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 CEO Confirms V4 Sport Bike Project is Underway

09/20/2012 @ 10:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

It has been a long time coming with this announcement, but Honda has finally officially announced that work has begun on what is presumed to be a V4 sport bike. In the same vein as the Honda RC30 that was introduced back in 1987, Honda has apparently seen the light, and according to the company’s own words, the company has started “with a goal to create a new history.”

Announcing the new model in his end-of-the-fiscal year speech, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito was terse with his words in describing the new Honda sport bike, but referencing the RC30 project, along with heavy rumors that we have been hearing about a V4 street bike project in the works that was being based of Honda’s MotoGP program — this almost assures that the bike referenced is a V4 superbike based loosely on the RC213V race bike.

2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted – The Inline-Four Cometh?

05/23/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The eagle-eyed camera’s over at Cycle World have caught Suzuki conducting tests for its MotoGP project, and the early indications are that the Japanese brand has dropped its V4 motor configuration in favor of a more traditional transverse inline-four cylinder arrangement — at least for this present stage of testing.

Cycle World‘s sources say that while the cylinder configuration may be fairly standard, the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R is anything but your typical four-pot. Showing the makings of a crossplane crankshaft via the bike’s exhaust routing, it would seem Suzuki has taken a page out of Yamaha YZR-M1‘s playbook, with rideablility being the name of the game. If you are keen for a good read, checkout Kevin Cameron’s article on Cycle World for more pictures and his analysis of what they mean for Suzuki’s MotoGP prototype.

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.

New Ducati Desmosedici GP12 is 90% New Says Preziosi – But Will It Be an L-Four?

01/11/2012 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

On what typically would be the formal unveiling of Ducati’s next GP race bike, Ducati Corse General Manager Filippo Preziosi stood alone on the stage at Madonna di Campiglio, and instead talked briefly about the “totally new” GP12, while fielding questions from the assembled press. Releasing very little information about the team’s off-season progress, Preziosi shared very few concrete details about the new Ducati Desmosedici GP12 (you could also read that sentence to mean that the assembled press failed to press for more detailed information concerning the GP12…it really could go either way). From what information could be gleaned from Preziosi, we now know that that the new GP12 is comprised of roughly 90% new parts when compared the previous iterations of the MotoGP contender.

Expected visually to look similar the GP12’s of the past, the finalized GP12 will have an aluminum perimeter-style frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and a better balance with the motor placement. Declining to state the angle of the cylinder heads, Preziosi added some more fuel to the fire and speculation that the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 will not have a 90° cylinder arrangement. At the very least, the GP12 will allow for greater adjustment with the engine placement specs, as well as the overall geometry of the motorcycle. This should help Ducati Corse develop the GP12 over the course of the season, and set it up better for each race circuit. However, Preziosi did caution that the team was trying to compress two years worth of R&D into three months, a daunting task to say the least.

Motus KMV4 Motor Will Be Available as a Crate Motor

08/10/2011 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Talking to Lee Conn when Motus was on its US tour here in California, the Motus founder revealed that part of Motus’s business plan incorporates selling the Katech-designed KMV4 motor as a crate motor for enthusiasts and tuners. Though the Motus MST motorcycles will be using a 1,645cc 160+ hp version of the gasoline direct injection (GDI) motor, Katech and Motus have left plenty of beef to the KMV4’s cyclinder housings, allowing the V4 lump to be bored out to a 2L displacement.

Rumor: Honda Working on a 1,000cc V4 Sportbike

05/26/2011 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Fanned by a recent article in Motorcyclist (and an earlier article in MCN from the same author), rumors abound that Honda is working on a 1,000cc V4 sportbike, likely to be called the RVF1000R. A supplement to Honda’s superbike offering, and not a replacement to the CBR line, the new RVF would be a more premium superbike offering, differentiating itself from its inline-four cousin in a similar manner as the Rc-45 and RC-51 motorcycles did in previous decades.

If rumors are to be believed, we could see the new Honda V4 as early as the end of this year, with the major differentiation over the CBR1000RR being both the RVF1000R’s price, performance, and exclusivity. If done properly, the new Honda superbike could be an opportunity for the Japanese company to build some brand value beyond making cheap & reliable motorcycles. While the Japanese manufacturers have a reputation for making quality bikes, their work has never been translated into lifestyle status brand value, which is something a premium superbike could help foster.

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/01/2011 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Obiboi has done up a Kenny Roberts paint scheme version as well. Find it after the jump.

Do you dream of Yamaha producing a V4 sport bike? How about naked-variant that supplants the popular FZ1? Does a carbon/aluminum trellis frame work for you, with a titanium exhaust of course? If you answered yes to these questions, and envision such a bike late a night when you’re forming your dream garage in, then Oberdan Bezzi has just the concept sketch for you.

Drawing on the same 1,000cc fairing-less street bike theme as the FZ1, Bezzi imagines a Yamaha with a forward-tilted V4 motor that has an almost perpendicular cylinder arrangement, and is capable of being a platform with worldly appeal.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/02/2010 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Not to be confused with the Africa Twin, which would be missing two cylinders, Honda returns to its rugged off-road expedition-style adventure past with the Honda Crosstourer Concept. Based on the Honda VFR1200F’s V4 motor and dual-clutch transmission, the Crosstourer concept is designed to be the rugged off-roader that the Crossrunner and VFR1200F are not.

2011 Honda Crossrunner

11/02/2010 @ 2:53 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Finally unveiled, this is the much-hyped 2011 Honda Crossrunner that Honda has been releasing sketches of for the past month. A 782cc 90° V4 that’s derived from the VFR800 series, Crossrunner’s liquid-cooled, DOHC motor makes 102hp and 54 lbs•ft of torque. Honda hopes the Crossrunner will fill in a gap that is a cross between a naked street bike and an adventure bike, but has been very clear that it intends the Crossrunner to be a road-only machine (the Honda Crosstourer Concept should fill the off-road need just fine).

Sans a shaft-drive, the Honda Crossrunner will come with a chain final drive, uses an evolution of the VFR’s VTEC valve system for its 16 valves, and features Honda’s combined-ABS braking system. Road warriors get excited because the 2011 Honda Crossrunner comes with a 5.68 gallon tank. The only downside? The Honda Crossrunner is 530lbs when its on the curb. Photos and technical specifications after the jump.