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.

MotoAmerica’s Provisional 2015 Racing Calendar Released

10/10/2014 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

MotoAmericas Provisional 2015 Racing Calendar Released motoamerica logo 635x409

There is positive momentum around America’s new MotoAmerica series, which will takeover duties from DMG and AMA Pro Road Racing, starting next season. We have already seen the series’ new class structure, which makes significant steps to parallel what’s going on in the World Superbike Championship.

Today, we see MotoAmerica’s efforts on its racing schedule, a hot-ticket item after DMG’s five, then six, race schedule this season. American fans should rejoice, as eight races are on the calendar, which reads like a greatest hits album of American race tracks.

Supporting both American grand prix at COTA and Indy, as well as the WSBK round at Laguna Seca, the provisional MotoAmerica calendar includes, Road Atlanta, VIR, Road America, Barber, and NJMP. West Coast racing fans are still S.O.L. though, with only one race west of The Rockies on the docket thus far.

MSF Gives Yamaha Champions Riding School Recognition

08/07/2014 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MSF Gives Yamaha Champions Riding School Recognition yamaha champions riding school 635x476

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation announced today announced that it has officially recognized the Yamaha Champions Riding School, making it only the second third-party curriculum to receive this distinction by the MSF.

A hat-tip to the curriculum at YCRS, the recognition by the MSF doesn’t seem to mean that you will be able to substitute a YCRS class for a motorcycle practical exam; though it does mean that the YCRS curriculum meets the high standards set forth by the MSF, which reviewed the school’s coaching methodology and key principles.

AMA Pro Road Racing Announces Five, Maybe Six, Races on Its 2014 Provisional Calendar

01/08/2014 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Road Racing Announces Five, Maybe Six, Races on Its 2014 Provisional Calendar ama pro racing logo 635x425

The long-awaited AMA Pro Road Racing calendar for the 2014 season has been released, and motorcycle racing fans will be shocked to hear that America’s premier series has been reduced to just five race weekends this year, with the hopes of a sixth weekend being added to the mix.

As usual, the season starts in March at Daytona, and features the Daytona 200. AMA Pro Road Racing will then take a month and a half break, until it reconvenes at Road America at the end of May / beginning of June. Barber, Mid-Ohio, and NJMP then follow, with Laguna Seca hopefully being added to the list once that whole mess is resolved.

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden – The Duel Continues at NJMP

12/13/2012 @ 6:06 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Video: Bostrom vs. Hayden   The Duel Continues at NJMP ben bostrom roger lee hayden michael jordan motorsports NJMP 635x356

Another side-by-side comparison video from our friends at the Michael Jordan Motorsports (click here for their video from Homestead-Miami Speedway), we take a lap with Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden around New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt course (home of the world’s longest decreasing radius turn).

Riding his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the first qualifying session, Bostrom sets an impressive 1’22.803 lap time (the third fastest of the session), while Hayden on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 does a 1’22.812 here in the second qualifying session.

Impressively enough, both MJM riders were within a tenth of a second of each other at the end of both qualifying sessions. Enjoy some synchronized apexing after the jump.

New Jersey Motorsports Park Files for Bankruptcy

03/08/2011 @ 3:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

New Jersey Motorsports Park Files for Bankruptcy new jersey motorsports park track 635x374

There aren’t a lot of arguments for keeping New Jersey as a state in our more perfect union, and perhaps the only compelling reason for some citizens is to keep the Garden State around so New Yorkers will have somewhere to dump their trash and third-tier reality shows. However one of the shining beacons of hope if you’ve gotten lost on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (and I mean horribly, horribly, horribly lost) is the New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP).

The Millville tracks are relatively new-comers to the area, and have provided entertainment to two & four-wheeled enthusiasts alike since their construction. While NJMP has been “under construction” in some form or another for as long as we can remember, the project has seemingly finally hit the end of its troubled waters, recently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

AMA Pro Road Racing Releases Shortened, Preliminary 2011 Calendar

12/09/2010 @ 11:16 am, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Road Racing Releases Shortened, Preliminary 2011 Calendar AMA logo large 635x358

The AMA released a “preliminary” calendar for the 2011 road racing season Wednesday, consisting of just eight rounds.  After a much-ballyhooed rescheduling of the Daytona 200 to a night race, 2011 will again see the premier race of the season in the afternoon. With plenty of time between the currently scheduled races at Infineon Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park (the same weekend as World Superbike), Road America, Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca (the same weekend as MotoGP), Virginia International Raceway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park, it does appear possible that the schedule could fill out as the off-season progresses.

The 2011 season marks the return of AMA road racing to Miller since 2008, and is only the fourth time the series has descended on the circuit. Roger Hayden, returning to AMA racing and riding for Michael Jordan Racing alongside Ben Bostrom in 2011, claims he is “probably the only person bummed not to see road Atlanta on the schedule,” according to his Twitter account. It is surprising that Road Atlanta is not featured on the schedule, though the lack of racing at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California isn’t exactly shocking, as that round was never as successful as hoped. Since neither of those two races have been carried over from last season’s schedule, just over two months passes between the 200 and the next race at Infineon.

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.