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.

LEAKED: Here is the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Cruisers aren’t really our forté, here at Asphalt & Rubber, but breaking stories is…so, without all the typical fanfare, we bring you the first full photos of the upcoming 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. The Stead is murdered out and visually appealing, with black engine covers, black fenders, black forks…hell, even the tires are black. Under the hood is Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, which is an air-cooled 1,811cc v-twin good for 73hp and 100 lbs•ft.More technical features include ABS as standard, a keyless ignition system, cast wheels, and a solo seat. Our Bothan Spies suggest an MSRP of $17,000, and more accessories (all black, natch) than you can fit into the belly of a Tauntaun. Expect to see the Indian Chief Dark Horse launch officially on February 13th elsewhere.

Washington State Weighs Pro Lane-Splitting Law

The Washington State Legislature has a pro lane-splitting bill on its 2015-2016 docket, HB 1515. The law is moderately written, adopting a 10 mph speed differential between the motorcycle and traffic, with a 35 mph speed cap, as acceptable during lane-splitting activities. Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize these provisions as being more restrictive than the California Highway Patrol’s now defunct guidelines. Lane-splitting is a near-and-dear topic to us here at A&R, as we believe a national effort to legalize the practice should be mission #1 for the American Motorcyclist Association.

WSBK: Gabor Talmacsi Still Considering Team Pedercini

01/17/2011 @ 7:15 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off

Gabor Talmacsi ended his trial with Team Pedercini at the Sepang Kawasaki test on Friday by informing the team that he would let them know if he would race for them in 2011 in a few days. According to the team, he “sampled a Superbike for the first time in Sepang, with a view to a possible switch to the world championship with Pedercini team. Talmacsi was impressed by the team’s skill and the Kawasaki new Superbike’s performances and potential.”

Team Pedercini has had Roberto Rolfo signed to contest the 2011 World Superbike championship since late November. He was given the most time on the bike when Sepang’s afternoon rain was not falling. There is a note on what appears to be Talmacsi’s official Facebook page (here at A&R we are not, regrettably, fluent in Hungarian) that suggests that Talmacsi was a bit upset by his lack of time on the bike.

How Did the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 Lose 20 lbs?

12/27/2010 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Perhaps a bike that hasn’t gotten enough press after its debut at Intermot, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 managed to shed roughly 20 lbs from its supersport design, making Suzuki the 600cc class leader once again, at least on paper. Suzuki was the only Japanese manufacturer to update its Supersport line for the new year, and instead of a casual redesign (although the GSX-R 600 doesn’t stray far from its predecessor’s aesthetic), the Hamamatsu-based company made a number of technical changes that focused around massively lowering the bike’s sprung and un-sprung mass.

While the styling might remain a little vanilla, we sure do like that spec sheet coming from Suzuki. Tipping the scales at 413 lbs wet (shazzam!), the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 makes the same 123hp at the crank as the previous model, but presumably with better components (note the Brembo monoblocs and Showa Big Piston forks). Continue past the jump to see Suzuki America’s Derek Schoeberle explain where Suzuki made improvements to the GSX-R 600.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920

12/21/2010 @ 11:18 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After the news yesterday that the Canadian distributor for MV Agusta had posted pricing on its website for a new Brutale model, MV Agusta has quietly released photos and information on the 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920, an entry-level version of its big street-naked motorcycle. With its four-cylinder radial valve 921cc motor, the MV Agusta Brutale 920 shares the same crankshaft as the Brutale 1090RR (55mm stroke), resulting in this over-square motor making 129hp with its 73mm bore. Available in matte black and white, we expect the new Bruatle to his US shores with a ~$14,595 price tag.

Canada Outs New MV Agusta Brutale Model & Pricing

12/20/2010 @ 4:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After recently announcing the return of MV Agusta to the Canadian market, MV Agusta’s Canadian distributor Motovan has outed the Italian company’s new Brutale model. While it doe not seem that this model is the 675cc “Brutalina” that Castiglioni hinted at earlier this year, this Brutale instead appears to be an F4 derived street-naked, and is expected to hit the North American markets in mid-summer 2011. With pricing starting at $15,595 CAD, we expect pricing here in the United States to be closer to $14,595.

Likely based off the revised MV Agusta F4, which debuted at EICMA back in 2009, the new Brutale should see a style update to keep the street-naked inline with MV’s current take on the F4. Noticebale from Motovan’s pricing is the new Brutale’s lower price tag amount, which should help move some more units. We expect the new Brutale to have a 920cc displacement, and borrow heavily from the F4’s chassis design and aesthetic.

Mission R Electric Superbike Breaks Cover

12/17/2010 @ 12:01 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

After teasing us earlier last month with its silhouette, Mission Motors has finally taken the wraps off its Mission R electric race bike. Boasting some big numbers, namely a 14.4 kWh battery pack and a 3-phace AC induction motor that makes 141hp and 115 lbs•ft of torque, the Mission R ticks all the right performance boxes with its 160mph top speed, 100 kW motor controller, regenative breaking, and barely race legal 545 lbs weight.

Taking lessons learned from the Mission One, Mission Motors has built the Mission R from the ground-up, and tapped some well known names to help the company make this striking motorcycle. With James Parker (of GSX-RADD fame) designing the chassis, and Tim Prentice of Motonium working on the industrial design, the Mission R is not only a very pleasing motorcycle to look at (drool over that billet single-sided swingarm), but also incorporates some advanced concepts to make it a potent and compact racing weapon. Oh, and did we mention the bike looks freaking fantastic?

The World Superbike Calendar Fills Out

11/30/2010 @ 9:05 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After releasing a provisional calendar that left some venues to be determined, World Superbike has finally released its official schedule for the 2011 season. Leaving the European and Italian rounds empty back in October, we see Donington Park and Imola now official added to the roster. While the addition of the two historic circuits is certainly not the most surprising news, it atleast completes the WSBK calendar.

Donington Park Returns to the 2011 WSBK Calendar

11/16/2010 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Good news for British motorcycle racing fans, as Donington Park has secured a spot on the 2011 World Superbike calendar. But the real good news for the Brits is that WSBK will come to both Donington and Silverstone next year, giving the sometimes rainy island a double-helping of production-based international motorcycle racing.

The announcement signals the rescue of the British track from what seemed like certain death, after planned renovations fell through and the track was unable to secure a Formula 1 bid, leaving the Donington Park leasees without a dime to spend, and without a track circuit to run (construction had begun to make the track conform to Formula 1 standards).

Valentino Rossi Goes in for Surgery

11/15/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

While Dani Pedrosa has been spared the surgeon’s knife for his broken collarbone, Valentino Rossi underwent his surgery this weekend for his injured shoulder, which will see the new Ducati rider out of action for 90 days. Rossi’s shoulder, which was a bigger factor in the 2010 season than the rider’s broken leg that saw him miss four races, was injured in April during a motocross cross-training accident, and plagued the Italian throughout the latter half of the 2010 season.

Surgeons at the Cervesi di Cattolica hospital preformed an arthroscopic procedure on Rossi’s supraspinatus tendon and glenoid ligament, encountering no complications in the procedure. Recovery times for this type of surgery typically last 12 weeks, which should mean that Rossi will be fit enough to test early next year at MotoGP’s second testing session.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R: 175hp…Sorta

11/12/2010 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

If you’ve heard any loud thuds while visiting A&R the past two weeks, it’s been us falling over ourselves over the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R. For 2011, the new RC8 R gets a number of refinements to its already stout package, and for the spec sheets racers the most drool-worthy stat perhaps is the bike’s modest power boost to 175hp, up from its base of 167hp. There’s a kicker to that power figure though, it comes from switching the base engine map, which is designed for 91 octane (AKI rating, which is what we use here in the USA), to a 93 octane map.

It could seem like we’re splitting hairs here, but unless you live next to a race track where gas stations will often carry the 93 octane rated fuel, you’ll be risking pinging KTM’s beautiful 1195cc motor with the lower-rated fuel, and be relegated to using the 170hp engine map while on the street. We don’t know how RC8 R owners will only handle 170hp on the street, hopefully the photos after the jump will help.

Honda Confirms Three-Rider Team and Repsol Sponsorship

11/08/2010 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After declaring its intention to field a three-man team in the 2011 MotoGP season with riders Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Casey Stoner, HRC went immediately into circles about how it would pull-off such an arrangement when the money to finance a larger factory squad did not materialize. Exploring avenues that would see a second, single-bike, factory team (rumored to be sponsored by Red Bull) centered around Andrea Dovizioso, Honda also tried to stick the Italian rider inside the Gresini Honda satellite squad (with the promise of factory support), but both efforts came to no avail.

With Dovizioso holding his ground, and Honda bound by a contract, questions regarding how the Japanese manufacture would handle its predicament were a common source of conjecture in the MotoGP paddock. This speculation has finally come to a conclusion though, as HRC has announced it has secured Andrea Dovizioso in the factory team for 2011, which will will continue to be sponsored by Repsol Honda.