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.

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015

11/05/2014 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015 2015 Ducati Streetfighter 848 01 635x423

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.

Energica Eva – Electrifyingly Naked

11/04/2014 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Energica Eva   Electrifyingly Naked  Energica Eva EICMA 06 635x423

Loyal readers will remember that we already tipped you off to the folks at Energica debuting at EIMCA a naked version of the Energica Ego electric superbike, and here is your first glimpse at what the Italians are calling the Energica Eva.

The Eva will share the same 136hp / 143 lbs•ft PMAC motor and 11.7 kWh battery pack as the Ego, though with a more upright and relaxed seating position.

As can be seen, the Eva is without fairings and sports a tall handlebar setup. The Ego’s projector headlights remain, though perhaps in a more palatable housing than on the Ego.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory – More of a Good Thing

11/04/2014 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory   More of a Good Thing 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory 03 635x444

True to Aprilia’s typical form, where there is a base model, there must be a “Factory” model to go with it. 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory builds off the Tuono V4 1100 RR, and adds Öhlins suspension, upgraded brakes, and forged aluminum wheels to the package offering.

Like the Aprilia RSV4 RF superbike, the Tuono V4 1100 Factory comes with a special livery, so everyone knows you dropped the extra coin on the go-fast parts, which we think is rather fetching. This is how you make what is already the best streetfigther even better. More photos after the jump.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR – Refining Perfection

11/04/2014 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR   Refining Perfection 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 02 635x566

We already showed you the first photo of the new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, which as the name implies gets a modest displacement increase for the 2015 model year. Tacking on an extra 5hp, for a total of 175hp at the crank, the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 also gets the second-generation APRC electronics package, as well as other chassis refinements.

Coming in two trim levels, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR is now the base model, and shown here. The top fairing has been changed for both models, and now replicates the three headlight design found on the RSV4 RR. These changes also allowed 3 lbs to be trimmed from the Tuono, which should please the performance-minded.

Officially Official: MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800 RR

10/21/2014 @ 5:48 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Officially Official: MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800 RR 2015 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800 RR 01 635x423

We already brought you the first high-resolution photos of the MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800 RR (say that three times fast!) yesterday, which were sent to us by our Bothan Spies. In response, MV Agusta has unveiled the Dragster RR and Brutale RR today, ahead of the EICMA show.

Like the updated Brutale 800 RR, the Brutale Dragster 800 RR features a revised 798cc three-cylinder engine, which makes 140hp at the 13,100 rpm, and a very peaky 63 lbs•ft of torque at 10,100 rpm.

Numerous visual cues have been changed, included red-anodized fork tubes, red-painted cylinder heads, and aluminum tubeless wire-spoked wheels. An eight-way adjustable steering damper continues the noticeable changes, to the 370 lbs machine (dry).

2015 Suzuki GSX-S750 — Budget Middleweight Streetfighter

10/02/2014 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2015 Suzuki GSX S750    Budget Middleweight Streetfighter 2015 Suzuki GSX S750Z USA 1 635x423

Suzuki Motor America has just wrapped up its dealer show, and the surprise announcement is the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S750. The 749cc cousin to the Suzuki GSX-S1000 that debuted at the INTERMOT show, the Suzuki GSX-S750 is exactly what you think it is.

Taking the GSX-R750’s engine, and tuning it for low-end torque and mid-range power, Suzuki says that the GSX-S750 is perfect for street riding. Europeans have been calling it the Suzuki GSR750, since 2011.

The real kicker for the American market though is the price, as the GSX-S750 (available only in matte black) comes in at a paltry $7,999. Meanwhile the “Metallic Triton Blue and Pearl Glacier White” painted Suzuki GSX-S750Z (shown above) will hit dealer floors at $8,149, MSRP.

We gave Suzuki a lot of grief over the GSX-S1000 this week, but it seems they heard our thoughts in advance regarding pricing on the GSX-S line. There appears to be tremendous bang for the buck with the Suzuki GSX-S750 — American street enthusiasts, your budget streetfighter is here. Photos and specs are after the jump.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – How To Sell Leftover GSX-R’s

09/30/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2015 Suzuki GSX S1000   How To Sell Leftover GSX Rs 2015 Suzuki GSX S1000 04 635x423

A bike we spotted in Southern California shooting a commercial, we already knew to expect the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 at the INTERMOT show this week. Built around the same inline-four engine that was found in the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000 has been tuned for street use, though Suzuki isn’t exactly talking key figures.

Proving that it’s not selling just a rebadged GSX-R, Suzuki has built an all-new aluminum frame chassis for GSX-S1000, with an eye on making the machine more of a roadster than a streetfighter.

Also of note is the addition of a three-way selectable traction control system, something even the GSX-R1000 doesn’t have. ABS is available, but only on the aptly named Suzuki GSX-S1000.

2015 Triumph Street Triple RX — Naked Daytonafied

09/30/2014 @ 3:39 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2015 Triumph Street Triple RX    Naked Daytonafied 2015 Triumph Street Triple RX 18 635x423

Building a special edition machine for INTERMOT, the Brits have debuted the 2015 Triumph Street Triple RX, which is based off the Triumph Street Triple R. Borrowing from the Triumph Daytona 675 however, the Triumph Street Triple RX takes many styling points from its supersport cousin, namely the Daytona’s tail section.

Also coming in a matte silver with red accents, the Street Triple RX is channeling heavily on the Daytona, and even has a quickshifter to mimic the Dayton’s sport appeal. At the heart of the machine though is the same 675cc three-cylinder engine, that pumps out 106hp.

Mostly a cosmetic exercise from Hinkley, this is what we get to chew on, since Triumph canned its 250cc sport bike project. 20 high-resolution photos await you after the jump.

Ducati 1199 Streetfighter Concept by Shantanu Jog

09/15/2014 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ducati 1199 Streetfighter Concept by Shantanu Jog Ducati 1199 Streetfighter concept Shantau Jog 02 635x425

One of the reason we show concept sketches here on Asphalt & Rubber is to help churn the imagination of our more creative two-wheeled brethren, so it warms my soul a little bit when a reader sends me something they’ve produced, which is due in part to their daily A&R patronage.

As such, A&R reader Shantanu Jog sent us these sketches he did of a 1199-based Streetfighter. As good Ducatistas will know, the chassis of the Panigale creates some challenges for a fairing-less machine, and then there is the whole thing about how the Ducati Streetfighter as model never really sold well for Borgo Panigale.

Still, for those who like their superbikes with a little less plastic, the idea of an 1199 Streetfighter is certainly appealing — we even hear that Ducati considered such a model, but has since forward with the liquid-cooled Monster 821 & Monster 1200 takeover that niche from the Streetfighter line.

So while Ducati might be breaking our naked-bike hearts, we hold true to our original ethos, and provide you again with some fodder for your imagination. Enjoy the sketches after the jump.

Suzuki GSX-S1000 Naked Bike Spotted in the Wild

08/11/2014 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Suzuki GSX S1000 Naked Bike Spotted in the Wild 2015 Suzuki GSR1000 spy photo 2 635x421

It appears that reports of a 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 debuting later this year are true, as we bring to you a couple photos of the streetfighter in the flesh.

Based off the Suzuki GSX-R1000 platform, the Suzuki GSX-S1000 features the same chassis and four-cylinder engine (likely in a different state of tune than the one found in the superbike), though with a more upright sitting position.

From what we can see in the photos, the GSX-S1000 will continue the aggressive styling we’ve seen coming out of Japan lately, especially in the liter-bike naked segment, and it seems Suzuki has opted to continue to partner with Brembo for its braking components.

Other features are rumored to include ABS and traction control, with the wheel-discs for those electronics are visible in the photo above.