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.

200 Horsepower Lotus C-01 Hyperbike Breaks Cover

01/15/2014 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Daniel Simon

The first images of the Lotus C-01 hyperbike have hit the internet, MCN and has the “exclusive” on the 200 horsepower machine’s images. The first images are in fact renders of the final design, though they look the part and clearly show the Lotus C-01’s lines.

Said to have a KTM RC8R v-twin engine beneath its carbon fairings, the Lotus C-01 hits a lot of the right numbers on the technical sheets, though visually the machine it is less enthralling. This surprises us, since the bike’s designer Daniel Simon (creator of the new Tron Lightcycle, and author of Cosmic Motors), is one of our favorite designers.

Wunderlich BMW R nineT Cafe Racer by Nicolas Petit

01/09/2014 @ 4:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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If you ask us, the BMW R nineT is a pretty big deal for the business of motorcycling, as its modular design allows for the air-cooled standard to be modified extensively and easily. BMW Motorrad designed the R nineT that way so tuners and customers alike could put their own stamp on the machine that celebrates the German motorcycle maker’s 90th year of business.

Whether your taste is along the lines of the heavily modified BMW Concept Ninety, which Roland Sands had a hand in making, or something more stock from the BMW parts catalog, the BMW R nineT can abide. So, it probably shouldn’t surprise us to see that Nicolas Petit has inked another build for German parts maker Wunderlich.

Drawing both a fully-faired and a more bare-boned version of Wunderlich BMW R nineT cafe racer, Petit has once again made a lurid proposition. We think those who love the classic lines of BMW’s past will enjoy these concepts, and if anything Petit’s work shows the versatility in the R nineT’s modular design.

Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer Takes Shape

01/07/2014 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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We here at Asphalt & Rubber are big fans of the work that Bottpower is churning out, and whether your particular poison is the Bottpower M211 Moto2 race bike, the Bottpower BOTT 1000 Morlaco street bike, or Bottpower XR1 street tracker, the small Spanish company has a little something for everyone.

Next up for Bottpower is a cafe racer, which is based off the company’s latest creation, the XR1 (track day porn: here). Though the first iteration is almost ready for a customer, so far Bottpower has only given us some renders of the rolling chassis for public consumption.

Like the XR1, a donor Buell XB is used for its engine, brakes, and suspension (the first XC1 will use only a Buell motor however), which makes this machine more of a do-it-yourself kit for the mechanically inclined.

If Bottpower’s other work is any indication, we can’t wait to see how this project comes out. Also, note the custom swingarm, in orange, that Bottpower is building as well. Tasty.

Triumph Daytona 1100 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/13/2013 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It seems like a no-brainer, right? Take the existing Triumph Daytona 675 supersport package, drop in the 1,050cc three-cylinder motor found in the Triumph Speed Triple (with a higher state of tune, of course), and call the beast the Triumph Daytona 1100 superbike. Boom. Done. It’s so easy Triumph, so why haven’t you done it already?!

The answer of course is that the superbike segment is extremely competitive and expensive to enter — just ask BMW Motorrad. A small manufacturer with a rich brand history, Triumph also has a propensity to zig when others zag, which is how the Speed Triple came about in the first place. However, the timing might be right for Hinckley to put some effort into a superbike project.

CAD Drawings of the Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/11/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Overall, our impressions of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 was that the new baby Fighter from Ducati, is a well-improved upon successor to the original Ducati Streetfighter 1098. Helping differentiate the SF848 from the higher-spec, though otherwise identical, Streetfighter 1098 S, the Streetfighter 848 takes the geometry from the Ducati Superbike 848, which means it gets a much-better handling 24.5° rakes. Ducati has also brought over the Testastretta 11° engine, which made its first debut on the Ducati Multistrada 1200, and then found its way onto the Ducati Diavel.

Smoother and easier to operate, the new Streetfighter’s 849cc motor may be down on power compared to its Superbike counterpart (132 hp at its peak, compared to the Superbike 848 EVO’s 140hp), but the SF848 has a much flatter torque curve and a power band that extends into a more useable range for urban and aggressive street riding. When compared to its predecessor, just about the only thing we don’t like about the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is the foot clearance issue with the shotgun exhaust, which limits the movement of a rider’s right foot on the Streetfighter’s peg.

Releasing these CAD drawings at the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 US press launch, maybe some eagle-eyed industrial designers can come up with a solution for this reporter’s kneecap. CAD renders after the jump.

Rondine Moto2 Race Bike

02/27/2012 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

When the Moto2 Championship was conceived, the racing public was pitched the idea of exotic prototype racing machines that would be built around production-based motors. Immediately the idea of a grid full of Bimota-like machines began to tickle our fancy, however the reality has been that Moto2 chassis designs have been far-more grounded in their approaches and configurations.

Though we did see Bimota build a Moto2 racer with the Bimota HB4, it is motorcycles like the Vyrus 986 M2 that we really want to see filling the Moto2 grid. Of course with the spec-engine rules, races are being won and lost by just the smallest differences in chassis specifications, making the use of exotic designs a venerable game of Russian roulette. Don’t tell any of this to Rondine though, as the Italian firm is working hard on a unique Moto2 design of its own.

Call Your Mother Because Here is the Ultimate Ducati 1199 Panigale Photo Gallery

02/17/2012 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ducati has been hogging the news the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the debut of the most important motorcycle the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has ever released. With Ducati up for sale and being valued at €1 billion, the Ducati 1199 Panigale sets the record straight that Bologna has not strayed from its sport bike and racing heritage with the release of bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and Diavel. With Ducati hosting the Panigale’s international press launch in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit (click here to let Ducati know that you wish A&R had been invited to this launch), the initial reports from the assembled press is that all the concerns about Ducati, its frameless chassis design, and its future can be laid to rest.

With a hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, a ride-by-wire throttle, rider-selectable “riding mode” system, and 15,000 mile major service intervals, the Superquadro v-twin motor alone is a major step for Ducati with its Superbike engine design. And, if you add in the first full-LED headlight on a produciton motorcycle, the first electronically-adjustable suspension on a sport bike, the first motorcycle engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle, the total package of the 1199 redefines the word “superbike” and takes the next logical technological step forward in this market segment…and we’ve got over 160 images of the Ducati 1199 Panigale waiting for you after the jump.

XXX: Ducati 1199 Panigale Naked

12/27/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale represents a huge step in motorcycle design, mostly due to its frameless chassis or monocoque design. Using the engine as an integral component to the Panigale’s chassis, Ducati’s hallmark achievement was building an integrated headstock/airbox off the front cylinder. With the seat and subframe built off the rear cylinder, and the swingarm bolting directly to the motor, the Ducati 1199 Panigale was able to not only shed 22 lbs of its predecessor’s design, but also continues the Italian company’s new design trend of having components that take on multiple functional roles.

Being sure to keep the fairings on the Ducati 1199 Panigale fastened at all times, we have very little insight as to what Ducati’s new chassis looks like underneath its clothing, and after hounding Bologna for the past few weeks over the issue, these four renders of the Panigale’s frame are the best we can muster for our readers. The black background makes the black frame components hard to see, but the CAD drawings do provide at least some insight as to how the 1199 comes together. If the Panigale goes as well on the track as it does on the spec sheet, you very well could be looking at the future of production motorcycle chassis design.

Rendered: Ducati 1199 Panigale Race Replicas

12/09/2011 @ 10:07 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It’s only a matter of time before Ducati releases some race replica paint jobs for the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale. It almost certainly won’t be during the 2012 model year, but in 2013 don’t be surprised to see some race-inspired colors adorning Bologna’s flagship superbike. Seemingly beating Ducati to the punch, the guys over at MotorBikeTV have put together some fine photoshops of what the Ducati 1199 Panigale race replicas would look like. Hayden, Bayliss, Checa…the only thing missing is perhaps the most important race replica of all: Valentino Rossi’s.

With The Doctor signing onto the Italian MotoGP squad for two seasons, the match was a marketing director’s dream come true. And while the Rossi yellow might clash with the Rosso Corsa, you can beat anything stamped with a 46 and the Ducati Corse logo will sell like hot cakes…it did for the Ducati Monster at least. A Rossi-branded Ducati 1199 Panigale? The sound you just heard was Ducatisti worldwide having spasms of joy, of the change-your-pants variety. Thanks for the tip Sergio!

The Vegemite Honda RC212V by Morgan Driessen

03/18/2011 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Here’s some Friday eye candy for you, courtesy of Morgan Driessen. When Morgan isn’t out working on his multiple degrees in graphic design (he graduated with honors we might add), he’s likely jumping over things on his trials bicycle (training to compete in the world championship on that as well).

Now in the unlikely situation where you would be unable to find Morgan doing either of those afore mentioned things, then well he’s probably day dreaming about two-stroke racers, and putting pen to pad on a motorcycle designs. Today finds us catching the young Mr. Driessen at the latter, as he has done up some splendid drawings of alternative paint jobs and sponsorships for the Honda RC212V (above) and Yamaha YZR-M1 (after the jump).