There are numerous obstacles to streetbike ownership for young adults, including how fewer children are even riding bicycles these days, never mind motorcycles, as I discussed in my latest Duke’s Den editorial. So, for an entry-level bike to overcome the hurdle into motorcycling, it has to be cool enough to push the desirability scale past the point of trepidation.
Reader responses to MO’s MV Agusta reviews typically involve a few common themes: Some note how beautiful the bikes are. Others comment on the performance. Many mention both of these points, followed by grief because their nearest MV dealer is several hundred miles away. For these readers, and surely others like them, it’s this lack of dealer support that keeps them from pulling the trigger on an MV Agusta.
Last week you read the book, now see the Feature Film shot on location in exotic Lanzarote in glorious digital color! Okay, it’s more of a 5-minute video. Some of it is me blathering, but most of it is actual Ducati engineers who built this thing talking about it in their own words: Marco Sairu, Paolo Quatrino and Federico Sabbioni. Also some nice running footage – again some of it me, and some of it a professional rider. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments that won’t dent my fragile ego.
Yamaha’s been on a roll lately, with bikes like the FZ-09, FJ-09 and FZ-07 stealing headlines by proving that affordable and competent motorcycles aren’t synonymous with dull and boring. If that wasn’t enough, Yamaha also unleashed the new YZF-R1 and R1M to the masses, showing the world in one swift kick how far it can push the boundaries of technology on two wheels.
Seems like only yesterday Ducati summoned us to Spain to ride its new 2013 Multistrada 1200 with 11-degree Testastretta engine and Skyhook active suspension. So advanced. A scant two years later, that bike is so two years ago. The new Multistrada is completely overhauled, with nary a part carried over from the old one save the four sparkplugs.
In case it wasn’t clear from my 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M First Ride Review, I’m a big fan of both bikes. The complete revamp of Yamaha’s flagship sportbike was a dramatic move, but the incorporation of electronics and technologies directly from MotoGP has made the new R1 duo incredibly impressive machines. Traction control, lift control, slide control, among many others, are just a few of the rider aids seen on the new R1, with development work assisted by none other than Valentino Rossi and Josh Hayes. In fact, the slide control feature is a technology that was only first seen on Rossi’s M1 MotoGP bike in 2012!
After years of manufacturers serving the high end of the motorcycle market, we’re happy to acknowledge the OEMs for finally devoting engineering resources to the entry-level sporty-bike crowd. Honda’s CBR250R upped the class ante a few years ago, forcing Kawasaki to upgrade its Ninja 250 into a Ninja 300, which then begat the CBR300R and its CB300F naked/standard stablemate.
Cresting the hill coming onto the front straight at Sydney Motorsport Park (better known as Eastern Creek Raceway), the throttle is wide open in second gear. As I click into third, the front comes up, rests at a neutral position about a foot off the ground, then gently returns to Earth moments later. All the while, the throttle was resting on the stop. Drive never felt interrupted, and despite the roughly 200 horses packed inside the new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, there was never a fear of being too liberal with the throttle. That’s when I knew Yamaha has just raised the bar. A lot has changed since the original R1 was introduced in 1998, and with the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M, never has the line between MotoGP and lil ’ol me been so blurred. That’s not just a Yamaha marketing tagline, either. Valentino Rossi himself (along with American Superbike champ, Josh Hayes) had a significant role in developing the R1, with the aim to incorporate the most sophisticated level of electronics on a production sportbike. These are just a few examples:
Star Motorcycles has added to its pair of performance bobbers, the Bolt and Bolt R-Spec, with the 2015 Bolt C-Spec. However, when you have a model line that’s selling well, you don’t want to change it too much. So, Star massaged a little cafe racer into the Bolt’s attitude. While the power train remained the same, the pulled back bar was tossed and replaced with clip-ons. The pegs were moved 6 in. rearward, and the passenger accommodations are swapped for a sporty seat cowl. The front and rear suspensions were bumped in length a tad to gain some cornering clearance, resulting in a Bolt that likes to go around corners a little more than its older siblings.
It really is a fine line between open-minded and cheap, between hip and hopeless, betwixt trending and tanking … and if you ride a scooter, you ride the razor’s edge, my friend. Obviously one has to be secure in one’s man or womanhood to even begin; my male college kid won’t be seen in the same garage with any scooter for fear it will dilute his musk. At the cool end of the scale, there’s our photographer/filmmaker/ballet dancer friend Richard Wright, who also finds time to head up the Bevery Hills Scooter Club and tear up Latigo Canyon on his bored-out Aprilia 250. At the other end, well, there’s yours truly on the Kymco Downtown 300i. How’s that for segue?
In his First Impression and First Ride reviews of the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster RR, our European Correspondent, Tor Sagen, lays out the nuts and bolts of the Dragster RR. Similar to the Brutale 800 RR I rode as part of MV Agusta USA’s recent media meet-n-greet, the Dragster benefits from the same engine mods (larger throttle bodies, revised airbox, dual injectors per cylinder, EFI tweaks, etc.) and electronic upgrades. This includes the MVICS 2.0 engine management system with modified traction-control settings and a quickshifter good for both up- and down-shifts.
The touring market is one in which MV Agusta has been all but absent. Focusing instead on its supersport and naked platforms, the folks in Varese have spent much effort fine tuning both model platforms into real contenders. However, MV was well aware it was losing out on a large part of the market with its absence of anything worthy of traveling long distances. That all changes now with the introduction of the Stradale.
In his 2013 review of the MV Agusta Brutale 800, E-i-C Kevin Duke starts off with, “I have a long history of saying that pretty much every engine could be improved by adding 10% more power.” The B800 delivered, pumping out a healthy 125 hp (117.0 hp at the wheel) compared to the Brutale 675 before it. With the introduction of the up-spec Brutale 800 RR, maybe Duke has had a bigger influence on the folks at Varese than we thought? Armed with a claimed 140 hp (at the crank), the B800 RR boasts a 12% boost in power relative to the standard Brutale 800 – without resorting to a bigger engine. This should make Kevin very happy.