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.

2013 BMW R1200GS Priced at $15,800* for the USA

02/20/2013 @ 10:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2013-bmw-r1200gs

Adopting a liquid-cooled 1170cc boxer engine for its next generation adventure-touring bike, BMW Motorrad is hoping to continue the magic with the 2013 BMW R1200GS, and has finally release North American pricing on the newest GS: $15,800 base.

Of course, BMW Motorrad’s package pricing game is well at hand here, and several trim levels and feature packages are available on the new R1200GS. We break them down for you after the jump, but as you can expect, you have to pay a princely sum to get a machine from zie Germans with all the bells and whistles.

Aprilia USA Makes You Re-Think Your Next Sport Bike Purchase – Gets Serious with 2013 Pricing Too

02/06/2013 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Aprilia-Tuono-V4-R-headlight-wink

We already told you that Aprilia USA was getting very aggressive with its pricing on the leftover 2012 stock, and now that the Italian brand has released its 2013 price list, we can see that the trend continues on. Adding ABS to its RSV4 sport bikes for 2013, Aprilia has drastically undercut its main rival Ducati on pricing with the 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC ABS (previously known as the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC ABS SBK), which is $3,000 cheaper than the similarly spec’d Ducati 1199 Panigale S.

Additionally the 2013 Aprilia RSV4 R ABS gets an aggressive MSRP of $14,999, which puts it also $3,000 under the base-model $17,995 Ducati 1199 Panigale, and into a price category that was previously only open to the Japanese OEMs (though recently joined by BMW). At only $500 more than say a 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1, Aprilia is going to make some price-sensitive sport bike buyers think twice about their purchases. We like it.

KTM 1190 Adventure Pricing Starts at €13,990

10/03/2012 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Feeling the age of the KTM 990 Adventure & KTM 990 Adventure R, the Austrians debuted at Intermot this week their new adventure-touring machines, the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure & 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R. Using a revised version of the KTM 1190 RC8 R’s v-twin motor, both bikes feature 148 hp, and clocks in around 230 kg (507 lbs) fully tanked and ready to go ride.

Debuting along side the new water-cooled 2013 BMW R1200GS, KTM has its work cutout for it in the adventure-touring segment, though with Suzuki debuting the concept for its 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, now is certainly a good time to be in the market for an ADV bike. Feeling that notion, KTM has released the pricing on its Adventure bikes, and we like what we see from the Austrians.

2013 BMW HP4 Priced at $19,990*

10/02/2012 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Possibly the most lust-worthy sport bike of the year, the BMW HP4 has finally been priced by the Bavarians for the North American market. Clocking a $19,990 price tag MSRP, as usual, there is more to BMW’s pricing scheme than meets the eye.

While BMW plays its usual tricks, what is interesting is that despite all the add-ons, the BMW HP4 remains a relatively affordable premium sport bike. Punching just above the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s price tag, the German steed could easily justify its added cost with the inclusion of BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control, a semi-active suspension system.

Available in Q4 2012, the BMW HP4 comes with a variety of packages that significantly boost the HP4’s price into the mid-$20,000 range. We break down the cost of the packages and what you get with them, after the jump (mega photo gallery here).

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 – Coming to America for $4,799*

09/13/2012 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

There is not much that we don’t already know about the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300. It looks pretty much exactly like the re-designed 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R that broke cover in Indonesia earlier this year. The EPA already spilled the beans on the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s 296cc displacement and 40hp, and we know that the Ninja 300 is the peppier fuel-injected cousin to America’s dreadfully under-developed Ninja 250R…and now we know that the bike will come to the American market for next year.

Tipping the scales at the curb with 387 lbs, with its 4.5 gallons of fuel, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 isn’t a featherweight, but it isn’t a slouch either. In fact, when it comes to a sporty learner-class motorcycle for the American market, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 may very well be the bike of choice.

In a category where prospective buyers are raiding the couch cushions for a down payment, price is king. And with its $4,799 starting MSRP, the Ninja 300 is an expensive option, but is it still a bargain?

Triumph Trophy SE Priced at $18,999 for the USA

09/04/2012 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

When the Triumph Trophy SE broke cover earlier this June, the comparisons were quickly made between Britain’s most advanced motorcycle ever, and the German competition it was so clearly trying to emulate. While Triumph Trophy’s engineers and designers clearly took a long-look at the BMW R1200RT, and tried to improve upon the staple of a touring bike, Triumph’s marketers may have been asleep as the switch, as the Triumph Trophy SE has one thing the BMW does not: a bigger price tag.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Gets Adaptive Electronic Steering Damper – Welcome to 2004 Says Honda

07/10/2012 @ 12:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

For the next model year, Kawasaki is giving a modest update to its flagship model, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Mostly touching up its work from 2011 with a dollop of new paint, the one intriguing feature of the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R is its new electronic steering damper, which adjusts the level of steering damping based on how fast the motorcycle is traveling.

Kawasaki developed the damper with the help of a little Swedish company named Öhlins, and is the first manufacturer to use the new suspension from the famed suspension brand, which is sure to be a standard item on the bikes of other OEMs in the coming years — just like the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) that Big Red debuted circa 2004.

MV Agusta F3 675 Will Cost $13,495 in the USA

11/03/2011 @ 8:02 am, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

MV Agusta has made it no secret that it plans on bringing more affordable motorcycles to its product line-up, as the Italian company has simply no choice but to increase its production volume in a bid to attain profitability. Introducing more affordable versions of its already existing models like the MV Agusta F4R & MV Agusta Brutale R 1090, the 2012 MV Agutsa F3 675 and soon-to-be-debuted MV Agusta Brutale 675 are the first bottom-up new modesl to carry this ethos for the Italian brand.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 – 132hp – $12,995

09/27/2011 @ 3:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Ducati has released pricing and power specs for the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 here in the US, and the fighter’d version of the Superbike 848 is interestingly priced at $12,995 MSRP, the same price as the Superbike 848 EVO “Dark” or $1,000 less than the colored Superbike 848 EVOs, which retail for $13,995. Making 8hp less than the current Superbike 848 EVO, the Ducati Streetfighter 848’s motor makes 132hp and 69 lbs•ft of torque on Ducati’s dynos, just 23hp shy of the current Streetfighter 1098. Additionally, the Ducati Streetfighter 848 will tip the scales at 373 lbs dry (439 lbs wet), the same weight figure quoted for the current Ducati Streetfighter 1098.

As we stated when the Ducati Streetfighter 848 first broke cover, the positioning on the smaller Streetfighter was going to be critical and difficult for Ducati. The Bologna brand not only has to balance the the Streetfighter 848 against the Superbike 848 EVO, but also against the Monster 1100 EVO as well, which retails for $11,995. With the Streetfighter 848 getting lower-spec suspension and brakes compared to the Superbike 848 EVO (along with a presumably smaller airbox resulting in less power), Ducati seems to be hoping that the standard traction control on the SF848 will help distinguish the Streetfighter from its Superbike compatriot, which has no Ducati Traction Control (DTC) option.

Details Leak on the MV Agusta Brutale 675 “B3″

03/24/2011 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

MV Agusta is hosting it dealers meeting this weekend, and it is expected that the Italian company will unveil details on its upcoming 2011-2012 model line-up. With information coming forth about its new smaller Brutale 675 “B3″, a naked version of the companies recently unveiled MV Agusta F3 three-cylinder supersport, MV Agusta is likely to have the bike on sale as early as February 2012, with a base price of €8,990.

This puts the MV Agusta Brutale 675 squarely in the Triumph Street Triple’s price range, but bests its British counterpart with a claimed 120hp (de-tuned from the F3’s expected 140hp output). Also expected to be announced at the dealer meeting is the company’s plan for the releasing the MV Agusta F3, and news of a 201hp MV Agusta F4 “Corsacorta”.