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.

Roland Sands Talks about Bell Helmets

01/17/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Roland Sands Talks about Bell Helmets Bell Helmets Star Carbon Roland Sands Design Speed Freak 3 635x422

We’ve had more than a few Bell Helmets rolling around the A&R office these past months, and one of the things we’ve really liked from this American-based company is how it has teamed up with notable designers from inside and outside of the motorcycle industry to bring attractive and fresh looks to consumers. While it’s been the Bell Star and Vortex that have been keeping our brains firmly in-between our ears, it’s the designs by Roland Sands and Jona Cerwinske that have been attracting us to Bell, and propelling the company back into the motorcycle helmet market as a whole.

Taking some time to talk to Roland Sands at his new Southern California shop, Bell Helmets has put together this short video with the former motorcycle racer turned designer. While Bell and RSD are obviously out to hock the new gold-leaf-over-carbon fiber “Speed Freak” helmet they’ve created for 2011, Roland has some interesting stories about his process and growing up around motorcycles…the photography is spectacular too boot.

With Bell in the process of restoring its name after having its motorcycle helmet division operated overseas by another company, we expect to see more videos in the future like the one after the jump that engage riders with this once-defunct American brand.

Misano Rossi Helmet: Time to Wake Up

09/04/2010 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Misano Rossi Helmet: Time to Wake Up Valentino Rossi San Marino GP helmet 4 560x420

At Misano this morning, Valentino Rossi debuted another of his famous helmet designs for his home crowd. Adorned with a painted clock on the top of helmet, Rossi will use a different helmet for each session during the San Marino GP. The time on the clock is set to five minutes before the session’s start, and labeled with “wake up and get going,” which for Rossi is both a literal and figurative reminder.

Critical of his results lately, Rossi is acknowledging that he needs to start turning around his season at Misano, and once again ride at the front of the pack. Hopefully these helmets (last year Rossi was the donkey) will be a reminder to the Italian rider, who has struggled since returning from a compound fracture to his leg.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

07/26/2010 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

And Now for Something Completely Different... Dafi Punk helmet 7 560x373

For the past four days, we’ve inundated you with our coverage of the Red Bull US GP race weekend, and while we do love us some racing here at Asphalt & Rubber, we like to think we’re more than a one trick pony. So let’s switch gears and mix it up a bit…and by that we mean, let’s showing you this awesome helmet prop designer Volpin made for Daft Punk. Where not sure if it’s channeling Eurofunk or Disco fever, but it’s seven shades of awesome on a Rocketeer helmet. Harder, better, faster, stronger videos/photos after the jump.

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossis Laguna Seca Helmet Valentino Rossi Helmet Laguna Seca 560x371

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography

Helmet Phrenology by Death Spray Customs

07/13/2010 @ 3:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Helmet Phrenology by Death Spray Customs Death Spracy Customs Phrenology 1 560x447

Phrenology is a passé theory in psychology that centered around the belief that you could understand a person’s mental faculties and character traits based on the shape that person’s skull. Phrenologist used to make a healthy living rubbing the temples of patients, and examining the various bumps and lobes on their cranium, before things like the scientific method starting infiltrating the medical field.

Phrenology reached it’s peak during the late 1700’s – early 1800’s, and was superseded by the next fad in the industry: psychoanalysis. This vastly superior theory of psychology was dubiously famous for claiming cocaine as a panacea; and for a fun factoid, Sigmund Freud did enough nose candy to kill a small elephant.

With so many great connections between personality types, motorcyclists, and of course head injuries, we were tickled pink when we saw Death Spray Custom’s latest helmets titled “Head Set”, which features a trio of brainy paint schemes. Check them out after the jump…and no, we don’t know why this model isn’t wearing a shirt.

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt

07/01/2010 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt Croc Launch 9000 560x313

There’s so many things going on in this video, we’re not certain where to begin. Filmed on Mulholland Highway by the same fine folks who brought us video footage of the guy who crashed in front of a CHP officer, this new saga takes a different approach to riders exceeding their limits on city streets.

Take an unsuspecting white Honda Elite scooter, a pair of Crocs shoes, and some invisible knee pucks, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a bizarre Sunday morning lowside that could have been much, much, much worse.

While we’ll give bonus points for good dirt-tracking technique, be sure to check the slow-mo footage for the exact moment the rider’s shoes depart humanity, and dive over the cliff. Video after the jump. Thanks for the tip Jelly!

Rossi’s Custom Helmet at Mugello – The Jolly Joker

06/07/2010 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Rossis Custom Helmet at Mugello   The Jolly Joker Valentino Rossi Mugello Helmet 560x422

Overshadowed by Rossi’s highside and subsequent injury, one thing we missed at Mugello (besides the Italian himself) was Rossi’s traditional custom helmet for the Italian GP. Always one to pander to the home crowd, Rossi has made it a tradition to have a special helmet designed for when he races at Italian tracks (with Mugello in particular), and this year was no different.

Arai Tops J.D. Power & Associates Helmet Rankings

05/21/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Arai Tops J.D. Power & Associates Helmet Rankings well used arai helmet 560x374

For twelve years in a row, Arai Helmets has topped J.D. Power & Associates motorcycle helmet rankings for customer satisfaction. This is important because J.D. Power also found that highly satisfied owners are more likely to buy their brand of helmet again (that’s a no brainer, right?). The kicker though is that the likelihood of a repeat customer is nearly 10x more likely when they are highly satisfied with their helmet. In a world where it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one, a 10x multiple is a staggering figure on how product quality plays into a company’s sales and growth strategy.

Shield Tech Visor: Transition Lenses for Your Helmet

03/30/2010 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Shield Tech Visor: Transition Lenses for Your Helmet shield tech transition helmet visors

S.H.I.E.L.D. Tech has taken the concept of transition lenses to its next logical step, tint transitioning helmet visors. For the rider that’s had to pack a clear shield when going out on a long ride, or for the time you wore sunglasses under your clear visor, now there’s a helmet visor the eliminates the need pack multiple shields for changing light conditions (and to comply with Johnny Law).

AGV Opens Up Customizable “Scream” Helmet Site

01/30/2010 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

AGV Opens Up Customizable Scream Helmet Site Jorge Lorenzo AGV helmet 560x318

Valentino Rossi made quite the scream with his face helmet at Mugello back in 2008. With all the buzz it created, AGV brought out a limited edition version replica of Rossi’s lid to the market in 2009. Now it’s 2010, and AGV has decided to spread the customized lid to everyone else, with a personalized touch. Opening up valentinosface.com, AGV has created a website where you can put your own mug on Rossi “Scream” rep, and have the helmet shipped directly to you from AGV.