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.

LEAKED: Here is the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Cruisers aren’t really our forté, here at Asphalt & Rubber, but breaking stories is…so, without all the typical fanfare, we bring you the first full photos of the upcoming 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. The Stead is murdered out and visually appealing, with black engine covers, black fenders, black forks…hell, even the tires are black. Under the hood is Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, which is an air-cooled 1,811cc v-twin good for 73hp and 100 lbs•ft.More technical features include ABS as standard, a keyless ignition system, cast wheels, and a solo seat. Our Bothan Spies suggest an MSRP of $17,000, and more accessories (all black, natch) than you can fit into the belly of a Tauntaun. Expect to see the Indian Chief Dark Horse launch officially on February 13th elsewhere.

Washington State Weighs Pro Lane-Splitting Law

The Washington State Legislature has a pro lane-splitting bill on its 2015-2016 docket, HB 1515. The law is moderately written, adopting a 10 mph speed differential between the motorcycle and traffic, with a 35 mph speed cap, as acceptable during lane-splitting activities. Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize these provisions as being more restrictive than the California Highway Patrol’s now defunct guidelines. Lane-splitting is a near-and-dear topic to us here at A&R, as we believe a national effort to legalize the practice should be mission #1 for the American Motorcyclist Association.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Desert Edition – So Much Khaki

12/01/2014 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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If you like the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, but have been holding back because they don’t make one in a desert beige, then today we have good news for you.

Released at the Motorcycle Live show in the UK, the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Desert Edition is what you might imagine from the name: a khaki-colored ADV bike that looks equally sharp paired with a navy blue blazer or with one of The Desert Fox’s classic pincer movement maneuvers.

58 Hi-Res Photos of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000

09/23/2013 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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In case you missed it this morning, Suzuki dropped more details on its upcoming 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike. Building off its predecessor’s v-twin engine, Suzuki have coaxed nearly 100hp from the 90° twin, while adding the company’s first traction control system ever on a production-model motorcycle.

We expect the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 to hit US soil with a price tag in the $12,500 range, making this ADV bike a very lucrative two-wheeler for any price-conscious motorcyclist who wants to get his (or her) feet dirty, while still having a great on-road experience.

To help whet your appetite on the new V-Strom’s impending official release, there are 58 high-resolution photos waiting for you in the gallery after the jump. Enjoy.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Details Emerge

09/23/2013 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Since its concept debut at the 2012 INTERMOT show, details of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike have slowly dribbled from the Japanese manufacturer’s lips. Giving us today a healthy dose of technical specifications and photos, Suzuki seems all but ready to debut its new V-Strom 1000.

Featuring a 1,037cc v-twin engine, which makes a peak 99hp at 8,000 rpm and 76 lbs•ft at 4,000 rpm, Suzuki has added a traction control system (a first for Suzuki) and ABS into the mix as well.

Nine Questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru – The Man Behind the Upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000

07/05/2013 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

I am not going to lie to you, after the jump is a set of very “marketing-heavy” videos from Suzuki about the upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 1000 adventure-touring bike. But since A&R readers are a clever bunch, and well-versed in smelling out the industry bullshit, I thought we would post these videos up anyways, since there are some interesting things going on with the new V-Strom concept.

Featuring nine questions with Tomohisa Ichimaru, the Product Planner in charge of the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, we get a sense of where the Japanese factory is coming from with its first proper modern ADV bike, and the lengths Suzuki has gone to ensure it meets the expectation of the existing devout Strom fan base.

Involved with the V-Strom 650 project, as well as wee-Strom owner, Ichimaru-san seems like the perfect choice for the person to guide the V-Strom 1000 project. We have heard plenty of stories coming out of Suzuki about the new V-Strom, so it will be interesting how closely the concept machine that debuted at EICMA is to the production model (expected to debut at this year’s EICMA show).

Price will be key for Suzuki, who will already have to compete for the non-BMW mindshare with the very stout Yamaha Super Ténéré.

More Photos of the Suzuki V-Strom Concept

11/13/2012 @ 7:49 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Suzuki is remaining fairly tight-lipped about its V-Strom Concept it is showing at EICMA in Italy, which first broke cover last month at the INTERMOT show in Germany. Simply saying that the model will eventually be built (in 2014?), it is not clear how close what we see here is to the production version.

A much needed revamp to its adventure bike offering, the real question for the Japanese company will be whether the new Suzuki V-Strom will be too little too late. Photos after the jump.

LEAKED: 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

06/21/2011 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

The wait is finally over on what Suzuki has been brewing for its middleweight adventure bike offering. Through some HTML trickery, we were able to glean this unreleased information off the Suzuki website, and as such are bringing you the first photos, technical specifications, and design features on the 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS. An evolution of the current V-Strom 650, the new middleweight V-Strom is longer, taller, and lighter than its predecessor, while boasting an updated look to the aging V-Strom exterior.

If you were expecting more, and feel let down…welcome to the club. Though this represents a large portion of the information Suzuki plans on unveiling in the coming days, we still have some unanswered questions: like what’s been changed in the motor (we have yet to see any power figures quoted), though the general specifications on the 645cc v-twin lump appear to be the same. More as we get it. Find the massively underwhelming leaked photos, details, and specifications after the jump. Thanks for the tip Yellow Ranger!

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V-Strom

06/15/2011 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Suzuki continues to string us along with dates and teasers of its expected V-Strom replacement/update. Showing three more blurred, yet revealing, photos of the new middleweight adventure bike, Suzuki is now saying to come back to its website on June 22nd for more details on the machine.

From what we hear from our European colleagues, Suzuki has sent out invites for the new V-Strom’s unveiling, which is schedule for June 27th in Croatia — a great venue, but also a week and a half away. Whether or not we’ll get a glimpse of the machine before then remains to be seen (or more teasers for that matter), but there is at least now a definitive timeline on when this madness will conclude. More photos after the jump.

New Suzuki V-Strom Delayed Until Tomorrow

06/14/2011 @ 5:52 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

While Suzuki has been hyping some sort of middleweight adventure-tourer, suspected to be an 800cc V-Strom, the company has missed its original unveil date of Saturday June 11th. Now Suzuki sites are touting a new date: tomorrow (Wednesday June 15th), which we suppose we’ll forgive Suzuki for this blunder, provided the new model blows our socks off. So far no one has said why the date has been pushed back, though we’d like to start a good rumor of a headlight fluid shortage at Suzuki HQ.

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike

06/07/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rumors are still fuzzy on the upcoming release of a new middleweight Suzuki adventure bike, with there being some debate as to whether the V-Strom replacement will be a 650cc, 1000cc, or perhaps even an 800cc machine. Suzuki is pushing the adventure statement hard, which to us means that this new bike will be more off-road capable than the current V-Strom, which to us has always seemed like a sport-tourer duped into doing something it wasn’t intended to do.

With Suzuki’s US website even sporting the teaser images now, this looks to be a worldwide release; and we won’t have to wait long to find out all the details, as this Saturday should bring us more information on how the Japanese brand is finally getting on this mid-life crisis bandwagon. So far the best guess we’ve heard are new look, new chassis, and new motor. More teaser photos after the jump.