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.

Brno Needs National Support for 2012 MotoGP Race

03/18/2011 @ 6:12 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Brno Needs National Support for 2012 MotoGP Race Autodromo Brno 635x470

The times are certainly tough race circuits right now. On the MotoGP roster the Hungarian Balatonring has become almost the unicorn of the paddock, while the Jerez de la Frontera Circuit is in financial crisis. Similarly back home in the United States, New Jersey Motorsports Park is going through a bankruptcy proceeding that should see the track come out unscathed, but frames the picture nicely none-the-less (not counting the increasingly popular Motorland Aragon).

Add to this list now the Automotodrom Brno, as the Czech track is facing financial concerns of its own. While the Brno round is secure for the 2011 season, talk is beginning if the track can operate in the 2012 season without national support. While the Czech GP brings in substantial revenue for the area surrounding it and the Czech Republic as a whole, the latter entity gives virtually no support to the racing event.

New Jersey to Allow Motorcycle Dealers to Sell on Sundays

03/14/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

New Jersey to Allow Motorcycle Dealers to Sell on Sundays Garden State Motorcycle

If you read Asphalt & Rubber regularly, you’ve likely realized that New Jersey isn’t exactly our favorite state. Really, it’s any state that’s not California that gets some loving jabs from us, and even then we have our preferences on where is the best locale in The Golden State. It’s all good fun to us, and we thank the citizens in the rest of the US for playing with to our humors. That being said, New Jersey is rapidly improving its standing here at A&R (recent office polls place it higher than Iowa!), signing into law today a bill that will allow dealers in New Jersey to sell motorcycles on Sunday. Amen.

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law

02/15/2011 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Oregon Considers No Helmet Law Captain America Helmet 635x422

I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.

So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).

AMA Spits Some Venom at Gov. Schwarzenegger During AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Announcement

12/08/2010 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

AMA Spits Some Venom at Gov. Schwarzenegger During AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Announcement Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger zero motorcycle 635x803

The AMA has announced its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year, and  the organization that represents all American motorcyclists has chosens Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California for its yearly distinction. Using the award as a platform to denounce the outgoing Governor, the AMA in its announcement chastised Gov. Schwarzenegger for his signing of California Senate Bill 435, which brings EPA noise enforcement standards to the Golden State. We’ve already addressed here at A&R how California’s adoption of this law essentially is a moot point legally, but the AMA’s grandstanding on this issue smacks speaks to a larger issue that goes to the core of the organization.

Clearly unable to self-regulate and educate the very people it is supposed to represent, the AMA is instead more concerned with tar and feathering politicians and governmental agencies for addressing a growing issue that negatively affects the relationship between motorcyclists and the general population. The simple truth is that a small portion of our community feel the need to compensate for their short-comings by running straight-through exhaust pipes that not only annoy normal citizens, but other motorcyclists as well. How is this an issue that 99% of motorcyclists can’t get behind?

While the AMA has some good ideas on how to measure and enforce lower sound levels from motorcycles, the organization’s lack of anything resembling efficacy in getting those provisions adopted should not create an open license to lay the blame on others (well except maybe the MIC, which is just as culpable for this problem as the AMA). While it’s easy to chastise Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing a bill into law, we think the AMA should take a harder look in the mirror on how motorcyclists created this problem for themselves, because in the end we’re the ones that ruined a good thing.

AMA press release after the jump, but for the record we would have given the award to Erik Buell…but hey that’s just our opinion.

Making the Better Speed Camera

12/07/2010 @ 2:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Making the Better Speed Camera fun theory speed camera

What gets rewarded, gets done. That’s a concept I learned on my first day of business school (big shout out to Dr. Denny Gioia). While we were being taught in the context of managing a workforce, it applies just as easily to people in general, for example in a government’s influence over its citizenry. This point was clearly not lost on Kevin Richardson, an American who answered Volkswagen’s call to build a better speed camera for traffic enforcement.

A part of Volkwagen’s Fun Theory experiments, Richardson designed, built, and implemented a sort of speed camera lottery. Ticketing motorists it catches speeding, Richardson’s speed camera also rewards people who comply with the posted speed limit, entering law abiding citizens into a lottery whose pot consists of a portion of the fines collected by speeders caught on the camera. Brilliant! But does it work?

Harley-Davidson Turns Down $25 Million Tax Credit

11/15/2010 @ 8:56 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Harley Davidson Turns Down $25 Million Tax Credit one dollar art by campbell

Two months ago when Harley-Davidson stuck an ultimatum to its union workers, the company asked for work force concessions while it threatend to move production out of its Tomahawk and Menomonee Falls. Hoping to help sway the vote and keep Harley put, the State of Wisconsin extended Harley-Davidson a $25 million tax incentive to help lure the company into keeping production at its Wisconsin facilities. While the unions eventually caved to Harley-Davidson’s will, the Bar & Shield company announced today that it will not be taking Wisconsin up on its offer for tax breaks.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs California Exhaust Bill into Law – Nothing Changes

09/29/2010 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs California Exhaust Bill into Law   Nothing Changes California exhaust noise law 663x497

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has seemingly just terminated loud and free flowing exhaust systems on motorcycles in the Golden State of California. Affecting only motorcycles and aftermarket parts made in 2013 and on, the California’s law cracks down on noisy bikes by imposing fines  of $50 to $100 for first-time offenses, and fines of $100 to $250 for subsequent offenses.

The law’s passage has been a big issue for Californian motorcyclists, with the fires being fanned by both the MIC and AMA, who would like to state and national exhaust noise laws adopt an SAE standard. The reality though is that California’s law brings the state in-line with Federal laws on the issue, which already superseded California’s lax standards, which were widely unenforced by the state’s law enforcement officers.

With nothing changing from a legal perspective, it remains doubtful that California LEO’s will ramp-up their enforcement of the new provisions, considering how seriously they took the federal statutes.

Source: California Senate Bill 435 via Dealer News

Oklahoma Motorcyclists Will Pay a $3 Safety Fee Starting November 1st

09/15/2010 @ 10:37 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Oklahoma Motorcyclists Will Pay a $3 Safety Fee Starting November 1st Military motorcycle safety class 560x367

Starting this November, Oklahoma riders will have to start paying a $3 fee that helps fund motorcycle safety in the OK State. The tax will be added to existing registration fees, and affects new bikes and their renewals.

While the Oklahoma Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety and Education will decided how the funds are used, it’s under the presumption that revenue generated from the tax will be spent on safety advertising and promotion.

Despite the hit to the wallet, the Daily Oklahoman says that riders in Oklahoma aren’t complaining about the increased registration costs.

California Considering EPA-Style Exhaust Regulation

06/30/2010 @ 2:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

California Considering EPA Style Exhaust Regulation Aprilia RSV4 exhaust cutaway 560x460

A California State Assembly committee has endorsed legislation that would to require motorcyclists in the Golden State to have an EPA-compliant exhaust system on their 2011 or newer motorcycles. Two days ago the Committee on Transportation approved Senate Bill 435 with an 8-4 vote, which would make it illegal to operate a 2011 or newer motorcycle with an exhaust system that doesn’t have an EPA label that certifies it as meeting noise limit standards. According to the bill, riders would incur a “fix it” ticket if caught without their EPA exhaust sticker if the bill came into law.

2010 Is Last WSBK Season For South African Track

03/23/2010 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2010 Is Last WSBK Season For South African Track Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit 560x457

Kyalami Grand Prix circuit is likely to host its last World Superbike race for a while this season. Located in Gauteng, South Africa, the Gauteng provincial government has bought out the track’s remaining contract with WSBK in an effort to “re-prioritize” the local government’s budget of local programs. Kyalami was set to host WSBK through 2013, but instead it looks like this will be the South African’s track last season until the Gauteng government becomes financially stable again.