Honda & Hitachi Join Forces on Electric Vehicle Motors

News out Japan sees Honda and Hitachi starting a joint venture that will focus on providing motors for electric vehicles. The two companies signed today what they call a “memorandum of understanding, which is the Japanese business version of getting a promise ring to start a future company together. The still unnamed joint venture will be located in Hitachinaka City in the Ibaraki Prefecture, and be initially capitalized with ¥5 billion (~$44 million). Honda Motor Co. and Hitachi Automotive Systems hope to finalize this deal by March 2017, and the new company will have subsidiaries in China and the United States – both of which will have sales and production capabilities.

US Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Close the EPA by 2018

A bill has been presented to the United States House of Representatives that would seek the closure of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) by 2018. Proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Florida), HB 861 will likely be a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts, as it will deregulate environmental restrictions set at the federal level, leaving states to draft or adopt their own provisions, which will likely have a fracturing effect on the regulatory market for motorcycles. But, it will also mean the abolition of EPA regulations that many motorcyclists oppose, like the blending of ethanol in our fuel, and restrictions on noise, emissions, and vehicle modifications.

KTM Invests in Heads-Up Display Company NUVIZ

Heads-up display (HUD) company NUVIZ just took a strategic investment from Pierer Industrie AG, the company behind KTM, Husqvarna, WP Suspension, and others. Today’s news is quite a catch for the San Diego based technology startup, and it bodes well for NUVIZ to bring its heads-up display technology to market. As such, NUVIZ hopes to have a heads-up display unit and connected rider system available in the first half of 2017. NUVIZ has raised roughly $9 million to date, via equity and debt, and our sources tell us that KTM’s purchase into the company has contributed to the lions’s share of that amount – upwards of $5 million, along with a seat on NUVIZ’s board of directors.

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team Debuts

In an airplane hangar in Austria, Honda’s World Superbike team unveiled its wings…that is to say, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team debuted in the energy drink’s Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg today. As the name implies, Red Bull will be the title sponsor for Nicky Hayden’s and Stefan Bradl’s World Superbike title bid this year, on the updated 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2. This is the first time that Red Bull has been a title sponsor in the WorldSBK paddock, though the energy drink company’s livery can be seen on variety of bodywork throughout motorsport. “It’s a new year with a new bike, new title partner and new teammate, so there are definitely many changes ahead and a lot of things to look forward to,” said former MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden.

PJ Jacobsen Gives His First Impressions of MV Agusta

PJ Jacobsen will once again be the sole American representation in World Supersport this year. The New Yorker had his first taste of his MV Agusta F3 in the dry while at the Jerez test, and came away suitably impressed by the bike that has won eight races in the hands of Jules Cluzel in recent years. The 23-year-old tested the bike in Jerez last year in what was seen as a shootout for the ride, but on a damp track he didn’t get a real feel for the bike. “Today was my first day on the bike this year,” said Jacobsen. “I did half a day on the MV last November in Jerez, but it was half wet, half dry so today was good to get out there. It was fully dry so I learned a lot and I’m quite happy with it. The bike is totally different to what I’ve ridden in the past, but the team works really well and they’ve impressed me.”

Check Out the 2017 Honda RC213V

The MotoGP launch season is still upon us, and now that we have seen the teams and bikes from Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha – it is time for Honda to take the wraps off the team its campaigning for its title defense. Debuting the 2017 Honda RC213V at a press event in Indonesia, not much has changed outwardly for the 240+ horsepower GP bike, though there a subtle differences to be seen, if you look closely and compare it to last year’s bike. The Repsol Honda fairings cover the biggest change that we know of, as reports from the test tracks confirm that Honda is experimenting with a “big-bang like” firing order on its V4 engine, a change from the “screamer” configuration of last season, which was handful for Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to manage.

2016 Was A Very Good Year for Husqvarna

Last year proved to be a tough year for many brands, especially those with operations in the United States, but that wasn’t the case for Husqvarna. The rebooted Swedish brand is seeing good life while under its Austrian ownership. Making 2016 a very good year for Husqvarna, the brand is reporting a sales increase of a whopping 43% over 2015’s sales numbers. That is no small feat for Husqvarna, as 2015 was already a record year for the dirt-focuses brand, where it saw a 32% increase. Of course in many ways, up is the only direction Husqvarna can go, after its purchase by Pierer Industrie AG. Still, Husqvarna’s figure of 30,700 sold motorcycles in 2016 is a marked improvement from the near 10,000 units it was producing while part of BMW Motorrad.

2017 Suzuki GSX-RR Debuts in Malaysia

Debuting this weekend in Malaysia, the ECSTAR Suzuki MotoGP team has unveiled its team and livery for the 2017 season, which will see Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins riding the update Suzuki GSX-RR race bike. Suzuki has already shown that it has a bike capable of hunting for podiums; and on its best days, it can be a race-winner as well. For the 2017 season though, the Japanese brand hopes to build upon its success in 2016. As such, the ECSTAR Suzuki team has high hopes with the arrival Andrea Iannone, hoping that “Maniac Joe” can add some more wins to Suzuki’s tally. Looking long-term too, the addition of Alex Rins could be strong investment by Team Manager Davide Brivio, with Rins being one of Moto2’s top talents.

OEMs Are Trying to Block “Right to Repair” Laws

Asphalt & Rubber readers should be familiar with how attempts have been made to use the Digital Millennium Right Act (DMCA) as means of limiting how you can work on your vehicles, including your motorcycle. These attempts first started in 2015, and were pushed heavily by John Deere and the automobile lobby. Thankfully, last year the the Librarian of Congress allowed exemptions for vehicles to be applied to the DMCA, which will be in effect for the next two years. Now, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) – a group that represents the interests of motorcycle manufacturers in the United States – is putting pressure on state legislatures and encouraging them to block “Right to Repair” bills that would codify the exemptions made to the DMCA.

EBR Motorcycles Shutting Down, Yet Again

EBR Motorcycles is closing its doors…again. Yes, you heard that right. America’s superbike brand will be winding down its production operations, starting next week, and is looking for a strategic investor to takeover the brand. Liquid Asset Partners (LAP) attributes its decision to shutdown EBR Motorcycles to the company’s difficulty to secure new dealerships, and thus increase sales. As a result, LAP says that its production volume for 2016 and 2017 was below expectations. The company then finishes its explanation for closing EBR Motorcycles with the following line: “the combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing or cutting production only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.”

Spy Photos: Ducati 1199 Panigale Load Testing

09/24/2011 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

No sooner did Ducati officially announce the existence of the the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale, than the Italian company’s new flagship uber-Superbike was caught blasting down an Italian highway. The purpose of the highway test should be apparent to even the most casual of motorcycle enthusiasts, as Ducati is clearly load testing the 1199 Panigale, marking sure the new motorcycle is ready to meet the strict requirements necessary for the American market.

Honestly, we didn’t think Ducati Performance had a “ponch” option for its Ducati-branded race leathers, though we hope the company has some variations in a more slimming black. Insert a couple more fat jokes, and I think we’re good to go here — and surely there’s a test rider in Bologna who will get a good ribbing come Monday at work. More photos after the jump, leave your “constructive remarks” in the comments.

Ducati Superbike 1199 to Get Significant Price Increase

09/14/2011 @ 6:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler69 COMMENTS

If you’re one of the many Ducatisti that are salivating for the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, you better start unloading your IRA, cashing-out your savings, and raiding your kids’ piggy banks, because Ducati is set to increase its flagship’s base price for the 2012 model year. With the base model Superbike 1198 sporting a $16,500 price tag here in the United States, and selling for just shy of €18,000 in Italy, Asphalt & Rubber has gotten confirmation that Ducati will bump the upcoming Superbike 1199’s price tag by several thousand euros/dollars when it debuts later this year.

Expected to be a €20,000+ bike in Europe, we can only imagine what that price tag on the base model 1199 will amount to here in the North American market, though we wouldn’t be surprised with a figure in the $19,000 range (or just shy of it). With two higher-spec versions expected as well, an “S” and a race variant, A&R has also heard rumors that the pricier models will see an even larger price increase over the 1198’s figures, making owning a Superbike 1199 a very pricy commitment to one’s garage.

WSBK-Spec Ducati Superbike 1199 Spied Testing…Again

09/10/2011 @ 1:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

In yet another glimpse of the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, we see the World Superbike-spec version of the v-twin machine testing on the track with a Ducati test rider at the helm. Clearly seen are the Öhlins FGR forks and horizontally-placed rear shock, and also apparent is the dual-underslung exhaust cans that the belly pan accents (we like this touch a lot). Beyond the blacked-out race bodywork, there isn’t anything terribly new to glean from the photo, but what is interesting is that for an OEM that is rumored to have no plans for a factory-backed team in WSBK for 2012, it sure is testing its WSBK-spec racer quite a bit. Make of that as you will.

Source: Ducati.org via Ducati News Today

Ducati Superbike 1199 Spotted Again

08/01/2011 @ 9:34 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 is shaping up to be the school yard tease, giving us a glimpse of its still unfinished form seemingly on a regular basis now. Spotted with another cameraphone “spy photo” somewhere on the streets of Italy, we get a fairly clear side profile of the new 1199. The underslung exhaust is perhaps the focal point of this unofficial teaser shot, which is interesting as we hear Bologna has recently been having internal meetings about its final design.

Best Shots of the Ducati Superbike 1199 So Far

07/22/2011 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Though still small in resoltuion, these are the best shots of the upcoming 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 that we’ve seen to-date. Testing at the Mugello circuit in Italy a few months ago (alongside Ducati Corse and the Ducati Desmosedici GP12), Ducati is slowly progressing on the Superbike 1199‘s final design, which sees the flagship motorcycle ditching its trellis frame for a MotoGP-inspired stressed airbox front end.

The Superquadrata v-twin motor is built overly-square, and should produce nearly 200hp in its max trim. Other features are the LED headlight system, a horizontally-mounted rear shock, and a unicorn tears lubrication system (we’re not so sure about one of these three features). Expect more photos and info to “leak” out of Ducati as we get closer to EICMA, where the Ducati Superbike 1199 will debut. Thanks for the tip Geoffry!

First Shots: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199

07/02/2011 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

In this new age of motorcycle marketing, it’s clear that Italian magazine Motociclismo has been given Bologna’s blessing as its favored child of motorcycle media. Accordingly, the publication has been at the forefront of information and photos of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199, and just recently teased this photo of the Ducati Superbike 1199’s headlight, which we know to be the first LED headlight to come on a production motorcycle.

Obviously having some time with the new Superbike 1199 (or at least having one very gracious friend in the Ducati factory), Motociclismo has a bevy of detail shots of the 1199 (we refuse to buy into the Xtreme naming rumors and hype). In the photos, we not only get a better glimpse at the LED headlights, but also the enlarged gilled air intake that surrounds the headlight unit. Also readily seen is the horizontally mounted rear shock, and near it is what Motociclismo is saying is the plastic-guarded collector pipe for the underslung exhaust, however our sources tell us it connects to a second exhaust which exits out the rear of the tail section, as seen on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12.

Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have LED Headlight

06/30/2011 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

After seeing the front fairing of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 last week, we idly speculated that the design included an LED (light-emitting diode) headlamp, as no bulbs or projector assemblies could be seen in the housing. Another tip-off were the slats in the headlight housing, which can readily be seen, and look very similar to the setup used by Audi on its R18 TDI Le Mans race car. Getting a few tips from our loyal readers, and following up with several of our sources, we can confirm that the new Ducati Superbike 1199 will use a completely LED-based headlight system — the first production motorcycle to use such an assembly.

Photo: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199’s Headlights

06/27/2011 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Motociclismo.it continues to be Ducati’s favorite channel to leak teasers of its upcoming Superbike, the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199. Promising to be a revolutionary design for the Italian brand, we know already that the bike will shed roughly 20 lbs from the 1198 model, while adding 20hp to its peak horsepower figure. This astonishing power increase comes from the “Superquadrata” v-twin motor, which features an overly-square cylinder design, that should rev to peaky power delivery delight (if you’re into that sort of thing).

From this latest photo we see that the new 1199 (we’ve been enjoying the rumors that the new Superbike would be called the Xtreme) borrows from the 916’s squinty highlight design, while adding the 1098/1198’s more pronounced air intake structure. The Ducati Superbike 1199 will be fed that healthy dose of oxygen through a stressed aluminum airbox/headtube design, à la its MotoGP frameless technology, and for which we’ve already seen patents of the design.

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