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.

Arai Launches Joey Dunlop Replica Helmet for Classic TT

07/22/2014 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Arai Launches Joey Dunlop Replica Helmet for Classic TT Arai RX7 GP Joey Dunlop replica helmet 04 635x449

You can’t talk about old school TT racing without mentioning the name Joey Dunlop. The outright record-holder for the most TT race wins at the Isle of Man TT, Joey Dunlop is an absolute icon at the Manx island, and road racing in general. He is quite simply the King of the Mountain.

So to help celebrate this year’s Classic TT, Arai will produce 300 units of its RX7-GP helmet in Joey Dunlop’s livery from 1985. Arai is calling the helmet the most authentic limited edition Joey Dunlop replica helmet ever produced, and it’s using the actual design and sponsors from 1985 season. Additionally, Linda Dunlop, Joey’s widow, will be signing each of the 300 exclusive helmets being produced.

Photos: Nicky Hayden’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/21/2013 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Photos: Nicky Haydens Laguna Seca Helmet Nicky Hayden Laguna Seca MotoGP Helmet Jensen Beeler 11 635x423

The Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca, fan favorite Nicky Hayden will be sporting a new lid. Themed after Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, the Arai helmet has another clever use of Nicky’s face in the livery, giving the impression that the Kentucky Kid is wearing a combat helmet while on his Ducati Demsosedici GP13.

When we asked about any meaning behind the helmet design for the US GP Hayden said he simply liked the camo paint scheme, and that his helmet designer, Roby Marchionni of Starline, had thought of the design for the race. However, it is hard not to make some connections between Nicky’s time at Ducati Corse and some of the themes portrayed in Full Metal Jacket. After all, the former World Champion certainly has that thousand-yard stare down pat.

Icon Ties Arai in 2011 J.D. Power & Associates Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study

05/26/2011 @ 9:54 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Icon Ties Arai in 2011 J.D. Power & Associates Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study JD Power Associates Helmet satisfaction 635x564

J.D. Power and Associates have released their 2011 Helmet Satisfaction Study, and the results are pretty interesting. The study takes an 11-point approach on helmet satisfaction, having helmet purchasers rank their lid on the following attributes: quietness; ventilation/air flow; de-fogging performance; face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out; face shield resistance to scratching; ease of replacing face shield; scratch resistance of shell; color/graphic design; weight; ease of fastening the strap; and fit and comfort.

Perhaps unsurprising to many, Arai topped the list as having the highest rating (this makes the 13th year in a row for the Japanese helmet manufacturer), but this year will carry an asterisk, as Icon tied Arai in customer satisfaction with a score of 852 out of 1,000. According to JDPA, Arai’s scores across all 11 attributes were strong, with a particular strength in “fit & comfort” and “face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out”. Similarly, Icon scored especially well in “color/graphic design”, while Shoei got strong marks for “ease of replacing the face shield”.

Nicky Hayden Will Lap at the Isle of Man TT

04/14/2011 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Will Lap at the Isle of Man TT Nicky Hayden Qatar GP pitbox

This year marks 100 years of racing on the Mountain Course at the Isle of Man TT, which should make for a special event for all of those involved. Usually each year there is a famous motorcycle racer(s) that has the honor of doing a parade lap on the historic road course, and this year should be especially interesting for us Americans as Nicky Hayden will take a lap around the Isle of Man TT course.

The 2006 MotoGP World Champion will be joined by five-time 500GP World Champion Mick Doohan, as well as Ian Hutchinson, who astoundingly won all five solo races in last year’s TT. With Hayden sponsored by both Arai and Dainese (both event sponsors), it perhaps isn’t too surprising that the charismatic American will be taking part in the Arai Parade lap at the TT. Of course it could be the allure of British food and miserable weather that sealed the deal…tough call on that one.

What Does a Bike Catching on Fire at 120 MPH and Crashing into a Wall Look Like? Just Ask Jonathan Rea

02/24/2011 @ 1:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Despite the concern that he might not race this weekend, Jonathan Rea appears to gotten of easy with his latest get-off during testing at Phillip Island. Having to make the difficult choice between being a human fireball and hitting the tarmac at 120 MPH, Rea opted for the latter, ditched his firing stead, fractured his wrist, and injured his hand & arm in the process.

Now with video of the frightening event, we get a glimpse into the crash that nearly sidelined the British rider, who will still ride in Sunday’s World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island. We generally don’t like our motorcycles on fire, and there’s something very creepy about watching Rea’s Castrol Honda CBR1000RR do a ghostride into a barricade. While unconfirmed reports say Colin Edwards has welcomed Rea to the club, check after the jump for Rea’s personal message to Arai Helmets.

Valentino Rossi All Dressed Up for Work at Ducati Corse – Finally Talks on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11

01/11/2011 @ 3:36 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi All Dressed Up for Work at Ducati Corse – Finally Talks on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse Leathers colors1 635x839

Holding a press conference this morning at the Wrooom media event in the Dolomite Mountains, Valentino Rossi finally got a chance to officially talk to the press about his experience testing the Ducati at Valencia late last year, and his general impressions on riding with Ducati Corse. Commenting that “the Ducati is different from all the other bikes, it’s a proper prototype, the concept is different from the Japanese factories,” Rossi went on to explain that “you need a bit of a ‘dirtier’ style to ride the Desmosedici.”

In addition to his thoughts, official photos of Rossi’s leathers (Nicky Hayden’s as well, but to less fanfare) have been released by Ducati Corse, which see Rossi’s neon yellow color scheme mixed in with the red and white of Ducati Corse. The clashing colors might not please the aesthetically critical, but we have a feeling people will get used to the arrangement. Photos of the GP11’s race livery are expected tomorrow (Wednesday).

Arai Tops J.D. Power & Associates Helmet Rankings

05/21/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Arai Tops J.D. Power & Associates Helmet Rankings well used arai helmet 560x374

For twelve years in a row, Arai Helmets has topped J.D. Power & Associates motorcycle helmet rankings for customer satisfaction. This is important because J.D. Power also found that highly satisfied owners are more likely to buy their brand of helmet again (that’s a no brainer, right?). The kicker though is that the likelihood of a repeat customer is nearly 10x more likely when they are highly satisfied with their helmet. In a world where it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one, a 10x multiple is a staggering figure on how product quality plays into a company’s sales and growth strategy.

Arai RX-7 Limited Edition TT Series Helmets

03/25/2010 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Arai RX 7 Limited Edition TT Series Helmets Arai Isle of Man TT series helmet 1 635x453

Starting with 2010 and for the next two subsequent years, Arai will make a limited edition Isle of Man TT series of helmet. Each helmet will be designed by Aldo Drudi, and will be limited to 500 helmets. The move is part of Araii’s sponsorship package with the IOMTT, and will see the venue get a cut of each helmet shown. First up for 2010 is this Arai RX-7 GP that features the Three Legs of Man symbol.