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.

WSBK: Results from Race 2 at Misano, Italy

06/22/2009 @ 1:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

WSBK: Results from Race 2 at Misano, Italy Johnny Rea WSBK Misano Italy 560x373

World Superbike would see sunnier skies off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and a Misano track almost completely devoid of any sign of prior rain for Race 2. Slicks would now be the order of the day, which probably came as a relief to a few riders who were less than graceful in their bike swapping in Race 1. With the change in conditions came a complete change in the racing order. Continue reading to see how Race 2 went down under the Italian sun.

WSBK: Results from Race 1 at Misano, Italy

06/21/2009 @ 8:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

WSBK: Results from Race 1 at Misano, Italy Ben Spies WSBK Misano Italy 560x372

World Superbike riders at Misano, Italy today were greated to a damp track, courtesy of the on-and-off rain showers that have been plaguing the race course the whole weekend. With the track wet, but the sun out, tire selection would again be key.

Would the track dry out enough to run intermediates? Would some teams dry and run rains? Could there possibly be a chance to run slicks? Who would make the right choice by the start of the race? With WSBK adopting the flag-to-flag rules of MotoGP, riders would have a chance to come into the pits and swap for a new bike as the track conditions changed, making the racing all the more interesting, as many riders in the field had never performed such a swap before. Continue reading to see who got it right.

WSBK: Superpole Results from Misano

06/20/2009 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Superpole Results from Misano Jakub Smrz WSBK Misano Superpole 560x371

World Superbike this year has not lacked for worthy moments during racing, but the Superpole event is starting to become a drama in its own right that helps wet our appetites for Sunday’s racing. Every race Saturday, riders gamble on when to make use of their qualifiers, and each round of the Superpole is filled with strategy and intrigue. Misano would be no different.

WSBK: Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park

06/01/2009 @ 2:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park 414365sbk spies miller

With Race 1 in the bag, Race 2 might have seemed a little bit more low-key, with no red flagged restart in sight. Beginning much as the previous race had started, Race 2 showed that it would be another decisive moment in the overall World Superbike Championship. Spoilers and race results for Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park

06/01/2009 @ 1:48 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park 1 04

Race 1 of the World Superbike stop at Miller Motorsports park was red-flagged, after a highside left riders and bikes lying on the track. This hazard left the race directors no choice but to red flag the race. After the track was cleared, and the riders made it off the course, a second starting of Race 1 was to be had, with the winner to be decided on aggregate times (the times from the two races dded together, and the winner being determined by the total time from both heats). Continue reading for all the spoilers of Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

WSBK: While Rossi Looks for the Ocho at Mugello, Spies Looks for the Septo at Miller

05/30/2009 @ 11:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: While Rossi Looks for the Ocho at Mugello, Spies Looks for the Septo at Miller ben spies wsbk miller motorsports park

World Superbike has landed on American soil with its first stop in the States: Miller Motorsports Park. The track based in Salt Lake City is playing host to WSBK for the second time in its history, and because of injuries a special contingency of American riders participated in the today’s events. With the AMA series sharing a stop at Miller, it should come as no surprise that one of “dem good old boys” was at the top of the Superpole podium.

WSBK: Race 2 at Kyalami, South Africa

05/18/2009 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Kyalami, South Africa honda ten kate hanspree johnny rea 560x373

With Race 1 full of cliff-hanger moments, South African fans at the Kyalami circuit eagerly awaited the second race of World Superbike south of the Equator. Enough with the Hyperbole, continue reading to see a full race report from Race 2, complete with spoilers.

WSBK: Race 1 at Kyalami, South Africa

05/18/2009 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 1 at Kyalami, South Africa xerox ducati wsbk kyalmai 2009 560x371

This weekend, World Superbike Championship racing returned to South Africa at the Kyalami circuit, much to the delight of local motorcycle fans. The Kyalami track, which had been scheduled to be demolished, and then have housing built in its place, features vast elevation changes and sweeping bends, and has been much improved since the removal of the chicane at Turn 12. So interest was high in how the racing would turn out on this tight twisty circuit. Continue reading for a full race report on Race 1 at Kyalami, South Africa.

Jamie Hacking Likely to Replace Tamada at Miller WSBK Round

05/16/2009 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Jamie Hacking Likely to Replace Tamada at Miller WSBK Round jamie hacking wsbk miller 560x401

All signs seem to point to Jamie Hacking replacing the injured Makoto Tamada at World Superbike’s stop at Miller Motorsports Park later this month. In fact, Hacking would be replacing Sheridan Morais, the reigning South African Superbike champion, who is currently filling in for Tamada at WSBK’s round at Kyalami. Tamada is still recovering from having a metal plate inserted in his hand after sustaining a wrist fracture at the Monza Race 1 pile-up. While the news is not official, Hacking hinted at it when talking to Roadracing World, saying “there’s a possibility I might do it.”

WSBK: If Superpole Was Monopoly, Ben Spies Could Have Built a Hotel by Now

05/16/2009 @ 3:33 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: If Superpole Was Monopoly, Ben Spies Could Have Built a Hotel by Now ben spies wsbk superpole kyalami 560x371

Ben Spies took his 6th straight Superpole this year, this time at the Kyalami circuit, beating out Michel Fabrizio by a mere one thousandth of a second. Making Spies the second ridr ever to win 6 WSBK poles in a row, a honor previously held alone by American Doug Polen, who accomplished the feat in 1991.