Imagining the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 Supermoto

It is a tremendous shame that the options for a road legal supermoto for are so limited, with the venerable Suzuki DR-Z400SM being the only offering in the 450cc on-road class. For virtually a decade, Suzuki has left the DR-Z basically unchanged – as it has done with many of its sport models – so we would love to see Suzuki and other manufacturers give this space more attention (a hat tip to Husqvarna for bringing the track-only FS450 to market, long with the 701 Supermoto). Although you can wake-up the DR-Z400 with a few simple modification, and there are a bevy of aftermarket kits that can punch the 398cc machine out in size, what we really want from Suzuki is a proper 450cc street supermoto – one that doesn’t stray too far from the brand’s current strong motocross offering. So, when we saw this little bit of Photoshop work by the folks at the German Suzuki dealership of DSR-Suzuki, we got a little excited.

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.

John McGuinness Explains a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT

06/25/2012 @ 8:46 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

John McGuinness, pictured here with brolly girl Bruce Anstey, is the undisputed King of the Mountain, having won 19 times on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course. Even at 40-years-old and a bit thicker around the middle than his fellow racers, one would have a hard time arguing that McGuinness is not at the top of his game, as the man from Morecambe is well on his way to beating Joey Dunlop’s all-time TT race win record.

So how has McPint become the winningest living TT racer in history? With a massive amount of course knowledge, that’s how. Coupled to strong bike entries, and a team comprised of road racing’s top talent, it makes perfect sense why McGuinness is the favorite to win whenever a 1,000cc machine is involved, and you can’t count him out of the 600cc Supersport races either. Narrowly missing his chance to break the 20 race win barrier on an electric bike, McGuinness was also instrumental in the cancellation of the Senior TT at the 2012 Isle of Man TT, a race he likely would have won.

McGuinness and his team will be back next year though, as will his competitors who are eager to knock the King off his thrown. We imagine a few of them will be paying close attention to the course notes given in the video after the jump.

Video: John McGuinness – A Legend in the Making

06/18/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

John McGuinees, the King of the Mountain, could quit road racing today and go down in history as a legend of the sport. The thing is though, Mr. McPint is showing no signs of slowing down, and in reality McGuinness is at the top of his game — adding two more race wins from the 2012 Isle of Man TT to his impressive total. Nineteen wins to his name, McGuinness was favored to win his 20th in the Senior TT, after coming in second during the TT Zero competition.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt in the TT paddock that McGuinness will break the twenty-win barrier, a feat only ever accomplish by one other man: Joey Dunlop. But, fate has a cruel way of changing our expectations. Three wins in a TT fortnight is no easy matter, and no one wants to win more than John McGuinness himself. So, it goes to show you a bit about the man when you learn that McGuinness was instrumental in the canceling of the Senior TT, since his voice hold some of the most weight with the riders and Race Control — even though his own racing interests would have been served best by the race’s continuation in adverse conditions.

On that Saturday’s Senior TT, no one wanted to make more history than McGuinness — of course he wanted to do so in an entirely different way than what occurred. It will now be a long wait before he can lay claim to that twentieth IOMTT victory trophy, but John McGuinness isn’t too worried about that I suspect, and I reckon he has his eyes leveled firmly on the horizon, staring at what would seem to be an impossible an impossible number that starts with three.

The 2012 Isle of Man TT with Daniel Lo

06/14/2012 @ 7:59 am, by Daniel Lo5 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Good Man

06/12/2012 @ 12:14 pm, by Daniel Lo6 COMMENTS

The stage was set for Guy Martin to take his first ever TT win in 2012, with the popular fan favorite returning with the same team with which he scored four podium finishes in the previous year’s contest. Top-level crew, competitive machinery, and one of the fastest men to ever lap the Mountain Course teaming up again for another assault. Reaching the top step of the podium should be all but a forgone conclusion — or at least in theory.

What resulted instead was truly a week to forget, starting with Guy getting nudged off the podium in the opening Superbike race when his crew was unable to change his rear tire for the final two laps. The first Supersport race ended prematurely after his engine gave out, forcing a retirement into the pits, after just a single lap. The Superstock race that followed was barely an improvement, with Guy taking an anonymous eighth place finish, after being off the pace from the start. Further engine problems in the second Supersport race again saw him off the podium, finishing down in fifth. To cap it off, a final shot at a good result was thwarted by the first ever cancellation of the Senior TT race. Things did not go according to plan, to say the least.

Up-Close with Ian Hutchinson’s Swan Yamaha R1 Superbike

06/11/2012 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson may not be a household name here in the United States, but over on the Isle of Man, “Hutchy” is a pretty big deal. Winning five solo-class races in the 2010 season, the English rider’s hot-streak was cut short after a tragic closed circuit racing accident, which saw him sidelined for the 2011 TT fortnight. Suffering another leg injury going into the 2012 racing season, Hutchinson was still physically not 100% as he headed to the TT, with the Swan Racing Team making obvious adjustments to his Yamaha YZF-R1 to accommodate Hutchy’s injured leg.

While Hutchinson would ride through the pain, he was noticeably off the pace during this last TT meeting. While a large component of those results are surely products of his physical state, where were compound by the fact that his practice and racing schedule has been truncated, many also wondered about Hutchinson’s mental state as well. Twice beaten, once shy, one Swan team member explained to me that when you looked into the his eyes as he got on board the bike, there was something there that didn’t exist before in Hutchy’s eyes. “Fear?” I asked. The team member wouldn’t comment further.

IOMTT: Farquhar Wins the Reinstated Lightweight TT

06/09/2012 @ 8:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Suffering the same postponement and delays as the PokerStars Senior TT, the 2012 BikerPetition.co.uk Lightweight TT overcame the adverse conditions, finally getting its start well into the Saturday afternoon.

With the 650cc twin-cylinder class getting reinstated for the 2012 Isle of Man TT, there was tremendous pressure for the race to go ahead this fortnight, especially with the number of entries that solely arrived to compete in the class. Reduced from four laps to three, the strategy for the Lightweight TT got amplified, with riders having to choose when to take their pit stop: ahead of Lap 2 or Lap 3.

IOMTT: Senior TT Cancelled for the First Time Antebellum

06/09/2012 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The 2012 PokerStars Senior TT is making history books, despite the fact the race was postponed from Friday to Saturday, and ultimately cancelled late in the afternoon on its rescheduled race day. The first time the Senior TT has been called for track conditions, the only other time the blue ribbon race has failed to run has been during the TT’s racing suspension for WWI and WWII.

Leaving fans to wait along the Mountain Course for several hours, the race was finally scrapped after a contingency of TT riders viewed the full course via automobile. Finding damp patches along sections like the Mountain Mile, John McGuinness et al deemed the race too risky for the 200+ bhp superbikes, though they thought that the tamer inaugural Lightweight class (650cc twins) would be alright to make the run.

IOMTT: Watch the 2012 Isle of Man TT Right Here

06/08/2012 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

I’m going to put my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala” on this one, since someone has ripped ITV4’s coverage off the telly and put it onto the intertubes. With television networks not getting Friedman’s memo about the world being flat, those of us with an IP address outside of the United Kingdom are SOL when it comes to watching the FREE COVERAGE of the 2012 Isle of Man TT episodes on ITV4’s website. Thankfully, a more enlightened individual has put the coverage up on YouTube for those outside of the Queen’s domain to view. Enjoy it while it lasts.

IOMTT: Conor Cummins Fit to Race in Senior TT

06/07/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Manxies will rejoice to the news that local-man Conor Cummins has been declared fit enough to race in Friday’s Senior TT at the 2012 Isle of Man TT. Caught in a crash during the North West 200 with Gary Johnson, Cummins has been on the sidelines of the Isle of Man TT fortnight with an injury to his right hand. The Tyco Suzuki rider’s appearance at the blue ribbon race will be a boon to the BSB team, as so far Cummins’ teammate Guy Martin has been unable to put the Suzukis on the podium.

Though Cummins had circulated during some of the practice sessions, Cummins has sat out all of the solo races thus far at the TT, much to the disappoint of his home crowd. Spending some time in a hyperbaric chamber and doing some physiotherapy, Cummins has been able to heal enough over the past week in order to salvage his Isle of Man TT outing, and put down a 125 mph lap during the Senior TT qualifying.

Up-Close with McGuinness’s Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR

06/06/2012 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The bike that carried John McGuinness to his 18th career Isle of Man TT win, the very same Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR could be the King of the Mountain’s stead to an even 20 wins this TT fortnight. Making 200+ bhp, the factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR has to contend with some of the most gruel miles in racing, and has the scars to prove it. Pitted and potted with rocks and pebbles from the course, McGuinness’s ride on the CBR is an equally tumultuous affair.

Splitting his time equally between head shakes and wheelies, it is no small feat in keeping a TT bike on-line at the famous road course. Only able to complete two laps before needing to be refueled, the Honda TT Legends race team has not only optimized the Honda CBR1000RR for the 37.733 mile Snaefell Mountain Course, but also for the single and double pitstops it will have in the Senior TT and Junior TT races, respectively.

Looking at the bikes of the other teams, what is most striking about McGuinness’s ride, aside from its drool-worthy livery homage to the Honda RC30, is how stock the bike appears. Sure, there is a heavily massaged and tuned motor underneath that bodywork, and the bike’s top-shelf brakes, wheels, and quick-shifter are readily apparent, but for a bike that any racer would kill to ride, the Honda TT Legends CBR is rather unassuming, as is its portly rider. Maybe that is how they like it.