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.

Bimota Taps Alstare for Race Development and Support – Badovini & Iddon Will Ride World Superbike EVO Entries

01/13/2014 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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When Alstare split from Ducati Corse in World Superbike, there was some speculation as to where the Belgian-based racing team would land, and it would seem the trip hasn’t been a far one.

Linking up with the recently acquired Bimota brand, Alstare has signed a five-year agreement to collaborate with the Italian brand, and will serve as the worldwide racing department for Bimota — with a key focus on developing Bimota’s Moto2 and WSBK racing platforms, the latter centering around the recently launched Bimota BB3.

Alstare’s technical expertise will also be responsible for developing Bimota’s future sports and supersport models, while the firm’s communications and marketing experience will serve as Bimota’s race marketing department.

In total, the essence of the deal sees Alstare playing a vital role in Bimota’s business plans, from developing new models, honing race bikes, finding sponsors, and working with the press. With so much of Bimota’s business being outsourced to the Belgian racing firm, one has to wonder what duties are left for the brand’s Italian base.

BMW Motorrad ‘Strategically Realigns’ Itself out of WSBK

07/25/2013 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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Fresh on the team’s 1-2 victory at Moscow Raceway, BMW Motorrad has dropped a bomb on the World Superbike paddock, announcing that it would no long support a factory team in the production-based series — effective at the end of the 2013 season. In other words, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies will be unemployed in a few months’ time.

Citing a “strategic realignment” of the company’s resources in motorsport, the move by BMW Motorrad is perhaps unsurprising, as zie Germans consolidated their WSBK efforts this year, with the factory supporting BMW Italia’s BMW Motorrad Goldbet SBK team, rather than fielding two efforts in the series.

The He Said, She Said, But No One is Really Saying Anything about the Virginia International Raceway Snafu

07/13/2011 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Racing and the Virginia International Raceway have been having a war of the press releases the past few days, as it was announced that AMA road racing will not be taking place at the fabled mid-Atlantic track later next month. With AMA Pro Racing first announcing on Monday that the event scheduled for August 12th-14th was cancelled, the sentence immediately following that statement must have struck a nerve with VIR, as it read: “Despite AMA Pro Racing’s efforts to preserve the originally scheduled August 12-14 event, VIR staff notified AMA Pro Racing late Monday, July 11, of its final decision not to host or promote the race weekend.”

VIR followed up on Tuesday with a statement of it’s own, lambasting AMA Pro Racing for putting the blame on the Virginia track, and shifted the accusations onto AMA Pro Racing, who according to VIR was tardy in getting the raceway a contract in time to properly promote the event. With each side seemingly telling only part of the story, speculation has been rife as to what really went down between America’s premier road racing series, and one of our most prestigious venues.

Though we have no inside-knowledge of what transpired between the two parties, friction between tracks and promoters typically comes down to pie slices, and who gets the bigger piece. With VIR’s 10-year contract to host AMA Pro Racing in expiration, the renegotiation of the contract apparently fell apart. Reading between the lines on the press releases, it would seem to us that while negotiations have been ongoing, AMA Pro Racing gave VIR its final offer, which the track did not accept. While it is impossible to say who is right or wrong in this blow-out, it’s pretty easy to tell who the big losers are: the fans. Press releases after the jump.

KTM Enters AMA Pro Superbike with Factory Team

06/30/2011 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

KTM Motorsports is teaming up with HMC Racing to field a factory-backed KTM effort in the AMA Pro Superbike Road Racing Championship Series (say that three times fast). KTM & HMC will enter in three races on the AMA Pro Racing calendar: Mid-Ohio, VIR, and NJMP, with rider Chris Fillmore at the helm of the KTM 1190 RC8 R Race Spec. With the team headed by Mitch Hansen of HMC Racing, KTM is trusting old partners with its first official foray into AMA road racing.

James Toseland to Return to WSBK Racing at Monza

05/04/2011 @ 1:55 pm, by Victoria Reid6 COMMENTS

As World Superbike prepares to end a three-week hiatus at Monza this weekend, former-champion James Toseland also looks to make a comeback after a testing injury kept him from two race weekends. The Briton broke his wrist whilst testing at Motorland Aragon back in March 18th during a highside that saw him landing on his head and right wrist — as he had joined teammate Ayrton Badovini and the factory Kawasaki team in Spain for testing between the first and second rounds of the Championship.

Though Spanish doctors originally cleared Toseland to race his home round at Donington Park, a specialist in England “found that I had badly displaced bones in my wrist. At that point, things were getting critical as there was no blood flow in the wrist, meaning that the bone could die if I wasn’t operated on immediately,” explained Toseland.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

Gas vs. Electric: Chip Yates Takes Podium Finishes in WERA Heavyweight Twins at Fontana [UPDATED]

01/09/2011 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Race results from both races, video of the first race, and a photo from SWIGZ Racing.

Reports are coming in from Fontana (AutoClub Speedway if you will) this evening, where Chip Yates the SWIGZ Racing team were competing against the gasoline-powered liter bike v-twins in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike & Superstock race classes earlier today. Hitting at one point 158mph on the banked walls of Fontana, Yates finished an impressive 2nd place in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superstock class, and had another podium finish (3rd place) in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike class, racing against KTM RC8 and Ducati 1198 Superbikes.

Talmacsi Testing with Pedercini WSBK Team at Sepang

01/03/2011 @ 2:30 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

After a moderately successful Moto2 season in 2010, Gabor Talmacsi has switched his focus to World Superbikes. Currently in talks with Team Pedercini, Talmacsi will be testing for Pedercini with a phalanx of other Kawasaki riders at the Sepang circuit in the middle of January. Though the Hungarian won a podium position at Motorland Aragon and finished the 2010 championship in sixth, he was left out in the cold after Speed Up pulled out of Moto2 for 2011, as did so many other teams with too few funds to go racing in 2011. Despite spending 2009 in both the 250 and premier GP classes, Talmacsi seems to have joined the list of riders unable to remain in MotoGP and looking for work in WSBK.

KTM Commences Moto3 Racing Program

12/10/2010 @ 8:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the demise of 125GP coming down the pipe, it comes as no surprise today that we learn that KTM has begun working on a Moto3 racing program. According to GPOne, work began on the project a few weeks ago, and is still in the early stages of its design. With all the 250cc MX, enduro, and supermoto four-stroke singles in KTM’s arsenal, the Austrian company has a surfeit of experience in making potent small displacement machines, and could be an early favorite in the 2012 opening season. The news also balances out well with the recent confirmation that KTM is working on a 250cc+ version of its KTM 125 Duke, which is destined for the American market in the next 18 months or so.

Honda Confirms Three-Rider Team and Repsol Sponsorship

11/08/2010 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After declaring its intention to field a three-man team in the 2011 MotoGP season with riders Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Casey Stoner, HRC went immediately into circles about how it would pull-off such an arrangement when the money to finance a larger factory squad did not materialize. Exploring avenues that would see a second, single-bike, factory team (rumored to be sponsored by Red Bull) centered around Andrea Dovizioso, Honda also tried to stick the Italian rider inside the Gresini Honda satellite squad (with the promise of factory support), but both efforts came to no avail.

With Dovizioso holding his ground, and Honda bound by a contract, questions regarding how the Japanese manufacture would handle its predicament were a common source of conjecture in the MotoGP paddock. This speculation has finally come to a conclusion though, as HRC has announced it has secured Andrea Dovizioso in the factory team for 2011, which will will continue to be sponsored by Repsol Honda.