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.

Ducati Monster 821 – A Midsummer Dream from Bologna

05/28/2014 @ 2:14 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ducati Monster 821   A Midsummer Dream from Bologna Ducati Monster 821 03 635x475

Once we saw the unveiling of the Ducati Monster 1200 at EICMA last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before Bologna wedged its new 821cc liquid-cooled motor into a mid-size Monster machine.

That feeling was fueled further by spy photos the 821cc Monster making their way onto the internet, and now we have confirmation of the mid-sized Monster, as Borgo Panigale has officially launched its Ducati Monster 821.

Borrowing the 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) found on the newly revised Ducati Hypermotard, and its cousin the Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 continues Ducati’s trend to repurpose powerplants for multiple product families.

The Ducati Monster 821 also continues Bologna’s new trend of building its lower-spec midrange motorcycles with double-sided swingarms, to help further stratify and differentiate its models.

motoDNA: The Jerkiness of Jerky Motorcycle Throttles

02/14/2014 @ 3:45 pm, by Mark McVeigh34 COMMENTS

motoDNA: The Jerkiness of Jerky Motorcycle Throttles motodna throttle 02

Asphalt & Rubber is please to bring you the motoDNA column, which will be written by our good friend Mark McVeigh, of the motoDNA Motorcycle Academy.

Mark is a former international 250cc racer, as well as a former MotoGP engineer. His unique experience and perspectives on motorcycle dynamics and racing will be a regular feature on A&R. Enjoy!

In these high tech days of electronic fuel injection, you would expect motorcycle throttle response to be smooth as. However many of the latest bikes have a snatchy and jerky throttle response; especially around town at low speeds — feeling more like a switch than a throttle.

This is not just plain annoying, but makes holding a steady throttle in corners and riding in town tricky, often becoming a bigger problem in wet and slippery conditions. On the track, life can be even more difficult when the bike is closer to the edge of the tire, due to higher lean angles.

The throttle controls not only acceleration and traction but has a large influence on our bikes handling including weight transfer, steering and stability. The throttle is also our connection to the rear tire. If it’s linear and smooth, this is reflected in our riding performance.

We expect modern bikes to have smooth and accurate throttle response; but in fact throttle response is worse these days compared to carburettors of old. Why? In one word – Emissions.

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 – Stylish Sport-Touring

11/04/2013 @ 5:17 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800   Stylish Sport Touring 2104 MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso 800 04 635x618

Though MV Agusta gave us a good insight into what to expect at EICMA, the company from Varese has finally debuted its sport-touring machine, the 2014 MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800. Built around MV Agusta’s 800cc three-cylinder engine, the Turismo Veloce 800 and the Turismo Veloce Lusso 800 (the pannier-equipped higher-spec model) feature a 125hp and 62 lbs•ft of torque.

True to the current MV Agusta aesthetic, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 has obvious design cues from the MV Agusta F3 and MV Agusta F4, and translates those cues into a machine that is very sporty in nature. Slenderly built and having  performance in mind, the 427 lbs machine boasts the best in class power-to-weight ratio.

True to the spirit of MV Agusta’s brand, Giovanni Castiglioni reiterated that “nobody needs an MV Agusta in their garage, you buy an MV because it transfers emotions.” The 2014 MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 is no different.

2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 with Aprilia Dynamic Damping

11/13/2012 @ 6:30 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 with Aprilia Dynamic Damping 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 05 635x523

Leaked well ahead of the EICMA show, we can now officially talk to you about the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200, Noale’s adventure-tourer. Using the chassis from the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 as its basis, Aprilia says it has modified the “robust” chassis to suit the Caponord 1200’s raison d’être, though you would be hard pressed to get a weight figure from the company.

Inside that presumably hefty chassis is a 128hp 1197cc v-twin motor with 85 lbs•ft of peak torque, which isn’t going to blow the doors off on any spec sheet comparisons. Instead, Aprilia is hoping to entice would-be Caponord 1200 owners with the bike’s bevy of electronics.

2013 Ducati Hypermotard – Makes More Tickets than Bieber

11/12/2012 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2013 Ducati Hypermotard   Makes More Tickets than Bieber 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 01 635x475

We have patiently been awaiting the arrival of the liquid-cooled Ducati Hypermotard for some time now, and today, a day before the EICMA show, is the day that we get to see what Ducati has been cooking. Simply called the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, the 821cc Testastretta 11° DS v-twin machine is anything but a casual update to Bologna’s maxi-motard.

More than just a reworked Superbike 848 mill, the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard boasts a longer stroke than the 848cc machines, with a much smaller bore. The result is a motorcycle with 110hp at its peak, but with 65.8 lbs•ft of torque at 7,750 rpm. At 436.5 lbs wet and ready to go, the new Ducati Hypermotard on its spec sheet sounds like a rocket out of the corners…assuming you can keep that front wheel down on terra firma.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada – $13,295 & Ready to Tour

11/12/2012 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada   $13,295 & Ready to Tour 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada 01 635x475

With the rumors of the liquid-cooled 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, there was also talk of a midrange Multistrada model at EICMA as well. This rumor then morphed into three distinct Hypermotard models, with one model set on the task of bringing touring to the maxi-motard line. In essence though, what we have is a cross between the Ducati Hypermotard and a Ducati Multistrada 1200 — Bologna just calls it the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada.

On the outside, the Ducati Hyperstrada is a Hypermotard with revised suspension and a few more goodies to aid in those long-distance trips. However, on its inside, the Hyperstrada really wants to be the Multistrada 1200’s smaller counterpart.

2013 MV Agusta F4 Gets Traction Control, Öhlins Electronic Suspension, Ride-by-Wire, & More

11/10/2012 @ 1:02 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

2013 MV Agusta F4 Gets Traction Control, Öhlins Electronic Suspension, Ride by Wire, & More 2013 MV Agusta F4 18 635x354

MV Agusta is teasing its 2013 MV Agusta F4 line ahead of the upcoming EICMA show next week, and the company from Varese, Italy has massaged in some extra goodness into its premier superbike. Not giving us the full monty, MV Agusta is willing to admit that the F4 will come in three flavors: the MV Agusta F4, MV Agusta F4 R, & MV Agusta F4 RR.

For 2013, the key feature updates include upgraded Brembo M50 monobloc brakes, Öhlins electronically controlled suspension, ride-by-wire throttle control, and the MV Agusta MVICS electronics package with eight-way adjustable traction control.

We don’t have word on the F4’s key performance specs, but in its teaser video MV Agusta lets it slip that at least some versions of the 2014 MV Agusta F4 will have titanium con-rods and a redesigned crankshaft (by the way, did you see the new running lights in the photo above?).

Thus, expect the F4 to get a power boost that puts it properly in the 200+ hp realm (many media outlets fail to realize that the current F4 Corsacorta motor makes 201 CV, which equals 198hp). One of the most beautiful motorcycles you could hope to own, MV Agusta may be getting a bit derivitive with the F4’s design, but the company lives up its “Motorcycle Art” tagline, as always.

We have got a bunch of screen captures and a teaser video for you after the jump. Stay tuned next week for the 2013 MV Agusta F4’s official launch, where we’ll bring you all the photos and technical spec available.

KTM 1290 Super Duke – First Look at the “Beast”

11/09/2012 @ 8:38 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

KTM 1290 Super Duke   First Look at the Beast 2013 KTM 1290 Super Duke 01 635x956

KTM’s pre-EICMA marketing machine continues to churn along, after the company first released a sound clip of its new Super Duke revving its engine in a garage. Today we get a glimpse of KTM’s new street-naked machine, the KTM 1290 Super Duke — a bike KTM is calling a “Beast” on its blog.

More of a concept bike teaser than a reveal, the bike in question appears to be a stunting prototype of the 2013 KTM 1290 Super Duke production model, but KTM has give us some clues what to expect next week: ride-by-wire throttle control, a new chassis, WP suspension, and  a bored-out 1290cc v-twin motor. Your mother already hates it.

Motus MST Drops GDI in Favor of Port Fuel Injection

03/13/2012 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Motus MST Drops GDI in Favor of Port Fuel Injection motus mst prototype 635x425

It is a rarity that an A&R reader is better informed than us on a topic, but one of the great things about online media is that there is an instantaneous two-way dialogue on every subject we publish. As such, a special hat-tip goes out to commenter “Bob” who spilled the beans that Motus had dropped gasoline direct injection (GDI) for the Motus MST sport-tourer that the company is soon to unveil at the Daytona Bike Week. We followed up the comment with Lee Conn, President and Co-Founder of Motus, about the comment, where he confirmed that Motus would adopt a port fuel injection & ride-by-wire scheme instead of the heavily touted GDI setup.

“Having ridden the MST’s with GDI all over America, I can report that we pioneered a really cool GDI system and it works great,” said Lee Conn. “GDI is a modern, smart and efficient way to fuel an engine, but after a lot of discussions with dealers, customers, technicians, and tuners, we concluded that there is not enough support in the current industry to roll out this technology yet.” After seeing what bikes A&R commenters were using in comparison to the Motus MST, Lee made a joke about how the Motus team would have to rethink its product messaging, and then said something that is very central to the Motus MST ethos.

2012 Honda Crosstourer

11/07/2011 @ 4:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2012 Honda Crosstourer  2012 Honda Crosstourer 4 635x476

Honda teased us last year with the Honda Crosstourer Concept, but for the 2011 EICMA show, the Japanese manufacturer is making good on its promise to bring the GS-lookalike to market. Based off the VFR1200F, the 2012 Honda Crosstourer comes with traction control, combined anti-lock brakes (C-ABS), and of course an optional dual-clutch transmission. While the Crosstourer shares the VFR’s 1,237cc V4 motor, the adventure bike model puts out a significantly lower 127hp @ 7,750 rpm, while a gluttonous 93 lbs•ft torque @ 6,500 rpm remains on-tap.

Clearly a road-focused adventure-tourer model, the Honda Crosstourer may never have the off-road pedigree as the BMW R1200GS it is meant to emulate, but true to Honda fashion, the Crosstourer has plenty of technical prowess built into it. For instance, the idea of using DCT technology for an adventure bike should prove interesting, as it takes the process of having to manage the clutch/motor over unsteady terrain out of the picture.