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.

David Emmett Named Best MotoGP Blogger & Tweeter in 2013 Silverstone Media Awards

12/20/2013 @ 4:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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I am very proud to announce that my good friend and colleague David Emmett (check the reflection in Nicky’s sunglasses) has been named, not once, but twice in the 2013 Silverstone Media Awards for his coverage of the MotoGP Championship and for his website MotoMatters.

For the third year in a row, David has been named the Best MotoGP Blogger, something we already knew here at Asphalt & Rubber, which is why we feature his work, and this year marks David’s first time as the series’ top account on Twitter.

David is too humble to do anything other than announce his hat-trick of trophies, but I have no problems saying that his work is the definitive source for MotoGP commentary.

David’s true journalistic ethic and keen understanding of the internet as a medium of information has quickly distinguished him from his colleagues in the MotoGP paddock, and for all the hard work of his that we read on our computer screens, there is an iceberg of change underneath MotoGP’s murky waters that he has brought about.

Keep up the excellent work my good friend, I think I speak for all the Asphalt & Rubber readers when I say that Silverstone couldn’t have recognized a better man in MotoGP.

If you want to help support David’s site MotoMatters, you can take out a subscription; get one of the stunning MotoMatters.com 2014 Motorcycle Racing Calendars; buy a print from Scott Jones’ website; or simply make a donation.

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health

10/03/2013 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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You would have to be living in a hole not to have heard about the video footage of a Range Rover plowing through a group of motorcyclists, and the chase through New York that ensued afterwards.

I say this not because the video has been the highest trafficked article on Asphalt & Rubber this week so far, though it is; nor do I say this because the video has been posted to virtually every motorcycle forum and blog on the internet, though it has; but instead because the video has elevated itself out of our obscure sport and into the national, if not international, public consciousness.

It is rare that motorcycling finds its way into mass media, and unfortunately it is rarely a good thing when it does so. Motorcycling by and large has an image problem in the United States. Few motorists commute via motorcycle, which means our industry is filled with people who come to motorcycles from either a hobby, sport, or lifestyle perspective, and because of this motorcycles remain on the fringe of mainstream society.

For some, that is the allure. Motorcycling is “something different’ which in turns allows a motorcyclist to express their individuality in an obvious manner. To illustrate this point, I am fairly certain that the vast majority of flame threads that start on forums and blogs can be boiled down to the premise that because your enjoyment of motorcycles is different from my enjoyment of motorcycles, it therefore must be wrong.

Bonnier Corp. & Source Interlink Swap Publications – Cycle World, Motorcyclist, & Sport Rider Now Under One Roof

05/20/2013 @ 4:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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Interesting news for American motorcycle enthusiasts, as nearly all your printed two-wheeled information is set to come from a singular company in the coming future. Already the recent purchaser of Cycle World, Bonnier Corporation seems poised to control a significant portion of the two-wheeled industry’s printed and online press.

Inking a two-way deal with Source Interlink, Bonnier Corp. receives in the transaction Motorcyclist, Sport Rider, Dirt RiderMotorcycle Cruiser, Hot Bike, Baggers, Super Streetbike, Street Chopper, and ATV Rider. In exchange, Source Interlink receives the TransWorld extreme and urban sports properties (except TransWorld Snowboarding), as well as Sound + Vision magazine.

Video: Ask Me Something, with Dani Pedrosa

04/01/2013 @ 1:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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For just a simple three-day test at the Circuit of the Americas, it is astounding how much marketing material that has poured out from the camps that surround the Honda and Yamaha factory MotoGP race teams. A true testament to the notion that if Dorna loosened its tight grip on recording video at MotoGP events, it could greatly benefit the sponsors, and thus the teams, and thus the riders of the sport.

Take our latest example with an Alpinestars’s “Ask Me Something” video installment that features HRC rider Dani Pedrosa. A simple four-minute promotional clip shot atop the observation tower at the Circuit of the Americas, Pedrosa gets some much needed fan interaction (and humanization), and Alpinestars has a cool promotional video to help justify the millions of dollars its spends in MotoGP each season.

If this had been an “official” test, where Dorna’s media bosses could impose its draconian rules about video, this short segment for one of the paddock’s greatest sponsors would never have occurred (or worse, Alpinestars would have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get permission to film its sponsored rider).

But instead since the COTA test was a “private” test, we get a glimpse into how the MotoGP paddock would function if it was a well-oiled media machine. We have never seen so much marketing material made for the US market come from MotoGP before now. It makes you wonder about something, doesn’t it?

Motorcycle Racing vs. Social Media: How Dorna Could Turn Losing the Battle into Winning the War

03/11/2013 @ 10:23 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love.

So far, Dorna has been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans’ hearts, its only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season.

Yet it has already make one move which has a serious negative impact on the series: it is clamping down on video footage from inside the paddock.

There was some consternation – and there is still some confusion – about the situation at the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island at the end of February. Where previously, teams and journalists had been free to shoot various videos inside the paddock, there were mixed signals coming from Dorna management, with some people told there was an outright and immediate ban, with threats of serious consequences should it be ignored, while others were saying that they had heard nothing on the subject.

That Dorna is determined to reduce the amount of free material on YouTube became immediately clear after the race weekend was over: in previous years, brief, two-minute race summaries would appear on the official World Superbike Youtube channel after every weekend. After the first race of 2013, only the post-race interviews were posted on the site. It is a long-standing Dorna policy to try to strictly control what ends up on YouTube and what doesn’t. It is its most serious mistake, and one which could end up badly damaging the sport unless it is changed very soon.

World Superbike Will Be on Televised in the USA Afterall…But on the beIN Sport Network?

02/19/2013 @ 5:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

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So here’s the good news, after all the uncertainty regarding its media contracts, the 2013 World Superbike Championship will be broadcasted in the United States afterall. The bad news however is that WSBK racing will be on the beIN Sport network. Yeah, we haven’t heard of them either.

SPEED Still without TV Contracts for WSBK & MotoGP??!

02/13/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

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With the World Superbike season-opener now less than two weeks away, bad news looms for motorcycle race fans in the United States, as the SPEED Channel (now a part of FOX Sports), does not have a television contract to air WSBK and MotoGP for their 2013 seasons.

An issue that has been hanging in limbo since the start of the year, Superbike Planet yesterday suggested that American motorcycle racing fans could be without the World Superbike Championship on their televisions sets this year (we have heard similar murmurings regarding AMA Pro Racing as well).

Now today, Roadracing World confirmed with SPEED that the network still does not have any contracts with Dorna for the TV rights to WSBK and MotoGP. What’s worse, SPEED’s Vice President of Media Relations Erik Arneson gave no indication that the TV channel was any closer to finishing a deal with Dorna than it was earlier this year.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Thursday Summary at Le Mans: On Stoner’s Retirement

05/18/2012 @ 10:54 am, by David Emmett25 COMMENTS

It is hard to upstage Valentino Rossi. It takes something large, significant, to take the limelight away from the nine-time World Champion, and the man who has been the charismatic heart of MotoGP for the best part of 15 years. To do that, you have to “Go big or go home,” as British road racer Guy Martin likes to put it.

At Le Mans, Casey Stoner upstaged Rossi. The press conference – usually a rather staid affair, with the usual niceties about the track, each rider’s chances at the circuit and a couple of witticisms – started unusually, with Nick Harris, the veteran commentator who leads the official press conferences, saying that Stoner would like to make a statement to the press. Stoner then proceeded to press the big red button that set Twitter, the internet and newswires ablaze. In the process, he did not so much ignite the 2013 MotoGP Silly Season, as douse it in liquid oxygen and set a flame thrower to it.

Mea Culpa: The Media’s Hard-on for a Good Penis Story

05/01/2012 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

If you haven’t heard of the motorcycle rider who is suing BMW and Corbin seats for causing a lasting erection, then you have likely been living under a rock for the past few days. First reported by Courthouse News, the story has swept the pages of motorcycle blogs around the world, and has even garnered serious mainstream media attention. There is a reason this story is going viral, right? Our inner-child loves a good dick joke, and the setup on how a motorcycle has made a man erect virtually sells its comedic self. There is of course the “damn lawyers” angle as well, which makes for a nice one-two punch.

As you can imagine, the bulk of the commentary, both from readers and from professional journalists, has centered around the absurdity of the claim, with even jokes being offered about how an aged BMW rider should be thanking the German motorcycle brand for saving him money on Viagra, etc. The situation reminds me of the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. You know the story, right?. A woman buys a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, spills it on herself while in the car, and sues the bastards for her incompetence. True to litigious American form, the unthinkable happened, and a jury awarded this gold-digging woman millions of dollars. It is repudiating, and it stands for everything that is wrong with the legal system, or so we would be lead to believe — especially by the media.

As I sat back this weekend and watched the comments flood in about the story, I realized that we the media (myself included) have done a huge disservice to the public at large — an act I thought I would never do. We offered up this story to mass consumption knowing full well the headline chasing/link-baiting were we about to commit. You see, I know a thing or two about the McDonald’s coffee case, and how that story was pitched by the media. Sitting in my first-year torts class in law school, our professor baited his trap and we walked right into it when he offered up the same premise as I have done above. How dare someone sue over some spilled coffee! How dare this man sue for an erection! Whether or not the seat caused it even!

The photo you see above is of Stella Liebeck, the 79-year-old grandmother who spilled 190°F coffee on herself while in a parked car, and suffered third-degree burns on her thighs, pelvic, groin, and genitalia. If that photo shocks and offends you, then I have made my unapologetic point. But what is truly shocking is the full-story behind Stella’s injuries and “frivolous” lawsuit. I have republished the account of her story after the jump, but hopefully it sheds a different light on the plight of our BMW rider, who claims to have had painful, uncomfortable, year-long lasting erections.