Not-A-Review: 2015 MV Agusta Motorcycles

As promised, here is the second part of our trip down to Fontana, California to meet with MV Agusta USA, go over the company’s new business plan for not only America, but also worldwide, and to ride the current crop of their 2015 machinery. I should preface right out of the gate that this is not a review in regards as to what you’ve come to expect from Asphalt & Rubber. I am not-so-cleverly calling this a “not-a-review” assessment of MV Agusta’s 2015 models. I say this because we had a very limited amount of time on each bike, as there was roughly 10 machines to divide our attention amongst. Think of this article as not far from someone test riding a bunch of motorcycles at a dealership, with similar duration and limits put in place…except that this someone rides motorcycles for a living.

Analyzing The Ducati Desmosedici GP15

Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati’s 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: “Emozionante” and “tanto lavoro”. Both were extremely apt. Getting from where Ducati was to where it is now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed “tanto lavoro”, a lot of hard work, and they still have “tanto lavoro” ahead of them. The results were “emozionante”, a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday. For good reason, the GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before.

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.

Final TTXGP Round to be Held at Miller Motorsports Park

08/04/2011 @ 2:16 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After AMA Pro Racing and Virginia International Raceway had their little hubbub over hosting one of the last road racing events on the AMA calendar, the news that the two parties had fallen-out meant that the TTXGP round scheduled to piggyback off the VIR round was by proxy also cancelled. With TTXGP’s New Hampshire round (yes, you read that right…New Hampshire) also cancelled because of worries over competitor attendance, TTXGP’s joint-round with the FIM e-Power Championship at Laguna Seca threatened to be the series’s final running of the 2011 season.

With rumors swirling at the US GP that TTXGP was hard at work securing a final round, we get word tonight that the final round will be held at the venerable Miller Motorsports Park on the weekend of September 3rd & 4th. With MMP hosting Bike Fest (a regional gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts) during that weekend, TTXGP will presumably become a part of the Fests’ festivities. That is of course if anyone actually shows up to the racing event.

Sunday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/24/2011 @ 7:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The Rappture Comes to Laguna Seca – Mission Motors Wins Electric Bike Showdown

07/24/2011 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

With the micro-weather climate that is Laguna Seca, the skies cleared in time for the FIM e-Power/TTXGP Championship race. Fast throughout the week, Steve Rapp stood on the pole position riding the Mission Motors Mission R electric superbike supersport. Qualifying second was Michael Barnes on the Lightning entry, and rounding out the front row was Michael Czysz on the 2011 MotoCzysz E1pc. With eleven motorcycles on the starting grid, Laguna Seca proved to be one of the most well-attended grids for electric motorcycle racing; but perhaps more importantly, it was host to some of the most professional entries we’ve seen to-date from electric racing.

With 11 seconds covering the top six riders, the gaps between teams has narrowed in the two short years of electric motorcycle racing. Most of that gap caused by Mission’s scorching pace, a margin of just three tenths of a second covered the second row of the grid, making a battle for fourth almost assured from the get-go. Though the qualifying times were far apart overall, there was still some close racing to be had at Laguna Seca.

Friday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/23/2011 @ 1:22 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Mission Motors Laps at AMA Supersport Pace at Laguna Seca

07/23/2011 @ 1:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

While the REFUEL event a few weeks ago was Mission Motors’ true first public race with the Mission R, the San Francisco company is on a mission (oh sweet jesus) to prove a point at Laguna Seca this weekend, after previously being out of the electric racing gig for the past year. Undoubtedly by now you’ve seen photos of the Mission R electric superbike, and while it certainly looks fast standing still, the question had also been raised if it’s only good for standing around and looking pretty.

Taking those talking points to heart, Steve Rapp silenced those critics today, as the Mission Motors rider smashed the standing “best lap” time from last year’s e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca, which was set by competitor MotoCzysz. Posting a 1’33.714 lap time, Rapp was nearly 11 seconds quicker than last year’s pace, and did so at will on the Mission R, posting half of his laps below the 1’34 mark (his slowest hot lap was a 1’36).

To put that pace into perspective, Rapp would have been fifth on the grid had he been lapping in AMA Supersport’s Free Practice (which occurred early in the day, and thus on a cold track), and thirteenth in AMA Supersport’s Qualifying Practice 1 (which was later in the day, and in similar conditions as the e-Power/TTXGP session). Boom goes the dynamite.

Twelve Entries for the FIM/TTXGP Round at Laguna Seca

07/21/2011 @ 10:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After seeing a flop of a round at Infineon earlier this year with four, then three entries racing on the two race days, it would seem that some good has come from the FIM and TTXGP playing nice with each other, as twelve entries have been listed for the upcoming electric motorcycle race. Poised to be perhaps the best e-moto race to date, we have virtually all the major players in the electric motorcycle production, technology, and racing gig as entrants for the event (noticeably absent are Zero Motorycles and the “banned” Chip Yates).

Other notable notations include Lightning fielding two bikes, one in each TTXGP class, as well as eCRP entering two bikes in the open class. It also looks like Michael Czysz will be once again riding again on-board his 2011 MotoCzysz E1pc, personally defending his victory at last year’s Laguna Seca gathering. Find all twelve entries for the FIM/TTXGP round listed after the jump.

Azhar Hussain Named on Queen’s Birthday MBE Honours

06/11/2011 @ 11:19 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Since Asphalt & Rubber has been coming to you live from the Isle of Man this past fortnight, we’ve gotten hip to what our friends across the pond are doing these days. While we doubt that the copious amounts of tea and superfluous use of the letter “u” in words will stick with us when we return to the US, we do know that today is the Queen Elizabeth II’s Official Birthday in the UK (which oddly enough isn’t her actual birthday).

As is the custom on her official birthday, the Queen names a list of recipients of royal honours and those admitted to the Order of the British Empire, with this year including TTXGP’s Azhar Hussain as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his contributions to motorsport.

What Does a Record TTXGP Lap at Infineon Look Like?

05/23/2011 @ 6:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

The 2011 TTXGP season-opener at Infineon Raceway got off to a less than enthralling start, with only four bikes showing up for racing on Saturday, and three bikes remaining for Sunday’s race. Nevertheless, the event was the first time we’ve gotten to see the Brammo Empulse RR in its race livery, and taking some laps in public. Though the racing wasn’t close, the shining star during the weekend was Steve Atlas taking the Brammo Empulse RR on an outright lap record for electrics at the Sonoma, California based track.

With a time of 1:55.15, Brammo is the team to beat currently, and there’s hope that Lightning, Mission Motors, and MotoCzysz will give the Oregonian company a run for its money later on in the season. Until those teams unveil their bikes in a race, Brammo retains the bragging rights to being the fastest on the track. Check out Brammo’s record run after the jump.

Up-Close with the Mission R at Infineon Raceway

05/16/2011 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

It’s a good thing for Mission Motors that the Mission R looks fast standing still, as the electric superbike was unable to race in this weekend’s TTXGP series opener at Infineon Raceway. The Mission crew did bring the bike out for fans to see though, which gave us a chance to get up-close and personal with the machine with a camera in-hand. Electricity aside, the Mission R is one of the most attractive motorcycles we’ve seen in a while (even without its clothes on), and the fit & finish on the bike is superb…now if only it actually ran.

We can’t wait to see how the Mission R fares on the track, especially with Steve Rapp on-board. Mission tells us it will be at some of the upcoming TTXGP events, which would be an unfortunate place to launch the Mission R, considering A&R has a strict rule about blogging from New Hampshire. We’ll see what our Bothans can do about sneaking a peak of the bike testing before the next TTXGP round; until then, here are 25 photos to ruin your Monday productivity.

TTXGP: Brammo Sets Track Record at Infineon

05/15/2011 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The California sun gods were in our favor this morning, as the rainy heavens over Infineon Raceway parted long enough to dry out the Sonoma track, and allow racing to commence under cloudy skies. After a thrilling ambulance race (Infineon Raceway had all its four-wheelers out drying the tarmac and racing line), Race Direction deemed the course fit for racing, and the slower-paced electrics were first on the card to try out the dryness of the track. Fielding three bikes for Race 2, we saw a return of Brammo, Moto Electra, and VOLT to the starting grid, as Ely Schless and his Proto Moto was a scratch for today’s event.

With such a large spread in the field, things sorted their way out much like on Saturday, with Brammo taking the early lead and never looking back. Thad Wolff made an impressive showing, but was no match for the faster Brammo Empulse RR. Meanwhile in the Formula TTX75 class, Kenyon Kluge rode to a solo victory with no other competitor fielding a 7.5 kWh machine.

Perhaps in response to some remarks by an unscrupulous blogger, Brammo put to rest any doubts about its efforts, as Steve Atlas set a track record for electric motorcycles on the Empulse RR. With a 1:55.150 race lap time, the Brammo team shaved nearly 19 seconds off his overall race time from yesterday. Breaking the record for electric motorcycles at Infineon with authority, Atlas posted 1:55 and 1:56 lap times throughout the race, setting a new bar in the TTXGP series.