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.

Ariel Ace – A Very Expensive Honda from England

06/25/2014 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ariel-Ace-35

The wait is over to see the return to two-wheels by British marque Ariel, as the firm has debuted its very exclusive Ariel Ace motorcycle. Built around a clever modular design, something we have talked about at length here, the Ace is really more than just one motorcycle, and Ariel plans on making each bike bespoke to its customer’s wishes.

At the center of every machine is the 1,237cc V4 engine from the Honda VFR1200F, which is good for 170hp, with 95 lbs•ft of peak torque. Because the VFR’s engine is being utilized by Ariel, the British brand offers a dual-clutch transmission as one of the Ace’s many available options.

Would-be owners will have to decide a number of other options as well, most importantly what kind front-end suspension they wish to run. Ariel offers a traditional upside down Öhlins fork setup, but to be truly unique on the road, the Ariel Ace has an available custom girder suspension setup with an Öhlins TTX at its core. Rear suspension is supplied by Öhlins as well.

Holding everything together is a beautiful aluminum trellis frame, comprised of six sections that are machined to life from billet. Anodized to fit a customer’s tastes, the modular chassis design also has mounting points for a variety of options and accessories, such as different bodywork, fenders, fuel tanks, handlebars, rearsets, seats, and wheels.

Video: The Press Meets the VFR1200F in Japan

10/27/2009 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2010-honda-vfr1200f-action-shots-5

Those motorcycle journalists who braved the 12+ hour flight to Japan for the Tokyo Auto Show did not do so in vain as a select group got a chance to take the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F out for a spin on the track. In what is not only a rare glimpse of fine motorcycle journalism, we get to see footage of the look and feel of the new sport-tourer. Check out the video after the jump.

Photos: What Does the Most Advanced Motorcycle Engine Look Like?

10/14/2009 @ 9:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2010-honda-vfr1200f-engine-motor-1

The 2010 Honda VFR1200F is the most advanced motorcycle ever to come out of Honda’s factory, and is probably one of the most innovative motorcycles ever. A large portion of the technology that separates the VFR from the rest of the pack is the all new V4 power-plant that Honda engineers say is a trickle down product from their MotoGP racing efforts. Features and photos after the jump.

Honda VFR1200 to Launch on Thursday

10/05/2009 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda-VFR1200F-website-launch

Honda is set to officially release the new VFR1200 this week, with a website launch scheduled for 3AM (PST) this Thursday. The site is devoid of any substantial information at this point in time, but the not so secret Honda VFR12000 has already graced our pages on a couple of occasions, which gives us an idea on what to expect Thursday.

Spy Shots of the Honda VFR1200 in the Wild

09/19/2009 @ 7:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2010-Honda-VFR1200-panniers-saddlebags

Those Italians over at MotoBlog have found the new 2010 Honda VFR1200 out in the wild doing some road testing. The sport-tourer, which will feature variable cylinder management, and a dual-clutch gear box, is found this time with matching red saddle bags, completing the overall tourer look of the motorcycle. If you parlo italiano, head over to MotoBlog, and check out the rest of their shots.

Honda Talks About the VFR1200 V4 Motor

09/14/2009 @ 7:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2010-Honda-VFR-1200-V4-patent-2

As Honda continues to dribble out all the details on the VFR1200, more information about the V4 motor is starting to surface, and it is shaping up to be one of the most technologically advanced power plants in the motorcycle world.

You’ve probably already read about how the VFR1200 will incorporate a dual-clutch gearbox, and now Honda has released more information on the V4 configuration itself, which will include space/weight-saving design elements, cylinder deactivation, and a unique firing order. Video, patent diagrams, and more after the jump.

2010 VFR1200 Dual-Clutch Transmission Details

09/08/2009 @ 8:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

As we edged closer to the official unveiling of the 2010 Honda VFR1200F, more details about the bike are starting to emerge. This latest detail confirms the rumor that the new VFR would be fitted with a dual-clutch transmission, making it the first motorcycle to incorporate such a gearbox design.

Similar to the DSG clutches found on Audi and Volkswagon cars, the Honda dual-clutch transmission will incorporate two clutches that alternate what gears they actuate, making for rapid shift times. Click past the break for pictures, video, and more on the VFR1200 transmission.