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.

World Superbike Considers 300cc Class & More

12/24/2014 @ 11:56 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

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At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series.

There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series’ long term future.

The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next.

In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.

The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems.

Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two rounds are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.

The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series.

MotoGP Rules Updated: Fuel Limits, Concussion Tests, Etc

12/18/2014 @ 4:46 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

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The meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held on Tuesday in Madrid, made a number of minor changes to the rules for all three Grand Prix classes, as well as a couple of more significant revisions.

The biggest changes concerned the setting of the maximum fuel allocation from 2016 at 22 liters, and the adoption of the SCAT3 test for concussion for riders after a crash. But perhaps the most significant outcome of the meeting of the GPC is not what was decided, but what was not.

Of the various minor rule changes, a few are worthy of comment. The first is the reduction of the time penalty at the start for a rider exceeding the engine allocation in any given year.

From 2015, anyone using an extra engine will start the race from pit lane 5 seconds after the green light is displayed after the official start (once all riders on the grid have passed pit lane exit), rather than 10 seconds.

This will have little direct impact on the outcome of any races, but should make it easier for riders using an extra engine to get close to the backmarkers, and perhaps score a point or two.

New Rules for WSBK: All Superbikes to be “EVO” in 2015 & Winter Testing Banned for 2014

10/06/2013 @ 12:36 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

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The future of the World Superbike series is about to undergo a radical change. The EVO class to be introduced from next year onwards is to be the standard for all World Superbike machines from the 2015 season onwards. As the WSBK grids have dwindled over the past four years, World Superbikes have been looking around at ways to stop the decline of the series.

Former owners Infront were unsuccessful at stopping the rot, and now that the series is in the hands of Dorna, the Spanish series organizer has sat down with the manufacturers – previously excluded – and tried to find a way to cut costs drastically and increase participation.

The Newspeak of MotoGP’s Rules for 2014

08/28/2013 @ 6:49 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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At the same time the World Superbike rules for 2014 were announced, the revised version of the MotoGP rules, including updates for next season were also published. But unlike the WSBK rules, no press release was sent out to announce the new rulebook, as the minor rule changes had already been announced previously.

Yet this rulebook marks a sea change in the way MotoGP is defined. For 2013, MotoGP is still defined as prototypes competing with 21 liters of fuel, and an additional class of machines running under the claiming rule banner. From 2014, however, the roles are reversed. All bikes are classed as MotoGP entries, but an exception is made for teams entered under the ‘Factory Option’.

No MotoGP Rev Limit Until 2014

05/01/2012 @ 3:03 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Jerez saw another round in the game of bluff poker being played between Dorna and the manufacturers over the future of MotoGP’s rules, and both sides took another step closer to an agreement. Reports emanating from the discussions suggest that Dorna has made a concession to the MSMA over the rev limits, while the factories are pushing through a single-bike rule, and an agreement should be ready by the middle of the year.

Ever since the MSMA lost their monopoly over the rules at the end of 2011, when the contract between the MSMA and Dorna lapsed, Dorna has had the stronger hand, and Carmelo Ezpeleta has been pushing the factories hard for changes. The pressure is starting to pay off for Ezpeleta, as by a combination of cajoling, threats and promises, he has also reached an agreement over the future shape of the sport. MotoGP is to undergo a radical transformation from the pure technology exercise that was the 800cc era, and become a sport focused on entertainment, where costs are kept in check.

Why the MotoGP Weight Limit Was Changed

03/07/2012 @ 11:16 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

The weight increase in the MotoGP class introduced for 2012 – from 153kg, as originally agreed when the 2012 regulations were drawn up back in August 2010, to 157kg – has had many repercussions. The addition of 4kg to the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been blamed for causing the chatter that Honda’s RC213V suffers from, and for complicating the pursuit of the ideal weight distribution for both Honda and Yamaha, which the two Japanese factories had spent most of 2011 perfecting ahead of the 2012 MotoGP season.

The decision was taken in a Grand Prix Commission meeting held on December 14th of 2011 in Madrid, and though it drew little comment at the time, once the MotoGP paddock reassembled at Sepang for the first test of the year, some intriguing details started to appear. Crash.net’s Peter McLaren has an excellent reconstruction of the decision process, from which it is clear that the path to adoption the proposal faced was far more complex than usual. It also reveals some of the underlying tensions in both the Grand Prix Commission and the MSMA which will go on to play a major role in the rule-making process for 2013 and beyond.

Moto3 Technical Regulations Released

10/13/2011 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Two-stroke racing has been living in a four-stroke world, and the death blow to the smokers in GP racing has already been dealt by the GP Racing Commission. With 2012 set to see Moto3 replace 125GP as MotoGP’s introductory class, the FIM has released the full technical specifications of the up-coming, 2500cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke racing class. Designed not only to bring GP racing into the 21st century, Moto3 also aims to end the Aprilia domination that’s currently taking place in the class’s two-stroke predecessor. With companies like Honda and KTM building complete Moto3 machines, and engineering firms like Kalex working on custom chassis for the prototype 250cc engines, there certainly looks to be a bit of diversity coming to the introductory GP series.

Another issue plaguing 125GP, and GP racing as a whole, is the rising costs of competing in the sport, as evidenced by the diminishing grid size in MotoGP. With Moto2 boasting a healthy 40 bike grid, Dorna and IRTA believe they have found the secret recipe to making prototype racing work, and have applied that methodology to the new Moto3 class. Unsurprisingly then, the vast majority of Moto3’s technical regulations concern keeping costs down, especially when it comes to the series’ claiming-rule style engine & parts restrictions. It’s actually interesting to read the level of detail the GP Commission has gone through in order to head-off attempts to circumnavigate the spirit of the cheaper four-stroke series, though we might point out that water always finds its level. Check out the full Moto3 technical regulations after the jump.

GP Commission Modifies 2011 Rules

12/13/2010 @ 2:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The GP Commission has seen it fit to modify the rules for MotoGP, Moto2, and 125GP during the 2011 season, with perhaps the biggest alteration coming in the form of FP3 being reinstated to the Saturday schedule. For MotoGP, all practice and qualifying sessions will be returned to their one hour format (up from 45 minutes), which should make the sessions more useful for teams who has to scramble to make changes during the 45 minute format (Moto2 and 125GP will remain at 45 minute session). All the classes will see a three-wide grid format, which should be especially interesting in the compacted Moto2 field. All teams will also be allowed the use of generators on the starting grid.

Special for MotoGP, Dorna seems intent on limiting the level of electronics being used in the premiere class, and has inserted a provision that says that “in MotoGP, only the GPS provided by Dorna is permitted.” Currently MotoGP teams employ GPS systems that know which turn, and where in each turn, the bike is, and adjusts the bike’s suspension, engine map, and other settings for that corresponding section of the track.

While hyper-precise GPS systems could shave tenths of seconds off lap times, they also create an arms race in electronic controls, which in-turn raises the costs of racing. With Dorna supplying the unit, or failing to provide a GPS entirely (plot twist!), the use of such advanced electronics could no longer exist in 2011.

In addition to these provisions, Dorna has also requested applications for the 2012 Moto3 ECU supplier. Find the full release on the technical regulations and specifications after the jump.

Official Moto3 Regulations Finally Released

11/07/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Announced at Valencia this weekend, the GP Commission has finally released the details on the upcoming Moto3 class, which will replace 125GP racing in 2012. Based around a four-stroke 250cc single-cylinder motor with an 81mm maximum bore size, Moto3 aims to reel in the spiraling costs of GP racing, with numerous provisions that are designed to limit how much money teams and manufacturers can sink into the sport to buy victory.

Perhaps the biggest provision designed to help lower the cost of GP racing’s intro class is the spec-ECU rule, which sees teams limited on the level of electronics they can implement, and institutes a hard-cap on the engine’s maximum RPM (14,000 RPM). With multiple manufacturers able to offer motors and chassis for the racing class, Moto3 should be more open thatn the single-motor Moto2 series. The GP Commission has included a laundry list of other provisions, you can find them bullet-pointed after the jump.

Ducati Pulling Out of WSBK in 2011

08/27/2010 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

After being unable to achieve the racing regulations in World Superbike that it desires, Ducati has announced that it has officially pulled out of WSBK racing in order to focus its technical efforts on MotoGP racing, and bringing new technology to its street motorcycles. While Ducati Corse will continue to provide motorcycles and support to private teams, the Italian company will not field a factory team in the 2011 season.

Although Xerox is apparently still game to foot the bill for Ducati’s WSBK effort, the title sponsor only wishes to do so if the factory team is winning races. This goal becomes increasingly more difficult for Ducati, who is finding the current 1198 Superbike not on equal footing performance-wise with the inline-four Japanese Superbikes. Closing the performance gap for Ducati means either the simple fix of adding larger throttle bodies to the existing race package, or the expensive choice of developing the 1198 motor further.