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.

One on One: Valentino Rossi & Masao Furusawa

02/06/2011 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Continuing its “ONE on ONE” series, Yamaha has pitted two staples of its MotoGP garage to interview each other: nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former-Executive of Engineering Operations Masao Furusawa. The video is obviously a bit untimely, as Rossi has already made the switch over to Ducati, but the interview proves relevant as he and Furusawa talk about why Rossi made the jump in the paddock from Honda to Yamaha in 2003. If you supplant the appropriate manufacturers’ names, you could almost hear Rossi talking about his reasoning thus far with the Italian racing brand.

So far the video series is two-parts long, and has some great insights into the relationship that was the driving force for Rossi joining Yamaha, and for his departure (Furusawa’s retirement from Yamaha being one of many factors in Rossi’s decision to leave the Japanese marque).  Over the course of their discussion, fun trivia bits come up, like what Max Biaggi said when Rossi won the opening GP race at South Africa in 2004. Check past the jump to find out what his response was, and to watch the videos in their entirety.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

KTM 250 Duke in 18 Months

12/06/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Perhaps our only gripe with the 2011 KTM 125 Duke (besides of course that it’s not coming to America), is the too small for American roads 125cc displacement. With no graduated licensing programs to be found, unlike our European brethren, the 125cc learner format just doesn’t seem to work in our “can travel anywhere by car” society here in the United States. Not to fret says KTM though, as a 250cc or even 300cc version of the orange pocket rocket is under development at the Austrian company.

We think 250cc/300cc would be an ideal size for blasting from stoplight to stoplight on city streets, both for new riders and veteran hooligans alike, and it won’t take much to place the outwardly similarly sized motor in the KTM 125 Duke frame. Thinking along those same veins, KTM says an 18 month trail time is expected from the 125 Duke launch to when we’ll see the next larger iteration.

BMW to Sell Motorcycles in India

10/28/2010 @ 3:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After successfully launching its cars in the growing markets of Asia, BMW plans on having its motorcycles available for purchase in three Indian dealerships by December of this year. Making available its R & K series street motorcycles, along with the S1000RR superbike, BMW will have a presence in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, with the bikes being imported directly from BMW’s factory in Berlin. BMW has targeted India as an area for strong growth in the future, and joins companies like Brembo, Yamaha, Honda, Royal Enfield, and KTM who have increased their presence and production in the budding Western Asia area.

Ducati WSBK Fans Lash Out Against Rossi at Imola

09/29/2010 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

There were some not so happy racing fans this weekend during World Superbike’s penultimate stop at Imola. A home track for Ducati, the race stands where filled with Italian racing red, and also some signs from some very unhappy Ducatisti. Perceiving Valentino Rossi’s switch in the MotoGP from Yamaha to Ducati as the reason for Ducati shutting down its World Superbike racing efforts at the end of this season, Ducati WSBK fans aired our their discontent with anti-Rossi and anti-Ducati banners and stickers throughout Imola.

Aprilia Halts RSV4 WSBK Development

09/15/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Aprilia is either confident or cocky, because according to MCN, the Italian manufacturer’s racing department has halted development on the 2010 World Superbike spec RSV4 Factory race bike. Comfortable with Max Biaggi’s 58 point lead over Leon Haslam and his Alstare Suzuki, Aprilia wants Biaggi to focus on racing with his current setup, rather than risk having a prototype part breaking, and costing the team and Biaggi the World Superbike Championship.

Haslam Looks for More Support from Suzuki Japan

07/01/2010 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Trailing in the World Superbike Championship standings by 37 points, Leon Haslam has called on Suzuki Japan to lend him more support if they want to contend with Max Biaggi and Aprilia for the WSBK title. Losing the World Superbike lead at Miller Motorsports Park, Haslam and Suzuki have found the Aprilia of Biaggi slowly out-classing them at races.

Orginially favorited to win WSBK this year, Haslam says that unless Suzuki allocates more resources to his racing effort, the Japanese manufacturer will miss a golden opportunity to win a World Championship title, which is code for “Hey Suzuki, satellite bikes are beating your factory MotoGP team”.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Video Recap

04/14/2010 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

How important is the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 to the Italian company? Consider this, despite releasing a bevy of new and revised motorcycles for the 2010 model year, only the Multistrada 1200 has seen the Bologna company bend over backwards to market its sport-tourer with a bevy of videos. Part of this is due to the extra pocket change seen in the adventure segment of motorcycling, but an even more important reason for Ducati’s aggressive media push is the need for the Italian brand to stand for something more than just expensive sport bikes.

Before there were Hypermotards and Multistrada 1200’s, Ducati still saw the lion’s share of its sales come from the Monster line, despite the company being better known for its Superbike line. Unlike some other companies, Ducati was fortunate enough to realize that you can’t play in only one market segment, and began looking for new ways to expand it’s product lineup…thus the Multistrada 1200 was born. In an effort to keep up with all the marketing around the beak-nosed bike, we’ve compiled all of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 videos we could find, so sit back, grab a beverage, and enjoy them after the jump.

Yamaha Raising Money for Electrics

04/02/2010 @ 12:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Motors is set to raise $812 million in capital in order to pursue development and production of fuel-efficient engines, which includes hybrid and electric models. The focus of this new range of Yamahas seems to be destined for emerging markets, but may include technologies that could trickle into more established markets like the United States. Yamaha plans on raising this money by making 63.25 million more corporate shares publicly available for investment.

From Concept to Conception: Video of the Making of the BMW S1000RR in Just Three Minutes

02/15/2010 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber has been out of the office for most of this President’s Day weekend, but we’re back now and eager to make it up to you. We’ve got some great stories that we’ll roll out this week, but while we put them together we thought we’d tide you over with this video that showcases the development process of the 2010 BMW S1000RR superbike. The video highlights the planning, designing, and testing of BMW’s first true sportbike, which gives an interesting perspective into the bike’s creation. Click past the break to watch the video, and go ahead and queue up your own music because this soundtrack is el horriblé.