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.”

Video: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmets, Part 2

07/14/2012 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmets, Part 2

Monster’s series on Valentino Rossi’s Mugello helmets continues (Part 1 here), with this second installment just teasing out the nine-time World Champion’s signature special Mugello helmet. The video is certainly less wordy than the first, and from what we can gather, Rossi will have a ring of flowers on his head for the Italian GP.

With MotoGP to take to the historic Italian track for FP3 and Qualifying in just a few hours, we shouldn’t have too long to wait to see the final product from Aldo Drudi. Until then, this video will have to suffice. Check it out after the jump.

Who Wore It Best? Del Rosario Calls Out the AGV PistaGP

03/26/2012 @ 10:24 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

While we are excited and anxiously awaiting the AGV PistaGP helmet, one American helmet manufacturer is less-than-thrilled with the Italian company’s latest offering: Del Rosario. A small boutique firm based out of New York, Del Rosario’s aim was to bring to market helmet designs that were “caught up to the rest of the industry.” Showing off a number of CAD renders since its inception, Del Rosario has clearly missed its late-2011 shipping date, and as far as we can tell, has not actually produced any physical prototypes or finished models.

Getting a fair bit of press and then falling off the radar, Del Rosario is back in the limelight as the company sent a worded warning to AGV through its corporate Facebook page. According to a message posted by Del Rosario on its social media portal, one of the company’s former advisors showed AGV Del Rosario’s stylebook, and now three years later the PistaGP has emerged with a shell design that has some obviously similar characteristics to Del Rosario’s renders.

AGV PistaGP Helmet – The Next Generation Helmet

03/23/2012 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Today at the MotoGP test in Jerez, AGV debuted its next-generation helmet: the AGV PistaGP. The fruits of the Italian company’s Project 46, the PistaGP is the first helmet to come from AGV’s new AGV Standards program, which seeks create products with an inside-out approach. You have likely already seen Valentino Rossi testing the AGV PistaGP in the recent Sepang tests, and I have already waxed poetic about how excited I am about this product.

Generally I am not a big fan of AGV sport bike helmets (though I do have a torrid love affair with the AGV AX-8 Dual Sport helmet), as I find the field-of-view (FOV) on AGV lids to be far too limited for my riding tastes, but the PistaGP promises a host of improvements to AGV’s helmet design, especially an improved FOV, which should allay my complaints. For AGV, the company hopes the PistaGP, and its progeny from the AGV Standards program, will reposition the helmet manufacturer once again as again the pinnacle maker of motorcycle helmets.

Releasing details on the PistaGP to the assembled GP paddock press at Jerez, we can finally publicly talk about this new lid and AGV’s new approach to designing motorcycle helmets. Details after the jump, along with more photos than you can shake a stick at.

Project 46, AGV Standards, & Rossi’s New Helmet

03/02/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

You may have already noticed that Valentino Rossi has been sporting a new lid in his off-season tests with the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Said to have a greater field of vision, the prototype helmet has being going by the code name “Project 46” as the helmet has literally been built around Rossi himself. I say literally because AGV’s new helmet is based off what the Italian company is calling AGV Standards, a new philosophy on how the Italian company makes its forthcoming helmets.

AGV, Please Make This Helmet!

01/31/2012 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

In addition to testing the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 “Phoenix” this week at Sepang, Valentino Rossi is also trying out a new lid from AGV. Aside from the carbon fiber goodness, and of course the Rossi stickers (which add 5hp & $200), AGV’s prototype helmet sports a noticably pronounced rear spoiler. Tucked in behind the windscreen, it is obvious why the Italian helmet manufacturer designed such a large protrusion off the back of the prototype helmet, as it looks to be clearly helping the flow off the back of the helmet, across the rider’s hump, and down his backside.

Yes, that’s all well and good, but what has this writer really salivating is that reports from Malaysia say the windscreen’s field of view is HUGE. I think the exact words described to me were, “it’s like watching a flat screen TV with your nose against the monitor.” While I love my AGV AX-8 Dual Sport (I rocked it hard at the BRD RedShift SM prototype test), I just can’t get that same enthusiasm behind AGV’s road race line. Having ridden with both the AGV T2 and AGV GP-Tech, my biggest complaint is that the field of view on both these helmets feels restricted (a common complaint apparently from riders used to Arai’s helmet design).

The Dainese D-Air Racing Airbag Suit Comes to America

01/26/2012 @ 7:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Getting a look at Dainese & AGV’s 2012 collection, Asphalt & Rubber was down in Orange County earlier this week to see the highly anticipated Dainese D-Air Racing leather suit, which has a four liter airbag system that helps reduce the risk of injury during a motorcycle crash.

Dainese has been working on the D-Air Racing system for 10 years now, and after soft-launching the airbag suit in Europe, the Italian company is ready to bring the game-changing technology to American soil.

If you watch MotoGP or World Superbike, you have likely already seen the roughly one pound (650 grams) D-Air Racing suit at work, as riders like Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Leon Haslam, and Max Biaggi have been wearing Dainese’s airbag leathers while racing, and have also been providing the company with feedback on the D-Air’s design and development.

In addition to deploying an airbag that protects a rider’s neck, chest, and shoulders, the Dainese D-Air system also provides a telemetry package that track riders can use in lieu of a basic motorcycle data acquisition system.

Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Mugello Helmet

07/02/2011 @ 2:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Despite Valentino Rossi getting the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1 for the Italian GP at Mugello, the nine-time World Champion is still struggling with a 12th place qualifying position. Despite his troubles, Rossi is keeping true to his tradition of wearing a special AGV helmet at his home GP round. Featuring a giant eyeball on the top of the lid (Rossi’s bulldogs are featured on the back of the helmet), we can only imagine Rossi is paying with the fact that all eyes are on him this year as he tackles the new challenges that surround his move to Ducati Corse.

So far Rossi and Jeremy Burgess haven’t been able to tame the beast, and at Mugello, the famous crew chief is absent, having to attend to personal obligations back home in Australia this weekend. With QP cut-short by inclement weather, Rossi and Ducati had only a handful of laps to work on setting up the GP11.1 for Mugello, which could prove to be a hurdle come Sunday morning. Whatever the reasons are for Rossi’s design choice, he will be one to watch tomorrow to see if he can overcome the hurdles that are set out before him. More photos after the jump.

How Jason Pridmore Scared the Crap Out of Me…Twice

05/29/2011 @ 7:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

It all started innocently enough, as I was having dinner with some friends from Dainese before the West Coast Moto Jam, they suggested that I do a two-up ride with Jason Pridmore on the National Guard Suzuki Superbike. “Yeah, that’d be really cool,” I said in response, trying not to burst with excitement as to how awesome and unique I thought the experience would be. Barely sleeping the night before, I arrived Saturday morning at Infineon Raceway, and got decked out in the Dainese/AGV gear that was provided, and headed over to the National Guard Jordan Superbike team pits where we met up with Jason Pridmore.

I was accompanied by several National Guardsmen and some fans (you can win a two-up ride by following Jason on Twitter), and before we got started the AMA & FIM World Endurance veteran introduced the program to us. “Before we start has anyone here been drinking?” asked Pridmore – the day had been hot, and this was a NASCAR venue after all. Raising his hand and looking at the ten of us, “Oh, so just me?..let’s get started” continued Pridmore. Yeah…it was going to be like that.

Swinging my leg over the pillion seat on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Jason gave me a run-down again on the instructions, and asked me how I was feeling. “I’m pumped,” I replied. “Go as fast as you can.” Now let us take a moment to evaluate who this is the point where I made my critical error in the day, as I suspect Pridmore takes a special joy in scaring the life out of hapless moto-journalists who find themselves on the back of his motorcycle.

Actually, Jason makes it a point to say in his briefing that the goal is to make the ride fun for every passenger, and consider that a goal achieved, as you’d be hard pressed to find someone getting off the back of Jordan Suzuki without a grin that stretches ear-to-ear. However, I suspect that if you’re a motorcycle blogger with more ego than commonsense, this whole concept is forfeit, and it’s at this point in time that I would like to apologize to every pillion I’ve ever had on the back of my street bikes (you know who you are).

Valentino Rossi All Dressed Up for Work at Ducati Corse – Finally Talks on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11

01/11/2011 @ 3:36 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Holding a press conference this morning at the Wrooom media event in the Dolomite Mountains, Valentino Rossi finally got a chance to officially talk to the press about his experience testing the Ducati at Valencia late last year, and his general impressions on riding with Ducati Corse. Commenting that “the Ducati is different from all the other bikes, it’s a proper prototype, the concept is different from the Japanese factories,” Rossi went on to explain that “you need a bit of a ‘dirtier’ style to ride the Desmosedici.”

In addition to his thoughts, official photos of Rossi’s leathers (Nicky Hayden’s as well, but to less fanfare) have been released by Ducati Corse, which see Rossi’s neon yellow color scheme mixed in with the red and white of Ducati Corse. The clashing colors might not please the aesthetically critical, but we have a feeling people will get used to the arrangement. Photos of the GP11’s race livery are expected tomorrow (Wednesday).

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography