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.

Ducati Monster Diesel

03/15/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster Diesel Ducati Monster Diesel 06 635x475

In case you hadn’t noticed, Ducati made a bunch of friends last year, and entered into partnership agreements with companies like AMG, Diesel, and Cigarette Racing. With the first two companies footing a larger bill and sponsoring Ducati Corse’s MotoGP effort, it stands to reason that AMG and Diesel’s involvement with the iconic motorcycle brand would be a bit more extensive than just some logos on a bike and team livery.

With Mercedes-Benz and Ducati intertwined in acquisition talks, it was not too surprising to see the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition break cover, though we have to admit we were a bit shocked to see today’s news about the Ducati Monster Diesel — we didn’t see this bike coming.

As the name implies, the special edition motorcycle is based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO, with styling cues that evoke the Diesel brand. The Italians are calling this “an ‘urban military chic’ interpretation of Ducati’s iconic naked motorcycle,” which is one way of saying it features olive green paint and matte black accents.

It’s an interesting effect to say the least, though it will probably only resonate with a select group of Ducatisti. Ducati says the Monster Diesel will be available in dealerships from late-July onwards, with pricing in the US set at $13,795. If you came here thinking Ducati had abandoned the gasoline engine, we apologize. We didn’t pick the name.

Up-Close with the Bimota DB10 Bimotard

11/14/2011 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Up Close with the Bimota DB10 Bimotard Bimota DB10 Bimotard EICMA 111 635x476

Making its debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard is the boutique Italian motorcycle firm’s latest creation. Borrowing from the Bimota DB6’s frame design, the DB 10 Bimotard takes the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve Hypermotard 1100 EVO motor, with its 95hp peak power output, and builds around this platform a compelling maxi-motard design. Perhaps better labelled as Bimota’s take on building a better Hypermotard, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard also promises the usual Bimota design and exclusivity, and helps bridge the gap to the Italian company’s latest off-road offerings, which are amazingly less-compelling, vanilla, and not going to grace the pages of A&R.

Carbon fiber, Marzocchi suspension, Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, and Zard exhaust…all the usual suspects are present on this cleverly portmanteau-named Bimotard. The fit and finish in person is what you’d expect from Bimota: flawless. A part of me says that you have to praise the small Italian company for breaking from its recent tradition of glorified street-naked motorcycles a bit, and offering a motorcycle with a slightly different ethos. That being said, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard isn’t really that huge of a departure from the DB5, DB6, and DB8s that came before it. A Bimota DB6 with different clothes on, the DB10 is really more evolution than revolution, but it still manages to please us…just not wow us. No price yet, but “cheap” is a four-letter word here.

NCR M4 ONE SHOT – Ducati Monster Lovers, Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

10/09/2011 @ 2:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

NCR M4 ONE SHOT   Ducati Monster Lovers, Your Christmas Has Been Ruined NCR M4 ONE SHOT 635x423

NCR has just unwrapped its latest creations: the NCR M4 and the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO motor, the NCR M4 carries over the general aestheic of the popular Italian street bike, but at sub-300 lbs weights, the NCR M4 and the NCR M4 ONE SHOT, with their titanium parts and copious amounts of carbon fiber, are not your average Italian two-wheelers. A quick glance of the M4, and you’ll see the treatment is typical of NCR, with a titanium frame & sub-frame being the crowning jewel of performance added to the package.

Also true to NCR form, you better start saving now if you like what you see here because the NCR M4 isn’t going to be cheap. The 107hp, 84 lbs•ft of torque, 286 lbs, NCR M4 comes complete with carbon fiber parts like its tank, wheels, instrument cluster, airbox, oil cooler housing, and fenders. Also a part of the basic package are NCR’s in-house billet triple clamps, fork bottoms, & rearsets. Brembo monoblocks and Öhlins suspension come as standard as well, and help the NCR M4 to have an MSRP of $49,900, with delivery in Spring 2012 (US market only, other markets TBA).

Of course, if you want a truly pinnacle air-cooled v-twin machine, you’ll want the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Fitted with an NCR 1200 modified Ducati EVO 1100 engine, the higher displacement M4 makes 132 hp (105 lbs•ft of torque), courtesy of its stroker crank, titanium connecting rods, NCR slipper clutch, and other titanium bits. Dropping another 6 lbs off the base M4, the 278 lbs motorcycle is truly featherweight. And for that kind of performance, you better brace yourself, as the NCR M4 ONE SHOT comes with a hefty $69,900 price tag.

Ducati Supersport Concept by Luca Bar

07/15/2011 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Ducati Supersport Concept by Luca Bar Ducati Supersport Luca Bar Design 635x476

Tracing back to when Ducati made the SS line, Luca Bar has put pen to pad again, rendering a modern-day version of the Ducati Supersport. Envisioning a motorcycle based off Ducati’s popular Monster 1100 EVO platform, the Supersport would feature the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve v-twin motor of the Monster, which should provide plenty of power and take some design cues from the top-spec naked bike. Bar also points out that using the Monster as the basis for the Supersport could help keep costs down as well, and keep the MSRP close to the Monster 1100 EVO (we’d imagine pricing would have the SS as slightly pricier than the Monster).

Ducati Monster 1100 EVO Photos and Video

04/11/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster 1100 EVO Photos and Video Ducati Monster 1100 EVO 635x550

Launched at the 2010 EICMA show, Ducati has updated its top-of-the-line Monster for 2011, creating the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO. Distinguishing itself with the return of the shotgun style exhaust, the 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO takes an aesthetic revision to the iconic two-valve v-twin motorcycle. With an even 100hp on tap, the 373 lbs machine should be a fun city romper, and comes packed with features like Ducati’s ABS, traction control, and data acquisition system.

We’ll have to wait until the Monster 1100 EVO makes it stateside to get our first glimpses of the street naked, and see how it compares to its predecessors. Until then though, feast your eyes on 15 images of the new Monster, along with a promotional video.

Ducati’s First Valentino Rossi Branded Motorcycle

03/03/2011 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati’s First Valentino Rossi Branded Motorcycle Valentino Rossi Monster Art 1 635x396

Helping send off Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden on their 2011 MotoGP Championship season, Ducati is holding a big event in downtown Bologna on Friday night. Naturally of course the two MotoGP riders will need something to make an entrance with, and Ducati thought this would be the perfect time to tap its Monster Art program for some Rossi/Hayden GP replica paint schemes that take their cues from the duo’s Ducati Desmosedici GP11 race bikes.

The first of what is surely to be many Ducati motorcycles to have the yellow “46” on them, we’re still having some trouble getting used to the neon yellow/Rosso Corsa combo, but we’re this will be the best selling livery in Ducati Monster Art personalization package. Wake us up when the Ducati Superbike 1198 Rossi Rep comes out.

2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO

11/01/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO 5 635x423

Ducati has updated the Monster 1100, giving it the EVO treatment, which brings with it +5hp on top (for a total of 100hp), while keep torque at 76 lbs•ft. The 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO also benefits from Ducati’s electronics package, which now includes standard ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), and Ducati Data Acquisition (DDA) as standard OEM equipment.

Fitted with a two-canister side exhaust (you can debate if this is being channeled from the Diavel or the Streetfighter), the Monster 1100 EVO tips the scales at 373lbs, 4lbs less than the 2010 Monster 1100 ABS. In addition to these goodies, Ducati has also revised the sitting position by adding a new seat and a 20mm higher bar-riser, there’s some nice rally stripes thrown into the mix.

Diehard Ducati fans will be sad to hear the Monster 1100 EVO is fitted with the APTC wet clutch, making for smoother transmission work, but perhaps less Italian soul (this means the entire Monster line will now have wet clutches). Photos after the jump.