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.”

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled Teased for EICMA Debut

10/18/2016 @ 11:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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We know from filings with the California Air Resources Board that we should expect two new Scrambler models for the 2017 model year – a “DS” model and a “CR” model.

With photos of a long-travel suspension Scrambler circulating, we assumed that the “DS” designation stood for “dual-sport”, but the latest teaser video from Ducati corrects our almost-right assumption.

While Ducati will indeed launch a more off-roady Scrambler model, as we expected, the 803cc machine will be called the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, an homage to the Baja-busting bikes of yore that carried the same name.

Jerez World Superbike Debrief – Saturday

10/15/2016 @ 3:20 pm, by Kent Brockman1 COMMENT

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Chaz Davies continued his dominant run of form in WorldSBK by winning at Jerez. The Welshman waltzed to a his fifth win in the last six races, and once again showed just how strong he has become in 2016.

The package of Davies and the Ducati has consistently been to the fore this season, and a constant thorn in the side of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

If not for a mid-season blip that saw him score just 46 points from a possible 150, Davies would be in firm title contention but that run of form ruled him out of proceedings.

Brad’s Leggero by Walt Siegl

10/13/2016 @ 5:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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The latest creation from Walt Siegl Motorcycles, Brad’s Leggero helps fill the void left behind by the departure of the Ducati Sport Classic from the Italian company’s lineup.

Speaking to those who long for simpler machines, at the core of the Leggero is an air-cooled two-valve Ducati engine, which was built and blueprinted by Bruce Meyers Performance.

Other bespoke items include the frame, which is made of tubes of 4130 chrome moly steel, weighs a paltry 15 lbs, and was built in-house at Walt Siegl Motorcycles.

Helping complete the café racer look is the bullet fairing bodywork, which takes a dash of modern by being made of Kevlar. The modern touches continue, with the use Öhlins suspension and radially mounted Brembo brakes.

The effect is a tastefully done café racer that not only shines with real craftsmanship, but also does post-heritage right: taking the best of design from the past, without snubbing the progress of technology in the future.

Hector Barbera Replacing Andrea Iannone in Japanese GP

10/13/2016 @ 8:57 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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Three days after announcing that they would not be replacing the injured Andrea Iannone, the factory Ducati squad has changed its mind.

On Thursday, the Bologna factory announced that Hector Barbera would be taking Iannone’s place in the factory Ducati team, while Barbera’s slot in the Avintia Ducati MotoGP team will be taken by Australian rider Mike Jones.

The decision was forced upon Ducati by Dorna and IRTA. Under the FIM regulations, teams must make “every reasonable effort” to replace an absent rider, with only force majeure (or exceptional circumstances beyond their control) acceptable as a reason to leave a seat empty.

The series organizers clearly believed that force majeure did not apply in this case, as Iannone’s decision to skip the race was due to an injury picked up at Misano, five weeks ago.

More Photos of the New Ducati Multistrada 939

10/13/2016 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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For the 2017 model year, Ducati will release a smaller version of its popular adventure-tourer, dubbed the Ducati Multistrada 939. As the name suggests, this new Multistrada will use the 937cc v-twin engine that is found on the current Ducati Hypermotard, and recently released Ducati SuperSport.

Photos reveal that the 2017 Ducati Multistrada 939 will have a double-sided swingarm, helping to distinguish it from the Multistrada 1200, which uses a single-sided swingarm.

What is harder to glean from the photos though is that Ducati is said to have made the Multistrada 939 physically smaller than the Multistrada 1200, offering a lower seat height and overall lower riding height than its larger sibling.

Why Would Yamaha Prevent Jorge Lorenzo from Testing the Ducati at Jerez?

10/11/2016 @ 10:16 pm, by David Emmett21 COMMENTS

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The legal oddity that riders’ contracts are out of sync with the MotoGP season creates an uncomfortable truce among the factories.

When riders sign with a factory, their contracts run from January 1st to December 31st. But for the factories and teams, the new season starts on the Tuesday after the last race of the year, at Valencia.

This is a particular problem for the 2017 season, with so many riders changing factories. Traditionally, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement among the factories to allow the riders to test with their new team, despite still being under contract to the old one.

So in previous years, the likes of Valentino Rossi (twice) and Casey Stoner have lapped Valencia aboard their new steeds dressed in plain leathers.

The plain leathers are just one side of the compromise. As a rule, the riders switching factories are not allowed to speak to the media, or only allowed to speak in the most general of terms, avoiding direct comparison between their new bikes and their old bikes.

The riders continue to perform PR duties for their old factories up until the end of the contract deadline.

MotoGP: Andrea Iannone Will Skip Motegi, Back for PI

10/10/2016 @ 2:45 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

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Andrea Iannone is to miss the MotoGP round at Motegi. The Italian has been advised by his doctors to skip the first of the three Pacific flyaway rounds to allow the vertebra he fractured at Misano to heal.

Iannone picked up the injury on the first day of his home race at Misano. Though the injury is on the forward side of the T3 vertebra, making it less vulnerable to a repeat injury, the fracture has caused him to miss both Misano and Aragon. Motegi will be the third race which Iannone will be forced to miss.

Ducati XDiavel Recalled for Loose Final Drive Pulley

10/06/2016 @ 10:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Ducati North America is recalling a number of its XDiavel power cruisers for final drive pulley that may not have been sufficiently tightened at the factory. The recall affects 1,433 units, bike manufactured between July 7th, 2015 to June 22nd, 2016.

With the pulley not properly tightened, there might be a loss of power to the rear wheel, which increases the risk of a crash. As such, Ducati dealerships will install a new washer under the final drive pulley, in order to increase the tightening torque. This will be done free of charge.

Ducati SuperSport Priced at $13,000 for the USA

10/06/2016 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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If were to judge things by traffic on Asphalt & Rubber alone, the new Ducati SuperSport was the bike of the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany. The return of a cult classic, it seems Ducati has successfully tapped into the vein that made the original so well-loved.

Releasing pricing for the US market today, there might be more to love about new SuperSport and its up-spec SuperSport S sibling, as both bikes come with attractive price tags.

As such, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will MSRP for $12,995 in the USA, while the 2017 Ducati SuperSport S will come with a sticker price of $14,795 MSRP.

2017 Ducati SuperSport – The Sport Bike Returns

10/04/2016 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

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The Ducati SuperSport is back for the 2017 model year, bringing a street-focused sport bike into Ducati’s motorcycle lineup once again. As you would expect, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will come in two models, the SuperSport base model and a higher-spec SuperSport S model.

Both bikes use the 937cc, water-cooled, 113hp v-twin engine that’s found in the Ducati Hypermotard 939. Ducati has also used a steel trellis frame for the SuperSport, which looks very similar to the one used on the current Monster line. Obviously, the front fairing takes some cues from the Panigale superbike.

Ducati’s focus is for the SuperSport to augment its street lineup with something sporty that could go on the race track, but would be more at home on twisty roads, even with a passenger on the back.