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 KTM 1290 Super Adventure – Even with 180hp, Is This the Safest Motorcycle in the World?

09/30/2014 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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KTM wasn’t bashful about wedging the 1301cc lump from the KTM Super Duke R into the company’s ADV offering, as the Austrians were fairly frank about 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure debuting at INTERMOT. There may not be too many surprises about the adventure-tourer then, but it certainly is a stout package from KTM.

Obvious is the massive horsepower that the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is putting down, but KTM has also infused control into the ADV bike. Bosch’s MSC “cornering ABS” system is standard, as is traction control, cruise control, and semi-active suspension from WP. LED cornering headlights are also standard, while an electronic hill hold control (HHC) can be fitted as an option.

Of note is that the 1290 Super Adventure does not use the exact same engine as the 1290 Super Duke R. The two machines use the same cylinders, connecting rods, and pistons, but KTM’s engineers built a special crankshaft and cylinders for the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which also has a heavier flywheel than the Super Duke R.

Ducati Scrambler – For New Riders, Off-Roaders, & Hipsters

09/30/2014 @ 9:36 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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The INTERMOT is in full-swing in Cologne, which means that Ducati is ready to drop its new Scrambler model on the world. A highly marketed machine, which has drawn attention from Ducati’s 1299 superbike and new Multistrada, the Ducati Scrambler is another brand extension for the Italian company.

A further foray into the off-road world, as well as a strong offering for new riders, the 2015 Ducati Scrambler Icon in red is priced at $8,495 — making it the cheapest model in the Ducati lineup. The rest of the range is priced as follows: Icon Yellow $8,595, Full Throttle $9,995, Urban Enduro $9,995, & Classic $9,995.

The 2015 Ducati Scrambler comes in four models, which use the company’s 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine design, that is borrowed from the Monster 796. Power thus comes out at 75hp, with peak torque being 50 lbs•ft, but the focus on the Scrambler is really more about the aesthetic of the bike and experience on the machine.

Suzuki To Race in MotoGP with Maverick Viñales & Aleix Espargaro — Will Ride New Suzuki GSX-RR

09/30/2014 @ 8:56 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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Suzuki have revealed yet another of MotoGP’s worst-kept secrets (and the competition has been tough for that claim this year) at the INTERMOT motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany, officially confirming that they will be returning to MotoGP from next season, after an absence of three seasons.

Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio unveiled the latest version of Suzuki’s MotoGP bike – now dubbed GSX-RR – and announced that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will race for the team. At the same time, Suzuki also confirmed that Randy De Puniet will race as a wildcard on the bike at the final MotoGP round of the season at Valencia.

2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS – Wee-Strom Gets a Beak

09/30/2014 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The leaks ahead of INTERMOT turned out to be true, as the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT broke cover today in Germany. Taking its cues from its 1,000cc sibling, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is visually very similar to Suzuki’s other ADV bike, though at its center is the same tried-and-true 645cc v-twin engine.

Noticeable differences to the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, beside the engine of course, are the wire-spoked wheeles, side-by-side dual headlight (the V-Strom 1000 has a stacked headlight). Like the V-Strom 1000 though, the V-Strom 650XT comes with a 19″ front wheel (17″ rear).

At 474 lbs at the curb, the V-Strom 650XT ABS is a lighter option to the V-Strom 1000, and gives the Triumph Tiger 800XC & BMW F800GS a good run for their money — expect the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS to be priced aggressive, as such.

2015 Triumph Street Triple RX — Naked Daytonafied

09/30/2014 @ 3:39 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Building a special edition machine for INTERMOT, the Brits have debuted the 2015 Triumph Street Triple RX, which is based off the Triumph Street Triple R. Borrowing from the Triumph Daytona 675 however, the Triumph Street Triple RX takes many styling points from its supersport cousin, namely the Daytona’s tail section.

Also coming in a matte silver with red accents, the Street Triple RX is channeling heavily on the Daytona, and even has a quickshifter to mimic the Dayton’s sport appeal. At the heart of the machine though is the same 675cc three-cylinder engine, that pumps out 106hp.

Mostly a cosmetic exercise from Hinkley, this is what we get to chew on, since Triumph canned its 250cc sport bike project. 20 high-resolution photos await you after the jump.

2015 BMW R1200RS — Welcome Back the Sport-Tourer

09/30/2014 @ 2:52 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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A bit more of a surprise at INTERMOT from the German brand, the 2015 BMW R1200RS has also broken cover, in addition to the 2015 BMW R1200R roadster model.

Again using the now tried-and-true liquid-cooled boxer design, the BMW R1200RS makes an unsurprising 125hp (this should surprise no one who is familiar with BMW’s model lineup).

However, BMW is quick to note that the R1200RS makes a little bit more torque, earlier than the other models, because of the R1200RS’s modified airbox and air intake snorkels.

2015 BMW R1200R — A Liquid-Cooled Boxing Roadster

09/30/2014 @ 2:43 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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As expected, BMW Motorrad has finally added its liquid-cooled boxer engine design to the R1200R roadster model, debuting the 2015 BMW R1200R at INTERMOT today.

Using the same 125hp engine that powers the BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200RT, the new BMW R1200R makes more power, more linearly, than its predecessor, though keeps the old R1200R’s basic roadster look and feel intact.

2015 BMW S1000RR – 199hp, New Chassis, & Cruise Control

09/30/2014 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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Unsurprisingly, BMW Motorrad debuted an updated BMW S1000RR superbike at INTERMOT — building upon the company’s already stout package.

Revising the frame geometry for better handling, massaging the engine for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and reducing weight by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS), the Germans hope that the 2015 BMW S1000RR remains the superbike to beat in the coming years.

Kawasaki Ninja H2R – Officially 300hp of Hyperbike

09/30/2014 @ 2:11 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

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It is finally time for the Kawasaki Ninja H2R to become officially official. No more teaser videos with weird chirps, no more fake news stories for pageviews, no more leaked photos (x2)…now we finally get to see what all the hype is about with this hyperbike.

Though now that the time is here, it is hard to say something new about the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2R that hasn’t already been said. Rebirthing a name that is synonymous with the original superbike war between the Japanese manufactures, Kawasaki has reinstated an old game, and made a bold first move.

At the heart of the new Ninja H2R is a supercharged 998cc inline-four engine which produces 300hp horsepower. You did not read that figure incorrectly. Wrapped around it is a fetching steel-tube trellis frame.

Building a machine that conformed only to Kawasaki’s own desires to make the ultimate motorcycle, it is perhaps refreshing to see a sport bike that isn’t constrained by the rules of a racing series — though Kawasaki has some racing in mind with its carbon-fiber dripping Ninja H2R model.

Essentially a rolling showcase for Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the Japanese OEM hopes that the H2R will serve as a halo product for the rest of the company’s motorcycles, similar to what the Ducati 1199 Superleggera does for the Italian brand, as well as the Japanese firm’s work with its other subsidiaries.

2015 Zero Motorcycles Get ABS, Showa, & More Battery

09/29/2014 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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We have long been critical of Zero Motorcycles and the motorcycles they produce, but you have to give the electric motorcycle manufacturer credit where it’s due: each year they improve their product, which is more than you can say about a lot of motorcycle OEMs.

Take the 2015 Zero Motorcycle lineup for example: for the upcoming model year, Zero’s bikes get proper motorcycle suspension from Showa, anti-locking brakes (ABS) from Bosch, tires from Pirelli, and a 10% battery increase from Moore’s Law.

For the 2015 Zero SR, this means a 185 mile range, when the optional Power Tank battery pack is installed. Similar gains can be seen with Zero’s other 2015 models, the Zero S & Zero DS.

While the added battery pack helps with the range anxiety, anyone who has ever ridden a Zero will welcome the addition of Showa suspension, as the company’s previous bikes have suffered from th forks and shocks that were used, which woefully were not up to the task of hard motorcycle riding.