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.

Honda Trademarks “RC213V-S” in Europe

11/03/2014 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Adding more fuel to the fire, concerning Honda’s long-awaited V4 production superbike, the Japanese manufacturer has registered the trademark “RC213V-S” with the European Union.

As MotoGP fans should already know, next year’s production race bike will be called the Honda RC213V-RS, which should make the more plain “S” designation sound suspiciously like a street-going model.

Not exactly the most glamorous name for a road bike, especially one of this stature, one could not fault Honda for wanting to draw a link between the production model and its GP-racing lineage.

And More Photos of the Suzuki Extrigger Electric Concept

11/27/2013 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A brand better known for trotting out the same “timeless” designs each year, Suzuki seems to be finally waking up from its recession-induced slumber, and debuted two intriguing motorcycle concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.

We already showed you today more photos of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion street bike concept (please Suzuki, build this bike), and the Japanese OEM has shown a shining for the budding electric segment as well.

The Suzuki Extrigger electric concept is an interesting machine, as its form factor is very similar to the Honda Grom. Using the same electric motor as the company’s Suzuki E-Let’s scooter, we can assume that the Extrigger is packing the same unimpressive figures of 2hp and 11 lbs•ft of torque as the E-Let, though Suzuki does say that the Extrigger weighs a paltry 137 lbs, which is alluring.

More Photos of the Turbo-Powered Suzuki Recursion

11/27/2013 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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Forced-induction was the trend du jour at the Tokyo Motor Show, with Kawasaki showing off a supercharged four-cylinder engine and with Suzuki debuting its turbocharged Recursion concept.

While Team Green is being tightlipped with what exactly its up to (all we know is that the supercharged motorcycle engine has been developed completely in-house), Suzuki is more keen with teasing its machine.

Releasing some more photos of the Suzuki Recursion, this bike is looking like a winner to us, with its water-cooled 588cc twin-cylinder engine that features an intercooled turbocharger.

Suzuki says the engine package is just shy of 100hp at 8,000 rpm, with peak torque coming in at 74 lbs•ft at 4,500 rpm. The Suzuki Recursion is also quoted as being 384 lbs dry.

Looks Like the Yamaha PES1 Electric Street Bike Is a Runner

11/20/2013 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Last week when Yamaha debuted its electric street bike concept, the Yamaha PES1, we thought it looked like a well-though out concept machine that gave the tuning fork brand some street cred for thinking about a future with electric motorcycles. After all, the Japanese company was light on details, and certain parts of the bike seemed a bit more Star Trek than reality. Turns out we were wrong.

Releasing a video of the Yamaha PES1 testing on the track, it’s clear that the concept is fully-functional (just like Data), which means Yamaha has set its phasers to stun with this 100kg machine. From the cuts of this quick YouTube flick, Yamaha seems as serious as a Borg cube with its electric project, which only adds to the intrigue on when they could debut a proper production model.

Maybe with the rumors about Honda being behind the Mugen Shinden project, Yamaha didn’t want Big Red to get too far ahead in the EV game. Whatever the case may be, we like it…even more than Klingon gagh.

Kawasaki J Concept – A Green Outlook on the Future

11/20/2013 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Sometimes we like our concept motorcycles to be funky, and the Kawasaki J Concept certainly delivers in that department. Debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show a vision on what the future of motorcycling could become, the Kawasaki J is an electric trike/quad with a variable riding position/chassis configuration.

Not too dissimilar from the Yamaha Tesseract, the J Concept is an interesting exercise in design and technology proposals, and could be the future of leaning-trikes and similar vehicles. What are your thoughts?

Kawasaki Debuts Supercharged Four-Cylinder Engine

11/20/2013 @ 1:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The start of the Tokyo Motor Show is today, if you haven’t already noticed, and it looks like the Japanese OEMs have saved their best models for the home court advantage this year, with all four of the Big Four having something special for Tokyo.

Yamaha’s big announcement of course is the nearly-ready-for-production Yamaha R25 concept, a 250cc two-cylinder sport bike that Valentino Rossi says “packs quite a punch.” The tuning fork brand also has its more fanciful concepts to show-off, chiefly the Yamaha PES1 electric street bike and the Yamaha PED1 electric dirt bike.

Suzuki is in the mix as well, with its turbocharged Recursion concept, as well as its electric monkey bike, the Extrigger concept. Both of these motorcycles look like a hoot to ride, for very different reasons of course.

Not wanting to be left out on the forced-induction warpath, Kawasaki has its own blower for the two-wheeled world. Showcasing a supercharged four-cylinder engine at its booth, Kawasaki says it developed the turbine and motor in-house, and hints that we will see this in a motorcycle model in the near future.

Yamaha R25 Concept — Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

11/20/2013 @ 7:45 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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Feeling the pressure to develop a 250cc sport bike for developing markets, Yamaha has finally released some details on the upcoming Yamaha R25, and we like what we see so far. A two-cylinder machine with racing in its blood, Yamaha’s concept is like a mini Yamaha YZR-M1 — devoid of lights and mirrors — and features racing livery with an Akrapovic exhaust to match.

The Yamaha R25 concept is an encouraging sign from Yamaha, even if what we are looking is a concept bike rather than a production-ready model.

But still, Yamaha’s approach in styling the Yamaha R25 to visually look like a miniature M1 is going to payoff huge dividends in Southeast Asia, where the bulk of the models are going to be sold, and where Rossi and Lorenzo have massive droves of fans. For us in the western world, well this bike just looks hot. We want one already.

Yamaha PED1 Concept — Electrics Are About to Get Dirty

11/12/2013 @ 10:57 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The off-road counterpart to Yamaha’s electric Yamaha PES1 concept street bike, the Yamaha PED1 concept is the second electric motorcycle concept that Yamaha intends to debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Like its on-road sibling, the PED1 features a monocoque chassis, along with a DC brushless motor, automatic/manual transmission, and a swappable lithium-ion battery pack.

The core of the Yamaha PED1 appears to be exactly the same as the Yamaha PES1, which one could easily be chalked up to a Yamaha designer reusing renders for each bike. However, the repurposing of the core components showcases a strong element of electric vehicles: their ability to use truly modular designs.

Yamaha PES1 Concept – Another OEM Considers Electrics

11/12/2013 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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The Tokyo Motor Show is next week, and while we expect Honda to debut the Honda Gold Wing F6C at the show, it looks like Yamaha is set to make some waves as well. Teasing four concept motorcycles, two have caught our interest. First up is the Yamaha PES1 concept, which is an electric sport bike with a DC brushless motor and lithium-ion battery.

Yamaha is light on details, and we can imagine that the concepts are meant more to illustrate that the tuning fork brand is “thinking about” electrics, as is the vogue with OEMs at the moment. However, the design is interesting, especially with Yamaha suggesting that the battery pack, called the Yamaha Smart Power Module, is swappable on the sub-100kg machine.

Suzuki EXTRIGGER: An Electric Monkey Bike?

10/29/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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In addition to the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, Suzuki has also teased its electric-powered EXTRIGGER concept ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show.

The pint-sized Suzuki EXTRIGGER draws some obvious cues from the Honda Grom and it seems impossible not to compare the two machines to each other — they even share a similar mission statement: “to give more people the chance to find out the fun of motorcycle.”

Suzuki has gone a step further than Honda though, with the EXTRIGGER sporting an electric drivetrain — borrowed from the Suzuki e-Let electric scooter . The choice is a well-thought-out one, as the limited range and power that is surely to be expected from a bike like the Grom fits in line with what a machine like the EXTRIGGER can offer a rider as well.