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.

Video: That Guy at the Track Day

10/01/2012 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Video: That Guy at the Track Day Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha MotoGP 635x475

Surely by now you have seen these text-to-voice animation videos that seem to proliferate in just about every niche possible on the interubes, and while this video is a bit of an oldie but goldie, it still had us in stitches during this weekend’s track day excursion to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. In-between us “throwing down some blazing hot laps” on the Nevada circuit, it didn’t us take long to find members in the Pahrump paddock that mimicked the protagonist portrayed here in this short YouTube clip.

If you have ever been to a track day (heaven forbid, a track day in Southern California), then surely you have witnessed first-hand the phenomenon of the rider with all the go-fast parts, bumping around the novice group, going turn-for-turn in search of something resembling a clue. It can be frustrating to witness, but next time you encounter some squid who is bragging about how he drags his elbows like Ben Spies or dangles his leg like Valentino Rossi, remember this video. And please, please, be sure to attend the riders’ meeting.

Yamaha Does Another MotoGP Video for Laguna Seca

07/27/2012 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Yamaha Does Another MotoGP Video for Laguna Seca Yamaha MotoGP video Laguna Seca

Yamaha USA is keeping its Laguna Seca video tradition alive and well with another short flick that features the company’s MotoGP riders. Headlined by Jorge Lorenzo, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow, and Andrea Dovizioso, the Yamaha foursome is joined by MotoGP commentators Nick Harris and Gavin Emmett.

Not quite the comedic gold we’ve seen in the past, there is a tongue-in-cheek element to watching the video knowing that Spies dropped the bombshell about his leaving Yamaha, right around the time this video was being filmed.

From our seats, Dovi stole the show…as that grin is surely the same one he will be wearing if/when he gets the nod to the Yamaha factory team. As for Cal, don’t quit your day job mate. Video after the jump.

Video: When Winning a Race Isn’t Winning a Race

07/13/2012 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Video: When Winning a Race Isnt Winning a Race civ ricardo russo premature celebration

Premature Celebration: hands down, there is not a more embarrassing act for a motorcycle racer than finishing too early. Such is the case of Italian CIV 600 Superstock rider Riccardo Russo, who climaxed his race far too early during a recent event at Mugello.

Pulling out of the competition with jubilation, it took several pumps of the fist for the Italian to realize that he was not done with the task at hand, as he watched a train of other riders come right by him with still an eager pace. A lesson on holding out until the checkered flag, Russo joins an elite group of riders who have been publicly embarrassed for their problems with premature celebration. Thanks for the tip Jason!

Who Needs MotoGP.com When We Have This?

06/25/2012 @ 1:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Who Needs MotoGP.com When We Have This? MiniBikers MotoGP Silverstone

If you are a true MotoGP fan here in the United States, then you have surely dropped SPEED’s abysmal coverage of the premiere class for the vastly superior coverage on Dorna’s own web property: MotoGP.com. Having a monopoly on internet-based video coverage of Grand Prix racing, MotoGP.com certainly brings its euros-worth of MotoGP/Moto2/Moto3 news, interviews, and analysis to your computer screen.

However, there has always been a desire for something more, something free — now that day has come. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us introduce to you the MiniBikers web series. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hate Alvin & The Chipmunks even more than you already do. Check out the Silverstone round re-cap after the jump.

Isle of Nan TT: Closer to the Hedge

06/15/2012 @ 3:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Isle of Nan TT: Closer to the Hedge isle of nan tt

Is it possible that there a better TT video than the hit-flick TT3D: Closer to the Edge? That might just be the case we have here, based off this trailer of Isle of Nan TT: Closer to the Hedge. Beautifully shot and edited, this epic thriller is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and find a permanent spot on your motorsport DVD bookshelf. Set on the historic Manx course, this documentary of the Isle of Nan TT brings you the riders, the blood, and the glory. Check out all the hedge-clipping action, after the jump.

Is That Fabio? Yamaha Produces More MotoGP Video Gold

07/22/2011 @ 9:18 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Is That Fabio? Yamaha Produces More MotoGP Video Gold Jorge Lorenzo 70s 635x356

Yamaha had several generations of of GP legends on-hand yesterday to celebrate the company’s 50th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing. Current Yamaha team riders Jorge Lorenzo, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Cal Crutchlow rubbed shoulders with Kenny Roberts Sr., Eddie Lawson, and Wayne Rainey.

Listening to the group trade stories, comparing past with present, along with giving insights on where the sport was headed was quite an experience. Yamaha had more up its sleeve though, and true to its Laguna Seca tradition, released another bit of video gold in time for the Red Bull US GP at the Californian track. Double bonus points for a Fabio cameo, watch the bar on GP comedy get raised after the jump.

What Does Shooting a .50 cal Have to do with Riding?

07/05/2011 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

What Does Shooting a .50 cal Have to do with Riding? Colin Edwards YES Yamaha video

Yamaha must be picking up on the idea that any video with Colin Edwards is motorcycling gold, even when it’s hocking the Yamaha Extended Service warranty plan (well…sort of). While definitely not the company’s finest, and bleeping out Colin Edwards sort of defeats the purpose of why you’d put the plucky MotoGP rider in a video in the first place, as far as commercials for warranty plans go…this one has to be our favorite.

Though the writing could use some work, and editing things down a bit might have helped as well, we still like a number of the gags in this video, which is set at the Texas Tornado Boot Camp. A Shake Weight gag, reserved room for Dani Pedrosa, and the answer to what shooting a .50 cal has to do with riding await you after the jump.

Video: I Hate It When This Happens

06/22/2011 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: I Hate It When This Happens Bizzar Magny Cours motorcycle race crash

Imagine yourself racing at Magny-Cours, minding your own business, hitting your lines, setting up your next pass, etc. And then all of a sudden, one of your competitors wipes-out, and takes you down with him. Tough break, but it happens right?

Nine times out of ten in slow speed crashes, you can pick up your bike and recoup some points…that is of course assuming that your bike doesn’t lock handlebars with the other fallen bike, have its throttle stuck open, and the proceed to spin around like a whirling-dervish. What follows is probably humorous to everyone, except the rider on the green bike. No, that looks like one upset Frenchman. Merci beaucoup pour le tip Mullet!

The Sh*t Alyssia Edwards Has to Put-up With

06/20/2011 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

The Sh*t Alyssia Edwards Has to Put up With Colin Edwards Qatar 635x425

If we told you that Colin Edwards was known for his colorful language and straight-shooting assessment on life, it would probably be the understatement of the year. As it is, the Texan Tornado has carved out a lively on-stage/track persona for himself that resonates with the lowest common denominator that resides in all motorcycle fans. Likable, truthful, and unabashed, Edwards is a fan favorite in the MotoGP paddock, one of our favorite riders to talk to in the premier series.

One of the highest ranking privateer riders, Edwards unfortunately saw his 141 MotoGP race start streak come to an end in Barcelona with the Catalan GP, but the American rider was back in the saddle the very next race at Silverstone (finishing on the podium we might add). Admitting to taking pain-killers during the Friday sessions, a groggy Edwards elected to forgo meds on Saturday, and in-between sessions he was back to his usual tricks, entertaining British race fans at an event for the venerable motorcycle charity Riders for Health.

Seven minutes in length, a sober Colin Edwards said plenty to get himself in hot water around the paddock, but you’ll have to wait until the end to see what got him in trouble with his wife Alyssia. Asked about the incident later, Edwards retold what he said to his loving wife, “Honey, I’m a comedian. I was just looking for a laugh, if you know what I’m saying. I had no aspirations to do anything I was saying. It was just cracking a joke.” He continued saying, “she knows I’m a ding-dong sometimes and say stupid shit.”

We hope Colin won’t have to spend too much time on the couch when he gets back to the US, check the video out, and for bonus fun, a response video after the jump.

Yes, Police Officers at the Isle of Man Really Are This Cool

06/17/2011 @ 9:05 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS