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.

Ninja’d: BMW S1000R Streetfighter Caught on Camera

11/04/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014-BMW-S1000R-Oliepeil-01

Our friends at Oliepeil.nl have some serious “lef” going on, because through some “enhanced journalism” those crazy Dutch moto-enthusiasts have managed to grab a couple photos of the BMW S1000R as it waits in the BMW Motorrad exhibit, ahead of its official EICMA debut tomorrow.

A streetfighter version of the venerable BMW S1000RR, the BMW S1000R drops an “R” from its predecessors name, but still features the same inline-four engine as it superbike counterpart –though the motor has likely been detuned to a more sane level.

Unfortunately, we don’t have word on specs or features for the 2014 BMW S1000R, but we do have an idea now of what its finished form looks like. Photos after the jump, but be sure to see more photos and watch the the walk-around video on Oliepeil.nl…just don’t eat the mayo while you’re there.

2014 Kawasaki Z1000 Debuting at EICMA

10/01/2013 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

2014-kawasaki-z1000-teaser

With the KTM Super Duke 1290 R debuting today, and BMW Motorrad set to show its BMW S1000RR-based streetfighter in a couple weeks, we get news that Kawasaki will be upping its game in the street-naked category as well — debuting an all new 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

Teasing the bike for the past few weeks, this is the first news confirming the date and model in question from Kawasaki. Big Green isn’t talking specs at this point in time, but instead is using the Japanese word sugomi — “the intense aura or energy given off by a person or object of greatness and felt by the viewer” — to pitch the new Z1000.

2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed

10/01/2013 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-Super-Duke-1290-R-15

The countdown clock is at zero, and that means the wait is over for the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At EICMA last year, they called it “The Beast” and with 177hp (132 kW) coming from the 1,301cc v-twin engine, we are inclined to agree.

As svelte as it is powerful, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R tips the scales at 417 lbs dry, and comes with a ride-by-wire throttle control system, along with traction control and ABS that can be disengaged, as A&R also predicted.

Say Hello to the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R

09/26/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-Super-Duke-1290-R-teaser-02

With four days still on the countdown clock, we didn’t expect to see the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R until its October debut, but those crafty Frenchies at Moto-Station have gotten their hands on a couple photos of Austria’s new street hooligan machine.

Giving us a glimpse into “The Beast’s” final lines, we see that the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R retains the headlight shape from the prototype concept (better seen on the Patriot Edition concept), though sadly does not incorporate Kiska’s underslung GP-style system, opting instead for the standard single-can setup that was seen in the various spy photos that we have shown.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

2014-Yamaha-FZ9-01

With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild

04/20/2013 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

ktm-1290-super-duke-prototype-spy-photo

Spy photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke are nothing new, and the Austrian company has even gone as far as to tease us with a heavily massaged KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype at the 2012 EICMA show. With the final version of the superbike-powered streetfighter expected to be decidedly less edgy, the photo brought to us today (one can only guess when it was taken), if anything else, is a reminder to be reluctant our expectations.

The ever elusive “spy” photo, what we have here looks to be a near production prototype of the KTM 1290 Super Duke that has been caught in the wild. Easily the clearest photo we have seen of the road-going bike, it clearly holds KTM’s LC8 motor as well as the same trellis frame found on the “beast” prototype.

WSBK To “Return to Its Roots” — Race Naked Bikes

04/01/2013 @ 12:07 am, by David Emmett25 COMMENTS

ktm-690-duke-track

The news that Dorna had been handed control over the World Superbike series struck terror into the hearts of WSBK fans around the globe. The fear was Dorna would use its position of controlling both World Superbikes and MotoGP to widen the technical gap between the two series in an attempt to cut costs.

With Dorna having so often complained that World Superbikes was encroaching on MotoGP territory, and with MotoGP’s technical regulations becoming ever more restrictive, the logical step would appear to be to severely restrict the level of machinery used in WSBK.

Over the winter, and during the first round of the 2013 World Superbike series, talks between Dorna, the Superbike teams, and the manufacturers involved in the series failed to make much headway. The factories could not agree among themselves what level of modification to allow, while the teams were unimpressed by Dorna’s demands that a WSBK machine should cost 250,000 euros a season, stating that the money saved in the bike would only be spent elsewhere.

Talks had continued at the IRTA test at Jerez, with Dorna’s new World Superbike boss Javier Alonso present, and engaged in private discussions with the bosses of HRC, Shuhei Nakomoto, Yamaha Motor Racing, Shigeto Kitegawa, and Ducati Corse, Bernhard Gobmeier.

We have learned that since then, further telephone discussions have taken place with Kawasaki boss Ichiro Yoda and Suzuki’s Shinichi Sahara, while Alonso had previously spoken to Aprilia Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna at the Jerez circuit, during their test there.

2013 KTM 690 Duke R – Please Come to America

11/13/2012 @ 5:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Considering that the base model KTM 690 Duke didn’t come to the USA, we don’t have high hopes for the higher-spec KTM 690 Duke R making it out our way…but that doesn’t keep us from dreaming. Breaking cover today at the EICMA show, the KTM 690 Duke R defines its with fully adjustable WP suspension pieces, which includes a four-way adjustable rear shock.

Brembo M50 monoblocs also make their way onto the KTM 690 Duke R, as the new more rigid calipers are 6% lighter than the previous top-spec Brembos. KTM has added a dual-channel Bosch ABS system, which has an anti-roll over mode (read: a Max Biaggi setting) for those who let their wheelies get away from them. The ABS system also has a “supermoto” mode, which lets a rider lock-up the rear wheel. Yeah, we thought you’d like that.

Other changes include an Akrapovic exhaust, new footpegs, handlebars, crash bars, and various orange colored pieces. At 69hp and 330lbs at the curb (without fuel), the 2013 KTM 690 Duke R is on our short-list for reasons why we should move to Europe…just behind Scandinavian women (and maybe the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype). Photos after the jump.

2013 Honda CB500F – The UJM Returns to America

11/12/2012 @ 1:33 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Where there is a full-faired 2013 Honda CBR500R, there must be a naked 2013 Honda CB500F — and thus the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) makes a proper return to American soil. Priced at a vey modest $5,499 ($5,999 with ABS brakes), the Honda CB500F is an affordable, dependable, and stylish street-naked or “standard” motorcycle for the masses.

Like the rest of Honda’s 500cc line, the CB500F is based around  a modest liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 180° crank, parallel-twin motor that will put down 54hp at the wheel for the US market (tiered-license countries will see a 47hp machine).

At 420 lbs ready to ride with a full tank of fuel, the 2013 Honda CB500F saves 8 lbs off its clothed sibling (click here to read our full description of the new CBR), with the lack of fairings being the real distinction between the two machines.

Available in either black or pearl white, expect the Honda CB500F to be at your local Honda dealer in April of 2013 (the ABS version is available only in black). Full technical specifications are after the jump.

Benelli BN600 – Italy’s Other Street-Naked

11/07/2012 @ 5:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

A Chinese-owned Italian brand, Benelli makes some of the most beautiful motorcycles we have ever seen (Benelli Tornado anyone?), but the company has been rather absentee since getting acquired by the Qianjiang Group. Sure, Benelli seems to walk out a new variation of the Benelli TnT or TRE-K just about every year or so, and the Benelli Due has been a work in progress since before the first Obama administration, but for the most part, Benelli has been phoning it in when it comes to its proper motorbikes.

That seems to be changing though, as at EICMA the Italian brand will debut the Benelli BN600 — an 80hp, 600cc, inline-four street-naked. Building off the same established Benelli road-bike aesthetic, the BN600 (we cant tell if that that is Mandarin for either ‘horrible motorcycle name’ or ‘Benelli Naked 600cc’) is an interesting new model from Italy’s other motorcycle manufacturer, as it adds yet another street-naked to the Benelli line, and is close in displacement to the 118hp Benelli TnT 899.