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 Honda COTA 4RT 260 – Honda Give Trials a Try

08/01/2014 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260   Honda Give Trials a Try 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica 635x423

This isn’t the first year where the Honda COTA 4RT 260 has been available in the United States, but until now only a limited number of these trials bikes have been available to American riders. Thankfully Honda America is changing that though, officially announcing the 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 & 2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica for the US market.

Essentially rebadged Montesa machines that come from Honda’s partnership with the Spanish marque, Honda’s COTA 4RT 260 models represent Big Red’s attempt to offer a competition-grade trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260 Race Replica, shown above) as well as an entry-level trials bike (2015 Honda COTA 4RT 260) to American motorcyclists.

Gas Gas and Ossa Merge

01/24/2014 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Gas Gas and Ossa Merge gas gas ossa 635x425

If you thought the times are tough here in the United States, be thankful that you don’t live in Spain right now, as the Iberian country hovers around 20% unemployment for the general population, with 50% unemployment for the country’s 20-something crowd. Indeed, all the Mediterranean states, save for France, are on the verge of economic collapse. It’s a scary time.

Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear last year that the rebirth of the Ossa brand saw the Spanish dirt bike company using the available production capacity in the struggling Gas Gas factory. It seems that manufacturing partnership has now gone a step further, with Gas Gas and Ossa formerly merging, so as to better take on the rough economic landscape.

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa Go Trials Riding with Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami

01/23/2014 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa Go Trials Riding with Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami dani pedrosa marc marquez trials repsol 635x423

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa might be living gods when it comes to riding a MotoGP bike, but when it comes to the ultimate in two-wheeled prowess, we leave it to the trials riders, and two of the best in the biz are Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami.

Thankfully, all four riders are under the Repsol banner, which makes for an interesting opportunity to have these very talented competitors riding together. Maybe next time Bou and Fujinami can take the RC213V for spin — it seems only fair, right?

Dougie Lampkin Has a Day at the Red Bull Racing HQ

05/01/2013 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Dougie Lampkin Has a Day at the Red Bull Racing HQ dougie lampkin trials stunt red bull racing hq 635x356

Watching freestyle trials riders is an exercise in understanding what most motorcyclists imagine they could do on two-wheels when they dream at night, but could never really hope to achieve in a million years during the waking hours.

Brimming with a skill set of patience, balance, and balls, riders like 12-time World Trials Champion Dougie Lampkin entertain us with their antics in confined spaces, on urban landscapes, and wiith gravity-defying front wheels.

So what happens when Lampkin visits the headquarters of Red Bull Racing? Well the obvious of course: wheelies, stoppies, burnouts…and that was just in the front courtyard.

Things start getting interesting though when Lampkin nips a bite to eat in the café, takes a look inside the F1 team’s giant kiln, and then later decides to jump a priceless Formula 1 race car. All in day’s work for a wanderlusting trials rider — we’ll just keep on dreaming.

Julien Dupont Testing the Audi E-Bike

05/03/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Julien Dupont Testing the Audi E Bike Julien Dupont Audi E Bike electric bicycle 04 635x356

Stunting motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and sisters-in-law, the name of French trials rider Julien Dupont should be a familiar one to A&R readers by now. Similarly, the name of German car manufacturer Audi should also ring a bell, as the Auto Union’s recent $1.1 billion acquisition of Ducati Motor Holdings is certainly still fresh in every motorcyclist’s mind. A sign of maybe things to come, auto manufacturers have been working on something they call “last-mile transportation” which focuses on the use of short-distance urban transportation.

Cities like London are starting to impose congestion taxes, in an effort to curb road congestion in dense urban areas, as well as boost funding for roadway infrastructure. Despite the “drill at home” effort here in the US, the price of gas is surely only going to increase over the coming decade. Putting all this together, the long-term prospect of personal transportation is going to have to change dramatically over the next few generations, and car manufacturers know it.

Hoping to change with the times, we have seen car manufacturers and even motorcycle manufacturers dabble with the concept of branded motorcycles, scooters, and other sorts of low-impact transportation devices. One such endeavor from that train of thought is the Audi E-Bike. An exceptionally good looking piece of kit, the bike features a moped-like electric drivetrain, in addition to the traditional human-powered system. Carbon everything, LED headlight & taillight, frame-embeded dashboard, etc.

Oh, and that Dupont fellow? Well, someone has to make riding an electric bicycle look cool, right?

Video: Julien Dupont & Arthur Coutard Go Au Naturel

02/06/2012 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Video: Julien Dupont & Arthur Coutard Go Au Naturel julien dupont arthur coutard 635x439

Julien Dupont blah blah blah Arthur Coutard blah blah blah trials, awesome, BBQ sauce. Yes, that crazy French trials rider-turned-urban stunt monsieur is at it again, this time with hetro-life partner Arthur Coutard at his side in the French Alps. Continuing his “Ride the World” video series, Dupont & Co. haven’t picked a city for this adventure this time, instead choosing to do things in a more au naturel setting. With more Frenchness on tap than a silent black & white film tragedy about mimes with baguettes, you’ll have more “je ne sais quoi” than you can shake a croissant at after the jump.

Video: How to Make Trials Riders Look Like Sissies

01/26/2012 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: How to Make Trials Riders Look Like Sissies this is sparta motorcycle 635x440

Perhaps some of the most amazing things I have witnessed on two wheels have been performed by trials riders. Splattering up obstacles, balancing across narrow beams, and generally having more bike control in their pinky than in my entire body, I am fairly sure trials riders are demigods with a serious motorcycling addiction…that is of course until I saw this video.

Part trials, part Spartan race, this Japanese G-Impact extreme enduro event doesn’t mess around when it comes to obstacles, nor does one competitor let a 25 foot dirt cliff stop him from completing his run (in awesome glory). We don’t have official confirmation, but rumors indicate the man behind the helmet is King Leonidas himself. Bad assery after the jump.

Brian Capper Rides Trials Over the Moses Mabhida Stadium

12/08/2011 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Brian Capper Rides Trials Over the Moses Mabhida Stadium Moses Mabhida Stadium arch 635x593

Proper trials riding might be one of the most impressive feats a performed on a motorcycle. Seemingly able to conquer any obstacle, over any terrain, trials riders problem-solve some of the most difficult challenges motorcycling can throw at them, and they make it look easy. Not exactly the most popular sport worldwide, especially here in the United States, there’s a growing desire to put trials competitions more on the map, so to speak. Accordingly, Brian Capper was commissioned to tackle one of man’s more prominent architectural feats, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, with a feat of his own.

On his home turf of Durban, South Africa, Capper took to the Moses Mabhida Stadium’s centerpiece archway. 348 (106 meters) feet above the field below, pedestrians routinely walk up the double-arch, though few run the risk of clearing the sides of the arch, should they fall over. Riding up the arch with an unimpeded view of the stadium below, Capper says his biggest concern wasn’t the ascent, but instead his brakes over-heating on the way back down. Already steeply pitched downward on the stairs of the Moses Mabhida Stadium arch, Capper had to occasionally endo his trials bike to cool the rear brake.

It would take us years to describe those kind of cojones.

Video: Toni Bou Rides Trials in the FC Barcelona Stadium

05/25/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Video: Toni Bou Rides Trials in the FC Barcelona Stadium Toni Bou Camp Nou trial FC Barcelona 635x423

Camp Nou is the the Futbol Club Barcelona’s stadium of residence, and has been the destination for more than one rowdy Spanish soccer fan in its lifetime. An iconic figure in the Catalan community, FC Barcelona is also probably one of the most well-known soccer teams worldwide (though anglophones are more familiar with Manchester United), but that doesn’t mean the club can’t do a little marketing now and then.

Showing his support for the Catalan team, Trials World Champion Toni Bou does what does best in this video, and rides his trial bike through, on, and over the Camp Nou grounds. Popping a wheelie while going up the stadium steps, and doing a stoppie all the way back down are just some of the Spaniard’s claims of fame, and probably would go on the list of things our healthcare provider wouldn’t cover. It’s pretty impressive stuff, and  merges two of the biggest sports in Spain into one video. Check it out after the jump.

EICMA Intermission – The Trials of Fred Crosset

11/01/2010 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It’s Monday, and EICMA hasn’t even officially started yet, but that hasn’t stopped a ton of stories coming out of the Milan venue. To give us you a break from the madness, here is a video of Belgian trials rider Fred Crosset doing what he does best. We’ve been known to do a lot of stupid things here at A&R, but riding a bike on top of the support beams of a bridge is not one of them. Chalk one point up for Belgium, and watch it all the way through for the surprise ending.

Source: The Kneeslider