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.

XXX: 2014 Honda RCV1000R

11/08/2013 @ 1:41 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2014-Honda-RCV1000R-MotoGP-05

While the talk of the Valencian GP will be the on-track action between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, the off-track chatter is about HRC’s open class race bike for private teams, the Honda RCV1000R. This is the machine that Nicky Hayden, Scott Redding, and Karel Abraham, with other riders expected to be added, hope will close the gap between factory and private teams.

Like its predecessor, the 2014 Honda RCV1000R uses a 999.5cc 90° V4 engine, and while there are many similarities between the two bikes, there are major differences as well. Specifically, the Honda RCV1000R uses conventional steel valve springs, instead of the Honda RC213V’s pneumatic valve springs; and a conventional gearbox, instead of the factory bike’s seamless gearbox design.

Still the RCV1000R is an impressive machine, and in the hands of Casey Stoner the bike lapped within 0.3 seconds as the RCV213V on the same tires. When shod with the CRT-spec Bridgestone rubber, Stoner was within 0.17 seconds of his factory bike lap time. What the will translate to on race day remains to be seen though.

Costing around €1,200,000 for the first season, and €500,000 for the upgrade package in the second season, teams are still paying quite a bit of coin for a GP bike, especially since HRC is barring them from making their own modifications to the engine. Still, the Honda RCV1000R is a much cheaper option to the satellite-spec RC213V. We just think it looks great — a bevy of high-resolution photos are after the jump.

XXX: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia

11/13/2012 @ 6:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Do you like carbon fiber? Do you like steel trellis frames? Do you like 160hp motorcycles that weigh 390 lbs dry? Well then, we have just the thing for you: 2013 Bimota DB8 Italia.

Pretty much the Bimota DB8 with some “Italian” themed paint, we won’t go into too much detail since the DB8, DB9, & DB11 share pretty much everything except the bodywork…which is probably the only criticism you can lobby at any of those machines.

Bimota sent us these up-close high-resolution photos of the Bimota DB8 Italia from EICMA, and we thought we’d share them with our loyal readers. Enjoy.

XXX: Ducati Desmosedici RR

11/04/2012 @ 3:03 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

Before Honda started working on its road-going version of its V4 MotoGP race bike, there was the Ducati Desmosedici RR. A fairly close approximation to its namesake, 1,500 units of the Desmosedici RR were built by the Bologna Brand, with the coup de grâce being the hyperbike’s $72,000 price tag.

Despite its racing pedigree, with a MotoGP World Championship at the hands of Casey Stoner too boot, sales for the Ducati Desmosedici RR were surprisingly sluggish. You can even find a few remaining models still on the showroom floors of some select Ducati dealerships.

Maybe it was the price tag, maybe it was the public’s less-than-adoring relationship with the new MotoGP Champion, or maybe it was the fact that the production-based Ducati Superbike 1098R was said to be faster than the RR around certain tracks (Motorcyclist & MCN). Maybe it was a function of all the above.

However, in our eyes, the Ducati Desmosedici RR remains one of the most drool-worthy sport bikes produced in the past decade — after all, it really is as close as you’re going to get to a road-going GP machine…besides the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC.

After Ducati completed its production run of the Ducati Desmosedici RR, many began to speculate as to the company’s encore uber-exclusive model. Despite Ducati’s internal belief that the Desmosedici RR was a relative failure as a model (it would be safe to say that Ducati didn’t expect sales of the RR to take nearly as long as they did), as far as halo products go, the Desmosedici RR ticks all the right boxes, and begs for a next-generation.

In many ways, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is the company’s follow-up to the Desmo, and interestingly enough, the Panigale is now also beginning to struggle with sales, admittedly not to the same extent as the RR.

Looking at the photos after the jump, you can see a lot of the Panigale in the Desmosedici, which is of course due to the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s MotoGP-inspired “frameless” chassis design that uses the motor as the basis for the motorcycle’s structure.

Building the headstock/airbox off the forward-facing cylinder head, and the tail/rear-subframe off the rearward cylinder head on the Panigale, we see the same design elements in the Ducati Desmosedici RR, except maybe one or two generations behind the current superbike (Ducati went from a steel trellis design, to a carbon design, to an aluminum design, and now rests on a aluminum perimeter-frame design).

Allowing Ducati to make a ridiculously light motorcycle, the design philosophy holds some serious strong potential. We don’t imagine the thought process on this chassis is over just quite yet, regardless of what is occurring in MotoGP right now, though Ducati Corse certainly has its work cutout for itself in that arena.

Is there a point to all this? Maybe not, beyond something to mull over on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Daydreaming fodder is after the jump.

Video: Making the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola

01/07/2012 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

One of the great A&R travesties of 2011 was my inability to swing by the Radical Ducati shop in Madrid, Spain as I was traveling to the Valencian GP. Truly a fan of their pieced-together two-wheeled works of art, my fragile heart surely would not withstood having to leave Radical Ducati’s workshop, had I been able to get out of the Madrid-Barajas Airport and down to the city center before my connecting flight departed. Ni modo, así es la vida.

Who knows what 2012 has in store for my travel itinerary, so until I can make good on that visit, we all will have to tide ourselves over with the photos and videos that these creative Spaniards produce, and at the top of the drool-worthy list is the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola café racer. A tribute to the bike that carried Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari to victory in the 200-mile race at Imola in 1972, the RAD02 Imola is one of best examples of the quality work that this small Spanish outfit produces on a regular basis.

Releasing an artsy build/assembly video of the Radical Ducati RAD02 Imola, we already feel the custom motorcycle tugging again at our heartstrings, and I can’t help but wonder what other projects Pepo, Reyes, and the rest of the Radical Ducati crew have for 2012. Enjoy the video after the jump, and be sure to bring a towel to mop up the mess.

Motorcycle Porn: Mission R Swingarm by Speedymoto

01/27/2011 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

UPDATE: According to Mission Motors’ Edward West, the single-sided swingarm weighs 13.6 lbs alone, and 18.8 lbs with the slider for the chain tensioner/wheelbase adjuster installed.

The Mission R electric superbike by Mission Motors is one of those motorcycles that looks great by itself in a photo, and then looks even better once you see it in person. Up-close it is easier to appreciate the finer details that went into making the Mission R, like the all-carbon “fuel tank” and battery enclosure, the chrome-moly trellis frame, and of course the single-piece billet aluminum swingarm that was produced by Speedymoto.

Like most things built by Speedymoto, the Mission R swingarm could be a piece of art in its own right (I’ve got a few Speedymoto parts on my Streetfighter for this very reason), and the Oregon-based company has posted some behind the scenes shots and details of its work. Photos and more after the jump.