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.

Motorcycling 2.0: Rethinking the Definition of a Motorcyclist

03/03/2014 @ 4:44 pm, by Aakash Desai63 COMMENTS

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As it currently goes, I merely need to adopt the correct lifestyle aesthetics in the form of bikes and apparel and I can be part of the “club”; the actual identity of what it means to be a “rider” is devoid of the qualities that make us human and participants in society.

There are Harley riders, BMW riders, customs riders, leather-clad sport bike riders, and hipster cafe racers. In each of these demographic fragments, the specifics of what the person is riding matters more than the political, social, and/or economic standpoints of the riders themselves.

This consumerist mentality relegates the means for participation to the choice of how to exercise my purchasing power. Dominant motorcycle culture emphasizes the bike as the expression of the identity of the rider.

An apathetic culture that is centered around fetishization of commodities will reach limits to growth. Sure, motorcycles will get faster, lean better, safer, and smarter than the ones available to us. However, the market is already saturated with choices without enough reasons to pick one choice over the other.

Imagine, however, that being a motorcyclist meant more than just having two wheels spinning between your legs.

“Bullshit Hipster Bike Videos” – A Tumblr Blog

02/07/2014 @ 12:06 pm, by Aakash Desai23 COMMENTS

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The “hipster” – legitimate cultural phenomena or overused punch line? As the young and the over-caffeinated discover ever more banal and superficial means of self-expression and fronting authenticity, the rest of society looks on in disgust.

Current trends indicate that the proliferation of hipsterdom has spurred on a parallel industry of bloggers, commentators, and inspired cynics to reaction. The quantity of rolled-eyes and judgmental stares is proportionally tracking the sales in raw denim and aviators.

Bullshit Hipster Bike Videos” is a relative newcomer to the cacophony of grumpy social critics incensed at the sight of the displaced café lumberjack. Since its inception in August of 2013, the author of the blog has excoriated these neo-café racers, amateur moto-philosophers, and urban aesthetes with their penchant for “classic” metal.

Trailer: Why We Ride

10/23/2013 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Though the trailer to Why We Ride has been around for some time now, we have been getting emails about the two-wheeled documentary ever since its limited screening at the AIMExpo in Orlando, Florida. Encompassing every form of the motorcycling lifestyle, all accounts we have heard about the film say its a feel-good movie with a positive message about motorcycles. Think of it as a recruitment film for future motorcyclists.

Screenings of Why We Ride are limited though, with the movie set to debut in New York and Los Angeles, and with future screenings being held in the Southern California area. Hopefully the Why We Ride team can add other locales to the list. If they want to have a screening in San Francisco, Asphalt & Rubber is down to help with that. The trailer is after the jump. Enjoy!

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Ride, Eat, Sleep, & Repeat

01/02/2013 @ 6:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

I stumbled across this simple graphic ages ago, presumably on Tumblr if the file name is any indication, and only rediscovered it tonight while I was going through some old thumb drives. I think for many motorcyclists, it sums things up nicely in a succinct sort of way.

The Killing Season – A Motorbike Trip Through Vietnam

01/01/2013 @ 9:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Congratulations and welcome to 2013. We imagine that there are a few of you who aren’t firing on all your cylinders yet today, so we will ease you into a new year of motorcycle news with a nice little video, which was made by the folks at Skateboarder Magazine. No, your hangover is not making you see things, we are in fact talking about skateboarding on a motorcycle site.

You see, there is an interesting intersection between the skateboarding and motorcycle subcultures — something about the desire to go one’s own way, to engage in some activity of questionable safety, and to enjoy life in the present, much to the chagrin of everyone else. The crossover may no be as obvious in practice, but it’s there.

For instance, when Harley-Davidson finally figured out that it needed to start appealing to consumers under the age of 40, the first demographic it targeted (with some success) was the skateboarding crowd. Take a look at some of the earlier Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight ads, and see if you can’t pick up on the LBC living, Airwalk wearing, grinder vibe that’s going on there.

So as we already said, for your viewing pleasure today we have a nicely done video by the folks at Skateboarder Magazine, which covers their motley crew riding and skating through Vietnam. The whole piece is a great example of what it is like to travel in Southeast Asia, and puts a lot in perspective as to just how massive the market is there. The traffic is a bit insane as well, especially for these novice riders.

Video: A Different Kind of Race in Dakar

01/12/2012 @ 12:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

With the Dakar Rally a little over halfway through its 32nd running, the historic race has yet to show a decisive winner between the Despres/Coma grudge match. Shifting from its African namesake in 2009 because of safety concerns, the rally now takes place in South America instead. Some fans of The Dakar lament this change, citing various reasons for their desire to see the race continue on African soil, but beyond sentimental reasons, I would wager this year’s venues of Argentina, Chile, and Peru provide just as stunning and challenging of a course as the old Paris to Dakar route ever did.

I have done my fair share of traveling through this job and my previous lives, but for some reason I have yet to step foot onto the African soil, which is something I hope to change this year. Thinking about the landscapes I grew up watching during the “original” Dakar, Africa seems every bit the National Geographic adventure I believe it to be, and of course the Boy Scout in me would cherish a night under the African savanna’s sky.

Continuing a vein we have been exploring this week though, the motorcycle culture in Africa is something entirely different to our Americanized perspective on motorcycling. Often the more reliable means of transportation between cities and villages, I have partially gotten to know motorcycles in Africa through my experience with the folks from Riders for Health, but the cultural element to this is something I have yet to truly understand. Maybe this music video for Parachute Youth gets us all a little bit closer to that understanding, and in the process brings us back to where we ourselves started on two wheels as well. Thanks for the tip Q$-Bling!

Ducati & Puma Lean In and Ride Video Series

06/08/2011 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Ducati and Puma Motorsports have teamed up to create a seven-part video series that takes a look at motorcyclists, the motorcycle culture, and and of course Ducati motorcycles. There’s some Ducati-branded Puma apparel in the videos as well, but if you get past the obvious marketing pitch, the videos tell interesting stories about the people regular motorcycle loving people like you and me.

For instance, Part 3 is about Cpt. Andrew Sidwell, who when not spending his time in the US Army, is racing his Ducati Superbike 848 in the WERA club races out in North Carolina. How does he balance his duties to his country, family, and passion? Well you’ll have to watch the video to find that out. Watch the first three Lean In and Ride Us stories after the jump.

American Cafe Film Tells The Slimey Crud Run Story

01/12/2010 @ 8:10 pm, by John Adamo13 COMMENTS

Slimey Crud Run Ad

Honestly I don’t even remember how I found out about The Slimey Crud Run. About 6 years ago, long after the ride originated I started making the trek up there from Chicago with my friends. How could we not attend a bike gathering that exists loosely between two Wisconsin towns in the middle of some of the best asphalt in the Midwest? It was quite obvious from the minute we heard about the ride that it was the brain child of riders. The only structure is to show up a Pine Bluff, WI in the morning and ride to Leland, WI and back again if you want. The time line and the route are totally up to you.

Read more and see the American Cafe movie trailer after the break.