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.

Why the USA Might Tax European Motorcycles Over Beef

01/17/2017 @ 4:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler57 COMMENTS

What do chickens have to do with potatoes? For that matter, what do chickens have to do with steel? And what do both of those things have to do with tires?

The answer isn’t as obvious as you may think, and this week everyone in the motorcycle industry is asking themselves what European motorcycles have to do with beef exports.

The answer to all these questions is the same though, and it involves the rather unsophisticated motorcycle industry being dragged into the rather complex world of international trade negotiation. Let me explain.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #41 – Brappy Holidays

01/01/2017 @ 2:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Brappy Holidays from the Two Enthusiasts Podcast crew, as we bring you Episode 41 – our penultimate show of the 2016 season.

To help get through the winter doldrums, we catch up on several recent news items, namely the changes to the World Superbike Championship rules, the management shuffle at KTM North America, and the AMA anointing WERA as its amateur motorcycle racing league of choice.

It is an interesting and entertaining show…and our apologies in advance to any of our French listeners. If we can be so bold to say, the rabbit holes on this episode are especially choice. Tis the season to be brappy!

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Snow Bike Racing Is Officially A Thing Now

12/02/2016 @ 9:43 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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Depending on your geography, the start of snow bike season might finally be here. These modified dirt bikes have snowmobile-like treads at the rear, a ski at the front, and look like an absolute blast in the frozen white stuff.

We’re sure that any time two snow bikes find themselves together, that some form of racing ensues. But now, to make things a bit more legit, the American Motorcyclist Association has officially sanctioned snow bike racing, starting the AMA Championship Snow Bike series in the process.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #32 – Kinda Corny

09/13/2016 @ 11:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Summer is coming to an end in Two Enthusiasts Podcast land, and as such Episode 32 starts with some talk of the final track days of the season, before we head off into a discussion about the American Motorcyclist Association.

The prompt for this discussion is the recent kerfuffle over four-gallon minimum fill-ups from blended nozzles (if you don’t know what that means; don’t worry, we get you up to speed on it in the show), and the AMA’s response to this recent business recommendation from the corn lobby.

We examine this issue, and then turn to talk about the AMA as an organization, and whether it is representing the best interests of mainstream motorcyclists.

It’s a pretty interesting conversation, which quite frankly, every motorcycle-owner should examine for themselves, and decide where they fall in terms of how this industry should be lead in the coming years.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

The Real Deal with E15 Fuel and Four-Gallon Fill-Ups

09/02/2016 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Every month, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) releases notes on the various happenings and movements that are occurring in the two-wheeled political landscape.

September being no different, one of the AMA’s line items is the return of a four-gallon minimum purchase recommendation of E15 fuel, courtesy of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

If this issue sounds familiar, it is because a similar provision was put forward by the EPA back in 2012, but was ultimately withdrawn when it was clear most motorcycle carried only 3-5 gallons of gas, and were not EPA-approved to run E15 fuel.

I wasn’t planning on rehashing this story when the AMA’s note came out, but since there have been a few reports with some inaccurate information, I thought it best to address what is going on with E15 fuel this time around.

Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

07/13/2016 @ 8:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

bonneville-salt-flat-conditions-2016

Racing seems set to return finally to the Bonneville Salt Flats this year, as the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) has found the conditions favorable to run its Speed Week event next month (above is a photo taken of the salt flats, just two weeks ago).

This is good news for land-speed racers, as racing at Bonneville has seen a two-year hiatus because of deteriorating salt conditions in 2014 and 2015.

Now, the SCTA says that it sees the Bonneville Salt Flats as being suitable for three courses – an 8-mile “long course”, 5-mile “short course”, and a 3-mile “rookie course” – and has begun prepping the salt for its Speed Week event next month.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

04/18/2016 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events.

The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts.

Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Good News, You Can Now Watch AMA Supermoto on TV

03/30/2016 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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For the first time in eight years, you can now watch AMA Supermoto racing action on TV, as the rebooted series has signed a television deal with the MAVTV Motorsports Networks.

The TV package is a bit limited, as it includes 12 airings of six episodes (two apiece), which will cover racing from three venues, as well as highlights from the other three races on the calendar, but it is still a step in the right direction for supermoto racing in the USA.

The three race venues that MAVTV will cover are the rounds in Sturgis, South Dakota (round three); Denver, Colorado (round five); Tuscon, Arizona (the season finale).

In addition to the MAVTV package, the main event at the Quebec City race (round four) will get national and international coverage, as its part of the World Rally X Series.

Danny Eslick Pleads “No Contest” to Battery Charges – Gets Reduced Crime with 12 Months Probation

03/15/2016 @ 4:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

danny-eslick-mugshot

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Danny Eslick (shown above in his mug shot) has resolved his issues from Daytona Bike Week, as the local newspaper reports that Eslick has plead “no contest” to charges that he struck a police officer last week, ahead of the Daytona 200.

In exchange for his plea, Eslick’s charges for battery on a law enforcement officer have been dropped from a felony of the third degree, down to a misdemeanor battery.

This means that Eslick should get a 12-month probation from the court, with early termination set at the six-month mark, which includes provisions for sobriety and counseling. However, that sentence could not be made by Circuit Court Judge Frank Marriott because of a technical matter, as it is not clear how Eslick will serve probation while out-of-state.

This leaves Eslick suspension with the AMA in a bit of limbo, until the terms and process of the probation are figured out by the Florida Department of Corrections.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 18 – Sorry for Partying

03/12/2016 @ 7:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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In Episode 18 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, Quentin and I use the recent news of Danny Eslick’s arrest in Daytona Beach, and his subsequent suspension from AMA racing, as a launching point to discuss the myriad of issues that surround rider personalities in motorsports.

Our conversation hits on the topic of how rider personalities have been whitewashed over the years, for the sake of corporate sponsors and team image, and we talk about the need for more “raw” riders in motorcycle racing.

This is obviously a topic that expands beyond just Eslick’s situation, and what is going on inside AMA Pro Racing / MotoAmerica, as we see other series, like World Superbike and MotoGP struggling with the same issues. It’s a meaty show, and we think you will like it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!