2018 KTM 790 Duke Spotted in the Wild

We know that we can expect a finalized version of the KTM 790 Duke at this year’s EICMA show in Milan, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the streetfighter model has been caught testing by spy photographers. The bike’s parallel-twin engine can clearly be spotted in the pictures, tipping us to its model, and many of the lines from the prototype machine remain, as further clues. Though, noticeable differences include a new tail section design, different exhaust, as well as a headlight. The headlight is clearly derived from KTM’s new design language, and its shape mimics what we’ve seen already added to the Duke, Super Duke, and Adventure lineup. The KTM 790 Duke prototype hinted that we would see a similar face in the new hoon-machine, so no surprises there.

Ducati’s 2017 World Superbike Team Debuts

Race teams continue to debut their 2017 liveries and riders, and this time around we feature the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike squad that will race in the World Superbike Championship. Chaz Davies of course returns to the team, and this season he will be joined by Marco Melandri. The duo will be an interesting pair to watch this season, with Davies holding onto his impressive form from the last-half of the 2016 season, and Melandri making his return to motorcycle racing, after sitting out last season. With 2017 to be the penultimate season for the Ducati Panigale R in the World Superbike Championship, the v-twin superbike has shown itself to be an extremely mature machine on the race track.

Imagining the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 Supermoto

It is a tremendous shame that the options for a road legal supermoto for are so limited, with the venerable Suzuki DR-Z400SM being the only offering in the 450cc on-road class. For virtually a decade, Suzuki has left the DR-Z basically unchanged – as it has done with many of its sport models – so we would love to see Suzuki and other manufacturers give this space more attention (a hat tip to Husqvarna for bringing the track-only FS450 to market, long with the 701 Supermoto). Although you can wake-up the DR-Z400 with a few simple modification, and there are a bevy of aftermarket kits that can punch the 398cc machine out in size, what we really want from Suzuki is a proper 450cc street supermoto – one that doesn’t stray too far from the brand’s current strong motocross offering. So, when we saw this little bit of Photoshop work by the folks at the German Suzuki dealership of DSR-Suzuki, we got a little excited.

Honda & Hitachi Join Forces on Electric Vehicle Motors

News out Japan sees Honda and Hitachi starting a joint venture that will focus on providing motors for electric vehicles. The two companies signed today what they call a “memorandum of understanding, which is the Japanese business version of getting a promise ring to start a future company together. The still unnamed joint venture will be located in Hitachinaka City in the Ibaraki Prefecture, and be initially capitalized with ¥5 billion (~$44 million). Honda Motor Co. and Hitachi Automotive Systems hope to finalize this deal by March 2017, and the new company will have subsidiaries in China and the United States – both of which will have sales and production capabilities.

US Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Close the EPA by 2018

A bill has been presented to the United States House of Representatives that would seek the closure of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) by 2018. Proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Florida), HB 861 will likely be a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts, as it will deregulate environmental restrictions set at the federal level, leaving states to draft or adopt their own provisions, which will likely have a fracturing effect on the regulatory market for motorcycles. But, it will also mean the abolition of EPA regulations that many motorcyclists oppose, like the blending of ethanol in our fuel, and restrictions on noise, emissions, and vehicle modifications.

KTM Invests in Heads-Up Display Company NUVIZ

Heads-up display (HUD) company NUVIZ just took a strategic investment from Pierer Industrie AG, the company behind KTM, Husqvarna, WP Suspension, and others. Today’s news is quite a catch for the San Diego based technology startup, and it bodes well for NUVIZ to bring its heads-up display technology to market. As such, NUVIZ hopes to have a heads-up display unit and connected rider system available in the first half of 2017. NUVIZ has raised roughly $9 million to date, via equity and debt, and our sources tell us that KTM’s purchase into the company has contributed to the lions’s share of that amount – upwards of $5 million, along with a seat on NUVIZ’s board of directors.

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team Debuts

In an airplane hangar in Austria, Honda’s World Superbike team unveiled its wings…that is to say, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team debuted in the energy drink’s Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg today. As the name implies, Red Bull will be the title sponsor for Nicky Hayden’s and Stefan Bradl’s World Superbike title bid this year, on the updated 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2. This is the first time that Red Bull has been a title sponsor in the WorldSBK paddock, though the energy drink company’s livery can be seen on variety of bodywork throughout motorsport. “It’s a new year with a new bike, new title partner and new teammate, so there are definitely many changes ahead and a lot of things to look forward to,” said former MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden.

PJ Jacobsen Gives His First Impressions of MV Agusta

PJ Jacobsen will once again be the sole American representation in World Supersport this year. The New Yorker had his first taste of his MV Agusta F3 in the dry while at the Jerez test, and came away suitably impressed by the bike that has won eight races in the hands of Jules Cluzel in recent years. The 23-year-old tested the bike in Jerez last year in what was seen as a shootout for the ride, but on a damp track he didn’t get a real feel for the bike. “Today was my first day on the bike this year,” said Jacobsen. “I did half a day on the MV last November in Jerez, but it was half wet, half dry so today was good to get out there. It was fully dry so I learned a lot and I’m quite happy with it. The bike is totally different to what I’ve ridden in the past, but the team works really well and they’ve impressed me.”

Check Out the 2017 Honda RC213V

The MotoGP launch season is still upon us, and now that we have seen the teams and bikes from Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha – it is time for Honda to take the wraps off the team its campaigning for its title defense. Debuting the 2017 Honda RC213V at a press event in Indonesia, not much has changed outwardly for the 240+ horsepower GP bike, though there a subtle differences to be seen, if you look closely and compare it to last year’s bike. The Repsol Honda fairings cover the biggest change that we know of, as reports from the test tracks confirm that Honda is experimenting with a “big-bang like” firing order on its V4 engine, a change from the “screamer” configuration of last season, which was handful for Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to manage.

2016 Was A Very Good Year for Husqvarna

Last year proved to be a tough year for many brands, especially those with operations in the United States, but that wasn’t the case for Husqvarna. The rebooted Swedish brand is seeing good life while under its Austrian ownership. Making 2016 a very good year for Husqvarna, the brand is reporting a sales increase of a whopping 43% over 2015’s sales numbers. That is no small feat for Husqvarna, as 2015 was already a record year for the dirt-focuses brand, where it saw a 32% increase. Of course in many ways, up is the only direction Husqvarna can go, after its purchase by Pierer Industrie AG. Still, Husqvarna’s figure of 30,700 sold motorcycles in 2016 is a marked improvement from the near 10,000 units it was producing while part of BMW Motorrad.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2

11/11/2014 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

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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. The styling of the H2R was certainly…eye-catching…with all the winglets and dramatic lines, the H2 street bike is only slightly watered-down from that lurid design.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 – The Ultimate Street Bike?

11/04/2014 @ 2:22 am, by Jensen Beeler43 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja H2 street bike has finally debuted at the EICMA show, giving motorcycle fans a glimpse at the road-going counterpart to the Kawasaki Ninja H2R track-only machine. Based around the same 998cc supercharged inline-four engine, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 makes an astonishing 207 hp with ram air, 197hp without. For reference, the Ninja H2R makes 305hp, without ram-air.

Kawasaki has designed its supercharger system to have two-step gear-ratio, allowing for maximum boost and low and high engine speeds, and the supercharger impeller reaches 130,000 rpm when the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is at its 14,000 rpm redline. Peak torque is 98 lbs•ft, at 10,500 rpm, with the supercharger primarily helping to broaden the powerband for better street riding.

Is This How Much the Kawasaki Ninja H2R Will Cost? Nope.

10/14/2014 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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It has certainly been interesting to see the buzz around the Kawasaki Ninja H2 these past few weeks, especially as everyone tries to cash in on the supercharged hype-machine that Kawasaki has been running.

First we saw Motorcycle.com just create a story out of thin air, to help its owner VerticalScope promote a new web property. That was…uhh…the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen while in this industry, not to mention just sloppy journalism. Now lately we have seen a supposed dealer invoice for the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R, with a price tag just north of $60,000.

Many publications have latched onto that price point — which isn’t the craziest conclusion to come to, considering that the H2R is Kawasaki’s halo-bike project, and will likely cost a pretty penny — though with just a quick glance, we can see that the alleged paperwork has clearly been a work of Photoshop, and not inside information.

LEAKED: First Image of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 Street Bike

10/05/2014 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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Just last week the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, KHI’s supercharged track-only 300hp beast of a hyperbike, debuted at INTERMOT. The reception of the H2R was astounding, and Kawasaki has certainly laid down the gauntlet with the design, philosophy, and execution of its latest Ninja.

Kawasaki’s test riders are already reporting on social media speeds over 210 mph, and we eagerly await Kawasaki’s street-legal Ninja H2.

Set to debut at the AIMExpo in two weeks’ time, it seems the first image of the machine has leaked ahead of schedule. Caught in what looks like an early release of Kawasaki’s next teaser video, we can make out the lines of the Ninja H2 street bike.

OMG: Leaked Hi-Res Photos of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R

09/29/2014 @ 8:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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In five hours the Kawasaki Ninja H2 will officially debut at INTERMOT…of course, the internet waits for no motorbike. In addition to the first leaked photo we brought you, we now have a bevy of high-resolution images of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, the racing sibling to the H2.

Several sites now are tipping the Kawasaki Ninja H2R as making 300 horsepower from its 998cc inline-four engine, a number that is achieved by the H2 & H2R’s centrifugal supercharger. That figure is much larger than some publications were reporting from their “sources” inside Kawasaki — or were just fabricating wholesale to get pageviews.

LEAKED: Here is the First Photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2

09/29/2014 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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Our INTERMOT coverage is in full-swing today, and we bring you the first photo of the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Showing more clearly the wings we spotted in Kawasaki’s last video, we can see now the extent that the Japanese company has gone to in making the H2 more aerodynamic.

Our sources tell us this the “race” version of the supercharged Ninja H2, though what it’s racing, we are not sure — our bets are on either land speed records at Bonneville or the Millennium Falcon.

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 Has…Wings??!

09/26/2014 @ 12:38 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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While some publications have been outright fabricating information about the new Kawasaki H2 to get eyeballs and clicks, we have been trying to filter Kawasaki’s massive marketing campaign, so you only get the most distilled information. That’s sort of our mantra here at Asphalt & Rubber.

So, you will forgive us then for showing you yet another teaser video on the H2, but we think there is an interesting development here. The ninth installment thus far, Kawasaki is focusing on the aerodynamics of the hyperbike, and from what we can see, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 comes equipped with aerodynamic wings.

The winglets look a lot like those found on the Ducati Desmosedici GP10, which served more to help flow air across the very hot V4 engine, rather than to provide any sort of downforce. What Kawasaki is using them for, that’s up for debate.

One shot seems to show the H2’s mirrors, and their aerodynamic shape, while the other two shots have us guessing. One is clearly a winglet, possibly near the front of the machine, which would help pull the air around the rider (especially around the legs) more effectively.

The third shot (actually the first in the video), look like a rear spoiler/diffuser to us, but we’d love to hear your theories in the comments section.

The Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Seen in This Industry

09/18/2014 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler59 COMMENTS

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I have seen a lot of things in the motorcycle industry since I started Asphalt & Rubber, but never before have I seen something like this. During the autumn months, it is not uncommon for A&R to receive tips about new motorcycle models that are about to debut, and today was seemingly no different.

This morning we got an enthusiastic email from a purported regular reader (make that two readers now), asking why we weren’t covering the leaked details on the supercharged Kawasaki H2, which were apparently “going viral” all over the internet, as the email told us. To give us proof of that assertion, they included in the emails links to a Facebook page for a new web forum for the H2, which is where the leak apparently occurred.

A quick check on our massive RSS feed (roughly 600 publications now) showed the viral story had only been picked up by one other publication, Motorcycle.com. MO ran the story with the headline “Inside Info About Kawasaki’s Radical H2 Sportbike?” — which had been written by the ever loveable “Motorcycle.com Staff” author, and qualified with the profession’s ubiquitous “?” phrasing.

Our friends at MO certainly do a bit of traffic (I say that with sincerity), though I normally wouldn’t use a single publication covering a story as an indication of that story going viral, but ok whatever…hyperbole is part of the game.

Like any good editor though, I dove into the story deeper. What I found has me supremely worried.

A Brief Glimpse of the Kawasaki H2 in Action

09/16/2014 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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At the pace Kawasaki is going, it looks to be a long, painful, drawn-out debut for the Kawasaki H2. We’re six videos in now, and not much about the supercharged sport bike has been revealed. Sure, we’ve heard the sound of the bike’s centrifugal supercharger and inline-four engine, and we have gotten a glimpse at the H2’s lines, but our appetite desires more.

Today won’t be that satiation, though we do get to “see” the Kawasaki H2 for the first time…as it does triple-figures past the camera. Once again, Kawasaki takes off another piece of clothing in this two-wheeled burlesque show, yet manages not to show us anything worth the excitement.

We will likely just have to wait until September 28th, when the Kawasaki H2 officially breaks cover, ahead of the INTERMOT show.

The Most Important Thing about the Kawasaki H2?

09/11/2014 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The supercharged Kawasaki H2 teasers continue to come from Team Green, though none since the “sound video” have really given anything away about the new sport bike. Today’s video, the fifth installment, doesn’t really whet our appetite either, though we thought we’d share it for one good reason, the Kawasaki River Mark logo.

There is something fundamental that motorcycle enthusiasts have to understand about the Japanese manufacturers, and that is the fact that their motorcycle business constitutes a very small portion of the companies’ overall operations and incomes.

Historically, the motorcycle divisions of the Big Four have been the epicenter for corporate bragging between these Japanese conglomerates — they told all of Japan, “look what we can do.”

In the case of Kawasaki, it is truly only a small part of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which builds ships, heavy equipment, aerospace parts, trains, and even parts for nuclear power plants. There aren’t too many industries where Kawasaki doesn’t have an interest, and its motorcycle division is where it shows off its technological prowess…at least, that’s how it used to be.