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.

KTM’s Pit Beirer Talks Moto3 Production Bikes, Cooperation With Kalex, & Two-Stroke Racing

07/12/2012 @ 11:44 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

At the Sachsenring, after the introduction of KTM’s Moto3 GPR production racer, we spent five minutes with KTM’s Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer. We spoke to him about a number of subjects, including the evolution of the factory’s Moto3 chassis, the company’s cooperation with Kalex, and whether two-strokes would be better than four-strokes for racing.

Interview: Lucio Cecchinello – The Man Behind LCR Honda

03/29/2012 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Former GP racer Lucio Cecchinello is a Honda man through and through. Team owner and principal at LCR Honda (the ‘LCR’ standing for Lucio Cecchinello Racing), Cecchinello started his racing career on a Honda NS125R, and worked his way up to the GP ranks, where he spent most of his time on a Honda RS125 (he finished his career on an Aprilia though). In 1996, Cecchinello started LCR, making him both the team’s rider and its principal director, an absolute rarity in the paddock.

LCR Honda slowly grew from the 125 & 250 Championships into the premier class of the sport: MotoGP. Campaigning a number of top riders, LCR Honda has seen Casey Stoner, Randy de Puniet, Alex de Angelis, Nobby Ueda, Toni Elias & Carlos Checa all ride the team’s bikes at some point in their careers. This year LCR Honda has Moto2 Champion Stefan Bradl in the saddle, and the team hopes the German rider will be just as impressive on the big bikes as he was with the 600’s.

Taking some time to talk to HRC’s PR machine, Cecchinello shares his unique perspective on having both a racing and managing career. As a satellite team owner, Cecchinello’s opinions about CRTs from a business perspective are especially intriguing, as he forecasts trouble for CRT teams trying to bring in big-name sponsors.

Perhaps most significant are his comments regarding Moto2 though, as Cecchinello believes that the middle class of GP racing should go to a 500cc two-cylinder format, which would allow manufacturers to race in all three class with the same cylinder and head designs. The interview is a pretty good read for any MotoGP fan, check it out after the jump.

Photos: Marco Simoncelli Tribute Ride at Valencia

11/06/2011 @ 4:14 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

With every bike from the three GP classes out on the Circuit de Comunitat Valenciana, the sight was one that had to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Lead by former-World Champion Kevin Schwantz, who rode Marco Simoncelli’s San Carlos Honda Gresini RC212V race bike, MotoGP, Moto2, & 125GP riders made their way around the 14 turns of the Spanish track, stopping short of the finish line. Watching two minutes of Valencian fireworks, MotoGP riders stood with the Simoncelli family, honoring the loved Italian one more time.

The entire event was somber, and as the fireworks subsided, the clamorous noise was contrasted with an eerie silence on the track and in pit lane. Riders walked back to the paddock with solemn & grim faces, barely saying a word to each other, if saying any words at all. Similarly, team members carried rear stands and walked race bikes back to pit lane in complete silence, perhaps reflecting on Marco one more time. Thirty minutes later, noise returned to Valencia, as the final 125GP race ever commenced.

More Photos of the Honda NSF250R

06/07/2011 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

There was much ado at the Catalan GP regarding the Honda NSF250R Moto3 bike, likely because the Moto3 class is a big step in a larger movement currently unfolding in MotoGP, and the Spanish market is an important one when it comes to GP racing. With the 125GP class, which Moto3 is replacing next year, full of Spanish and Italian youths looking to become the next Jorge Lorenzos and Valentino Rossis, Honda no doubt wants to make a strong impression to its target market, even taking the NSF250R out for a parade lap with Alex Criville on-board. We doubt any other Moto3 manufacturer will get such a plug from Dorna, but nevertheless, find the photos the event after the jump.

HRC NSF250R Moto3 Race Bike to Debut at Catalan GP

05/20/2011 @ 3:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Honda has done a pretty good job of teasing out its HRC NSF250R, which is set to race in the Moto3 Championship in 2012. Replacing the 125GP, Moto3 class is based around four-stroke 250cc race bikes, and should be a more affordable and leveling playing field for new riders to enter into GP racing. HRC has teased us with images and videos of the new NSF250R, which takes its core cues from the its RS125R predecessor (both current factory Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso won their lower Championships on the Honda RS125R).

Photo of the Week: The Passing Scent of Two-Strokes

05/09/2011 @ 6:00 am, by Scott Jones5 COMMENTS

I love the smell of two-strokes in the morning…or the evening, or the afternoon. But just as Hiroshi Aoyama became the final 250cc two-stroke champion in 2009, at the end of this season we’ll have one last 125cc world champion. Most money is on Spaniard Nicol Terol, who without last season’s rival Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro to get in his way, has dominated the 125cc season so far.

Rumors that his current competitors let him get far ahead so they don’t have to look at the color scheme of his livery are untrue: Terol is just that fast on a tiny 125cc machine. Next season, the kids and odd grown-up who don’t move on to Moto2 will be on the replacement Moto3 class bikes. In a nutshell these are 250cc 4-strokes, but for all the details look here.

MotoGP will of course be leaving the 800cc engines behind to return to liter engines, so many changes are in store for 2012. One of the most notable will certainly be the absence of the approaching bee swarm sound as the little bikes and little riders approach on their out lap, the 2-stroke whine growing louder as the wind carries it across the track, and the pleasant odor of the oil and gas mix as the crowd goes by for the first time. Another chapter in the history of Grand Prix motorbike racing is coming to a close in 2011.

KTM Begins Testing Moto3 Race Bike

01/02/2011 @ 2:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

At the end of last year we learned that KTM had committed itself internally to competing in the upcoming Moto3 class, which is slated to replace 125GP in 2012. At the time of that news, the Austrian company was still in the early stages of planning for its 250cc four-stroke single-cylinder race bike; but not wanting to let Honda take all of the Moto3 development spotlight with its NRS 250, this past week KTM began testing Moto3 chassis configuration at the Cartagena track in Spain.

Arriving with a modified 125cc chassis and 350cc SX-F thumper, KTM’s IDM Supersport rider Michi Ranseder took to the helm of the prototype race machine over the two day testing session. More of a prologue than the first chapter to KTM’s Moto3 story, this event makes it clear that KTM is still getting its bearings on what direction it wants to take its entry-level GP program.

Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton Launches – Further Down the Downward Spiral?

12/20/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Unveiled this weekend in Madrid, Paris Hilton was on-hand in her pink, blue, and white skin tight set of leathers to help promote her latest business endeavor (her words, not ours): Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton. While we generally hate everything about Paris Hilton, and even try to avoid staying in Hilton hotels just for good measure, we do have to say one thing: this weekend’s launch of the SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton Team is arguably the largest team launch in history of GP racing (in one of the worst economic climates ever for the sport)…and that includes the upcoming Wrooom launch of Valentino Rossi and Ducati Corse.

Paris Hilton 125GP Livery – Please God, Make It Stop

12/17/2010 @ 10:19 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

In the story of Oedipus Rex, the protagonist gouges out his eyes after learning that he senselessly killed his father, and has been pounding his mother into the bedroom headboard. Until recently, we didn’t think we could get down to that level and relate to Oedipus with the same wealth of shame and despondency; but the universe is a fickle beast and wins another round today, as we’ve been dry heaving all morning after looking at the race livery for the Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton race livery.

Everything we feared it would be, the pretty-in-pink design is going to be obnoxiously flamboyant on the 125GP grid. Capping off the news is that we learn that Paris herself will be attending more than a few races, helping promote the team, do a couple lines of coccaine, and maybe run over a few MotoGP fans while in a drunken stupor. Pretty typical Sunday for the famous for being famous star.

Undoubtedly not the proudest moment in the GP paddock, we’ll leave you with this thought though. Has any other 125GP team made headlines in the New York Times, Perez Hilton, and Asphalt & Rubber this week? This month? This year? Say what you will about the former sex-tape star, but she’s already borught the team a plethora of attention. That’s a win in marketing dollars speak. Touché Paris.

GP Commission Modifies 2011 Rules

12/13/2010 @ 2:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The GP Commission has seen it fit to modify the rules for MotoGP, Moto2, and 125GP during the 2011 season, with perhaps the biggest alteration coming in the form of FP3 being reinstated to the Saturday schedule. For MotoGP, all practice and qualifying sessions will be returned to their one hour format (up from 45 minutes), which should make the sessions more useful for teams who has to scramble to make changes during the 45 minute format (Moto2 and 125GP will remain at 45 minute session). All the classes will see a three-wide grid format, which should be especially interesting in the compacted Moto2 field. All teams will also be allowed the use of generators on the starting grid.

Special for MotoGP, Dorna seems intent on limiting the level of electronics being used in the premiere class, and has inserted a provision that says that “in MotoGP, only the GPS provided by Dorna is permitted.” Currently MotoGP teams employ GPS systems that know which turn, and where in each turn, the bike is, and adjusts the bike’s suspension, engine map, and other settings for that corresponding section of the track.

While hyper-precise GPS systems could shave tenths of seconds off lap times, they also create an arms race in electronic controls, which in-turn raises the costs of racing. With Dorna supplying the unit, or failing to provide a GPS entirely (plot twist!), the use of such advanced electronics could no longer exist in 2011.

In addition to these provisions, Dorna has also requested applications for the 2012 Moto3 ECU supplier. Find the full release on the technical regulations and specifications after the jump.