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.

FTR M211 Moto2 Bike – The Ultimate Christmas Gift?

11/30/2012 @ 10:52 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

UPDATE: This bike is no longer available, though though the FTR Moto2 bike that Alex de Angelis used to win the Sepang round this year has just found its way back to the FTR shop.

Trolling the internet for things I can’t afford, but which my credit card can, I think I may have discovered the perfect gift for the motorcyclist who has everything: a 2011 FTR M211 Moto2 race bike that has been upgraded with 2012-spec components.

Featuring a Spanish CEV Moto2-spec Honda motor with 186 miles on it, this FTR M211 has plenty of tasty other bits that also justify its €39,000 (+VAT) price tag, such as the Öhlins suspension (FG366 forks, TTX36 shock), magnesium OZ wheels, AP brakes, Akrapovic exhaust, carbon fiber bodywork (Yonny Hernández’s Blusens livery), and titanium fastners.

Will the Mission R Actually Be Built? Yes, No, Maybe So…

08/06/2012 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

If you didn’t have the time to read my 3,700 word tome on what it is like to ride the Mission R electric superbike through San Francisco’s motorcycling playground, I will break it down for you: it was awesome. Of course, riding an entirely custom-built motorcycle with the absolute best components, design, and engineering available should be an awesome experience, especially when you add in one of the most sophisticated electric powertrains on the market. The Mission R isn’t some exercise in hugging trees and saving humpback whales though, it is an exercise in building a better motorcycle than what we have today.

We have known the downside to this discourse for some time though: Mission Motors is no longer in the business of selling motorcycles, and the Mission R is not, and will not, be available for sale (just ask Ryan Reynolds, who was turned down by Mission when he tried to get a Mission R of his very own) — sad trombone. If you too feel a might blue because of that news, I have some information that will pick you up this Monday afternoon. The guys at Mission Motors have been floating the idea of licensing the Mission R to a manufacturer, creating the possibility that if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for your two-wheeling pleasure.

Tight-lipped on specifics, the only formal comment that Mission Motors will make about the subject is that conversations of this nature have taken place with OEMs, and that the company is open to the idea of either licensing the entire Mission R, or just its powertrain, to a well-qualified motorcycle manufacturer. While the Mission R in its current trim is easily a six-figure machine, using more obtainable components, and producing a run of some volume could bring the electric superbike’s price down into the $40,000 to $50,000 price range. Still a pricey endeavor to be sure, but not entirely unheard of when it comes to limited edition sport bikes.

MotoGP Owners Looking to Buy World Superbike

06/13/2011 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Bear with us on this one, as it’s a bit convoluted. Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm based out of London, owns Spanish company Dorna Sports SL. Dorna, which as you might recall is the media rights holder and promoter for MotoGP, the motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship that we all know and love. Meanwhile World Superbike is owned in majority by Swiss company Infront Sports & Media, and in minority by the Italian-born Flammini brothers, with the latter group still handling WSBK’s media promotion.

Now according to reports, Infront Sports & Media is up for sale, and one of the three alleged bidders is Bridgepoint Capital (circle back to the second sentence in the first paragraph if you got lost on the way here). This means that potentially the twice-removed owner of MotoGP could potentially own a controlling stake in the Championship’s rival series: World Superbike. There are still a number of “if’s” in whether Bridgepoint will come through as a buyer on Infront Sports & Media, but ownership of both series by the same party, even at a removed distance is worth some general discussion.

For Sale: Carbontastic Ducati Streetfighter That Will Eat Unattended Small Children

01/26/2011 @ 12:23 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

If you’re in the market for a custom Ducati Streetfighter that has more carbon than a charcoal briquette, then look no further than the Shift-Tech Carbon Streetfighter that’s currently up for sale on eBay. The bike has obvious features like Shift-Tech’s carbon fairings, Öhlins everything, BST carbon wheels, Zard exhaust, and carbon disc brakes, but at the heart of the bike is a worked over 1250cc motor that’s been built to out 162hp at the rear wheel, and will surely make a man out of any little boy.

As you slowly pick your jaw off the table, be sure to check out the auction for all the nitty-gritty build details (there’s a lot of work on this bike). While there is only 12 hours left on the auction at the time of this writing, the “Buy It Now” price of $43,500 makes us suspect that we’ll see this Streetfighter listed again in the near future. Thanks for the tip Josh!

For Sale: Honda Proving Center – 4,255 Acres, 7.5 Mile Oval, Simulated Roads, Slightly Used

01/13/2011 @ 4:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Honda Motor Co. is all set to unload a choice piece of property in Kern County this year (Southern California residents should find this statement funny), as the company has put up for sale the Honda Proving Center of California (HPCC). Consisting of a total of 4,255 acres (give or take a few), the proving ground facility consists of a 7.5 mile oval, a 4.5 mile track of winding city roadway, skid pad, MX/SX track, support facilities, offices, warehouses, and plenty of desert terrain just to name a few of the highlights.

A landing spot for many Honda cars, motorcycles, and ATVs, the Japanese company has put a variety of its products through their paces at the HPCC, but that’s all about to change as reports indicate Honda will be consolidating its testing grounds to Ohio. With an automotive buyer seemingly unlikely, the HPCC’s proximity to the California power grid seems to make its future as a solar farm very likely.

Rossi’s Yamaha R1 from the Isle of Man TT on eBay

09/29/2010 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

We’ve just learned that the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 that Valentino Rossi’s rode around the Mountain Course during the 2009 Isle of Man TT is up for sale on eBay. With a list price of £25,000 ($39,482 according to today’s market rates), this might be the most expensive stock R1 we’ve ever come across, of course not many bikes can lay claim to riding over the historic race course at the hands of one of the greatest motorcycle racers of our time. With some special VR46 livery parts, and a certificate of authenticity from Yamaha UK, the R1 has only 181 miles on it, and is signed by The Doctor himself.

For Sale: 2010 Bimota HB4 Race Bike

04/09/2010 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our friends from over at RareSportBikesForSale.com have tipped us off that Motorrad Hertrampf in Northern Germany, a Bimota, MV Agusta, and Cagiva dealer, has just posted a for sale ad on Jameslist (yes, the German rip-off of Craigslist), where they are offering a 2010 Bimota HB4 for sale. That’s right for €169,000 (without VAT), you too can own your very own Moto2 race bike complete with 145hp Honda 600cc power plant, and all the Italian goodness you’d expect from Bimota. You’ll just have to wait 10 weeks for the Italian firm to build it from the time you pay your deposit.

Roehr 1250sc Factory Demo Goes Up for Sale on eBay

11/02/2009 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Roehr-1250sc-ebay

We once got an email from Walter Roehr that started with the phrase: “From your least favorite motorcycle manufacturer” and the proceeded with an appropriate press release format. While it may not have been true at the time of its utterance, with the untimely demise of Buell, Roehr may now find itself as A&R’s resident whipping boy. And while we may not be great fans of the 1250sc (we’d still like to swing a leg over one Walter), we’d certainly like the bike a whole lot more if $25,000 were lopped off the price tag, and that’s exactly what we have here in this story.

Seat Manufacturer Corbin Up for Sale

10/17/2009 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Corbin-motorcycle-seats-up-for-sale

One of the largest aftermarket parts manufacturers, Corbin Pacific (known best for its Corbin seats line) is up for sale. On the chopping block since early this year, the California based company has been unable to find a buyer. Continue past the job for the financial details.

Harley-Davidson to Sell MV Agusta

10/15/2009 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MV-Agusta-for-sale-Harley-Davidson

In conjunction with Harley-Davidson’s Q3 financial results, and shutting down of Buell Motorcycles, the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer is announcing that it will be selling Italian sportbike manufacturer MV Agusta.

Harley-Davidson bought MV Agusta just under a year ago, and assumed a substantial amount of debt from the beleaguered company. This past quarter, Harley-Davidson recorded a one-time fixed-asset impairment charge of $14.2 million related to Buell and a goodwill impairment charge of $18.9 million related to MV Agusta.