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.

Why Can’t All Motorcycle Videos Be Shot This Well?

08/04/2011 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

If I didn’t already know that this video was made by some guys in their spare time, I could have sworn that this short film was one of the better efforts by Ducati or Dainese (or anyone in motorcycling for that matter) at some cool videography. The brainchild of Barry Munsterteiger, this short video is the work product of several A/V industry professionals who just wanted to mess around with some cameras, a bike, and the open road on their days off from working for the man. Shot around the San Francisco Bay Area, astute eyes will see scenes from San Francisco, Altamont Pass, the Pacific Coast Highway, and other Nor Cal staples.

When you consider how much time, money, and effort went into Ducati’s Diavel ad spot, and the product that came out of that production, it sort of baffles your mind about what’s going on in the motorcycle industry (at least they didn’t hire “a publication of record” to produce it for them). There’s clearly a need in the market for better motorcycle videos, and there’s clearly a market of talented videographers out there to fill the need, Oh, did we mention Barry is looking for a job?

Source: Vimeo

Trailer: Quick

05/24/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

We can’t tell if South Korean film Quick is going to be amazing, or horrible, or horribly amazing, but the trailer certainly has us intrigued. Launching under the title Fast in the United States (yes, we too have no clue why the title needed changing for the American market), Quick is about…well, we have no clue…but it looks like there’s a motorcycle in it, so that’s a start.

Our guess is that our protagonist is named Fast, and he does things really fast-like on his fast motorcycle, which is named Quick. Uggh..this article is going downhill rapidly (see what I did there). Just watch the trailer after the jump, and leave your best guesses as to the plot structure in the comments section.

Trailer: Fastest – The Sequel to Faster

05/19/2011 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Mark Neale has been a busy man lately, first putting out Charge, his movie on the first two electric races at the Isle of Man, and now with Fastest, his follow-up to the must-own MotoGP DVD Faster. Following Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Fastest starts with the two riders’ time together as teammates in the Fiat-Yamaha MotoGP squad, and watches that team-dynamic turn into a heated rivalry.

Neale follows the duo as they dominate the field on their Yamaha YZR-M1 race bikes, and later as Rossi splits from Yamaha for Ducati Corse. Talking to the filmmaker the other day, it sounds like Neale is still putting the final touches on the film, but was ecstatic with how it was coming together. If it’s half as good as the trailer, we should be in for a real treat. Check it out after the jump.

Trailer: Charge – The IoM TTXGP Movie Out in a Week

05/05/2011 @ 6:58 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Since we first heard about it, we’ve been less than patiently waiting for Mark Neale’s next opus Charge, a movie about the first zero-emissions motorcycle race, which was held during the 2009 Isle of Man TT. Now we get word from the movie’s Facebook page that Charge will be available in about a week’s time, and we’re downright giddy about it.

Check the DVD library of any die hard MotoGP fan, and you’ll find Neale’s Faster, an iconic movie about MotoGP’s shift from two-stroke to four-stroke motors — we imagine Charge will have this same point of reference appeal to electric motorcycle enthusiasts, and eventually motorcyclists as a whole.

We got an email from Neale the other day, saying that an advanced copy of Charge would be headed to our mailbox. With promises of death by ex-Navy SEAL (no, seriously) if it should land into the wrong hands, Asphalt & Rubber will be hosting the world premiere of Charge here in the San Francisco/Bay Area (location pending). Until then, check the video after the jump.

Video: Vintage Cycle Service

02/06/2011 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Maybe it’s the low-key feel-good guitar music, or the fact that this video is about a small motorcycle mechanic based in the picturesque city of Florence, Italy (a villa this author used to live in), but there is something about this short film that just makes us feel good about life, motorcycling, and everything else. Promoting a specialty shop for vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the time and effort gone into this five+ minute video is perhaps indicative of the sort of service you’d find at Vintage Cycle Service of Firenze.

With macro shots of some of the finer things regarding zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, we get a glimpse not only on the rich heritage of the Milwaukee brand (note the AMF co-branded tanks scattered about), but a full-immersion into the off-beaten path of motorcycle culture (note the human skull in open-face helmet). You could probably spend hours poking around this shop, looking at different interesting items…or just whittle the time away as the mechanic perfects one of America’s less-than-perfect designs.

The quality is so good, we thought for almost a minute that Harley-Davidson had finally put together a compelling demand marketing campaign, nope just some guys who love bikes and film, achieving what a Fortune 500 company cannot.

eBay: Custom Built Tron Lightcycle

07/01/2010 @ 2:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Being products of the Nintendo generation, Asphalt & Rubber can thank movies like Tron and Akira for piquing our interest in motorcycles at an early age. While there have been several attempts to build Kaneda’s feet-forward steed , replicas of the Tron lightcycle prove to be more elusive.

With Tron Legacy set to come out later this year, some custom bike builders have risen to the challenge to complete our ultimate geek-meets-motorcycling dreams, and are offering 5 custom made road-going Tron lightcycles for purchase on eBay.

Lone Racer: The Wayne Gardner Documentary

03/06/2010 @ 5:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Back when men were men, and GP racing’s crowning event was contested on two-stroke 500cc machines, Wayne Gardner found himself carrying the factory Honda GP team on his NSR 500. This fantastic 1986 documentary, Lone Racer, follows Gardner one year before he won the 500GP Championship, and became the first Australian to win GP racing’s premiere racing class.

The film includes great behind the scenes footage of the Aussie, his fiancée, and his team. So grab a cold beverage, put your feet up, and get ready to spend the rest of your Saturday afternoon watching the 30 minutes of video in this three part series. Videos 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.

Brad Pitt to Play Steve McQueen in Biography Movie

05/18/2009 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

brad-pitt-motorcycle

Brad Pitt is set to play Steve McQueen in a biography chronicling the actor’s life. McQueen made a living with his starring roles in The Great Escape and Bullitt, but is better known to us for his love of fast bikes, fast cars, and his three ex-wives. So, we can expect to see Pitt in some iconic cars, and on some vintage bike on the 70′ screen.

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