done by Bottpower on this project so far. We imagine the finished result will be coming forth shortly; until then though, we’ll just have to drool over these nearly finalized renders.

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.

27 Years of Buell Motorcycles

03/04/2013 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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If the American motorcycle brand was still in business, this year would have been the Buell Motorcycle Company’s 30th birthday. Treated more like a line on the cash flow sheet to its parent company Harley-Davidson than a true self-supporting motorcycle brand, Buell motorcycles suffered from not being “Harley enough” for the Bar & Shield devout, and conversely wasn’t adopted by the non-believers because of its extensive compromises with the Milwaukee brand.

Still, in its 27 years, Buell Motorcycles managed to build a cult following of riders, though the numbers in its ranks were never enough to make the brand truly profitable. With Harley-Davidson facing dire straights during the recent economic depression, the company circled the wagons around its core assets, and closed the doors to Buell Motorcycles in the process.

The ethos of the brand continues with Erik Buell Racing though, which soon after its creation released the EBR 1190RS superbike — a race-ready motorcycle that isn’t too dissimilar from the Buell 1125R sport bike. We still don’t know what the future holds for Erik Buell’s new company, though a bevy of models are on his company’s product road map. We think if you polled a few former Buell owners, they would want to see this poster (full-size after the jump) updated.

Magpul Ronin 1125R – A Samurai Looking for a Master

01/17/2013 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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It has been some time since we saw the Magpul Ronin concept bike, a re-imagined Buell 1125R that was built by the folks at Magpul Industries — a company more well-known in the gun community than than in motorcycling. Making waves with the design though, Magpul setup a new company, Ronin Motorworks, to explore the idea further. Hiring a team of designers and engineers from the motorcycle industry, the result of this endeavor is the Magpul Ronin 1125R sport bike, of which 47 examples will be made, in honor of the 47 Ronin story from feudal Japan.

A fitting metaphor for the story behind the closure of Buell Motorcycles, the 47 Magpul Ronin 1125R bikes will be built from new Buell 1125 chassis that were stored from the original inventory. While a limited-production machine, one of the cooler details of the Magpul Ronin 1125R is that instead of a number plate scheme for the 47 motorcycles, Ronin Motorworks will name each bike after one of the samurais from the original story.

Bottpower BOTT XR1 is Finally Ready for Street Track Duty

12/15/2012 @ 6:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

For almost two years now, we have been waiting for Bottpower to finished its BOTT XR1 custom motorcycle. Starting with an air-cooled v-twin motor from a Buell XB, the BOTT XR1 is the perfect intersection of old-school flat tracking and high-tech street shredding — we’re not sure if we should strap on a steel shoe, or get some fresh knee pucks. Available as a stand alone machine from Bottpower, the Spanish firm also plans on making a kit for XB owners.

Built with an ample amount of carbon fiber, Bottpower used the stock eight-piston Buell 1125R Brake system (with ISR levers for the front brake and clutch). For the rear suspension an Öhlins shock has been implemented, while the under-slung exhaust is from Torque Hammer. The flat handlebar is by Easton, while the gauges are from Motogadget. If don’t have a street tracker on your holiday wish list, we suggest a revision. Tasty photos after the jump.

Beeler’s Law

04/01/2012 @ 9:49 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

“As an online discussion about motorcycles grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Erik Buell or Buell Motorcycles entering the conversation approaches a value of one.” – Beeler’s Law

Update on the Bottpower BOTT XR-1

02/07/2012 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

It is sad to say, but the Harley-Davidson XR1200X is just about the only thing from the Milwaukee brand that intrigues me. And what kills me the most is that Harley-Davidson could really add something more to its product line up if it just explored the flat-tracker aesthetic in greater detail with its brand. Instead of bringing to market twenty or so variations on the same cruiser shape, Harley-Davidson could really bolster its brand with younger riders if it simply tapped into the street-tracker/scrambler movement that is percolating underneath the “looks like a Power Ranger” street scene.

Wake up Milwaukee, because the emo-teenger, full of high school angst, has matured into the “college is for pussies” hipster scene, which is comprised of an eclectic group of people that have been collectively displaced out of the 1940’s and into the new millennium + 10 years. Building a brand off the 1% rebel perception, I don’t know why its such a hard concept for Harley-Davidson to understand that it can latch onto these new-age bohemians, and create a similar bond with them as it did with the Baby Boomers so many years ago. After all, there is already great symmetry between the two cultures, as both Harley-Davidson and the hipster elite seem forever-fixated on a period in time that is far enough removed from our parents’ generation to be considered cool again.

What the hipsters wouldn’t like of course is the Bottpower BOTT XR-1. A racier and more custom version of the Harley-Davidson XR1200X (The BOTT XR-1 is actually based off a Buell motor), Bottpower has done such a good job making the Buell look Alana Blanchard hot that the Voltron generation will forget all about the reasons their didn’t like the Bar & Shield brand in the first place, and instantly liquidate their pre-IPO Facebook stock in order to make room for Bottpower’s work in their marina-view apartments. Needless to say, I like what’s going on here.

Is This The Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

02/04/2011 @ 5:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Posted to Erik Buell Racing’s Facebook page yesterday, this photo is what we presume is the soon to be released Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike. Based off the EBR 1190RR race bike, Erik Buell & Co. have been slowly teasing the idea of producing a limited production street bike, now that certain legal obligations are coming to a conclusion. No word yet on price or quantities, but we don’t expect this to be EBR’s foray into large production, and units are likely to be hand produced at the American company’s race shop.

Triumph North America Introduces New CEO at Long Beach

12/17/2010 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After a long absence, Triumph North America has once again joined the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, after being absent from the American event for several. Looking to come out of the gates in strong form, Triumph is showing its largest collection of motorcycles ever in the company’s 109 year history. With 23 models spanning six motorcycle families, Triumph will make its 2011 American debut at Long Beach this weekend.

With the Tiger 800, Tiger 800 XC, Daytona 675R, and Speed Triple being the crowning jewels of Triumph’s new model line-up, Triumph’s North American subsidiary will also be introducing its new CEO Greg Heichelbech.