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 Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

04/08/2014 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes.

The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model.

The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW — the thought is that the “M” model could be a MotoGP inspired bike, however that is just conjecture at this point.

24,000 Yamaha YZF-R1 & Super Ténéré Bikes Recalled

02/25/2014 @ 11:51 am, by Bryan Delohery3 COMMENTS

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Yamaha USA has announced that they will be recalling a combined 24,000 units of the 2012-2013 Yamaha Super Ténéré and 2009-2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 models, due to heat expansion in the headlight.

The heat expansion could cause potential failure of the headlight, which would reduce visibility of the motorcycle to oncoming traffic and increasing the risk of a crash.

2014 Yamaha YZF-R1 Race Blu Debuts at Silverstone

08/30/2013 @ 3:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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Love it or hate it, Yamaha’s “Race Blu” livery is back for a bevy for Yamaha’s 2014 models, including the 2014 Yamaha YZF-R1 and 2014 Yamaha YZF-R6. Debuting in Silverstone during the British GP, the special livery is supposedly based off the colors that the factory Yamaha Racing team uses in MotoGP, except for the minor detail that the special color scheme really looks nothing like the livery currently found on Lorenzo or Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1 race bikes (expect a livery change in Misano, perhaps?).

That being said, it is an attractive design with its matte black and shiny blue paint, and the Race Blu livery should help sell a few more units for Yamaha, as we have gotten word that the R1 and R6 will go without a refresh for the upcoming model year…again. Last year the Race Blu painted bikes stayed in Europe, and we expect the same for this year as well. Sigh…maybe 2015 will have some surprises in the sport bike category from the tuning fork brand.

Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple

10/02/2012 @ 3:18 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Debuting a three-cylinder concept at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Yamaha is teasing the hypothesis of a tuning-fork brand triple with a crossplane crankshaft.

A technology that was developed in MotoGP for Yamaha YZR-M1, and then handed down to the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2009, the unique qualities of the crossplane inline-four cylinder motor has been a key component to Yamaha’s potent, yet ridable machines.

Taking that same idea, and then applying it to a three-cylinder engine, Yamaha hopes to create a new motor that will appeal to street riders.

More Photos of How Yamaha Blu Itself

09/17/2012 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Debuted at the San Marino GP, Yamaha’s new Race-Blu livery is set to black & blue the European market when it hits dealers this October (December for the R125). While we still get the tasty Graves Yamaha inspired Team Yamaha Blue/White, you might be longing for the matte grey and vivid primary blue color scheme that Jorge Lorenzo rode to victory at Misano this past weekend.

Coming to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1, 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6, & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R125, the Race-Blu livery is very fetching, so it is a bit of a shame that we won’t be seeing it here in the USA. Maybe if we Americans hold our breath until we go blue in the face, Yamaha USA may consider it as a mid-model year option (not likely).

Don’t feel blue though, we can still live vicariously through our European brethren. More photos of how Yamaha Blu itself after the jump. There’s gotta be a better way to say that.

New Colors Only for the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/12/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Unless Yamaha has some Steve Jobs-esque “one more thing” trick up its sleeve for its 2013 sport bike line, fans of the tuning fork brand should prepare themselves for a color and graphics package-only update to the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 & 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6.

Simply stating that the “2013 YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 come back in a variety of new and exciting colors,” Yamaha’s press release is void of any mentioning of an update to the R1 or R6’s electronics package or other technical add-ons, let alone any revision to the major components of the machines.

With Honda already showing us its re-styled Honda CBR1000RR for 2012, and Kawasaki and Suzuki expected to stay the course with their liter-bike models, it would seem the only guaranteed change in sport bike offerings from the Big 4 for 2013 is the revamped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, which sees the same chassis outfitted with a 636cc motor and new bodywork. Humpf.

What is perhaps more interesting is that there appears to be no movement from Yamaha or Suzuki in bringing a 250cc class sport bike to the American market — thus leaving all the quarter-liter fun to Honda and Kawasaki. Photos of the 2013 Yamaha YZF-R1 are after the jump.

Yamaha’s 180hp Adventure Bike is Our Kind of Crazy

03/25/2012 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

When you think of the ultimate adventure bike, your first thoughts probably lean more towards bikes like the class-leading BMW R1200GS. If we continue that thought, and said that the ultimate ADV machine was in fact a Yamaha, you would of course then expect to see the subsequent words to center around the Yamaha Super Ténéré (read our review of the Yamaha Super Ténéré here).

Well, someone in Yamaha’s French office is our flavor of crazy, as they let six-time Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel loose in the sand dunes of Merzouga, Morocco on a Yamaha YZF-R1. Shod with exquisitely hand-cut Michelin tires, Peterhansel flexes the 180bhp machine over the dunes with proper rallying style.

Truly gorgeous shots, if it is available in your area, you’ll want to pick up the latest copy of L’Intégral magazine to see them in the gloss and read Peterhansel’s thoughts on riding the R1 in its non-native habitat.

Video: Ben Spies & The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1

09/26/2011 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

We’re not sure if Ben Spies drives a shaggin’ wagon when he goes to track days, or if he spaces out during the rider briefing with a lollipop firmly planted in his mouth, but trouncing the other riders with his “advanced” status sounds about par for the course for the GP racer. Helping Yamaha sell the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 and its “born from MotoGP” traction control system, Spies plays the star in another video from the Japanese manufacturer.

Riding his 50th WGP Anniversary R1 out to some unidentified track for a bit two-wheeled schooling for some other Yamaha riders, we’re not really so sure about the story involved with this video, but as far as motorcycle industry videos go, it is not the worst we’ve seen. The photography, on the other hand, is stunning. Photos and video after the jump.

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 – Traction Control Cometh

09/14/2011 @ 10:20 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

The 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 has broken cover, and the biggest feature the lightly tweaked liter-class bike boasts is a new seven-level traction control system (for our brothers in arms across the pond, a six-level traction system is being used…consider that punishment for your European ways). Other material changes include a revised engine map for smoother power delivery in the lower and middle rpms, while the footrests, triple clamps, headlight marker lamps, front cowl, and exhaust guards & end caps have also been revamped for 2012. More after the jump.

The Yamaha MotoGP Replicas You Can’t Buy

05/12/2011 @ 3:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

If you’re reading this post, then you are already too late to own a Yamaha YZF-R1 with MotoGP replica bodywork. For starters, the bikes were offered by Yamaha France, making local delivery here in the US a little challenging, even if you could pony up the €15,999 ($22,750) asking price. Second, race replica R1’s were gone almost immediately after being offered on the French website. If the price seems a bit steep, consider the fact that the machine would be delivered in person at the French GP by its appropriate MotoGP rider (there’s also a bit of Yamaha and team swag involved in the purchase price).

If you’re a die hard Lorenzo, Spies, Edwards, or Crutchlow fan, this opportunity by Yamaha France would probably be a once in a lifetime moment, but what we think is really special is that Yamaha left the Japanese support stickers on the bikes’ livery, not only drawing further ties to the MotoGP machines, but also noting a point in time that changed Japan, the world, and the motorcycle community…good stuff. More photos after the jump, but be forewarned that the yellow and black Tech3 paint scheme is extra drool-worthy on the R1.