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.

Rossi Ready to Race at Sachsenring – Needs Chief Medical Officer’s “Ok” in Order to Race

07/14/2010 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi announced today that he is fit enough to race at the German GP this weekend. Crashing only six weeks ago, Rossi has undergone a miraculous recuperation process, which saw the Italian rider utilizing a hyperbaric chamber to expedite his body’s recovery process. After a painful testing session at Misano, Rossi looked to be in far better physical shape a couple days ago at Brno.

Riding a WSBK spec Yamaha R1 at near Superpole pace (and faster than James Toseland), Rossi looked ready for Sachsenring this weekend, but postponed his scheduled annoucement on Monday to today. Seeing now that he has the fitness to race again, Rossi hopes to ride the Fiat-Yamaha M1 once again. Howver, Rossi will first have to get the green light from the MotoGP Chief Medical Officer before he can race, but that’s more of a formality than a material concern.

Fiat-Yamaha: Rossi Announcement Wednesday

07/12/2010 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After first sending a press release that Rossi would make an announcement after his testing session today, Fiat-Yamaha has issued another statement saying that Rossi won’t make a decision on this weekend’s race until he arrives at Sachsenring on Wednesday. Heightening the anticipation of his return, Rossi has seemingly delayed making a decision to race, and wants to wait another two days before making it public what his intentions are for the weekend.

We assume this also means that we won’t hear an announcement from Rossi or Ducati about the 2011 season until the German GP as well. As such, Sachsenring will be an interesting round as both Rossi and Wataru Yoshikawa will have to prepare to race on Sunday, but also there will be the added fervor of the impending Rossi/Ducati announcement.

Photo: Rossi at Brno [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 7:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

UPDATE: According to Brivio, Rossi just finished 46 laps with a best time of 1’59.135. He reports Rossi as being tired, but his leg and shoulder are feeling better.

Fiat-Yamaha Team Manager Davide Brivio snapped this photo of Valentino Rossi as he left the team box at Brno this afternoon in the Czech Republic. So far Rossi has completed 18 laps around Brno, and will hold a press conference after this last session.

According to GPone.com, Rossi’s best lap on his first run was in 2′01.200, while on the second run his best lap was 2′00.600 with the same track temperatures as yesterday’s WSBK races. Compare that to Cal Crutchlow’s Superpole time of 1′58.018 just a few days ago in similar conditions.

Source: Twitter

Rossi to Test at Brno on Monday

07/11/2010 @ 6:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Fiat-Yamaha has confirmed that Rossi will test at Brno on Monday, with a press conference following the day’s testing sessions.

TwoWheelsBlog has gotten word that Rossi will be testing yet again, this time on James Toseland’s YZF-R1 at Brno tomorrow (Monday), as the Italian continues to gauge his progress to physical recovery. Keen to get back to racing,and save MotoGP from its plummeting ratings since his departure, Rossi has called for a press conference immediately following that day’s testing session. At the press conference Rossi is expected to announce his thoughts on racing next weekend at the German GP. A&R also expects Rossi to make the biggest announcement in MotoGP history on Monday as well.

Valentino Rossi Signs Two-Year Contract with Ducati

07/09/2010 @ 3:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

UPDATE 3: Ducati has officially announced signing Valentino Rossi.

UPDATE 2: Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will race with Ducati in 2011.

UPDATE: Ducati & Yamaha have made a gentlemen’s agreement to delay the announcement of Rossi’s move until after Laguna Seca, in exchange for letting the Italian test the Desmosedici GP10 at the Valencian Round.

Let’s avoid the the “scoops”, “exclusives”, and “OMG’s”, and just say that Asphalt & Rubber has received word from a trusted source that Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year agreement with Ducati, that’s set to be announced on Monday…and boom goes the dynamite (sorry, we couldn’t resist). The Rossi/Ducati fantasy has been put forth for years, with the fervor on the subject reaching its pinnacle this season, as Ducati reportedly wafted a €15 million salary (almost double Yamaha’s offer) in front of the nine-time World Champion.

Likely less to do with money, and more about prestige and priority, the announcement comes on the heels of Casey Stoner’s exodus from the Ducati team, as the Australian has jumped ship back to HRC, in what is to be some sort of multinational threesome with energy drinks involved. Ok Italy, it’s almost time to change the sheets, this wet dream is nearly a reality. Stay tuned for Monday.

More Photos of Valentino Rossi at Misano

07/08/2010 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Videos: Rossi Lapping at Misano Test

07/08/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Italy was abuzz yesterday as Valentino Rossi took to the track, testing at Misano, after nearly a month long hiatus. Breaking his shin during a highside at Mugello, Rossi was able to get back in the saddle this week partly because of his extensive use of a hyperbaric chamber, which super-saturated his body with oxygen and increased his body’s healing power, but it is also because the Italian World Champion is just that dedicated to racing.

One lucky spectator at Misano was able to catch a number of Rossi’s laps on video, as the Italian completed 26 laps, over two sessions, on the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Superbike. Rumors peg the carbon-clad WSBK R1 as being one of Cal Crutchlow’s bikes. Crutchlow is a favorite candidate to move into MotoGP (with Monster Tech3 Yamaha) next season, if Yamaha loses Rossi to Ducati in 2011. Check the videos out after the jump.

Rossi Completes Testing at Misano

07/07/2010 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi completed 26 laps of testing today at Misano, while on-board a World Superbike spec 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1. After being off a motorcycle for nearly a month, Rossi and Fiat-Yamaha hoped to assess today how the Italian rider’s broken right leg has progressed since its injury on June 5th at Mugello. Rossi did an initial run of 11 laps on the R1 late in the afternoon, with a best time of 1’41.00. An hour later, the Champion did a second session of 15 laps, improving on his time by 3 seconds, with a best time of 1’38.200. Although pleased with the test, there’s still some debated on when Rossi will return to MotoGP racing.

Rossi Decision Expected at Catalunya

06/30/2010 @ 6:25 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

News regarding Valentino Rossi is at a fever pitch, as it is expected the Italian rider will announce at the Catalan GP his intentions on where he will race in next season. For weeks, if not months now, Rossi has been linked to a very lucrative €15 million deal with Ducati Corse, while Fiat-Yamaha have reportedly scaled back their offer on the GP Champions from his current €14 million salary to €9 million.

Paddock gossip has said that Rossi has been considering both offers; however, at Barcelona we should finally know the answer to what team Rossi has picked, but some sources are already claiming they know the answer.

Our Test Rider is Faster than Your Test Rider

06/28/2010 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

After the collective groan that emanated from MotoGP fans around the world when Wataru Yoshikawa was announced as Valentino Rossi’s replacement, Interwetten Honda is feeling a bit frisky about MotoGP’s next stop at Barcelona for the Catalan GP.

As such the team has challenged the Fiat-Yamaha substitute rider to battle with their own replacement for Hiroshi Aoyama: Kousuke Akiyoshi. With neither rider likely to make much of a showing against the MotoGP usuals, Interwetten Honda boss Daniel Epp sees a battle of the backmarkers as a way to spice up the race.