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.

AMA Pro Racing Homologates the Aprilia RSV4 Factory

04/01/2013 @ 11:59 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Looking to add more manufacturers to the traveling circus, AMA Pro Road Racing has homologated the Aprilia RSV4 Factory ABS for racing duty, though with one interesting caveat. Instead of giving the 999cc Italian V4 a birth in the AMA Pro Superbike class, the RSV4 Factory has been homologated instead to race in the AMA Pro Supersport.

With Aprilia USA lacking a 600cc machine and the budget necessary to race at the factory level in the Superbike class, AMA Pro Road Racing officials have come to a compromise with the Italian company on how it can enter the American road racing scene with its current equipment, and hopefully thus spur its sport bike sales.

Oh, Good Grief: AMA Homologates the 636cc 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R for Supersport Class Racing

03/06/2013 @ 6:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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AMA Pro Racing continues to show that it’s homolo-flexible when it comes to supersport regulations, as America’s premier road racing series has homologated the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and its 636cc engine displacement to compete in the supersport class (the new ZX-6R is also homologated for the Daytona Sport Bike class as well).

“Kawasaki has a strong racing heritage,” said Kawasaki Racing Senior Manager Reid Nordin. “Our Ninja brand is synonymous with success on the track. When we brought back the 636cc engine we knew there would be interest in racing and we have taken the steps necessary to have the new Ninja ZX-6R on the track and out front in 2013.”

Video: The Best Highside Save Ever?

05/14/2012 @ 6:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

During the second AMA Pro Supersport qualifying session at Sears Point, #422 Genki Hagata had a moment that every motorcycle racer knows all too well: a highside. Still completing his out-lap, Hagata’s Yamaha YZF-R6 lost traction at the rear wheel, and then abruptly regained it, which for most riders would usually mean an ejection seat straight into the kitty litter, but not for Genki.

Holding onto the bars throughout the incident, Hagata avoided crashing (again, as the case would be for the weekend), and while he missed making the cut-off for Supersport grid by only a few tenths of a second, we still think he was the big winner of AMA Pro Racing’s third road-racing stop of the season. See it to believe it after the jump, and thanks for the tip 梁聰!

Mission Motors Laps at AMA Supersport Pace at Laguna Seca

07/23/2011 @ 1:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

While the REFUEL event a few weeks ago was Mission Motors’ true first public race with the Mission R, the San Francisco company is on a mission (oh sweet jesus) to prove a point at Laguna Seca this weekend, after previously being out of the electric racing gig for the past year. Undoubtedly by now you’ve seen photos of the Mission R electric superbike, and while it certainly looks fast standing still, the question had also been raised if it’s only good for standing around and looking pretty.

Taking those talking points to heart, Steve Rapp silenced those critics today, as the Mission Motors rider smashed the standing “best lap” time from last year’s e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca, which was set by competitor MotoCzysz. Posting a 1’33.714 lap time, Rapp was nearly 11 seconds quicker than last year’s pace, and did so at will on the Mission R, posting half of his laps below the 1’34 mark (his slowest hot lap was a 1’36).

To put that pace into perspective, Rapp would have been fifth on the grid had he been lapping in AMA Supersport’s Free Practice (which occurred early in the day, and thus on a cold track), and thirteenth in AMA Supersport’s Qualifying Practice 1 (which was later in the day, and in similar conditions as the e-Power/TTXGP session). Boom goes the dynamite.

AMA: Minimum Weights Changed to Rein in Fast Ducati(s)

05/25/2011 @ 8:10 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Racing has  announced a change in  the minimum weight requirements for both the Daytona SportBike and SuperSport classes, biasing the weights to be more of a disadvantage for two-cylinder machines, i.e. Ducati 848 Superbikes. Decreasing both the four and three-cylinder minimum weights by 5 lbs (to 355 lbs & 365 lbs respectively), two-cylinder machines conversely get a 5 lbs increase (to 385 lbs), thus making the spread from four to two cylinders now a total of 30 lbs (it was a 20 lbs difference before this rule change).

The move is presumably to reel in the Ducati 848 race bikes that shocked the paddock with their speed early-on in the season at the Dunlop Test, though in terms of race results, the change in rules seems to be due more because of the domination by Jason DiSalvo, than anything else. The Team Latus Motors Racing racer has won every race thus far this season, with a close finish at the Daytona 200, and a blow-out double at Infineon Raceway.

Confounding though, Ducati’s results in the SuperSport class have been less impressive, with the 8th and 13th being the finishes for the Italian brand at Infineon.

AMA Pro Racing Will Continue as Support Class for MotoGP at Laguna Seca in 2011

09/10/2010 @ 5:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

AMA Pro Racing will continue to field its three support races for the Laguna Seca GP during the 2011 season. The announcement made about the 2011 season makes for the seventh consecutive season that AMA Pro Racing has supported the sole MotoGP race at Laguna Seca. Unlike the Indianapolis GP, the Laguna Seca GP runs without the 125 GP & Moto2/250 GP support classes.

With the announcement of the Moto3 series replacing 125 GP in 2012, there’s been some talk about whether the other GP series will make the trek out to California. The answer, at least for 2011, is no, but with only a one-year renewal on the contract, 2012 could be another story.

Photo of the Day: Elena Myers – 16 Years Old and She’s Faster Than You

05/20/2010 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

While most of our coverage this past weekend focused on the first electric sportbike race to hit US soil, another first occurred at Infineon Raceway: the first female winner of an AMA Pro Racing event. Elena Myers took the checkered flag on Saturday’s AMA Supersport race, albeit with some help from the man with the red flag. From that finish Myers is being touted as the first woman to win an AMA road race, and already there is talk of an entry point for lady riders into this male dominated sport.