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.

TTXGP & FIM Create New Electric Motorcycle Racing Series

03/05/2013 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Suffering falling outs with both the Isle of Man TT and the FIM, the TTXGP electric motorcycle series has had to reinvent itself since its first event in back in 2009. A massive collision of three parties all trying to control the next big thing in motorcycle racing, fans of the electric motorcycle racing eventually saw it split over three competing series: the TT Zero race at the Isle of Man TT, the FIM’s e-Power Championship, and of course the TTXGP series.

The resulting fracture created a lack of cohesion in the sport, and created a situation where the heavy-hitters in the electric motorcycle industry would cherry-pick the events they attended, often with no formidable competition alongside them at the starting grid. This not only created a disparity in performance between competitors on any given race day, but also denied enthusiasts the chance to see real head-to-head racing amongst the brands that were dominating the newswires.

A major division in these different electric motorcycle racing series is about to heal itself though, as the FIM and TTXGP have finally come to an agreement on a future joint electric motorcycle racing series.

Azhar Hussain Named on Queen’s Birthday MBE Honours

06/11/2011 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Since Asphalt & Rubber has been coming to you live from the Isle of Man this past fortnight, we’ve gotten hip to what our friends across the pond are doing these days. While we doubt that the copious amounts of tea and superfluous use of the letter “u” in words will stick with us when we return to the US, we do know that today is the Queen Elizabeth II’s Official Birthday in the UK (which oddly enough isn’t her actual birthday).

As is the custom on her official birthday, the Queen names a list of recipients of royal honours and those admitted to the Order of the British Empire, with this year including TTXGP’s Azhar Hussain as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his contributions to motorsport.

FIM e-Power/TTXGP Merger Well Underway

03/16/2011 @ 6:29 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rumors of an FIM e-Power and TTXGP merger have been quietly floating around for the past week, and before we could report on those whispers of the event, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme has scooped us with the story that it has been holding conversations with the folks at TTXGP regarding the two series running joint events during the 2011 electric motorcycle season, with a possible final joint Championship to take place at the end of the year.

Sources close to the talks have told Asphalt & Rubber that a merger between the two series is imminent, with many of the stakeholders already signing-off on the deal. The likely outcome would be a series that lives on with the e-Power name, promoted by none other than Dorna Motor Sports, of MotoGP media fame. The FIM’s impetus seems to be in consolidating the two diverging series, and finally integrating them into established professional road racing.

Conversely, TTXGP will be able to find a financial exit from the rumored deal, something its investors will surely be happy to see. TTXGP has been able to piggyback off of local and club racing events, making deals with the tracks themselves, rather than the organizing bodies, in an effort to expand rapidly. While TTXGP has seen push-back from the Isle of Man TT, FIM, and AMA, the series has proven to be more adept at marketing itself than the FIM with its e-Power.

More on this as we get it, for now both parties are only admitting to the fact that they are talking about “collaborating” with one another. Joint statement from the FIM & TTXGP after the jump, along with their 2011 racing calendars.

First Mavizen Pops Up at Isle of Man’s TT Zero

04/01/2010 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Carbon fiber products manufacturer 666 Road Racing has announced its plans to enter into the 2010 Isle of Man TT Zero event, making them the first announced team to enter the TT Zero event with a Mavizen electric sport bike. Mavizen, as many may remember, is owned by Azhar Hussain, founder of the TTXGP, which was recently ousted by the Isle of Man, which then created the TT Zero racing class for the Isle of Man TT. This announcement is a turn of events as it was previously believed Azhar would not let a Mavizen bike compete in rival series created by the FIM and Isle of Man.

TTXGP Trust: Race to Own

03/12/2010 @ 10:40 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

After crowdsourcing their rule book, TTXGP has set another unprecedented move in racing by allowing teams to own up to 70% of the series itself. The union (TEO), as TTXGP calls it, will be transfered stock in in TTXGP Ltd, the company behind the TTXGP series. Teams then who comprise of the TEO membership will be award individual “units” of TEO based on the number of races the teams enter and their position in the standings.

For 2010, 30% of TTXGP Ltd. will be transfered to TEO, and the goal is to have 70% of the company up for grabs by 2020. TEO will have a considerable amount of sway in how TTXGP is run, thus creating a more open atmosphere for the direction of the series. The move to give teams a vested interest like this also serves to encourage more participation in the series. More after the jump.

TT Zero Ousts TTXGP for 2010 At The Isle Of Man TT

01/28/2010 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The Isle of Man announced today that they will be adding the TT Zero clean emissions class to the historic Isle of Man TT race program. The Zero TT, like the rest of the IOMTT, will be run by ACU Events, Ltd and will use the FIM rules concerning electric motorcycles. Additionally, promotions for the Zero TT will be handled by the Department of Tourism and Leisure. Of particular note in this announcement is the Isle of Man’s dropping of TTXGP, which will not be involved in the 2010 series, but the DTL’s Martyn Quayle said in the press release that he acknowledges TTXGP’s hard work in the first zero emissions race at Isle of Man in June of 2009.

Early indications surrounding the announcement suggest that the decision by the Isle of Man to setup the TT Zero racing class stems from the Isle’s desire to distance itself and the historic race from the TTXGP brand, which has been in controversy both publicly with its split from the FIM, and privately with members of the motorcycle community. Given the TT’s heated history with the FIM, it is also of particular note that they will be adopting the international organization’s rules and regulations for the running of TT Zero, which could be a further indication from the Isle in distancing itself from the influence of TTXGP.

CRP Racing Unveils Its eCRP 1.0

01/13/2010 @ 10:24 pm, by John Adamo7 COMMENTS

Lord Drayson, UK Minister of Science and Technology, took the wraps off the TTXGP exclusive CRP Racing eCRP 1.0 today at the 4th Annual Cleaner Racing Conferance. CRP’s goal is to innovate in the world of motorcycle roadracing and the all electric race bike seems to be a good fit for the company. The eCRP 1.0 dual motor electric drive is based on 2009 TTXGP winning Team Agni X01, while the rest of the bike was designed and built in house by CRP and incorporates 30 years of race proven technological know-how.

CRP Racing does not have plans to field an electric race team but will make the bike available to teams who want to race in the TTXGP. The bike will not be available to teams wishing to run races in the competing FIM ePower Series who has yet to announce a race team entry.

TTXGP Crowdsources the 2011 Rule Book

01/11/2010 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

TTXGP will be getting an added layer of transparency for 2011, as the Azhar “The Czar” Hussain has put his electric motorcycle racing series rule book up in wiki form, and invited competitors and experts to make, modify, and discuss the regulations that TTXGP competitors will have to adhere to in 2011. Acting as arbitrator and moderator over the wiki is lawyer Harry Mallin, which electric motorcycle fans might know better as Brammofan.

For The Sake of the Game [Updated]

12/09/2009 @ 2:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: You can find Azhar Hussain’s response to this article on Brammofan.

Last week when I wrote my op-ed, I was content to say my piece on the issue of TTXGP/Mavizen conflict of interest, and then move along with other things. But considering the response the piece got, not only by Azhar Hussain himself, but also by others in the industry, as well as the recent announcements of Zero Motorcycles and Mission Motors entering the TTXGP racing series, I thought I’d give the issue another pass. Ignoring the name-calling, accusations of professional misconduct, and general pettiness that followed, I wanted to address and few things that have developed in this space, and why I’m still thankful the FIM split from TTXGP.

Why I’m Thankful That the FIM Split from TTXGP

11/29/2009 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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This extended weekend, we Americans sat down for our Thanksgiving meals, joined by family, friends, and hospitable strangers. There are many things to look back on and be thankful for: good health, good friends, good fortune, just to name a few. I, like many others, am thankful for these things as well, but of course proclaiming as such makes for a very boring motorcycle editorial.

Among other things, in motorcycling I am thankful for the recent announcement by the FIM to breakaway from the TTXGP electric motorcycle racing series. While we may never know the FIM’s true reasoning in its resolve to distance itself from Azhar Hussain’s TTXGP series, I suspect a portion of that thought process stems from the now clear and convincing conflict of interest that is unfolding in electric motorcycle racing, and acts of impropriety that are stemming from those competing interests.