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.

Max Biaggi Breaks World Superbike Record with 203.1 mph Top Speed at Monza

05/07/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Max Biaggi Breaks World Superbike Record with 203.1 mph Top Speed at Monza Max Biaggi Monza top speed 560x367

It was Suzuki who drew first blood, breaking the 200mph barrier at Monza, but it was Max Biaggi who set the bar the highest today during World Superbike FP1 practice. Clocking 203.21 mph (nearly 327 kph) down the straight, Biaggi broke the WSBK top speed record, but still fell short of the all-time superbike record, which was also set at Monza, and also by an Aprilia.

Last week, Fabrizio Pellizzon clocked 203.4 mph on his CIV spec’d Aprilia RSV4. Either way you look at it, the Alitalia Aprilia team is sure to be a force in Italy this week.

A Graphical Representation of a Win at Jerez

05/06/2010 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

A Graphical Representation of a Win at Jerez JerezMotoGP2010 560x285

Did you ever wonder what a MotoGP win looks like on paper? Take away the close-passes, the high-speed wobbles, and on-air commentary, and all that’s left behind is the truth in the lap times. No excuses, no almosts, the above is a graphical represenation of what coming back from a 3.75 second deficite looks like at the storied Spanish track of Jerez, which saw Jorge Lorenzo win by over half a second when it was all said and done. Click here for a higher-res version.

Source: E_Bland

Zero Not Racing A Mavizen at Infineon TTXGP

05/01/2010 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Zero Not Racing A Mavizen at Infineon TTXGP Zero Motorcycles 560x374

After hearing that Werkstatt Racing and Repair would soon be taking delivery of the first Mavizen to hit US soil, our ears piqued because we were under the impression that Zero Motorcycles must surely have recieved their Mavizens already, after announcing that the team would field two Mavizen bikes in the TTXGP series a while back.

With that apparently not the case, rumors suggested that Zero would be using another non-proprietary chassis at the first round of the TTXGP series at Infineon Raceway. While Zero wasn’t able to comment on their racing plans to us before the weekend, we do have some clues on what the company has up its sleeve from what we know already. More after the jump.

Aprilia RSV4 Race Replica Coming?

04/29/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Aprilia RSV4 Race Replica Coming? alitalia aprilia rsv4 world superbike promo 9 560x373

MotoBlog.it is reporting that Aprilia is set to release a race-spec replica of its RSV4 superbike. While the rumor is not clear if this will be a track-only model, or street-legal race rep like the Desmosedici RR, what is clear is that the bike is expected come with a WSBK spec motor, chassis, and electronics package.

With a price tagged rumored to be around €50,000, the race replica RSV4 certainly won’t be cheap if it’s built, but compare that price to the €90,000 price tag that comes on Ducati’s 1198RS race bike that teams have to purchase from Bologna if they want to compete in WSBK, and the RSV4 starts looking very affordable. However, with most rumors, we’re not sure this story is all that it’s cracked up to be. Keep reading for our analysis and thoughts.

MotoGP and WSBK Battle Over Valencia Exclusivity

04/20/2010 @ 6:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP and WSBK Battle Over Valencia Exclusivity Valencia race track aerial 635x433

Dorna (MotoGP) and Infront Sports (WSBK) are to battle over the exclusive rights to race at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain. Home to the Valencian GP, the venue has also played host to the World Superbike Championship since 2000. As one of the larger and most popular venues, the track is the cornerstone for both races series, and in one of the most fruitful motorcycle racing markets…and Dorna wants it all to itself.

Betti Wins FIM e-Power Championship at Le Mans

04/19/2010 @ 10:34 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Betti Wins FIM e Power Championship at Le Mans FIM e Power Championship Le Mans 2 560x372

This weekend France played host to the FIM’s first round of the e-Power Championship, which took place in Le Mans. Starting before the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance World Championship race, only five riders took to the starting line, with Belgian rider de Ridder not making it to venue. Taking the first win in the FIM’s first zero-emission motorcycle race was Thomas Betti, the son in the father-son duo of Betti Moto.

FIM Releases e-Power Entry List for Le Mans

04/14/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

FIM Releases e Power Entry List for Le Mans FIM e Power Championship Le Mans 560x341

The electric sportbike season is rapidly approaching us, and the first event is the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Le Mans. With six bikes and five teams on the entry list, the race will be sparse with entrants and could see the field shrink further if rumors are right that suggest one bike might be jumping ship to the Italian TTXGP series. Despite all this, the FIM’s first race has a great venue. Set to take place April 16th, the e-Power Championship launches just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans World Endurance Championship race in Sarthe, France.

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia

04/12/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia haga grid 560x373

World Superbike headed to Valencia, Spain this weekend for the third round of the WSBK season. With a strong Superpole by Cal Crutchlow, all eyes were on the Sterilgarda Yamaha to see if a surprise victory would occur. With the Championship heating up as riders are vetted into place, Valenica would prove to be a battlefield this weekend with more than one rider firing a warning shot across the proverbial bows of their competitors, signaling their intention to compete.

New Media Meets the Old Guard in MotoGP

04/11/2010 @ 11:58 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

New Media Meets the Old Guard in MotoGP typewriter 635x422

Editor’s Note: This guest post by David Emmett was originally posted on his site MotoMatters under the title of “Editor’s Blog: Old And New – How Media Is Changing”. We thought Emmett was so on-point with his assessment of the use of the internet and social media in motorcycle racing, and the industry as a whole, that we asked him to reproduce his post here on Asphalt & Rubber. To put his post in complete context, Emmett just finished working this weekend as Fiat-Yamaha’s live blogger during the Qatar GP, where he wrote, tweeted, and hustled his way around the MotoGP paddock as the only online journalist with a permanent Dorna press pass. For more of an account of his time in Qatar, and for all your other racing news needs, you should visit his site at MotoMatters.com (after first reading Asphalt & Rubber first of course).

The comment that I have probably received most since I started this blog was “I want your job!” And frankly, I have to pinch myself to see if this is still all really happening, so it is a sentiment I can completely understand. Being allowed to work in the MotoGP paddock and up in the press room feels like a genuine privilege, and being surrounded with people who share the same passion is truly remarkable.

I often wonder at how this all came about. Just over four years ago, I posted a season preview on the Adventure Rider motorcycle forum, and now, I learned today, I am the first journalist from an online publication ever to receive a permanent pass from Dorna. In the intervening years I have worked hard both to keep learning as much as I can about racing, and communicate my passion for the sport to a wider audience. It has cost me blood, sweat, tears, and more money than I like to think about, but all these would have been to no avail if it wasn’t for one factor: The Internet.

WSBK: Valencia Sees Cal Crutchlow Take His Second Superpole of the Season

04/10/2010 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Valencia Sees Cal Crutchlow Take His Second Superpole of the Season Cal Crutchlow WSBK Valencia 560x373

While the MotoGP season kicks off this weekend, World Superbike is making its third stop of the 2010 season, this time at Valencia Spain. Winning his second Superpole of the season, Cal Crutchlow from Yamaha Sterilgarda put his Yamaha R1 into the #1 position. Followed by town favorite Carlos Checa (2nd) and Max Biaggi (3rd). The trio of riders have been very strong so far this year, which the same cannot be said for the factory-backed Xerox Ducati team. Both Haga (11th) and Fabrizio (10th) found themselves knocked out of qualifying after Superpole 2.