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: Dubstep + Flat Track + Slow-Mo

10/27/2014 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If I’m doing my math right, it’s Monday back home. Time to get the week started. Time to start the countdown to the next weekend. If you cringed at the thought, we have something to help get you through the rest of the day. Dubstep, meets flat track racing at the Springfield Mile, meets slow-motion cinematography. It’s not going to win at Sundance, but it’s highly mesmerizing…and flat track is just damn cool.

Video: Husqvarna FS 450 – Just Take Our Money

09/12/2014 @ 12:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna as a brand is seeing new life within KTM, albeit currently as dressed up KTM and Husaberg models. Still, Husky fans have to be happy to see the once Swedish brand living with some stability in its life. Nixing bikes like the Husqvarna Nuda, as well as the Husqvarna Moab and Husqvarna Baja concepts, the Husky reboot has been absent of on-road machines.

The Husqvarna FS 450 doesn’t really change that reality, as the supermoto comes in race-only trim (it’s really just a KTM 450 SX-F with the appropriate SM modifications), but the FS 450 certainly is a good start in that direction.

Supermotos might be the most fun you can have on two wheels, and Husqvarna’s video makes us hope that a ‘tard finds its way to the US market, with lights and turn signals preferably.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

09/06/2014 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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I’ve been riding track days for almost as long as I’ve owned a motorcycle. It’s something that goes hand-in-hand with my motorcycle experience, and probably is the reason why Asphalt & Rubber has such a sport bike / racing slant when it comes to our story-mix. So, I know all too well the trials and tribulations of taping up a bike before heading to the track.

Some track groups don’t require tape, as long as you pull the fuses to your headlight, tail light, and turn signals. Some track groups recognize that the plastic used on these lighting systems is brittle, can easily shatter, and thus need some tape over them for the unthinkable. Regardless, I guarantee that if you do enough track days with anything but a dedicated track bike, you will learn the hassle of taping a headlight at some point in time.

When it comes time to doing this right of passage, there are two schools of thought: 1) duck it and fuck it, and 2) razor blade artistry. The prior involves just slapping tape (usually horrid blue masking tape) in one easy but sloppy job, while the latter means painstakingly applying perfectly measured strips of matte black gaffer tape, and then trimming the excess with a razor blade. One theory is quick and easy, while the other can mean attractive track photos, but hours of your life lost.

That’s not the case anymore though, dear track day enthusiasts. Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process.

MotoGP Riders Step-Up for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

08/21/2014 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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You would have to live a life devoid of social media — raising some interesting issues about how you’re on Asphalt & Rubber in the first place — not to know about the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that occurring to help raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The campaign is pretty straight forward: someone nominates you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, you post up a video of you accepting the challenge, and then you nominate a three other people to take the challenge themselves within 24hrs — or, you can opt for the drier and warmer alternative, and donate $100 to the ALS Association.

It’s all good clean wholesome fun, and it really doesn’t matter if you cut a check or take a dunk, the ALSA benefits either way from the money and/or increased exposure. A clever pieces of marketing, the Ice Bucket Challenge has reportedly increased donations to the ALSA nearly ten-fold, and it’s not uncommon to see celebrities getting in on the fun, even in the MotoGP paddock.

First up was Jorge Lorenzo unsurprisingly, as the Spaniard has often used his fame to help charities. After taking an ice bath, Lorenzo challenged fellow Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, current MotoGP points-leader Marc Marquez, and recent race-winner Dani Pedrosa, well…the results are after the jump.

Video: Rider Nails the Landing After a Nasty Crash

08/19/2014 @ 10:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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The upside to having rampant insurance fraud with motor vehicles is the increased use of dashboard cameras, at least that’s our selfish take on the situation currently in Russia. If that’s truly the case, then the crowning achievement of that philosophy is surely the following video.

Going far too fast for the flow of traffic, our protagonist finds himself quickly cut-off by a car that is changing lanes. What happens next is entirely predictable, yet incredibly not. We don’t want to give it away, just watch it after the jump…no pun intended. Thanks for the tip Taco Ben!

Kawasaki USA Rebrands “Good Times Protection Plan”

08/19/2014 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki USA announced today that it is rebranding its tragically named extended warranty program from the “Good Times Protection Plan” to “Kawasaki Protection Plus” for reasons we feel are too obvious to elaborate upon.

However, the real astonishing story here is that for the past 28 years, Kawasaki has made its dealers say with a straight face “Good Times Protection Plan” to would-be buyers, who were looking for more protection for…umm…what was between their legs.

Ahh, I remember in college when I had a “good times protection plan” — though you either had to buy a pack at the grocery store, or suffer through the line at Student Health to get them for free. That and other penis jokes await you in the comments section. Don’t plan on seeing Kawasaki advertise on A&R anytime soon after this.

The #1 BMW Motorcycle Fan? — That’s a Tall Order!

08/15/2014 @ 12:36 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The #1 BMW Motorcycle Fan?    Thats a Tall Order! someecard weekends

I’m not complaining, but it’s been a busy week for Asphalt & Rubber’s Editor-in-Chief. Monday was spent getting back from the Indianapolis GP, where Dan and Tony once again proved how they are some of the most amazing photographers in the business, David as usually decrypted the paddock and wrote what should be considered the gold standard of daily summaries, and I…well, I tried to stay out of everyone’s way.

Finally back in California, Tuesday saw the hard drive in my laptop give up the ghost, and thus was spent knee-deep in nerdom with Scott — who knew that a #6 pentalobe screwdriver would be so difficult to find?! Wednesday was spent at the Honda CBR300R press launch, which for reasons beyond comprehension I drove to, instead of flying. Thursday meant swimming through the 800 or so emails that I neglected throughout the weeks’ activities, which just leaves me to say how is it Friday already?

Again I’m not complaining, but thank goodness it’s the end of the week. Anyhoo, I’m sure everyone has had their share of busy weeks, especially as summer is beginning to wind down. To help lighten the load, here’s a video of a giraffe that really loves himself some BMW motorcycles. If anyone asks, I’m saying a reader sent this to me…yeah…a reader…that’s what happened…

What’s Bigger: Indy Motor Speedway or Star Wars?

08/10/2014 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Since we are a bunch of stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herders, it seems only appropriate that we conclude this already slightly absurd string of articles about the size of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the only way we really know how: using equally absurd Star Wars references.

So, in the narrow overlap that occurs in the Venn diagram of MotoGP factoids and outright nerdiness, we ask you to ponder which is bigger: the IMS oval or the Star Wars universe’s iconic spaceship, the Imperial Star Destroyer?Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.

A Shameless Opportunity to Talk About Mad Max: Fury Road

07/28/2014 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Apparently there’s a new Mad Max reboot coming out, and it looks awesome. I have nothing really to say beyond that, and will argue a tenuous link to our usual content on Asphalt & Rubber because motorcycles are one of the best ways to survive the onslaught Imperator Furisoa (Charlize Theron) in George Miller’s post-apocolyptic imagination.

It’s interesting to think about Hollywood’s inclusion of motorcycles in collapse-of-civilization scenarios though. Is it because two-wheeled transportation is the best way to get around when roads no longer exist, much in the same way that Riders for Health uses motorcycles to effectively get medical aid to remote locations?

Or, is it some subliminal message that Hollywood feeds off of (and thus also helps create) that tells us society has truly fallen apart if we are riding motorcycles…much like how a movie character’s act of smoking a cigarette was used to heighten his/hers cool or mysterious persona?

I don’t know the answer to those question, but it keeps me up at night. I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!

Event Report: Dirt Quake USA

06/27/2014 @ 4:06 pm, by Sean Smith7 COMMENTS

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It’s Sunday morning and after we hit the ATM, I ask Ash to check the event website and see what time tech inspection is. In my head, its sometime around 11:15, and no bikes are to be started before 12:00 on Sunday (at the request of a local church).

Ash reports that the web site says tech inspection is from 9-10 and that the rider meeting was at 10:15. Shit. I text Thor Drake (my boss from See See Motorcycles,who is sponsoring the event), it’s 10:24. We’re in Longview, driving a borrowed Mazda B2500 that has a terrible miss, which only gets worse with more throttle.

We arrive at the scene in Castle Rock, WA. There are people in shorts riding all manner of choppers, Thor is dressed in white 12 o’clocking a slice of Sizzle Pie that Bjorn Drake affixed to a Honda ATC200, something to do with some advertising deal, but no one cares. It’s awesome.