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.

Ride Review: Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/06/2012 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Ride Review: Ducati Streetfighter 848 Ducati Streetfighter 848 Palm Springs test 01 635x423

An amalgamation of three already existing Ducati models, there is nothing surprising about the Ducati Streetfighter 848. A pick-and-pull creation from the Ducati engineering bay, the Streetfighter 848 draws upon the precedence defined by the Ducati Streetfighter 1098, the Ducati Superbike 848, and the Ducati Multistrada 1200.

A mirror image of the more well-endowed Streetfighter 1098, the Streetfighter aesthetic has been in the public eye since its Milan unveiling in 2008. Like its predecessor, the Streetfighter 848 is based off its Superbike counterpart, and shares the six-year old Ducati Superbike 848’s chassis geometry and namesake. At the heart of the baby Fighter is an 849cc Testastretta 11° engine, and as the name implies, the motor features the same power-smoothing 11° valve overlap architecture that first debuted on the Ducati Multistrada 1200, and has since carried forth with the Ducati Diavel.

We have seen before all the elements that comprise the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848, and indeed there is nothing revolutionary about Ducati’s latest street-naked, so it begs the question: is the Ducati Streetfighter 848 merely the sum of its parts? Or is it something more? Continue onward as we explore that question further.

Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP Internet Leak Faked

09/05/2011 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP Internet Leak Faked Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP screen capture fake 635x544

With an alleged screen capture posted to the Ducati.ms web forum, a tidal wave of sloppy journalism took off as the news spread that Ducati had unknowingly slipped the debut of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198 ahead of schedule. Though the larger-displacement SF is expected to break cover this month, some unscrupulous person put together a photoshoped screen capture of the Streetfigther S engine details list from Ducati.com, and swapped out the Streetfighter S name for “Ducati Streetfighter EVO SP” in the fading to black background image.

With some typos in the copy, and the use non-conforming use of Ducati’s “EVO” & “SP” nomenclature, the porported screen capture is a bit dubious to begin with, and should have tipped off enthusiasts that were quick to give it authenticity. Another red flag was the quoted 170hp figure, the exact same power output as the Superbike 1198. With the Streetfighter’s more restrictive air intake and smaller airbox, like the 1098cc version, comparable Superbike level power figures will not be achievable. Then of course there’s the whole issue regarding the fact that the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198 will use the Testastretta 11° motor, found currently on the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel, instead of the higher-maintenance 1198cc Superbike lump.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 Spotted in the Wild

08/08/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 Spotted in the Wild 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 yellow

It didn’t take long for a “spy photo” of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 to emerge from Bologna, and it looks like Ducati wants to tease out the yellow paint job it plans to bring to the smaller displacement Streetfighter. The five-bolt arrangement on the rear-wheel hub is a give away to the fact that an 848 motor lurks in the Streetfighter shown, as the current Streetfighter 1098 uses a six-bolt pattern because of the more powerful 155hp motor. With the Ducati Superbike 848 EVO motor making 140hp (and also sporting a five-bolt rear hub pattern), we can expect that the Ducati Streetfighter 848 to lose 10-15 ponies from its superbike compatriot.

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 & Ducati Streetfighter 1198 Coming in September

07/27/2011 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 & Ducati Streetfighter 1198 Coming in September ducait streetfighter light painting scott jones 7

Yelling at the top of our lungs words like “Scoop!” and “Exlclusive!” or the now more trendy “OMGLOLWTFBBQ” really isn’t our style, and let’s be honest, anyone with half a latte for a brain who had been paying attention to Ducati’s line-up the past few years could easily predict the Italian company’s next move with the Streetfighter line. That being said, we’ve gotten details from several highly credible sources that Ducati will debut to the public two new Streetfighters in September.

Replacing the Streetfighter 1098 is the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 1198, which as the name suggests, will get a 100cc displacement increase (full disclosure: an example of this motorcycle sits in my garage (said bike is shown above from a cool light-painting photo shoot that Scott Jones did), thus making me forever biased towards the original liquid-cooled v-twin wheelie monster from Bologna).

The catch however is that the new motor will not come from the leftover Superbike 1198 mills, and instead Ducati is using the Testastretta 11° motor (as seen in the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel) in the new Streetfighter 1198, meaning the motorcycle will by pass the bi-yearly Ducati tax (a valve job around here is roughly $1,000), and instead get hit with a perhaps more yearly 15,000 mile valve adjustment intervals (thank you Jesus!).

Light Painting the Ducati Streetfighter with Scott Jones

05/12/2011 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Light Painting the Ducati Streetfighter with Scott Jones  Ducait Streetfighter light painting Scott Jones 7

Wanting to play a bit with a photography technique called light painting, Scott Jones stopped by the Asphalt & Rubber office yesterday with camera and penlight in-hand. We moved some tables out of the work room, and threw some tarps over our skylights, only to realize that achieving a perfectly dark studio is a task much easier said than done. Maning the light switch, I got to play “photo bitch” while Scott shot a couple dozen or so exposures.

Luckily we have some photogenic subjects here in the office, as Scott spent the next two hours shooting my Ducati Streetfighter in the dark with long shutter speeds (I’m really surprised one of us didn’t trip over something in the process). There are various ways to play with the light in this setting, but Scott focused on exposing individual parts of the motorcycle with a pen light, which created a more dramatic effect. Check out after the jump some of the fruits of Scott’s labor.

For Sale: Carbontastic Ducati Streetfighter That Will Eat Unattended Small Children

01/26/2011 @ 12:23 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

For Sale: Carbontastic Ducati Streetfighter That Will Eat Unattended Small Children Shift Tech Carbon Ducati Streetfighter 8 635x474

If you’re in the market for a custom Ducati Streetfighter that has more carbon than a charcoal briquette, then look no further than the Shift-Tech Carbon Streetfighter that’s currently up for sale on eBay. The bike has obvious features like Shift-Tech’s carbon fairings, Öhlins everything, BST carbon wheels, Zard exhaust, and carbon disc brakes, but at the heart of the bike is a worked over 1250cc motor that’s been built to out 162hp at the rear wheel, and will surely make a man out of any little boy.

As you slowly pick your jaw off the table, be sure to check out the auction for all the nitty-gritty build details (there’s a lot of work on this bike). While there is only 12 hours left on the auction at the time of this writing, the “Buy It Now” price of $43,500 makes us suspect that we’ll see this Streetfighter listed again in the near future. Thanks for the tip Josh!

Ducati Please Make This: Ducati Streetfighter Corse

09/03/2010 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Please Make This: Ducati Streetfighter Corse Ducati Streetfighter Corse custom 21 560x367

When Ducati released its Corse themed Superbikes at Milan last year, we knew the Italian company was onto something special. With ample carbon fiber, aluminum tanks, and a tasteful amount white and red paint, the Corse livery sets itself apart from the rest of the Ducati line as being the pinnacle of the Italian company’s offering.

So when we saw the “Corse” Multistrada 1200S that took place in Pikes Peak, we were equally excited, and begged Ducati North America to make a race replica model (we’re still begging them by the way). While Ducati might take a little more convincing, some owners have taken things into their own hands. Enter into the picture Finishing Touch 4U‘s Ducati Streetfighter Corse.

Tasty Streetfighter from Motovation Accessories

04/08/2010 @ 10:34 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Tasty Streetfighter from Motovation Accessories Rizoma Ducati Streetfighter 1 560x372

What do you get when you take some of the tastiest aftermarket bits for the 2010 Ducati Streetfighter and stick them on the bike of year for 2008?…well we think that answer is apparent. With a killer custom paint job, Ducati performance parts, and some of the latest pieces from Rizoma for the Streetfighter, this bike is a stunner. We just got some ideas for our office SF, how about you? Check out all the photos after the jump.

In the A&R Garage: Ducati Streetfighter

08/12/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In the A&R Garage: Ducati Streetfighter Ducati Streetfighter AR Santa Barbara 560x308

Asphalt & Rubber has gotten our dirty little paws on a 2009 Ducati Streetfighter for long-term review, which was a supremely poor choice according to the little old lady that gave us the bird on our first test ride out. Despite her discouraging use of the bird, we’re so far quite impressed with this spaghetti rocket. Built of the 1098 Superbike platform, the Streetfighter is true to its name, having the punch of a 155hp v-twin motor. This is the sort of bike that when you sling a leg over it, you just look down and say, “Scream if you want, no one is coming to save you.” Continue reading for our thoughts, impressions, and a few photos.

Ducati Streetfigher Arriving at US Dealers in Superbike “1098” Boxes

05/16/2009 @ 11:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ducati Streetfigher Arriving at US Dealers in Superbike 1098 Boxes ducati streetfighter may 22nd

If you have a Ducati Dealership in your home town, then chances are you may be closer to a Ducati Streetfighter than you think. Arriving as we speak to dealerships in the United States are nondescript cardboard covered metal crates, labeled “Ducati 1098″.

Big deal right, what Ducati dealership doesn’t have a few 1098 superbikes sitting on the showroom floor, or in the shop waiting to be put together? If you saw the box, you’d walk on buy unsuspecting that in fact Ducati has begun shipping the Streetfighter purposefully in these mislabeled crates to throw off any peeking eyes.

Yes, we’ve seen a Ducati Streetfighter on American soil, and on May 22nd so will you. That is of course, assuming you don’t go down to your local Ducati dealership and beg/borrow/steal a peak in their inventory lot. Tell them we sent you.