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.

Leaked: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera Detail Photos

10/11/2013 @ 12:31 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

Leaked: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera Detail Photos Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera chassis 635x400

The leaks from Ducati keep coming in, and now we have our first photos of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera and its tasty details. Stripped of its carbon fiber fairings, we can see where all those magnesium, titanium, and carbon pieces reside on the Superleggera’s rolling chassis.

Asphalt & Rubber has gotten its hands on 16 detail photos of the new Ducati Superleggera, and they are waiting for you after the jump. Our apologies in advance for the insane watermarks, but some people just don’t understand the internet. Other publications should feel free to use our photos, provided they cite their source and link back to Asphalt & Rubber — easy, right?

More Video Goodness of the Ducati Superleggera

10/10/2013 @ 10:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

More Video Goodness of the Ducati Superleggera ducati 1199 panigale r superleggera tease 635x424

Sure to be the talk of EICMA, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera is slowly leaking out from Borgo Panigale. We already broke the news about the Superleggera’s 220hp crank horsepower, and the “superlight” superbike’s insane weight trimmings. Looking at the special parts that comprise the Superleggera, it is not hard to see how Ducati dropped 40 lbs from the bike’s mass.

A magnesium frame/headstock, a carbon fiber rear subframe, magnesium wheels, titanium bolts, tungsten inserts on the lightened crankshaft, titanium/carbon fiber exhaust cans…we could go on with our pairings of motorcycle parts and elements from the periodic table.

Ducati hopes to whet our appetites with this machine with a proscribed trickling of information and media. We don’t like that idea too much, so here are eight unreleased teaser videos of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera from Ducati’s invite-only microsite. Don’t ask how we got them.

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200? ducati monster 1200 tail 635x464

At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera

10/04/2013 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler64 COMMENTS

Coming Soon: Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera Ducati 1199 Panigale cover 635x423

Ducati has gone to great lengths so that you won’t know this, but our sources have confirmed to us that in about a month’s time, the Bologna Brand will debut perhaps the most ostentatious machine ever to come from the Borgo Panigale factory, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera. An ultra-exclusive version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, the Superleggera edition is exactly what its Italian name suggests, a super-light version of the Panigale R.

With the Panigale R already the lightest sport bike to ever come from Ducati, the Panigale R Superleggera goes even further, employing titanium, carbon fiber, and magnesium throughout the machine to drop its curb weight by an additional 40 lbs. Ducati isn’t stopping there though.

Heavily reworking the 1,199cc Superquadro engine, the engineers at Bologna have bumped the bike’s peak horsepower figure, somehow finding a way to shoehorn 220hp into the Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera.

It’s ok if you need to take a minute to readjust yourself in your chair before reading further — we’ll wait.

Say Goodbye to MotoGP Racing at Laguna Seca

09/29/2013 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Say Goodbye to MotoGP Racing at Laguna Seca laguna seca motogp daniel lo 635x423

Ever since Indianapolis Motor Speedway re-signed to host the MotoGP Championship, the writing has been on the wall for GP racing at Laguna Seca. The tiny coastal track in California is a favorite amongst the riders, mostly for how different it is compared to the computer-designed Grand Prix circuits in Europe, but that distinction has also always been the Achilles heel of Laguna Seca.

While the circuit provides fans with the unique ability to get close to the racers in the paddock, as well as great general admission vantage points for watching the racing action on the track, Laguna Seca is only able to do so because of its low attendance figures, and generally campy approach to hosting motorcycle racing.

Looking for a more polished GP experience, one which would be more consistent with how MotoGP operates in Europe and other venues, Dorna has always viewed Laguna Seca as the black sheep of GP racing circuits. Looking now to push MotoGP more into developing regions, Dorna’s current holding of three American GP rounds seems to make less sense, and thus something has to give.

With drafts of the 2014 MotoGP Championship calendar circulating at the Aragon GP, and with World Superbike meeting this weekend in Laguna Seca, all but the official announcement itself has made its way through the two camps. As such, multiple confidential sources have reported to Asphalt & Rubber that MotoGP will not return to Laguna Seca, despite the track’s contract with Dorna for next season.

The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today

07/22/2013 @ 8:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today luke yoda marc marquez valentino rossi star wars

Regular readers will know that Asphalt & Rubber is littered with Star Wars references — we are a bit dorky like that. Speaking for myself, I am an equal opportunity sci-fi nerd, giving healthy viewing times to the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5 franchises, just to name a few (David for some reason enjoys Farscape…no one is perfect).

If you read enough of our articles, a Boba Fett, Deathstar, or Bothan Spy reference is more than likely to crop up (dear I say, they are even expected??!) — so for the kids who were cool in high school: deal with it.

With that disclaimer being said, we bring to you the most awesome thing you will see this Monday: Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi photoshopped into the iconic movie frame of Yoda mentoring Luke Skywalker in the swampy forests of Dagobah. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh

07/08/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh ducati scrambler 635x405

While I was lounging at the pool this holiday weekend, getting my bronze on, the A&R Bothan Spy network was hard at work dumpster diving, hacking emails, and subscribing to the NSA’s live PRISM feed.

The fruits of that labor was the alarming realization of how many kitten videos the motorcycle industry collectively watches in a single day, and the fact that Ducati is working on scrambler-style motorcycle.

The project itself dates way back when Pierre Terblanche was still toiling away in Bologna, dodging equal portions of labor strikes and carbonara, and at the time was based around the now defunct Ducati Sport Classic.

Shelved, and thought never to see the light of day, we can only imagine this whole Hipstacyclist™ movement has helped Ducati rethink its position regarding a scrambler.

MV Agusta F3 800 Coming in June

05/16/2013 @ 3:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MV Agusta F3 800 Coming in June mv agusta f3 800

If we had to summarize MV Agusta’s new model plans right now, we would classify it as a “no stone left unturned” approach, as the Italian brand seems committed to make every possible iteration of machine from its common parts bin of motorcycles.

Debuting the MV Agusta F3 675 three-cylinder supersport in 2010, and finally bringing it to market in 2012, the Varese brand is set to bring another iteration of the F3 to market, the MV Agusta F3 800.

As the name implies, MV Agusta will use its 800cc three-cylinder engine, which can be found on the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and the still-not-released MV Agusta Rivale 800 as well.

Mission Motorcycles: The Mission R Lives??!

05/07/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Mission Motorcycles: The Mission R Lives??! Mission Motorcycles Teaser 635x400

Mission Motors tweeted out something interesting just a moment ago, a link to a new website for Mission Motorcycles. Teasing there a photo of the Mission R, it would seem that the electric superbike that does competitive AMA Supersport lap times at Laguna Seca, is finally set to come to production.

The stars have been aligning these past few months for such an occasion, with rumors that an old Mission Motors investor was back in the mix, and looking to bring the Mission R to production. You may recall that Mission Motors made a course correction away from the two-wheeled world, focusing instead on supplying the automotive world with electric-drive components.

That change of course saw the departure of two Mission Motors founders, and the heartbreak of two-wheeled enthusiasts, petrol and electric alike, who wished to see the Mission R come to market. With layoffs reported at the San Franciscan startup just six months ago, it would seem more changes are afoot for the EV company, but we think you will like the sound of this.

Gabriele del Torchio Leaving Ducati for Alitalia?

04/15/2013 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gabriele del Torchio Leaving Ducati for Alitalia? Gabriele Del Torchio Ducati 635x954

I thought I could hold onto this one over the weekend, but I guess I was wrong. Asphalt & Rubber, along with several other publications it would seem, have gotten news that Gabriele del Torchio, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, could be leaving the company for a position with Italian airline Alitalia.

Still an unconfirmed rumor at this point, Del Torchio’s move would mark the end to a major chapter in Ducati’s history, as the Bologna company has flurished under the Italian’s command. Though this transition that has been hinted at since Audi AG bought Ducati Motor Holding from Investindustrial, the news perhaps isn’t surprising, but it does raise some interesting question marks for the future.