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.

Yamaha Sticking to 800’s in 2012?

02/26/2010 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

With the announcement that MotoGP would “allow up to” a 1000cc format in 2012, there was a hinting that manufacturers would be allowed to use their current 800cc machines in the coming years. The provision comes from the concern that another switch in engine rules will mean another financial blow to the teams that have already spent so much time developing their 800cc race bikes. We’ll skip the economic dissertation on what a sunk cost is, and go straight into the news that Yamaha will reportedly not make the jump to 1000cc’s, and instead continue to use its 800cc M1 in 2012.

GP Commission Hammers Out 2012 MotoGP Rules

02/17/2010 @ 11:38 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The GP Commission (FIM, Dorna, IRTA & MSMA) met this week to discuss and further refine the rules that will be implemented in the 2012 MotoGP season, namely the return to the 1,000cc format. The new rules lock in the amount of gas a bike can carry, as well as other details pertinent to GP racing, but the rule everyone is talking about is the 1,000cc switch. Interestingly enough, the 2010 rules allow for motors “up to 1000cc”, but provide different bike weight for bikes under and over 800cc. Check out the details after the jump.

Italian Sales Figures Show Insight into FZ8

02/03/2010 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The announcement of the 2010 Yamaha FZ8 left many Americans confused as to why the Japanese company would release a 800cc version of it FZ1 naked streetbike. While Yamaha hasn’t confirmed the FZ8 will be coming to the US in 2010 (all the information to-date has come from Yamaha EU), abroad the battle in the 800cc middleweight slot has become increasingly contentious, and more importantly Yamaha’s presence there surprisingly non-existent.

2010 Yamaha FZ8 Officially Revealed

01/27/2010 @ 1:56 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After photos of the new Yamaha FZ8 were leaked out on the internet, Yamaha seems to think it’s best to release an official picture of the entire FZ8 in it’s full colorful form. As seen from the earlier black and white photos, the Yamaha FZ8 is based heavily off of the FZ1, which may suggest where its performance features will lie when the final release to the public is made this spring.

Rumors has it that the FZ8 will feature the same stroke as the FZ1, which should provide for impressive torque figures, while power is expected to be closer to the FZ6. No word yet if the FZ8 is making it stateside.

Source: Yamaha

MotoGP to Return to 990cc Formula?

11/06/2009 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Honda-RC211V-MotoGP-990cc

When MotoGP switched from the 990cc displacement format to the 800cc formula, it was done so on the idea that it would make the premiere racing class safer for the riders. This proved to not be the case, as the 800cc bikes clearly carried more corner speed through turns, and were still able to approach 990cc top speeds on the straight-aways.

The result, a racing class that was more dangerous and more expensive for manufacturers.With this in mind, Dorna Boss, Carmeloa Ezpeleta, wants to return the series back its previous 990cc format, by as early as 2011.

Record Number of Crashes in the 2008 GP Season

11/14/2008 @ 3:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

There were 876 crashes this past GP season. That’s a lot.

Between free practices, qualifying, and races, the 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP series racked up 30% more crashes than last year, with an average of 48 crashes for each race weekend. It should be noted that this was the wettest season in the history of the series, with 16 out of 18 race weekends having at least one day of rain in the official three days of racing. While the rain certainly is a factor, it should also be noted that Randy de Puniet crashed 22 times this season, and only took his shirt off twice.

The crash numbers for the past seasons for the quant-jocks in the room:

1999 – 565
2000 – 633
2001 – 634
2002 – 646
2003 – 705
2004 – 706
2005 – 737
2006 – 647
2007 – 672
2008 – 876

Source: GPone

At least Randy looks really, really, really ridiculously good looking when he crashes.

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