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.

2013 KTM Moto3 250 GPR Production Race Bike

07/09/2012 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Taking advantage of a quasi-home round for the MotoGP Championship at the German GP, Austrian company KTM debuted it latest “ready to race” machine, the 2013 KTM Moto3 250 GPR production race bike. A for-sale-version of its Moto3 Championship contender, the KTM Moto3 250 GPR borrows heavily from its GP-class predecessor, though comes in a slightly lower state of tune.

Featuring forged aluminum OZ wheels instead of magnesium ones, the production racer also comes sans Brembo brakes and WP suspension (items race teams would likely get from suppliers separately anyways). There is however one big technical difference, as KTM has reduced the bike’s maximum engine speed to 13,500 rpm, down from the 14,000 found on the factory bikes. This leaves the 2013 KTM Moto3 250 GPR production racer with just under 50hp on tap.

Suter 500 Factory V4 – Thank You for Smoking

05/14/2012 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is based out of California, so that means smoking is akin to a cardinal sin out here, and on the hierarchy of egregious crimes against humanity, it ranks just slightly under torturing babies with hot pincers (heaven forbid you cause a baby to start smoking). Smoking indoors in outright verboten virtually everywhere, while puffing some nicotine anywhere outside that is near a restaurant, bar, club, ATM, hospital, pre-school, or tobacco shop is liable to cause a citizen to go murder-death-kill on you John Spartan.

The issue is so pervasive here, that it has even extended beyond cigarettes and into the realm of motorcycling, with The Golden State leading the charge on the banning of two-stroke motorcycles. We are now purely a “suck, squeeze, bang, blow” society, and while that suits many motorists just fine, there are some who enjoy the smell of pre-mix in the morning — you know who you are. You enjoy the sound of angry bees following you from apex to off-camber. You think a displacement for “serious riders” starts at around 250cc. You like your engine compression low, and your powerbands narrow. You sir (or madam), are a two-stroke junky, and we have just the fix you need.

Just as MotoGP replaced 500GP, we know see Moto2 & Moto3 replacing the lower two-stroke classes that remained in Grand Prix racing. Leading the charge on this mechanical front are a slew of new companies, most notably the chassis manufacturers, of which Suter is perhaps the most well-regarded. Making the weapon of choice for Marc Marquez in Moto2 this year, the Swiss company already had a sterling reputation before it went racing at an international level, but the firm’s success in the 2010 Championship exposed it to a whole new world of tw0-wheel performance.

Having a bevy of intriguing two-wheeled projects within its walls, the Swiss bike that catches our eye today is the Suter 500 Factory V4: a two-stroke, 500cc, V4, track weapon that puts out over 200 hp and weighs 284 lbs ready to race — no, that is not a typo. We’ll let you take a moment before continuing past the jump for more.

2012 Brammo Empulse R Technical Specifications Revealed

04/18/2012 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Right on schedule, Brammo has released the technical specifications of the Brammo Empulse & Brammo Empulse R electric street bikes. Featuring a 54hp water-cooled Permanent Magnet AC (PMAC) motor, the Empulse will come with a 10 kWh (9.3 kWh nominal) battery pack, and of course the Oregonian company’s six-speed gearbox. With fully-adjustable Marzoochi front forks, a fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock, Brembo brakes, & Marchesini wheels, Brammo has included some nice kit on the Empulse, though the company hasn’t tipped off to what the “R” designation will mean for consumers.

Our best guess is the Brammo Empulse will be a naked version that is very similar to the Empulse prototype we’ve seen from day one, with some cosmetic updates of course, while the Brammo Empulse R will be a fully-faired sport bike that strikes a similar line to the Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike.

Asphalt & Rubber‘s Bothan spies report that the gearbox works incredibly well, allowing the Empulse to operate just like a standard street bike with shifting and gearing control. There’s still some debate as to whether electrics need trasmissions, let alone close-ratio six-speed transmissions, but we’ll leave that debate for another day.

Still not releasing any images of the new Empulse and Empulse R, Brammo will be taking the wraps off its latest bike on May 8th at an event to be held in Los Angeles. The unveiling will also be live-streamed on the web as well. Click after the jump for the full technical specifications of the 2012 Brammo Empulse R.

Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Technical Specifications and Development Video

03/19/2012 @ 12:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Unveiling the 2012 Ducati Desmosedici GP12 online today, Ducati not only gave us our first glimpse at the Ducati Corse team livery, but the Italian race team also “disclosed” the technical specifications of its MotoGP race bike. Of course the details are rather plain and vague, as not to give too much away, but there are some interesting things to point out. Producing 230+ hp and weighing 157 kg (346 lbs) dry, the GP12 is no slouch on paper.

Retaining the same 90° piston configuration, the V4 desmodromic motor has clearly been rotated backwards, as was rumored. This change is evidenced by the singular and solid radiator grill at the front of the fairings, and would allow Ducati Corse to move the engine’s center of mass back and forth in the chassis to a greater degree. Speaking of chassis, the 90% new factory GP12 features an aluminum twin-spar frame, which was designed by Ducati Corse and rumored to have been built by FTR.

This Desmosedici GP12 “Phoenix” chassis design will be exclusive to the Ducati Corse factory team in MotoGP for several races, with satellite teams likely to get the updated chassis design about a third of the way into the season. This means that satellite Ducati riders, like Karel Abraham, will use the Desmosedici “GP0″ design that debuted at the Valencia test after the conclusion of the 2011 season. It has certainly been a long road for Ducati in MotoGP this past season, and now we will see if all the hard work will pay off for the Italian company. Technical specifications and a couple videos are after the jump.

2013 Motus MST – 165hp, $30,975, Fall Production

03/16/2012 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler65 COMMENTS

Officially debuted last night to the masses of the Daytona Bike Week, the 2013 Motus MST broke cover in its production trim (the 2013 Motus MST-R is shown above), along with details about the bike’s final specs, pricing, and availability. As we reported earlier, the Motus MST will come without its originally planned gasoline direct injection (GDI), with the Motus team instead opting for direct port injection.

With the Motus MST priced at $30,975 and the Motus MST-R getting a price tag of $36,975, our earlier reports of a $30,000 price tag appear to be spot on as well. A “comfortable sportbike” as the American company is calling it, the Motus MST will initially be available at seven premium dealerships nationwide, though sadly none of them are west of the Rockies.

MV Agusta F3 675 Details MVICS Electronics Package

11/02/2011 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

MV Agusta must be feeling antsy about the upcoming EICMA show in Milan, as the Italian company first teased its MV Agusta Brutale 675 in a video last week, and today it has released the final specifications of its upcoming 2012 MV Agusta F3 motorcycle. While we’re sure the 126hp 675cc three-cylinder motor, with its 52lbs•ft of torque, will please the discerning supersport purchaser, MV Agusta is betting that its MVICS (Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System) electronics package is what is really going to get you excited about the Italian machine (did we mention it looks gorgeous too?). Clearly reading our thoughts that electronics are the new horsepower, the MV Agusta F3 675 is now the only supersport to boast ride-by-wire & traction control, and also comes along with optional wheelie and launch control vehicle dynamics.

Ducati Superquadro Engine

10/10/2011 @ 2:58 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Ducati has a new flagship Superbike coming out soon, if you hadn’t heard the news. Powering the Ducati 1199 Panigale is a new 90° v-twin motor dubbed the Superquadro (Ducati mini-site here), which the Italian company officially unveiled today. Confirming the specs we released back in November of last year, the power plant boasts 195hp and 98 lbs•ft of torque, making the Ducati Superquadro motor a new direction for Bologna, in more ways than one. For starters, the Superquadro is the first production motor in the company’s history that’s is fully-integrated into a bike’s chassis, thus putting final confirmation that the 1199 Panigale will use the MotoGP inspired “frameless” chassis design (not that we were really doubting this).

Deriving its name from the massively over-sqaure cylinder design, the Superquadro is the most powerful motor to come in a production motorcycle from the Bologna brand. Other highlights include the use of hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, ride-by-wire throttle actuation, 15,000 mile major service intervals, and a rider-selectable “riding mode” system. Boasting that the company built the Superquadro motor with a clean sheet of paper, the company has proven once again that there are no sacred cows in Bologna.

BRD RedShift Price & Specs – $14,995 (MX) / $15,495 (SM)

09/28/2011 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

After several months of testing and refining the BRD RedShift electric motorcycle, pricing and technical specifications from BRD Motorcycles has just graced our inbox. Wanting to make sure the BRD RedShift SM & RedShift MX lived up to the company’s hype, BRD has been reluctant to quote exact figures and prices until the San Francisco startup was confident it could back up those announcements with actual product performance. True to our prediction at the time of the BRD RedShift SM’s launch, the MX version will come with a $14,995 price tag, while the SM supermotard will tack on an extra $500 for a $15,495 MSRP.

Making 40 peak-horsepower, the BRD RedShift touts 250cc bike specs, especially with its 260/265 lbs (SM/MX) curb weight for street use (headlight and switchgear). In racing trim, both the SM & MX shed an additional 10 lbs. Because of the interest being generated in the police-style model (RedShift PD), BRD will make the model available with its more robust tail section, hard luggage, and more powerful electrical system for powering electrical components. These added components add an additional 35 lbs to the RedShift’s base weight, though the PD model is expected to be the company’s best selling model, as public and private fleet vehicles are increasingly pressured to include electrics into their vehicle pools.

Husqvarna Nuda 900/900R Technical Details

09/02/2011 @ 9:40 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Our favorite German-owned, Italian-based, Swedish brand has released some more images of its Husqvarna Nuda 900 and Husqvarna Nuda 900R street motards, and also disclosed some of the bikes’ technical specifications in the process as well. Using a fully-revamped BMW motor, Husqvarna has taken F800’s parallel-twin motor, and bored it out by 2mm (84mm total), as well as lengthened the stroke by 5.4mm (81mm), taking the 798cc motor to an 898cc displacement. Originally built as a 0º crank motor, Husqvarna has altered the crankshaft to a 315º configuration, which the company says creates a more aggressive feel to the bikes’ power delivery.

The compression ratio on the motor has also been raised from its BMW-spec, and comes with modified head gasket, camshafts, pistons, and conrods (along with a re-designed crankshaft). Additionally the intake and exhaust valves have been increased by 1mm, making them 33mm and 28.5mm respectively. With these modifications, both the base model Nuda 900 and higher-spec Nuda 900R will make 105 hp and 73.8 lbs•ft of torque. Still listing the curb weight for the Nuda 900R as sub-175kg (385 lbs), expect the Nuda 900 to weigh-in a few kilos heavier.

KTM Freeride Coming 2012 – Cheaper than €10,000

07/08/2011 @ 2:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As we reported back in March, KTM’s electric dirt bike is coming closer and closer to being ready for consumers, and now information has come out that it will be a 2012 model from the Austrian company. This information is in-line with a November EICMA debut that we’ve been hearing, but perhaps the most tantalizing news we’ve heard is the bike’s sub-€10,000 price tag in the EU. This would put the KTM Freeride (oh man, we hope that name gets changed) directly in competition with Swiss electric dirt bike manufacturer Quantya and American electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles, both of whom are in the sub-€10,000 category with their dirt bike offerings.