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.

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile

09/01/2010 @ 9:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile Nicky Hayden Indy Mile flat track 2 560x373

If you weren’t in Indianapolis for the Indy GP, you certainly missed one of the better side events of the weekend: The Lucas Oil Indy Mile AMA Flat Track Grand National. It’s hard to make riding on packed dirt at breakneak speeds with no brakes more exciting, but throw in former flat track Champion Nicky Hayden, the entire Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and a contract announcement and you have the makings for a very special event.

With Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio on-stage to announce Hayden’s new two-year contract, motorcycle racing fans got to see their homeboy do good. Helping celebrate the event, Hayden took to the track with his steel boot, and held nothing back for his loyal followers.

MotoGP TV Ratings Continue to Drop Without Rossi

06/28/2010 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP TV Ratings Continue to Drop Without Rossi broken television1 560x373

TV ratings for the Dutch TT at Assen are in for the Italian TV market (one of the largest markets for MotoGP), and once again they show a decline in MotoGP’s allure without Valentino Rossi. With 2,579,000 viewers, making up 16.79% of the total television audience, MotoGP in Holland attracted only half the audience from last year’s event (5,249,000 viewers, 31.69% of the total television audience). With a similar trend in 125GP and Moto2, some in the Italian press are calling for Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s resignation, as these ratings are surely a sign of the sport’s demise.

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds

03/15/2010 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds Balatonring flag track 560x420

Loris Capirossi seemed destined to owe Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta a steak dinner after the Balatonring supposedly secured funding from the Hungarian Development Bank. That bad fortune (for Hungarian MotoGP fans, not for Capirex) seems to have changed however as the loan has now been refused by the Hungarian bank, which leaves the Hungarian circuit a big question mark for the 2010 MotoGP calendar as it struggles to raise the needed $80 million. Story gets worse after the jump.

Capirossi on His Way to Losing a Bet with Ezpeleta

01/27/2010 @ 4:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Capirossi on His Way to Losing a Bet with Ezpeleta Capirossi steak dinner 560x559

For over a year the Balatonring has struggled to get to completion and be included in the MotoGP racing schedule. With the economic collapse last year, the Hungarian track failed to be completed on time to make its 2009 debut; and with the collapse in the real estate market, there was some doubt if the track would be completed at all.

Yet despite this Dorna remained faithful and thought it fit to place the track on the 2010 calendar. Upon its inspection in October 2009 by the MotoGP Rider’s Safety Commission, Loris Capirossi bet Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta that the track wouldn’t be ready in time for the 2010 season. With a steak dinner on the line, Capirex should be seriously considering a stop by the butchery with the latest news.

MotoGP: 1000cc Formula for 2012 – 81mm Bore

12/11/2009 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

MotoGP: 1000cc Formula for 2012   81mm Bore cylinder bore 635x478

The Grand Prix Commission met today, and came to a resolution on what direction the MotoGP series would take in the coming years. As expected the committee members agreed to a 1000cc format for the 2012 season, and finally revealed some of the details of that switch, such as a maximum of four cylinders allowed in the race motorcycles, and a bore size that can be no larger than 81mm. The announcement was devoid of any further details about “production motors“. More after the jump.

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: “Production Engines” Won’t be in the Rule Book

12/08/2009 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: Production Engines Wont be in the Rule Book Jorge Lorenzo podium jump 560x400

There’s be some trouble brewing in the MotoGP/WSBK camp after news hit that MotoGP would be switching back to a 1000cc format by the 2012 season. In that story, several possibilities on how that format would work were put forth by various sides, one such proposal being the running of production based motors in MotoGP.

These motors, which would be based off those found on streetbikes, could be tuned to any degree, provided it met the criteria in the MotoGP rule book (1000cc & four-cylinders are the only regulations agreed upon currently). This news of course drew the ire of World Superbike promoter, Infront Motor Sports, in the form of Paolo Flammini, who believes that format would infringe on his license to exclusively run a production based race series.

Refusing at first to define what a production engine is, Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta is now switching gears and saying the term “production engine” won’t even appear in the new MotoGP racing regulations.

MotoGP Returns to 1000cc Format, Drops 800cc

11/07/2009 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP Returns to 1000cc Format, Drops 800cc motogp catalonia catalunya barcelona catalan spain 560x350

MotoMatters is now confirming that as early as 2012 we will see MotoGP racing back in the liter-bike category. Never popular with the manufacturers, the 800cc rule change not only cost teams in added development costs, but also never brought the promised the safety and closer racing that is was supposed to offer. For the moment it appears MotoGP will remain a prototype class, with there being no discussion of a production motor being used (like in Moto2), at least at this time.

MotoGP to Return to 990cc Formula?

11/06/2009 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MotoGP to Return to 990cc Formula? Honda RC211V MotoGP 990cc 560x415

When MotoGP switched from the 990cc displacement format to the 800cc formula, it was done so on the idea that it would make the premiere racing class safer for the riders. This proved to not be the case, as the 800cc bikes clearly carried more corner speed through turns, and were still able to approach 990cc top speeds on the straight-aways.

The result, a racing class that was more dangerous and more expensive for manufacturers.With this in mind, Dorna Boss, Carmeloa Ezpeleta, wants to return the series back its previous 990cc format, by as early as 2011.

MotoGP Riders Bet Dorna the That Balatonring Won’t Be Ready for 2010 MotoGP Season

10/31/2009 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP Riders Bet Dorna the That Balatonring Wont Be Ready for 2010 MotoGP Season Balatonring Hungary MotoGP logo 560x420

Dorna and the MotoGP rider’s Safety Commission met in Sepang this past Friday before the Malaysian GP to talk about the upcoming 2010 season, and in particular the addition of the Hungarian Balatonring to the schedule. While Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta believes the track will be completed on-time for its MotoGP debute, Satefy Comission Founding Member, Loris Capirossi, disagrees. Putting his money where his mouth is, Capirossi has bet Ezpeleta on the Hungarian tracks completion.

Aspar Ducati Satellite Team Official – No Bautista Yet

08/01/2009 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Aspar Ducati Satellite Team Official   No Bautista Yet Alvaro Bautista 250GP 560x401

You may remember that we reported earlier in July that Jorge “Aspar” Martinez was closing-in on realizing his dream of racing in the MotoGP series. Well, that day is finally upon us now. While at Donington Park this past weekend, Aspar announced that a deal with Ducati had indeed been reached.

The Spanish team principle will run a satellite Ducati team with a solitary bike, however a rider has yet to be determined. Alvaro Bautista, the most logical choice to pilot Aspar’s Ducati, has said that within the next few weeks he will make a decisions as to whether he will join MotoGP. Should he decide to move up to the premiere class, you can bet that he will land on the Spanish team.