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.

Suter Unveils S1000RR Powered MotoGP Bike

09/07/2010 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

When the guidelines for the 2012 MotoGP season were released, a new class of motorcycle was allowed entry into the top series of motorcycle racing. Allowing the use of production-based motors in prototype chassis, claiming rule teams will be able to enter into the series theoretically for much less money than non-factory teams could in the past, which is a move by Dorna to bolster the GP grid size.

One of the first firms to jump on the opportunity is Suter Racing Technology, the maker of one of the more popular chassis being used in Moto2 this season. Using a BMW S1000RR motor as the power plant, the prototype race bike is based heavily off Suter’s MMX Moto2 bike.

BMW Homologates New S1000RR Crankshaft

07/07/2010 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The FIM has announced that BMW has homologated a new crankshaft design for World Superbike and World Superstock racing. Effective since June 10th, the new crankshaft, much like the Aprilia RSV4’s upgraded camshaft, could be part of the equation for BMW’s recent success in WSBK, and continued domination in STK1000.

Suter Working on S1000RR Based MotoGP Bike

05/27/2010 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Eskil Suter is a popular man in the Moto2 paddock. Not only is his Moto2 chassis one of the cheapest, but it’s also one of the best performing units. It should be no surprise then that his Moto2 solution (shown above) is one of the most popular in the race series, and Suter sees that as a great jumping off point to enter back into the MotoGP fray (Suter helped engineer the Kawasaki ZX-RR, the Ilmor X3, and the Petronas FP1 SBK race bikes).

With the MotoGP rules in 2012 to allow for claiming rule teams, the door has been opened for a Moto2 styled team (production motor in a prototype frame) to play with the big boys. Suter for his part is looking to draw on his current chassis success, and base his design around the very potent BMW S1000RR motor. The result should be a fairly inexpensive solution to a high-performance race bike as the S1000RR has been popping up on the internet with 190hp stock.

BMW S1000RR 191hp Dyno Run on Video

04/26/2010 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Ever since early reports on the 2010 BMW S1000RR suggested that the German superbike was making a claimed 190hp at the crank, the Bavarian bike sounded like a true contender against the Japanese dominated  market. Then when we heard that BMW may have been sandbagging those figures, and bikes were popping up wtih 190hp at the crank, it definitely piqued our interest.

With disbelief we weren’t sure what to make of the new BMW, and it seem we’re in the same boat as the folks over at MotoBlog.it, as they’ve gotten their hands on a S1000RR and put it on a DynoJet to see for themselves what the bike could do. The result? 191hp. Check the video after the jump

Leslie Porterfield Gets Haute for the BMW S1000RR

04/12/2010 @ 7:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

We here at Asphalt & Rubber love Leslie Porterfield. She’s the Queen of Speed, Maven of Two Wheels, and Temptress of the Salts. OK, ok, she’s also blonde and leggy, and while the prior titles are important it’s this latter quality that photographer Markus Hofmann was after when he took Porterfield to BMW’s wind testing facility outside of Munich, Germany. You may remember Hofmann from such other confusing couture meets motorcycle Bavarian ad campaigns as cheetahs with models, helicopters with…well…more models that feature the 2010 BMW S1000RR.

Video: BMW S1000RR Valves Redux

03/25/2010 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

You may remember the cult motorcycle YouTube classic “BMW S1000RR Titanium Valves at 14,200 RPM“, well now we have a sequel to that movie. Showing the BMW’s titanium valves from a cylinder’s point of view, this S1000RR is rev’d through the rpm range with interesting results.

Because of the shutter effect on the video recorder we see the valves go through their motions until finally seemingly stopping as the shutter rate and valve moment go out of sync and re-sync. If you ever wanted to know what was going on inside you bike, here’s a good start on the subject. Video after the jump.

AC Schnitzer BMW S1000RR – Wiener not Winner

03/22/2010 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

AC Schnitzer is better known in the automotive world for making fine BMW parts and automobiles, but the little German tuning shop also tries its hand at motorcycles from time to time. Unfortunately the company’s prowess at making four-wheeled BMW’s look good and run fast does not translate over well to its two-wheel endeavors. A great example of this is the disappointment we had with the recently released 2010 AC Schnitzer BWM S1000RR, which leaves us here at A&R wanting more schnitzel and less Schnitzer in our Bavarian bikes.

Mumbles Begin About Showing Xaus the Door

03/09/2010 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

After crashing four S1000RR’s during WSBK’s stop at Phillip Island, and then missing the race entirely, Ruben Xaus hasn’t exactly put his best foot forward in the 2010 World Superbike Championship season. For some the continuation of the Spanish rider’s career on a factory supported Superbike seems to have a death clock already running, and the rumor is that Xaus has to prove his worth or risk being shown the door from the BMW WSBK team.

The BMW S1000RR Does the Tablecloth Trick

03/05/2010 @ 6:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Remember when Mr. Wizard explained Newton’s First Law of Motion by setting a table and whipping the tablecloth out from underneath all the cups, plates, and utensils? Well BMW has a video which takes the tablecloth trick to its next logical motorcycling related progression. Check it out after the jump.

BMW & KTM Take on The 2010 Isle of Man TT

03/04/2010 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BMW announced today that it will send a factory backed team to compete in the Isle of Man’s Superbike and Senior TT’s. This announcement ends over 30 years of the Bavarian brand’s absence at the Isle of Man. For Austrian-based KTM, this will be their first time running at the Isle of Man TT. The KTM RC8 R will be entered in the Superstock, Superbike, and Senior TT’s. More after the jump.