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.

2015 BMW R1200R Mega Gallery

10/02/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-R1200RS-105

Though the addition of BMW’s water-cooled engine to the 2015 BMW R1200R was a move everyone saw coming down the pipe, the German company’s extensive style shift on the BMW R1200R was perhaps a move unexpected.

The classic looking roadster of before is now replaced with a more aggressive design — though perhaps not as aggressive as the BMW Roadster Concept that we saw earlier this year.

Still, the new BMW R1200R is a handsome machine that incorporates both mild-touring capability with a fun sporty ride. Since we had a tough time pulling images off BMW’s press site earlier this week, because of all the traffic from INTERMOT, here’s a “mega gallery” of 181 high-resolution images. Enjoy!

2015 BMW S1000RR Mega Gallery

10/01/2014 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2015-BMW-S1000RR-studio-67

We had 12 kinds of trouble with BMW’s press site during INTERMOT, as such our stories on their new bikes were woefully under-stocked with images. To make that up to you, we’re going to bring you some “mega galleries” of high-resolution photos of the Bavarian machines. First up, the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

A bike we spotted out testing ahead of the trade show season, we knew that BMW Motorrad had some changes in store for the S1000RR.

New for 2015 is a revised the frame geometry for better handling, an engine that has been massaged for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and a bulk weight that has been reduced by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS).

BMW says it gained the extra power by revising the cylinder head on the 998cc inline-four engine. A larger airbox, along with shorter intake lengths also help boost the peak horsepower on the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

To get the S1000RR on a diet, BMW has dropped the front silencer on the exhaust, for a healthy weight reduction of 6.6 lbs. The frame on the 2015 BMW S1000RR is lighter as well, and boasts refined positions for the steering head angle, wheel castor, wheelbase, and swingarm pivot. There is even a new battery, which shaves another 2 lbs off the 2015 BMW S1000RR.

Cruise control (yup) and semi-active suspension (BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control), has also been added to the updated superbike. Blah, blah, blah…you’re here for the photos, huh? We have 169 hi-res beauties for you after the jump. Enjoy!

Yamaha “01GEN” Three-Wheeler Dual-Sport Concept

09/30/2014 @ 9:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Yamaha-01GEN-Concept-03

To wrap-up our INTERMOT coverage today, we bring you the Yamaha 01GEN three-wheeler concept. The Yamaha 01GEN is similar to the Yamaha Tesseract Concept, except that the Japanese brand envisions this motorcycle living both on and off-road.

With one wheel in the rear, and two in the front, the Yamaha 01Gen Concept is perhaps the most interesting trike we have ever seen. The front wheels certainly look like they have enough suspension travel to soak up some big hits, while the belt-driven single-tire in the rear sounds easy enough to maintain in off-road conditions.

The Yamaha 01Gen should be fun on-road as well, as the concept should be able to lean through turns, thus adding the sensation of a motorcycle, with a little bit more stability on the front-end.

Yamaha’s press release on the 01GEN is filled with hyperbole and pipe dreams, but we think there could be something here with the design. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but clearly the Japanese OEM is thinking outside the box on what to delivery powersport enthusiasts.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Gets ABS & Bold New Graphics

09/30/2014 @ 8:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

2015-Suzuki-GSX-R1000-ABS-07

When it comes to the four Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT, Suzuki is looking more and more like it slept in late on test day. Both Honda and Yamaha have been pushing the ball forward, releasing some interesting, albeit not inspiring, motorcycles to the market. Those bikes were fresh at least, and showed some life going on in the motorcycle departments of those companies.

Then there is Kawasaki, which brought out an all-new Ninja ZX-10R superbike in the middle of the recession, and today at INTERMOT they debuted the game-changing Kawasaki Ninja H2R hyperbike. That is a tough act to follow.

To its credit, the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is a welcomed addition to Suzuki’s lineup, however other models like the Suzuki GSX-S1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F, makes us think that Suzuki is afraid to build anything truly new and inspiring again. Need further proof? Take the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 — Coming to the USA Too

09/30/2014 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2015-Kawasaki-Versys-1000-04

The good times don’t stop rolling with the new Kawasaki Versys 650, as the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 is confirmed to be coming to the United States as well. We already got a glimpse of the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 from yesterday’s leaked photos, which showed the revised bodywork from Kawasaki.

Getting official details now, we know that the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 makes relatively minor improvements technically over the previous model. Longer travel suspension has been added, and the 17″ wheels have been beefed up, both in order to aid going on off-road excursions.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 Is Coming to America

09/30/2014 @ 6:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2015-Kawasaki-Versys-650-04

If you liked what you saw yesterday, when we posted leaked photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650, then you will like even more what we have to say now, as Kawasaki USA has confirmed that the all-new Kawasaki Versys 650 is coming to the United States as a 2015 model year bike. The official announcement is set for the AIMExpo in October, so there is no pricing yet for the US market.

As we saw in the leaked photos, the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 has a revised headlight design, and new fairings that improve wind deflection around the rider. The 649cc parallel-twin engine has also been reworked, producing more horsepower and getting better fuel economy in the process.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F — A Sporty Sport-Tourer

09/30/2014 @ 5:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2015-Suzuki-GSX-S1000F-01

We caught a glimpse of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F yesterday, as it sat on the expo floor at INTERMOT, and we were curious about the machine. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the details.

Essentially a fully-faired version of the Suzuki GSX-S1000, the Suzuki GSX-S1000F fills the void in Suzuki’s lineup for a 1,000cc sport-tourer that is actually sporty — think of it as a response to the Honda VFR800.

The GSX-S1000F uses the same purpose-built chassis and retuned 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine that the GSX-S1000 uses, though Suzuki obviously wrapped that package in a full-fairing design.

Also carried over is the three-way adjustable traction control system as standard, KYB suspension, and Brembo monoblock brakes. Anti-locking brakes are available as an optional item.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – How To Sell Leftover GSX-R’s

09/30/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2015-Suzuki-GSX-S1000-04

A bike we spotted in Southern California shooting a commercial, we already knew to expect the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 at the INTERMOT show this week. Built around the same inline-four engine that was found in the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000 has been tuned for street use, though Suzuki isn’t exactly talking key figures.

Proving that it’s not selling just a rebadged GSX-R, Suzuki has built an all-new aluminum frame chassis for GSX-S1000, with an eye on making the machine more of a roadster than a streetfighter.

Also of note is the addition of a three-way selectable traction control system, something even the GSX-R1000 doesn’t have. ABS is available, but only on the aptly named Suzuki GSX-S1000.

Up-Close with the Ducati Scrambler Icon

09/30/2014 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Ducati-Scrambler-up-close-38

The 2015 Ducati Scrambler has officially debuted at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany today, in case you missed the news. Before today though, Ducati North America invited us out to get a sneak peak of the new Scrambler Icon, along with a little time in a photo studio.

As a result, we have a bevy of our “up-close” photos for you, as well as some first impressions of the machine.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Ducati Scrambler is how bare bones the motorcycle is. Ducati did a good job of not over-thinking the Scrambler, leaving the model true to its name.

The dash is a tastefully small round unit, which sits nestled between the high and wide handlebars. This gives the rider a good open feeling from the seat, though the exposed wires and cables are a bit distracting, with nothing else to hide them.

Artfully exposed is the air-cooled v-twin DesmoDue engine, which is borrowed from the Monster 796, and thus is a confusing 803cc. The header shape should look familiar as well, as it mimics those found on the Ducati Diavel.

The seat seems practical for two-up riding, and the Scrambler Icon is fitted with passenger pegs. The cheapest ($8,595 for the yellow one) of Ducati’s four Scrambler variants, the Icon is perhaps the most vanilla model. That’s not a bad thing, but the other three models are clearly present to appeal to certain niche riders.

2015 KTM Freeride E-SM — A Proper Electric Supermoto

09/30/2014 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2015-KTM-Freeride-E-SM-05

KTM is the first major motorcycle manufacturer to release an electric motorcycle, and it’s been a long road coming for the Austrian company.

KTM first debuted the Freeride E at the EICMA show three years ago, and since then has been perfecting its design. Now ready for primetime, KTM’s electric dirt bikes broke cover a few weeks ago.

Today, the KTM Freeride E-SM debuted at INTERMOT, giving the Austrian brand three distinct electric offerings within its core competency.