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.

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden – The Duel Continues at NJMP

12/13/2012 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Another side-by-side comparison video from our friends at the Michael Jordan Motorsports (click here for their video from Homestead-Miami Speedway), we take a lap with Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden around New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt course (home of the world’s longest decreasing radius turn).

Riding his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the first qualifying session, Bostrom sets an impressive 1’22.803 lap time (the third fastest of the session), while Hayden on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 does a 1’22.812 here in the second qualifying session.

Impressively enough, both MJM riders were within a tenth of a second of each other at the end of both qualifying sessions. Enjoy some synchronized apexing after the jump.

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead

11/15/2012 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

One of our favorite parts about MotoGP’s recent coverage are the slow-motion shots of riders going through corners, especially when the Dorna folk in the switchroom line-up a few riders through the same turn, giving us a sampling of the different riding styles that exist in the premier class. It is through this sort of coverage that you begin to see the real art behind riding a motorcycle at speed, not the brute force brawl that it looks like in real-time.

Here we have another side-by-side comparison, quite literally actually. Dropping a 1-2 qualifying session at Homestead this year, Roger Lee Hayden was fastest on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.746), while Ben Bostrom qualified 2nd on his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.857). What is interesting in this video is the subtle differences between the two riders, which results in over a one-tenth of a second difference at the finish line.

Photo of the Week: Think Outside the Oval

04/02/2012 @ 3:32 pm, by Daniel Lo2 COMMENTS

Ben Bostrom signed on to ride for a certain AMA Superbike team owner by the name of Michael Jordan in 2011, trading in his signature number 155 for his employer’s legendary 23. “I think having MJ as a boss is awesome!” he enthused, when speaking about his then-upcoming debut.

As with any new rider and team pairing, there were rough patches to work through, but it was clear early on that the combination had potential. By the second round of the season Ben had put the Jumpman bike on the front row of the starting grid, outpaced only by proven factory machines.

Hayden & Bostrom Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway

01/03/2012 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The start 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing series is almost upon us, and the folks at Michael Jordan Motorsports are rapidly gearing up for the new season. Traveling down to the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, MJM riders Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden took their Suzuki GSX-R1000 race bikes around newly added track for the first time. While Bostrom and Hayden won’t have to race at Homestead-Miami until September 23rd, the season-opener at Daytona, Florida is rapidly approaching and only two and half months away.

Shooting the Homestead-Miami Speedway test with some on-board cameras, the Michael Jordan Motorsports team has put together a great three minute clip that stars Bostrom’s boot, among other things. Joking aside, the video is well-put together (a rarity in the AMA paddock), and has some great shots of Bostrom’s shifting and knee-slidding around the Floridian track. Look for #23 on the Jordan Suzuki, while Roger Lee will again represent the men and women of the Army National Guard on the #54 bike.

Ben Bostrom to Wild Card Laguna Seca with LCR Honda

07/19/2011 @ 9:21 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

American rider Ben Bostrom will have double the duties this coming weekend at the US GP at Laguna Seca, as he’ll ride as a wild card in MotoGP with the LCR Honda team, alongside Toni Elias. Bostrom will also be honoring his commitments with the Jordan Suzuki AMA team, riding the Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the AMA Pro Superbike races held in conjunction with MotoGP’s first US stop of the season.

“Words can’t express how excited I am to get this amazing opportunity to race on my home track in front of the whole world,” said Bostrom. “I have to thank Michael Jordan Motorsports and American Suzuki for allowing this to happen. The collaboration between Lucio, LCR and the MJM team has been terrific. I’m going to get on the GP bike and put it as close to the front as possible. Then I’m going to hop on my Jordan Suzuki bike and try to create even more magic.”

Ben Bostrom Signs with Pat Clark Motorsports – Jake Zemke & John Hopkins in Talks with PCM

12/16/2009 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ben-Bostrom-Graves-Yamaha

A reliable source in the AMA has just tipped us off to the fact that Ben Bostrom has signed with Pat Clark Motorsports (PCM) for the 2010 season. PCM, which has been linked to Bostrom since the beginning of the month, is keeping the deal under wraps though as they try to sign both Jake Zemeke and John “Hopper” Hopkins to the team as well. If successful, this would mean PCM is building the Deathstar of AMA Superbike teams for the 2010 AMA season.

Glitch Leads to a Confusing AMA Daytona 200

03/08/2009 @ 3:25 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Confusion in Daytona, Florida lead many race fans, and racers with some doubt as to who won, and whether not a full race had in fact occurred for this year’s Daytona 200. In a press release issued by the AMA, the sequence of events that led to the 6-lap sprint to the finish are as follows:

The lighting system that illuminated the chicane that leads into NASCAR turn 3 experienced a failure on or about lap 36, which brought out the “safety” (AKA pace) car. During this caution an unnamed rider collided with Graves Yamaha’s Tommy Aquino, causing Aquino to go down, which brought out the red flag, idling the field for nearly a half-hour. After a few warm-up laps behind the safety car, racing resumed only to to go back under caution when M4 Suzuki’s Kris Turner went down in the Horseshoe. Racing resumed in earnest on lap 49 and did not go back to yellow for the remainder of the race.

 

AMA race director Colin Fraser said that the discrepancy was a mistake and would not make excuses for the foul-up. 

Lastly, Paradigm Racing’s Barrett Long, after a post-race protest, was given credit for a lap that was not counted during the red flag period which elevated him to 6th place ahead of Chaz Davies. Continue reading for the racing results.