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.

2014 Ducati Model Announcement Next Week

09/05/2013 @ 9:10 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Do you like new model motorcycles? Of course you do. Well, this time next week, Ducati Motor Holding will be making a presentation to the motorcycling media at its Bologna headquarters. The invitation in our inbox is light on details (unsurprisingly), though smart money would be on Ducati debuting some of its model refreshes for next year, and possibly its much anticipated 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition – Meanwhile, Super Duke R Confirmed for December Arrival

06/28/2013 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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American KTM dealers are in Austria this week visiting the mothership in Mattighofen, and to help greet them is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype. Dressed for the occasion though, KTM is calling this one-off Stars & Stripes adorned hooligan machine the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition — ’cause you know, ‘merica!

The name might be a little over the top, but the bike is the visual centerpiece to some good news on the Super Duke front. Debuting a prototype of “The Beast” at last year’s EICMA show, KTM will unveil the final production model at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, and says that the bike will be on dealer showroom floors in December.

Teaser: First Photos of the 2013 Honda RC213V

01/22/2013 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The Repsol Honda team will make its 2013 debut later this week by presenting riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez with the 2013 Honda RC213V motorcycle at the Repsol headquarters in Madrid, Spain. While we won’t get to see the latest iteration of the RC213V until this Thursday, one of Repsol’s Facebook pages has teased out some images of the MotoGP machine ahead of the official unveiling.

It will be hard to decipher any specific details from the materials given, though the fact that Repsol is building up the event is an interesting change from the Spanish oil giant. Has someone breathed some life into the company’s marketing team? Is this merely extra excitement for having two Spanish talents on the team? Or will 2013 show some changes for Repsol Honda?

As always, only time will tell, but at least we will only have to wait a few more days to know for sure. Photos and video after the jump.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 – For Europe…& America Too?

09/04/2012 @ 7:16 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Confirming what we already knew, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 broke cover today, and is Team Green’s newest small-displacement sport bike in its motorcycle lineup. 296cc’s of twin-cylinder fury, Kawasaki the Ninja 300 boasts 40hp, twin-butterfly valves, fuel injection, a slipper clutch, a 140mm rear tire, and has optional ABS. A part of a larger movement within Kawasaki, the Ninja 300 exemplifies the “no replacement for displacement” school of thought, and will sell along-side the recently updated (and virtually visually identical) Kawasaki Ninja 250R in more than a few markets.

While we know that the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 is set to debut for our European readers, the big question mark will be whether the small sport bike will come to the North American markets. A spreadsheet from the EPA seems to suggest that will be the case, though it points to a carbureted Kawasaki Ninja 205R and fuel-injected Kawasaki Ninja 400R coming to the US as well, making for one impacted learner-bike market. Meanwhile, reports from Canada confirm that their 250R will also be of the carbureted variety.

The news confirms out suspicion that the Ninja 250R will remain the under-powered, and standard-styled, carbureted learner-bike it has always been in North America, while the Ninja 300 becomes the peppy small-displacement sport bike that we haven’t realized that we will lust over later this fall. Presumably then, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 will go head-to-head with the CBR250R and upcoming KTM Moto3-inspired street bike, among other models.

Triumph Tiger Explorer XC Breaks Cover

09/01/2012 @ 3:02 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

If last year’s debut of the Triumph Tiger Explorer left you wanting a more off-road capable machine, then the British brand hopes that its now unveiled Triumph Tiger Explorer XC will suit your tastes. Featuring the same 135 hp / 89 lbs•ft 1215cc three cylinder motor as the Tiger Explorer, the Tiger Explorer XC primarily differentiates itself with its tubeless steel spoked wheels (19″ front, 17″ rear), and off-road accessories (hand guards, fog lights, engine crash bars, and an aluminum belly pan).

Like its on-road counterpart, the 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC also features a ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, cruise control, switchable anti-locking brakes (ABS) , and shaft-driven final drive. Expected to be in dealers by April 2013, Triumph has also tacked on a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, while service intervals are said to be every 10,000 miles. You can get the Triumph Explorer XC in any color you want, as long as it’s Khaki Green.

BMW R1200GS Successor to be Unveiled October 2nd

08/30/2012 @ 9:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We have known for some time now that BMW was working on a successor to its wildly popular BMW R1200GS motorcycle. Expected to be a water-cooled boxer-twin, the new GS is an incredibly important machine for the German brand, and BMW is wasting no time hyping its unveiling. Set to break cover in just over a month at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, our wait to see the next iteration of the GS line is now almost at an end.

2012 Honda RC213V Debuts in Malaysia

01/30/2012 @ 10:34 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

While Ducati Corse is busy playing hide-the-Desmosedici at Sepang, HRC is all business in Malaysia this week, and has debuted its 2012 Honda RC213V MotoGP-contender. Honda isn’t saying too much about the RC213V, simply stating that the race bike is all new, but is also a continuation of the company’s design with the 800cc Honda RC212V. Testing the Honda RC213V over the course of last season, reigning-World Champion Casey rode the new 1,000cc machine three times in 2011, while teammate Dani Pedrosa swung a leg over the RC213V twice (missing one test because of injury).

With testing at Sepang to start Tuesday local time (later tonight for us Americans), we won’t have to wait long to see how the Honda stacks up against the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 and the yet-to-be-seen 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. With Dani Pedrosa besting Stoner at the Valencia test, there should be a good battle within the Repsol Honda team for the World Champsionship title defense. If Pedrosa can stay healthy, he could be a real threat to stoner. Though, the Australian won 13 of last season’s 17 races, making him the favorite going into the 2012 season. Photos after the jump.

Benelli Due Release Clarified – End of 2012 & Worldwide

12/21/2011 @ 2:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After the news that the Benelli Due 756 would finally be produced and released came out last week, the Italian brand has released a clarification in response to the news that hit the interwebs. Confirming that the Due would indeed become a production model (after making the rounds at motorcycle shows for the better part of the last five years), the Chinese owned Benelli Q.J. released a statement saying that the release date would not be the end of 2011 as some sites had reported, but instead at the end of 2012 (seemingly making this a 2013 model year motorcycle).

Benelli has not outright denied that the news that the Due will hit the Chinese market before it makes its way to Europe, though the Chinese company was quick to say in its statement that “the current version of the Due will be produced in Italy and exported to China and the emerging global markets (without neglecting the European market).” Cryptically we gather that means that the Due we’ve seen will be a world model, while an updated version is slated to hit the European market at some point in the future (2018 perhaps?).

Benelli Due 756 Finally Goes Live…in China?

12/16/2011 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

The Benelli Due concept has been in the works for so long, we’re officially giving it the Duke Nukem Forever status of the motorcycle industry. I first laid my eyes on the two-cylinder street-standard back in 2009, as the then called “2ue” was making its second EICMA appearance (the Due made its first appearance as early as the Cologne show in 2006).

Essentially a Benelli triple with a cylinder lopped off, the Benelli Due displaces 756cc with its inline cylinders, and is an otherwise attractive motorcycle. Given how much of a basketcase the “Tre” motor was, we can only imagine the “character” its two-cylinder counterpart brings to the table, though that is an entirely different issue.

Finally announcing that the Benelli Due will hit dealership floors in 2012, the Chinese-owned Italian company has an interesting twist with its news: the Benelli Due will be released in China first, then Europe and other markets.

At play surely is the idea and principle of pride that Chinese companies should release models in their home country first, before servicing other markets. This notion is surely understandable, but does strike us as interesting considering that Europe and North America are likely to be bigger volume markets for this big-displacement motorcycle.

2011 Honda RC212V – Not All Bikes Are Created Equally

01/31/2011 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Repsol Honda made its 2011 MotoGP season debut today, showing off its three-man team of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso, along with the 2011 Honda RC212V, which will compete against the Yamaha YZR-M1 and Ducati Desmosedici GP11. An oddity in the GP paddock, HRC will field the three riders under one roof, having wooed Stoner away from Ducati after the Australian rider and Italian team had spilled bad blood in the 2009 season.

While Stoner was originally supposed to have his own team, presumably under the Red Bull banner, Repsol finally stepped up to the plate with its pocketbook when the Red Bull deal failed to materialize. Having three top riders in one team left some doubts as to how Honda was going to manage its talented rider pool, and a cursory look at the different machines that each rider will field sheds some light on the subject.