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.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

09/06/2014 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before.

We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations.

Yamaha MT-09 Worldcrosser Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/27/2014 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We already showed you the concept by Oberdan Bezzi for a Yamaha MT-09 based Ténéré adventure-tourer, but we thought we would up the ante now that the Italian designer has inked a “Worldcrosser” version of the three-cylinder machine as well.

Complete with knobbies, and over 150 lbs lighter than the 1,200cc Super Ténéré, the Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Worldcrosser could also boast a sticker price that is nearly half that of the venerable ADV bike from Yamaha.

It might just be a drawing, but there is something about this concept that really has us excited. To keep the creative juices rolling, there is a café racer version of the Yamaha MT-09 after the jump as well. Could this become the new “go-to” platform for customizers? At $7,990 MSRP, it just might be.

Yamaha MT-09 Ténéré Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/19/2014 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha FZ-09, or the Yamaha MT-09 as it’s known outside of the USA, has become a big win for the tuning fork brand. A fun three-cylinder machine that has enough pep to carve up the canyons, yet also has a relaxed enough riding position to handle commuting duties, the Yamaha FZ-09 really wins our hearts and minds with its dirt-cheap price tag of $7,990 MSRP.

We’re not alone in our opinion, as the MT-09 has done so well in the global market, that Yamaha built off the buzz and released its two-cylinder cousin: the Yamaha MT-07.

If the Japanese OEM truly is eyeing more three-cylinder machines, we are excited for the prospect. Oberdan Bezzi is excited too, as the Italian designer has imagined his own interpretation of what Yamaha could do with the MT-09 line.

2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally – Three Cylinders of Hoon

11/07/2013 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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We wouldn’t call it a new model from Yamaha, but one of the new releases from the tuning fork brand at the 2013 EICMA show is the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally.

A collection of bolt-on pieces for your Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 for us Americans), the Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally started life as dealer-made bike in Europe, but Yamaha liked it so much it has become an official option when buying the new three-cylinder street bike.

A pretty aggressive working over on the otherwise conservative MT-09, the Street Rally includes new fuel tank shrouds, side number plates, and fork covers, which give the MT-09 a more supermotard look.

The Yamaha MT-09 Street Rally is also trimmed in a “Tech Graphite” paint scheme; and lastly, headlight covers, knuckle guards, along with wider footrests and a slimmer seat complete the package.

2014 Yamaha MT-07 — Two Cylinders of Value

11/04/2013 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Releasing the Yamaha FZ-09 (the Yamaha MT-09 for you Europeans) this year with much success, Yamaha seems set to do an encore performance, having taken the wraps off the 2014 Yamaha MT-07 tonight in Milan.

Whereas the FZ-09 was powered by a 850cc three-cylinder engine, the MT-07 makes-do with a 270-degree crank 689cc parallel twin lump, which is good for 74hp and 50 lbs•ft of torque. Other key figures are the Yamaha MT-07’s 395 lbs wet weight and 3.69 gallon fuel tank.

Yamaha MT-DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/18/2013 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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By now you have surely seen the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 naked/standard/street bike from our favorite tuning fork brand. Featuring a 847cc three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 65 lbs•ft of torque, all within a 414 lbs curbside hulk, the FZ-09 has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is the bike’s $7,999 price tag.

Like we said in our first assessment of the Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha has really hit the nail on the head with a solid middleweight street bike, save for a few design elements that look a bit off to our eyes. We aren’t too worried about it though — an aftermarket exhaust here, a couple cosmetic tweaks there, and just about any motorcyclists can stamp the FZ-09 with their own unique look.

The first of many triples to come from Yamaha, it is easy (perhaps too easy, reading some of the comments left here on A&R) to put the Yamaha FZ-09 into other market segments.

With some longer suspension and armor, an adventure bike could be born from the FZ-09. Just as easily, put some saddlebags, a taller windscreen, and change the ergonomics a tad, and a sport-tourer you have…and that’s exactly what Luca Bar has done here with his Yamaha MT-DM 850 concept.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 – Three Cylinders of Naked

06/11/2013 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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With its European counterpart, the 2014 Yamaha MT-09 dropping earlier today, America too will be getting a 847cc three-cylinder naked bike for the 2014 model year, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. Replacing the Yamaha FZ8 in the Japanese company’s line-up, the FZ-09 is the first motorcycle from the tuning fork brand to sport the Yamaha’s new line of three-cylinder engines.

The Yamaha FZ-09 comes about as the MIC is reporting its second-consecutive year of growth in the 751+cc sport bike segment, as well as increase in commuter riding over short-distance sport riding.

With those trends in mind, Yamaha has punched out the displacement on its middleweight naked bike, and focused on giving riders a comfortable, yet stout, motorcycle. Priced at $7,990 MSRP, we think Yamaha hit the nail pretty much on the head with this one.