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.

A New Ducati Diavel Cometh?

02/26/2014 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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According to users on Diavel-Forum.com, Ducati dealers have been telling customers to get ready for an updated version of the Ducati Diavel, which should break cover Monday, March 3rd.

The surprise unveiling for the 2014 model year will see the Ducati Diavel get a host of improvements, most notable the dual-spark Testastretta 11° DS motor. Other updates are said to include a revised headlight, new exhaust, indicators, and side panels.

If the reports turn out to be true, we should see the Diavel get a modest power boost from the Testastretta 11° DS engine (likely only in the mid-range, as was seen on the Multistrada 1200).

Expect a small premium for the model over the standard Diavel, with three trim levels being available, including a “Dark” base model and a high-end “Carbon” model.

Is BMW Working on an S1000RR Based Sport-Tourer?

02/13/2014 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Rumors out of Germany say that BMW Motorrad is working on a new variations of its “S” platform, which would see the S1000RR used as a base for a Multistrada-esque four-bikes-in-one type of machine.

According to the well-informed folks at Motorrad magazine, the new BMW model could be seen at this year’s trade shows (we would expect an INTERMOT debut, over an EICMA premiere), and would feature dynamic damping control, ride-by-wire throttle maps, ABS, and traction control.

Michael Dunlop Rumored to be Racing for BMW at IOMTT

02/10/2014 @ 8:32 am, by Bryan Delohery3 COMMENTS

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After an announcement in late 2013 that Michael Dunlop would be forced to sit out the 2014 road racing season, rumors are flying that he has pitched a tent in the BMW paddock.

Although no official statement has been made yet, MCN and Bennetts are both reporting the seven-time TT winner will be signing a deal to ride an BMW S1000RR for BMW Motorrad in the Superbike TT classes, along with a BMW HP4 that he will be riding for his own team, Michael Dunlop Racing, in Superstock TT race.

Rumor: MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster a Turbo?

01/18/2014 @ 9:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Italy’s venerable Motociclismo magazine is starting an interesting rumor that MV Agusta is experimenting with a turbocharged version of its 800cc three-cylinder engine, and that the forced-induction lump could find its way onto the soon-to-be-released MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster model for 2014.

The Italian publication is also running the above render of the machine, which matches up with the photos found earlier this week. Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), list the 2014 model motorcycle as the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, and as the name and photos suggest, the “Ducati Diavel rival” is based heavily upon the MV Agusta’s Brutale platform.

Though a highly respected publication, Motociclismo‘s speculation sounds a bit far off the mark this time around to our ears, so as always, time will tell on this one.

MotoGP Silly Season’s First Crazy Rumor: Lorenzo Agrees to Precontract with Ducati for 2015? Ducati Says No

01/16/2014 @ 10:44 am, by David Emmett20 COMMENTS

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MotoGP silly season this year is expected to be pretty frenetic, with just about all of the riders either out of contract or with escape clauses written into their contracts allowing them to leave at the end of 2014.

But even by those standards, the first shot in the battle sounds like madness. According to a report on the Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Ducati have tempted Jorge Lorenzo into agreeing to a precontract to race for the Italian factory from 2015 onwards.

According to the report, Ducati Corse’s new boss Gigi Dall’Igna phoned Jorge Lorenzo personally to persuade him to sign for the Italian factory. The contract on offer is reported to be tempting: Onda Cero claim that Ducati offered Lorenzo 15 million euros a season to race for them.

Lorenzo is reported to be racing for 9 million a year with Yamaha, plus a 2 million euro bonus if he wins the championship. Both Honda and Yamaha are also chasing Lorenzo’s signature for 2015, both claimed to have offered him 12 million euros a year.

Ducati CEO Denies Scooter Plans

12/30/2013 @ 2:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With the internet buzzing yet again about rumors of Ducati planning to build a scooter model, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali has also once again had to dismiss any truth to the matter. Talking to MCN about the matter, Domenicali said simply that “A scooter is not in the foreseeable future for Ducati.”

Domenicali went on to explain that small-displacement machines were not in the cards for Ducati and the brand’s foreseeable future, with the Italian motorcycle company electing instead to focus on niches with the larger displacement categories. It is no secret that Ducati is looking to introduce a scrambler-style model for the 2015 model year, and other models are presumably in the works as well.

It’s Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter

12/13/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

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The rumors about a Ducati Scooter for the next model year are hitting the internet hard lately, and that is perhaps unsurprising. Ducati’s sales stalled in the third quarter of this year, and the Italian motorcycle company at this point in time is simply trying to finish 2013 on par with its 2012 success.

There is also the fact that Audi AG now owns Ducati Motor Holding, and would like to see the ~44,000 unit company bump its figures into the six-figure territory, and help its German owner take a certain Bavarian brand head-on in the two and four-wheeled industries.

Kenny Roberts Sr. Working on Possible GP Team Entry

08/19/2013 @ 9:12 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Talking to MotoGP.com this weekend at the Indianapolis GP, Kenny Roberts Sr. admitted to the website that he is working on putting together a new GP program for the 2014 or 2015 season — though was quick to caution against the project’s full-fruition.

“We’re working on it. And we’re working on something quite big – it’s going to happen or it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to be almost there. When we come back we’ll come back in a big way! And if you don’t see me, you’ll know we didn’t get it done,” said King Kenny.

Rumor: New Honda Africa Twin Coming? To the USA Even?!

08/07/2013 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Rumors have long been around that Honda was looking to bring back the Africa Twin model to its line-up; and with a quick scrolling through Honda America’s “Adventure” category, one can see that the less-than-inspiring odd-couple that are the Honda NC700X and Honda CB500X, while fine machines they might be (though we’ve heard the word “soulless” used more than once to describe them), proper adventure-bikes they surely are not.

With the tuning-fork brand putting out the stout Yamaha Super Ténéré, and Suzuki teasing the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Honda and Kawasaki have been late to the Great American Adventure Bike party  — though at least Team Green fanatics can pretend like the Versys is a viable option for this category.

With Europeans having a variety of adventure motorcycles to chose from in the Honda brand, bikes like the Honda Transalp, Honda Crossrunner, Honda Varadero, and Honda Crosstourer, us Americans have been left out in the cold.

Well, that might be set to change, as our stroll yesterday though the USPTO’s online database (check-out our find on upcoming Ducati Scrambler) has revealed that Honda Motor Co. has registered “Africa Twin” for use in the American market. Could a proper adventure-tourer from Honda be headed our way?

No Factory Seat at Ducati for Hayden – Headed to WSBK?

07/16/2013 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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Rumors have been rife over the future of Nicky Hayden in MotoGP, as the former-World Champion and five-time Ducati man is seeing his seat up for grabs at the Italian factory team for yet another silly season. With it being no secret that Cal Crutchlow is looking for a factory ride in the premier class, and Yamaha reportedly not stepping up to the plate in that regard (add more fuel to the fire with Pol Espargaro reportedly coming into the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team next year), Crutchlow has all but officially been seen in Ducati livery for next year.

With Ducati keen to retain the services of the Italian Andrea Dovizioso, Hayden is left as the odd-man-out in this game of MotoGP musical chairs. With his options in MotoGP very grim because of the four prototypes agreement the MSMA has inked with Dorna, the American’s options outside of Ducati Corse are limited really to non-MSMA bikes, unless something radical occurs in the Pramac Racing side of the Ducati camp (Ben Spies has a contract thru 2014, and Iannone is hotly tipped to retain his seat for next year).