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.

Gas Gas Acquires Husqvarna Engine Designs

03/01/2014 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

husqvarna-two-stroke-engine

It was nearly a month ago that we heard that Spanish firms Gas Gas and Ossa had merged their operations in order to take on the difficult economic climate in Spain. The firms’ business position should be even stronger now, as Gas Gas has acquired the IP from Moto Italia, the holding company of Husqvarna’s remains.

When KTM’s Stefan Pierer acquired Husqvarna through his Pierer Industrie AG company, he did not buy all of the once Swedish motorcycle brand from BMW Motorrad. What wasn’t transferred into the Austrian company’s control was left behind as a new company, Moto Italia, which now will find a new home in Spain with Gas Gas.

The Lineage of Honda’s Grand Prix Motorcycles

11/18/2013 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

honda-rc211v

For the past twenty years or so, there is one manufacturer who has been above all others in the premier class of grand prix motorcycle racing, and that manufacturer is Honda.

Winning 12 of the last 20 World Championship titles, Honda’s recent domination in 500GP and MotoGP has been a sea change for the series, and the company’s winning total in this modern era of four-stroke and two-stroke machines is double the next nearest OEM, Yamaha (MV Agusta still holds the outright record, with 18 championships from the 1956-1974 period of four-stroke racing).

Part of Honda’s success has been the fact that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has been able to attract some of the best riders ever to come to a Grand Prix race’s starting line, champions like Mick Doohan (1994-1998), Àlex Crivillé (1999), Valentino Rossi (2001-2003), Nicky Hayden (2006), Casey Stoner (2011), and now Marc Marquez (2013).

But also part of the equation has been the superb equipment that HRC, Honda’s racing department, produces for its riders, bike likes the Honda NSR500, RC211v, RC212V, and RC213V, which have widely been regarded as the best machines on the grid in each of their respective eras.

Looking down the pipe, as MotoGP adopts new rules and regulations, the RC213V and RCV1000R appear set to dominate their respective classes as the factory machines will be reduced to 20 liters of fuel for next year, and the open class machines are forced to use both the Dorna-supplied ECU hardware and software.

It would appear that Honda has a firm grasp on the next few years of MotoGP racing, and as a bit of an homage to this company’s fantastic two-wheeled craftsmanship, along with the racers who rode them, we give you wallpaper-sized photos of Honda’s Grand Prix motorcycles, from the 1995 to 2013 seasons.

KTM’s Pit Beirer Talks Moto3 Production Bikes, Cooperation With Kalex, & Two-Stroke Racing

07/12/2012 @ 11:44 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

At the Sachsenring, after the introduction of KTM’s Moto3 GPR production racer, we spent five minutes with KTM’s Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer. We spoke to him about a number of subjects, including the evolution of the factory’s Moto3 chassis, the company’s cooperation with Kalex, and whether two-strokes would be better than four-strokes for racing.

Listen to the KTM Moto3 Race Bike Purr

02/21/2012 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

The KTM Moto3 racer is a thing of beauty, and for bonus points, it comes in two varieties. One is the orange-trellis framed factory-built KTM, which will be campaigned by the three-rider factory team of Sandro Cortese, Danny Kent, and Arthur Sissis for 2012.

The other variety is the one engineered by Kalex Engineering, which features the same 250cc KTM motor as the factory version, but takes the German company’s prowess at chassis design, and uses a twin-spar aluminum frame instead of the factory team’s trellis variant. The venerable Team Aspar is one of the teams signed on to use the Kalex/KTM, and will have riders Alberto Moncayo & Hector Faubel aiming to beat the factory KTM squad at their own game.

With no Americans in Moto3, the entry-level GP series won’t get too much attention here in the US, but the machinery certainly looks pretty good to our eyes. Still clad in carbon fiber for the testing season, the KTM and KTM/Kalex machines are like tiny pieces of motorcycling art.

Though some are lamenting the passing of the two-stroke era, and its unmistakable buzzing sound on the track, we think the newest four-stroke GP class will please motorcycling’s audiophiles. Listen to the KTM Moto3 race bike warm up after the jump, and enjoy some eyecandy.

KTM Developing Two Moto3 Bikes with Kalex Engineering

06/03/2011 @ 8:56 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

KTM has announced it will be entering the Moto3 Championship, building a 250cc single-cylinder bike in what the company is describing as an 100% in-house operation. This statement is a bit confusing though, as KTM will also be partnering with Kalex Engineering on a second bike, where KTM will help the German company by supplying their race motors. No riders have been confirmed on either the KTM or KTM/Kalex machines.

KTM’s return to international road racing is certainly a welcomed sight, and it’s interesting that the Austrian company is both building its own bike, and supplying motors to other outfits. Both the KTM and KTM/Kalex machines will have to compete against the Honda NSF250R race bike, which Honda debuted at the Catalan GP just yesterday.

HRC NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike to Debut at Catalan GP

05/20/2011 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Honda has done a pretty good job of teasing out its HRC NSF250R, which is set to race in the Moto3 Championship in 2012. Replacing the 125GP, Moto3 class is based around four-stroke 250cc race bikes, and should be a more affordable and leveling playing field for new riders to enter into GP racing. HRC has teased us with images and videos of the new NSF250R, which takes its core cues from the its RS125R predecessor (both current factory Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso won their lower Championships on the Honda RS125R).

Honda NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike Breaks Cover

02/18/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Honda has finally given us an unshaded photo of its 250cc four-stroke Moto3 race bike, dubbed the Honda NSF250R. Despite the clearer view, there are no real surprises here (this actually looks like the same photo as used before, sans photoshopping), as the majority of the bike is still covered by the primer-painted fairing. Honda says the new NSF250R is designed to be like the RS125R it replaces: high-performaning, lightweight, and compact. This should make the switch from two to four-strokes easier for young riders, and limit the need to adjust riding styles for the new machine.

KTM Commences Moto3 Racing Program

12/10/2010 @ 8:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the demise of 125GP coming down the pipe, it comes as no surprise today that we learn that KTM has begun working on a Moto3 racing program. According to GPOne, work began on the project a few weeks ago, and is still in the early stages of its design. With all the 250cc MX, enduro, and supermoto four-stroke singles in KTM’s arsenal, the Austrian company has a surfeit of experience in making potent small displacement machines, and could be an early favorite in the 2012 opening season. The news also balances out well with the recent confirmation that KTM is working on a 250cc+ version of its KTM 125 Duke, which is destined for the American market in the next 18 months or so.

Bakker RM-Z250R Moto3 Contender

12/02/2010 @ 8:16 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The guys at Bakker have been busy this year, first bringing us a re-imagining of the Suzuki TL1000R, and now a turnkey Moto3 class contender. Noting that two-stroke race bikes are going the way of the dinosaur, the master frame builders at Bakker set out to make a four-stroke package that would fit into MotoGP’s Moto3 series and other 250cc single-cylinder racing classes.

Able to accomodate any manufacturer’s motor, Bakker has a Suzuki-powered model (the Bakker RM-Z250R) that’s been proven in the Open Dutch Championship (ONK) 125cc, the German IDM 125cc, and the UEM Supermono Cup. The Dutch company also has a Honda-powered unit that is ready to go for Moto3 competition when the rules switch in 2012.

2011 Aprilia RS4 125 Comes to America

11/02/2010 @ 5:16 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

American youths can rejoice to the news that the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 will be coming to the United States for 2011. The four-stroke 125cc beginner bike may only have 15hp, but it has been done-up to look like the RSV4, and that’s what matters right? Replacing the RS125, the RS4 125 is supposedly just a Derbi in sheep’s clothing, but considering both brands come from the Piaggio mother ship, we fail to see why that would be an issue to a 16-year-old who has somehow managed to convince his/her parents to buy them a motorcycle. The liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC motor comes with electric fuel-injection, and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. Weight is 264 lbs with a full 3.8 gallon tank of gas. Technical Specifications after the jump.