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.

Hervé Poncharal of Monster Tech3 Yamaha Sits Down with Asphalt & Rubber at Laguna Seca

07/27/2010 @ 7:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hervé Poncharal of Monster Tech3 Yamaha Sits Down with Asphalt & Rubber at Laguna Seca Herve Poncharal interview 560x407

During the Red Bull US GP weekend, Asphalt & Rubber’s Jensen Beeler got a chance to sit down with Hervé Poncharal, Team Manager of the Monster Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP team, and have a lengthy discussion. Sharing with us his insights into the race weekend, which for his riders was to a home crowed, Poncharal talks about the development of Ben Spies as a MotoGP rider, and role Colin Edwards has played in helping his teammate adjust to racing in MotoGP. Giving some insight about how the 2011 season will shape up for both Ben and Colin, Poncharal hints that we could see a British rider on the satellite team next year. Read the full interview transcript after the jump.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

07/26/2010 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

And Now for Something Completely Different... Dafi Punk helmet 7 560x373

For the past four days, we’ve inundated you with our coverage of the Red Bull US GP race weekend, and while we do love us some racing here at Asphalt & Rubber, we like to think we’re more than a one trick pony. So let’s switch gears and mix it up a bit…and by that we mean, let’s showing you this awesome helmet prop designer Volpin made for Daft Punk. Where not sure if it’s channeling Eurofunk or Disco fever, but it’s seven shades of awesome on a Rocketeer helmet. Harder, better, faster, stronger videos/photos after the jump.

Too Close for Missiles, I’m Switching to Guns

07/19/2010 @ 6:53 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Too Close for Missiles, Im Switching to Guns Valentino Rossi Casey Stoner Sachsenring 560x373

UPDATE: Dorna is hard at work at keeping the videos under wraps. We’ve replaced the original one, who knows how long the new one will stay active.

Do you know what a dogfight looks like on the MotoGP grid? You would if you saw the German GP this weekend at Sachsenring. Playing host to an epic clash between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, the German track was a battlefield as these two riders swapped turns with each other. How did it end? Did Rossi ride through the pain? Did Stoner’s new wings give him the edge? Check the video after the jump, and get your Top Gun quotes ready.

Let’s Try This Again…Caption This Photo

07/17/2010 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

The Ducati Coloring Book – Get Out Your Red Crayon

07/15/2010 @ 6:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The Ducati Coloring Book   Get Out Your Red Crayon Ducati 916 Coloring Book 560x381

Our parents discouraged us from motorcycles at an early age. Riding a Big Wheels until the age of 17, this author’s family viewed two-wheeled vehicles as rolling organ donor factories. Thus as kids, we only got crappy dinosaur coloring books when we were younger, and maybe if we were really good a couple TMNT books with extra green crayons.

Imagine what our motorcycling addiction would have be like today if our parents had given us a coloring book based around motorcycles. It’s too late for us, but there’s still time for today’s wee-ones. Get your own Ducati Coloring Book (links to a PDF), courtesy of DucCutters. Beck, if your parents don’t print this out for you, let us know.

Source: DucCutters via Ducati News Today

Helmet Phrenology by Death Spray Customs

07/13/2010 @ 3:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Helmet Phrenology by Death Spray Customs Death Spracy Customs Phrenology 1 560x447

Phrenology is a passé theory in psychology that centered around the belief that you could understand a person’s mental faculties and character traits based on the shape that person’s skull. Phrenologist used to make a healthy living rubbing the temples of patients, and examining the various bumps and lobes on their cranium, before things like the scientific method starting infiltrating the medical field.

Phrenology reached it’s peak during the late 1700’s – early 1800’s, and was superseded by the next fad in the industry: psychoanalysis. This vastly superior theory of psychology was dubiously famous for claiming cocaine as a panacea; and for a fun factoid, Sigmund Freud did enough nose candy to kill a small elephant.

With so many great connections between personality types, motorcyclists, and of course head injuries, we were tickled pink when we saw Death Spray Custom’s latest helmets titled “Head Set”, which features a trio of brainy paint schemes. Check them out after the jump…and no, we don’t know why this model isn’t wearing a shirt.

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt

07/01/2010 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt Croc Launch 9000 560x313

There’s so many things going on in this video, we’re not certain where to begin. Filmed on Mulholland Highway by the same fine folks who brought us video footage of the guy who crashed in front of a CHP officer, this new saga takes a different approach to riders exceeding their limits on city streets.

Take an unsuspecting white Honda Elite scooter, a pair of Crocs shoes, and some invisible knee pucks, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a bizarre Sunday morning lowside that could have been much, much, much worse.

While we’ll give bonus points for good dirt-tracking technique, be sure to check the slow-mo footage for the exact moment the rider’s shoes depart humanity, and dive over the cliff. Video after the jump. Thanks for the tip Jelly!

2011 BMW S1000RR – Now Available in Yellow

06/29/2010 @ 9:32 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2011 BMW S1000RR   Now Available in Yellow 2011 BMW S1000RR Sun Yellow 3 560x420

The big news for the 2011 BMW S1000RR is that you can now get the superbike in “Sun Yellow”, which is replacing the Acid Green paint job that made motorcycle journalists collectively heave, pregnant woman prematurely give birth, and BP pump massive amounts of oil into the Gulf Coast. Also available is a “Light Grey Metallic”, which is replacing the Silver Metallic…if you’re just as confused as we are on the distinctions between light grey and silver, check after the jump for photos.

Kickstand Kritters: Curiously Classy

06/23/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Kickstand Kritters: Curiously Classy Kickstand Kritters squirrel

Have you ever tried to park your motorcycle on a soft surface like grass or gravel, only to watch your kickstand sink a hole into the ground deeper than British Petroleum? Neither have we, afterall who would admit to doing the two-wheeled yoga routine that’s involved in finding a piece of wood (or other suitable weight distributor), while balancing a sinking motorcycle? But in case this phenomenon has “happened to a friend of yours”, we’ve stumbled upon the solution to your “friend’s” problem. Cue the Kickstand Kritter.

Hello Kitty Oil – Yes, You Read That

06/22/2010 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Hello Kitty Oil   Yes, You Read That Hello Kitty Agip oil 1

Branding can be a tricky trade, especially when it comes to putting your mark on someone else’s product. The optimal goal is to find partnerships where both products benefit from being associated with each other. For Agip, the Italian gasoline and oil company, the obvious perfect partnership is one with Hello Kitty, the cute white cat that does $1 billion in business each year. After all, who doesn’t like their 11 year-old Japanese girls mixed with three liters of motor lubricant? Oh yes, we went there.