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.

Lone Racer: The Wayne Gardner Documentary

03/06/2010 @ 5:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Back when men were men, and GP racing’s crowning event was contested on two-stroke 500cc machines, Wayne Gardner found himself carrying the factory Honda GP team on his NSR 500. This fantastic 1986 documentary, Lone Racer, follows Gardner one year before he won the 500GP Championship, and became the first Australian to win GP racing’s premiere racing class.

The film includes great behind the scenes footage of the Aussie, his fiancée, and his team. So grab a cold beverage, put your feet up, and get ready to spend the rest of your Saturday afternoon watching the 30 minutes of video in this three part series. Videos after the jump.

Video Interviews with Rossi, Lorenzo, & Jarvis

02/04/2010 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

In conjunction with the unveiling of the 2010 Fiat-Yamaha MotoGP team, a series of interviews with Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Lin Jarvis have been released for public consumption. Despite being released from the team’s PR firm, with cooperation from Fiat, the questions strike at the heart of many the issues that surround the Lorenzo/Rossi battle for supremacy. They’re quite long, but worth a watch, check them out after the jump.

A&R Rubbies: The Best Videos of 2009

12/26/2009 @ 9:16 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

We saw a lot of great videos this past year. Some were funny, some were clever, and some were the epitome of motorcycle racing. Our top-picks pull from all of these genres, but we have to admit, the selection pool was limited by what was still available at the time of this writing.

Some of the biggest pieces of footage this year came from the WSBK and MotoGP racing series; unfortunately, the rights holders for these videos don’t feel like sharing the clips beyond their original air-dates. We’ll leave the issue about how this hurts the sport and motorcycle racing enthusiasts aside for today, so continue on past the jump for some great videos despite this situation.

SEMA: Mavizen TTX02 Unveiled – KTM RC8 Sourced Chassis, 130 MPH Top Speed, & Built-in Web Server with WiFi Connection [UPDATED]

11/03/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Mavizen-TTX02-KTM-RC8-electric-motorcycle

Mavizen has unveiled their TTX02 electric race bike today at SEMA, and as we suspected surrounding the Agni powerplant is a sourced KTM RC8 chassis.

Over-shadowing the 130mph top speed, is the fact that each TTX02 comes with dedicated IP access, on-board web server, and connectivity to a wifi network. A such, each TTX02 can be connected to via a wifi enabled laptop. More on that and videos after the jump.

Video: Relive The Last WSBK Races at Portimao

10/30/2009 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ben-Spies-WBSK-Champion

Living in the Land of the Free has its advantages, but one of them is not the gift of conveniently televised motorcycle races on SPEED TV. Did you miss Sunday’s race, and Tuesday’s rebroadcast? Well, we’ve got you covered…actually the organizers of WorldSBK.com have you covered. Click here for a list of WSBK races you can stream to your desktop, including Race 1 & Race 2 of WSBK’s stop at Portimao, Portugal. Thanks for the tip Cat.

Video: Casey Stoner, the New King of Swerve?

10/19/2009 @ 7:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Casey-Stoner-Phillip-Island-slide

Gary McCoy will always be near and dear to our hearts for his exhibitions of manual traction control, but Casey Stoner made a strong showing for second place in this category while at Phillip Island this weekend.

Sliding his way around the Australian track, Stoner put on not only a show for his home crowd, but also did it with champion Valentino Rossi in tow. We’ll let you decide who is the reigning King of Swerve and Sultan of Slide. Videos of both Stoner and McCoy after the jump.

2010 Kawasaki ZX-10R Gets Aesthetic & Minor Updates – Steals ZX-6R Bodywork

10/14/2009 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2010-Kawasaki-ZX-10R-12

With the assistance of ram-air, the ZX-10R motor produces 200hp peak-horsepower at the crank, making it a popular track weapon and canyon carver. For 2010, Kawasaki (like many of the motorcycle manufacturers) is choosing not to make any significant upgrades to its liter-bike offering, instead opting to freshen up the ZX-10R with styling cues from the ZX-6R.

Team Green loyalists will be glad to hear that the ZX-10R will get some upgrades beyond the 6R bodywork, in the form of an upgraded Öhlins steering damper, smoother gearbox, and redesigned blacked-out exhaust pipes. Videos, photos, and specs after the jump

Hopper Out the Rest of World Superbike Season

09/11/2009 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Although initial reports suggested that John Hopkins went relatively unscathed after his crash at the Nürburgring (video above),  Dr. Ting here in the United States has concluded upon further examination that Hopper had a small hemorrhage on his brain that has since stopped bleeding. The discovery of this injury is a show-stopper for Hopkins, who has been plagued with adversity this past year.

Kurt Marmor’s Ducati 749 Flat-Track Race Bike

08/14/2009 @ 5:48 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Ducati-749-dirt-flat-tracker-1

How do you race in a flat-tracking event at the Springfield Mile in style? With a modified Ducati 749, that’s how. And that’s exactly what Kurt Marmor did at this year’s event. Unfortunately, Marmor wasn’t able to qualify for the main event, but we have a feeling that the Duc-track will show up at other events this year, and regardless, the bike sounds sooo good on the dyno video below. We just might have to get into this flat-tracking thing.

Ducati Desmosedici Documentary Video, Part 5

06/10/2009 @ 5:52 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

ducati-desmosedici-rr11

In the fifth installment of Ducati’s documentary on the Desmosedici, we now turn our attention to how the Desmosedici went from MotoGP race bike, to slightly more well-mannered street bike. If you’re late to the DesmoDoco series, you can find Part 1Part 2Part 3, & Part 4, right here at A&R.