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.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

11/04/2014 @ 8:51 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto   690cc of Street Hooligan 2015 Husqvarna 701 supermoto 05 635x423

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today.

Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin.

Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup.

Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

Is Husqvarna’s New Street Bike an ADV or Supermoto?

10/30/2014 @ 6:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Is Husqvarnas New Street Bike an ADV or Supermoto? husqvarna chainsaw 635x423

Husqvarna has begun its teaser campaign for the three street bikes it will unveil at EICMA. We know that two of the machines will be concept bikes, while the third will be a 2015 production model. We also already know that the production bike will be a large-displacement single-cylinder machine, with premium components and electronics.

Releasing a video of the machine today, Husqvarna doesn’t tip its hand beyond the information we already knew…or does it? Clearly audible in the video is a street-going thumper, but the look and feel of the terrain, rider, and bike, suggests that Husqvarna could be set to release an ADV rider’s dream machine.

Team USA “Against the World” at the Supermoto of Nations

10/29/2014 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Team USA Against the World at the Supermoto of Nations 2014 supermoto of nations 635x432

Three American racers made the trek to the Circuito San Martino Del Lago in Cremona, Italy earlier this year, representing the United States of America, for the first time, at the FIM Supermoto of Nations event. Racing for the Red, White, & Blue were Johnny Lewis, Monte Frank, and Gage McAllister, along with Team Manager Jay Klinger.

Team USA finished 15th overall in the event, with Gage McAllister grabbing one Top 10 finish (a 9th), while Team France won the competition outright, with two race wins to their name in the three races.

Putting together a short-ish video of the team’s journey to Italy and competition there, you can watch Team USA’s efforts at the Supermoto of Nations, after the jump. America is seeing a resurgence in supermoto racing, hopefully this won’t be the last time our country competes at the Supermoto of Nations.

Husqvarna To Release Three Street Models at EICMA

10/22/2014 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Husqvarna To Release Three Street Models at EICMA husqvarna 701 concept 635x423

The Husqvarna brand will be returning to the street, as the now KTM-owned motorcycle company will release three street models at the upcoming EICMA show. Husqvarna says that the new models will “give a clear understanding of the future of the brand” — which hopefully means how Husqvarna will define itself differently that being just rebadged KTM.

Already releasing the the Husqvarna FS 450, a 450cc class supermoto, Husqvarna says that one of the three models will be a new large-displacement single-cylinder street bike, and will feature premium components and state-of-the-art technology (traction control?).

2015 Alta RedShift SM — A SuMo Wrestler with Lights

10/16/2014 @ 10:42 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2015 Alta RedShift SM    A SuMo Wrestler with Lights 2015 Alta RedShift SM 01 635x423

Like its off-roading counterpart, the Alta RedShift SM is built around the most powerful motor on the market, per pound (40hp coming from an 11 lbs motor), which is a proprietary design by Alta.

Building around that a proper supermoto package, complete with WP suspension and Brembo brakes, the Alta Motors crew hopes that it has built a supermoto that will blow away the competition on the track, whether it be another electric sumo, or a lites-class gas-powered machine.

BRD Motorcycles Raises $4.5 Million in Series A Funding

10/01/2014 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

BRD Motorcycles Raises $4.5 Million in Series A Funding brd redshift sm factory 14 635x425

It has been a long time coming, but we have some good news from the folks at BRD Motorcycles, as the electric motorcycle startup has just closed a $4.5 million Series A funding round.

The investment round was led by Spanish investment firm Modara Technologies, which was joined by Cedarville Investments, Tesla Motors founders Martin EberhardMarc Tarpenning, and Pedro Zapata Gil, the CEO of Baluarte Real Estate in Spain.

To-date that makes $8.2 million in capital raised by BRD, and now the San Francisco startup will be able to go ahead with production on its BRD RedShift electric dirt bike and supermoto offerings. BRD will show the production-ready RedShift MX & RedShift SM at the AIMExpo in two weeks’ time, which will retail for $14,995 and $15,495, respectively.

2015 KTM Freeride E-SM — A Proper Electric Supermoto

09/30/2014 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2015 KTM Freeride E SM    A Proper Electric Supermoto 2015 KTM Freeride E SM 05 635x434

KTM is the first major motorcycle manufacturer to release an electric motorcycle, and it’s been a long road coming for the Austrian company.

KTM first debuted the Freeride E at the EICMA show three years ago, and since then has been perfecting its design. Now ready for primetime, KTM’s electric dirt bikes broke cover a few weeks ago.

Today, the KTM Freeride E-SM debuted at INTERMOT, giving the Austrian brand three distinct electric offerings within its core competency.

Electric: The KTM Freeride E is Finally Ready for Primetime

09/17/2014 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Electric: The KTM Freeride E is Finally Ready for Primetime KTM Freeride E electric dirtbike E SX E XC 05 635x476

KTM is finally ready to bring its electric dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E, to the general public, after pump-faking the machine at EICMA three years ago. During that rather large time gap, KTM has realized the errors of its initial design, and has since opted for a liquid-cooled PMAC electric motor, which puts out 21.5hp and 31 lbs•ft of torque.

The Lithium-ion battery pack has also been refined, and is now easily swapable (lift-up the seat, and unscrew four screws). With about an hour’s worth of riding time, according to the KTM wristwatches, the integrated battery and BMS unit has 2.6 kWh on-board, and fully charges in 80 minutes (80% in 50 minutes) when hooked up to the KTM quick charging system.

The Austrians are making two electric models available: the enduro KTM Freeride E-XC and the supercross KTM Freeride E-SX. So far, it looks like the machines are only available in Europe, where KTM has its electric E-Park riding parks. A supermoto is expected as well for the 2015 model year. Pricing for the Freeride E-SX is set at €10,995 in Germany (VAT included), while the Freeride E-XC will cost €11,295.

2015 Husqvarna FS 450 – Husky Returns to Supermoto

09/04/2014 @ 1:50 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

2015 Husqvarna FS 450   Husky Returns to Supermoto 2015 Husqvarna FS 450 02 635x423

We don’t cover a lot of dirt biking here at A&R…maybe it has something to do with the name, I dunno. What helps change that though is when a manufacturer puts some 17″ racing slicks on their dirt models, and makes a proper supermoto out of it — as Husqvarna has just done.

Announcing the 2015 Husqvarna FS 450, the Swedish brand is making a return to the supermoto segment, thanks to its new Austrian owners. Based on the Husqvarna FC 450 motocross bike, the new supermoto model is of course a reworked KTM in disguise, though we doubt anyone will be too bothered by that fact.

What a “Good” Crash at Pikes Peak Looks Like

06/25/2014 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

What a Good Crash at Pikes Peak Looks Like jeff grace crash pikes peak 2014 635x356

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a risky proposition, especially for the competitors in the motorcycle classes. A course where instead of run-off, sheer drops and rock-filled inclines abound, the joke is that if you go down at any one of the 156 turns that comprise the race course, it’s likely that you won’t die from the impact…you’ll die from starvation during the drop.

That is certainly hyperbole (except for the turn aptly named “Bottomless Pit”), as the danger is very real. We can give no better example than the footage from yesterday’s motorcycle session, at the top of the mountain.

During the practice days, competitors go full-tilt up the mountain road, are collected, and then as a group descend to the starting point for another run. That day for supermoto rider Tom Specht, in the Pikes Peak Middleweight class, the mountain showed why you can never let your guard down.

Taking a tumblefew miles from the summit, Specht was “lucky” in the sense that he only suffered shoulder injuries from his rapid descent. This could have been way worse.

For Jeff Grace, who “caught” Specht’s Honda CRF450 as it landed in the road in front him — well, at least he only has some scuffs and scrapes, not to mention a great video to show everyone. No crash is ever a good crash, but at Pikes Peak, this might be as “good” as it gets, since everyone involved will ride another day.

The 92nd running of the “Race to the Clouds” goes off Sunday morning. We’ll be bringing you more pictures and report throughout the rest of the week. Stay tuned right here to A&R.