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.

IOMTT: SES TT Zero Race Results

06/09/2016 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The pace of development on the electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT has been astonishing, with each year seeing more and more progress on the lap times from the top teams.

This year, Team Mugen once again is the paddock favorite, with expectations of a 120+ mph lap resting on their shoulders. With two riders capable of such a lap, John McGhinness and Bruce Anstey, a lot of pressure has been on the Mugen squad to continue to raise the bar.

While Mugen has been the paddock favorites, we’ve seen strong showings from the Saroléa bike from Beligum, and Victory’s entry from the USA. Saroléa is in the hunt for a 120 mph lap, while Victory’s goal sees to get past the 115 mph lap marker.

While many thought the podium was set before the TT Zero race was even away, competitors found out the hard way that there is a reason we lineup to go racing, because anything can happen.

Victory RR Electric Race Bike Debuts for the Isle of Man TT

05/23/2016 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Victory Motorcycles will return to the Isle of Man TT this year, competing again with its electric superbike platform, the Victory RR.

Evolving from the ashes of the Brammo Empulse RR project, the Victory RR continues the work on electric drivetrains for Brammo, which now develops the electric drivetrains that power the Victory Empulse TT electric street bike.

With an all-new machine for the 2016 racing season, the Victory RR is the top-pick to upset the recent domination we have seen from Team Mugen, though that will be a tall order, with Mugen updating its Shinden race bike this year as well.

Some Curious Details of That Stolen Victory TT Race Bike

08/18/2015 @ 3:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A month ago, the Victory TT electric race bike was stolen from the Brammo’s headquarters in Talent, Oregon. Thankfully, the bike was recovered quickly, though it suffered some damage to the bodywork, and the rear wheel was removed.

Two suspects were arrested in conjunction with the theft, and currently are out on $25,000 bail bonds. We will have to let the great wheel of justice sort out the facts, and awaits the two suspects in question.

While one would likely not call the legal process entertaining, there are some amusing facts at issue to this case.

Victory Empulse TT — A Rebadged Brammo Empulse R

07/28/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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When Polaris acquired Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, and left the startup to be its electric drivetrain guru, much was talked about what would come to the electric motorcycle manufacturer. So, when a Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike showed up at the Isle of Man TT in Victory Motorcycles livery — let’s not forget the Brammo employees in Victory t-shirts — a bit of Polaris’ game was tipped.

Therefore it is perhaps without surprise that today we bring you the Victory Empulse TT, which is basically a rebadged Brammo Empulse R street bike.

There are some improvements to the Victory Empulse TT over the Brammo Empulse, namely a larger battery pack (+10% for 10.4 kWh nominal), a narrower rear tire (180 is now a 160), a new seat, and most importantly, a rubber cush drive for the rear wheel.

We won’t waste words hyping a motorcycle that has effectively already been on the market for several years, but we will point out two things: 1) Brammo Victory has improved upon an already competent design, and 2) the addition of the cush drive could change our luke-warm opinion of the Empulse R.

Victory Electric Race Bike Stolen from Brammo HQ

07/17/2015 @ 5:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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If you are in the Pacific Northwest, keep an eye out for a very special motorcycle that was stolen last night, the Victory electric race bike that ran at this year’s Isle of Man TT.

The bike in question is the #3 bike that Lee Johnston rode to a podium finish in the TT Zero class at the Isle of Man TT (VIN 0004), making the machine a particularly special bike from both Victory Motorcycles and their partner Brammo.

IOMTT: SES TT Zero Race Results

06/10/2015 @ 4:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It might be the shortest event during the TT fortnight, but the TT Zero packs the more technology and development than the other TT races combined. Every year, the electric race bikes make leaps of progress in their pace, and for 2015 the unofficial mark to beat was the 120 mph barrier.

Team Mugen seemed close to that mark during the practice sessions, with John McGuinness posting a timed 118 mph lap. With Bruce Anstey already a race winner from the Superbike TT, and McPint always looking good on the Shinden race bike, the duo was heavily favored to win.

This year’s TT Zero also sees the return of Brammo to the Isle of Man, disguised as the Victory Racing team.

Victory was originally slotted to have Lee Johnston and William Dunlop as its riders, but Dunlop’s crash during the Superstock race meant his TT racing was over for this year. Luckily, his Tyco BMW teammate, Guy Martin, was available and keen to ride the electrics, and thus substituted for the injured Dunlop.

Other entries include Saroléa and Saietta, as well as the university teams from Brunel, Kingston, and Nottingham.

Up-Close with the Victory Electric IOMTT Race Bike

06/10/2015 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In less than 24 hours, the TT Zero race will be underway at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, which means that riders Lee Johnson and Guy Martin (who is substituting for the injured William Dunlop) will be putting the Victory Motorcycles electric race bike through its paces on the 37.773-mile Mountain Course.

If Victory’s entry looks familiar, it should, as it’s based off the Brammo Empulse RR. Brammo has made some improvements to the machine for Victory though, namely a reworked motor, new battery pack, and aerodynamic touches.

IOMTT: Guy Martin Will Race Victory’s Electric Bike

06/09/2015 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In a surprise move last night at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, Guy Martin climbed aboard the Victory Motorcycles electric bike that will race in Wednesday’s SES TT Zero race.

The move came about after Martin’s teammate, William Dunlop, who was also set to race for Victory in the TT Zero, crashed at Laurel Bank during the Superstock practice session yesterday, breaking his ribs in the process. As such, Dunlop will not compete in the rest of the TT races.

Details on the Victory’s Electric Race Bike for the IOMTT

05/27/2015 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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News that Victory Motorcycles will be racing at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, in the TT Zero event no less, is still taking time to process. It’s a big deal for the Manx road race, and an even bigger deal to the American brand.

If you have been following the electric motorcycle scene, Victory’s race bike should look familiar, as its based off the Brammo Empulse RR.

Exactly what changes Victory will have at the Isle of Man have been a mystery, but our sources have given us some insight into the progress Brammo has made in its extended off-season.

Lee Johnston Talks Electrics & The IOMTT with Victory

05/20/2015 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Victory Motorcycles will be at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, and while that brand name is certainly a shocking one, no matter what class the American motorcycle manufacturer enters, and the fact that it will be in the electric TT Zero race at least makes for a good use of the word “shocking” in a punny sort of way.

Jokes aside, it’s a big announcement for the IOMTT, electric racing, and Victory Motorcycles itself. The evolved Brammo Empulse RR race bike that Victory will be using is certainly a well-sorted race machine, capable of giving Mugen a run for its money — not mention,William Dunlop and Lee Johnston are certainly some of the top riders around the Manx road course.

Testing with Brammo Victory at what looks like Thunderhill Raceway, Lee Johnston gives his first thoughts on riding an electric race bike, and what competing in the TT Zero class will be like at the 2015 Isle of Man TT.

We will be excited to see what Victory can accomplish this year at the TT. Hopefully this is what reignites the interest in electric motorcycle racing, and electric motorcycles in general.