Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2R Pricing Revealed

Even though the Kawasaki Ninja H2R debuted in October at the INTERMOT show, and the Kawasaki Ninja H2 debuted a few weeks ago at the EICMA show, Kawasaki was a bit slow to release the pricing and availability details of its two supercharged machines. Releasing now details for the US market, we can quote pricing for the H2 and H2R throughout the world. In the United States, the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R will cost $25,000 and $50,000 respectively. Interested parties will have to special order the bikes, before December 19th, from their local Kawasaki dealership, and buyers should note that the H2R comes with certain restrictions.

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.

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead

11/15/2012 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Video: Ben Bostrom vs. Roger Lee Hayden at Homestead Ben Bostrom Roger Lee Hayden National Guard Jordan Suzuki 635x357

One of our favorite parts about MotoGP’s recent coverage are the slow-motion shots of riders going through corners, especially when the Dorna folk in the switchroom line-up a few riders through the same turn, giving us a sampling of the different riding styles that exist in the premier class. It is through this sort of coverage that you begin to see the real art behind riding a motorcycle at speed, not the brute force brawl that it looks like in real-time.

Here we have another side-by-side comparison, quite literally actually. Dropping a 1-2 qualifying session at Homestead this year, Roger Lee Hayden was fastest on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.746), while Ben Bostrom qualified 2nd on his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1’22.857). What is interesting in this video is the subtle differences between the two riders, which results in over a one-tenth of a second difference at the finish line.

How to Lose $4,500 in Single Corner – AKA “The Pass” Between Tyler O’Hara & Michael Barnes at NOLA

10/08/2012 @ 12:18 am, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

How to Lose $4,500 in Single Corner   AKA The Pass Between Tyler OHara & Michael Barnes at NOLA Tyler OHara Michael Barnes NOLA Kevin Warren 635x387

Whether your poison is World Superbike or AMA Pro Racing, this weekend provided some excellent motorcycle racing. Out of all the memorable moments where we yelled at the TV this race-day Sunday (and there were more than a few), our favorite, hands-down, has to be “the pass” that Tyler O’Hara pulled on Michael Barnes coming down the final stretch at NOLA.

Full-throttle on the Harley-Davidson XR1200 race bikes for the win, a race that would also who would win AMA Pro Racing XR1200 Championship, O’Hara pulled a classic move on Barney — no really, he pulled Barnes back by the arm just ahead of the finish line.

It is debatable whether O’Hara would have caught Barnes on the drive to the finish, and both riders have a good on-track rivalry, and off-track sense of humor, but Barnes was clearly not pleased with O’Hara’s race shenanigans (we think it is sort of winning, in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word).

Nonetheless, the AMA ruled it an “avoidable contact” and displaced O’Hara from 1st to last in the race, which sent him into third place for the Championship points.

In other words, Tyler O’Hara lost $4,500 dollars in prize money ($2,000 for second in the race, $2,500 for the drop from second to third in the Championship), while perpetrating one of most awesome/punk-kid moves we have ever seen in motorcycle racing. The video of “the pass” is after the jump. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Have You Done a Lap Around Road America?

06/08/2012 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Have You Done a Lap Around Road America? Josh Hayes Monster Graves Yamaha AMA Road America

In case you haven’t done the 14 turns of Wisconsin’s 4.048 mile track, we have got a video of some guy named Josh putting in a very tidy lap on his Yamaha YZF-R1 at Road America this past weekend. Setting off from pit lane, he gives a wave to his friend Geoff before entering the course on this nice Sunday morning ride. From what we understand in the YouTube comments of this video, Josh is quite the motorcycle enthusiast…even his wife rides!

Redux: AMA Superbike vs. World Superbike at MMP

05/28/2012 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Redux: AMA Superbike vs. World Superbike at MMP Jake Holden WSBK Miller Motorsports Park 635x423

Last year we combined the QP2 times from World Superbike with the Qualifying times from AMA Superbike, to see how America’s finest motorcycle racers stack up on against the international championship of a similar name. Of course there are different regulations in each series (not to mention a variety of other factors), which vary a bit on how teams are allowed to modify their race bikes, so there isn’t an exact comparison between the two series, but it makes for something interesting to mull over with your morning coffee, and the results this year may surprise you.

Video: The Best Highside Save Ever?

05/14/2012 @ 6:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Video: The Best Highside Save Ever? Genki Hagata racing highside save Infineon 635x400

During the second AMA Pro Supersport qualifying session at Sears Point, #422 Genki Hagata had a moment that every motorcycle racer knows all too well: a highside. Still completing his out-lap, Hagata’s Yamaha YZF-R6 lost traction at the rear wheel, and then abruptly regained it, which for most riders would usually mean an ejection seat straight into the kitty litter, but not for Genki.

Holding onto the bars throughout the incident, Hagata avoided crashing (again, as the case would be for the weekend), and while he missed making the cut-off for Supersport grid by only a few tenths of a second, we still think he was the big winner of AMA Pro Racing’s third road-racing stop of the season. See it to believe it after the jump, and thanks for the tip 梁聰!

Have You Met the KTM AMA Superbike Racing Team?

04/06/2012 @ 11:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Have You Met the KTM AMA Superbike Racing Team? KTM HMC Superbike Racing AMA Pro Racing 09 635x423

Things looked dubious reagrding the KTM/HMC Superbike Racing Team competing in the 2012 AMA Pro Racing season, but despite talk of the opposite before the season, the factory-backed squad is now on the race card. Someone must have tipped off KTM that its “Ready to Race” slogan really carried no water in the American street-bike scene unless the Austrian manufacturer actually raced here in the United States. That is just fine by us, as it means that KTM has committed itself to the AMA racing ranks, adding another competitive manufacturer to the struggling series’ roster.

It also bodes well for Chris Fillmore, Stefan Nebel, and the rest of the HMC Racing crew, who were out testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway after the Daytona 200. With Fillmore taking 12th & 14th finishes in the two races of AMA Pro Racing’s first Superbike round, KTM/HMC Superbike Racing is aiming for Top 5 finishes this season, as the squad continues to build its American road-racing program. You can meet the factory-supported AMA Superbike crew in the video after the jump.

MotoGP: Steve Rapp & Attack Performance Granted Wild Card Status to both US Rounds on a CRT Entry

04/03/2012 @ 1:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Steve Rapp & Attack Performance Granted Wild Card Status to both US Rounds on a CRT Entry Steve Rapp 635x422

Roadracing World is reporting that AMA Pro Racing team Attack Performance has gotten the green light from Dorna to enter both American MotoGP rounds as a CRT entry, with AMA Superbike rider Steve Rapp slotted as the rider of the machine. Listed as the machine’s constructor on the entry, Attack Performance is presumably building its own race bike, which is almost certainly to have a Kawasaki ZX-10R motor at its core.

If the team undertakes the next steps in the process of racing in MotoGP, and it is true that Attack Kawasaki is building its own bike, then the team will have a short amount of time to put together a competent race package, as there are only four months until the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca.

Photo of the Week: Think Outside the Oval

04/02/2012 @ 3:32 pm, by Daniel Lo2 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Think Outside the Oval photo of the week ben bostrom infineon daniel lo 635

Ben Bostrom signed on to ride for a certain AMA Superbike team owner by the name of Michael Jordan in 2011, trading in his signature number 155 for his employer’s legendary 23. “I think having MJ as a boss is awesome!” he enthused, when speaking about his then-upcoming debut.

As with any new rider and team pairing, there were rough patches to work through, but it was clear early on that the combination had potential. By the second round of the season Ben had put the Jumpman bike on the front row of the starting grid, outpaced only by proven factory machines.

Erik Buell Racing Partners with Hero MotoCorp

02/22/2012 @ 8:43 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing Partners with Hero MotoCorp Hero MotoCorps Pawan Munjal with Erik Buell Racings Erik Buell

While we have been expecting Erik Buell Racing to join forces with a larger company at some point this year, today it comes as a bit of surprise to learn that EBR has partnered with Hero MotoCorp. The deal sees Hero becoming the title sponsor for two teams in the AMA Pro Racing National Guard Superbikes Championship — Team Hero and AMSOIL Hero, while Erik Buell Racing will give Hero design and technology inputs for bikes destined for the Indian market.

In practicality, this partnership would seem to suggest that Erik Buell Racing will help Hero MotoCorp, a company recently freed/dumped from its partnership with Honda, build sporty two-wheelers for the Indian motorcycle market, while the cash-infused Indian manufacturer will help the boutique American sport bike maker continue to go racing in the United States. This news also puts Danny Eslick on the Team Hero EBR 1190RS for the 2012 season, while Geoff May will continue with the AMSOIL Hero EBR 1190RSThanks for the tip Kevin!

Hayden & Bostrom Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway

01/03/2012 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Hayden & Bostrom Test at Homestead Miami Speedway Michael Jordga Motorsports 635x422

The start 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing series is almost upon us, and the folks at Michael Jordan Motorsports are rapidly gearing up for the new season. Traveling down to the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, MJM riders Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden took their Suzuki GSX-R1000 race bikes around newly added track for the first time. While Bostrom and Hayden won’t have to race at Homestead-Miami until September 23rd, the season-opener at Daytona, Florida is rapidly approaching and only two and half months away.

Shooting the Homestead-Miami Speedway test with some on-board cameras, the Michael Jordan Motorsports team has put together a great three minute clip that stars Bostrom’s boot, among other things. Joking aside, the video is well-put together (a rarity in the AMA paddock), and has some great shots of Bostrom’s shifting and knee-slidding around the Floridian track. Look for #23 on the Jordan Suzuki, while Roger Lee will again represent the men and women of the Army National Guard on the #54 bike.