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.

Loris Capirossi to Pramac Ducati

08/11/2010 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Loris Capirossi to Pramac Ducati Loris Capirossi Laguna Seca 635x403

Despite the fact that Suzuki will be sticking around in MotoGP for the 2011 season, veteran rider Loris Capirossi is seeing next season as his escape from the struggling factory team. In a move that seems all but signed, Capirex will likely take the #1 seat at Pramac Ducati next season, where Italian hopes to be more competitive with the pseduo-satellite Ducati team.

Moto3 Announcement Expected at Brno

08/11/2010 @ 7:21 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto3 Announcement Expected at Brno 125GP Qatar 560x389

Two-stroke GP racing is expected to die next year, and the announcement of the Moto3 class is expected to occur during the GP Commission’s meeting at the Czech GP in a couple days. Scheduled to meet on Friday, the GP Commission has been hammering out the details on the 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke racing class that will replace 125GP in 2012, and will likely make an announcement after Sunday’s race.

Similar in concept to the Moto2 class, the most notable difference is the rumor that the Moto3 class will not be a spec-motor series, meaning any manufacturer can build a thumper and compete in the series. Considering the large number of manufacturers that already have experience racing 250cc singles, we can expect an array of bikes to be on the grid in 2012.

You’re Doing it Wrong!

07/28/2010 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Youre Doing it Wrong! Doing it wrong Aleix Espargaro cork screw 560x371

Emptying out the memory cards from the Red Bull US GP weekend, we came across a few blooper shots that we just had to share with you (like this one of Aleix Espargaró re-enacting “The Pass” that Rossi pulled on Stoner in the 2008 US GP). We often place MotoGP riders on a pedestal, looking to them as gods, but it’s good every now and then to remind ourselves that they are mortal men after all. Flip through this short series of photos after the jump for a couple of laughs.

Suzuki Getting MotoGP Engine Dispensation

07/21/2010 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Suzuki Getting MotoGP Engine Dispensation Rizla Suzuki Silverstone GP 560x371

It’s hard to remember sometimes that Rizla Suzuki is a factory team in MotoGP. Afterall with Rizla Suzuki often trumped by the top satellite riders, there is nary a Rizla rider in the Top 10 for the Championship standings. With Laguna Seca marking the middle-point of the MotoGP season, things are looking even more bleak for the folks at Suzuki, as both Loris Capirossi and Alvaro Bautista have nearly used up their six motor allotment for the 2010 season. As such, Rizla Suzuki is on its way to getting special dispensation from Dorna, and will see its motor allotment raised from six motors to nine, likely starting this weekend.

Silly Season: Capirex to Pramac Ducati?

05/25/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Silly Season: Capirex to Pramac Ducati? Loris Capirossi Capirex Pramac Ducati rumor 635x422

The MotoGP silly season continues, this time with a rumor that’s not about one of the four alien riders. MotoGP veteran Loris Capirossi has long been the rider behind the development of the Suzuki GSV-R in MotoGP, but that hasn’t stopped the lens of paddock gossips from pointing Capirex towards the direction of a satellite Ducati team. More specifically, Capirossi has been linked to talking to the Pramac Ducati team about a seat on a satellite Ducati for 2011.

Capirossi Loses Appeal – Must Pay €2 Million Fine

05/19/2010 @ 5:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Capirossi Loses Appeal   Must Pay €2 Million Fine Rizla Suzuki Loris Capirossi 300 helmet 560x372

There must have been someone going around the MotoGP paddock many years back, handing out bad financial advice to any rider they could find, because Loris Capirossi is now the second MotoGP rider (that we here at A&R can think of), that’s been slapped with an income tax evasion fine in the past few years. Capirex, like Valentino Rossi before him, has found himself on the wrong-end of the law, after losing an appeal to his charge of income tax evasion, and accordingly must pay a €2 million fine for his actions.

Loris Capirossi to Start 300th Race at Qatar

04/06/2010 @ 6:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Loris Capirossi to Start 300th Race at Qatar Loris Capirossi 250GP Ducati 560x420

Veteran MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi is set to start his 300th GP at Qatar this weekend, a record for the most GP starts by any rider. The 37 year old Capirossi easily out paces his nearest rival in this regard, Alex Barros, who started 276 races during his GP career. Likely to be one of the few riders to make it to 300 race starts, Capirex would have hit the benchmark in 2009 had the Hungarian GP at the Balatonring not been cancelled. Known for being injury free (knock on wood), Capirossi will likely add another 17 starts to this number, with it being anyone’s guess when the Italian hangs up his leathers for good.

Capirex, Rossi & Stoner Call for Earlier Start at Qatar

03/24/2010 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Capirex, Rossi & Stoner Call for Earlier Start at Qatar Losail International Circuit Doha Qatar 560x372

Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner have lobbied Dorna to start the season opener at Qatar at least an hour earlier than was previously scheduled. Scheduled to start at 11pm local time, MotoGP’s night race at Qatar benefits from hitting the European market during prime time television hours, and hits American shores during reasonable daylight hours.

The evening start also means that riders don’t have to compete during the hot daytime desert weather, but the downside with that is the evening temperatures rapidly change as the night progresses and evening dew forms on the Losail track. With riders crashing later in the Qatar testing times this past week, Rossi and Stoner think the MotoGP race would be better served starting earlier in the evening.

Hungarian GP Officially Cancelled – MotoGP Adds 4th Spanish GP to 2010 Schedule

03/18/2010 @ 10:44 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hungarian GP Officially Cancelled    MotoGP Adds 4th Spanish GP to 2010 Schedule Motorland Aragon Spanish MotoGP track 635x483

For those following the construction of the Balatonring in Hungary, the news that the Hungarian GP has been officially cancelled by Dorna and the FIM should be of little surprise. After having a myriad of problems, especially finding funding, the Hungarian track was a dealt a death blow this Monday when the Hungarian Development Bank declined to underwrite a loan for the track. With no money in sight, Dorna and the FIM had no choice but to officially cancel the venue, and implement Plan B, which sees MotoGP stopping at four, yes four tracks in Spain for 2010. Read more after the jump.

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds

03/15/2010 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds Balatonring flag track 560x420

Loris Capirossi seemed destined to owe Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta a steak dinner after the Balatonring supposedly secured funding from the Hungarian Development Bank. That bad fortune (for Hungarian MotoGP fans, not for Capirex) seems to have changed however as the loan has now been refused by the Hungarian bank, which leaves the Hungarian circuit a big question mark for the 2010 MotoGP calendar as it struggles to raise the needed $80 million. Story gets worse after the jump.