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.

NCR M4 ONE SHOT – Ducati Monster Lovers, Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

10/09/2011 @ 2:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

NCR has just unwrapped its latest creations: the NCR M4 and the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO motor, the NCR M4 carries over the general aestheic of the popular Italian street bike, but at sub-300 lbs weights, the NCR M4 and the NCR M4 ONE SHOT, with their titanium parts and copious amounts of carbon fiber, are not your average Italian two-wheelers. A quick glance of the M4, and you’ll see the treatment is typical of NCR, with a titanium frame & sub-frame being the crowning jewel of performance added to the package.

Also true to NCR form, you better start saving now if you like what you see here because the NCR M4 isn’t going to be cheap. The 107hp, 84 lbs•ft of torque, 286 lbs, NCR M4 comes complete with carbon fiber parts like its tank, wheels, instrument cluster, airbox, oil cooler housing, and fenders. Also a part of the basic package are NCR’s in-house billet triple clamps, fork bottoms, & rearsets. Brembo monoblocks and Öhlins suspension come as standard as well, and help the NCR M4 to have an MSRP of $49,900, with delivery in Spring 2012 (US market only, other markets TBA).

Of course, if you want a truly pinnacle air-cooled v-twin machine, you’ll want the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Fitted with an NCR 1200 modified Ducati EVO 1100 engine, the higher displacement M4 makes 132 hp (105 lbs•ft of torque), courtesy of its stroker crank, titanium connecting rods, NCR slipper clutch, and other titanium bits. Dropping another 6 lbs off the base M4, the 278 lbs motorcycle is truly featherweight. And for that kind of performance, you better brace yourself, as the NCR M4 ONE SHOT comes with a hefty $69,900 price tag.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1978 Ducati 900 NCR Mike Hailwood Race Bike

08/23/2011 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The story of Mike Hailwood’s 1978 comeback season cannot be told without mentioning the 1978 Ducati 900 NCR that he rode to victory both at the Isle of Man TT and Mallory Park. Taking an 11 year break from motorcycle racing, the 38-year-old Hailwood made a triumphant return to two-wheeled racing on-board an NCR prepped Ducati 900 SS.

Making 87hp, Hailwood’s NCR was underpowered compared to the favored Honda of Phil Read, but that didn’t stop “Mike the Bike” from racing one of the most legendary races in history of the sport. Bringing out the same bike that Hailwood road on the TT course (a quick thank you to Steve Wynn and Ron Winder for the clarifications in the comments), this 1978 Ducati 900 NCR shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is comprised of the Hailwood’s race bike with a rebuilt motor from that season.

A true contender for the superlative “Greatest of All Time”, this ’78 NCR is truly special machine for racing enthusiasts as it comes from one of Hailwood’s all-time best races. Accordingly, the judges at Pebble Beach awarded it Third in Class at this year’s Concours d’Elegance.

NCR Leggera 1200 Special Becomes The Lightest Hypermotard Ever Made – And It’s Street Legal

09/09/2010 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

With the NCR Leggera 1200 Special, Ducati tuner NCR is setting two firsts with its titanium clad Hypermotard. Known for making gorgeous work out of already gorgeous motorcycles (NCR Corse Millona One Shot anyone?), none of LCR’s prior creations are destined for a life of street use, and come absent of any lights, mirrors, etc. However, the NCR Leggera 1200 Special is the first NCR that comes out of the crate street legal, and oh…it’s also the lightest Hypermotard in existence, dropping 125 lbs off the stock Ducati Hypermotard…it’s not bad looking either.

NCR Millona 16 Unveiled – Christmas Ruined

06/10/2010 @ 6:55 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

After teasing us last week with just a shot of the motor NCR Millona M16 motor, NCR has finally released full pictures of their take on the Desmosedici RR. Weighting just 319lbs, and making over 200hp at the wheel, we called the NCR M16 a Desmosedici on steroids when we first saw the specs. Now looking at the detail shots of the bike, we see plenty to drool over. Photos and more after the jump.

NCR Millona 16: 145kg, 200bhp, Carbon Frame, Ducati Desmosedici on Steroids

06/01/2010 @ 10:21 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

NCR is known for its stunning renditions of Ducati motorcycles, our personal favorite being the NCR Corse Millona One Shot. Of course no bike in the Ducati line-up is safe from getting the once over from this performance-meets-aesthetics tuning brand, and thus the NCR Millona 16 was born. Expected to weigh 145kg (319lbs), make over 200hp (at the wheel), and include a carbon frame, the NCR Millona 16 is a Ducati Desmosedici RR on steroids (BALCO would be proud).

NCR Corse Millona One Shot: Air-Cooled Desmo Fun

06/24/2009 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

big_NCRMillona1200OneShot1

Based off the air-cooled Ducati 1100cc motor, NCR Corse has made a track bike worthy of multiple droolings. Named the Millona, the bike tips the scales at 275lbs, and puts out 121hp in its 1200cc form (at 1100cc the bike makes 116hp).