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.

LEAKED: Photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000

09/29/2014 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It’s the day before the INTERMOT press day, which means leaks are coming left and right, as the villainy and scum that are moto-journalists get their hands on embargoed information from motorcycle manufacturers. Kawasaki seems to be the biggest leaking sieve, as a photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 has already surfaced.

Now our friends at Nieuwsmotor have gotten their hands on the photos of the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 and 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650. First up is the updated Kawasaki Versys 1000, which has mostly revamped bodywork, when compared to the 2014 model. We are expecting there to be few technical changes for 2015, though an adjustable windscreen has obviously been added.

LEAKED: Here is the First Photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2

09/29/2014 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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Our INTERMOT coverage is in full-swing today, and we bring you the first photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Showing more clearly the wings we spotted in Kawasaki’s last video, we can see now the extent that the Japanese company has gone to in making the H2 more aerodynamic.

Our sources tell us this the “race” version of the supercharged Ninja H2, though what it’s racing, we are not sure — our bets are on either land speed records at Bonneville or the Millennium Falcon.

2015 Suzuki DL650X V-Strom Adventure Outed with Beak

09/24/2014 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 was a big step for Suzuki and the V-Strom name, as the Japanese company put forward a very convincing offer on the ADV table. Now Suzuki seems set to deliver an encore to that production, in the guise of the company’s smaller V-Strom 650 machine.

Spotted by our Dutch friends at Oliepeil, Suzuki’s parts catalog shows a new model tagged as the DL650X, which features a new beak-like headlight/mudguard, dual-sport treaded tires, and wire-laced wheels. For those who don’t know “DL” has been Suzuki’s letter-based model name for the V-Strom series, since its inception.

Leaked: Tech Details on the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 10:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler56 COMMENTS

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Thanks to our network of Bothan spy tipsters, we posted today the still-unreleased photos of the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire. Details were light from our sources though, but Bothans are a tireless breed (note: for new readers, we sort of have this whole Star Wars motif on leaked stories…just roll with it, we already know we’re nerds).

While the consensus on Project Livewire seems to be that it’s a looker, the devil is in the details…and now we have those as well. Featuring a three-phase induction motor with 55 kW of power (just under 74hp) and 52 lbs•ft of torque, the Harley-Davidson Livewire is packing more power than both the Brammo Empulse R (54 hp) and Zero SR (67 hp). That’s the good.

The bad is that despite its hefty casing size, the Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycle is a little light in the loafers when it comes to battery capacity. Our guesstimate on battery pack size, judging from Harley’s quoted charge time and parameters, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 kWh nominal, a bit less than the 9.3 kWh and 10.0 kWh of the Brammo and Zero.

That means the Harley-Davidson Livewire is good for just over 50 miles of mixed city and highway riding that is limited to 92 mph (we’re not really sure how Harley-Davidson came up with that figure). Expect to go 0-60 in around 4 seconds.

Leaked: First Photos of the Harley-Davidson Livewire

06/18/2014 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

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The folks in Milwaukee didn’t invite Asphalt & Rubber to the Harley-Davidson Project Livewire launch and subsequent press embargo, so I’m not going to lose too much sleep over publishing the latest find from our Bothan spy network (for the record, A&R has never broken a press embargo that we were invited to).

That all being said, here are the first official photos of the Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle — the Bar & Shield brand’s foray into electric motorcycle scene — for your viewing pleasure.

Details are still spotty of course (update: you can read the tech specs here), so we will leave that bit of journalism to the publications that Harley-Davidson deemed worthy (maybe it was something we said?). For our part though, we can see a full-glass dash though, which is another first for Harley-Davidson, as well as an LED headlight.

The big kickers will be the price and range, of course. South of $20,000 and north of 100 miles would really make Project Livewire a strong contender on the market. It will remain to be seen if Harley-Davidson can get under/above those two metrics, respectively, though.

Yet Another Look at the Yamaha YZF-R25

05/14/2014 @ 11:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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There is only a week until Yamaha reveals its 250cc sport bike, the Yamaha YZF-R25, but glimpses of the machine continue to make their way onto the internet. We skipped the completely unidentifiable tail light photos, but have already brought you some good looks at the YZF-R25’s front-end.

Today, we bring you an unfortunately low-resolution look at the R25’s profile, in its entirety. How will this Indonesian-made parallel-twin compare to bikes like of the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja 250R? Only time will tell.

Coming Soon: Honda Gold Wing F6C

11/08/2013 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The force is strong with the Bothan Spy network today, as we have received news that Honda is set to debut a naked-style power cruiser, named the Honda Gold Wing F6C — a noticeable nod to a similar Honda motorcycle, the Honda F6C Valkyrie.

Though we don’t know what the final form of the F6C will be like (the Honda EV 6 Concept is above), it is said to be the bridge between the Honda CTX1300 and Honda Gold Wing F6B, the 2014 Honda Gold Wing F6C is a light and low cruiser in style, similar to the CTX1300.

However Gold Wing F6C will also be like the Honda Gold Wing F6B in that it will be based around the Gold Wing’s 1,832cc six-cylinder engine, which will make and underwhelming 108hp at 5,500 rpm and an overwhelming 116 lbs•ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

More Photos and Video of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

11/02/2013 @ 8:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the first glimpse of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 two weeks ago, but with just a few days until the start of the 2013 EICMA show, Kawasaki’s new naked bike is giving us the full monty, courtesy of Japan’s Mr. Bike. Getting a chance to film the new Kawasaki Z1000 with up-close panning shots, we are even treated to the new Z’s exhaust note.

For the new model year, things seem to be mainly an aesthetic overhaul — the great internet debate is now whether the new Z1000 retains its predecessor’s 136hp motor, or whether the machine gets the 140hp lump from the Kawasaki Z1000SX. One would presume the latter, though both engines are of the same ilk and difficult to distinguish from visually.

First Photos of the KTM RC125 & KTM RC200

10/27/2013 @ 1:40 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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If it is connected by a series of tubes, we will find it; and thus here are photos of the still unreleased KTM RC125 & KTM RC200 street bikes — the kid-siblings to the recently leaked KTM RC390. Like the RC390, the RC125 & RC200 are visually similar, and share a common vein in their Made-in-India single-cylinder engines.

No word on specs, but we foresee the 125cc and 200cc iterations sharing similar technical listings as their Duke counterparts. We should know more at EICMA, where all three of these street bikes are expect to debut. More photos after the jump.

2014 KTM RC390 Details Drop with Photos

10/25/2013 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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The 2014 KTM RC390 has been a long-time coming, as news of the bike has been in circulation since a leaked slide at the KTM North American dealer meeting hit the internet over two years ago. Built off of the KTM 390 Duke street bike, KTM said the RC390 would have “Moto3 inspired” bodywork when it debuted.

We got our first glimpse of the machine earlier this year, when KTM took the covers off the KTM RC390 race bike, a cup-series machine based off the still unreleased street machine. Well now the wait is over, as we have our first glimpse of the new KTM RC390, thanks to a leak on the KTM Canada website.