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.

Rossi Ready to Race at Sachsenring – Needs Chief Medical Officer’s “Ok” in Order to Race

07/14/2010 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rossi Ready to Race at Sachsenring   Needs Chief Medical Officers Ok in Order to Race valentino rossi misano test 8 560x372

Valentino Rossi announced today that he is fit enough to race at the German GP this weekend. Crashing only six weeks ago, Rossi has undergone a miraculous recuperation process, which saw the Italian rider utilizing a hyperbaric chamber to expedite his body’s recovery process. After a painful testing session at Misano, Rossi looked to be in far better physical shape a couple days ago at Brno.

Riding a WSBK spec Yamaha R1 at near Superpole pace (and faster than James Toseland), Rossi looked ready for Sachsenring this weekend, but postponed his scheduled annoucement on Monday to today. Seeing now that he has the fitness to race again, Rossi hopes to ride the Fiat-Yamaha M1 once again. Howver, Rossi will first have to get the green light from the MotoGP Chief Medical Officer before he can race, but that’s more of a formality than a material concern.

Fiat-Yamaha: Rossi Announcement Wednesday

07/12/2010 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

After first sending a press release that Rossi would make an announcement after his testing session today, Fiat-Yamaha has issued another statement saying that Rossi won’t make a decision on this weekend’s race until he arrives at Sachsenring on Wednesday. Heightening the anticipation of his return, Rossi has seemingly delayed making a decision to race, and wants to wait another two days before making it public what his intentions are for the weekend.

We assume this also means that we won’t hear an announcement from Rossi or Ducati about the 2011 season until the German GP as well. As such, Sachsenring will be an interesting round as both Rossi and Wataru Yoshikawa will have to prepare to race on Sunday, but also there will be the added fervor of the impending Rossi/Ducati announcement.

Photo: Rossi at Brno [UPDATED]

07/12/2010 @ 7:51 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Photo: Rossi at Brno [UPDATED] Valentino Rossi Brno

UPDATE: According to Brivio, Rossi just finished 46 laps with a best time of 1’59.135. He reports Rossi as being tired, but his leg and shoulder are feeling better.

Fiat-Yamaha Team Manager Davide Brivio snapped this photo of Valentino Rossi as he left the team box at Brno this afternoon in the Czech Republic. So far Rossi has completed 18 laps around Brno, and will hold a press conference after this last session.

According to GPone.com, Rossi’s best lap on his first run was in 2′01.200, while on the second run his best lap was 2′00.600 with the same track temperatures as yesterday’s WSBK races. Compare that to Cal Crutchlow’s Superpole time of 1′58.018 just a few days ago in similar conditions.

Source: Twitter

Rossi to Test at Brno on Monday

07/11/2010 @ 6:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Rossi to Test at Brno on Monday valentino rossi misano test 7 560x466

UPDATE: Fiat-Yamaha has confirmed that Rossi will test at Brno on Monday, with a press conference following the day’s testing sessions.

TwoWheelsBlog has gotten word that Rossi will be testing yet again, this time on James Toseland’s YZF-R1 at Brno tomorrow (Monday), as the Italian continues to gauge his progress to physical recovery. Keen to get back to racing,and save MotoGP from its plummeting ratings since his departure, Rossi has called for a press conference immediately following that day’s testing session. At the press conference Rossi is expected to announce his thoughts on racing next weekend at the German GP. A&R also expects Rossi to make the biggest announcement in MotoGP history on Monday as well.

Valentino Rossi Signs Two-Year Contract with Ducati

07/09/2010 @ 3:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi Signs Two Year Contract with Ducati Valentino Rossi signs Ducati MotoGP

UPDATE 3: Ducati has officially announced signing Valentino Rossi.

UPDATE 2: Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will race with Ducati in 2011.

UPDATE: Ducati & Yamaha have made a gentlemen’s agreement to delay the announcement of Rossi’s move until after Laguna Seca, in exchange for letting the Italian test the Desmosedici GP10 at the Valencian Round.

Let’s avoid the the “scoops”, “exclusives”, and “OMG’s”, and just say that Asphalt & Rubber has received word from a trusted source that Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year agreement with Ducati, that’s set to be announced on Monday…and boom goes the dynamite (sorry, we couldn’t resist). The Rossi/Ducati fantasy has been put forth for years, with the fervor on the subject reaching its pinnacle this season, as Ducati reportedly wafted a €15 million salary (almost double Yamaha’s offer) in front of the nine-time World Champion.

Likely less to do with money, and more about prestige and priority, the announcement comes on the heels of Casey Stoner’s exodus from the Ducati team, as the Australian has jumped ship back to HRC, in what is to be some sort of multinational threesome with energy drinks involved. Ok Italy, it’s almost time to change the sheets, this wet dream is nearly a reality. Stay tuned for Monday.

More Photos of Valentino Rossi at Misano

07/08/2010 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Videos: Rossi Lapping at Misano Test

07/08/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Videos: Rossi Lapping at Misano Test valentino rossi misano test motogp wsbk r1 3 560x401

Italy was abuzz yesterday as Valentino Rossi took to the track, testing at Misano, after nearly a month long hiatus. Breaking his shin during a highside at Mugello, Rossi was able to get back in the saddle this week partly because of his extensive use of a hyperbaric chamber, which super-saturated his body with oxygen and increased his body’s healing power, but it is also because the Italian World Champion is just that dedicated to racing.

One lucky spectator at Misano was able to catch a number of Rossi’s laps on video, as the Italian completed 26 laps, over two sessions, on the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 World Superbike. Rumors peg the carbon-clad WSBK R1 as being one of Cal Crutchlow’s bikes. Crutchlow is a favorite candidate to move into MotoGP (with Monster Tech3 Yamaha) next season, if Yamaha loses Rossi to Ducati in 2011. Check the videos out after the jump.

Rossi Completes Testing at Misano

07/07/2010 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Rossi Completes Testing at Misano Valentino Rossi Misano Test MotoGP WSBK R1 1 560x401

Valentino Rossi completed 26 laps of testing today at Misano, while on-board a World Superbike spec 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1. After being off a motorcycle for nearly a month, Rossi and Fiat-Yamaha hoped to assess today how the Italian rider’s broken right leg has progressed since its injury on June 5th at Mugello. Rossi did an initial run of 11 laps on the R1 late in the afternoon, with a best time of 1’41.00. An hour later, the Champion did a second session of 15 laps, improving on his time by 3 seconds, with a best time of 1’38.200. Although pleased with the test, there’s still some debated on when Rossi will return to MotoGP racing.

Rossi Decision Expected at Catalunya

06/30/2010 @ 6:25 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Rossi Decision Expected at Catalunya  Valentino Rossi French GP Le Mans 560x470

News regarding Valentino Rossi is at a fever pitch, as it is expected the Italian rider will announce at the Catalan GP his intentions on where he will race in next season. For weeks, if not months now, Rossi has been linked to a very lucrative €15 million deal with Ducati Corse, while Fiat-Yamaha have reportedly scaled back their offer on the GP Champions from his current €14 million salary to €9 million.

Paddock gossip has said that Rossi has been considering both offers; however, at Barcelona we should finally know the answer to what team Rossi has picked, but some sources are already claiming they know the answer.

Our Test Rider is Faster than Your Test Rider

06/28/2010 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Our Test Rider is Faster than Your Test Rider Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda test rider 560x373

After the collective groan that emanated from MotoGP fans around the world when Wataru Yoshikawa was announced as Valentino Rossi’s replacement, Interwetten Honda is feeling a bit frisky about MotoGP’s next stop at Barcelona for the Catalan GP.

As such the team has challenged the Fiat-Yamaha substitute rider to battle with their own replacement for Hiroshi Aoyama: Kousuke Akiyoshi. With neither rider likely to make much of a showing against the MotoGP usuals, Interwetten Honda boss Daniel Epp sees a battle of the backmarkers as a way to spice up the race.