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.

Pikes Peak to be Fully Paved by 2012

07/18/2011 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Pikes Peak to be Fully Paved by 2012 PIkes Peak Gravel Pit 635x425

Probably the worst kept secret on the mountain, the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will occur on a fully-paved race course. Responding to legal and safety pressures, Pikes Peak has slowly been paving its dirt sections, which during the hill climb week made for spectacular plumes of dust and breath-taking slides from cars and bikes alike. With under 3 miles of dirt section currently remaining on the course, Pikes Peak has slowly been adding more asphalt sections over the past few years, which in-turn have been a major contributing factor to the hill climb seeing records smashed across virtually all classes each year.

While the remaining dirt section resides in a lower portion of the race course (between mile markers 10 & 13), which is relatively safer than the higher elevation sections (do NOT look over the edge), Pikes Peak has been under pressure to increase the safety of the mountain, adding guardrails and paving dirt sections. Even in its current form, our initial impression of the course was that there were seriously risky corners that we couldn’t imagine taking at speed, let alone with a dirt surface.

Chip Yates’s Track Notes from Pikes Peak

06/30/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Chip Yatess Track Notes from Pikes Peak Chip Yates Pikes Peak notes

The course for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is 12.42 miles long, includes 156 turns, and goes from 9,390 ft at the starting line to 14,110 feet at the finish. Learning the course can take years, mastering it even longer, and considering that many of the higher elevation turns have sheer drop-offs with no guard rails, mistakes are not an option. To keep all of the turns straight, and to come up to speed as quickly as possible for his rookie year on Pikes Peak, Chip Yates constructed a crib sheet of notes on Pikes Peak.

With the actual notes sheet about four feet long and two feet wide, Chip’s track notes are more like conquistador’s map to the summit, and from what he tells us…he can redraw the whole thing from scratch, blind-folded, while jumping out of an airplane with not parachute (well, maybe he can just draw and annotate the whole thing from scratch). Check out Chip’s notes on racing to the clouds after the jump, and click the photo for the life-size version that aided him in his double-record run.

On-Board Chip Yates’s Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak

06/28/2011 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

On Board Chip Yatess Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak chip yates pikes peak international hill climb 2 635x425

Chip Yates claimed two records at the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: the most powerful motorcycle ever to race on the mountain, with 241hp, and the fastest electric motorcycle ever to finish the 12.42 mile climb and its 156 turns. Finishing with a time of 12:50.094, Yates not only smashed the previous electric motorcycle record by over four minutes, but also raced to the top of Pikes Peak with a very respectable time on a motorcycle, even for a rookie.

In the video you can see how much time Chip loses in the dirt section (he was officially the 97th fastest out of 112 racers in that section), though on the paved sections showed true speed (9th fastest overall on the first section of asphalt). With Pikes Peak to be completely paved for its 90th running in 2012, Yates and his crew will have a leg-up on the competition for further dropping the mountain’s fastest pace, and for showing that electrics can compete, and even best, their internal combustion engine counterparts. Click pas the jump to see Chip’s record run on the SWIGZ.com Electric Superbike.

PPIHC: Carlin Dunne Smashes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Record – Declared Rookie of the Year

06/28/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Carlin Dunne Smashes the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Record   Declared Rookie of the Year Carlin Dunne Ducati Santa Barbara PPIHC 28 635x444

Asphalt & Rubber spent the last week waking up at 2am everyday to muster up to the staging grounds for the 89th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and upon arriving at the second oldest running race in the United States (the Indy 500 being the oldest), we were surprised to see our old friend Carlin Dunne, owner of Ducati Santa Barbara, pitting in the motorcycle paddock with a Ducati Multistrada 1200 race bike.

Now, we’ve always known that Carlin was a wicked fast rider, as this humbled author recalls that at his last track day with Dunne just a year ago, the 28-year-old dirt and street racer lapped him about every third lap at Big Willow. Despite this fact, the hard part has always been describing to other people how fast Dunne truly is, that is until now.

Riding Pikes Peak for the very first time, Carlin Dunne not only stood at the pole position on Sunday’s race to the clouds, and not only did the Santa Barbara native also win the checkered flag in the 1205cc motorcycle class, but the Desmo Devil himself dropped some two-wheeled knowledge on Pikes Peak when he set the outright fastest time ever for a motorcycle on the fabled mountain road and its 156 turns.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak   Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 4 635x444

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak

06/14/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak Chip Yates Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 635x373

In just a week’s time, Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing crew will be headed out to Pikes Peak to compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). At 14,110 feet tall, and boasting over 156 turns, Pikes Peak features some of the scariest turns on the planet, no better exemplified than with the “Bottomless Pit” corner which boasts a 3,000 foot sheer drop down the mountain. Yates will of course be racing his 240hp electric motorcycle up the hill climb course, and will have a distinct advantage over his ICE competitors, as the extreme altitude won’t affect the fastest electric pizza delivery bike in the slightest.

We’re really excited here at Asphalt & Rubber for Chip’s participation in the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, not only because we like Chip’s mantra of taking ICE bikes head on with his SWIGZ.com racing machine, but also because we think the PPIHC is the ideal event to showcase how electric motorcycles have actual advantages over internal combustion engines. Starting at roughly 9,400 feet, ICE bikes will be already down on power at the start of the race, and will only continue to lose power as their engines struggle to breath on the 12.5 mile race to the clouds (electric bikes of course aren’t meaningfully affected by the thinning air at altitude).

Ducati Gearing Up for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

05/30/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Gearing Up for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Ducati Pikes Peak video

There are a number of things this summer we’re pretty pumped about here at Asphalt & Rubber, two of which are are the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and the release of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition. Part Formula 1, part World Rally Championship, there’s something about a race course where one wrong move in a priceless no-limits vehicle can send you over the edge of a 3,000 foot cliff that we find intriguing (yes, we have issues). So naturally this summer we had to put the PPIHC on our calendar, just one of the many bucket list items we’re attending to this year.

Another thing that gets us pumped is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition that the Italian brand built after last year’s PPIHC race. We rather enjoyed the Ducati Multistada 1200 when we tested one back in 2010 when the bike first came out. But when we saw the first photos of the MTS1200 that the Spider Grips Ducati Team built, we picked up the phone to the folks at Ducati North America, and said “you have to build this bike!” We doubt our insistence had anything to do with the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition being released, but it warms out heart that Ducati is doing a limited edition run of the machine.

So it goes without saying that footage of both Pikes Peak and the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Edition makes us happy, and eagerly await the run up the mountain later this June. Our product lust is in full-swing at this point, and that fact that this is really well done video spot doesn’t help matters further. Check it out after the jump, along with some photos of the racing replica MTS1200.

Ducati Puts the Kibosh on Multistrada 1200 S Corse Rumors

03/30/2011 @ 8:24 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Puts the Kibosh on Multistrada 1200 S Corse Rumors 2011 ducati multistrada 1200 s pikes peak special edition 5 635x423

If you’re one to believe a recent filing with the California Air Research Board (CARB) and those pesky internet blogs, Ducati is set to bring a “Corse” version of its Multistrada 1200 to the United States. While we like anything named “Corse” that’s from Italy, we weren’t sure exactly what a 2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Corse model would look like in reality, considering in the past the Corse line has been comprised of some go-fast parts, and the Ducati Corse paint scheme.

Since that’s essentially the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Special Edition in a nutshell, we reached out Ducati North America to see what the lowdown was on this apparently new model (which our sources forgot to tip us off about) that will likely be making the rounds on the interwebs today. The answer is frighteningly simple: it’s what the company was going to call the Pikes Peak edition if they didn’t get the nod from the famed mountain race to use its trademark. Sorry folks, nothing to see here.

Ducati Headed to 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

03/09/2011 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati Headed to 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Ducati Pikes Peak 635x421

Along with the news of the the 2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition (try saying that three times fast!), Ducati North America has announced that it will again compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Being held this year on June 27th, Greg Tracy and Alexander Smith will again be riding for the Spider Grips Ducati race team as it looks to be the fastest two-wheeler up the mountain.

While you likely already knew all this information if you read our piece on the Pikes Peak Multistrada 1200, what this news really means for motorcycle enthusiasts is more great photos and videos from the SoCal crew. To help us get pumped up for the 2011 PPIHC, the Spider Grips Ducati guys and gals have already put together a promo video that recaps the 2010 season. Enjoy it after the jump.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition

03/08/2011 @ 8:29 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition 2011 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition 3 635x423

UPDATE: According to Ducati North America the United States will not get the carbon fiber Termignoni exhaust can, and instead will feature a numbered badge on the engine crankcase cover. Pricing is $21,995, available June 2011.

Helping celebrate Ducati’s heavyweight class win (and 2nd place overall) at Pikes Peak last year, the Italian company has released the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition today. We’ve been saying that Ducati needs to build a Pikes Peak Special Edition of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S since…well, since we first laid eyes on the beautiful machine a year ago. Launching the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak today though, we’ll have to find something else to pester the Italian company about, but that’s fine by us.