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.

Q&A: Paul Denning on the Cost Of New Rules, Expanding Audiences, and the End of the One Bike Rule

05/09/2014 @ 2:58 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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At the Assen round of World Superbikes two weeks’ ago, we caught up with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki boss Paul Denning, to get his vision on how the new technical regulations proposed for World Superbike from 2015 onwards would affect Suzuki’s WSBK effort.

Denning gave us a fascinating alternative view of the regulations, emphasizing that revenue generation was at least as important as cost cutting, and warning against false economies that could end up destroying the close racing World Superbikes has traditionall enjoyed.

Denning also covered just where he saw the biggest costs in World Superbike racing, and how the new TV schedule has impacted the series, and could spell the end of the one-bike rule in WSBK.

Ducati Superbike 1199 to Get Significant Price Increase

09/14/2011 @ 6:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler69 COMMENTS

If you’re one of the many Ducatisti that are salivating for the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, you better start unloading your IRA, cashing-out your savings, and raiding your kids’ piggy banks, because Ducati is set to increase its flagship’s base price for the 2012 model year. With the base model Superbike 1198 sporting a $16,500 price tag here in the United States, and selling for just shy of €18,000 in Italy, Asphalt & Rubber has gotten confirmation that Ducati will bump the upcoming Superbike 1199’s price tag by several thousand euros/dollars when it debuts later this year.

Expected to be a €20,000+ bike in Europe, we can only imagine what that price tag on the base model 1199 will amount to here in the North American market, though we wouldn’t be surprised with a figure in the $19,000 range (or just shy of it). With two higher-spec versions expected as well, an “S” and a race variant, A&R has also heard rumors that the pricier models will see an even larger price increase over the 1198’s figures, making owning a Superbike 1199 a very pricy commitment to one’s garage.

How Much Does it Cost to Host a MotoGP Race?

03/09/2011 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Dorna keeps pretty tight controls on what information gets out about its business; but when dealing with public entities, some of those figures are bound to come forth. Such is the case with Motorland Aragon, the Spanish track that recently locked in MotoGP through the 2016 season. The cost of hosting MotoGP for the next six years? €41 million. That figure breaks down into €6 million for the 2011 round, €7 million for the 2012 season and subsequent years as well.

Official Moto3 Regulations Finally Released

11/07/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Announced at Valencia this weekend, the GP Commission has finally released the details on the upcoming Moto3 class, which will replace 125GP racing in 2012. Based around a four-stroke 250cc single-cylinder motor with an 81mm maximum bore size, Moto3 aims to reel in the spiraling costs of GP racing, with numerous provisions that are designed to limit how much money teams and manufacturers can sink into the sport to buy victory.

Perhaps the biggest provision designed to help lower the cost of GP racing’s intro class is the spec-ECU rule, which sees teams limited on the level of electronics they can implement, and institutes a hard-cap on the engine’s maximum RPM (14,000 RPM). With multiple manufacturers able to offer motors and chassis for the racing class, Moto3 should be more open thatn the single-motor Moto2 series. The GP Commission has included a laundry list of other provisions, you can find them bullet-pointed after the jump.

Moto2 Costs €700,000 per Season – Moto2 Bikes Are Over 10x Cheaper than 250GP

03/12/2010 @ 5:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Spanish news site AS.com has an interesting story that breaks down the cost teams will have to bear in the new Moto2 600cc prototype series. Moto2 replaced 250GP for one main reason: money. The series was designed to be cheaper to enter and cheaper to compete in, as well as having bikes that were more analogous to what is making it into consumers’ hands on the showroom floor. So did Moto2 live up to these goals? The answer as AS.com found out is a resounding yes. Click past the break to see the price breakdown and comparison to 250GP.

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 BMW S1000RR to Come in Red, White, and Blue Paint Scheme as an Added Option

05/15/2009 @ 7:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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When BMW set out to build the S1000RR, they wanted to challenge the Japanese manufacturers on their home turf and break out of their established mold, with an inline-four 1000cc superbike contender. The result was a 193hp superbike with traction control and ABS brakes, all in an affordable package (allegedly).

Also a part of this “outside of the box” thinking, was some things we could probably do without. The first of which is that asymmetrical head light. Second, and more to the point, the choice in available colors. After teasing us with pictures of a handsome S1000RR in a red/white/blue paint scheme, BMW debuted the bike in lime green livery, and then showed pictures of the bike in brown and black options. That left us a bit miffed. But luckily we have gotten word that the red/white/blue scheme will be available, but at an additional cost.

MotoGP Agrees On New Measures to Reduce Costs

03/01/2009 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The Grand Prix Commission has announced a slew of new rules for MotoGP, supposedly aimed at cutting costs in MotoGP, and thus allowing the manufacturers and teams to compete despite the world’s economic situation. 

The new measures include the following:

  • Race weekends will be rescheduled with Friday’s practice dropped completely, and Saturday’s sessions shortend.
  • From the Czech GP onward, a maximum of 5 engines can be used in 8 races. No changing of parts will be permitted except daily maintenance.
  • Only 2 post race tests will be allowed at the Catalunya and Czech GP’s for development purposes, and only using test riders will be permitted.
  • Ceramic composite materials are not permitted for brake discs or pads.
  • Electronic controlled suspension is not permitted.
  • Launch control systems are not permitted.

 

How Much Does it Cost to Race in MotoGP?

01/13/2009 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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MotoGP is a special animal. Like how Formula 1 is for automobiles, MotoGP is supposed to embody what the cutting edge of technology can bring to the sport of motorcycling. The talent is the pinnacle of its field, and the bikes are rolling R&D platforms.

This also means of course that the costs are exuberant, and instead of an instant applicable payoffs, the value of racing instead comes down the road many years later as the technology trickles down to the production-level bikes.

This makes MotoGP unlike the racing other series, whereas in World Superbike for instance, teams are working with a bike that is actually sold en masse to the consumer, costs for product line development can be absorbed, and the fabled “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” marketing buzz phrase has some bearing on reality.

Because of the intangible returns on investments, and escalating environment of prototype racing, it is not surprising to see the semi-departure of Kawasaki for 2009. So how much money are teams really losing by racing at the top of the sport?