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.

KTM E-Speed Available in 2015 – KTM Freeride E in 2014

04/23/2013 @ 10:52 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

KTM E Speed Available in 2015   KTM Freeride E in 2014 KTM E Speed electric scooter concept 08 635x423

Debuting the KTM E-Speed at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Austrian company seemed to find a renewed interest in electric two-wheelers, which was interesting development since recently KTM CEO Stefan Pierer had dismissed the viability of electric motorcycles, and told Italian journalists that the KTM was scrapping its plans to build an electric dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E.

Taking an about-face from that statement, zie Austrians have green-lit the electric scooter for production, and say that both the KTM E-Speed and KTM Freeride E will be available in European KTM dealerships within the next two years: the Freeride E by 2014 and the E-Speed by 2015.

KTM CEO Says It’s Too Soon for Electrics

03/06/2013 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

KTM CEO Says Its Too Soon for Electrics ktm freeride e 635x368

The first OEM to show a near-production electric motorcycle to consumers, KTM touted at the 2011 EICMA show that as an industry leader in the dirt bike sector, it could ill-afford to stand idly by while other companies explored the development of electric two-wheelers.

Then unveiling the KTM Freeride E concept, KTM said it would trial the machine with a select number of European consumers, before rolling out the electric dirt bike to the masses later in 2013.

With nary an update since then, it would seem that the Austrian company is rethinking its position on electric motorcycles. Talking to Italy’s Motorciclismo, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer spoke of the safety and cost concerns surrounding electrics, and concluded that the timing is still too soon for EV’s to replace petrol-powered machines in the two-wheeled sector.

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action

06/18/2012 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action ktm freeride e ride video

The KTM Freeride E is quite the buzz in the electric world, as it is the first proper electric motorcycle to be announced by an OEM. As it did with its street-bike debut with the RC8, KTM is set to test the market’s waters first with a limited production run of 100 units in 2012, likely to pre-select KTM owners/dealers. Assuming a favorable review, the Austrian brand would then presumably ramp-up production of its €10,000 electric dirt bike.

With 30hp peak & 10hp continuous, the KTM Freeride E boasts four-stroke 125cc specs, albeit on the heavy side with a 204 lbs curb weight. Running time is said to have a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur…whatever that means. While the world at large will likely have to wait another year before it can truly asses the KTM Freeride E, we do have at least our first glimpse in the bike’s performance.

KTM SMX-E Imagined by Piers SP

01/23/2012 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

KTM SMX E Imagined by Piers SP KTM SMX E concept Piers Spencer Phillips 635x391

As we already know, the KTM Freeride E will be out in 2012 in limited numbers, as the Austrian brand tests the waters on the electric dirt bike market. Building an electric not because they believe in the technology’s immediate relevancy, but because they believe in its future and want to continue being a market leader, KTM is the first big motorcycle OEM to bring an electric motorcycle to market. Giving Zero Motorcycles (and soon Brammo & BRD) a run for its money, the KTM Freeride E is a modest design with its 30hp (peak) PERM motor and 2.1 kWh battery pack.

As a dyed-in-the-wool street biker, I was a bit disappointed that KTM was only bringing the Freeride E out as a dirt bike, with no supermoto variation available. Thankfully I was not alone in that sentiment, as Kiska Senior Pixel Pusher Piers SP also longed for an electric Austrian backing-it-in machine. The difference of course is that as a blogger, I have no concept of creating something of my own (that’s moto-journo humor right there folks), while Piers SP is a zen voodoo digital samurai (truth). Needless to say, photoshopping ensued.

KTM Freeride E – OEMs Enter the Electric Motorcycle Fray

11/08/2011 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

KTM Freeride E   OEMs Enter the Electric Motorcycle Fray 2012 KTM Freeride E 09 635x464

The writing has been on the wall for sometime now, as the entire electric motorcycle community has been waiting for a major OEM to debut its own electric motorcycle. Answering that call, KTM unveiled at EICMA today the new 2012 KTM Freeride E. Saying that as the leading off-road motorcycle manufacturer (KTM accounts for about 50% of the worldwide dirt bike market), the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer could not afford to sit idly by while other companies innovated in its space.

Built along the Freeride’s ride anywhere mantra, the KTM Freeride E comes with 2.1kWh of battery power on-board, and is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor. With a rated output of 10hp, KTM says the electric motor is good for 30hp peak, with a maximum of 300 Volts going through the system. Helped by its small battery size, the Freeride E weighs only 204 lbs and can be recharged off a 220V socket in 90 minutes. As for range, KTM has an interesting rating system for the electric Freeride, quoting a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, while the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur.

LEAKED: KTM 2012-2014 Product Road Map

08/01/2011 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

LEAKED: KTM 2012 2014 Product Road Map KTM product road map 2012 2013 2014 635x477

The guys at HFL have gotten their hands on what looks like a cameraphone photo of KTM North America’s product road map for the next three model years (actually, it now looks like they just lifted the photo from BARF without giving them credit as having the story first). Showing the bikes that will hit American shores in 2012, 2013, and 2014, we get a glimpse of what new models will grace the showrooms of KTM dealers, as well as which models will be receiving facelifts and revisions. The presentation slide really speaks for itself, but perhaps the most interesting item on the list is what sounds like a 350cc version of the company’s Moto3 race bike (shown above?).

KTM Freeride Coming 2012 – Cheaper than €10,000

07/08/2011 @ 2:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

KTM Freeride Coming 2012   Cheaper than €10,000 2012 KTM Freeride 635x490

As we reported back in March, KTM’s electric dirt bike is coming closer and closer to being ready for consumers, and now information has come out that it will be a 2012 model from the Austrian company. This information is in-line with a November EICMA debut that we’ve been hearing, but perhaps the most tantalizing news we’ve heard is the bike’s sub-€10,000 price tag in the EU. This would put the KTM Freeride (oh man, we hope that name gets changed) directly in competition with Swiss electric dirt bike manufacturer Quantya and American electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles, both of whom are in the sub-€10,000 category with their dirt bike offerings.

KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready

03/23/2011 @ 7:50 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

KTM Freeride Concept Gets Closer to Being Ready KTM Freeride concept derestricted 2 635x423

When will the first true electric motorcycle from an large OEM hit dealer floors? Pretty soon by what we’re hearing come out of Austria lately. KTM’s Freeride is fairly straight-forward in concept, as it takes the tried and true KTM off-road package, and puts an electrical drive train inside it (easy enough, right?). Designed with help from Austrian firm Kiska, the KTM Freeride looks like a dirt bike, smells like a dirt bike…well, you get the idea.

While KTM Freeride concept has reportedly been more than peppy during testing, it’s big drawback during development has always been its battery life. That’s apparently about to change, as KTM’s lastest version has reportedly more power on-board (there’s been tremendous amounts of progress in battery density in just the past six months), and is set to come out later this year (we’d assume an EICMA launch in November).