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.

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900

06/15/2011 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900 Husqvarna 900 635x452

Along with the “don’t call them spy shost” photos that Husqvarna released yesterday, the Swedish brand owned by a German company that’s based in Italy has also released a video that elaborates on the design of the new Husqvarna 900 street bike. As we’ve seen already from the concept sketches, and affirmed in the photos, the new street-going Husky is a super-sized supermotard that features BMW’s F800 series parallel twin motor, albeit slightly revised to 900cc. Find the design philosophy of the new Husqvarna 900 according to Head of Husqvarna Design Raffaele Zaccagnini after the jump.

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike

06/15/2011 @ 7:34 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Husqvarna 900 spy photo

Here’s an interesting twist: instead of going through the trouble of setting up some sort of “spy shot” moment, and leaking it to the press, Husqvarna has cutout the middleman, taken its own photos, and sent them to web and print publications. Because of this, the use of the “spy shot” label is probably not appropriate, though we’d make arguments that it hasn’t been an appropriate label in many other situations as well. Leaving that subject for another time, what you really wanted to see is the new 900cc Husqvarna street bike in almost all of its glory.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches

05/26/2011 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches Husqvarna street bike sketch 635x425

The folks at MCN have had their finger on the Husqvarna street bike pulse lately, and today published sketches of the soon-to-be released BMW-derived 900cc Husqvarna street bike. Part street-naked, part supermotard, these sketches seem to suggest that the new Husky will stick somewhat to its dirt roosting roots. Despite the large displacement size, the street-going Husqvarna looks to be very minimalistic and svelte, though how much of that will translate over into the final design remains to be seen.

We’re still apprehensive as to what BMW’s plans for Husqvarna are in the coming years, as the German company clearly wants to use Husky for its evil road-going purposes, but so far there’s nothing in these sketches that send us running for a long rope and a short drop. The designs appear to stay true to what we’d expect from Husqvarna, though you can leave your conclusions in the comments. Additional sketches after the jump.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Will Be Naked – Two Versions

05/20/2011 @ 10:18 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Will Be Naked   Two Versions husqvarna mille 3 concept 635x422

Details on the impending Husqvarna street bike have been scarce, though we have seen the Swedish brand’s Mille 3 Concept, but the folks at Visordown managed to get a Husqvarna represented to spill some of the beans on the machine. Knowing that the 900cc parallel-twin motor comes from the BMW F800 series, it’s expected that the extra displacement will come from the motor being bored out.

Now adding to our knowledge, Husqvarna UK has outlined that the new 900cc street bike will be a naked machine that comes in either a standard and “factory” specification. The new 900cc parallel twin motor will also be the basis for further street machines from Husqvarna, which will be released farther down the line.

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor

05/18/2011 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor husqvarna 900cc street bike motor 635x466

Husqvarna is getting into the street bike scene, and the first order of business for the Swedish brand was to create a motor suitable for such a purpose. Husqvarna doesn’t have to undertake this endveour alone though, as parent company BMW Motorrad has been helping the previously dirt-based brand with the new powerplant. Based off the BMW F800’s lump, Husqvarna has increased the 800cc motor’s displacement to somewhere in the 900cc range, likely by stroking-out the combustion chamber.

Husqvarna isn’t talking much about specifics, just simply stating that the new motor will have a “reasonable increase in power and torque.” With news that the bike is road testing, it’s only a matter of time before the obligatory spy photos start popping up, as the company targets a November release of the new street bike at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. Brand extension, or brand dilution? You make the call in the comments. Video after the jump.

Husqvarna 900 Street One by Oberdan Bezzi

05/10/2011 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Husqvarna 900 Street One by Oberdan Bezzi Husqvarna 900 Street One Oberdan Bezzi 635x414

Confirming that the rumors were true, Husqvarna recently released photos of its new 900cc motor destined for the company’s first proper street bike. Based on the 800cc BMW parallel twin, we’ll have to wait until November to see what the Swedish brand has in store for us, but until then Oberdan Bezzi has some ideas to help whet our appetite. Called the Husqvarna 900 Street One, Bezzi sees a street-naked in Husky’s future, which will help show-off the firm’s newly minted engine.

With the new Husqvarna expected to have both more torque and horsepower than its German counterpart, Obiboi sees the Husky 900 as a sportier version of the BMW line, and has put those feelings into his concept sketch here. Perhaps the only thing that rivals our curiosity on what the new Husqvarna will look like, is how the company will differentiate its street motorcycles from its parent company’s offering, and what it will mean for the fabled dirtbike brand.

Husqvarna’s 900cc Street Bike Motor

05/06/2011 @ 7:43 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Husqvarnas 900cc Street Bike Motor Husqvarna street bike motor 635x772

The rumors are true, Husqvarna is set to bring out a street bike (or five if you believe some reports) in the coming months (expect a November unveiling). Accordingly the Swedish brand, which operates out of Italy and is owned by a German company (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego anyone?), has released some photos and details about its 900cc parallel twin motor that takes more than a couples cues from its BMW counterpart.

Announcing that it will bring out a road-oriented concept vehicle, Husqvarna will focus on fun, power, and versatility for its first street machine. A sort of vague statement yes, but we do know that parent company BMW is heavily involved with the project, and helping its subsidiary to create a peppier 900cc-ish motor with more horsepower and torque than the BMW lump originally provided.

2011 Roehr eSuperSport

05/06/2011 @ 6:30 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2011 Roehr eSuperSport 2011 Roehr eSuperSport 4 635x441

We heard a rumor that Roehr was teaming up with Hyosung to build an electric streetbike, and low and behold a press release in our inbox today confirmed the news, as the 2011 Roehr eSuperSport is a spitting image of the Korean company’s Hyosung GT650R..except you know, with batteries, electric motors, and a slightly higher price tag. That’s of course because the new Roehr eSuperSport is essentially an electric conversion of the Korean bike.

Announcing a “closer relationship” with Hyosung (the company then states “Roehr Motorcycles LLC does not express or imply any affiliation with Hyosung Motors USA”), Roehr has taken its electric drive system, and placed it in the GT650R rolling chassis to create a 67hp, 100+ mph electric street bike. Though you might scoff at the conversion bike premise, our favorite part about the bike is the $17,995 price tag, which isn’t terribly expensive for a a machine that should go about 75 miles or so on a charge.

Confirmed: 2012 Husqvarna Street Bike to Debut at EICMA

02/22/2011 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Confirmed: 2012 Husqvarna Street Bike to Debut at EICMA husqvarna mille 3 concept 7 635x422

Husky fans are going to have something to talk about for the next 8 months as BMW Motorrad VP Hermann Bohrer has confirmed that the Husqvarna brand would be dipping its toe into the street bike waters with a new bike launching at EICMA later this year. Said to have German technology with Italian design, the new Husky will be a middleweight adventure bike that features a BMW F800GS parallel-twin motor that’s been increased to 900cc in displacement, which makes it not too dissimilar from the Husqvarna Mille 3 concept (shown above) we saw last year at the Italian trade show.

Vyrus 986 M2 Street Version in September

01/24/2011 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Vyrus 986 M2 Street Version in September vyrus 986 m2 verona unveiling 3 635x423

We’re still recovering from the impressive bout of puppy love we had with the Vyrus 986 M2 Moto2 race bike that was debuted in Verona last weekend. And just when we thought we had that love sickness beat, we get news that the Italian manufacturer expects to debut its street version of the 986 by September of this year (swoon!).

Like the race bike, the street version will center around a modified Honda CBR600RR motor, and will come chalked full of go-fast goodies, including a custom special-built exhaust by Zard.