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.

Michael Jordan Motorsports Leaves AMA Pro Racing — Headed to World Superbike? MotoGP?

10/30/2013 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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News has dropped that the Michael Jordan Motorsports (MJM) team will not be returning to AMA Pro Racing next season due to the fact that the National Guard would also be ceasing its involvement with the domestic motorcycle racing series (the Army National Guard was the chief sponsor of Michael Jordan Motorsports, and was also the title sponsor of the AMA Pro SuperBike class).

Talking to RoadRacingWorld on Tuesday, MJM’s Kreig Robinson confirmed that the National Guard’s lack of renewal with DMG stemmed from AMA Pro Racing’s waning TV viewership and dwindling event crowds.

With sponsoring AMA Pro Racing no longer making smart business sense for the National Guard, Robinson said he had little to argue with in regards to the National Guard’s decision.

The MotoGP / WSBK / AMA Racer Merry-Go-Round

09/23/2013 @ 12:39 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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As the end of the season approaches, the punishment which the riders have taken is starting to take its toll. With several riders out or moved, replacements are being sought to complete the season, or at least fill in for the next race.

In the MotoGP class, the knock on effect of Ben Spies’ extended absence means that a vacancy arose at the PBM team. With Michele Pirro unable to race in the overseas triple header, dedicating himself to testing for the remainder of the year, Yonny Hernandez has been moved to the Ignite Pramac squad for the last five races of the year, as was announced after the Misano test.

That meant that Hernandez’s spot at PBM needed filling, preferably by a rider with some kind of Grand Prix experience. That rider has now been found, and Damian Cudlin is to take the place of Hernandez at the next round of MotoGP at Aragon.

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden – The Duel Continues at NJMP

12/13/2012 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Another side-by-side comparison video from our friends at the Michael Jordan Motorsports (click here for their video from Homestead-Miami Speedway), we take a lap with Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden around New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt course (home of the world’s longest decreasing radius turn).

Riding his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the first qualifying session, Bostrom sets an impressive 1’22.803 lap time (the third fastest of the session), while Hayden on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 does a 1’22.812 here in the second qualifying session.

Impressively enough, both MJM riders were within a tenth of a second of each other at the end of both qualifying sessions. Enjoy some synchronized apexing after the jump.

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead

11/15/2012 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

One of our favorite parts about MotoGP’s recent coverage are the slow-motion shots of riders going through corners, especially when the Dorna folk in the switchroom line-up a few riders through the same turn, giving us a sampling of the different riding styles that exist in the premier class. It is through this sort of coverage that you begin to see the real art behind riding a motorcycle at speed, not the brute force brawl that it looks like in real-time.

Here we have another side-by-side comparison, quite literally actually. Dropping a 1-2 qualifying session at Homestead this year, Roger Lee Hayden was fastest on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.746), while Ben Bostrom qualified 2nd on his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.857). What is interesting in this video is the subtle differences between the two riders, which results in over a one-tenth of a second difference at the finish line.

Hayden & Bostrom Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway

01/03/2012 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The start 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing series is almost upon us, and the folks at Michael Jordan Motorsports are rapidly gearing up for the new season. Traveling down to the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, MJM riders Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden took their Suzuki GSX-R1000 race bikes around newly added track for the first time. While Bostrom and Hayden won’t have to race at Homestead-Miami until September 23rd, the season-opener at Daytona, Florida is rapidly approaching and only two and half months away.

Shooting the Homestead-Miami Speedway test with some on-board cameras, the Michael Jordan Motorsports team has put together a great three minute clip that stars Bostrom’s boot, among other things. Joking aside, the video is well-put together (a rarity in the AMA paddock), and has some great shots of Bostrom’s shifting and knee-slidding around the Floridian track. Look for #23 on the Jordan Suzuki, while Roger Lee will again represent the men and women of the Army National Guard on the #54 bike.

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.

Michael Jordan Motorsports Signs Roger Lee Hayden

11/18/2010 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Michael Jordan Motorsports announced today that it has signed Roger Lee Hayden to its 2011 AMA Pro Racing National Guard Superbike Championship team. Hayden will join Ben Bostrom on the MJM Suzuki GSX-R1000, as Aaron Yates has elected to take more time to heal his injured leg, which he broke at Fontana earlier this year.

Hayden comes back to AMA Racing after competing in World Superbike with Kawasaki last season, and taking a one-off MotoGP ride with LCR Honda at Laguna Seca and a Moto2 ride with American Honda at Indianapolis.

Americans Get Ready for Moto2 at The Brickyard

08/23/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Taking a two-day testing session at The Brickyard, American riders Roger Lee Hayden, Jason DiSalvo, Kenny Noyes, Robertino Pietri (US Resident) had an opportunity to lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Moto2 race held during the Indy GP this coming weekend. The first riders to take to the 2.6 mile, 16 corner course since MotoGP visited The Brickyard last year, the four riders were given 90 minutes each day to setup and practice for Sunday’s race.

You’re Doing it Wrong!

07/28/2010 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Emptying out the memory cards from the Red Bull US GP weekend, we came across a few blooper shots that we just had to share with you (like this one of Aleix Espargaró re-enacting “The Pass” that Rossi pulled on Stoner in the 2008 US GP). We often place MotoGP riders on a pedestal, looking to them as gods, but it’s good every now and then to remind ourselves that they are mortal men after all. Flip through this short series of photos after the jump for a couple of laughs.

Honda Moto2 Livery for Indy Revealed

07/07/2010 @ 4:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

American Honda has released the race livery of their wild card Moto2 entry for the Indianapolis GP, which sees Roger Lee Hayden riding at the helm of the bike and Kevin Schwantz managing the team’s effort. Using a Moriwaki MD600 chassis, American Honda tapped Drudi Performance to come up with the red, white, and blue Honda paint scheme. Additionally, Drudi has also designed a special set of leathers for Hayden, find them and more info after the jump.