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.

Yamaha Moto Cage-Six Concept

10/02/2012 @ 5:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Built off the Yamaha XJ6, the Yamaha Moto Cage-Six is a bit different from its predecessor. Loud, audacious, loud, likely prone to wheelie, and loud…those are words we likely will never hear used when describing the XJ6, yet seemingly apply well here with the Cage-Six.

We are not sure how many XJ6 bikes will end up living their lives on StuntLife, but Yamaha’s Moto Cage-Six Concept certainly does illustrate how far a little imagination can go in taking something from “meh” to “totes m’goats” in this Gen-Y world. Hell, with a little less neon yellow, we might even consider rocking this around the block a few times.

Still, if we had to choose between the two, there would have to be an overwhelming preference to see Yamaha’s three-cylinder motor with a crossplane crankshaft get built over this marketing exercise. Different strokes for different folks though. More photos after the…oh dear god, that’s a car tire on the rear wheel, isn’t it?

Julien Dupont Testing the Audi E-Bike

05/03/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Stunting motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and sisters-in-law, the name of French trials rider Julien Dupont should be a familiar one to A&R readers by now. Similarly, the name of German car manufacturer Audi should also ring a bell, as the Auto Union’s recent $1.1 billion acquisition of Ducati Motor Holdings is certainly still fresh in every motorcyclist’s mind. A sign of maybe things to come, auto manufacturers have been working on something they call “last-mile transportation” which focuses on the use of short-distance urban transportation.

Cities like London are starting to impose congestion taxes, in an effort to curb road congestion in dense urban areas, as well as boost funding for roadway infrastructure. Despite the “drill at home” effort here in the US, the price of gas is surely only going to increase over the coming decade. Putting all this together, the long-term prospect of personal transportation is going to have to change dramatically over the next few generations, and car manufacturers know it.

Hoping to change with the times, we have seen car manufacturers and even motorcycle manufacturers dabble with the concept of branded motorcycles, scooters, and other sorts of low-impact transportation devices. One such endeavor from that train of thought is the Audi E-Bike. An exceptionally good looking piece of kit, the bike features a moped-like electric drivetrain, in addition to the traditional human-powered system. Carbon everything, LED headlight & taillight, frame-embeded dashboard, etc.

Oh, and that Dupont fellow? Well, someone has to make riding an electric bicycle look cool, right?

Rok Bagoroš’s New KTM 690 Duke Stunt Bike

04/24/2012 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You may remember Rok Bagoroš from his two-wheeled escapades on the KTM 125 Duke, but the 23-year-old Slovenian stunt rider has just graduated to KTM’s big-boy hooligan machine: the KTM 690 Duke. With the Austrian manufacturer making a special KTM 690 Duke to suit the needs of Bagoroš, the folks at Kiska have also given the new Duke a nice personalized and edgy look to the bike to fit Rok’s style.

“There’s a BIG difference between the two bikes,” says Rok. “The bike has five times more power then the Duke 125 and any mistake can result in a crash, as I’ve already discovered. The bike has amazing power but I’m slowly getting it under control. I have to remember that this is my first big stunt bike and so I have to learn how to handle the extra power and convert it into spectacular tricks that will be fun to do and thrilling for the fans.”

While Rok gets used to his new toy, we will just have to lament the fact that KTM is still not bringing this bike to the United States. Enjoy the photos and video after the jump, it is likely as close as you will get to the KTM 690 Duke on USA soil.

Julien Welsch + Knobby Tires + Triumph Street Triple??!

04/11/2012 @ 6:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

If you want to end your Wednesday on a high-note, look no further than this video of Julien Welsch (Facebook & Twitter). Riding his Triumph Street Triple through woods enduro-style (yes, with knobbies and all), the famed stunt rider makes this fish-of-water look like its has lungs for gils.

Throw in some great photography, a dubstep soundtrack that doesn’t make you want to bang your head against the wall, & some epic riding, and well…for three minutes and twenty-nine seconds you won’t have anything bad to say about the French (je plaisantais mes amis!). In other news, somewhere in Leicestershire, a Triumph engineer is quietly sobbing.

Lincoln Tunnel Hooligan Makes The Colbert Report

04/06/2012 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

There you are, minding your own business while ripping a fat wheelie through the Lincoln Tunnel on your way to work. Unfortunately, you have to stop because the tour bus in front of you, which is probably full of maple syrup loving Canadian tourists, is crawling along at a snail’s pace. You of course change lanes to resume your morning one-wheeled commute, but realize that the guy behind you is carelessly and dangerously driving while filming you with his cameraphone. The worst part? When you ask the jerk for a copy of the video, he doesn’t even send it to you. Gahh!

Video: Circus Motorcycle Jump Goes Horribly Wrong

02/08/2012 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Performing at the Shrine Circus in Saginaw, Michigan, a motorcycle jump goes horribly wrong under the big top. There’s some not so safe for work audio from the audience member who took this video, but you’ve got to hand it to the circus’ ringmaster for keeping the crowd calm and the situation under control. We are happy to report that the rider in question survived the incident, and only suffered a broken femur from his 25 foot fall. Investigators believe a wire may have been hung too low in the circus tent (not to state the obvious).

Source: YouTube

Video: Julien Dupont & Arthur Coutard Go Au Naturel

02/06/2012 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Julien Dupont blah blah blah Arthur Coutard blah blah blah trials, awesome, BBQ sauce. Yes, that crazy French trials rider-turned-urban stunt monsieur is at it again, this time with hetro-life partner Arthur Coutard at his side in the French Alps. Continuing his “Ride the World” video series, Dupont & Co. haven’t picked a city for this adventure this time, instead choosing to do things in a more au naturel setting. With more Frenchness on tap than a silent black & white film tragedy about mimes with baguettes, you’ll have more “je ne sais quoi” than you can shake a croissant at after the jump.

Ghost Rider Giving Away His 499hp Turbo Hayabusa

01/05/2012 @ 11:06 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

I’m going to date myself here, but I remember when I first got into motorcycles, I watched a video of this guy named “Ghost Rider” storm the streets of Sweden. Weaving through traffic like it was a rolling chicane and evading the cops with reckless abandon, I would find out later that Ghost Rider had made a name for himself by doing something all motorcyclists have wanted to partake in at some time or another, but never had the stones to follow through with.

Releasing a number of DVDs of his street antics, Ghost Rider’s identity has remained somewhat of a secret throughout all this, though locals tell me that everyone knows who the man clad in black is, but because of how Sweden handles its burden of proof, Johan Law has never been able to knock on the Ghost Rider’s door. Whether you think his videos are cool, irresponsible, or both, it look like Ghost Rider’s 499hp turbo-powered Hayabusa streetfighter is going to a new home…and it might be yours.

Brian Capper Rides Trials Over the Moses Mabhida Stadium

12/08/2011 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Proper trials riding might be one of the most impressive feats a performed on a motorcycle. Seemingly able to conquer any obstacle, over any terrain, trials riders problem-solve some of the most difficult challenges motorcycling can throw at them, and they make it look easy. Not exactly the most popular sport worldwide, especially here in the United States, there’s a growing desire to put trials competitions more on the map, so to speak. Accordingly, Brian Capper was commissioned to tackle one of man’s more prominent architectural feats, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, with a feat of his own.

On his home turf of Durban, South Africa, Capper took to the Moses Mabhida Stadium’s centerpiece archway. 348 (106 meters) feet above the field below, pedestrians routinely walk up the double-arch, though few run the risk of clearing the sides of the arch, should they fall over. Riding up the arch with an unimpeded view of the stadium below, Capper says his biggest concern wasn’t the ascent, but instead his brakes over-heating on the way back down. Already steeply pitched downward on the stairs of the Moses Mabhida Stadium arch, Capper had to occasionally endo his trials bike to cool the rear brake.

It would take us years to describe those kind of cojones.

Does Workers’ Comp Apply to Motorcycle Stunt Shows?

12/05/2011 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

As far as motorcycle stunt shows go, this one started out as one of the better we’ve seen in a while (we appreciate some showmanship in our stunt shows, rather than a rider aimlessly popping wheelies for hours on end). As you’ll see in the video after the jump, this show at the Beto Carrero World theme park in Brazil starts out well-timed, well-choreographed, and well-executed.

Of course it goes without saying that we’re showing you this post because all that changes at the end of the clip. For those concerned, we hear that the fallen rider had no major injuries, and even showed up for work the next day. We’d still try to make a workers’ comp. claim for that lost half-day though.