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.

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / ZZR1400 Makes Under 200hp

10/11/2011 @ 5:32 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

After debuting the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400, Team Green has been fairly tight-lipped about quoting specific performance figures on the company’s revamped hyperbike. Carefully gleaning the performance specifications from its US and UK websites, it looks like Kawasaki Motors Europe has spilled the beans on the ZX-14R’s horsepower figures. Perhaps letting down those who expected the ZX-14R/ZZR1400 to break the 200+ horsepower barrier, Kawasaki’s site quotes power figures just shy of 200hp.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Breaks Cover

10/10/2011 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

True to its teaser campaign, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to our friends abroad) finally got revealed today. Tweaking its hyperbike offering, Kawasaki has confirmed that the ZX-14R (note the added R to the name) will get a displacement bump to 1,441cc, along with a cosmetic overhaul and other basic features. Most notably added to the Kawasaki ZX-14R is the addition traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle control system. Kawasaki hasn’t spilled all the beans about the new ZX-14R, but power is said to be over 200hp at the crank with ram-air.

Kawasaki is already pitting the ZX-14R against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, perhaps in an attempt to re-ignite the speed wars of the 1990’s. While no top speed has been touted, the Japanese company is quoting the Kawasaki ZX-14R as “the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle.” A lengthy superlative, but it will be interesting to see if Suzuki responds with an update to the aging Hayabusa, which hasn’t had a meaningful upgrade since its 1999 market introduction.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Frame and Motor Revealed

10/07/2011 @ 6:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The last time we showed you the latest teaser from Kawasaki for its upcoming 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends across the pond), we found it fairly amusing when several sites called the video’s authenticity into question. Systematically leaked to media sites through Kawasaki channels, and generally having the production quality of a professional job, nay-sayers apparently over-looked the smoking-gun fact that the videos in question were hosted on Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R mini-site, which for added authority resides on a Kawasaki.com sub-domain. Yes, this video is real. Yes, an updated version of the Kawasaki ZX-14R/ZZR1400 is coming. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing you a new 1,440cc motorcycle. Only a few more days until this baby drops on October 10th. Stay tuned.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 Comes Together in Teaser Videos

09/16/2011 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is gearing up to launch its new hyperbike, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 or the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 as it’s known to our friends outside of the US market. Keeping a constant stream of video teaser videos over the past few weeks, Team Green has finally given us a glimpse at the new Kawasaki ZX-14 in it’s latest “Ultimate” video. Flashing the dimensions “84 x 65mm” in the video, the new ZX-14/ZZR1400 will surely live up to its name with a 1,440cc engine displacement, and is expected to make over 200hp in production trim.

The new ZX-14 is also likely to include anti-lock brakes and traction control, in order to help tame all that hyperbike power on-tap. If you’ve missed out on Kawasaki’s teaser campaign, we’ve got all of them waiting for you after the jump in reverse chronological order. Expect to see the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 unveiled on October 10th if Kawasaki can keep it under wraps for that long, sooner if the Japanese company can’t.

Are You the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 / ZZR1400?

09/06/2011 @ 8:50 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The internet has been abuzz lately with leaked/early/spy photos, some real, and some not so much. Looking a bit like the genuine article, we get another alleged glimpse at a soon to be released motorcycle before its public unveiling. While Kawasaki has been busy teasing the interwebs with videos that feature a nice exhaust note, a flash of green light, and the date: 10/10/2011,  it looks like Asian motorcycle magazine Young Machine has released its issue featuring the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends in other markets) a tad early.

In what looks to be the first photos of the new Kawasaki ZX-14, we also get a look at some of the basic features that the new hypersport will boast in 2012, namely a 1429cc motor, anti-lock brakes, Kawasaki’s traction control system, and rider-selectable engine maps. As for looks…ZX-10R owners will be pleased. Photos after the jump, and if you read what appears to be Japanese, help us out with a translation in the comments. Thanks for the tip John!