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.

Asphalt & Rubber Heads to Milan & EICMA

11/08/2009 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Asphalt & Rubber Heads to Milan & EICMA EICMA logo 560x447

This week will feature a slightly different format than usual, as we’ll be coming to you directly from the 2009 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. With media reveals starting in 24 hours, each morning this week we will bring you the latest news from the show, which is expected to have a bevy of motorcycles shown to the public for the first time (well that is of course unless you’re already an avid A&R reader, in which case you’ve already seen some of these bikes).

Come early, come often, but expect the bulk of the days’ post to come like a fire hose in the morning (PST). You can also check back to this post to see a directory listing of articles stemming from EICMA. Also, for the absolute latest happenings, check out A&R StreetLevel as we’ll be tweeting away throughout the week. Enjoy!

The 2009 EICMA Story Listing:

Last updated 11/11/09 @ 5:00pm Milan time.

Inmotec Unveils Plans for 2010 MotoGP Program

10/24/2009 @ 9:47 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Inmotec Unveils Plans for 2010 MotoGP Program Inmotec MotoGP 635x442

New race teams seem to be flocking to the 2010 MotoGP season. First it was Italian hopeful FB Corse, and now Spanish Inmotec has joined the fray with their own MotoGP bid. With their official launch to come at the Valencian GP, Inmotec hopes to enter their 800cc prototype racer, the the Inmotec GPI 10, with success against not only the other privateer teams, but against the factory squads as well. More after Inmotec after the jump.

Industry Report: Have We Found the Bottom?

10/21/2009 @ 9:32 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Industry Report: Have We Found the Bottom? bottom of the well 560x420

The latest data from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), suggests that the end of cascading motorcycle sales may be near. According to the MIC, the combined new unit sales for motorcycles, scooters, and ATVS during the past 9 months were down 40% from last year’s numbers. While still frighteningly low, these results show a 2% rebound in sales when compared to the first 6 months of 2009.

Honda Ceasing Motorcycle Production in Spain

10/20/2009 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Honda Ceasing Motorcycle Production in Spain Honda old school logo 560x344

Honda by most standards is the rock of the motorcycle industry, so take notice with the news that the Japanese manufacturer is preparing to cease its production lines in Santa Perpetua, Spain. While not an outright closure, 160 employees will be laid off, taking the Spanish Honda workforce from 340 employees to 180.

Metric Motorcycle Sales Still Slipping

08/05/2009 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Metric Motorcycle Sales Still Slipping atomic explosion 560x447

It’s doom and gloom today. The motorcycle industry continues to be slogged on the nose like a near-sighted proctologist, as exports from metric manufacturers declined by 65% this June from 2008’s figures. This drop comes after May only showed a 58% loss over last year’s numbers, showing an escalation of the problems for the motorcycle industry, instead of the beginnings of an abatement. For those who aren’t keeping score, 2009 so far has sold 25% less units than 2008, with the crunch hitting the hardest as sales normally would pick up during the summer.

Ferrari vs. Ducati at NJMP

06/20/2009 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Ferrari vs. Ducati at NJMP Ducati Ferrari MotoGP Formula 1 560x418

On July 13th, the Ducs Fly South to New Jersey Motorsports Park to try and settle the age old question of what’s faster around the track? Motorcycles or Cars?

To answer that question, three Ferrari Challenge cars will take to the track, driven by the staff from Universal Autosports. Immediately following that race, a series of professional instructors and racers from Ducati will perform an identical contest piloting the Bologna Bullets. The top bike and top car from each series will then compete head-to-head, to see who should win the crown.

NJMP will be open to the public for the racing, and you can even bring your own bike to the track, and get some track time in yourself. More on that after the jump. Hat tip to Howard.

Federal Stimulus Makes Motorcycle Purchases Tax Deductible

02/19/2009 @ 8:48 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Federal Stimulus Makes Motorcycle Purchases Tax Deductible motorcycle showroom 560x359

The Federal stimulus package signed into law yesterday is laddened with initiatives designed to help boost our nation’s economy. None of these provisions, however, will affect the die-hard motorcyclist more than the provision, which allows motorcycle buyers to deduct the sales and excise taxes on their 2009 tax return. Yeah, you really just read that. If you buy a motorcycle under $49,500 and subject to certain restrictions, you can take the tax portion of the OTD price and subtract it from your tax statement next April 15th. How much a buyer benefits will depend on the taxes paid and their personal tax situation, but it the case of your typical sportbike, that’s still nearly a grand off your taxes.

Motorcycle dealers counting on a big boost will not find it here and would be far better served by concentrating on building their business and delivering excellent customer service.

 

Report Says Motorcycle Seats Are Not Responsible for Erectile Dysfunction

01/31/2009 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Report Says Motorcycle Seats Are Not Responsible for Erectile Dysfunction seat67 560x420

According to a study done by Randall Dale Chipkar, author of Motorcycle Cancer?, the vibrations caused by modern motorcycles do not cause impotence, erectile dysfunction disorder, or cancer.

Let’s all breath a collective sigh of relief.

However, Chipkar postulates in his book that while the vibrations and pressure from the seat do not cause these medical problems, the electromagnet fields coming from the bike’s electronics do. Luckily, Chipkar has a solution for us concerned motorcyclists, an electromagnetic shielding motorcycle seat, which he also just so happens to hold the patent on. According to the book, the electrical components a motorcycle generate an electromagnetic field, which in turns causes all sorts of problems in the male baby-making area.

At least now motorcyclists can cite a book when someone accuses them of compensating for something.

Polish JJ2S “X4″ 500cc Motorcycle

12/08/2008 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Polish JJ2S X4 500cc Motorcycle jjsx4 x4 2 stroke polish motorcycle 4 560x399

It’s easy to make Polish motorcycle jokes, and we could easily make a few more here if we were so inclined to pick-apart every little mistake a bike builder inevitably makes along the way, but we won’t. Read for more to see how the lastest version of this 4 cylinder, X-pattern motor is coming along.

 

Desmosedicis Mysteriously Found

11/21/2008 @ 8:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Desmosedicis Mysteriously Found ducati desmosedici rr 560x420

Everyone knows that the Ducati Desmosedici is the closest us mortal men will get to riding a true GP bike, and everyone knows they were produced in limited numbers. Because of this even the social elite had a hard time getting their hands on them since they ran out so quickly. So how does such a limited edition bike all of a sudden find a way to be un-sold-out all of a sudden?

According to Michael Lock, CEO of Ducati North America:

“We are fortunate to offer a few units to those interested individuals who were closed out of the initial ordering process…as the global run of 1500 bikes comes to an end we are notifying interested parties that we have secured inventory to deliver in the coming months, but only if they act quickly.”

I have a couple theories on this:

1) Bologna has switched to the base-8 counting system, and undercounted how many bikes they produced.
2) A box of Desmo’s fell-off the boat on their way to America, and until now were thought lost at sea.
3) The economy
4) El Niño
5) Ducati of North America saw that they under-priced the Desmosedici, and thus sold it at a price far-below what the market was willing to bare, and as any good micro-economics professor would suggest is bumping up supply to meet the demand curve for peak efficiency. 

Regardless of what answer you choose, the news is this…if you missed your chance to buy a Desmosedici in the United Stats, Canada, or Mexico, here is your second chance.

Source: visordown

The correct answer is #4. El Niño (Spanish for: The Nino) is in fact the cause of mysterious bike productions, the current economy, and French-Canadians.