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.

Rumor: Josh Hayes to Endurance Race at Le Mans?

09/13/2013 @ 10:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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If the scuttlebutt out of the FIM Endurance World Championship paddock is to be believed, AMA Pro Superbike racer Josh Hayes could be headed to Le Mans, France next week, as the American is tipped to be replacing Josh Waters in the YART squad for the final round in the Endurance Championship series.

The stout YART (Yamaha Austria Racing Team) is currently 13 points behind the venerable SERT (Suzuki Endurance Racing Team) for the Endurance World Championship title, with the 24 Hour Le Mans race being the deciding event for the top spot in the EWC.

Q&A: Kevin Schwantz Talks COTA, MotoGP, & the Future of American Road Racing

04/24/2013 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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The Thursday before the start of the Grand Prix of the Americas, Asphalt & Rubber was part of a quick event put on by Dainese and Ducati Austin, which allowed fans to meet Kevin Schwantz. Before the start of that evening’s meet-and-greet, I got to sit down with the former 500cc World Champion, and pick his brain not only about the current events happening with the Circuit of the Americas, but also about what was occurring on a larger scale within the American road racing scene.

While Mr. Schwantz could only provide limited answers about what was going on with the Texan track and his ongoing litigation with the circuit, his opinions on MotoGP and AMA Pro Racing were insightful, and serve as a serious warning about the state of American road racing not only here in the US, but also abroad in the various World Championships. It is a bit of a long read (Mr. Schwantz was more than generous with his time), but I think you will enjoy the exchange and perspective he shared during the interview.

AMA Pro Road Racing Signs TV Deal with CBS Sports

04/23/2013 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Good news for American road racing fans, as AMA Pro Road Racing has inked a TV deal with the CBS Sports Network. With live flag-to-flag coverage of the National Guard SuperBike and GoPro Daytona SportBike classes, as well as a 30-minute preview show before-hand, it looks like the USA is getting proper coverage of its national motorcycle racing series through the 2014 series.

The news is a huge sigh of relief for AMA Pro Road Racing, which has been without a proper tv contract up until this point, despite being already one round into the 2013 season. For the riders and teams, this also means that their ability to attract sponsors has just been greatly improved. Able now to properly show national TV coverage, support, and attention, sponsors will be less gun-shy in handing over their marketing dollars — though one has to wonder how much damage has already been done.

For AMA Pro Road Racing, the deal means a step-back from the edge of the cliff, which could have seen the motorcycle racing here in American fall into the abyss of obscurity had it not made it onto the television screen of fans and wouldbe followers. With the deal good through the end of the 2014 season, hopefully the series can build some much needed momentum as the economy recovers. The full press release is after the jump.

Following Fillmore – Episode 4: Coffee & Café Racers

04/19/2013 @ 8:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Another installment in the life of AMA Pro Superbike’s Chris Fillmore, and we see the KTM rider head down to Deus Ex Machina for some “coffee and café racers” as he calls it in this episode of Following Fillmore. Checking out the work of  Michael “Woolie” Woolaway, Chris sheds some insight into his failed career in retails sales, as well as the early period of his motorcycle racing career.

Video: Josh Herrin’s First Superbike Win

04/11/2013 @ 3:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Getting his first AMA Pro Superbike victory right-off-the-bat at Race 1 of the season-opener in Daytona, Josh Herrin got his 2013 season off to a solid start. A coming out party of sorts for the other Josh in the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha team, Herrin is showing himself to be a real talent in the AMA paddock, and at only 22-years-old, the Yamaha rider has quite the promising career ahead of him.

Our buddy John Shofner at Shofner Films got to follow Herrin around the Daytona paddock for the Daytona race weekend, and has produced an excellent video that captures Josh’s first win. We think you will enjoy it, and who knows, maybe we will get some more AMA Pro Superbike goodness on the site in the coming months. God knows the sport needs get productions like this one.

Following Fillmore – Episode 3: Riding for Rocco

04/04/2013 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Episode 3 of Following Fillmore finds us out in the California desert, as Chris takes part in a track day to benefit paralyzed road racer Rocco Horvath. Joining Fillmore at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway are some familiar AMA paddock names like Jason Pridmore, Josh Hayes, Melissa Paris, James Rispoli, and Benny Solis. If you are wondering what professional riders do in their spare time, here is your chance.

I have to say, in the three episodes we have shown so far of Following Fillmore (click to watch Episode 1 & Episode 2), this latest installment has to be a staff favorite here at A&R. Not only do we get a real human moment from Chris towards the end of the video, but we get to see his rationalization on the inevitability of crashing and possibly getting seriously hurt from the sport he loves. Something to chew on — good stuff.

Watch Jake Gagne Do a Pitstop at the Daytona 200

03/26/2013 @ 2:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Both the premiere and premier event of the AMA Pro Road Racing season, the Daytona 200 is a unique beginning to the American road racing season as it coincides with the Daytona Bike Week, and features the 32° banked turns on the NASCAR oval course.

Morphing in recent years from Superbikes, to Formula Xtreme, and now to Daytona SportBikes, the machinery may have changed for the race teams, but the endurance-factor of the race remains the same for the riders.

A crucial component to winning a race like the Daytona 200 are the pit stops. The only race of the year that sees AMA riders enter pit lane for fresh tires and fuel, valuable seconds and place-positions can be won or lost here, and racing truly takes on a team aspect.

After the jump we see the RoadRace Factory team help rider Jake Gagné take a fourth place finish at the Daytona 200 with a very quick pit time. Looking tidy boys, looking tidy. Thanks for the tip Rory!

Following Fillmore – Episode 2: Hometown Boys Do Good

03/22/2013 @ 8:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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The second installment to the AMA’s favorite web series, this time on Following Fillmore Chris sits down with his new KTM/HMC Racing teammate Taylor Knapp.

The two AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike riders talk what it’s like to come from racing families, growing up in Michigan, and finding a solid teammate in the paddock.

It’s pretty clear from their interactions on the camera that Chris and Taylor get on well together, and it’s interesting to see how the pair’s fathers played a role in shaping the riders they are today.

Following Fillmore – Episode 1: My Friends Are Famous

03/07/2013 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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The first episode of Following Fillmore is out, as the web series tracks KTM’s AMA Pro Superbike rider Chris Fillmore out to Pala Raceway for some motocross riding.

Joining Fillmore are a couple familiar faces, namely 2012 AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow…we see photographer Andrea Wilson was also there as well, trying to steal the show, as usual.

Three professional motorcycle racers on one race  course, how could things not get competitive?

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.”