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.

1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries

01/09/2012 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we don’t feature too many bikes that subscribe to the “modern-take on the retro look” hipster theory of motorcycling. Maybe it’s because we prefer to go fast rather than look cool, or maybe it’s because we don’t own any form fitting denim pants — honestly, it could go either way on that one. That being said, we know what we like, and more importantly when know what we like when we see it, and that pretty much sums up our thoughts on the 1979 Honda CB650 by Trillion Industries.

Beginning life in the mundane, the Honda CB is a crowd favorite with the retro-turned-hipster crowd for making modern takes on the café racer design aesthetic. Don’t get us wrong, we have seen plenty of café racers that we like, and the market segment enjoys a small but militant following of motorcycle enthusiasts. However, rarely does a Honda CB, no matter how much beauty school it has attended, floor you in your seat. This work by Derek Pauletto however, would be the exception to that statement.

KTM RC4 690R Supermono by Mototech

12/28/2011 @ 12:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

A two-wheeled speeding ticket made in Austria, I’m still bitter that the 2012 KTM 690 Duke isn’t coming to American soil. With all the dressings of a bare-knuckled hooligan machine for the street, the new Duke will surely live up to its heritage of angering elderly women, but a German company has thought up a more refined role for the big-displacement thumper. Adopting the bike into a more superbike trim, German suspension tuners Mototech have created what they call the KTM RC4 690R…and I like it.

We’ve seen KTM Supermono’s before, with perhaps one of the best examples coming from some KTM engineers who built a SuperDuke 690 sport bike on their own time. Don’t let those words discourage you from Mototech’s work though, as the team’s RC4 690R looks like it rolled out of the KTM factory floor this morning. You’ll either love or hate the dual-projector headlight setup, while the tail section remains very true to the lines of the original Duke 690. Everyone will be a fan of the 125kg (275 lbs) quoted weight figure

Enigma 1050 – Britain’s Kit Motorcycle

12/12/2011 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Former British moto-journalist Jim Lindsay is behind one of the more intriguing motorcycle projects in the UK right now. Working from the list of contacts he’s made covering the motorcycle industry, Lindsay and his crew are building the Enigma 1050, a Triumph Speed Triple-powered custom sport bike.

Collaborating with the minds that bring us Tigcraft, K-Tech Suspension, Promach , and Dymag, the pedigree behind the Engima 1050 is already a promising one, but what intrigues us the most is that the Enigma crew is considering offering the bike as a kit build, in addition to a finished ready-to-ride motorcycle.

Pierobon X60R – Your Xmas Wish List Just Got Longer

11/30/2011 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

One of the nice things about actually going to motorcycle events, instead of phoning it in like many publications seem to do these days, is that you get to see all the treasure trove items that didn’t find their way onto some press release mill for mass consumption.

Such is the case of the Pierobon X60R, a custom sportbike that will surely cause some revisions to your Christmas wish list to Santa. We’ve featured Pierobon’s work before, with the Bologna company’s Pierobon F042 causing quite a stir earlier this year.

Like the F042, the Pierobon X60R features an air-cooled Ducati v-twin power plant, and the tuning firm’s own proprietary chassis design. There are plenty of performance parts and carbon fiber to drool over, and the design strikes as one that would have occurred had Ducati made a true air-cooled sportbike.

With Pierbon’s extensive experience in the racing scene, we can imagine how much fun an X60R would be on the track, we’ll just have to wait and see if a street model also makes a debut. If you’re a Ducatista and want to stand out from the cappuccino crowd, there are some photos after the jump that might interest you.

Parker Brothers Does Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Detonator

11/10/2011 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We’re big fans of Daniel Simon’s work here at Asphalt & Rubber, especially his Cosmic Motors series. Stocked with some of the most imaginative illustrations of vehicles from an alternate reality, Simon’s two-wheeled pièce de résistance is the Cosmic Motors Detonator motorcycle.

For reasons that probably resemble our work-induced daydreams, Parker Brothers Choppers (PBC), the same firm that brought you the rideable TRON Lightcycle and Batman’s Batpod, has built a functional, albeit unlicensed, version of Simon’s Cosmic Motors Detonator. To the company’s credit though, the build overall seems fairly true to the sketches and renders done by Simon.

Video: “Solus” by Lossa Engineering

08/08/2011 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After we brought you Barry Munsterteiger’s “Escapism” short, we got an email from Jay LoRossa at Lossa Engineering, sharing with us his company’s “Solus” film, which also takes us back to the original question as to why we ride motorcycles, and begs an answer to our postulation as to why OEM promotional videos are not this well done. Featuring Lossa Engineering’s Yamaha SR500 Café Racer, “Solus” is a movie about a man who finds the only moments of solitude in the busy city occur at night.

Riding alone on the streets of Los Angeles, which would normally be pack and busy during the day, there is that same message here that when you are on a motorcycle, you are alone with yourself, the bike, and the moment. The video is well shot, and tells a story that we think any motorcyclist can relate to about riding. It probably helps as well that Jay’s work is drool-worthy, and his custom SR500 sounds great over Beethoven’s 7th symphony. Watch it after the jump.

Ariel Motorcycles Returning in 2012

08/02/2011 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.

Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.

Kwikasfaki by Cabbie

07/29/2011 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Take one Kawasaki H2 750 motor, recently decommisioned from drag strip duty we might add, throw in a plenty of bling parts, for measure include one deliciously white powdercoated frame, and you’ve got one seriously trick bike that is sure to go “kwikasfaki” (295lbs, 135rwhp, 9.3 down the ¼ mile if you’re a numbers person). Oddly enough, that’s exactly what one member on the Custom Fighters forum, named cabbie, did (full build thread here), and the result is Pamela-Anderson-in-a-wet-leotard-on-a-windy-day stunning.

While everyone is busy trying to murder out every piece of their motorcycles with the darkest shades of dark (quick diversion: has anyone noticed how the OEMs are all finally catching onto the styling trend?), cabbie is going the other way with his design: all white everything. The result is a bright and eye-catching bike, and oh…check out those three gorgeous two-stroke exhaust pipes. We’d write more, but we’ve soiled ourselves. More photos after the jump.

Video: Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang

07/06/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

If you’ve ever gotten a mouthful of hairspray before (we were awkward children growing up), then you surely know the need to get a bad taste out of your mouth. Helping us get over our magnificient indifference regarding Husqvarna’s latest video is this short clip from our friends over in Spain, Radical Ducati. In case you haven’t heard of these guys, they take junked-out Ducatis (typically air-cooled), do a bit of a parts bin mash-up, and create eye-catching pieces of two-wheeled goodness for all of us to enjoy.

Their designs are cleverly creative and very pleasing on the retinal units, but yet also have a certain gritty quality that makes for a good juxtaposition to the prim and proper Ducati brand. As for the video, its does a pretty good job of showing the Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang sitting there and looking pretty, though the go-fast addict in us really wants to see the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO make some laps around (insert famous Spanish circuit here). Ehh boys? Video and photos after the jump.

Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO

05/25/2011 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Our affection for the work by Radical Ducati is getting to the point where we need seek professional help. Not only are we becoming a broken record for our praise of the Spanish firm’s work, but our love affair for their motorcycles is completely one-sided. They don’t return our calls, nor our late night texts. We suspect they’re talking to other weblogs, and we can’t stand the thought of them going around town with a print magazine. Like all schoolyard crushes, this is sure to end in tears, but until then we’ll continue our hardcore crush on their take of Italian motorcycle design.

For our latest infatuation, we show you the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO (2011). We’ve been pretty pumped over this build since we heard about it a couple weeks ago, and now that it’s blown it’s cover, well…we’re revamping our Christmas list. While we appreciate all forms of motorcycles, we’re sportbike folk at heart here at Asphalt & Rubber, so a Radicalized sportbike tickles the pink out of us in ways that café racers cannot. We think you’ll agree when you check out all the photos after the jump.