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.

Investcorp Buys 80% of Dainese for €130 Million

A story we have been chasing for some time now, Lino Dainese has finally found a buyer for his namesake company, Dainese. The purchaser is the aptly named private equity firm Investcorp, which is headquartered in Bahrain, and has additional offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. Buying 80% of the company’s stock for a reported €130 million, Investcorp’s valuation of Dainese would therefore be set at €162.5 million. The other 20% of the company is retained by Lino Dainese, himself. Dainese’s future goals rest heavily on its airbag technology, as Dainese plans on bringing D-Air to markets outside of motorsport and sport in general. The company also has an aggressive plan to grow outside of Italy, making a bigger push into North America and developing markets.

2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP – A Better Fireblade

11/04/2013 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP   A Better Fireblade 2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP 18 635x423

The Honda CBR1000RR is a great street bike, albeit a little long-in-the-tooth in the fast-paced liter-bike category. The big hope and rumor for the 2013 EICMA show was that Honda would have its V4-powered superbike finally ready for debut, though plans for that machine seem to have been delayed…again.

Instead, Big Red has for us the 2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP, which is basically your standard Fireblade with premium kit bolted onto it, along with a very gentle engine massaging.

This sort of dual-pronged approach is fairly standard fare for the European brands (did you see what Ducati just did with the Monster 1200 and Monster 1200 S?), but for a Japanese OEM like Honda, it is a pretty revolutionary approach to model segmentation, but we digress.

Honda’s V4 Homologation Special Confirmed But Delayed

10/07/2013 @ 4:19 am, by David Emmett42 COMMENTS

Hondas V4 Homologation Special Confirmed But Delayed honda nr750 transparent 635x425

That the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is getting a little long in the tooth has been obvious for several years now. And that Honda is planning a very special V4 sportsbike to take the Fireblade’s place on the World Superbike grid has also been broadly mooted for the past couple of years.

The existence of the V4 1000 was first publicly acknowledged by Honda president Takanobu Ito, who spoke openly about the bike at the end of 2012.

Since then, there have been constant rumors that the new Honda superbike was to be introduced at EICMA in Milan this coming November. So persistent had the rumors become that Honda Italia last week was forced to issue a denial, sending out a press release to the Italian media insisting that the bike will not be introduced at the EICMA this November.

Honda CEO Confirms V4 Sport Bike Project is Underway

09/20/2012 @ 10:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

Honda CEO Confirms V4 Sport Bike Project is Underway Honda RC213V Scott Jones

It has been a long time coming with this announcement, but Honda has finally officially announced that work has begun on what is presumed to be a V4 sport bike. In the same vein as the Honda RC30 that was introduced back in 1987, Honda has apparently seen the light, and according to the company’s own words, the company has started “with a goal to create a new history.”

Announcing the new model in his end-of-the-fiscal year speech, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito was terse with his words in describing the new Honda sport bike, but referencing the RC30 project, along with heavy rumors that we have been hearing about a V4 street bike project in the works that was being based of Honda’s MotoGP program — this almost assures that the bike referenced is a V4 superbike based loosely on the RC213V race bike.

Officially Official: 2012 Honda CBR1000RR / Fireblade

09/24/2011 @ 1:42 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Officially Official: 2012 Honda CBR1000RR / Fireblade 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade USA 635x411

Breaking cover over a month ago, the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR is now officially official according to the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. Confirming the fears of some Fireblade enthusiasts, the new Honda CBR1000RR gets only some basic tweaks for 2012, namely revised suspension (including Big Piston Forks), new 12-spoke wheel design, and smoother fuel-injection mapping. This news puts to rest claims that the 2012 Honda Fireblade would be receiving ride-by-wire throttle control for the next model year, despite the fact that World Superbike has changed its rules to allow the Castrol Honda team to use the technology starting at Imola (which is already showing some positive results for the struggling squad).

LEAKED: 2012 Honda CBR1000RR

08/18/2011 @ 6:27 am, by Jensen Beeler63 COMMENTS

LEAKED: 2012 Honda CBR1000RR 2012 Honda CBR1000RR leak 12 635x423

These images appear to be the first shots of the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR, and judging from our initial analysis, it looks like Honda is putting out only a cosmetically different version of the Fireblade for next year (*sigh*). Showing off the HRC tri-color paint scheme (that surely won’t be coming to the United States), the majority of the new Blade looks quite familiar. Obviously the wheels, headlights, and air intake ducts have clearly been worked over, and we see some big-piston forks on the front suspension, but otherwise the mechanical bits and and the rear of the motorcycle look like the current model (jump in the comments if you see something new).

Considering that the current-spec CBR1000RR has been around since 2008, we imagine CBR fans are going to be disappointed by this updated, though mechanically identical Fireblade (we can’t see inside the motor casings obviously). Though there have been rumors that the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR would receive a dual-clutch transmission (we suppose it technically still could, since these photos don’t exclude that option), or that the 2012 Fireblade would use a V4 motor inspired from the RC212V, it appears we’ll have to wait at least another year for the Japanese brand to truly re-work its opus of a superbike.

Maybe if we are really lucky, these shots from one of Honda’s international offices (that’s the only hint we’ll give other publications looking to copy this story) are of the Fireblade only going to that market (yes, we’re having a hard believing Honda hasn’t brought a new CBR to the table as well). Scrutineer all 29 photos of the new CBR1000RR, and a video of its dash startup screen after the jump. Thanks for the tip John, Tony, Djefri, and Asaph!

Did Castrol Honda Just Out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR?

08/08/2011 @ 8:27 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Did Castrol Honda Just Out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR? castrol honda ten kate team race livery 635x423

UPDATE: The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR has been leaked ahead of schedule by Honda Honk Kong.

Castrol Honda boss, Ronald ten Kate, may have just outed Honda’s latest iteration of its street-going superbikes, as the Dutch manager was quoted on his aniticipation of the new model, and what it would mean for his relatively uncompetitive World Superbike team. First talking about the team’s status and position in the World Superbike Championship, ten Kate talked about the morale boost of having Jonathan Rea back from his injuries. Ten Kate also stated that his team has put the 2011 season behind them, and is instead focusing on the 2012 season.

Also helping boost morale is what Honda has in store for next season. Stating that the Ten Kate Honda squad was looking forward to the arrival of the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR, it would appear that ten Kate himself has let slip that Honda would be bringing out a a whole new machine for next year, and in conjunction with that statement, a new Honda CBR1000RR would also have to be in the pipe.

LCR Honda CBR1000RR – If LCR Honda Made a Honda

06/16/2011 @ 6:37 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

LCR Honda CBR1000RR   If LCR Honda Made a Honda  LCR Honda CBR1000RR 9 635x423

MotoGP race team LCR Honda has been caught dabbling with one very trick Honda CBR1000RR. While we’re having a hard time believing the rumors that LCR Honda intends to use the bike as claiming-rule team (CRT) entry in MotoGP, the LCR Honda CBR1000RR is an exercise on what one can do with enough money and access to HRC’s secret stash of motorcycle racing parts.

Raiding the HRC parts catalog, Lucio Cecchinello and his crew have boosted the Fireblade’s output to 200hp, and completing the kit are 2010 Öhlins MotoGP forks, Brembo carbon fiber brakes, Marchesini wheels, and of course a Playboy replica paint scheme (naturally). One of the most impressive CBRs you’ll find, we caution you not to believe other reports that state this is all a part of LCR considering a CBR motor as the basis for a CRT entry.

Dual-Clutch Honda CBR1000RR in the Works?

06/04/2010 @ 9:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Dual Clutch Honda CBR1000RR in the Works? Honda dual clutch transmission cut away 635x423

Visordown is reporting that Honda has filed patents in Japan that would allow the motorcycle manufacturer to port their dual-clutch transmission, a la VFR1200F, over to multiple platforms in the Honda line, including the Honda CBR1000RR. The patents reportedly center-around reducing the cost to implement the DCT into other motorcycle models by simplifying the electronics and sensors that go into the transmission, and removing expensive components of the existing DCT transmission.

A Close Call at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

04/21/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

A Close Call at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 Le Mans fire ball 560x384

Racing for third place, Honda National Motos wass rushing to fill their CBR1000RR when all of a sudden gallons of race fuel come out of the refueling hose, and slathered the bike in flammable liquid. What happens next is completely predictable to even the most casual race enthusiast.

Likely hitting the super-heated header pipes, the fuel ignites while crew members with minimal fire protection are crowded around the motorcycle trying to dry it with mechanic’s rags. Luckily it would appear no one was injured, but check the video out after the jump to see how close this could have been to a real disaster.

2010 CBR1000RR: Larger Flywheel and New Paint

09/04/2009 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2010 CBR1000RR: Larger Flywheel and New Paint 2010 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade 4 560x340

American Honda announced the 2010 CBR1000RR today, with the Fireblade getting some slight cosmetic and mechanical advancements for next year. This announcement, along with the 2010 CBR600RR (article coming soon), follows Honda’s earlier announcement of the 2010 Fury as well as the new, scooters, dirt bikes and ATVs.