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.”

Recalls Coming for the Yamaha YZF-R3

02/15/2017 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Yamaha YZF-R3 should ready themselves for recalls affecting their pint-sized sport bike, as Yamaha Motor Corporation USA has determined that the YZF-R3 has defects that affects motor vehicle safety.

The recall will affect 2015 and 2016 models, and relates to two different issues. The first defect concerns the fuel tank fitting bracket, which may cause the fuel tank to crack and leak fuel, due to engine vibration.

The second defect relates to the main power switch, which can become corroded from water, and cold potentially cause the motorcycle to stall.

WSBK: Jerez Will Be Added to 2017 WorldSBK Calendar

02/06/2017 @ 1:19 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

The 2017 World Superbike calendar is close to being finalized. When it was announced at the combined WorldSBK/MotoGP test in November of last year, the calendar featured thirteen rounds of racing, only twelve of which had been confirmed.

The missing round, many present at the test felt, was a Jerez-shaped hole waiting to be filled. Now, we have learned, the penultimate round of World Superbikes will indeed take place at Jerez.

Recall Coming for the KTM 690 Duke

01/25/2017 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Just a month ago, KTM issued a worldwide recall on its Adventure bikes because the ABS modulator and wiring harness could potentially come into contact with each other. Now, the same issue is hitting the KTM 690 Duke, and affects the bikes from the 2012-2016 model year.

As was the case with the previous recall, if the ABS modulator and wiring harness come into contact, and the wiring harness becomes frayed, it could cause an electric charge to be conducted through the ABS modulator, which would eventually overheat and melt the unit.

This can obviously lead to the brakes failing, and as such KTM dealers are being advised to inspect the routing of the wiring harness, and if necessary take corrective measures. A securing grounding cable will also be installed.

MV Agusta USA Set to Be Sold

01/09/2017 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

This week brings you more MV Agusta news, as Asphalt & Rubber has learned that MV Agusta USA is set to be sold in the coming days.

The rumored buyer is Joseph Elasmar, the Australian distributor for the Italian brand, who also imports a plethora of other small-volume brands, for the Australian market.

The move is part of an ongoing process to reorganize MV Agusta USA, in order for the Italian marque to re-enter more effectively into the American two-wheeled market.

An announcement of the deal’s signing is expected in the coming days.

BMW Motorrad Is Releasing Four New Bikes at EICMA, And We Know What They Are…Sort Of

10/25/2016 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

bmw-logo

BMW Motorrad sent out a press release over the weekend, teasing that it would have four “world premieres” at the upcoming EICMA show, in Milan.

With EICMA being the largest trade show for the motorcycle industry, it’s not surprising that the German brand would hold back some new bike launches, even from the very popular INTERMOT show, which is home territory for BMW Motorrad.

We have already scooped a few of the new BMW models that are coming for 2017, but with EICMA close at hand, we thought it best to disclose the rest.

A Ducati 1299 Superleggera with a Carbon Fiber Frame??!

10/19/2016 @ 1:22 am, by Jensen Beeler116 COMMENTS

2014-Ducati-1199-Superleggera-studio-09

Ducati has begun teasing something very special, which for now is going by the name of “Project 1408” on a micro-website the Italian manufacturer has setup.

The site itself has no information, and doesn’t even tease what Project 1408 could be, but Ducati has already begun reaching out to its VIP customers, teasing something made from carbon fiber.

Sources tell us though that the Ducati Project 1408 is a new Superleggera model, based off the Ducati 1299 Panigale platform.

This new superbike isn’t just the Ducati 1199 Superleggera with the 1299 motor bolted into it though, with our sources saying that the Ducati 1299 Superleggera takes the weight savings a step further, with the highlight being a carbon fiber chassis.

BMW Lac Rose Concept Going into Production for 2017

10/11/2016 @ 3:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

BMW-Lac-Rose-R-nineT-Dakar-Rally-concept-01

In addition to updating the BMW R1200GS for the 2017 model year, our sources tell us that the BMW Lac Rose concept will debut as a production model at the EICMA show next month in Milan, Italy.

Based off the BMW R nineT platform, the Lac Rose (not the name that BMW will use once it debuts) will serve as the Bavarian brand’s heritage ADV bike, keeping its obvious themes to the Dakar Rally in place, with the proper amount of nostalgia for the category.

This should give O.G. airheads a proper air-cooled throwback ADV bike option (say that three times fast), which will serve as a counterpoint to the updates we can expect from the 2017 BMW R1200GS and the revisions we have already seen for the 2017 BMW S1000XR.

BMW R1200GS Getting Updated for 2017

10/11/2016 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

2013-bmw-r1200gs-water-cooled-engine

We call our inside sources in the industry “Bothan Spies” because they work tirelessly to provide us with good information, and today is no different. As such, Asphalt & Rubber can confirm that BMW Motorrad will update its best-selling motorcycle at the EICMA show in Milan, the BMW R1200GS.

Our sources tell us that the 2017 BMW R1200GS will see a host of improvements over its predecessor. The most notable changes will be the revised bodywork, though changes have also been made to the suspension and electronics as well.

What remains to be seen though is whether BMW massages in some more power to the boxer-twin on the R1200GS, to help it keep up with the more powerful offerings coming from other manufacturers.

Ducati Monster 939 Almost Certainly Coming for 2017

08/24/2016 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati-Hypermotard-939-engine

With the spotting of a new air-cooled Ducati Monster motorcycle for the 2017 model year, we can make some logical assumptions about what the Italian marque is up to for next year. One of those assumptions is the new Ducati Monster 939.

A 2017 Ducati Monster 939 was almost a certainty the second we saw the Ducati Hypermotard 821 getting bored out with a 937cc upgrade. Since the Monster 821 and the Hypermotard 821 share the same engine, it only makes sense for the two models to eventually share the 937cc power plant.

What adds fodder to this notion though is Ducati’s move to add a cheap and basic Monster model to its roster, in the form of the air-cooled two-valve model that we spotted earlier today.

Skully Investors Oust Founders, Marcus & Mitch Weller

07/13/2016 @ 12:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

skully-ar-1-helmet

TechCrunch is reporting, and our sources have confirmed, that the investors behind the Skully AR-1 helmet have ousted one of the company’s founders, Marcus Weller, along with his brother Mitch Weller. For those who don’t know, Marcus Weller was Skully’s CEO, while Mitch Weller served as the company’s Chief of Staff.

The departure of the Weller brothers comes after Skully continually missed its delivery deadlines with its first product, the Skully AR-1, which is a helmet with an integrated rear-facing camera, small computer system, and heads-up-display oculus.

The Skully AR-1 helmet debuted to much fanfare, but it soon became clear that the company’s leadership wasn’t up to the task on delivering the promises they were making to the public. Seemingly on a different page with their investors as well, Marcus and Mitch Weller were fired by the company’s Board of Directors.

It looks like Martin Fitcher, Skully’s current COO, will take over the reigns for the company, or what’s left of it, as its new CEO. Hopefully this means that Skully will finally get on the right path and begin delivery helmets to its plethora of early backers. We are not holding our breath, however.