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.

IOMTT: Subaru Exhibition Lap Almost Ends in Disaster

06/13/2011 @ 6:14 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Subaru Exhibition Lap Almost Ends in Disaster Mark Higgins Subaru Exhibition lap Isle of Man TT 635x424

If you were on the Isle of Man for the TT, it wasn’t hard to notice that Subaru was the official car sponsor of the event. Beyond the bevy of billboards, signs, and strategically parked cars, every race or practice session was preceded and concluded by the Course Inspection car, or cars as it was this past fortnight. With no less than four vehicles making the rounds around the ~38 mile Mountain Course, the idea was pretty simple: more cars = more exposure, and it doesn’t hurt that it means more seats for VIPs and the like.

Subaru also got its money’s worth this year, as there was also a series of Subaru exhibition laps, where Manx-born rally driver Mark Higgins took a Subaru Impreza WRX STI on a flying-lap around the TT course, in an effort to break the four-wheeled vehicle record. Higgins did so on the very first day, and by the end of the week had posted a top time of 19:56.7, which works out to be an average speed of 113 mph.

This shattered the 21-year-old record set by Tony Pond by nearly two minutes (22:09:01), and of course got the interwebs talking about Subaru. Things almost went a different way though, as flying down Ago’s Leap, Higgins and passanger Chris Cantle had a 150 mph moment. Watch what Higgins called “the moment of his life” after his jump.

Kickboxer Concept Gets Diesel and AWD Variants

02/22/2011 @ 6:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Kickboxer Concept Gets Diesel and AWD Variants Kickboxer diesel AWD Ian McElroy 3 635x337

Back in 2009 we fell in love with the Kickboxer concept by Ian McElroy, who taught himself some SolidWorks and dreamt of a motorcycle powered by a turbocharged Subaru WRX engine. Well McElroy is back with two variations on his original Kickboxer design: one with a diesel motor (also sourced from Subaru), along with an all-wheel drive model.

To make the AWD configuration work, McElroy employed a dual-chain drive design that uses a jack shaft, idler sprocket, and a drive axle with a U-joint. While the original Kickboxer was designed in the 3D modeling software to be precise enough to produce, we’re not sure about all of the engineering behind McElroy’s AWD design (that’s a polite way of saying this author was a social science major in college), but the idea is certainly intriguing.

The diesel Kickboxer though, it’s so crazy it just might work…we’ll just have to wait for someone to build one. Renders galore after the jump.

Concept: Subaru WRX Powered “KickBoxer”

10/26/2009 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Concept: Subaru WRX Powered KickBoxer Kickboxer concept Subaru WRX Ian McElroy 5 635x357

What you see above is the work of one Ian McElroy. It’s a render, done in SolidWorks, of a concept motorcycle that has a Subaru WRX motor at its core. With twin-intercoolers, underseat turbocharger, and a hub-steering chassis, the KickBoxer, as McElroy calls it, is an impressive looking machine, but what’s most impressive is that Ian didn’t know a lick of SolidWorks before he set out to make this design. Photos and spec’s after the jump.

Ken Block vs. Ricky Carmichael

07/07/2009 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Possibly the best car show on television…ever, Top Gear has been at it again. This time the boys have sent Capt. Slow, James May, out to an airport to meet rally driver Ken Block and his Subaru Impreza rally car for a little Sunday drive.

Queue a few well-timed turns, some great photography, and toss Ricky Carmichael into the mix to see what happens. While not quite our area of focus, we thought any gearhead would appreciate this find.