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.

Official Moto3 Regulations Finally Released

11/07/2010 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Official Moto3 Regulations Finally Released 250cc motor 635x455

Announced at Valencia this weekend, the GP Commission has finally released the details on the upcoming Moto3 class, which will replace 125GP racing in 2012. Based around a four-stroke 250cc single-cylinder motor with an 81mm maximum bore size, Moto3 aims to reel in the spiraling costs of GP racing, with numerous provisions that are designed to limit how much money teams and manufacturers can sink into the sport to buy victory.

Perhaps the biggest provision designed to help lower the cost of GP racing’s intro class is the spec-ECU rule, which sees teams limited on the level of electronics they can implement, and institutes a hard-cap on the engine’s maximum RPM (14,000 RPM). With multiple manufacturers able to offer motors and chassis for the racing class, Moto3 should be more open thatn the single-motor Moto2 series. The GP Commission has included a laundry list of other provisions, you can find them bullet-pointed after the jump.

Rossi Launching Moto2 Team in 2011?

09/22/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Rossi Launching Moto2 Team in 2011? Valentino Rossi Aragon water bottle 623x415

According to MCN, MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi is poised to launch his own Moto2 team for the 2011 season. Rossi is said to be funding the team, with lifelong friend Uccio Salucci acting as team manager. Italian rider Andrea Iannone (currently 3rd in the Moto2 Championship) has been linked to the team, as has chassis designer Suter (how’s that for a star-studded cast?). It’s not clear at this time if Rossi is expected to field one or two machines in the 600cc prototype class.

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile

09/01/2010 @ 9:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Riding the Indy Mile Nicky Hayden Indy Mile flat track 2 560x373

If you weren’t in Indianapolis for the Indy GP, you certainly missed one of the better side events of the weekend: The Lucas Oil Indy Mile AMA Flat Track Grand National. It’s hard to make riding on packed dirt at breakneak speeds with no brakes more exciting, but throw in former flat track Champion Nicky Hayden, the entire Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and a contract announcement and you have the makings for a very special event.

With Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio on-stage to announce Hayden’s new two-year contract, motorcycle racing fans got to see their homeboy do good. Helping celebrate the event, Hayden took to the track with his steel boot, and held nothing back for his loyal followers.

Sunday at Indianapolis with Jason Yu

08/30/2010 @ 5:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Ducati Pulling Out of WSBK in 2011

08/27/2010 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Ducati Pulling Out of WSBK in 2011 Noriyuki Haga Ducati Corse MMP Conerspeedphto 635x423

After being unable to achieve the racing regulations in World Superbike that it desires, Ducati has announced that it has officially pulled out of WSBK racing in order to focus its technical efforts on MotoGP racing, and bringing new technology to its street motorcycles. While Ducati Corse will continue to provide motorcycles and support to private teams, the Italian company will not field a factory team in the 2011 season.

Although Xerox is apparently still game to foot the bill for Ducati’s WSBK effort, the title sponsor only wishes to do so if the factory team is winning races. This goal becomes increasingly more difficult for Ducati, who is finding the current 1198 Superbike not on equal footing performance-wise with the inline-four Japanese Superbikes. Closing the performance gap for Ducati means either the simple fix of adding larger throttle bodies to the existing race package, or the expensive choice of developing the 1198 motor further.

Question Marks for MotoGP in America for 2011

08/02/2010 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Question Marks for MotoGP in America for 2011 Red Bull US GP Laguna Seca 635x425

Rumors have been swelling for the past few months about the state of MotoGP in the United States, as both Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway were up for contract renewal with Dorna and the FIM. Laguna Seca has always been the more popular American venue for MotoGP, and during the Red Bull US GP stop, the famous Californian track and the premiere motorcycle series again solidified their relationship, extending the GP’s presence at Laguna Seca into 2014. But what fate bestills IMS and the timing of the US GP weekends after 2010?

The Countdown to V-Day

07/29/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

The Countdown to V Day Jorge Lorenzo six wins 560x372

No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.

Sunday at Laguna Seca by Scott Jones

07/26/2010 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 Gear Driven Camshaft Good For 3-5HP

07/01/2010 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 Gear Driven Camshaft Good For 3 5HP Aprilia RSV4 Motor render 560x560

After getting the nod to use their gear driven camshaft in World Superbike racing (shown above is the Aprilia’s belt driven camshaft), Aprilia has become a tour de force on the WSBK grid. Aprilia first used the gear driven cams in race environment while at the Miller Motorsports Park round, much to the protest of the other teams.

Aprilia and Max Biaggi have been on a bender since the new camshaft’s implementation, with the Aprilia RSV4 going double-double (no, not that Double-Double) and winning every race since the gear driven camshaft was installed on the race bike.

Garry McCoy Leaves FB Corse

06/07/2010 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Garry McCoy Leaves FB Corse FB Corse Garry McCoy MotoGP 560x350

Garry McCoy announced this weekend that he has left FB Corse, presumably after the MotoGP team failed to develop its racing effort in any meaningful way. Beleagured from the start with lofty goals and un-true press releases, FB Corse has struggle both technically and financially to get on the MotoGP grid. After suffering a setback of not being given the green light to race while testing  at Valencia, FB Corse seemed determined to make at least a few wild card appearances this season.

Now with McCoy resigning from the team, the MotoGP paddock expects this to be the end of the Italian racing project (editor’s note: FB Corse has already removed its photos from its flickr stream). Of course knowing Franco Uncini and the FB Corse spin machine, we may still see another press release or two in the future from the Italian racing effort. McCoy’s official statement after the jump, best of luck to you Garry.