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.

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.

How Long Does it Take You to Draw a Motorcycle?

03/04/2013 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Nicolas-Petit-HP2-Megamoto-LC-Concept

We spend a bit of our time here at Asphalt & Rubber featuring the work of Nicolas Petit, and other designers, sharing with you the unique visions that these artists create. Some of their work comes to fruition in three dimensions, and some of it remains in a two-dimensional form, but it is all still pretty damn impressive. But what goes into these sketches and renders?

Working on his BMW HP2 Megamoto LC Concept, Petit has condensed his 20-minute sketching routine, and put together a short three-minute time-lapse video of his work. Armed with only with a couple pens and markers, Petit makes short-work of the sketch, though we can only imagine how many hours of studying design had to come together before pen could be put to paper. Check it out after the jump.

First Sketch of the Honda Scooter/Motorcycle Hybrid

09/25/2012 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you want some more proof that Honda’s emerging larger and more “torqueful” two-wheeler, which is based on the Mid Series, is going to be one-part scooter and one-part motorcycle, then look no further than this screen capture of the slide Honda CEO Takanobu Ito used at the company’s end of the fiscal-year event.

While only a very vague sketch of sweeping lines, the image shows a shape that looks striking similar to the Honda DN-01 crossover, which also featured a scooter/motorcycle hybrid design. While Ito-san only talked about the machine in generalities, we do know that Honda’s new motorcycle will be suitable for commuting and touring, built in Honda’s flagship Kumamoto plant, and debut in the North American market.

BMW R12 Concept by Nicolas Petit Motorcycle Crèation

07/11/2012 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The work of designer Nicolas Petit is one of those gems in motorcycling that really gets our imagination here at A&R working at high-speed. It probably has something to with Petit’s simple, practical, but stunning designs that grab our fancy, and make us think “yeah, I could see one of those in my garage” — such is the case with the BMW R12 concept.

A clean and modern café racer design, Nicolas Petit’s BMW R12, which is based off the BMW HP2, is something we’d like to have in our stable for when the journey, not the destination, is the order of the day. Enjoy his sketches and renders after the jump, and to save you the trouble when you go scavenging for boxer-twins, here’s a link to craigslist.

Bimota/BMW Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi

06/19/2012 @ 1:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We follow Oberdan Bezzi’s work pretty closely here at Asphalt & Rubber, if for no other reason than we like the Italian designer’s ability to fantasize about the endless possibilities available in the two-wheel world — and after, who here doesn’t like to daydream about exotic motorcycles? Lately it seems Bezzi’s imagination has gone to a world where Bimota uses more than Ducati’s v-twin lumps in its exclusive street bikes, with his most recent sketches envisioning a BMW/Bimota collaboration.

Inking the Bimota BB-2 superbike, and it’s naked sibling the Bimota BB-3 “Paura”, the usual Bezzi lines and style are present in the designs. Oberdan’s thought-process on the Bimota BB-3 seems to be well-timed though, as the Bavarian company has recently been caught testing a naked version of the well-selling BMW S1000RR at its facility. Set to be a true Germans streetfighter, BMW could very well succeed in a motorcycle segment that the Japanese have historically struggled with here in the US.

Ducati 798 Desmosport R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/22/2012 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Much has been speculated about the alleged Ducati 799 Superbike that surely is being planned in Borgo Panigale this very minute. Connecting the dots with the Italian company’s product roadmap, Ducati surely has a smaller-displacement version of its 1199 Panigale in the works, though what it will be called and what displacement it will use is still the subject of much conjecture. Today Oberdan Bezzi takes us back down that thought process with his Ducati 798 Desmosport R concept.

A supersport-market model, Bezzi’s focus is not with the water-cooled 1,200cc Superquadro motor, but the tried and true DesmoDue air-cooled lump currently found in the Hypermotard and Monster lines. Looking for a €9,000 price point, 100hp power figure, and 365 lbs dry weight, Oberdan Bezzi is striking the same vein that Radical Ducati and NCR have been touching on for the past few years, albeit at different ends of the price spectrum.

Ariel Motorcycles Returning in 2012

08/02/2011 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Before the name Ariel was synonymous with the Honda-powered Ariel Atom trackday car, the brand was affixed to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. After producing great bikes like the Ariel Square Four, the now defunct Ariel Motorcycle company was folded into BSA, which in a roundabout fashion gave birth to the current Triumph brand. Building on that vein, we get word that the makers of the Ariel Atom want to get into the two-wheeled biz, and are planning to launch a new Ariel motorcycle by the end of this year.

Though there may not be any exact ties between the current past Ariel marques beyond their names, the idea of another motorcycle maker entering the treacherous and rarely lucrative motorcycle industry fray is nonetheless exciting to us here at A&R; and since we’re big fans of the Ariel Atom car project, we can only just barely contain our excitment on the idea of a similar movement done on two wheels as the one we’ve seen already on four.

2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 Rendered by Luca Bar Design

06/15/2011 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ever since we heard about the new 2012 Ducati Superbike, we’ve been marking the days until we could see the v-twin sex machine in the flesh. There’s no denying that the specs being banded about on the new Superquadrata motor are impressive, as the new bike is expected to make up to 20hp more than the current Superbike 1198 (though peak performance numbers only tell one side of the story). Also intriguing is the MotoGP-derived stressed-airbox chassis arrangement, which finally does away with the iconic trellis chassis, though has caused some problems for Valentino Rossi on his move to Ducati Corse.

Just last month we got our first look at the new Superbike prototype, as Ducati leaked first a Supersport spec version of what many think will be called the Ducati Superbike 1199. An encore to that moment, the street version of the v-twin superbike leaked just days later. While many of us will have to use our imagination on what Ducati’s latest creation will look like, we’re lucky that Luca Bar Design (website here: bar-design.net) can take those thoughts and put them to paper, err…pixels. Rendering the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 from what information that is available, this is perhaps one of the best glimpses as to what the Bologna Bullet will look like. Two more renders after the jump.

Concept: Bimota TB-2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/06/2011 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Last week Oberdan Bezzi inked his concept for a Triumph-powered Bimota, dubbed the Bimota TB-1. That fully-faired alternative to the MV Agusta F3 naturally needs a naked streetfighter variant, and accordingly Bezzi has penned today’s latest concept sketch, which he calls the Bimota TB-2 675. Featuring the Triumph 675cc three-cylinder motor, the Bimota TB-2 675 competes against its donor the Triumph Street Triple, and goes head-to-head with the heavily anticipated MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3.

Husqvarna 900 Street One by Oberdan Bezzi

05/10/2011 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Confirming that the rumors were true, Husqvarna recently released photos of its new 900cc motor destined for the company’s first proper street bike. Based on the 800cc BMW parallel twin, we’ll have to wait until November to see what the Swedish brand has in store for us, but until then Oberdan Bezzi has some ideas to help whet our appetite. Called the Husqvarna 900 Street One, Bezzi sees a street-naked in Husky’s future, which will help show-off the firm’s newly minted engine.

With the new Husqvarna expected to have both more torque and horsepower than its German counterpart, Obiboi sees the Husky 900 as a sportier version of the BMW line, and has put those feelings into his concept sketch here. Perhaps the only thing that rivals our curiosity on what the new Husqvarna will look like, is how the company will differentiate its street motorcycles from its parent company’s offering, and what it will mean for the fabled dirtbike brand.