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.

Watch Al Jump Over Two Motorcycles

01/23/2015 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Apparently there is this guy named Al, and he’s really good at jumping over things. He’s so good at jumping over things, he goes by the name “Al the Jumper” — obviously.

Al has some pretty crazy ideas too, and that means he finds himself jumping over some pretty radical things — like in this case, where he jumps over two motorcycles that are speeding at him.

It’s an exercise in detailed planning, accurate execution, relentless training, and of course massive huevos. Happy Friday!

2015 Yamaha MT-07 Moto Cage – For Euro Stunters

09/29/2014 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Yamaha’s MT platform (that’s the FZ platform to us Americans) continues to spur variations from its three and two-cylinder machines. Called the Yamaha MT-07 Moto Cage, Yamaha’s latest bike seems ready for stunters and street-hooligans.

Think of it as the younger kid-brother to the Yamaha FZ-09 Street Rally, which we saw in the form of the Yamaha Cage-Six concept, and you will have a pretty good idea on what the MT-07 Moto Cage is all about.

At the core of the 2015 Yamaha MT-07 Moto Cage is the same 689cc parallel twin motor, which is good for 74hp, but Yamaha have added engine crash cage, skid plate, radiator guard, and supermoto-style hand protectors. Akrapovic also has a very fetching slip-on for the machine, as an aftermarket item.

Available in November 2014, for the European market, pricing is set at a very cheap €6,690. We doubt very much that Yamaha will bring the Moto Cage to North American soil, since it didn’t do so with the Street Rally…but we can dream.

Video: Kneedragger Grabs GoPro off the Street

09/15/2014 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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In what will surely encourage squids around the world to push the limits on public roads, the now infamous RNickeyMouse brings us another video from Mulholland.

Our protagonist brings his Yamaha R1 around, and while dragging his knee on the J-Turn corner, grabs a GoPro camera that has been placed on the double-yellow line.

As the video description advises, do not try this…you will crash.

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Exploring Detroit’s Packard Plant on a Motorcycle

01/16/2014 @ 6:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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I haven’t been to Detroit since the financial apocalypse, but what I’ve heard from friends isn’t good. A mass exodus of industry, commerce, and residents have left gapping holes in the city’s landscape, which are now filled with empty factories, abandoned shops, and boarded up houses.

There is hope for Motown, but its revival will be a trickle compared to the flash flood that personified its collapse. If there is an upside to this story, and I am reluctant to phrase what I am about to say in that way, it is that there has been a creation of post-apocolyptic backdrops for creative types to use and build upon.

Enter today’s video escape. A custom bike is built, and what a better place to film a unique video than in Packard’s abandoned industrial plant. The cops probably have better things to do than stop a little two-wheeled hooning; and besides, in these neighbors, the first rule is don’t talk to the police. We know you secretly have wanted to do donuts on a five-story building’s roof before, don’t try to lie about it. Thanks for the tip Bhupi!

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And Now for Something Completely Different…

10/08/2013 @ 11:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Motorcycling has been serious stuff lately, thanks mostly to the shenanigans afoot in New York City with the Hollywood Stuntz Doofus Crew, and that’s ok…it’s ok to be serious from time-to-time. I try it myself occasionally.

I bet dollars to donuts though that most of you got into motorcycles because they are fun, because motorcycles are an escape from this very serious life. Thanks to the folks at See See Motorcycles, we return you to that lost world. Enjoy, and get your Wednesday on with renewed vigor.

Dougie Lampkin Has a Day at the Red Bull Racing HQ

05/01/2013 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Watching freestyle trials riders is an exercise in understanding what most motorcyclists imagine they could do on two-wheels when they dream at night, but could never really hope to achieve in a million years during the waking hours.

Brimming with a skill set of patience, balance, and balls, riders like 12-time World Trials Champion Dougie Lampkin entertain us with their antics in confined spaces, on urban landscapes, and wiith gravity-defying front wheels.

So what happens when Lampkin visits the headquarters of Red Bull Racing? Well the obvious of course: wheelies, stoppies, burnouts…and that was just in the front courtyard.

Things start getting interesting though when Lampkin nips a bite to eat in the café, takes a look inside the F1 team’s giant kiln, and then later decides to jump a priceless Formula 1 race car. All in day’s work for a wanderlusting trials rider — we’ll just keep on dreaming.

Video: Robbie Maddison + Airplane Graveyard = Air.Craft

02/15/2013 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Between Ken Block’s gymkhana escapades through the streets of San Francisco, and this stuntastic video of Robbie Maddison riding through an airplane graveyard, it is clear that DC Shoes gets this whole viral marketing video thang. There is a weird wild west vibe going on here with Maddison’s Air.Craft video shoot, and we kind of dig it…kiss goodbye to 10 minutes of your life, after the jump.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Rok Bagoroš

02/14/2013 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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I was informed by our favorite Slovenian stunt rider, Rok Bagoroš, that today is apparently Valentine’s Day — the much feared day of forced romance.

For those in the motorcycling community opting not to call today Anna Howard Shaw Day, February 14th is really a day best spent with your special someone — that v-twin or inline-four in your life that really makes your heart race each time you are around her.

To help show your appreciation for everything she does throughout the year, gifts are always welcomed of course, and what girl doesn’t like a new pair of shoes? Some Bridgestone or Pirellis perhaps?

Maybe your special someone is into some more…hardcore, in which case we recommend getting some fresh kneepucks and maybe a chain or two (properly tensioned of course).

Lastly, don’t forget your leather suit, and always practice safe motorcycling.

Video: A Whole New Meaning to Passing on the Inside

02/02/2013 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Helping promote World Superbike’s stop at Britain’s Silverstone circuit, stunt driver Paul Swift has climbed behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Mito (the pace car of WSBK), and collaborated with Chris Walker, of Kawasaki Ninja British Superbike fame, and created a little promotional clip. What starts out seemingly as a trite marketing video, rapidly turns into something pretty spectacular, and we wouldn’t recommend trying it at home (or elsewhere).

What we would recommend is for other racing venues to take note of what is going on with the Silverstone circuit and the marketing that surrounds it. Cleverly promoting World Superbike with this event, along with the body-painting of Leon Haslam, Silverstone also distinguishes itself by playing host to Riders for Health’s Day of Champions fundraising event, and has been featured on Google Streetview with a very unique entry. It pays to be media friendly.

KTM 1290 Super Duke – First Look at the “Beast”

11/09/2012 @ 8:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

KTM’s pre-EICMA marketing machine continues to churn along, after the company first released a sound clip of its new Super Duke revving its engine in a garage. Today we get a glimpse of KTM’s new street-naked machine, the KTM 1290 Super Duke — a bike KTM is calling a “Beast” on its blog.

More of a concept bike teaser than a reveal, the bike in question appears to be a stunting prototype of the 2013 KTM 1290 Super Duke production model, but KTM has give us some clues what to expect next week: ride-by-wire throttle control, a new chassis, WP suspension, and  a bored-out 1290cc v-twin motor. Your mother already hates it.