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.

2012 Lightning Motors Concept Sketch – Two Bike Team

05/09/2011 @ 5:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After our Bothan Spies brought back photos of the new Lightning Motors electric race motorcycle, we got this concept sketch of the new 2012 “Flying Banana” that gives us some idea or what to expect this weekend at Infineon for the first round of the North American TTXGP series. It is hard to glean any real information off the sketch, other than of course that the machine will have two-wheels, a seat, and some fairings.

What we can tell from this information though is that the Lightning is suspiciously svelte compared to last year’s racing machine. Though it’s easy to hide a motorcycle’s mass in two dimensions, it looks like Lightning Motors has gone on a diet with its design philosophy, which backs up the information we got that the machine has lost 150 lbs from its previous bulk. Time will tell what sort of sacrifices the team had to make in order to achieve that feat, but with two bikes listed on their card, Lightning seems to mean business this year.

Lightning Motors “Flying Banana” Drops 150lbs, Adds 50hp

05/05/2011 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.

When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.

BUB Speed Trials – Lightning and MotoCzysz Battle for Land Speed Records at Bonneville

09/02/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: Richard Hatfield, owner of Lightning Motors, sent this in a text message from Bonneville: “We ran 176.044 as our best speed. The average down and return FIM and AMA speed record was 173.388 mph.”

UPDATE: Just got this in an email from Michael Czysz: “we ran 163 — however they just did 174/175.”

On the salt flats of Bonneville, two electric motorcycle teams are battling for the bragging right to be called “Fastest Production Electric Motorcycle in the World”. TTXGP North America winner Lightning Motors and FIM e-Power and TT Zero Winner MotoCzysz are at the BUB Speed Trials, and from the reports we’ve gotten, the two teams have been trading land speed records all weekend. The latest news we have is that Lightning Motors has clocked the latest LSR with 173mph on the salt flats, breaking the 150 mph record set by Mission Motors at BUB last year, but there’s still time today for that record to again drop.

MotoCzysz Wins e-Power at Laguna Seca

07/26/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The FIM’s e-Power Championship came to American soil this weekend, as the series piggybacked off the Red Bull US GP. Twelve teams from around the world arrived at Laguna Seca to test their mettle against the historic and technical track. While the racing would technically be bike against bike, the undulating tarmac of Seca was certainly also an adversary as well.

Lightning Motors and Michael Barnes took the pole position during Saturday’s qualifying, leaving MotoCzysz and Michael Czysz relegated to the second position on the starting line. Coming from behind on Sunday’s race, MotoCzysz won the e-Power race at Laguna Seca with a dramatic pass just 10 feet from the finish line.

TTXGP: Zero/Agni Takes Victory at Infineon After An Early Battle with Lightning Motors

05/16/2010 @ 1:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

TTXGP’s inaugural North American race is in the bag at Infineon, as race fans got to see two close battles for first and third place this weekend. Blasting off the line was the yellow Lightning Motors bike, or the “Flying Banana” as it’s become known here in the paddock. Lightning’s rider, Michael Barnes, made quick work of Shawn Higbee and his Zero/Agni race bike off the line and on the straights, showing a very strong power package.

With all the power on-board though, Barney was limited  by his heavy and bulky bike, and wasn’t able to carry that speed into the corners as well as Higbee and his more slight Agni bike. Higbee, known for carrying a lot of corner speed, made up a lot of ground on Lightning, making it a close battle between the two riders.

Zero/Agni Sits On TTXGP Pole – Lightning Close Behind as Both Teams Do Sub-Two Minute Laps

05/16/2010 @ 3:52 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Qualifying ended today at Infineon Raceway, with nearly all the riders improving on their times in the day’s later qualifying session. While all the entrants will get to compete in the race regardless of whether or not they qualify, the two outings for Saturday gave us a preview as to what we can expect on Sunday’s race. As we’ve mentioned before, the Zero/Agni motorcycle looked very strong with Shawn Higbee at the helm.

Also looking confident was the “flying banana” fielded by Lightning Motors. Piloted by Michael Barnes, Barney took the yellow lightning machine around the course at a pace that was just seconds off what Higbee & Co. were lapping. We know the yellow bike has a lot of power on-board, and could give Zero a run for their money if they’ve been sand-bagging it during the practice sessions. Finishing out the top three was Thad Wolff and his stunning Norton, which blended a little bit of old with new with his streamlined retro bike chassis. Click past the jump for photos from qualifying and a full list of results.

Lightning Motorcycles Does 166 MPH Bonneville Run

10/16/2009 @ 7:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Lightning-Motors-Bonneville-land-speed-record-8

Watch out Mission Motors, electric motorcycle manufacturer Lightning Motorcycles is gunning for you. This week at the SCTA World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Lightning’s pre-production prototype set a speed of 166.388 mph. While only completing a single pass down the salt flats, and not a return journey to make an official speed entry, 166 mph is still an impressive mark, and has provided the company with crucial information as they get ready to go commercial in 2010. Photos and more after the jump.