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.

Motorcycle Drawings by Rich Lee Draws!!!

09/29/2011 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Motorcycle Drawings by Rich Lee Draws!!! Rich Lee Draws 6 635x523

I stumbled upon these drawings last week, and have been meaning to post them up ever since. While Asphalt & Rubber likes to cover the art side of the industry, that vein is primarily relegated to concept sketches and renders, and while it is fun to ponder the “what if” side of motorcycles and use a little imagination, we rarely get a chance to appreciate art for simply being art.

That being said, these drawings from San Francisco illustrator/graphic designer Rich Lee (BlogFacebook & Twitter), of appropriately named Rich Lee Draws!!!, made us smile when we saw them, as they’re the sort of thing you wish you’d see in a comic book, or pinned to a little kid’s bedroom wall. Check out some samples of Rich’s motorcycle work after the jump, and be sure to check out his portfolios for his non-moto stuff (Warning: you’ll lose a couple hours in your day if you do).

30 Years of Troy Lee Designs

03/16/2011 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

30 Years of Troy Lee Designs Troy Lee Designs 635x355

Troy Lee Designs is celebrating 30 years of customizing helmets “For The World’s Fastest Racers” this year, and Honda Powersports has made a nice video that talks to Troy about how he came into the sport, his work, and how his business has grown and evolved over the past three decades.

Troy Lee Designs is obviously know for its custom helmets, which have adorned many a racers’ head, and the firm is also responsible for the paint and livery for the Rizla Suzuki team (along with some other creative work for the MotoGP squad). As for Honda’s involvement, there is now the 2011 Troy Lee Designs Supercross Team, which sees rider Cody Seely battling it out on the dirt for TLD with the Honda race package.

Elizabeth Raab Does Nudes with Ducati

02/02/2011 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Elizabeth Raab Does Nudes with Ducati  Ally Desmosedici Elizabeth Raab 2

Photographer Elizabeth Raab has taken to motorcycles for her latest form of artistic expression, doing a series of photos with models strewn nude over various Ducati motorcycles. Consisting of 16 photos in all, The Desmo Photography Collection is being made available on a website that the Italian brand has put together to showcase art that intertwines Ducati and art (some would say a Ducati motorcycle is already a work of art, but we digress). We like Raab’s work here so much, we’ve already cleared a wall for our favorite piece*, and think this might be the perfect gift for that refined Ducatisti in your life. *Note: That link, and the gallery after, contain nude photos which may not be suitable if viewed from a work environment.

Here’s One for the MV Agusta Fans

01/20/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Heres One for the MV Agusta Fans mv agusta f3 official photos 51 635x423

If you’re a lover of all things Italian (MV Agusta‘s in particular), and near the Midland, Michigan area, then you should stop by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art before April 10, 2011. A part of the Midland Center of the Arts, the museum is showing an exhibit on Italian art that includes a gallery full of classic and modern MV Agusta motorcycles, along with photographs of Italian cars, and 17th century Italian sketches.

Showing the merger of form and function, MV Agusta motorcycles easily top our list as some of the finest-looking two-wheeled machines ever made. As much as we slog the Italian company for going to the well on its most recent creation, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, its predecessor the MV Agusta F4, whose lines were penned by the master Massimo Tamburini, has to be the most gorgeous modern motorcycle ever produced by mortal man.

A video of the exhibit is embedded after the jump, along with a gallery of the MV Agusta F3. If any A&R readers go to the exhibit, we’d love to post your photos of the MV’s on display.

Jack Armstrong’s “Million Dollar Harley-Davidson” – Further Proof You Can’t Buy Taste

10/25/2010 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Jack Armstrong’s “Million Dollar Harley Davidson” – Further Proof You Can’t Buy Taste Jack Armstrong custom Harley Davidson 635x422

I suffered through four semesters of art history classes in college (thanks general education requirements!) to realize two big things about art: 1) never date a painter or anyone that refers to themselves as an “artiste”, and 2) aesthetics are subjective, and should be internally processed. So with that intro in mind, I hope you’ll see where we’re headed in this article when I tell you that this custom Harley-Davidson comes from an artist who describes his style as “Cosmic Extensionalism”, name drops Any Warhol seemingly at any given opportunity, and boasts of fastly becoming “The Most Famous Artist on the Planet”. Mmmmk…

Video: Shinya Kimura – Motorcycle Artist

06/28/2010 @ 6:19 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Shinya Kimura   Motorcycle Artist Shinya Kimura Needle

Don’t call him a custom motorcycle builder, Shinya Kimura is really more of any artist whose medium is on two-wheels (among other formats). In an industry that centers around products that should resonate with their owners, Kimura finds a way to put more soul into metal than just about anyone else we know. Check out after the jump this unlisted YouTube video by Henrik Hanssen, which shows Kimura and his work from his shop Chabott Engineering.

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