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.

Video: Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang

07/06/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

If you’ve ever gotten a mouthful of hairspray before (we were awkward children growing up), then you surely know the need to get a bad taste out of your mouth. Helping us get over our magnificient indifference regarding Husqvarna’s latest video is this short clip from our friends over in Spain, Radical Ducati. In case you haven’t heard of these guys, they take junked-out Ducatis (typically air-cooled), do a bit of a parts bin mash-up, and create eye-catching pieces of two-wheeled goodness for all of us to enjoy.

Their designs are cleverly creative and very pleasing on the retinal units, but yet also have a certain gritty quality that makes for a good juxtaposition to the prim and proper Ducati brand. As for the video, its does a pretty good job of showing the Radical Ducati RAD02 Pursang sitting there and looking pretty, though the go-fast addict in us really wants to see the Radical Ducati RAD 02 Corsa EVO make some laps around (insert famous Spanish circuit here). Ehh boys? Video and 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!

2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS – $39,999 MSRP

06/11/2011 @ 5:25 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has a new website, and with it comes more information about the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike. With only 100 bikes being made, the 175hp v-twin rocket ship weighs only 389 lbs wet (without fuel though), which for the spec-sheet racers should be plenty to drool over. That sort of exclusivity and performance will cost you dearly though, as the the EBR 1190RS is going to hit your wallet for $39,999 (roughly the price of a well-packaged mini-van), and if you want the extra-drool worthy carbon edition, that’ll be another $4,000 added to the price tag.

When the 100 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bikes are sold though, EBR will be able to go racing in the AMA Pro Racing circuit (EBR missed its goal to race at Infineon and now seems likely for Barber, or Mid-Ohio) with the 1190cc race bike. Erik Buell Racing is currently campaigning in the American Superbike series with Geoff May on an 1125RR, which is down on power compared to the other bikes according to the race team.

The $40,000 price tag is going to be quite the hurdle for Buell and his crew, though finding 100 enthusiasts shouldn’t be an impossible task. If $40,000 isn’t your cup of tea for a motorcycle, it would seem Buell and his crew have you covered there, as the company is teasing three new models: the RX, SX, and AX. Let the speculation begin on what those models could be, full tech-specs on the 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS and photos are after the jump.

Honda NSF250R Moto3 Bike

06/02/2011 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The wait is finally over, as Honda has completely taken the wraps off its 2012 Honda NSF250R Moto3 race bike. Launched at the Catalan GP today, the 250cc four-stroke machine will be one of several options aspiring MotoGP riders will pilot around in the Moto3 Championship. The new NSF250R incorporates a front-intake/rear-exhaust configuratiom, while the cylinder has been tilted back 15° to help concentrate the bike’s mass.

Titanium valves help power throughout the rev range, and the cylinder design reduces friction between piston and cylinder by offsetting the cylinder centerline and applying nickel silicon carbide (Ni-SiC) for the cylinder surface treatment. Matted to the motor is a six-speed gearbox, while the frame is based off the RS125R design, with modifications to suit the power delivered by the four-stroker. Total cost: €23,600, VAT included (Spain). Full technical specs are after the jump.

2011 Rizla Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP Race Bike Unveiled

03/10/2011 @ 2:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Finally we have all the factory MotoGP bikes officially unveiled in their race liveries (click for the Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha unveilings). Surprising everyone this year with a teal color scheme, Rizla Suzuki is still present in MotoGP, albeit only running one rider for the 2011 season. Taking to the helm of the 2011 Suzuki GSV-R is Alvaro Bautista, who has shown great promise on the otherwise lackluster race bike.

Despite its troubled past, Suzuki has been working hard on turning its toad into a prince, and could be the surprise entry in this year’s MotoGP Championship. We don’t expect the bike to win any races, but a couple surprise podiums do seem attainable for the squad. Photos and technical specifications after the jump.

Primer: The Ducati Diavel

03/03/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Tomorrow Asphalt & Rubber must make the trek down from perfect Northern California, to SoCal and the pits of Los Angeles, where dreams go to die. As we descend down through the lower rings of Dante’s ladder and into hell that is the perpetually sunny and warm Los Angeles, our final destination will in fact bring us face-to-face with The Devil himself. Riding the latest creation from Bologna, the American motorcycle press will get its first chance at the highly anticipated Ducati Diavel.

Since we’ll be bringing you live coverage from the event, and writing a few pieces on Ducati’s stab at the performance cruiser segment throughout the rest of the week, we thought it best to start with a primer on the motorcycle. Find after the jump the 2011 Ducati Diavel‘s technical specs, photographs, and design synthesis, and features.

2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 Technical Specifications

02/21/2011 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Along with the official unveiling of the 2011 Yamaha MotoGP team & livery, the Japanese manufacturer has also released photos of the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1, with accompanying technical specifications. Unsurprisingly, Yamaha is keeping many of its exact specifications close to the chest, but test reports indicate that a refined chassis, and a slightly more powerful motor have been added to the 2011 YZR-M1.

Radical Ducati Mikaracer

02/14/2011 @ 5:55 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The Spanish custom bike scene continues to warm our hearts as Radical Ducati (Happy 10th year anniversary guys!) has just created another v-twin masterpiece. Taking a Ducati Superbike 1098 frame and motor, RAD has worked its touches into this desmodromic dreamboat with its usual flare. It’s easy to spot the Spanish team’s design ideas and inspirations that we’ve seen on some of its other bikes, but the exhaust on this Ducati Mikaracer certainly stands out as something unique and special.

Part GP racer, part street tracker, the asymetrical mounting might have our OCD in a tizzy, but the result is also very striking and sounds oh so good (check the video after the jump). The tail section on the Mikaracer also pops-out, if for no other reason than the fact it looks like it was removed from a giant hornet’s thorax (you almost want to drag the Spanish equivalent of the DMV into the street for ruining things with that license plate and holder though), which is becoming a hallmark feature for RAD’s bikes. Photos, video, and technical/build specs after the jump.

Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – Christmas Comes Late in Italy

01/12/2011 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

If you are a Ducati owner, Valentino Rossi Fan, Italian, or have more than a passing interest in MotoGP, then today is the day you’ve had marked on your 2011 calendar (with perhaps the Valencia test being the date of 2010). Finally released from his contractual obligations with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi can officially begin his duties working for Ducati Corse this week, and Ducati has already capitalized on the moment by showing off Rossi’s new leathers to great fanfare. Now the pièce de résistance and the end to our torment, Ducati has finally debuted the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at the 2011 Wrooom media event, a joint launch event between Ferrari and Ducati held in the Dolomite Mountains.

How Did the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 Lose 20 lbs?

12/27/2010 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Perhaps a bike that hasn’t gotten enough press after its debut at Intermot, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 managed to shed roughly 20 lbs from its supersport design, making Suzuki the 600cc class leader once again, at least on paper. Suzuki was the only Japanese manufacturer to update its Supersport line for the new year, and instead of a casual redesign (although the GSX-R 600 doesn’t stray far from its predecessor’s aesthetic), the Hamamatsu-based company made a number of technical changes that focused around massively lowering the bike’s sprung and un-sprung mass.

While the styling might remain a little vanilla, we sure do like that spec sheet coming from Suzuki. Tipping the scales at 413 lbs wet (shazzam!), the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 makes the same 123hp at the crank as the previous model, but presumably with better components (note the Brembo monoblocs and Showa Big Piston forks). Continue past the jump to see Suzuki America’s Derek Schoeberle explain where Suzuki made improvements to the GSX-R 600.