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.

2012 Triumph Tiger 1050

09/26/2011 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 2 635x476

Simply revising the 2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 before completely updating the model in 2013, Triumph has announced that the Tiger 1050 will get stiffer suspension components for the next model year, along with some cosmetic changes. Including improved dampening and a stiffer spring for the rear shock (108 to 139N/mm.), the British company hopes the revised suspension will give the Triumph Tiger 1050 better feel when traversing the roadway. Other mechanical changes include new handlebars that are 20mm lower than before, meaning the larger Tiger will have a slightly sportier riding position for 2012.

Triumph’s last tweeks to the 2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 is a new cosmetic package, which sees new graphics on the bike’s side panels, new turn signals, and the elimination of some chrome bits. Other bare-metal pieces have been blacked out, including the new aluminum handlebar. The 2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 will come in Phantom Black, while the ABS models will come in Diablo Red, Crystal White, and two-tone matte black color scheme. Pricing should remain unchanged.

2012 Triumph Daytona 675 Gets Minor Updates

09/01/2011 @ 7:50 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Daytona 675 Gets Minor Updates 2012 Triumph Daytona 675 1 635x476

Triumph has taken the wraps off its 2012 Triumph Daytona 675, revealing only minor changes will come to the three-cylinder supersport before its rumored major update in 2013. Available now in “Phantom Black” or “Diablo Red” paint, the new Triumph Daytona 675 gets only cosemetic changes for next year, such as Triumph’s sports script font on the fuel tank, new “Daytona” decals, and the Daytona 675R‘s black bellypan. Other changes also include Triumph logo emblazoned clutch and alternator covers, while the motor gets murdered out further. Lastly, the 2012 Triumph Daytona 675 will also recieve blacked-out rearsets and brake discs.

Recall: Triumph Tiger 800 & Sprint GT

08/12/2011 @ 1:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Recall: Triumph Tiger 800 & Sprint GT 2011 triumph tiger 800 635x477

Triumph has issued recalls for both 2011-2012 model variants of the Tiger 800, as well as the 2011-2012 Sprint GT, for a defective top box locking mechanism. Missing a clip on the locking mechanism handle, there is a possibility that the top box may unintentionally detach from the motorcycle, and cause an accident with another vehicle. To remedy the situation, Triumph will have dealers install a new fitment clip, which will better align the rack and pinion mechanism to prevent accidental disengagement.

Affecting 134 units in total, Triumph plans on having the recall being in August 2011. Concerned Triumph Tiger 800 and Triumph Sprint GT owners can contact Triumph Customer Service at 1-678-539-8782, and as always the NHTSA is available at 1-888-327-4236 and www.safercar.gov.

Source: NHTSA

Are You the 2012 Triumph Daytona 675?

07/21/2011 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Are You the 2012 Triumph Daytona 675? 2012 triumph daytona 675 spy photo

According to MCN, this is a “spy photo” of the 2012 Triumph Daytona 675, which was spotted outside of Triumph’s Hinckley factory. The British mag says that it has other, much more clearer photos, that clearly show the new Daytona in detail (of course, we’ll have to take their infallible word on this since they didn’t publish them online), revealing a new styling update, and complete mechanical design overhaul. Gone is the underseat exhaust, though the front looks fairly similar, with a center running light seemingly added. Expect to see the new Daytona 675 debut later this year.

Source: MCN

Triumph Entering the Indian Market

06/29/2011 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Triumph Entering the Indian Market 2011 Triumph Daytona 675R 635x423

If you follow where the volume and the growth in the motorcycle industry come from, then it should be no surprise to hear that Triumph has announced its intention to enter the Indian market with its motorcycles. The 109-year-old brand based out of Hinckley is just the latest of many major OEMs to enter India, whose high tariffs and exploding market necessitate a local presence by manufacturers in order to be competitive. Rest assured the rest of this post will be devoid of any mention of the irony in the British brand entering into the once British colonial market of India.

Concept: Bimota TB-1 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/02/2011 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Concept: Bimota TB 1 by Oberdan Bezzi Bimota TB 1 Oberdan Bezzi 635x440

For his latest work, Oberdan Bezzi imagines a three-cylinder Bimota that uses Triumph’s 675cc three-cylinder motor. Dubbed the Bimota TB-1 by the Italian designer, Bezzi brings up an interesting point with his sketch, namely that when the MV Agusta F3 comes it will, for all intents and purposes, be in a class of its own. You can’t really argue the point that there is yet-to-exist a premium well-designed supersport triple on the market right now (sorry Daytona owners), and Bezzi says that Bimota could easily come into this space with such a bike as seen here.

Recall: 2010 Triumph Thunderbird

05/18/2011 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Recall: 2010 Triumph Thunderbird 2010 Triumph Thunderbird SE 635x476

Triumph is recalling almost two thousand (1,955 in total) 2010 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycles for a thread improper locker and screw on the front fender. Because of the incompatible pieces, the screws might become loose, and work their way out of the threads. Extending out and into the tire, the screws could potentially wear out or puncture the tire causing it to deflate and create an unsafe situation.

Triumph dealers will replace the screws free of charge, though Triumph has not yet released an owner notification schedule on the recall. Concerned owners may contact Triumph Customer Service at 1-678-539-8782, and as always the NHTSA is available at 1-888-327-4236 and safecrar.gov.

Source: NHTSA

500,000 Triumphs Built at Hinckley

05/12/2011 @ 6:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

500,000 Triumphs Built at Hinckley Triumph Speed Triple build 635x391

Half a million Triumphs have rolled out from the Hinckley company and its five factories since its rebirth in 1990, which was restarted with the purchase of the firm by John Bloor. With 20 years of new-found success under its belt, Triumph is 2,000 employees strong, and ready to celebrate two decades worth of brand revival by touring its 500,000th motorcycle: a 2012 Triumph Speed Triple.

The bike will go on a promotional tour starting May 24th, and helping show the genesis of the machine, the British company has put together this video that shows its progress down the Triumph line. It’s a well done video, which celebrates a worthy achievement…now if only A&R could get its hands on the new Speed Triple, all would be well in the world. Watch the video after the jump.

2012 Triumph Street Triple – Surprise! New Headlights!

03/27/2011 @ 11:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

2012 Triumph Street Triple   Surprise! New Headlights! 2012 Triumph Street Triple R 1 635x423

When news of the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple hit the interwebs, with its spiffy new headlight and crazy-light aluminum frame, the clock immediately started ticking on when the 1050cc triple’s little sibling, the 675cc Street Triple & Street Triple R would get the same treatment from Triumph.

Hopes for a 2011 update were seemingly dashed when the British company posted the current model Street Triple as its 2011 offering, but rumors persisted that we’d see an updated middleweight naked very soon.

Being released as an early 2012 model, our colleagues in France have seemingly gotten the first official photos of the 2012 Triumph Street Triple & 2012 Triumph Street Triple R, as the bikes were unveiled at a new store on the Avenue de la Grande Armée in Paris.

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined

01/06/2011 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined 2011 Triumph Daytona 1050 imagined 635x377

Triumph for some time now has had these glaring holes in its model line-up, which it has only begun to address with the launching of bikes like the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

One hole that still remains in this Swiss cheese product offering is a liter class sportbike. Up until the recent release of the 2011 Triumph Daytona 675R, the Daytona 675 has been single-handedly holding down Triumph’s sportbike offering; while the British company’s naked plus-sized Speed Triple has nearly become the Branch Davidian of the street biking cult status, giving Triumph fans plenty of ammo to speculate upon when Triumph would release a fully-faired 1050cc three-cylinder machine that came from the best of these two bikes.