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.

Broventure 2014 – Day Four: No Bad Days

09/11/2014 @ 6:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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One of my favorite phrases has to be “no bad day” — as it encapsulates everything about a motorcycle. There are no bad days on a motorcycle. There can be bad weather, there can be breakdowns, and even crashes, but never a bad day. My second favorite phrase is “if you’re not having fun on a motorcycle, you’re doing it wrong.”

This ties into the prior idea. If you’re on a motorcycle, you’re exploring new roads, you’re hanging out with good friends, you’re living this short existence we call life. Even when the unthinkable happens on two-wheels, the moment right before was spent in sheer bliss. Since we all have to punch out at some point, that seems like a pretty good deal on an inevitably losing hand.

I feel like this is a mantra that goes well with the adventure-touring segment. Breaking free of our nine-to-five lives, getting outdoors, and seeing where the road goes once the sidewalk ends. That’s at least what the marketing materials from OEMs tell us; and of course, the adventure is what you make of it.

Broventure 2014 – Day Three: 50/50

09/09/2014 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The third day of a trip begins the true measure of the adventure. You see, on the first day, you’re excited to be on the open road, and ambition mixed with some adrenaline fuels you. The second day, there remains enough of a connection to back home, that you haven’t truly left it behind yet. But by the third day, the miles being to take their toll, and a trip truly begins to gel. The Broventure is no different.

Despite being one of our shorter days, 210 miles in total, the 50/50 mix of off-road riding made it one of our hardest. We were truly off the beaten path, judging our route not by its direction or duration, but by the conditions on the various “roads” we were riding. They ranged from packed gravel, to loose rock, to rough dirt, and ended with a proper baptism of off-road fire.

Expansive views, sheer drops, and thirsty miles dominated Day Three, but you wouldn’t know it by our demeanor. Tired yes, but Oregon, Washington, and Idaho gave us plenty for our effort. The Bros are gelling too…and where perhaps Colin and Pete were resistant to the eyeroll-worthy “Broventure” mantle, they’ve embraced the spirit…or maybe that’s just the heat and dehydration talking.

Broventure 2014 – Day Two: An Embarrassment of Riches

09/08/2014 @ 12:20 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Day Two of the 2014 Broventure sees us riding from The Dalles, and ending up in Northeast Oregon, near the town of Joseph. It’s our first proper day of riding as a group of five, and our route is a solid 380 miles in length, approximately 60 miles of which is off-road fire trails. This all means there has been plenty of miles through which to get to know my fellow companions.

I’m not sure what contribution my presence brings to the ride, other than some sort of written/photographic record, but the rest of the group is very dynamic. Ronnie likes to pop wheelies on his Triumph Street Triple, usually down elevated freeway on-ramps — he’s also putting us to shame with his Dunlop DOT race tires on the gravel roads.

Quentin is easily distracted by cats, even when negotiating with locals over a five-gallon can of gasoline — I worry about him. Pete is our rock, and if I can be a bit self-centered, I’m grateful for every mile that his eight-gallon BMW R1200GSA is near me…as I’ll be the first one stranded on the side of the road, looking for a gas tank to siphon.

Colin is the glue the binds us, as he’s probably the only one of us who actually knows where we’re going. He’s planned an amazing route for our trip, which has us connecting an epic series of remote roads. He’s also even reluctantly accepted the “Broventure” title that these pages carry, or so he says.

Broventure 2014 – Day One: Getting Out of Dodge

09/06/2014 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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For the next four days, I’ll be on the road, riding and writing another Broventure for you all to enjoy. The plan is for our trip to take us through Oregon, Washington, and Idaho — through some of the best mountain roads in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve been following the Asphalt & Rubber social media accounts, you may have seen that I’ve been putting together a slightly modded Ducati Hypermotard SP for this trip (skid plate, radiator guard, heated grips, luggage rack, and Pirelli Scorpion tires), as our route includes both twisty asphalt roads and mild/moderate off-road trails.

I’ve always been a fan of the new Hypermotard, and I’ve been curious to see how it goes as a smaller ADV option to the more “purpose-built” Ducati Multistrada 1200. I have no delusions however about the bike’s small fuel tank and fairly uncomfortable seat — sometimes you have to roll a hard six.

Speaking of the magic number, six of us in total will be going on the trip, half of the group I haven’t met before; but all of us seem to be connected in multiple ways, and everyone shares the same passion for bikes and getting out of Dodge, and onto the open road.

Broventure Update Day Eight – All Good Things…

09/17/2013 @ 1:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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All good things must come to an end, and so too must this Broventure. Our travels have forged our buttocks into iron, impervious now to the long days in the saddle; our minds have been steeled against the lonely nature of navigating the back roads of America; and our road beards prevent us from stopping within 500 feet of an elementary school — talking to members of the opposite sex has been proven to be difficult as well.

Our bodies show that we have gone to Moab and back, and along the way we took in many of the breath-taking sights that the Southwest has to offer. We traded in our track leathers for some ADV gear, and tipped our toe into the off-roading waters — there is a reason this site is called Asphalt & Rubber, but this whole dirt thing is starting to look appealing as well.

Broventure Update – Day Seven: Unusual Perspectives

09/16/2013 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The days are winding down now, with today being our last real day of this Broventure (tomorrow we make the long arduous trek from Las Vegas back to Santa Barbara). Our agenda is simple: go see the Grand Canyon and stop at the Hoover Dam.

It’s raining this morning, naturally, and a weather front is coming in behind us. This wouldn’t be much of an issue, except we have to back-track our way from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It would seem that we cannot escape the rain.

Broventure Update – Day Six: The Long Goodbye

09/13/2013 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The trails and trials of Moab are behind us now, and all that remains is the long ride home, back to California. For as much “what if” planning that went into our preparation for this trip, we are surprisingly unscathed by our off-roading and touring adventures thus far.

I mean, Tim probably has a hairline fracture or severely torn ligament in his right wrist — a reward for an epic bike-before-body save on the Super Ténéré — but he continues to get punches on his Man Card by soldiering on with little complaint. Overall, our spirits are good.

Getting some greatly deserved slumber, we awoke to see that the rain has not left us from the previous day. It is coming down in waves, and making the process of getting out of our sleeping bags and tents a very undesirable prospect.

We have roughly 500 miles of riding planned for the day, as we plan to back-track out of Moab to get onto SR-95 South — our last great riding route of the trip. The excursion is a bit out of our way home, but all reports suggest it to be another epic ride, and for bonus points it will bring us close to the Grand Canyon, another sight Tim and I were hoping to see on this Broventure.

But before we can do that, we must first say goodbye to Moab, with its pantheon of geological wonder, and the trails and road that we navigated to see them.

Broventure Update – Day Five: The Road Less Traveled By

09/11/2013 @ 9:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” finishes with the iconic lines that “two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” This phrase has become the embodiment of the idea that the road less-often taken brings us greater reward, and in many ways that is the impetus behind trips like ours to Moab — we are searching for something, adventure maybe, beyond where the roadway ends.

With those words in mind, we strapped our boots on in the morning, geared up for a full day of riding on the trails that lead down the Colorado River and into Canyonlands National Park. Tim and I were a combination of excited and nervous for the day’s ride — after all, we had just ridden 1,000+ miles for this very day. Our first order of business was to take Kane Creek Road, to Hurrah Pass, and onto the Chicken Corners Trail.

Broventure Update – Day Four: No Halfway Measures

09/10/2013 @ 10:08 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Tim and I are sportbikers through and through, having cut our riding teeth on the canyon roads that are just inland of Santa Barbara, CA. So while the main goal for this trip is to get our feet dirty on the off-road trails of Moab, we both have been looking forward to today’s stretch of our route.

Our course promises not only to have corner-after-corner of fast and clean sweepers, but also some epic views as we summit and decend the mountains, and cut our way through the rock desert. Utah did not disappoint in this regard as we left Bryce Canyon National Park and headed to Moab, Utah along SR-12, SR-24, and SR-191. The fourth day of our eight day trip, it was hard to believe that by the end of the day we would have halfway completed our trip.

Broventure Update – Day Three: The Same, But Different

09/08/2013 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Waking up at the campsite in Zion is like waking up in any national park, really. If you rise early enough, you are treated to warm colors laying like patchwork along the scenic terrain. But, you have to savor the spectacle quickly, as it will soon be ruined by the hum of generators firing up, headlights on high-beam casting shadows across your tent, and the booming voices of other tourists who were born without courtesy.

Camping, well…let’s be honest, car-camping in a national park is really an exercise in enjoying nature at its lowest common denominator, and such was our stay in Zion. Immensely gorgeous, but Tim and I have no illusions to the fact that we are short on “adventure” on this adventure-touring trip, as we break-down our tents in our pre-assigned and marked campsite, clean our dishes with the running tap water, and take care of pre-ride business with the established restroom facilities. The park itself though? Gorgeous in the morning light.