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.

Ben Spies and His Pramac Ducati Livery

01/16/2013 @ 2:55 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Ben Spies and His Pramac Ducati Livery Ben Spies Pramac Ducati Desmosedici GP13 635x423

Along with the unveiling of the Ducati Corse factory team, Ben Spies, Andrea Iannone, and the rest of the Pramac Ducati team were on hand at the 2013 Wrooom event to unveil their factory-supported hardware. Continuing the close relationship between Ducati Corse and Pramac Team Principal Paolo Campinoti, the Pramac Ducati squad will help Ducati develop the Desmosidici race bike during the 2013 MotoGP season.

Though the logos may be sparse, Pramac Ducati sees the addition of Ignite Asset Management to the team’s livery, a New York-based asset management firm. Moving from the factory Yamaha team to the Ducati “junior” squad, Spies will be joined by Moto2 star Iannone, who captivated fans last year with his aggressive riding style and back-end cornering procedures.

First Shots of the Ducati Desmosedici GP13

01/15/2013 @ 11:43 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

First Shots of the Ducati Desmosedici GP13 Nicky Hayden Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Desmosedici GP13 Wrooom 12 635x423

Ahh, now here is the genuine article. Relatively unchanged from the bikes raced at the Valencian GP, the Ducati Desmosedici GP13 has finally broken cover at the 2013 Wrooom event. Shown here we see the Ducati Corse bikes of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, which will race alongside the similarly-spec’d machines of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone in the Pramac Ducati “junior” team.

Unveiled just moments ago on the mountain’s summit, we’re still waiting for Ducati Corse to drop the hi-res version of these photos in our mailbox, so more details and snaps as we get them. In the meantime, notice how the shots after the jump aren’t nearly as creepy as the ones released by Yamaha earlier this morning.

Ben Spies Talks About Leaving Yamaha

01/02/2013 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Ben Spies Talks About Leaving Yamaha Ben Spies Monster Yamaha Scott Jones 635x423

Today, Cycle World posted a great story by none other than MotoGP’s Ben Spies. Now out of his contractual obligations with Yamaha Racing, Spies can finally speak candidly about his 2012 season, and what was occurring behind close doors within the Yamaha factory team, as well as his contract negotiations within the MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks.

Some of the story we already know, like how a high-ranking Yamaha official told Ben Spies to give 100% or not show up, after the American was sidelined with food poisoning at Mugello. Spies also sheds light on the rumors about his switch back to WSBK, namely with the BMW Motorrad team. Discussing his interactions with HRC and Gresini Racing, Spies also sheds insight about how he ultimately landed in the Ducati Corse camp. Head over to Cycle World, the article is well-worth a read.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Ben Spies at Valencian GP

10/27/2012 @ 8:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Ben Spies at Valencian GP Katsuyuki Nakasuga yamaha 635x405

With the news that the injured Ben Spies would miss not only the Australian GP, but the Valencian GP as well, the American MotoGP rider’s miserable MotoGP season was abruptly ended after his fall at Sepang.

Set to ride on the Ducati Junior Team next season, Spies’ run with Yamaha now seems to have concluded, and the attention has shifted as to whom would ride in his place at Valencia, if anyone.

Despite a twitter campagin to get American Josh Hayes back on a Yamaha YZR-M1, Yamaha Racing have instead chosen test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to replace Ben Spies on the factory Yamaha.

MotoGP: Season Ends for Ben Spies after Surgery News

10/24/2012 @ 8:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Season Ends for Ben Spies after Surgery News Ben Spies Silverstone MotoGP Scott Jones

Crashing hard in the Malaysian GP, it initially seemed that Ben Spies had escaped serious injury, as the Clinica Mobile staff gave the American rider a clean bill of health at the circuit. Getting examined further in Kuala Lumpur however, it became apparent that Spies had suffered quite a number of injuries — an AC shoulder separation, a cracked rib in the upper-chest area, and bruising to his lung, to be precise.

Undergoing surgery today at the National Surgery Center near San Jose, California, Spies reported on Twitter that the operation had gone well, though the extent of his injuries will mean an increase in the duration of his recovery time, with 10 to 12 weeks being the number banded about. This news means that Spies will miss not only the Australian GP, but also the Valencian GP and the post-season MotoGP testing — a serious blow to the soon-to-be Ducati rider.

MotoGP: Ben Spies to Miss Phillip Island Round

10/22/2012 @ 11:11 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Ben Spies to Miss Phillip Island Round Ben Spies Yamaha Racing MotoGP Scott Jones

As if crashing out of the Malaysian GP wasn’t bizarro enough, Ben Spies has announced today that he will be missing the Australian GP, as it has become evident that he injured his shoulder in his wet-weather tumble at Sepang. Although found to have no injuries by the Clinica Mobile staff at the circuit, after undergoing tests in Kuala Lumpur post-race, Spies found that he had sustained an AC shoulder separation, a cracked rib in the upper-chest area, and bruising to his lung.

Returning to the US for treatment on Tuesday, Spies will accordingly miss the MotoGP’s next stop, which is at Phillip Island. His participation in the last round of the season, the Valencian GP, is now in question as well, though it could be possible for the American to be healed enough to race within that time frame.

Though this season has been a string of highly suspicious instances of bad luck for the factory Yamaha rider, Valencia will be important round for Spies, as the post-race test will be the first opportunity for him to ride the Ducati Desmosedici race bike.

MotoGP: Slippery Slope at the Malaysian GP

10/21/2012 @ 3:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Slippery Slope at the Malaysian GP Rain Sepang Dani Pedrosa 635x421

As was forecasted, the rain made its appearance for the start of the Malaysian GP being held at Sepang. The wet weather of course meant all bets were off for what could happen on this third-to-last round in the MotoGP Championship, and the adverse conditions increased the possibility of some “off-road excursions” by the riders. No one had more to lost from such a proposition than current points leader Jorge Lorenzo.

Sitting 28 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the factory Yamaha rider needed only to stay upright on his machine to retain control of the 2012 MotoGP Championship title, but with the rain in Sepang, that simple task could prove to be more difficult than anyone imagined. Needing to grab back as many points as possible, no one probably welcomed the rain more than Dani Pedrosa…well, except maybe the Ducati riders, which made for some high-stakes in the otherwise low-action race

MotoGP: Time Marches on at the Japanese GP

10/14/2012 @ 4:23 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Time Marches on at the Japanese GP Jorge Lorenzo MotoGP Yamaha Motegi 635x421

One of the three “flyaway” races before the season finale in Valencia, the Japanese GP is race that is not only important to the two remaining Japanese manufacturers in the premier class, but it begins the dénouement of the MotoGP Championship.

Finding renewed vigor in his Championship hunt, Dani Pedrosa has only a handful of races left to catch Jorge Lorenzo, and win his first premier-class title. Truthfully needing Lorenzo to make a critical mistake or suffer a mechanical failure, Pedrosa also has to keep the pressure on his rival, and try to minimize the gap to his fellow Spaniard.

With each place separating the two riders likely to play a pivotal role at the end of the season, the drama unfolding in Motegi was palpable, though the action itself was a slow grind of a multi-campaign war.

Friday Summary at Motegi: Of Conspiracy Theories, Unnecessary Assistance, & Hot Brakes

10/12/2012 @ 1:34 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Friday Summary at Motegi: Of Conspiracy Theories, Unnecessary Assistance, & Hot Brakes Dani Pedrosa 2012 Japanese MotoGP FP2 635x421

There is little that motorcycle racing fans more than a good conspiracy. No mishap, contract dispute, or rider swap is ever the result of chance, error, greed or incompetence; there are always darker and greater powers involved, be it Dorna, Honda, or a major sponsor. They do not let the fact that their theories bear little resemblance to reality in 99.999% of the cases spoil the fun, and rightly so, moving happily on to the next dark conspiracy.

It took less than 10 minutes of the first session of MotoGP free practice before they had plenty to get their teeth into. Casey Stoner barely made it out of the pits before his Honda RC213V packed up, and he was forced to park it up by the side of the track, the bike felled by a mystery electronics issue. Stoner lost a lot of time in that first session, working with just a single bike as his mechanics tried to find out what had caused his first bike to fail. In the afternoon, an issue with the brake caused Stoner similar problems, losing valuable track time he needs to get back up to speed again.

A plot to prevent Stoner from interfering with Dani Pedrosa’s shot at the title? An entertaining idea, but in the reality stakes, somewhere beyond the moon landings conspiracy. Stoner’s problems are the kind of issue that every team has from time to time, with minor technical issues conspiring to work against them.

Interview: Filippo Preziosi Talks about Ducati’s Four Riders, Future Developments, & The Spec ECU Rule

09/19/2012 @ 3:10 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Interview: Filippo Preziosi Talks about Ducatis Four Riders, Future Developments, & The Spec ECU Rule Filippo Preziosi Ducati Corse 02 635x422

Ducati Corse director and Ducati’s engineering guru Filippo Preziosi was a busy man at Misano. Besides overseeing the race weekend at the circuit and preparing for the test on Monday, Preziosi spent a lot of time talking to a number of journalists. I was one of the lucky few who were offered ten minutes with Preziosi, and so I jumped at the chance.

In the interview, Preziosi covered a number of topics: the Ducati junior team strategy, Ducati’s four riders for 2013, the current and expected developments for next season were all among the subjects discussed. Preziosi also talked about the effect of the spec ECU, which will be introduced for 2014, and gave the impression he was not necessarily opposed to the idea. After the jump is what Preziosi had to say.