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.

Spotted: 2013 Triumph Daytona 675

10/19/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Expected only to get a modest makeover for the new model year, we now have proof that the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675 will bring us mostly only cosmetic upgrades in its new revision. Featuring a frame and updated bodywork, perhaps the most noticeable change to the Triumph Daytona 675 is the absence of an undertail exhaust on the three-cylinder supersport, which has been replaced with a GP-style side exhaust can and routing.

Anticipated to be receiving the same update as we saw with the 2013 Triumph Street Triple, the Daytona 675’s motor has likely been untouched, while the new frame and subframe assemblies benefit from a weight reduction (13 lbs on the Street Triple), and improved handling characteristics. We can likely expect similar gains on the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675, with the GP-style exhaust helping Triumph get past stricter European emissions standards.

Expect to see the official unveiling of the 2013 Triumph Daytona 675 at the EICMA show on November 12th. Two more photos are after the jump.

2013 Triumph Street Triple R – Loses Weight, Looks Hotter

10/02/2012 @ 5:07 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Speaking of triples at INTERMOT, Triumph is debuting the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R at the international bike show in Cologne. Using the same 105hp 675cc three-cylinder motor that we know and love, Triumph has revised the Street Triple’s chassis for better handling, and in the process dropped up to 13 lbs off the machine (403 lbs, fueled up and ready to ride).

While the motor remains untouched, Triumph did re-work the exhaust system, reportedly to help meet noise and emissions standard, but the design also helps the Triumph Speed Triple with its mass-centralization. Besides looking the business, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R comes with switchable ABS as a standard item, as well as an engine immobilizer (also standard). Rounding out the package is a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Triumph Trophy SE Priced at $18,999 for the USA

09/04/2012 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

When the Triumph Trophy SE broke cover earlier this June, the comparisons were quickly made between Britain’s most advanced motorcycle ever, and the German competition it was so clearly trying to emulate. While Triumph Trophy’s engineers and designers clearly took a long-look at the BMW R1200RT, and tried to improve upon the staple of a touring bike, Triumph’s marketers may have been asleep as the switch, as the Triumph Trophy SE has one thing the BMW does not: a bigger price tag.

Triumph Tiger Explorer XC Breaks Cover

09/01/2012 @ 3:02 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

If last year’s debut of the Triumph Tiger Explorer left you wanting a more off-road capable machine, then the British brand hopes that its now unveiled Triumph Tiger Explorer XC will suit your tastes. Featuring the same 135 hp / 89 lbs•ft 1215cc three cylinder motor as the Tiger Explorer, the Tiger Explorer XC primarily differentiates itself with its tubeless steel spoked wheels (19″ front, 17″ rear), and off-road accessories (hand guards, fog lights, engine crash bars, and an aluminum belly pan).

Like its on-road counterpart, the 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC also features a ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, cruise control, switchable anti-locking brakes (ABS) , and shaft-driven final drive. Expected to be in dealers by April 2013, Triumph has also tacked on a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, while service intervals are said to be every 10,000 miles. You can get the Triumph Explorer XC in any color you want, as long as it’s Khaki Green.

Triumph’s Proposed Plant in India Could Increase Production 10x – New Small-Displacement Bike Coming

07/17/2012 @ 8:44 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Like many other brands ahead of it, Triumph is getting ready to enter the Indian market in a serious way. Eyeing a piece of property in Narasapur in the Karnataka region of India, Triumph’s initial plan is to build a facility capable of producing 250,000 units per year, with an expansion plan that could double that number. Currently producing 50,000 units a year in its British and Thai facilities, Triumph’s move into India could increase the company’s production ten-fold per annum.

Said to be bringing mostly its full-size premium offerings to the Indian market, Triumph is also rumored to be working on a small-displacement single-cylinder motorcycle that could be developed with the Indian and Southeast Asian markets specifically in mind. With India’s premium motorcycle market still quite small, though growing, the initial quarter-million unit estimates from the British brand are sure to be heavily relying on this new small-displacement model, rumored to be called the Triumph Cub.

2013 Triumph Trophy – The Most Advanced Triumph Ever

06/22/2012 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

The rumors and spy photos were true, as for the past few years Triumph has been working on a proper touring motorcycle named the Triumph Trophy. A direct assault on the BMW R1200RT and its progeny, the Triumph Trophy SE boasts the title of being the most technologically advanced Triumph motorcycle, ever. As you can tell then, the Trophy comes in two trim flavors, with the Triumph Trophy SE boasting some impressive tech to earn its title. Accordingly, the British tourer comes with electronically adjustable suspension, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, electronic cruise control, linked anti-locking brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, as well as some other features.

While both models are shaft-driven and sport the same 132 bhp, 1215cc, three-cylinder motor that is found on the Triumph Explorer adventure-tourer, only the SE comes with the electronic suspension, audio package, and tire pressure monitoring system. Realizing that Americans and Canadians enjoy their gizmos, the Triumph Trophy SE will be the only variant coming to the North American market, while the SE and base model will be available in all the other Trophy markets.

Spy Photos: 2013 Triumph Street Triple

02/23/2012 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

British motorcycle manufacturer Triumph has really latched onto this whole spy photo concept, and its latest bike to be caught by the lenses of “spy photographers” is the 2013 Triumph Street Triple. Already getting a makeover like its larger sibling, the 2012 Triumph Speed Triple, the new Street Triple will keep its revised headlight shape (love it or hate it?), as well as other changes that include a low-slung exhaust, modified swingarm, and revised bodywork design.

Though we won’t be certain until the 2013 Triumph Street Triple’s official release, filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) indicate that the new Street Triple puts out the same emissions as the 2012 model. This could mean that the motor of the 2013 Street Triple has been untouched, or that Triumph has been able to squeak some more juice from the three-cylinder engine, while keeping emissions the same. We’ll have to wait and see how that pans out, until then enjoy the photos after the jump.

Joe Kopp & The Fastest Triumph at Pikes Peak

12/19/2011 @ 12:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As 2011 winds down, I’ve been going through some of my folders of old material that I wanted to publish earlier this year, but for some reason or another the article didn’t grace the front page of Asphalt & Rubber. One such story was the fastest Triumph ever to run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), which in 2011 was a Triumph Speed Triple raced by professional flat track star Joe Kopp.

If I were to say politics were at play with Kopp campaigning the Team Latus Triumph Speed Triple in the exhibition class of the PPIHC (along with Chip Yate’s electric superbike), then surely the metaphor would extend to the redrawing of the district lines at Pikes Peak, and may or may not have had something to do with the Ducati-dominated 1200cc class, where surely the Triumph properly belonged.

Read in between the lines as you will with that explanation of events, but at the end of the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Kopp, on his Triumph, was the overall second-fastest rider up The Mountain, winning the exhibition class in the process. Meanwhile Ducati, the official motorcycle of PPIHC, maintained its 1-3 double podium in the 1200cc class, which was lead by rookie rider, and A&R hetero-life partner Carlin Dunne.

Enigma 1050 – Britain’s Kit Motorcycle

12/12/2011 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Former British moto-journalist Jim Lindsay is behind one of the more intriguing motorcycle projects in the UK right now. Working from the list of contacts he’s made covering the motorcycle industry, Lindsay and his crew are building the Enigma 1050, a Triumph Speed Triple-powered custom sport bike.

Collaborating with the minds that bring us Tigcraft, K-Tech Suspension, Promach , and Dymag, the pedigree behind the Engima 1050 is already a promising one, but what intrigues us the most is that the Enigma crew is considering offering the bike as a kit build, in addition to a finished ready-to-ride motorcycle.

Triumph Posts 7% Sales Increase for First Half of 2011 – Announces Production in India

12/08/2011 @ 12:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

It may be nearly the end of the year, but the Triumph Motorcycles Group has released its financials for the first half of 2011 (Q1 2011 & Q2 2011). Selling 48,684 units worldwide, Triumph saw a 7% increase in unit sales when compared to the first half of 2010. This sales increase brought an 11% boost in revenue, which totaled £312.4 million. Triumph attributes the sales and revenue boost to the incremental models that have been added to the range, like the Triumph Tiger 800/800XC and Triumph Daytona 675R.

The company’s operating profit also grew over the same time period, with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growing from £15.1 million to £22.3 million. This 47% gain in income is quite the coup for the small British brand, which is showing strong performance in an otherwise horrible market. With the 500cc motorcycle market down nearly 50% from where it was before the recession, 2011 has similarly been doom and gloom, down nearly 7% worldwide, though the turbulent sales numbers do appear to be bottoming out.