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.

New Zealand Gives Us Something to Think About

01/07/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

New Zealand Gives Us Something to Think About new zealand speeding video 635x423

While trolling through the doldrums of social media, I stumbled across this advertisement from the New Zealand Transport Agency about speeding, and posted it to the A&R Facebook page. The message is typical, but the execution is masterful, and so I thought it prudent to post it here as well.

You would be hard-pressed to find a motorist who doesn’t travel a comfortable margin above the speed limit at times, and while we consider that offense a casual breaking of the law, this video reminds us that the consequences are potentially less casual. So the next time you’re doing a couple clicks over the posted MPH, give this ad a thought.

Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh

11/17/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Yamaha Riding Academy and the Story of Hidenobu Toh Hidenobu Toh yamaha riding academy 635x397

You may remember the well-done short film that Yamaha Racing put together recently about Kazutoshi Seki, the man behind the electronics of Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP race bike, and how great of a job Yamaha did in portraying someone in the MotoGP paddock that you likely have never heard of, but whose contributions are so vital to what happens on the race track every weekend.

Well today we bring you an earlier installment of Yamaha’s “Moving You” series, from which that video came from, and which instead focuses on the Yamaha Riding Academy (YRA) and its Chief Instructor Hidenobu “Concorde” Toh.

A film about the work that Yamaha does beyond just selling motorcycles, it highlights the fact that YRA primarily deals with police forces around the world, and that Toh-san is responsible for teaching the motorcycle officers both basic and advanced riding techniques, which will serve them in the line of duty, and could make the difference between life and death.

As the video explains, this is a high-stakes training effort, as many of the countries involved use officers on motorcycles for their most dangerous assignments. In that regard, Toh-san and his instructors are tasked with giving these officers the tools they need to not only perform their jobs, but to also come home safe from assignment.

Like its MotoGP counterpart, it is well-told story that focuses on the work of one individual, and how that person contributes to a larger effort. It also happens to be a great eleven-minute distraction from your weekend, which we think you will enjoy.

MotoGP: Fog at Motegi Cancels Friday Sessions

10/25/2013 @ 10:23 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Fog at Motegi Cancels Friday Sessions marc marquez snackman repsol honda 635x422

All Friday practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi have been cancelled due to safety concerns caused by adverse weather conditions. Heavy fog along with constant rain and low cloud cover have hovered over the circuit since the early morning and have failed to clear throughout the afternoon.

Moto2 & MotoGP Races Shortened Because of Tire Concerns

10/19/2013 @ 3:53 am, by David Emmett11 COMMENTS

Moto2 & MotoGP Races Shortened Because of Tire Concerns Saturday Phillip Island MotoGP 2013 Scott Jones 13 635x423

The lack of tire testing prior to the Phillip Island round has caught both control tire companies out. As such, Race Direction has decided to shorten the Moto2 race from 25 to just 13 laps, while the MotoGP race will now include a compulsory pit stop to swap bikes, and the race length has been cut by one lap from 27 to 26 laps.

In addition, the MotoGP riders are prohibited from using the softer option rear tire, and will be forced to use the harder option. Both decisions were taken on safety grounds, after it was found that neither the Moto2-spec Dunlop nor the MotoGP-spec Bridgestone can handle race distance on the newly-resurfaced tarmac.

The lighter, less powerful Moto3 bike are not affected, and the Moto3 race will run the scheduled length.

The Fastest Ambulance is a Motorcycle

08/09/2013 @ 12:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The Fastest Ambulance is a Motorcycle United Hatzlah Eli Beer 635x423

What do you do when the medical response times during peak traffic hours can be upwards of 30 minutes? How about when the established healthcare has no interest in bridging the gap of time it takes between when an incident occurs to and proper medical attention arrives?

After the Second Lebanon War, Eli Beer pondered the same questions while living in Israel, and subsequently started United Hatzlah — a motorcycle-based group of emergency first-responders. Doing a TED Talk at TEDMED 2013, Beer speaks about the advantages of two-wheeled first-responders, and the strides his organization has made in bringing stabilizing treatments to injured persons.

The paramedics-on-motorbikes model isn’t unique, and can be found in many European metropolitans, though it is a bit of rarity here in the United States. With United Hatzlah averaging a sub-three minute response time, (the group aims for a 90 second response window), we think TED’s tagline is appropriate: this is an idea worth sharing.

Battery Fire at Brammo HQ Causes $200,000 in Damage

07/09/2013 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Battery Fire at Brammo HQ Causes $200,000 in Damage brammo empulse flux capacitor 635x425

July isn’t getting off to a great start for electric motorcycle manufacturer Brammo Inc, as the Ashland, Oregon company suffered a fire in the company’s R&D lab during the start of the month. The fire broke-out over the weekend of June 30th, as the EV company was doing extended testing to a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fortunately, Brammo’s automated sprinkler system was able to put out the blaze caused by the malfunctioning battery pack, but in the process caused roughly $200,000 in water-damage to equipment located in the facility.

Continental Issues Recall for ContiMotion Tires

01/23/2013 @ 5:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Continental Issues Recall for ContiMotion Tires Continental ContiMotion tires 635x423

Continental has begun a voluntary recall for its ContiMotion line of sport-touring tires. Affecting 1,700 units in the market, Continental says the tires in question are sized at 180/60R16 and under certain conditions these tires may have uneven wear, groove cracking, and in some cases even belt lift.

It goes without saying that these circumstances would leave the tires unsafe for use, though Continental has not received any reports about accidents resulting from these conditions. Most affected by the situation are Honda Gold Wing 1800 owners, especially in cases where there has been over-loading and under-inflating of the tire.

In the Future, Will You Even Wear a Helmet?

01/07/2013 @ 5:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

In the Future, Will You Even Wear a Helmet? Human Head Motorcycle Helmet 635x350

Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we spend some pixels talking about the finer points of helmet usage, especially when it comes to the debate regarding mandatory helmet laws. Looking at helmets from 50 years ago, and the basic concept hasn’t changed all that much in the time since.

A hard shell, some impact material, and a soft lining mated to a visor and chin-strap system, over the last half-century most of the improvements to the basic helmet design have been for added fit and comfort, or cheaper and lighter materials — even the more creative and innovative designs that are being hocked around the internet right now don’t stray far from the current concept.

Think 50 years ahead though, and it is hard to imagine the same shapes and designs staying constant. In fact, it becomes possible to imagine motorcyclists wearing no helmets at all. No, I am not talking about some sort of libertarian movement that will rush through our political system, freeing us from the shackles of big government.

Instead, I am talking about the true next-generation of safety devices for the gray matter that resides between your ears, which might put the mandatory helmet law debate to rest (well…probably not).

GHSA Praises Report Calling for Motorcycle Safety Changes

11/27/2012 @ 3:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

GHSA Praises Report Calling for Motorcycle Safety Changes Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Saturday Jules Cisek 01

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has issued a press release that praises the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for its call to Congress for changes in motorcycle safety.

The GAO’s recommendation basically breaks down into two points: 1) Congress should give states more flexibility in the way they use funds that have been earmarked to tackle motorcycle safety, and 2) that the NHTSA should provide states with more comprehensive information about motorcycle crashes and injuries.

The second point is perhaps the most important, as it has become painfully obvious that the government, both at the state and federal level, has little concrete information about the causes of motorcycle crashes and injuries.

While we are still using information collected almost 40-years-ago from the Hurt Report, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has contended that the motorcycle landscape has changed so significantly in that timeframe that the Hurt Report was conducted that it no longer accurately quantifies the dangers and conditions present for motorcyclists.

The Mega Recall Continues: Ducati 1199 Panigale

08/22/2012 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

The Mega Recall Continues: Ducati 1199 Panigale ducati 1199 panigale crop black 635x444

Five recalls in one week, six recalls since its US debut earlier this year…it’s good to know what they say about first-generation Italian motorcycles is still applicable. That’s right folks, the sport bike of 2012 just got two more recall notices today with the NHTSA, just days after three recalls were filed in rapid succession for Ducati 1199 Panigale owners. Again affecting 2,411 units, Ducati’s latest two recalls concern the Panigale’s front-brake master cylinder reservoir hose and swingarm shaft pivot points.

Per S.O.P., Ducati will contact affected owners, and authorized Ducati dealers will remedy the problems free of charge. There is no timeline for the recalls at this point in time, though concerned Panigale owners can contact Ducati at 1-800-231-6696 (reference Ducati recall #RCL-12-006). As always the NHTSA is available at 1-888-327-4236 and safercar.gov. The two additional recalls are listed after the jump, along with the appropriate NHTSA-issued recall number for your referencing.