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.

Vito Ippolito Elected to Third Term as FIM President

11/24/2014 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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The ballots are in, and Vito Ippolito will continue as the President of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), for the next four years. Ippolito was re-relected at the FIM General Assembly held in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. With 103 national motorcycle federations taking part in the voting, Ippolito defeated rival Jorge Viegas of Portugal with 62 votes to 41.

For those who don’t know the sixty-two-year-old Venezuelan-born Ippolito, he has an impressive career in motorcycling. He was the manager of Team Venemotos, during the period their rider Carlos Lavado won the 250GP World Championships in 1983 and 1986. He was also the President of the FMV (Venezuelan Federation) from 1992 to 2006, and has been involved with duties at the FIM since 1984.

FIM Hints at Homologation Rule Changes for WSBK

01/17/2014 @ 10:25 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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With the recent announcement that Alstare and Bimota are to join forces, and headed to go race in the World Superbike Championship, many wondered how the boutique Italian brand would meet the homologation requirements, established for WSBK racing, with the Bimota BB3 superbike.

A similar eyebrow was raised when Erik Buell Racing announced its intention to switch from AMA Pro Road Racing to World Superbike, as the OEM clearly didn’t have the manufacturing capacity to produce the requisite number of motorcycles according to the FIM’s timetable.

Well those questions seemed to have been answered, as the FIM has released a statement — well more a statement promising a future statement — that hints at future rule changes for homologation requirments.

At the First FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp

11/01/2013 @ 8:18 am, by Shelina Moreda15 COMMENTS

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Today’s guest post is written by our good friend Shelina Moreda (Facebook & Twitter), an FIM eRoadracing rider for Team Parker Brammo, an AMA Pro Harley Davidson Vance & Hines rider with Team Spyke’s H-D / She’z Racing, and the first female to have raced a motorcycle at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Having just got back from the FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp in Albacete, Spain, we asked Shelina to share with us her experience teaching at the girls training camp, what she learned in attendance, and how the sport of motorcycle racing is being invaded by these talented ladies. -Jensen

The first ever FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp in Albacete, Spain was better than any of us could have hoped for. The camp sold out, with 24 girls from 10 different countries in attendance.

The Women in Motorcycling Commission organized this camp as one part of their larger goal of promoting women in all motorsports, and I was honored to be asked to instruct at this camp.

My fellow teachers include Mr. Ismael Bonilla from Spain – former Grand Prix rider in the 250cc class from 1996 until 2001, as well as guest instructor Melissa Paris, of AMA Pro Daytona SportBike road racing fame — an athlete many female riders look up to.

The goal of the camp was to give female riders from all over the world the opportunity to train with high-spec motorcycles and professional coaches on a major racing circuit, and to give them the tools to make them better riders. The FIM hit it out of the ballpark.

Palestine Becomes a Member of the FIM

12/06/2012 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme General Assembly met in Monte-Carlo this past weekend, where 76 of 107 of the member federations were in attendance. Conducting a bit of FIM business, one of the more interesting points to note from the meeting was the FIM General Assembly’s acceptance of two new applications to join the FIM. One of the applications came from Fédération Motocycliste de Côte d’Ivoire (FMCI), which replaces the Ivory Coast’s previous federation, the FISAM.

The second application though is a bit more interesting, as the FIM General Assembly accepted the Palestinian Motor Sport and Motorcycle Federation (PMSMF) as the FIM’s 108th member federation. Able to accomplish what the United Nations has been unable to do in the past 25 years, the FIM acceptance is a growing trend in international politics, and it adds recognition to the the eight-year-old PMSMF, which has already be granted member status in the car realm with the FIA.

FIM Reviewing How Rossi/Stoner Crash Was Handled

04/05/2011 @ 8:23 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) will be reviewing the conduct of track officials regarding their handling of the crash aduring the Spanish GP, which saw Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner crashing out together in Turn 1. After separating the bikes, as Stoner’s had been on top of Rossi’s, a vast majority of the corner workers rushed to Rossi’s aid, leaving Stoner stranded until the Italian was underway.

Stoner in the post-race debriefs was noticeably upset over the favortism shown by the Spanish workers (he did not re-enter the race), a complaint that was also levied by Marco Simoncelli, who also got no assistance in his incident.

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.

Donington Park Green Lit by the FIM for WSBK this Month

03/02/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off

Donington Park has passed the final FIM safety checks, and been fully approved to host the second round of the World Superbike Championship at the end of this month, the first time the circuit has held a major event since 2009. The  inspection occurred while much of the racing press watched the season-opening races at Phillip Island, though Donington has been part of the official WSBK calendar since late last year.

The fame British track has been embroiled in a bit of drama over the past two years, having been taken over by Simon Gillett and partners, who hoped Donington would take the place of Silverstone as the British Grand Prix on the Formula1 calendar. When Gillett’s company fell apart, as did the F1 venture, Donington was left with its extensive redevelopment only partially completed. Kevin Wheatcroft stepped in as chairman to restore the shambles his father’s circuit had been left in, and worked to gain Britain its second WSBK race of the season, with the traditional round held at Silverstone in July.

Nobody F*cks with The Dorna – Ezpeleta Puts PI on Notice

01/14/2011 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

In the background of MotoGP, a quiet battle has been raging since the Australian GP at Phillip Island. A venue always threatened with inclement weather, the Australian track always manages to muster sunshine on race Sundays, despite the fact that they have all the makings weather-wise for a good regatta, not a motorcycle race. Despite this reality, the issue of running the Australian GP earlier in the race season comes up every time MotoGP gets a whiff of rain, wind, or kangaroos that could threaten the coastal track, as the late scheduling of the GP has historically been during the country’s rainy season.

Pressure to move the Australian GP to earlier in the season seemingly found its stride this past season, as Valentino Rossi and a number of other riders openly expressed their frustration with the circuit’s weather, and the pending safety concerns it meant for the riders. Talking during last season’s race, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta seemed all but certain that the venue would find an earlier slot in the calendar for 2011, despite the scheduling conflicts with WSBK and Formula 1 in the earlier months of this new year, and the nagging problem that Phillip Island doesn’t want to move the venue date.

Fielding questions at the Ducati/Ferrari Wrooom event, Ezpeleta again was asked about the issue with Phillip Island, and his response to the track’s position that its contract with Dorna prevents a change in the calendar positioning (PI is contracted until 2016). Talking to the assembled press, Ezpeleta fired a clear warning shot across the bow of the Australian track when he said the track’s homologation could come into question if calendar changes aren’t accepted. “We are talking with them.  It’s true, they have a contract, but their circuit is subject to homologation,” said Ezpeleta. “If it (the Phillip Island track) is not homologated, the contract will be void.”

Riders for Health Day of Stars at Laguna Seca

07/28/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca kicked off on Thursday with the Riders for Health Day of Stars, a fundraising event that included a group ride along the scenic Monterrey Peninsula and private tours of the MotoGP pit boxes lead by American Grand Prix legend, Randy Mamola.

One of the highlights of the day’s events was the signing of the Rossi Yamaha M1. A project conceived by Daytona 200 winner Don Emde, the one of a kind street bike was signed by Valentino Rossi and will be auctioned this fall, all proceeds from the sale going to benefit Riders for Health.