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.

New Yamaha YZF-R1 Confirmed for EICMA

10/16/2014 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

New Yamaha YZF R1 Confirmed for EICMA 2015 Yamaha YZF R1 teaser screeshot 02 635x354

A new R1 for the 2015 model year has been rumored heavily for almost a year now, and today Yamaha confirmed that we will see a new Yamaha YZF-R1 at the EICMA show. The perhaps isn’t surprising, especially since Yamaha teased us this very info at the INTERMOT show last month.

However, this is the first official confirmation from the tuning fork brand, as well as our first non-spy photo glimpse, of the new liter-bike. All of course to whet our appetite.

Yamaha YZF-R3 Revealed – 321cc Twin Coming to the USA

10/16/2014 @ 6:59 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Yamaha YZF R3 Revealed   321cc Twin Coming to the USA 2015 Yamaha YZF R3 1 635x423

The rumors were true, Yamaha is bringing a special small-displacement model to market, the Yamaha YZF-R3. As the name indicates, the new R3 gets a fuel-injected displacement bump over the R25, to the tune of 321cc. Debuted at the AIMExpo today, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is coming to the USA, with a price tag of $4,990.

Said by Yamaha to have “class-leading power”, the new R3 finally adds a small-displacement sport bike to Yamaha’s North American lineup, and makes an attractive offering when compared to the other 250cc/300cc machines from the other Japanese manufacturers. Expect to see it in Yamaha dealers, starting January 2014.

Yamaha “01GEN” Three-Wheeler Dual-Sport Concept

09/30/2014 @ 9:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Yamaha 01GEN Three Wheeler Dual Sport Concept Yamaha 01GEN Concept 03 635x475

To wrap-up our INTERMOT coverage today, we bring you the Yamaha 01GEN three-wheeler concept. The Yamaha 01GEN is similar to the Yamaha Tesseract Concept, except that the Japanese brand envisions this motorcycle living both on and off-road.

With one wheel in the rear, and two in the front, the Yamaha 01Gen Concept is perhaps the most interesting trike we have ever seen. The front wheels certainly look like they have enough suspension travel to soak up some big hits, while the belt-driven single-tire in the rear sounds easy enough to maintain in off-road conditions.

The Yamaha 01Gen should be fun on-road as well, as the concept should be able to lean through turns, thus adding the sensation of a motorcycle, with a little bit more stability on the front-end.

Yamaha’s press release on the 01GEN is filled with hyperbole and pipe dreams, but we think there could be something here with the design. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but clearly the Japanese OEM is thinking outside the box on what to delivery powersport enthusiasts.

Is This Our First Glimpse of the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1?

09/30/2014 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Is This Our First Glimpse of the 2015 Yamaha YZF R1? 2015 Yamaha YZR R1 teaser 01 635x387

Yamaha is teasing some sort of sport bike that will debut at the EICMA show in November, but the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer is being rather terse when it comes to describing it.

A short video with a series of quick cuts is our only clue, though the machine looks to be the new Yamaha YZF-R1, which we have heard rumors of through trademark applications worldwide.

Our theory seems to be supported by the track-going footage, as well as the dual front brake disc setup caught in one of the cuts. Watch the video yourself though, and tell use what you think Yamaha has ready to debut in Milan, Italy.

2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer — Japan’s Cafe Racer

09/29/2014 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer    Japans Cafe Racer 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer 12 635x423

Yamaha has debuted three machines ahead of the INTERMOT show, and the first two birds of the same feather: the Yamaha XJR1300 and Yamaha XJR1300 Racer. Based around Yamaha’s 1,300cc air-cooled inline-four engine (98hp / 80 lbs•ft), the XJR1300 and XJR1300 Racer take on the lines of the classic “naked bike” aesthetic — building upon Yamaha’s previous offering.

Yamaha says that it has worked closely with motorcycle customizers to update the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300, and the result is an addition to its “Sport Heritage” line, with a decidedly sporty twist coming from the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer, which has carbon fiber bodywork and clip-on handlebars.

Recall: Yamaha FZ-09 Headlight Harness

09/23/2014 @ 12:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Recall: Yamaha FZ 09 Headlight Harness 2014 yamaha FZ 09 orange 635x423

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA is recalling 5,300 units of the Yamaha FZ-09 motorcycle because of faulty headlight harness. The recall affects only 2014 model year machines, and comes about as the FZ-09’s headlight harness is too short.

Thus, when the handlebars are turned fully to the left or right, the harness may break near the coupler, or the coupler may disconnect from the headlight bulb.

Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin Wins the 2014 Endurance World Championship

09/22/2014 @ 11:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin Wins the 2014 Endurance World Championship yamaha france gmt 90 michelin ewc win 635x423

The 2014 Endurance World Championship has finally come to an end, as this past weekend played host to the Le Man 24-Hour motorcycle race. Winning the 2014 title was the French team of Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin, which also took second place at Le Mans (SERT finding its way to the top podium step).

Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin’s team of David Checa, Kenny Foray, and Mathieu Gines have had a prominent position all season long in the EWC. Finishing second at Bol d’Or, ninth at Suzuka (second among the regular EWC entries), second at Oschersleben, and now second at Le Mans, Yamaha France’s position came about because of sheer consistency.

With Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki’s top teams having troubles at individual races (along with Yamaha’s YART squad), Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin showed that true endurance racing is done over the long term. The full 2014 Endurance World Championship results are after the jump.

Trackside Tuesday: Factory Futures

09/16/2014 @ 2:11 pm, by Scott Jones7 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Factory Futures Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha Le Mans Scott Jones 635x423

Marc Marquez is only 21-years-old. Likely to win his second premier class title in as many tries, his is a future of on-track tyranny. Assuming he continues to improve and mature with experience, he has the potential to be the Michael Schumacher of motorcycle racing.

That’s good for Honda, assuming Marquez is content to keep on winning with Honda equipment. HRC has probably learned “The Rossi Lesson” well enough to make sure Marquez is happy, and will do everything required to keep him from exploring other manufacturers’ offerings.

As Marquez romps through season after season, Honda has Dani Pedrosa as wingman for another two years, and next year Scott Redding can show what he’s truly got on a leased RCV213 with MarcVDS. Pedrosa’s spot is Redding’s for the taking should his results in the next two seasons earn him an orange and red Alpinstars outfit.

Honda has the youngest and brightest rising stars already wrapped in its warm (and Repsol-funded) embrace. Alex Marquez, Alex Rins, and now Fabio Quartararo are being groomed to take over for Marc when his time at the top comes to an end.

But at 21, Marquez could continue to be, if not a title favorite, at the very least a title contender for another nine or more years! So where does that leave other factories?

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

09/12/2014 @ 2:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

2015 Yamaha FJ 09 Spotted in CARB Filings 081114 2015 yamaha tdm 09 design trademark 03 635x425

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

09/06/2014 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Yamaha MT 09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi yamaha fz mt 09 triple cross over oberdan bezzi scrambler 635x455

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before.

We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations.