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.

2013 Honda CB500X – Eats Potholes on a Budget

11/12/2012 @ 1:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

If you haven’t caught on yet, American Honda has announced a trio of 500cc machines, just ahead of the upcoming EICMA show. Featuring the fully-faired 2013 Honda CBR500R sport bike, and its fairing-less sibling the 2013 Honda CB500F, the slightly taller 2013 Honda CB500X completes the trifecta, and adds an adventure-esque dimension to Honda’s midrange options.

Like the Honda CBR500R & Honda CB500F, the Honda CB500X uses the same modest liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 180° crank, parallel-twin motor that will put down 54hp at the wheel for the US market (tiered-license countries will see a 47hp machine).

A slight variation on the chassis that is shared with the other 500cc machines, the CB500X has a bit more travel to its suspension (5.5″ on the front forks), and the seat height is a full inch higher (31.9″ to be precise). Visually the philosophically similar to the Honda NC700X, the Honda CB500X is also a tad heavier than its relatives, sporting 430 lbs of fully-fuel heft at the curb, which is likely due to its larger 4.5 gallon tank (4.1 gallons on the other models).

Building three motorcycles from one versatile core design, American Honda has some aggressive prices on the CBR500R & CB500F, but the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has yet to release a price on the CB500x. We would expect something in the $5,000 range though when it hits dealer floors in July 2013, with the ABS version getting a $500 price increase over the base model. Full technical specifications are after the jump.

First Official Shots of the 2013 Honda CBR500

11/11/2012 @ 4:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We are still a few days away from the official unveiling of Honda’s 500cc line-up, which will include the 2013 Honda CBR500, 2013 Honda CB500R, and 2013 Honda CB500X motorcycles. Based around a 469cc parallel-twin motor, Honda’s new mid-range bikes are for the budget-oriented rider, and produced a modest 54 hp in their non-restricted state for tiered-licensed countries (47hp in restricted form).

Expected to be the big new thing from Honda at EICMA, we have seen quite a bit already on the Honda CBR500 and its siblings ahead of their debut at the trade show in Milan, Italy. The Honda CBR500 is the logical progression of the Honda CBR250R, which is a budget-focused single-cylinder sport bike that’s available worldwide, including the US.

We’ll have to wait and see which of the 500cc machines American Honda brings to the USA, but the CBR500 is heavily expected to come to both the American and Canadian markets. Time will tell as to whether the Honda CB500R (not likely) and Honda CB500X (more likely) come to North America as well. Photos after the jump.

Spotted: Honda CBR500, Honda CB500R & Honda CB500X

10/25/2012 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Honda is set to debut a number of 500cc machines at EICMA next month, two of which we have already glimpsed: the Honda CBR500 & Honda CB500R. Joining the smaller sport bike and street-naked is is the Honda CB500X, a 500cc version of the Honda NC700X.

Spotted all together at an Italian commercial shoot, all three models are said to share a 500cc parallel-twin motor that makes 45hp, as well as the same basic chassis.

Fitted with “traditional” telescopic forks, single brake discs up front, and all three models sharing a bevy of major parts, Honda should be able to be very aggressive with its pricing structure on the new 500cc model line.

Looking at the components as well, it is clear that Honda intends its new CBR500, CB500R, and CB500X motorcycles to be priced at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, making them attractive to newer and price-sensitive motorcyclists — especially our friends across the pond who are riding with an A2 license.