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.

The First Photo of the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R

09/19/2012 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

The First Photo of the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R 635x396

With a brochure photo of the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure leaking yesterday from KTM’s website, today we see more photos of the Austrian brand’s new adventure hitting the interwebs on the ADVrider forums. A studio shot of the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R, and two more photos of the base model give us a clearer picture of what KTM will “officially” unveiled at INTERMOT in a few weeks’ time.

The changes between the KTM 1190 Adventure and the KTM 1190 Adventure R are subtle, but the “R” is KTM’s more off-road oriented model between the two. As such, it sports a 21″ wheel up front, and an 18″ wheel in the back. Crash bars, a shorter windscreen, and single-piece saddle complete the changes, though we can expect other non-visible additions like upgraded suspension, etc.

2013 KTM 1190 Adventure Breaks Cover

09/18/2012 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2013 KTM 1190 Adventure Breaks Cover KTM 1190 Adventure Leak 635x423

The folks at KTM briefly let leak a brochure photo of the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure today, giving us our first good look at the completed machine. A prototype of the bike was recently reviewed by Motorrad, this new photo confirms many of the details that the Germans dropped in that article.

Based on the KTM RC8 R’s 1195cc LC8 v-twin motor, the KTM 1190 Adventure sees the superbike lump re-tuned for its adventure-touring duties, and in that capacity it makes 147hp. Meanwhile at 518 lbs with a full tank of gas, the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure is a touch heavier than its 990cc predecessor, though we don’t think you will mind.

First (Strange) Video of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R & 2013 Kawasaki Z800

09/11/2012 @ 10:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

First (Strange) Video of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R & 2013 Kawasaki Z800 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R Z800 leak video

Multiple Kawasaki models are expected to be unveiled in New York tomorrow, and chiefly for the American market we are expecting the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 to officially break cover in Times Square.

This of course hasn’t stopped the bikes from “unofficially” breaking cover well before that date, as an EPA document (now edited to omit the models) first outed their existence, as well as numerous other leaks breaking loose as the event unveiling event looms closer — almost as if the leaks were designed to help create buzz around the new machines, hmm…

Our latest viewing of the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R & Kawasaki Z800 motorcycles comes to us from a video, which employs one of the most frustrating audio tracks ever to grace a motorcycle industry YouTube clip.

Presumably employed to stop us from hearing the new ZX-6R and Z800 rev to life, the music sounds like one of those canned audio tracks for slideshows about kittens playing in cardboard boxes. Nevertheless, it does give us a pretty good glimpse at the bikes in question. Beggers can’t be choosers, right?

Are You The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R?

09/10/2012 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Are You The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R? 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R 635x423

UPDATE: The folks at TMCBlog seem to have some screen grabs from a walk-around video with the new ZX-6R. More photos attached after the jump.

Kawasaki only has a few more days until its big launch in New York City’s Times Square, so depending on how you look at it, Team Green has only a few more days to keep its new bikes under wraps, or Team Green has only a few more days to leak out hype-building photos of its new bikes. We’ll let you make the call on that issue, but today’s big Kawasaki news is a leaked photo of what appears to be the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.

Does the Ducati 1199 Panigale SP Cometh?

09/05/2012 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Does the Ducati 1199 Panigale SP Cometh? Ducati 1199 Panigale SP rumor 635x475

You may have been hearing a bit about this EPA compliance spreadsheet that has been outing more than its fair share of new motorcycles for the 2013 model-year. Tipping us off to a number of Kawasaki’s soon-to-be-announced models, like the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 400R, the return of the 636cc Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, our continued torture with the carb-based Kawasaki Ninja 250R, EPA document also makes mention of a BMW F800GT, as well as a Ducati 1199 Panigale SP.

EPA Document Lists a 636cc 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

08/27/2012 @ 1:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

EPA Document Lists a 636cc 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R chassis 635x476

The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is set to return to a 636cc displacement, according to a spreadsheet released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With alleged spy shots of the new ZX-6R already hitting the press, the supersport-class bike noticeably takes a design cue from its liter-bike counterpart — a move that should surprise no one.

Listed by the EPA as making 129 hp (96.4 kW) at the crank, the move to have the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R be a 636cc displacement machine is interesting, as the EPA’s document does not list a 599cc Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6RR analog, something the Japanese brand did last time it bumped its middleweight’s displacement figure beyond the norm.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R Breaks Cover in Indonesia

08/01/2012 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R Breaks Cover in Indonesia 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R 1

The quarter-liter sport bike market is about to get more interesting, as photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Nina 250R have sprung from Kawasaki Japan’s corporate site, ahead of the bike’s presumed late-fall international launch. Revising the long-time tested aesthetic of the previous generation Kawasaki 250R, the 2013 model takes more than a few cues from the current generation Kawasaki ZX-10R.

One of the best selling motorcycles in the United States, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R is surely feeling the pressure from Big Red, as the Honda CBR250R came to market last year, and has been a strong seller locally and internationally. With KTM to bring a 350cc sport bike to the USA in 2014, and other manufacturers eyeing the learner-bike model segment, Kawasaki has surely been feeling its dominant position in this space coming under fire, and has acted in response.

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Spotted – Déjà Vu All Over Again

02/06/2012 @ 1:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Spotted   Déjà Vu All Over Again 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Motociclismo 1

Launched at Piaggio’s dealer meeting in Monte Carlo, the Aprilia Caponord 1200 (AKA the Aprilia Tuareg 1200) has shown its face to the public, and a recognizable face it is. Clearly based on the Dorsoduro 1200 platform, the new Caponord 1200 draws its design cues from the Aprilia RSV4, which like the punch-drunk frat boy that it is, has spread its seed into the likes of the RS4 50, RS4 125, and SRV850 maxi-scooter, making for a budding family of bikes that look suspiciously similar. Strong brand marketing across the model line, or incestuous ideas at the drawing board? You make the call.

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word ‘Superbike’

11/07/2011 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler61 COMMENTS

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Redefines the Word Superbike 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale 20 635x475

I often get lambasted in the comments section for being pro-Ducati here on Asphalt & Rubber, and that’s fine by me, because I am. It’s hard not to like a company that has basically defined the modern aesthetic for motorcycles, or a company that continues to grow despite being in the worst recession since The Great Depression. It’s also not hard to love a company that continues to release, year-after-year, new compelling motorcycles, as is the case today with the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Teased ad nauseam, the Ducati 1199 Panigale shouldn’t disappoint the discerning sport bike rider with a strong appetite for Italian food, as the latest v-twin from Bologna sets many firsts for the superbike market segment. As we predicted last year, the Ducati 1199 Panigale drops 20lbs off the Superbike 1198’s design (22 lbs actually), while making an extra 20hp over its predecessor. Not only is the 1199 Panigale the lightest production superbike on the market, with its 361 lbs dry weight (414 lbs wet), it’s also one of the most powerful with its 195hp peak power figure, courtesy of the Superquadro motor.

Other firsts include a revolutionary monocoque frame, the first full-LED headlight on a motorcycle (another story we broke), the first electronically adjusted suspension on a sport bike, the first engine braking control system, as well as the first GPS-assisted data acquisition system for a production motorcycle (the DDA+ package is an optional equipment item for the Panigale). While traction control comes standard, ABS brakes will also be an optional item for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Available in April 2012, as we expected the new Ducati 1199 Panigale has gotten a price increase over the Superbike 1198. Accordingly the base model will cost $17,995, the “S” will cost $22,995, and “S” Tricolore will hit the wallet at $27,995 MSRP.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Leaks Ahead of EICMA

11/07/2011 @ 4:44 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Ducati 1199 Panigale Leaks Ahead of EICMA 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S leak 635x355

Asphalt & Rubber is in Milan right now, and in a few hours we’ll headed over for the official launch of the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. However, we might as well stay in the hotel and do grappa shots until our eyes bleed, as the sport bike of 2012 has already unsurprisingly leaked ahead of its official debut. Not only do we get our first glimpse of the new flagship Ducati, but it looks like the Ducati 1199 Panigale will have optional anti-locking brakes (ABS) and Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES).

While it was only a matter of time before Ducati put ABS on its Superbike line, the electronic suspension package on the Panigale (note the wires going into the top of the fork tubes), which originally made its Ducati debut on the Multistrada 1200, is the first time the technology has made its way onto a sport bike. Expect full-details and photos in a couple hours, until then salivate after the jump.