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.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Hertrampf

12/16/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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As soon as Bologna debuted the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the speculation was rife on if/when the Italian brand would bring streetfighter and supersport-class machines to market. We have already seen the Ducati 899 Panigale, which isn’t quite race-legal, though packs the superbike’s design philosophies into a more affordable package with a smaller engine displacement.

As for the Streetfighter, the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200 seems to confirm suspicions that Ducati has no plans to continue with a performance-based street naked. With the demise of the Streetfighter 1098, one can only wonder how much longer the Streetfighter 848 will remain in Ducati’s lineup. Surely when the smaller displacements of the Monster line move to water-cooled engine, the we will see the removal of the 848, much to our chagrin.

This still leaves us with some “what if’s” though, as some believe the monocoque “frameless” chassis design of the Panigale makes a streetfighter variant all but impossible. We would have to say that when the fairingless photos of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera that came out this year, our eyes searched for ways to tailor the Panigale’s naked body into some sort of Streetfighter, though it looks like some Germans have gone a step further.

Radical Ducati Matador

12/02/2013 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We haven’t seen something from the boys at Radical Ducati in a while, so their timing with Radical Ducati Matador and the holidays seems like an early moto-related present.

For the un-initiated, Radical Ducati is a small shop in Madrid, Spain that specializes in Frankensteining together custom motorcycles from the Ducati parts bin.

Based around the Ducati 1198 Superbike lump, and featuring all the usual Radical Ducati parts, the Radical Ducati Matador is not only typical of the Spanish firm’s gritty design practice, but also makes us nostalgic for the now deceased Ducati Streetfighter 1098 platform, which hit upon the same raw vein during its brief time in Ducati’s lineup.

Watch Jeremy McWilliams Embarrass Some Journalists at the Track While on a KTM 1290 Super Duke R

11/15/2013 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Judging from how the KTM 1290 Super Duke R stacks up against its competition (like the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, BMW S1000R, and Ducati Monster 1200 S), the Austrian’s were right in calling the new Duke “The Beast” in their pre-launch marketing.

With 180hp coming from its 1,301cc v-twin engine, and 106 lbs•ft of torque (74 of which start at just 2,500 rpm), KTM has built a road-eating monster in the new Super Duke R.

Taming that beast is no easy task, though luckily the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is one of the Austrian company’s first motorcycles to get traction control. But as our friend Iwan learned at the international press launch in Spain, the Super Duke R still packs quite the punch.

KTM’s tame motorcycle racer, and development rider for the Super Duke R, Jeremy McWilliams was on-hand for the press launch as well. Unfortunately for McWilliams though, there appears to be something wrong with his race-spec Duke, as the front wheel has trouble staying attached to the ground. He should probably have the boys take a look at it.

2014 Kawasaki Z1000 – So Much Sugomi

11/05/2013 @ 5:37 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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We have seen the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 leaked and teased ad nauseam ahead of the 2013 EICMA show, but now we finally have the official photos and specifications of the Kawasaki’s new street-naked.

For the new year, Kawasaki says that the new Z1000 has a revised ECU setting, along with different camshaft timings and oval exhaust connectors between the header pipes.

Other improvements like connected cylinders (less pumping loss) and a new airbox design, help the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 reach 140hp (104.5 kW) and 82 lbs•ft of torque from its 1,043cc inline-four engine.

2014 BMW S1000R – 160hp, ABS, & Optional DTC & DDC

11/05/2013 @ 2:53 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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As expected, BMW Motorrad took the wraps off a completely new motorcycle today at the EICMA show, the BMW S1000R. A streetfighter version of the venerable BMW S1000RR superbike, the S1000R drops an “R” from its name along with roughly 30hp, with the naked bike sporting a 160hp peak figure — primarily due to a redline that is 2,000 rpm less than the S1000RR.

Build the 999cc inline-four motor for low-end and mid-range torque, rather the maximum peak horsepower, BMW says that the S1000R makes 7 lbs•ft more torque than the S1000RR, all the way up to 7,500 rpm.

With a peak torque figure of 83 lbs•ft at 9,250 rpm, the BMW S1000R  is now slouch, though with it tipping the scales at 456 lbs (207kg) — the 2014 BMW S1000R is few pounds heavier than its predecessor.

Ninja’d: BMW S1000R Streetfighter Caught on Camera

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

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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.

More Photos and Video of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

11/02/2013 @ 8:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the first glimpse of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 two weeks ago, but with just a few days until the start of the 2013 EICMA show, Kawasaki’s new naked bike is giving us the full monty, courtesy of Japan’s Mr. Bike. Getting a chance to film the new Kawasaki Z1000 with up-close panning shots, we are even treated to the new Z’s exhaust note.

For the new model year, things seem to be mainly an aesthetic overhaul — the great internet debate is now whether the new Z1000 retains its predecessor’s 136hp motor, or whether the machine gets the 140hp lump from the Kawasaki Z1000SX. One would presume the latter, though both engines are of the same ilk and difficult to distinguish from visually.

Leaked Photo of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000

10/25/2013 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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We know that Kawasaki plans to update the Z1000 for the 2014 model year, and it looks like our friends at Oliepeil have gotten their hands on one of the first clear photos of the 2014 Kawasaki Z1000.

Are You the 2014 BMW S1000R Streetfighter? Nope.

10/24/2013 @ 4:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Is this an image of the much anticipated BMW S1000R – the streetfightered version of BMW’s popular S1000RR superbike? Nope, it’s not…but, it is a spot-on approximation of what we expect to see from BMW Motorrad early next month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. Italian site DueRuote commissioned this render from the folks at MotoRendering.com, and we have to say it is some damn fine work.

38 Hi-Res Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

10/24/2013 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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KTM called it “The Beast” when it teased the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R ahead of the bike’s official launch, and our man Iwan from Testmotor.nl is inclined to agree with that moniker, after attending the international press launch in Spain this past week. As aggressive in appearance as it is riding on the street and track, KTM’s new streetfighter sits at the top of the class with its 180hp 1,301cc v-twin engine.

Though an MSRP for the USA hasn’t been released yet, European pricing suggests that the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R will be only for a discerning few, which is alright because KTM doesn’t intend this machine to be for everyone. Coming against stiff competition for 2014, the new Super Duke R will hit dealer floors at the same time as the still unseen BMW S1000R and liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

With the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS also getting more letters in its name for the new year, the choices are tough in the big-displacement sport/naked category. These are good problems to have though. To help you mull over which bike should be in your garage, we have 38 high-resolution photos of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy!