Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2

With the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R putting out 300hp from its supercharged 998cc displacement, the 200hp Kawasaki Nina H2 street bike seems positively demure, by comparison. Of course, any 200hp machine is more than a handful, and we doubt many H2 owners will keep their machines street legal for very long — it’s been explained to A&R that it doesn’t take much work to uncork the H2…we’re just not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though. Ostentatious might be the best way to describe the new H2. Bringing back forced induction to the sport bike scene is a pretty bold move from Kawasaki, and something we will likely see more of from the Japanese manufacturers.

Indianapolis GP Named Best Grand Prix by MotoGP

At the conclusion of each GP season, an awards ceremony is held to celebrate the year’s champions, crowning the top riders in each category, the top manufacturers, and even the top venue for the season. This year, the honors of the latter went to familiar locale, as the Red Bull Indianapolis GP round was named the “Best Grand Prix” of the 2014 season, making it the first North American round to receive such an honor. Selection criteria for the award included consideration of the venue, promotion, and overall facility operations. For the 2014 race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again repaved its infield section, making alterations to several turns in order to facilitate passing and adding to the track’s overall consistency.

Up-Close with the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200

If there’s a motorcycle that launched at EICMA that I wish we had given more coverage to, it would be the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200. The new adventure-sport machine from Ducati is all-new for the next model year, though it would be hard to tell it from the photos. Even our modest collection of “up-close” photos here don’t do justice to the venerable Multistrada. The face of the Multistrada 1200 has been reworked, with the “beak” softened a bit from its falcon-like profile. The intake inlets are larger in appearance, and the headlight housing is noticeably different with its six LED projectors for the Ducati Corner Lights system (on the “S” model). This perhaps makes for an interesting “face” on the motorcycle, and like its predecessor, you will either love it or hate it.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

After finishing fifth in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Marco Melandri will continue with the Italian manufacturer, but switch to the MotoGP paddock for next season. Melandri will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aprilia Racing garage, where they will compete on an updated version of the ART machine, which was originally built to compete under the CRT bike rules. The team, now operated by Gresini Racing, will come up to speed during the 2015 season, and in 2016 they will race with a brand new race bike, which will use the compulsory “open” spec-electronics from Magneti Marelli. For Melandri, the move to MotoGP is a bit of gamble, with Aprilia’s program uncertain.

Up-Close with the Honda RC213V-S Prototype

I can’t decide whether to be elated or disappointed over the Honda RC213V-S prototype, which was debuted this week at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. On the one hand, the RC213V-S lived up to the hype…literally a MotoGP race bike with lights, mirrors, turn signals, and a license plate. On the other hand, for all the waiting and consternation from Honda, what they brought to Milan was a fairly derivative and obvious design. Rumors of a true MotoGP-derived sport bike from Honda have been circling for several years now (closer to a decade, if you’re a reader of MCN), and the project borrows the ethos found in the Ducati Desmosedici RR project, another exclusive GP-bike-for-the-street motorcycle.

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015

The Ducati Streetfighter lives for another year, as Ducat is showing off the Ducati Streetfighter 848 as a 2015 model year machine at the EICMA show in Milan. There had been doubts about the Streetfighter 848 continuing to be a part of the Ducati lineup going forth, especially as the Italian company has moved away from the 849cc v-twin platform, favoring the 821cc engine variations for the Hypermotard the Monster lines, and the 899cc Superquadro for the Panigale. The Streetfighter was never a big hit in the world market, becoming more of a cult classic machine amongst riders. Combined sales with the Hypermotard account for roughly 20% of Ducati’s annual sales, with the Hypermotard doing the majority of the heavy-lifting in that regard.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show. A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders. We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

Up-Close with the Honda “True Adventure” Prototype

One of the more anticipated motorcycles at the 2014 EICMA show, off-roaders were expecting to see the new Honda Africa Twin in Milan this week. Instead, Honda trotted out what they’re calling the “True Adventure” prototype. Despite not being a production model, the True Adventure prototype looks ready for prime time, and we got a series of “up-close” photos of the machine. Most obvious is the bike’s parallel twin engine, which is rumored to be 1,000cc in displacement. That sizing/weight class seems to jive with the dual front brake discs, which also sports an ABS tone ring. We can expect Honda to have traction control operating off the front and rear wheel speeds as well, and other electronic packages as well.

Money: Motorcycle Racing’s Biggest Problem

What is the biggest problem in motorcycle racing today? Is it the predominant role electronics are playing, ruining the racing? Is it the ever more restrictive rules imposed, killing bike development and the spirit of Grand Prix racing? Is it the lack of competitive machinery, making it impossible for anyone but a factory rider to win a race? Or is it the dominance of the two top manufacturers, driving costs up and discouraging wider manufacturer participation? You can point to all of those and more as being an issue, but they pale in comparison to the real problem the sport of motorcycle racing faces at the moment: Money. Specifically, the lack of it, and the inability of almost everyone involved in the sport to find ways of raising any. All of the ills of both MotoGP and World Superbikes can be traced back to this single failure.

Investcorp Buys 80% of Dainese for €130 Million

A story we have been chasing for some time now, Lino Dainese has finally found a buyer for his namesake company, Dainese. The purchaser is the aptly named private equity firm Investcorp, which is headquartered in Bahrain, and has additional offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. Buying 80% of the company’s stock for a reported €130 million, Investcorp’s valuation of Dainese would therefore be set at €162.5 million. The other 20% of the company is retained by Lino Dainese, himself. Dainese’s future goals rest heavily on its airbag technology, as Dainese plans on bringing D-Air to markets outside of motorsport and sport in general. The company also has an aggressive plan to grow outside of Italy, making a bigger push into North America and developing markets.

Norton Rotary a No Show at IoM TT – Parades Instead

06/13/2009 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Norton Rotary a No Show at IoM TT   Parades Instead norton nrv588  3 635x476

The 2009 Isle of Man TT was to be the return of Norton motorcycles to the island and its Mountain Course. It has been 16 years since the British manufacturer raced the city streets of the Isle, and we eagerly awaited their return to the TT, and the showing of their rotary motor powered NRV 588 race bike. We, like many others, were disappointed then to see the Norton only shuffle around on a parade lap, and not tearing down the asphalt in the quest for absolute speed.

MotoCzysz Pulls the Old Switcheroo on Race Day?

06/13/2009 @ 2:24 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz Pulls the Old Switcheroo on Race Day? motoczysz e1pc 11th battery ttxgp race

We should begin this article with a preface. The following information is comprised of facts, and in some cases, where noted ,substantiated rumor. However, the inferences drawn, when looking at all these instances as being correlated events, are purely our own here at A&R, and should therefore be taken as fanciful speculation on our parts, but none-the-less something to mull-over while riding this weekend..

Looking at the facts leading up to the TTXGP, and the occurences at the Isle of Man, is it possible that Michael Czysz orchestrated a game plan at the Isle of Man that included sandbagging the E1pc’s true performance capability on race day? Our analysis after the jump.

Team Agni Wins Inaugural TTXGP

06/12/2009 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Team Agni Wins Inaugural TTXGP team agni ttxgp 1 560x372

In case you missed it this morning, the first running of the TTXGP, a zero-emission TT held on the Isle of Man, occurred today with Team Agni being the victor. Team Agni has dominated the whole week, setting the fastest times in both practice sessions. Their bike, piloted by Rob “Rocket” Barber, is a modified Suzuki GSXR frame, with Agni’s proprietary electrical motor in place of the standard internal combustion engine. Report and results below.

2009 Yamaha FZ1 Limited Edition

06/10/2009 @ 12:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

2009 Yamaha FZ1 Limited Edition fz1fazerabs ltd

Taking another cue from the R1, FZ1 will be getting the Limited Edition treatment. The Yamaha FZ1 Fazer ABS Limited Edition is painted with a similar scheme as the R1 LE, but this time done up in red and white. Besides the bodywork, the bike will come with a special windscreen, rim stripes, and rear seat cowl.

No word on price. But it does seem sort of anemic for a “limited edition” Fz1; afterall, the R1 LE got Öhlins suspension, Marchesini rims, and a slipper-clutch. We also can’t help but think Yamaha didn’t have to go far for the design inspiration.

Price and availability when we have it, but we suspect the Abarth would look nicer in your garage.

TTXGP Practice Starts At the Isle of Man – Fastest Around the Mountain is…

06/09/2009 @ 4:30 pm, by John Adamo3 COMMENTS

TTXGP Practice Starts At the Isle of Man   Fastest Around the Mountain is... firsteverttxgppracticeonthettcou 49 560x420

UPDATED: Pictures and results after the jump.

Team Agni and rider Robert “Bullet” Barber turned the fastest lap beating out favorites MotoCzysz, Mission Motors and Brammo. Barber propelled Agni’s modified Suzuki GSXr 600 to an average speed of 84.8MPH, with a speed of 102.6 recorded at the Sulby Trap. Agni Motors builds electric motors for many applications including electric vehicles, so it is not too much of a surprise they did well.

Hacking To Replace Tamada for Next Two WSBK Races: Misano & Donington Park

06/05/2009 @ 8:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hacking To Replace Tamada for Next Two WSBK Races: Misano & Donington Park jamie hacking wsbk kawasaki 560x373

After his strong showing at Miller Motorsports Park, Jamie Hacking has been tapped to replace Makoto Tamada at the next two rounds of World Superbike racing at Misano and Donington Park. The news is a boon to Hacking who has been hoping to crack into the WSBK circuit since the start of the season. AMA viewers may remember more than a couple disgruntled Hacking moments where the rider has expressed his take on the AMA in his post-race interviews. WSBK racers may enjoy this news less vigor, as the American’s passing style was of some controversy at the Utah circuit.

Rumor: MotoGP to Add Imola to the 2009 Schedule?

06/04/2009 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Rumor: MotoGP to Add Imola to the 2009 Schedule? imola 1 560x305

It would seem that the Dorna might be interested in adding Imola to the list of venues MotoGP attends this year. The Italian daily newspaper Il Resto del Carlino has reported that FIM’s Race Director Paul Butler recently visited the Imola race circuit, and seemed to approve of the track, and is considering it as a replacement to the dropped Hungarian GP.

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Now This is How You Save a High-Side

06/04/2009 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

I don’t know what else to say…

Source: Fast Fever via Autoblog

Ducati Streetfighter Has First Recall

06/03/2009 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Ducati Streetfighter Has First Recall big streetfightersmotorevue02 560x373

Ducati has issued a recall for a number of its 2009 1198cc motored models that have the upgraded Öhlins suspension. Specifically the recall affects the 2009 1098R, 1198S, and Streetfighter S. Ducati is issuing the recall because of possible cracking in the lower pinch bolt area of the right fork. This defect affects 732 units sold in the United States.

Bridgestone Releases Findings on Pedrosa Tire Failure at Motegi

05/19/2009 @ 5:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Bridgestone Releases Findings on Pedrosa Tire Failure at Motegi dani pedrosa tire failure motegi 560x326

You may remember that a month ago, Dani Pedrosa suffered a tire failure while racing at the Japanese GP at Motegi. While still able to stay in the race, fans watched as the Spainard began slowing down, unable to challenge the Fiat Yamahas any further. Pedrosa would finish 3rd for the day, but some serious questions and concerns were being asked of Bridgestone, the sole tire provider of the series.

Bridgestone has now confirmed that faulty construction of the tire allowed a foreign element to be embedded in the rubber, which later broke out, taking chunks of rubber with it.