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.

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao

01/28/2011 @ 9:13 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda WSBK test Portimao 635x599

Posting the fastest time of the official World Superbike test in Portugal, Jakub Smrz was the fastest man at Portimao. A feat in its own right, Smrz’s accomplishment is compounded by the fact that the Portuguese track saw three days of continuously changing weather. In a climate that kept the bikes off the track, and the riders bored in the garages, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty rounded out the fastest three riders at Portimao, with times set also on Wednesday afternoon. The first day was fair, though conditions worsened greatly overnight, making Thursday morning entirely unappealing for test laps. Luckily, Friday dried out through the afternoon, but no one was able to best Smrz’s early mark of 1:43.503 during the testing sessions.

All too often winter testing provides plenty of data for the teams and riders, but not nearly enough for journalists and fans who wish to prognosticate. While teams might focus on a certain sector during one lap and another the next, they hide their own flaws and keep their best performances to themselves. Combined with poor weather conditions, a rider sitting out to recover from surgery (Chris Vermeulen), and an entire team testing at another location, the WSBK winter test leaves very little actual story to tell before the start of the racing season.

2010 Portuguese GP MotoGP Infographic

11/04/2010 @ 5:47 pm, by Peter Lombardi1 COMMENT

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda – Returns to MotoGP

10/31/2010 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda   Returns to MotoGP Toni Elias Indianapolis GP Moto2jpg 635x425

Reigning Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias will return to the big show for the 2011 season, as the Spanish rider has secured a contract with the LCR Honda satellite team. Elias has been on fire this season in Moto2, easily establishing himself as the dominate rider in the class. Looking to secure Moto2 as the feeder series for MotoGP, Dorna is rumored to have helped secure Elias’s return to premiere racing, after he lost his ride in the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad in 2009.

Torrential Rain Cancels MotoGP Qualifying at Estoril

10/30/2010 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Torrential Rain Cancels MotoGP Qualifying at Estoril Estoril Portuguese GP MotoGP rain 1 635x457

The S.S. MotoGP set sail this weekend, as the Estoril GP looked more like a regatta than a GP race with all the water on the track. A monsoon storm has hit Portugal, causing two for the four practice sessions, including Saturday’s qualifying session, to be canceled because of the inclement weather.

As such Sunday’s GP race grid, for all the racing classes, will be comprised from each rider’s best practice time, which for Jorge Lorenzo is good news, as the Spanish rider ties Jorge “Aspar” Martinez for having the most pole positions from a Spaniard. Also benefitting from cancelled qualifier is American Nicky Hayden, who will start from the second position on Sunday’s grid.

Carlos Checa Comes Back to MotoGP, Riding for Pramac Ducati at Estoril And Valencia – Replaces Mika Kallio

10/14/2010 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Carlos Checa Comes Back to MotoGP, Riding for Pramac Ducati at Estoril And Valencia   Replaces Mika Kallio Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 635x422

Now before we get ahead of ourselves, we should preface that Carlos Checa is not making a MotoGP comeback, but the former GP rider will ride the last two rounds of the 2010 MotoGP season. Checa has just signed a two-year contract renewal with Althea Ducati, after having a very strong season on the satellite Ducati squad, and has impressed many top-level players in the Ducati squad. The same however cannot be said of Mika Kallio, who looked to be a promising upcoming rider in his rookie year last season, has been an utter disappointment this season, and currently sits last in the standings of full-time riders.

Pramac Ducati, which despite its satellite status is basically the factory training ground for Ducati Corse, has obviously struggled this year as well, and would like to at least finish the season on a high note. Inviting Carlos Checa out to Mugello on Tuesday, the Spanish rider got rewarded for his hard work in WSBK, and took the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 out for a romp. According to the Spanish media, Checa has been given the green light to race for Pramac in Estoril and Valencia instead of Kallio. There has however been no official word from Ducati on the rider switch.

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.

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.

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

10/24/2009 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider Ben Spies Qualifying Portimao WSBK 560x369

It’s the qualifying session we’ve all been waiting for: the last Superpole of the 2009 season at Portimao, Portugal. A vetting process for tomorrow’s races, today’s Superpole gives us a glimpse into how this amazing season might end. How close would Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga be on the starting line come Sunday? Who would be faster? By what margin? And lastly, would Ben Spies be able to take the outright pole record for World Superbike racing? Those answers after the jump.

MotoGP: Portuguese GP, Oh What a Difference a Day Makes in Estoril

10/05/2009 @ 7:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Portuguese GP, Oh What a Difference a Day Makes in Estoril Valentino Rossi MotoGP Estoril Portuguese GP 560x401

MotoGP racing hit Estoril Portugal this weekend, and all eyes were on Casey Stoner as he took to motorcycle racing for the first time since taking three races off to help sort out his medical condition. Stoner’s return provided a quick reprieve to the Fiat-Yamaha camp, where riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo continue to battle for precious Championship points. With a 1-2 qualifying, Sunday’s race easily telegraphed itself to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. Spoilers and race results after the jump.