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.

PSA: For the Love of Motorcycling, Don’t Taste Your Fluids

04/02/2015 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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One of the more amusing stories I think we’ve ever come across in A&R history, a Reddit user published his/her account of having a mystery fluid leak on their Suzuki V-Strom (shown above).

Unable to initially identify the fluid that was leaking down their forks, brakes, and front tire, our protagonist did the only logical method left to them: guess and check.

Tasting the fluid they found on their garage floor, and comparing it to the various “jus de vie” that make a motorcycle come to life, this Goldilocks of motorcycling was puzzled…nothing quite seemed right to their tongue.

The whole story, especially its ending, is perhaps best left to the original account on Reddit. But just so we’re clear…for the love of everything that’s holy, don’t taste the fluids on your motorcycle. It’s never a good idea.

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2015 April Fools Motorcycle Pranks Round-Up

04/01/2015 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

David had a timely piece on Dani Pedrosa going back to Moto3 with KTM, in order to win his fourth championship. Drawing on the Spaniard’s recent news about having severe arm-pump and needing to take a break from racing — the story caught out more than a few readers.

For those of us still working on our 2014 tax returns, and have deductions on the brain, we ran a story that the IRS would be allowing tax deductions, up to $500, on new helmet purchases — something we wouldn’t mind having occur in reality.

Our last story for the day on A&R was about Honda on the verge of releasing an autonomous motorcycle for the mainstream, a story we hope won’t come to reality for a very, very, very long time — if not ever.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

Video: What Moves You?

03/19/2015 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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I am always amazed by the sort of people that read Asphalt & Rubber on a daily basis — we have some very talented people in our ranks (including some even very famous ones), and it’s great to get email from them, even if it’s just to say hi.

Along those lines, I got a message from a reader named Brian recently, just showing us a spec commercial he and some friends made about motorcycling a while back. It features a Ducati, so I guess you could say it is aimed at the Ducati community, but honestly I think any motorcyclist would resonate with its words. Enjoy!

Portland’s “Alley Sweeper” Urban Enduro is a Go for 2015

03/03/2015 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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When it comes to the western states and motorcycling, California gets all the credit. But, Oregon has a thriving motorcycling community all of its own, especially in Portland — albeit, things can get a little weird up here, with influences like Moto Corsa, See See Motorcycles, Dirt Quake, and now Asphalt & Rubber.

On the vein of keeping PDX out of the norm, and reaffirming that there are no bad days on a motorcycle, we hear good news that the much-loved Alley Sweeper ride is back on for 2015.

For the uninitiated, the Alley Sweeper is an urband enduro of sorts, which takes place on the unmaintained alleyways within the Portland city limits. It’s part ride, part parade, part critical-mass….and usually more fun in the mud.

Watch Al Jump Over Two Motorcycles

01/23/2015 @ 1:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Apparently there is this guy named Al, and he’s really good at jumping over things. He’s so good at jumping over things, he goes by the name “Al the Jumper” — obviously.

Al has some pretty crazy ideas too, and that means he finds himself jumping over some pretty radical things — like in this case, where he jumps over two motorcycles that are speeding at him.

It’s an exercise in detailed planning, accurate execution, relentless training, and of course massive huevos. Happy Friday!

Video: Guy Martin Rides the Britten V1000

01/20/2015 @ 1:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Guy Martin has had some amazing rides in his life, but we imagine this one will stick out for quite a while.

Testing the Britten V1000, ahead of the John Britten Memorial Tribute in Christchurch, Martin’s name gets added to the very small list of priviledged individuals who have ridden John Britten’s masterpiece.

The road racer has some high-praise for the now nearly quarter-century-0ld design, and makes note of how the Britten V1000 is both similar and different than superbikes of the 1990’s and superbikes of today.

Your moto-jealously starts right after the jump.

Black Beauty Lives – Two Britten V1000s Will Hit the Track

01/12/2015 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Britten-V1000

Arguably one of the most impressive motorcycles ever created, the Britten V1000 has also one of the most interesting stories. Designed and built by John Britten, an engineer from New Zealand, the V1000 had elements and ideas way ahead of its time in 1996 — such as carbon fiber wheels, frameless chassis, and Hossack front suspension.

The results were promising. The Britten V1000 won the Battle of the Twins at Daytona (1994), was 1st and 2nd in the New Zealand National Superbike Championship (1994), and set the fastest top speed at the Isle of Man TT (1993).

Unfortunately in 1995, John Britten passed away, and his loss was felt by a country and an industry. With only a handful of V1000s made, most motorcycle enthusiasts have had to glimpse these pieces of two-wheeled history standing still on a museum showroom. Not this year though.

Yamaha Races “The Dakar” on Paper

01/01/2015 @ 5:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Yamaha’s papercraft projects are perhaps the most unique marketing pieces to come from any of the motorcycle manufacturers, and they are also some of the most impressive. Focusing on the upcoming Dakar Rally, Yamaha has made a set of papercraft rally raid machines, complete with riders and scenery.

As usual, the whole set is downloadable in PDF form (you can make both the 1995 Yamaha XTZ850R and 2014 Yamaha YZ450F), for you to try your hand at the tedious style of artwork. Be forewarned though, the models are extensive…including even a complete frame, knobby wheels, and other details.

You’ll need A4, an exacto knife, glue, and a steady hand before you download the model sets. If any reader attempts this model set, please send us your results in picture form.

Video: Dubstep + Flat Track + Slow-Mo

10/27/2014 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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If I’m doing my math right, it’s Monday back home. Time to get the week started. Time to start the countdown to the next weekend. If you cringed at the thought, we have something to help get you through the rest of the day. Dubstep, meets flat track racing at the Springfield Mile, meets slow-motion cinematography. It’s not going to win at Sundance, but it’s highly mesmerizing…and flat track is just damn cool.

Video: Husqvarna FS 450 – Just Take Our Money

09/12/2014 @ 12:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna as a brand is seeing new life within KTM, albeit currently as dressed up KTM and Husaberg models. Still, Husky fans have to be happy to see the once Swedish brand living with some stability in its life. Nixing bikes like the Husqvarna Nuda, as well as the Husqvarna Moab and Husqvarna Baja concepts, the Husky reboot has been absent of on-road machines.

The Husqvarna FS 450 doesn’t really change that reality, as the supermoto comes in race-only trim (it’s really just a KTM 450 SX-F with the appropriate SM modifications), but the FS 450 certainly is a good start in that direction.

Supermotos might be the most fun you can have on two wheels, and Husqvarna’s video makes us hope that a ‘tard finds its way to the US market, with lights and turn signals preferably.