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.

Honda Crossrunner UK Pricing Set at £9,075

03/23/2011 @ 8:28 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Our friends across the pond are set to get the new Honda Crossrunner this summer, with pricing slated at £9,075 OTR. The VFR800 based V4 motor has been wedged into a new adventure bike chassis, finally giving the winged brand something to compete against the BMW GS, Ducati Multistrada 1200, KTM Adventure, Yamaha Super Ténéré, etc. Perhaps a little late to the party with the Crossrunner, we’ve heard relatively little chatter about the bike since its EICMA launch back in November. No word yet on American pricing or availability.

2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Race Spec Priced at $19,999

02/15/2011 @ 10:37 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

While the KTM RC8 R will be taking over the price point of the now defunct RC8 for 2011, the track-only 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Race Spec will in-turn take over the RC8 R’s role as the top-spec “ready to race” machine in the Austrian company’s line-up. Debuting at Intermot, details were scarce about the RC8 R Race Spec (called the RC8 R Track at the time), but we knew it would come sans headlights, turn signals, license plate holders, and anything remotely resembling sanity in a street bike.

Officially announcing the KTM RC8 R Race Spec for the American market, we see that this track weapon comes with a bevy of extra items to help justify its nearly $20,000 price tag. Assembled at KTM Factory Racing Department, the RC8 R Race Spec comes with a Akrapovic Evo 4 titanium exhaust, slipper clutch, quick shifter, and upgraded suspension among other track-oriented goodies.

2011 Pricing and Availability for Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, & Piaggio Motorcycles and Scooters

12/28/2010 @ 12:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.

2011 Honda CBR250R MSRP Set at $3,999

12/01/2010 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

American Honda announced today the official pricing on the 2011 Honda CBR250R, the company’s 250cc beginner bike. With base pricing on the CBR250R starting at $3,999, the ABS equipped model will cost an additional $500, with an MSRP of $4,499. This price point goes right after the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, which is also sold for $3,999 MSRP. The Honda tips the scales a full 15 lbs lighter than the Kawi, and is equipped with fuel-injection.

We expect Honda’s strategy with the Mini-Me CBR is to offer more performance and features for the same price as the Kawi, which should make things in this part of the market very interesting (Aprilia is trying to play here too with its 125cc Aprilia RS4 125, which will likely cost more than these two bikes). Photos, video, and technical specifications of the new Honda CBR250R after the jump.

Ducati Diavel Pricing Confirmed

11/23/2010 @ 7:55 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Confirming what we already told you last month, Ducati has officially announced the pricing on the 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser. With the base Diavel costing $16,995, Ducatisti can spend an extra $3,000 for the Diavel Carbon, which costs $19,995, or purchase the Diavel Carbon “Red” (named for its red frame and rally stripe) for $20,395.

Is the Ducati Diavel not your cup of tea? In an interesting move, Ducati has setup a feature on its Diavel mirco-site for people to sound off their opinions on the new Italian machine by filling out a questionnaire. You can catch the Ducati Diavel, and many of the other recently released motorcycles, in person at the International Motorcycle Show through March.

Source: Ducati North America

Triumph Tiger 800 Pricing Announced for the USA

11/16/2010 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Well it didn’t take long for news of Triumph’s pricing information for the United States to surface, after the European pricing came out last week. Announced to Triumph dealers in the United States, the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 will hit dealership floors with a MSRP of $9,999, while the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC will cost $10,999. ABS for both Tigere 800 models will be an additional $800 option.

Compare that to the BMW F650GS (still an 800cc motorcycle mind you), which has a base price of $9,255 ($10,155 with ABS), and the BMW F800GS’s starting price of $11,395 ($12,295 if you want ABS). We’ll let you decide how Triumph has positioned itself against the two BMW’s, but also bear in mind that it’s hard to find a BMW without the standard options package (a $1,500 package that includes ABS, heated grips, and a ride computer).

2010 MV Agusta F4 Pricing at $18,500 MSRP

06/22/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

MV Agusta USA has announced that pricing for the 2010 MV Agusta F4 superbike will be set at $18,500 MSRP. MV hopes that his price point will make the bike a competitive entry in the US market, and is aimed squarely at the Ducati 1198S ($21,795) and Aprilia RSV4 Factory ($20,999) on price, while still offering a bike with traction control and adjustable engine maps (not to mention 186hp) at a lower price point than the two other Italian brands.

Erik Buell Racing Prices Announced

05/09/2010 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has released pricing details on its EBR 1125R DSB, EBR 1125RR, and EBR 1190RR race motorcycles. In addition to these models, Erik Buell Racing also has a few track bikes that are available for sale. Prices after the jump.

Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 Factory Euro Pricing – €9,990

03/11/2010 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

The fine folks of Noale have finally added the 2010 Aprilia Dorsoduro Factory to their official line-up and removed any doubts that the good Factory name means less today than it used to in the good ol’days. Tacking on a €900 premium for the “upgraded” Dorsoduro Factory model, riders will see an increase in carbon fiber, but only a limited change to the performance of the street tard. Despite this, the 2010 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 Factory makes a strong rival for the Ducati Hypermotard 796. See why after the jump, along with a bevy of photos and a video.

Ducati UK Pricing Announced

01/05/2010 @ 6:15 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After Ducati North America announced its pricing for the United States, we now know what the 2010 Ducati UK pricing is going to be. Unsurprisingly, Ducati has raised it’s prices to be in-line with the UK’s return to the 17.5% VAT rate. Check the prices after the jump, some are not what you’d expect.