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.

Hopper to BSB Reportedly A Done Deal – Still Not Official

01/10/2011 @ 7:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Hopper to BSB Reportedly A Done Deal   Still Not Official john hopkins bsb 635x423

Confirming earlier rumors (x2), reports are coming out of the Crescent Racing’s British Superbike team that Anglo-American John Hopkins will be riding for the Suzuki-based team in the upcoming 2011 season. While no signatures have reportedly been made, Crescent Racing Team Manager Jack Valentine is calling Hopper’s ride for the now non-factory Suzuki team (Relentless by TAS has been tapped by Suzuki to be its “factory team” for 2011 in BSB) a “done deal,” as Hopkins has already begun training for his new assignment, and is eager to get back to racing.

The British Superbike series seems like a last hope bid for Hopkins, who is coming off a controversial season with Team Hammer’s M4 Suzuki squad. Team owner John Ulrich blasted Hopkins on the WERA message board late last year, all but accusing the American-born rider of lying to him about his physical health before the start of the 2010 season.

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper

12/10/2010 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper John Hopkins Daytona AMA American Superbike 1024b 635x423

Being the fine British blokes that they are, MCN was able to get ahold of Crescent Suzuki Boss Jack Valentine, and ask him about the validity to the rumors suggesting that the British Superbike team is pursuing John Hopkins as a possible rider for the 2011 season. Confirming that the rumors were true, but that nothing has been agreed to yet, Valentine told MCN that “Crescent are in discussions with former MotoGP star John Hopkins, who is now fully fit again and finished on the podium in the last two rounds of the AMA series.”

Ulrich Says Hopper ‘Misled’ About His Fitness for 2010

12/09/2010 @ 7:15 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Ulrich Says Hopper Misled About His Fitness for 2010 John Hopkins Daytona AMA American Superbike 1024 635x423

John Ulrich, the man behind both Team Hammer and publication Roadracing World, seems to be content on airing his dirty laundry about rider John Hopkins on the WERA board this week. In his postings, Ulrich accuses Hopkins of keeping secret his hand’s deteriorated condition, and misrepresenting his physical fitness and readiness for the 2010 season. This issue has lead to Ulrich saying he won’t work with Hopkins ever again, despite Ulrich discovering the Anglo-American rider at a young age, and essentially jump-starting his motorcycle racing career.

If true, these acts and omissions could amount to fraud and misrepresentation on Hopkins’ part, and our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is less than enthralled about Ulrich failing to take proper due diligence before signing the rider.

Rumor: John Hopkins to British Superbike?

12/08/2010 @ 9:44 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Rumor: John Hopkins to British Superbike? John Hopkins M4 Suzuk cast Infineon 635x948

Don’t call the silly season over just yet, as the rumor mill has begun to churn away on Anglo-American John Hopkins. Finishing 10th in the AMA American Superbike Championship, Hopper had a mixed season with the M4 Suzuki squad, missing several races because of a wrist surgery. Now finally on the mend, Hopkins is being linked to the Crescent racing team in the UK, which is headed by former Rizla Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning, and if true could be heading back to his other motherland for the 2011 racing season.

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper

03/13/2010 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

AMA Tips from The Sparrow: Duhamel & Hopper The Sparrow 560x417

Known only to us as “The Sparrow“, we just got some tips from our insider in the AMA. The Sparrow goes on to tell us that rumors of Miguel Duhamel making a return to AMA racing at Fontana are untrue, and the actual rider listed as “TBA” is instead Tyler Odom. The Sparrow also goes on to say that John Hopkins has been incredibly unhappy with the performance of his GSX-R1000, faulting the motor as having less power than the rest of the field. While indications seem to suggest that’s not the case, Yoshimura has put together a new lump for Hopper that looks to have plenty of juice, but will it pass scrutineering after the races? Continue reading for the full report from The Sparrow.

Garry McCoy Confirmed with FB Corse

02/01/2010 @ 3:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Garry McCoy Confirmed with FB Corse Garry McCoy FB Corse 560x419

This weekend Garry McCoy signed a two-year deal with FB Corse that sees the Australian rider making a return to premiere GP racing. The move comes just days after McCoy was dropped by one of Triumph’s Factory WSS team, BE1 Racing, and FB Corse got the official “peace out” from John Hopkins. With McCoy likely to find only teams in Moto2 looking for riders, the timing for both parties couldn’t have been better. Details after the jump.

John Hopkins Confirmed for AMA with M4 Suzuki

01/30/2010 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Confirmed for AMA with M4 Suzuki John Hopkins M4 Suzuki 2 560x372

We can finally retire the Hoppergate tag (saying this pretty much assures its continued use unfortunately), M4 Suzuki has issued a press release that confirms what Asphalt & Rubber already knew (hat tip to The Sparrow), John Hopkins will be riding in the AMA American Superbike team with Team Hammer. This news comes despite the fact that FB Corse has repeatedly insisted that the American rider was committed to them for the 2010 season, and they now chastise Hopper for backing out of the team at the last minute.

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List – FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone?

01/28/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Bimota HB4 Left off of the Moto2 Entry List   FB Corse Vaporware? Bimota to Go It Alone? Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike 1 560x372

This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.

Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.

Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.

BREAKING: John Hopkins to Race in AMA for 2010

01/26/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BREAKING: John Hopkins to Race in AMA for 2010 john hopkins m4 suzuki 560x306

Our sources are indicating that John Hopkins is close to closing a deal to race in the AMA Pro Racing series for 2010, and will be making an announcement about his contract with M4 Suzuki (Team Hammer) as early as this weekend (but more likely after Hopper’s test on the M4 Suzuki scheduled for next Tuesday the 2nd). This news seems to be the final chapter (we hope) in the ever increasing Hoppergate scandal, and also seems to be the last nail in the coffin for FB Corse‘s hopes of having the American ride on their MotoGP team.

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press

01/18/2010 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press John Hopkins hear no evil1 560x373

Hoppergate continues on as it would seem MotoGP upstart, FB Corse, has their kneepucks in a bunch about the press they’ve been recieving lately from “websites on the other side of the ocean.” This would seem to be a poke in the eye to publications like RoadRacing World (and others), who have cast some doubt on John Hopkins’ commitment to FB Corse, as the former MotoGP rider has yet to sign a contract with the Italian team.