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.

Another Recall for the 2013 BMW R1200GS

05/24/2014 @ 6:54 pm, by Bryan Delohery10 COMMENTS

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After an a recall early in 2013, involving high oil pressure levels in the transmissions of certain 2013 BMW R1200GS models, BMW was forced to install an oil restrictor to reduce oil pressure at the transmission output.

At the time, BMW was concerned about the high oil pressures in the transmission causing the rear sealing ring to come unseated and leak oil onto the rear tire.

After plugging that leak before any of the bikes managed to reach dealers, and despite installing the oil restrictor, the issue has resurfaced, this time leading to a non-serious accident in Italy, in March of this year.

After engineering analyses were completed last month, BMW determined that the oil restrictor was not sufficient enough to keep oil pressure levels in the transmission from pushing the sealing ring out of place and keeping oil off the rear tire.

MV Agusta Recalls Certain 2014 Models for Faulty Hardware

05/14/2014 @ 12:08 am, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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MV Agusta has announced that it will be recalling 223 motorcycles with production dates ranging from December 18, 2013 through March 10, 2014. The recall affects the 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 675, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale RR, 2014 MV Agusta F3 800, 2014 MV Agusta F3 675, and 2014 MV Agusta Rivale 800.

According to MV Agusta, it was discovered that that some of its motorcycles were produced using a swingarm pin that is secured by a non-conforming fixing screw, which is subject to potential failure during normal use of the motorcycle, thereby increasing the risk of a crash.

Ducati Recalls 2,000 Panigale Models for Handlebar Switch

05/06/2014 @ 1:33 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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On April 2nd, Ducati North America announced they would be recalling 2,083 of their 1199 Panigale and Panigale S models due to a malfunctioning handlebar switch. The recall affects 1,515 motorcycles manufactured in 2012 and an additional 568 manufactured in 2013.

According to Ducati, “the left handlebar switch may not get power from its connection at the dashboard, preventing the horn, headlight high beam, instrument panel display and right turn signals from functioning.”

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

04/09/2014 @ 11:00 am, by Bryan Delohery5 COMMENTS

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It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000.

While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Recall: 2014 Zero Motorcycles S, SR, DS, & FX

04/07/2014 @ 4:09 pm, by Bryan Delohery6 COMMENTS

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As you may remember from our previous coverage, things are not looking so good for Zero Motorcycles with several recalls in the past year, including  faulty brake caliper mounting bolts that was issued in August, and a faulty firmware recall that caused certain models to shut down while running.

Now, after an incident with an expert rider in Australia in late February, Zero has discovered that when certain motors are pushed to their limits, the motors rotor may contact the stator, causing the engine to lock up thereby causing the rear wheel to lock up.

US Senators Want to Defund Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints

03/10/2014 @ 2:55 am, by Aakash Desai6 COMMENTS

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Take heart my two-wheel riding cohort: four courageous, topical, and freedom-loving senators are fighting for your right not to be discriminated against based on the number of wheels between your knees.

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 5th aims to prohibit the use of federal funding to programs that seek to setup “motorcycle-only checkpoints.”

The aptly named, “Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act,” would restrict the Secretary of Transportation from granting funds to government entities that want to make sure you and your passenger have on a helmet, amongst other things.

24,000 Yamaha YZF-R1 & Super Ténéré Bikes Recalled

02/25/2014 @ 11:51 am, by Bryan Delohery3 COMMENTS

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Yamaha USA has announced that they will be recalling a combined 24,000 units of the 2012-2013 Yamaha Super Ténéré and 2009-2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 models, due to heat expansion in the headlight.

The heat expansion could cause potential failure of the headlight, which would reduce visibility of the motorcycle to oncoming traffic and increasing the risk of a crash.

US Government Gets Closer to Having Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication in a Car Near You

02/03/2014 @ 3:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Big news dropped today in the world of automobiles and motorcycles. The US Department of Transportation (DOT), along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has announced that the vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is a step closer to becoming  a reality in the United States.

The DOT has decided to move forward with plans to mandate V2V systems for light on-road vehicles, i.e. cars and presumably motorcycles as well. The technology is complex to implement, but the concept is fairly simple: vehicles broadcast their direction, speed, and relative speed to one another — 10 times every second — in an effort to avoid collisions.

V2V enables other vehicles near by to gauge whether or not a collision or safety concern is about to happen between the two vehicles, and alert the drivers to avoid an accident. In essence, V2V is the first active safety system for automobiles — i.e. we are now enabling safety systems that prevent accidents, rather than just lessening the severity of them.

We have talked at great lengths here at Asphalt & Rubber about what V2V can mean for motorcyclists, especially as autonomous vehicles use the communications system and become more prevalent on the road. In the long-term, V2V will introduce a huge shift in our driving culture, and it is not clear what the means for motorcyclists.

Zero Motorcycles Recalls Bikes that “Quit While Running”

01/13/2014 @ 1:38 pm, by Bryan DeloheryComments Off

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On the heels of its August 2013 recall for faulty brake caliper mounting bolts, Zero has announced yet another recall for its electric motorcycles, this time one involving  several 2012-2013 models.

In December of last year, Zero Motorcycles released a statement announcing that they intended to recall 667 motorcycles due to faulty firmware that may cause the bike to lose power while running, potentially resulting in a crash.

According to Zero, “the subject motorcycles have a controller firmware that may react to infrequently encountered signal faults.” In layman’s terms, the signal to the motor controller may drift over the course of extended use of the bike, causing the motor to shut down sporadically.

Massive Recall for 200,000+ Suzuki GSX-R Sport Bikes

10/23/2013 @ 5:11 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Suzuki Motor of America may be still a young company, having just come out of the ashes of American Suzuki’s bankruptcy, but it has some big shoes to fill today, as the NHTSA has announced the brand’s massive recall of its GSX-R sport bikes.

Citing an issue where a combination of older brake fluid and corrosion to the brake piston, inside the front brake master cylinder, could lead to the generation of gas, which in-turn could reduce the fluid pressure to the front brake, this massive recall spans the 2004-2013 Suzuki GSX-R600 and Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycles, as well as the Suzuki GSX-R1000 from 2005 to 2013.