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.

WSBK: Results from Race 2 at Misano, Italy

06/22/2009 @ 1:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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World Superbike would see sunnier skies off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and a Misano track almost completely devoid of any sign of prior rain for Race 2. Slicks would now be the order of the day, which probably came as a relief to a few riders who were less than graceful in their bike swapping in Race 1. With the change in conditions came a complete change in the racing order. Continue reading to see how Race 2 went down under the Italian sun.

WSBK: Results from Race 1 at Misano, Italy

06/21/2009 @ 8:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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World Superbike riders at Misano, Italy today were greated to a damp track, courtesy of the on-and-off rain showers that have been plaguing the race course the whole weekend. With the track wet, but the sun out, tire selection would again be key.

Would the track dry out enough to run intermediates? Would some teams dry and run rains? Could there possibly be a chance to run slicks? Who would make the right choice by the start of the race? With WSBK adopting the flag-to-flag rules of MotoGP, riders would have a chance to come into the pits and swap for a new bike as the track conditions changed, making the racing all the more interesting, as many riders in the field had never performed such a swap before. Continue reading to see who got it right.

WSBK: Superpole Results from Misano

06/20/2009 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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World Superbike this year has not lacked for worthy moments during racing, but the Superpole event is starting to become a drama in its own right that helps wet our appetites for Sunday’s racing. Every race Saturday, riders gamble on when to make use of their qualifiers, and each round of the Superpole is filled with strategy and intrigue. Misano would be no different.

WSBK: Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park

06/01/2009 @ 2:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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With Race 1 in the bag, Race 2 might have seemed a little bit more low-key, with no red flagged restart in sight. Beginning much as the previous race had started, Race 2 showed that it would be another decisive moment in the overall World Superbike Championship. Spoilers and race results for Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park

06/01/2009 @ 1:48 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Race 1 of the World Superbike stop at Miller Motorsports park was red-flagged, after a highside left riders and bikes lying on the track. This hazard left the race directors no choice but to red flag the race. After the track was cleared, and the riders made it off the course, a second starting of Race 1 was to be had, with the winner to be decided on aggregate times (the times from the two races dded together, and the winner being determined by the total time from both heats). Continue reading for all the spoilers of Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

WSBK: While Rossi Looks for the Ocho at Mugello, Spies Looks for the Septo at Miller

05/30/2009 @ 11:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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World Superbike has landed on American soil with its first stop in the States: Miller Motorsports Park. The track based in Salt Lake City is playing host to WSBK for the second time in its history, and because of injuries a special contingency of American riders participated in the today’s events. With the AMA series sharing a stop at Miller, it should come as no surprise that one of “dem good old boys” was at the top of the Superpole podium.

WSBK: Race 2 at Kyalami, South Africa

05/18/2009 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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With Race 1 full of cliff-hanger moments, South African fans at the Kyalami circuit eagerly awaited the second race of World Superbike south of the Equator. Enough with the Hyperbole, continue reading to see a full race report from Race 2, complete with spoilers.

WSBK: Race 1 at Kyalami, South Africa

05/18/2009 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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This weekend, World Superbike Championship racing returned to South Africa at the Kyalami circuit, much to the delight of local motorcycle fans. The Kyalami track, which had been scheduled to be demolished, and then have housing built in its place, features vast elevation changes and sweeping bends, and has been much improved since the removal of the chicane at Turn 12. So interest was high in how the racing would turn out on this tight twisty circuit. Continue reading for a full race report on Race 1 at Kyalami, South Africa.

Jamie Hacking Likely to Replace Tamada at Miller WSBK Round

05/16/2009 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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All signs seem to point to Jamie Hacking replacing the injured Makoto Tamada at World Superbike’s stop at Miller Motorsports Park later this month. In fact, Hacking would be replacing Sheridan Morais, the reigning South African Superbike champion, who is currently filling in for Tamada at WSBK’s round at Kyalami. Tamada is still recovering from having a metal plate inserted in his hand after sustaining a wrist fracture at the Monza Race 1 pile-up. While the news is not official, Hacking hinted at it when talking to Roadracing World, saying “there’s a possibility I might do it.”

WSBK: If Superpole Was Monopoly, Ben Spies Could Have Built a Hotel by Now

05/16/2009 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Ben Spies took his 6th straight Superpole this year, this time at the Kyalami circuit, beating out Michel Fabrizio by a mere one thousandth of a second. Making Spies the second ridr ever to win 6 WSBK poles in a row, a honor previously held alone by American Doug Polen, who accomplished the feat in 1991.