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.

Caption this Photo: Learning Process

04/21/2011 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Caption this Photo: Learning Process chip yates learning process 635x400

Normally in our “Caption this Photo” series we just fire up a provoking picture, drop-in a photo credit, and let you the readers haver your way with it in the comments section; but for today’s photo, I thought our selection deserved a little background story, since not everyone is familiar with what Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing team has been up to this past year.

Having a day of testing in the desert outside of Victorville, California, the SWIGZ crew have been practicing with Larry Kleinschmidt to hone Chip’s dirt-riding skills, as the team is set to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb later this year. Yates is an accomplished road racer, but his dirt racing experience stems from four-wheeled endeavors, not two — hence the coaching from Kleinschmidt to help tackle the 2.6 miles of dirt road that still remain on the Pikes Peak course.

Valentino Rossi Will Test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Tomorrow – Nicky Hayden Will Test on Saturday

04/07/2011 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Valentino Rossi Will Test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Tomorrow   Nicky Hayden Will Test on Saturday Ducati Corse Valentino Rossi 635x422

After a day of successful testing at Jerez with Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi on the GP12, official word has come down from Ducati Corse high command that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will swing a leg over the new 1,000cc machine tomorrow and Saturday, respectively. Valentino Rossi has presumably already made the trek back to Spain this evening, and will test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 tomorrow, while Nicky Hayden will return his press junkets from Germany, and have his turn on the GP12 this Saturday.

MotoGP: Here Come the 1,000’s

04/04/2011 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Here Come the 1,000s Rossi Ducati Corse Pit Box 635x390

For the 2012 season, MotoGP will be reverting back to its 1,000cc format (actually, it used to be 990cc, but what’s ten cubic centimeters among friends?). While many MotoGP fans have been awaiting the day that the “big bikes” would return to premier racing with their powersliding, rider chewing, wheelie popping ways, it’s hard to get excited when the first two races of the last 800cc season have been so eventful. Nevertheless the die has been cast, and this week should be begin our first glimpse into these two-wheeled monsters.

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

03/16/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon Motorland Aragon Spanish MotoGP track 635x483

Motorland Aragon will host a private test for the factory Kawasaki and BMW Motorrad Italia World Superbike teams Thursday and Friday this week. Though Kawasaki had a good bit of winter testing both at the official WSBK test in Portugal and private testing in Sepang, the Italian BMW team suffered the effects of inclement weather and lost testing time. This private test comes just one week before the World Superbike season resumes at Donington Park in England, whose improvements have recently been approved by the FIM.

Importantly for Kawasaki, Chris Vermeulen is expected to test in Spain. After injuries and surgery kept him out of much of the 2010 season, the Australian hoped to return at his home round but was unable to pass the physical. He sat out testing and racing in Australia, remaining at home and working on his physical therapy.

Day Two: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail?

03/15/2011 @ 7:41 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Day Two: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail? Valentino Rossi pit box Qatar test

Continuing our thought on who really was fastest at the Qatar test, the idea of comparing best lap times again seems more than moderately preposterous, considering last night’s sessions were for testing purposes. That’s not to say however that some basic understanding of how teams are shaping up before the season cannot be divined, and by looking at the individual lap times we can get at least an impression of whom is finding some consistency on the desert track.

MotoGP: Qatar Test Day Two Results

03/14/2011 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Qatar Test Day Two Results Ben Spies Qatar test Day two

MotoGP’s last pre-season test concluded today in Qatar, as riders finished their second day of lapping around the Losail International Circuit. Conditions were colder than yesterday, and the wind made its presence known earlier in the day than before. At the start of the session, riders seemed reluctant to take to the track, but it wasn’t long before testing was underway in earnest.

Once again the Hondas proved to be very fast, accounting for three out of the Top 5 fastest riders for the day. Unlike Sunday, the Yamaha camp was divided in progress, as Ben Spies was very comfortable with the day’s results, while Jorge Lorenzo, in the best of light, was frustrated with being unable to keep pace with Stoner and Pedrosa (and his teammate). The Ducatis continued to struggle in the windy conditions, again showing issues with turn-in. Sixth quickest, Randy de Puniet topped the time sheet for the Italian manufacturer, followed by Nicky Hayden (9th), Hector Barbera (11th), and then Valentino Rossi (13th). MotoGP’s testing at Qatar saw just about every Ducati end up in the gravel trap, with the majority doing so at Turn 2, a problem spot on the track in the past.

MotoGP riders will get Tuesday off from riding, and then go into a four-day program for this race weekend, taking to the track once again Thursday night. Stay tuned to Asphalt & Rubber, as we’ll will be here in Qatar for the rest of the week covering the first race of the 2011 MotoGP season.

Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail?

03/14/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail? Casey Stoner Repsol Honda

As you may have realized already this week, Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Qatar, as MotoGP finishes up its last testing weekend of the pre-season, and gets ready for its first race of the year. Qatar is a strange country, mostly in that it’s not that different from the United States (at least not nearly as different as I was expecting, as this is my first trip to the Middle East). Perhaps even stranger is the laid back atmosphere of the MotoGP paddock during the testing session (maybe 1/4 as many people as a normal GP weekend, sans MotoGP fans). While we sit through Day Two of testing, which is currently underway, here’s something to chew on from Day One.

Now the purpose of MotoGP testing is of course actually testing the motorcycles, new parts, setups, etc., and not the attainment of absolute lap times. Therefore it strikes me funny on how much concern is given over to whom was fastest on a given day of testing, as there’s an obvious disconnect between what the teams are trying to achieve, and what the fans would like to see (with the journalists unsurprisingly pandering to this latter group).

That all being said, some sort of analysis has to come out of the event, and the path of least resistance is in the time sheet stamped out by Dorna, and handed to the assembled press. However if you drill down into the times lap by lap, not only do you get a better idea of the consistency that the MotoGP riders are attaining, but also it provides for another way to sift and sort the riders into some sort of categorical heirarchy, since that seems to be the name of the game at these tests.

Sunday Testing at Qatar with Scott Jones

03/13/2011 @ 6:45 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Horex VR6 Begins Road Testing

03/11/2011 @ 12:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Horex VR6 Begins Road Testing Horex VR6 testing 635x416

While here in The United States of America the buzz is all about the new Motus MST sport-tourer and the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS sportbike, in Germany the talk of the town is the new Horex VR6 street bike, which began its road testing today. Horex released a photo of the supercharged 200+hp 1,200cc machine testing on a closed circuit, with Hennes Fischer, the man in charge of the VR6’s development, stating that “in this phase of the test series we mainly wanted to determine whether the current suspension configuration, basic geometry and engine tuning are correctly matched. It’s a big step from computer calculations and engine tuning on the dynamometer to a perfectly functioning bike.”

Update on the MV Agusta F3 – Available Fall 2011

02/24/2011 @ 9:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Update on the MV Agusta F3   Available Fall 2011 MV Agusta F3 testing 635x422

After unveiling the MV Agusta F3, the Italian company’s new three-cylinder supersport model, at the 2010 EICMA show with virtually no concrete specifications, MV Agusta has been quiet about its new motorcycle ever since. Expected to arrive as a 2012 model, the wait from unveiling to production has been excruciatingly long for those who fell in love with the F3’s take on Massimo Tamburini’s classic design.

Since its launch, the only progress we’ve seen is Castiglioni’s quoted target price steadily rising, so MV Agusta wants to make sure would-be buyers (and the press) remain intrigued by the model the newly liberated company is counting on for its future profitability. As such, MV Agusta has sent out a press release giving a status update on the 2012 MV Agusta F3, and the news bodes well for Italian motorcycle fans, as it suggests things are ahead of schedule in Varese.