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.

The BMW R nineT Urban G/S Helps Us Remember When the Dakar Rally Still Raced to Dakar

11/08/2016 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Our Bothan Spies came through once again this EICMA season, bringing us news that the BMW Lac Rose Concept would enter production as the 2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S motorcycle.

As the name implies, the Urban G/S is based off the BMW R nineT platform, which means that it uses the iconic 1,170cc, 110hp, air-cooled, boxer-twin engine as its base, and then builds out from there.

As such, the chassis is the same modular frame that powers the rest of the R nineT line, complete with telescoping fork suspension at the front, along with a 19″ wheel wire-spoked wheel in the front, and a 17″ wire-spoked wheel in the rear.

All of this means that the BMW R nineT is mostly an aesthetic exercise – but it is quite the exercise, if you want our opinion.

Ducati Monster 797 – The Air-Cooled Monster Returns

11/07/2016 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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The third amigo to Ducati’s air-cooled posse debuting at EICMA, the Ducati Monster 797 brings back Bologna’s 803cc two-valve engine to the Monster family.

The return of the Monster 797 also happens to add a third model to Ducati’s iconic street-focused Monster line, offering another affordable entry point into the Ducati brand for those who aren’t interested in the Italian company’s scrambler or café racer models.

BMW Lac Rose Concept Going into Production for 2017

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

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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.

Honda CB1100R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

08/24/2016 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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We’ve got air-cooled bikes on the brain today, so it seemed appropriate to share one of Oberdan Bezzi’s latest work. The Honda CB1100R concept imagines an air-cooled inline-four engin, wrapped in the bodywork of a sport bike that harkens back to the Honda RC30.

Two classic bikes from Honda’s lineup that make for odd bedfellows, Bezzi’s concept strikes a chord though – especially with more veteran riders who remember when 100hp was more than any street rider could hope for.

Despite the advent of Euro4 emission regulations and crack-downs by the EPA, air-cooled motorcycles are finding their second wind. Free from having to achieve outright performance figures,  less powerful air-cooled motorcycles are filling a niche where more simple and affordable bikes are the most alluring.

Air-Cooled Engines Returning to the Ducati Monster Line

08/24/2016 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Ducati’s 2017 line seems to be getting the full monty this week, with yet again more spy photos emerging of the Italian company’s upcoming motorcycles. Today’s installment sees us looking at the Ducati Monster line, which appears to be getting a third variant for 2017.

As you can see from the photo above, the Ducati Monster lineup will see the addition of an air-cooled model, likely one that shares the same 803cc lump that is found in the Ducati Scrambler.

This so-called Ducati Monster 803 will slot in below the other Monster models, which will likely include a Ducati Monster 939 and an updated Ducati Monster 1200.

Triumph Begins Teasing the Liquid-Cooled Bonneville

10/12/2015 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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That headline is a bit of a misnomer, since the new liquid-cooled Triumph Bonneville has been “spied” for some time now in the media.

Triumph is at least capable of admitting that its hipster machine is getting an update now, releasing this teaser video that hints at “something big” coming our way – if liquid-cooling an engine is something big, then we couldn’t agree more.

Leaked: Photos of BMW’s 90th Anniversary Café Racer

10/16/2013 @ 1:45 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It looks like BMW’s new air-cooled café racer has made an early, albeit brief, appearance on the internet. Photos of what we have been calling the BMW NineT appeared today on Italian news site La Repubblica, though the writers there called the machine the BMW R Nine. Unfortunately (for us) however, the article has since been taken down by the Italian publication.

With the NineT set to debut later today in Munich, these photos seem to be of the soon-to-be-released production model, and appear to be still shots for the machine’s upcoming press kit.

Spy Shots: BMW NineT Spotted in the Wild

09/25/2013 @ 12:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Ganzseitiges Foto

At the EICMA show last year, BMW Motorrad announced that it would make another air-cooled model, in order to commemorate the 90 years that the German OEM has been producing two-wheelers.

Expected to be the production version of the company’s LoRider concept, we got our first taste of what BMW had in store for us with the BMW Concept Ninety — which had its retro goodness co-developed with America’s own Roland Sands.

Now seemingly ready for a true production model, BMW Motorrad has been caught testing the BMW NineT street bike inside the Lake Garda region in Italy.

Obviously fitted with the venerable 1,200cc air-cooled boxer twin that has made the GS and RT such steady steeds, the NineT uses classic motorcycle aesthetics, mated to classic BMW design pieces.

Rumor: Ducati Scrambler Cometh

07/08/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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While I was lounging at the pool this holiday weekend, getting my bronze on, the A&R Bothan Spy network was hard at work dumpster diving, hacking emails, and subscribing to the NSA’s live PRISM feed.

The fruits of that labor was the alarming realization of how many kitten videos the motorcycle industry collectively watches in a single day, and the fact that Ducati is working on scrambler-style motorcycle.

The project itself dates way back when Pierre Terblanche was still toiling away in Bologna, dodging equal portions of labor strikes and carbonara, and at the time was based around the now defunct Ducati Sport Classic.

Shelved, and thought never to see the light of day, we can only imagine this whole Hipstacyclist™ movement has helped Ducati rethink its position regarding a scrambler.

BMW Concept Ninety – Retro Meets Modern

05/24/2013 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler52 COMMENTS

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Late last year, we said that BMW Motorrad was working on a special air-cooled motorcycle to help commemorate the German company’s 90th anniversary of making motorbikes. Well, today we get to see what zie Germans have been up to, and it is called the BMW Concept Ninety.

Taking its cues from the BMW R90S, which itself turns 40-years-old today, the BMW Concept Ninety is debuting at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and was designed by America’s own Roland Sands Design and the BMW Motorrad design team.

“The BMW R 90 S hails from an era in which bikers were regarded as outlaws,” said Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design, in the company’s press release. “There was something rebellious about it – it was fast, loud and wild. Pure emotion. And it has retained its fascination to this day.”

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the BMW Concept Ninety. Photos and video are after the jump of course, and leave your thoughts about the machine in the comments.