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.

MotoGP Signs-on Sepang for Three More Years

10/09/2010 @ 9:10 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Announced this week, Sepang International Circuit will host MotoGP for three more years, bringing GP racing to Malaysia through 2013. Sepang has hosted MotoGP since 1999, and has become a favorite track for many of the GP riders. The Malaysian GP is an important stop for MotoGP, as it not only services GP fans from Southeast Asia, but also Australian and New Zealand as well. MotoGP has made developing nations and regions an important aspect of its racing calendar, hoping to turn these countries into motorcycle racing havens full of MotoGP fans.

Dani Pedrosa Signs Two-Year Contract with HRC

09/16/2010 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

From the Aragon GP today comes news that Dani Pedrosa has signed a two-year contract renewal with Honda, which will see the Spaniard on a factory-backed bike for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The news has been expected for some time, so it’s hardly surprising to see HRC tap Pedrosa for another stint of racing, and Spanish sponsor Repsol is expected to be along for the ride with another one-year extension added to their sponsorship.

Mixed Responses from Riders over Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Renewal with MotoGP

08/29/2010 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

In an announcement made before today’s Indianapolis GP, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway published that it will host MotoGP again next year, as Dorna has renewed The Brickyard with a one-year contract. This announcement puts an end to the immediate chatter that surrounded the MotoGP venue before this weekend, as it was speculated that IMS would not be returning to the MotoGP calendar for the 2011 season.

However the announcement also raises some more eyebrows, specifically because of the short renewal duration (Laguna Seca also renewed its contract with Dorna this year, but will host MotoGP through 2014), and also because of the growing pressure from riders regarding the track’s surface and format.

Perhaps most vocal of his opinion about the track’s condition is Casey Stoner. The Ducati rider missed last year’s Indianapolis GP, and says that there has been a significant degradation between Indy’s inaugural conditions and those from this weekend. One of the victim’s of the bumps in Turn 6, Stoner succintly believes that there’s, “a lot of the circuit they need to have a big think about.”

Nicky Hayden Renews Contract with Ducati

08/28/2010 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Under the lights of the Indy Mile, where motorcycle racing began for the Kentucky-born MotoGP racer, Nicky Hayden has signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse for the 2011 & 2012 seasons. Not the biggest surprise in the paddock, Hayden’s contract renewal has never really been questioned this season as the American started the season off with series of strong finishes and continues to be a strong brand ambassador for Ducati in the United States.

Hayden will be joined the next two years by former teammate Valentino Rossi, the pair rode for Repsol Honda in 2003, with Hayden finishing the season 5th in his rookie GP season.

Colin Edwards to Stay at Tech3 Yamaha for 2010

09/04/2009 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Colin-Edwards-MotoGP-Tech3-Yamaha-2010

Colin Edwards has announced he is close to inking a deal with Tech3 Yamaha to stay on for the 2010 MotoGP season. With today’s announcement of Ben Spies staying in World Superbike for next year, the prospect of possibly two seats at the most sought-after satellite team has surely gotten the silly season gears turning.

MotoGP: Hayden Renews Contract with Ducati

09/03/2009 @ 4:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Nicky-Hayden-contract-Ducati-MotoGP

A few days later than expected, Nicky Hayden has decided to stay with Ducati for the 2010 season, as the Marlboro Ducati team exercised their option on the American rider today. We had originally expected this announcement at Indianapolis last weekend, after earlier news suggested we’d here about the contract, one way or another, before the month of September. But, better late than never, and the news helps sure up the paddock for the 2010 season.