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 Honda Crosstourer

11/07/2011 @ 4:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

2012 Honda Crosstourer  2012 Honda Crosstourer 4 635x476

Honda teased us last year with the Honda Crosstourer Concept, but for the 2011 EICMA show, the Japanese manufacturer is making good on its promise to bring the GS-lookalike to market. Based off the VFR1200F, the 2012 Honda Crosstourer comes with traction control, combined anti-lock brakes (C-ABS), and of course an optional dual-clutch transmission. While the Crosstourer shares the VFR’s 1,237cc V4 motor, the adventure bike model puts out a significantly lower 127hp @ 7,750 rpm, while a gluttonous 93 lbs•ft torque @ 6,500 rpm remains on-tap.

Clearly a road-focused adventure-tourer model, the Honda Crosstourer may never have the off-road pedigree as the BMW R1200GS it is meant to emulate, but true to Honda fashion, the Crosstourer has plenty of technical prowess built into it. For instance, the idea of using DCT technology for an adventure bike should prove interesting, as it takes the process of having to manage the clutch/motor over unsteady terrain out of the picture.

Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/02/2010 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Honda Crosstourer Concept Honda Crosstourer concept 11 635x476

Not to be confused with the Africa Twin, which would be missing two cylinders, Honda returns to its rugged off-road expedition-style adventure past with the Honda Crosstourer Concept. Based on the Honda VFR1200F’s V4 motor and dual-clutch transmission, the Crosstourer concept is designed to be the rugged off-roader that the Crossrunner and VFR1200F are not.

Honda VFR Adventure Concept – A Naked VFR1200F?

10/14/2010 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Honda VFR Adventure Concept   A Naked VFR1200F? Honda VFR adventure concept 635x421

Released in Italy today, Honda has taken the wraps off a concept drawing that shows a new crossover motorcycle, based off the VFR1200F. Super-imposed over the shape of the new VFR, this new concept rendering shows a largely reduced fairing, in anticipation of its more “adventurous” segment orientation. If rumors are to believed on the internet, the bike may not share the same 1237cc displacement as its sport-touring cousin, and instead will sport a middleweight displacement (800cc’s seems to be a popular number).

This new VFR is one (or two?) of eight new models Honda has said it will debut in Milan. One of the other rumored models is a 1200cc concept bike, which will reportedly be a 2012 model year motorcycle with Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the rest of what Honda has in store for us.

Ride Review: Honda Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT)

07/22/2010 @ 6:05 am, by Tim Hoefer10 COMMENTS

Ride Review: Honda Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Honda VFR1200F dual clutch transmission dct 8 560x373

Perhaps bigger news than the bike itself is the Honda VFR1200F’s much-anticipated dual-clutch transmission (DCT) model. What Honda has developed for the sport bike world is an automatic shifting technology to enhance the rider’s experience. Automatic transmissions are a rare breed in motorcycling, and we have no doubt that some of you out there may be asking: Isn’t part of being on the road and on the bike, about feeling personal freedom? Or mastering your machine with skill and control? As kids in high school didn’t we make fun of our friend that couldn’t drive a stick? Is DCT an upgrade or a substitution? Well folks, that was the other reason Asphalt & Rubber got to test ride the new VFR1200F, and we put the DCT through its paces.

Ride Review: 2010 Honda VFR1200F

07/20/2010 @ 6:07 am, by Tim Hoefer8 COMMENTS

Ride Review: 2010 Honda VFR1200F 2010 Honda VFR1200F ride report Santa Barbara 11 682x1024

Asphalt & Rubber was recently invited by Honda America to test ride the new 2010 Honda VFR1200F in both configurations of the standard manual-shifting model, and the all new and highly anticipated ‘automatic’ model with the dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Santa Barbara, California served as our amazing backdrop as we took to the road on the new VFR. On our first circling of the bike it did not take much time to figure out why the VFR community has nicknamed this model the ‘Buffalo’. Given it’s dominant headlight and fuel tank that carries a similar curve of a buffalo profile, the bike is however anything but ugly or slow.

Honda VFR1200F Concept Sketches

06/22/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Honda VFR1200F Concept Sketches 2010 Honda VFR1200F concept 3 560x397

At the American press launch of the 2010 Honda VFR1200F we got our dirty little mits on a bevy of information about the new sport-tourer from Honda. As we dive through the information this week, and tell you our thoughts on Honda’s flagship motorcycle, we thought we’d start off with how the 2010 Honda VFR1200F came about, from concept to conception. Check out the renders after the jump.

Honda UK Recalls 392 VFR1200F’s [UPDATED]

06/14/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Honda UK Recalls 392 VFR1200Fs [UPDATED] Honda VFR1200F recall UK 560x312

UPDATED: In addition to the 392 VFR1200F’s being recalled in the UK, 519 units are being recalled in France, and 165 are being recalled in Italy (with 2 engines presenting this defect).

Honda VFR1200F owners in the United Kingdom might have to bring their bike back to the Honda mother ship as Honda UK is recalling 392 VFR’s for metal shavings that may have ended up in the engine. A problem that could possibly lead to a motor failure, the condition appears only to affect VFR1200F’s that were manufacturered during a specific time period.

Watch the Honda VFR1200F Be Built Every 90 Seconds at Kumamoto Factory

02/02/2010 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Watch the Honda VFR1200F Be Built Every 90 Seconds at Kumamoto Factory Honda VFR1200F motor 560x373

Honda’s factory in Kumamoto is a high-tech enviormentally friendly facility that might just be as innovative as the new VFR1200F. Churning out a new VFR every 90 seconds, Kumamoto’s wrenches are all digitally linked, and store build information for each individual motorcycle. Did worker X have a habit of over-tightening the connecting rods? If so Honda can track exactly which bikes were affected by his/her mistake, pinpointing the problem. That’s pretty cool in our book.

Check out the video after the jump for more information about the Kumamota plant and watch the VFR1200F get put together.

What Does a Cylon Centurion and the Honda VFR1200F Have In Common? Too Much

12/17/2009 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

What Does a Cylon Centurion and the Honda VFR1200F Have In Common? Too Much Cylon VFR1200 560x387

Because of our good friends at SoCal Buell Riders, we have to spend the rest of the day replacing the A&R office keyboards, which are now soaked with this morning’s coffee. You have to admit though, the headlight on the new VFR does borrow heavily from the Centurion’s jaw-line…enough to make one wonder if it’s from the 13th colony of Kobol. If you have no idea what we’re talking, you need to watch more Battlestar Galactica.

2010 Honda VFR1200F US MSRP Set at $15,999

12/07/2009 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2010 Honda VFR1200F US MSRP Set at $15,999 2010 honda vfr1200f action shots 7 560x373

A few weeks ago we announced that the Honda VFR1200F would cost nearly €15,000 in the European market, and speculated that the price here in the US would be $15,000 +/- about a grand. Well it looks like we were right, as American Honda Motors has announced that the base model 2010 Honda VFR1200F will come with an MSRP of $15,999.