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.

Is Norton Using Semi-Active Suspension for the IOMTT?

04/09/2013 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

norton-tt-racer-semi-active-suspension

Norton Motorcycles is gearing up for another entry into the Isle of Man TT, and while the British company’s project has been sequestered in Donington Park during the off-season, the team has released one very interesting photo of the now named Norton TT Racer.

Giving us a glimpse of the bike’s front wheel area, we can see that Norton is using BST carbon fiber wheels, six-pot ISR calipers, Dunlop tires, and Öhlins suspension.

However, the interesting thing with the Öhlins FGR forks is that they are clearly beyond WSBK-spec, and there appears to be electrical connections going to the forks’ rebound and compression damping adjusters.

The electrical leads can only mean one thing, a racing setup with semi-active suspension.

Öhlins Brings Semi-Active Suspension to the Masses

12/12/2012 @ 3:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Enticed by the idea of having semi-active suspension on your motorcycle? Then the latest tech from Öhlins Suspension might be the thing for you, as the Swedish company has developed an electronically controlled mechatronic shock for existing motorcycles, starting with the 2011-2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

Developing the system first in the  World Superbike Championship, Öhlins is the first suspension manufacturers to bring the technology to the masses, though companies like Bitubo, Marzocchi, and WP Suspension have similar units that will be available next year as well.

2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 with Aprilia Dynamic Damping

11/13/2012 @ 6:30 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Leaked well ahead of the EICMA show, we can now officially talk to you about the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200, Noale’s adventure-tourer. Using the chassis from the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 as its basis, Aprilia says it has modified the “robust” chassis to suit the Caponord 1200’s raison d’être, though you would be hard pressed to get a weight figure from the company.

Inside that presumably hefty chassis is a 128hp 1197cc v-twin motor with 85 lbs•ft of peak torque, which isn’t going to blow the doors off on any spec sheet comparisons. Instead, Aprilia is hoping to entice would-be Caponord 1200 owners with the bike’s bevy of electronics.

Say Hello to the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200…Again

11/08/2012 @ 7:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Leaked well ahead of the 2012 EICMA show, the Aprilia Caponord 1200 again finds its way to the interwebs, albeit in a clearer and more official way. Taking heavy styling cues from the Aprilia RSV4 sport bike, which has become something of the paterfamilias of design at the Italian brand, the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 shares a chassis and motor with the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, and will be the Noale brand’s big offering against the sportier side of the adventure-touring market.

Featuring 17″ wheels, selectable fuel mapping, traction control, and ABS brakes, the new Aprilia Caponord 1200 has all the basic amenities you would expect in increasingly competitive adventure bike market — and if rumors are to be believed, Aprilia will offer a Caponord 1200 with semi-active suspension as well (Aprilia Dynamic Damping, or ADD…no seriously).

2013 BMW R1200GS – A Water-Cooled Icon

10/02/2012 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Building off of three decades of tradition and 170,000 units sold worldwide, the 2013 BMW R1200GS has some big shoes to fill. Officially debuting today at the INTERMOT show, the Bavarians have kept most of what makes a GS a “GS” intact, while of course adding a much speculated, hyped, and rumored water-cooled boxer-twin motor into the mix.

The big push with the new model is its ability to meet stricter noise and emission standards, hence the move to liquid-cooling. Though, BMW says it also aimed to improve the R1200GS’s on & off-road performance, increase the bike’s safety, and of course continue the GS heritage that has basically defined the segment.

Using “precision cooling” derived from Formula 1, the 2013 BMW R1200GS only uses liquid cooling on the parts of the motor that need the additional heat exchange, thus allowing the engine still to use a high-degree of air-cooling, which BMW says helps justify the continued use of the boxer-twin motor design. Other changes include a wet slipper clutch and left-hand side cardan shaft drive. As we reported earlier, power is 123hp and 92 ft•lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm, while the curb weight is 525 lbs (238 kg) without fuel.

Confirmed: Ducati Multistrada 1200 Features Dual-Spark Motor – Sachs Suspension & More Photos

09/20/2012 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yesterday, we broke the news that Ducati’s second-generation Testastretta 11° motor features a dual-spark configuration, and we got a bit of flak in the comments section of that article over that claim. Well, today Ducati has released the technical specifications of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 line, and the Italian company has confirmed a dual-spark setup in what it is now calling the Testastretta 11° DS engine.

The new Testastretta 11° DS engine is mostly the result of the ever-tightening emissions standards in Europe, though the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 (along with the other bikes that will get the Testastretta 11° DS engine) benefits from a smoother power delivery, as well as increased mid-range power and torque. Accordingly, peak torque on the Multistrada 1200 goes from 87.5 lbs•ft to 91.8 lbs•ft for 2013. Zesty.

Second-Generation Ducati Testastretta 11° Gets Dual-Spark?

09/19/2012 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

If you are anything like us, yesterday’s announcement of the revamped 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 line left more questions than answers. Semi-active suspension on a Ducati? A Second-generation Testastretta 11° motor? Give us the deets Bologna! Surely both these changes are going to make it beyond just the MTS 1200 in the Ducati model line-up, yet Borgo Panigale is mums the word on what these changes are exactly, beyond their actual existence.

We do have some clues however, since Ducati released photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo motorcycles. A close look at the forward-facing cylinder head shows a feed for a second spark plug (2013 model on the left, 2012 model on the right), while the absence of the usual obnoxiously gold-colored forks raises some eyebrows as to whom Ducati is using to source its new “Skyhook” semi-active suspension.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Gets Semi-Active Suspension

09/18/2012 @ 8:48 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Ahead of this fall’s motorcycle shows, Ducati has unveiled its 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 range, which sees the sport-tourer getting a host of updates. Featuring a second-generation Testastretta 11° motor, perhaps the bigger news is the inclusion of Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), Ducati’s new semi-active suspension system. Other changes also include an updated three-level ABS system, as well as revised aesthetics.

As we tipped yesterday, the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak edition gets a new color scheme, as it uses the team’s livery from this year’ hill climb, and appears to take the reigns as Ducati’s “sport” offering for the MTS1200. In addition to the new colors, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak gets the Ducati Skyhook Suspension, as does the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring. DSS will not be available on the base model Multistrada 1200 however.

New for 2013 is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo, which is aimed to be a more purpose-built touring option in the Multistrada line. Featuring an increased side luggage capacity, top case, additional LED illumination, enhanced wind protection, and long-distance tires among other things, it will be interesting to see how Ducati prices the Granturismo against the regular Multistrada 1200 S Touring model here in the US.

BMW HP4 – Your Track-Tuned BMW S1000RR

07/27/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

We teased you with the BMW HP4 last week, and now the Bavarians have made their tuned-S1000RR officially official. Starting with the top-selling superbike from the German company, BMW has taken the S1000RR and made it the track weapon of choice. The lightest four-cylinder superstock bike on the market at 373 lbs dry (with ABS), the BMW HP4 is also the first motorcycle to get BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), a computer controlled semi-active suspension system.

Getting a number of improvements over the S1000RR, the BMW HP4 maintains the same 193hp peak horsepower figure, but gets a boost from more mid-range torque. As we said, the BMW HP4 is also more svelte than its predecessor, as it sits at 439 lbs / 199 kg at the curb with the fuel tank 90% full — a full 13 lbs lighter when wet, and 26 lbs lighter when dry. Other changes include a revised traction control system, launch control, quick-shifter, and a 200/55 ZR 17 rear-tire size.

BMW Motorrad Dynamic Damping Control

07/01/2011 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad has been working on its next generation of suspension innovations, and at the 2011 BMW Motorrad Innovation Day the Bavarian company debuted its new Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) technology. An evolution on BMW’s electronic suspension adjustment system (ESA & ESA II), BMW Motorrad’s Dynamic Damping Control goes beyond merely allowing the rider to adjust suspension compression, rebound, and spring settings on the fly, and adds a computer-controlled automatic tuning element to the suspension components that adapts to the road conditions on-the-fly.

For some background, BMW’s ESA II is the forefather for copycat systems found on other manufacturer’s machines, perhaps most notable of which is the Ducati Multistrada 1200, which boasts a “four bikes in one” tagline with its different riding modes that use different engine mapping and suspension settings to tailor the bike to the rider’s needs. DDC takes this idea a step further, as it goes beyond just changing settings in different riding modes (as seen on the Ducati), and instead ties in the suspension system to BMW’s ABS and traction control systems (DTC), allowing the suspension to react when a rider accelerates, brakes, swerves, and fords the river Oregon Trail style (you’ll likely lose all your oxen doing this).

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