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.”

Gone Riding: 2016 Yamaha FJR1300

03/17/2016 @ 12:52 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Back on the road again, and this time I’m out in Arizona with Yamaha North America, riding the recently updated 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 sport-tourer.

Tomorrow sees our group leaving Phoenix and heading up into Sedona, where the red earth and picturesque mesas should make for an epic backdrop to our full day of riding.

For those who don’t know, the FJR1300 is a model that Yamaha has been slowly evolving each model year, instead of making punctuated improvements every few years. This makes it a surprising machine for press launch, but it also happens to be an important one for us to evaluate.

The sport-touring segment is surprisingly hot right now, with 17% growth in the past year, thanks mostly to the Yamaha FJ-09. There are some who think that the sport-touring market is dead, supplanted by the adventure-sport category, yet for some veteran riders, the ethos of the Yamaha FJR1300 is ideal.

The big news for the 2016 model year is the addition of a new six-speed gearbox, which should make highway speeds a bit more friendly. We will also be keen to tryout the suite of electronics on the base model FJR1300A, and experience the electronic suspension on the FJR1300ES, both of which were on the 2015 models, but are new to us.

As usual, I will attempt to answer questions regarding the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 from the road. We will have two days of riding on the machine, so that should be ample opportunity for A&R to get acquainted with this venerable sport-tourer, and give you the skinny on its qualities.

As before, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel that are here with me in Arizona. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can also try searching for the hashtags: #FJR1300 for the thoughts of our colleagues as well.

Broventure Update – Day Seven: Unusual Perspectives

09/16/2013 @ 10:16 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The days are winding down now, with today being our last real day of this Broventure (tomorrow we make the long arduous trek from Las Vegas back to Santa Barbara). Our agenda is simple: go see the Grand Canyon and stop at the Hoover Dam.

It’s raining this morning, naturally, and a weather front is coming in behind us. This wouldn’t be much of an issue, except we have to back-track our way from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It would seem that we cannot escape the rain.

Broventure Update – Day Six: The Long Goodbye

09/13/2013 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The trails and trials of Moab are behind us now, and all that remains is the long ride home, back to California. For as much “what if” planning that went into our preparation for this trip, we are surprisingly unscathed by our off-roading and touring adventures thus far.

I mean, Tim probably has a hairline fracture or severely torn ligament in his right wrist — a reward for an epic bike-before-body save on the Super Ténéré — but he continues to get punches on his Man Card by soldiering on with little complaint. Overall, our spirits are good.

Getting some greatly deserved slumber, we awoke to see that the rain has not left us from the previous day. It is coming down in waves, and making the process of getting out of our sleeping bags and tents a very undesirable prospect.

We have roughly 500 miles of riding planned for the day, as we plan to back-track out of Moab to get onto SR-95 South — our last great riding route of the trip. The excursion is a bit out of our way home, but all reports suggest it to be another epic ride, and for bonus points it will bring us close to the Grand Canyon, another sight Tim and I were hoping to see on this Broventure.

But before we can do that, we must first say goodbye to Moab, with its pantheon of geological wonder, and the trails and road that we navigated to see them.

Broventure Update – Day Two: A Little Late

09/06/2013 @ 2:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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It is a good thing that Tim has roughly a decade of experience in what can be only described as my “lucid understanding regarding the passage of time.” Or to put it another way, when on Thursday morning I said, “I want to be on the road by 8am,” what I really meant was 11am…ehh, maybe 11:19am. So much for our early start out of Las Vegas, and any hope of avoiding the brain frying heat, but our spirits were high, and ultimately, our timetable is self-imposed.

Getting on the road, the miles went by considerably fast…as least as fast as they can when it is again 104 degrees outside. Despite this though, we just couldn’t overcome the setbacks created by our late departure. Instead of the 270 miles to Bryce Canyon, we had to settle for a much shorter 180 mile trip to Zion — not that we are complaining though.

A&R Broventure 2013: The Moab Expedition

08/29/2013 @ 11:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Moab, even the name sounds as foreign as its landscapes are to a city slicker like me. You see, there comes a point where you can only pound so much payment on your daily two-wheeled commute before you have to get away from it all…and with San Francisco currently undergoing its Bridgepocalypse, the timing seems right for Asphalt & Rubber to get a little dirt on its riding boots.

The truth is that I have wanted to go the parks that flank the Moab, Utah region since my early Boy Scout days. Once I got a car, it went on the short-list for road trip destinations; when I got a 4×4 it became the target for a four-wheeling adventure; and of course when I got a motorcycle…well, you get the idea. I have never made the trip happen though, but all that is going to change next week.

Just as Scott and David get back from Silverstone, covering what should be a very entertaining British GP, I will be embarking on a eight-day, 2,000+ mile, Santa Barbara to Moab and back, motorcycle trip. Like most of my foolish travel adventures, my college roommate Tim, a long-time riding buddy and occasional A&R helper, will make the adventure with me on two trusty steeds: a BMW R1200GS and Yamaha Super Ténéré.

The Mother Lode of Yamaha Super Ténéré Photos

11/30/2010 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Lane Splitting Bill Proposed in Arizona

03/22/2010 @ 11:44 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Arizona is considering a bill that would allow Arizonian motorcyclists to lane-split when traffic is stopped. The proposed bill should make motorcyclists happy and help relieve some traffic congestion; however all is not well in the Grand Canyon State. After the proposal of bill HB 2475, the local ABC affiliate went to the streets to ask citizens what they thought of the proposal, and the reaction they got was not a positive one.

Arizona Motorsports Park Wins Crucial Legal Battle to Re-Open Race Track in the Desert

09/20/2009 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Arizona Motorsports Park, the $6 million, 155-acre, 16-turn, 2.23-mile racecourse outside of Glendale, Arizona, has won a crucial legal verdict from the Arizona Court of Appeals. The appellate court has ruled that the race track detrimentally relied on a permit provided by the county to build their facility, and is therefore entitled to continue using its property for racing events.