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.”

2017 MotoAmerica Provisional Calendar Released

10/07/2016 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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The provisional calendar for the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Championship has been released, and it features a 10-stop tour for American road racing.

The 2017 calendar looks like an improvement over the 2016 schedule, with fewer gaps between races and no repeat venues. Fans will also welcome the return of Sonoma Raceway (that’s Sears Point to you locals) to the calendar, as well as the debut of Pittsburgh International Race Complex (one of my personal favorite tracks).

Geographically, the 2017 MotoAmerica calendar makes a lot more sense too, with more of a logical progression across the map between races, a benefit for teams and logistics personnel.

Fans from around the USA should be able to get to at least one round within a day’s travel by car, which should help attendance numbers.

At the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

01/04/2016 @ 1:42 pm, by Andrew Kohn13 COMMENTS

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Overwhelming, but in a really good way. That’s the best way to describe the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Officially categorized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest motorcycle museum, the collection at Barber contains over 1,400 motorcycles with over 650 on display at any one time.

Over 20 manufacturers are represented, and the collections spans over 100 years of motorcycling’s history. This is truly a destination that no motorcycle enthusiast should miss.

Founded by George Barber in 1995, the museum started in downtown Birmingham, Alabama before moving to its current location in the Birmingham suburb of Leeds in 2003.

The 144,000 square foot museum comfortably rests on the grounds of the Barber Motorsports Park, with the entire back half of the building overlooking the popular 2.38 mile track.

George Barber started as a car racer, racing Porsches and racking up 63 victories. From that background, he began collecting cars, but quickly realized there were numerous world-class car collections that already existed.

On the other hand, there really wasn’t a world class motorcycle museum that truly captured the history of the sport. Barber saw an opportunity, began collecting motorcycles, and the rest is history.

Once in a Lifetime – The Brittens at Barber

10/13/2015 @ 2:14 pm, by Andrew Kohn11 COMMENTS

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This past weekend, the largest gathering of Britten Motorcycles occurred at the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

As many of you know, John Britten was a brilliant motorcycle designer from New Zealand who built a total of ten Britten V1000 racing motorcycles before his untimely death from cancer in 1995, at the age of 45.

These bikes were definitely ahead of their time and Britten’s engineering genius has been admired, even well after his passing.

George Barber, the founder and owner of the Barber Motorsports Park and Museum, was an early Britten backer and owner, who decided to pay tribute to Britten at this year’s Barber Vintage Festival.

Nine of the ten Brittens ever produced were at the event; the most ever gathered in one place, at one time. The only Britten not present was number three, which is owned by the people of New Zealand and is proudly displayed at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.

Throughout the weekend there were multiple events that paid tribute to John Britten and the amazing motorcycles he designed and fabricated. This included Brittens on the track during the daily lunch intermission.

At the Barber Vintage Festival

10/12/2015 @ 4:23 pm, by Andrew Kohn6 COMMENTS

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Beautiful weather, rolling green hills, and a world class facility; all punctuated by a crowd of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. Welcome to the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the event and the crowd was as big as ever. Last year, over 65,000 people attended during the three day event and this year didn’t seem any different.

Of course, the highlight of this year’s event was the largest gathering of Britten V1000 motorcycles ever (which we’ll cover in-depth in a separate article), and as always, there was great vintage motorcycle racing by the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA).

Everywhere you looked, there were motorcycles. The amazing thing about this event is the variety. Unlike many events where the focus is on one type of motorcycle, Barber focuses on a little bit of everything.

AMA Pro Road Racing Announces Five, Maybe Six, Races on Its 2014 Provisional Calendar

01/08/2014 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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The long-awaited AMA Pro Road Racing calendar for the 2014 season has been released, and motorcycle racing fans will be shocked to hear that America’s premier series has been reduced to just five race weekends this year, with the hopes of a sixth weekend being added to the mix.

As usual, the season starts in March at Daytona, and features the Daytona 200. AMA Pro Road Racing will then take a month and a half break, until it reconvenes at Road America at the end of May / beginning of June. Barber, Mid-Ohio, and NJMP then follow, with Laguna Seca hopefully being added to the list once that whole mess is resolved.

Watch the Motus MST Go Around Barber Motorsports Park

04/26/2011 @ 12:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Another update from those southern boys at Motus, this time showing off their MST & MST-R American sport-tourers hitting some track time at Barber Motorsports Park. Obviously still in the development phase of their production process, we see that the MST-R has gotten some carbon fiber clothes (yum!), while the MST looks very fit and polished with its touring bags on-board.

We’re still not sure about how the Motus MST and MST-R will fare in free market, as we’ve seen so many American motorcycle companies generate a lot of buzz with little substance. However, one thing is for certain about the Motus project: the company has the right amount of cowbell in that KMV4 1,645cc GDI motor that should make any motorcyclist with a pulse grin ear-to-ear. Check the video out after the jump…yes, it’s ok to watch it several times.

AMA Checks Power-to-Weight Ratio on Pro Daytona SportBikes – A&R Checks the Math

05/07/2009 @ 12:47 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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AMA Pro Road Racing officials dyno tested the 10 motorcycles that qualified for Friday’s Superpole session at Barber Motorsports Park, in an effort to maintain a more competitive balance among the hodgepodge of bikes competing in the series. In their study, they found that the bikes range in power-to-weight ratios from 2.65lbs/hp to 3.14lbs/hp, with a .28lbs/hp gap between first and second ranked bikes. What is interesting about the report from the AMA is that they never named which bikes were making how much horsepower, thus leaving it a mystery who had the supreme power-to-weight advantage. Never fear, math and common sense are here. We crunched the numbers to figure out what the likely results are in this report. Our conclusions may astound you, and/or confirm your suspcions about the series, and maybe AMA road racing as a whole.