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.

FIM Releases 2011 WSBK Entry List, Begins Official Testing

01/26/2011 @ 9:19 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

FIM Releases 2011 WSBK Entry List, Begins Official Testing WSBK provisional entry list1 635x331

The FIM released the provisional 2011 World Superbike entry list just days before the first official test of the season kicked off in Portugal this morning. Twenty riders are entered for the entire season, with Team Pedercini yet to finalize their second rider. Five Britons, five Italians, three Spaniards, two Australians, two Frenchmen, one Japanese, one Irish, and one Czech rider are currently entered for the thirteen rounds in the WSBK championship.

Chris Vermeulen Leaves Testing In Sepang Early – Will Also Miss Portimao Test

01/13/2011 @ 1:21 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

Chris Vermeulen Leaves Testing In Sepang Early   Will Also Miss Portimao Test Kawasaki WSBK Sepang Garage 635x424

Chris Vermeulen is back home in Australia after participating in only one shortened day of riding during the Kawasaki WSBK test at Sepang this week. While the rest of the WSBK riders for both Paul Bird Racing and Team Pedercini will complete the scheduled test, Vermeulen was forced home to continue with his physical therapy.

He tweeted, “My knee reacted a bit after riding just a few laps, was fun back on a bike though!!” According to the team, Vermeulen will remain in Australia until the final Infront test at Phillip Island just before the season opener. He will miss the late January test in Portimao to concentrate on his recovery.

Get Ready for Miller Motorsports Park – Re-Watch All the World Superbike Races Here

05/24/2010 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The countdown to Memorial Day weekend is alive and well in the Asphalt & Rubber office this week (in fact our web designer already took off for Amsterdam…no good can come from that). As we Americans get ready for a three-day weekend (four-days if you played your vacation/sick days right), one of the highlights that we can look forward to is World Superbike’s sole stop in the US at the Miller Motorsports Park.

Helping get us ready for the only WSBK race to occur on a Monday, we’ve gotten ahold of all the past WSBK races, and put them into one post so you can re-cap the 2010 season to-date. Ok, ok, World Superbike put them up on YouTube, and we copy/pasted the clips into this post…but still, it’s a great way to re-live the WSBK season before it hits MMP, or to just catch a race you missed. Kyalami above, Monza, Assen, Valencia, Portimao, and Phillip Island after the jump. Enjoy!

Vermeulen Missing Valencia – Back at Assen Round

04/05/2010 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Vermeulen Missing Valencia   Back at Assen Round Christopher Vermeulen WSBK Portimao PBM Kawasaki 560x373

After discovering his knee injury to be more extensive than previously though, Christopher Vermeulen will miss World Superbike’s stop at Valencia this weekend, but is expected to be back on the saddle at Assen. Vermeulen injured his knee during a bad highside at Phillip Island, and was unable to rejoin the series at Portimao despite making an attempt during the free practice. As such, it looks like the Australian rider will be replaced this weekend at Valencia.

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole

03/30/2010 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole Max Neukirchner Portimao WSBK 560x371

Max Neukirchner was a unlucky (or is it lucky?) man this weekend while World Superbike made a race weekend at Portimao. While racing during the Superpole event at the Portugese track, the German rider found himself and his Ten Kate Honda on the wrong end of a nasty highside. Cresting over the hill, you can see Neukirchner spin like a top, while his Honda CBR gets its rear wheel crushed. As you’ll see in the video after the jump, Neukirchner came out of the crash relatively unscathed, and was able to start Race 1 at Portimao.

Vermeulen Withdraws from WSBK Portimao Round

03/26/2010 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Vermeulen Withdraws from WSBK Portimao Round Christopher cup of joe 560x373

After hoping he could make a return to World Superbike by the Portimao round, Christopher Vermeulen has had to resign today from taking part in the weekend’s races. The Australian rider has been nursing an injured knee since his crash at season opener at Phillip Island, and apparently is unable to ride around the injury this week at Portimao. Check his video on the announcement after the jump.

Vermeulen Hopes for WSBK Return at Portimao

03/18/2010 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Vermeulen Hopes for WSBK Return at Portimao Vermeulen Kawasaki WSBK 560x373

After a nasty crash during Race 2 of World Superbike’s stop at Phillip Island, Christopher Vermeulen will not have to undergo surgery on his knee, meaning the Australian rider could compete in the upcoming Portimao race that is on March 28th. Vermeulen reportedly doesn’t have full movement of his leg, but the he still hopes to be on his PBM Kawasaki at the Portugese track, gobbling up points in what he hopes could be a run for the WSBK Championship. See Chris talk about his condition after the jump.

Wayne Gardner Tests the WSBK Paddock at Portimao

11/04/2009 @ 6:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Wayne Gardner Tests the WSBK Paddock at Portimao 20092610GardnerBox G 560x372

A lot of time has gone by since Wayne Gardner won the 1987 500GP World Championship or the 8 Hours of Suzuka, but that didn’t stop the Austrialian motorcycling icon from doing the rounds at the WSBK Portimao testing paddock this past week. Hoping on a variety of bikes, Gardner got a chance to see what WSBK riders were dealing with this past season, and gave GPone his thoughts on how each bike performed around the Portuguese track. Click past the jump for his thoughts and a video.

Video: Relive The Last WSBK Races at Portimao

10/30/2009 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Relive The Last WSBK Races at Portimao Ben Spies WBSK Champion 560x372

Living in the Land of the Free has its advantages, but one of them is not the gift of conveniently televised motorcycle races on SPEED TV. Did you miss Sunday’s race, and Tuesday’s rebroadcast? Well, we’ve got you covered…actually the organizers of WorldSBK.com have you covered. Click here for a list of WSBK races you can stream to your desktop, including Race 1 & Race 2 of WSBK’s stop at Portimao, Portugal. Thanks for the tip Cat.

Spies Talks About World Superbike Championship

10/26/2009 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Spies Talks About World Superbike Championship Ben Spies World Superbike Champion 560x371

The good folks at On The Throttle got a chance to talk to Ben Spies after the racing action at Portimao, Portugal, and have shared the video with us. Spies talks about the season, Haga, and his move into MotoGP. Video after the jump.