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.

Hopper Turns Down Tech3 and Repsol Ride Offers

06/06/2011 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

With two riders out of MotoGP right now because of shoulder injuries (Dani Pedrosa & Colin Edwards), the number of riders in the premier class has dropped down to just 15 expected to compete at the British GP. With that news comes pressure from Dorna for the teams to find replacements, and with a limited talent pool, the usual suspects are being bandied about. One of the people on the short list is former-GP rider John Hopkins, who raced for Rizla Suzuki at the Spanish GP in Jerez after Álvaro Bautista broke his femur at Qatar and was unable to compete.

Ian Hutchinson Will Miss 2011 Isle of Man TT

05/11/2011 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

By last year’s account, Ian Hutchinson is the king of the Isle of Man TT, winning an historic five TT races in 2010. Unfortunately however, the English rider will have to sit out the 2011 IoMTT, as Shaun Muir Racing has confirmed that Hutchinson has not fully recovered from the injuries he sustained from during an incident in a BSB Supersport race, which was held at Silverstone in September 2010. From that incident, the 31 year-old Hutchinson has suffered from a compound fracture of the tibia and fibia, and has had 16 surgeries and skin grafts to treat his injuries.

Moving to the Shaun Muir Racing team, Hutchinson had hoped to defend his five TT wins in this year’s event, but instead will only be able to participate in the Arai Parade Lap with Mick Doohan, Nicky Hayden. and Cal Crutchlow. Hutchinson is now expecting a return to motorcycle racing later in the BSB Supersport season, due largely to his vigorous rehabilitation efforts.

John Hopkins Takes First Race Win in 11 Years

05/03/2011 @ 6:59 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It was the first time that an American has won a British Superbike race, and his victory in Race 2 at Oulton Park was John Hopkins’s first race win in 11 years, making the event doubly special for the Anglo-American and his fans. Taking a second place finish in Race 1, Hopkins’s result this weekend was equally impressive as the Oulton track was another venue that the former MotoGP rider had to learn as he went.

Proving to be in top form on the Crescent Suzuki GSX-1000R, Hopper is now fourth in the British Superbike Championship. With a format a bit different than what us Americans are used to, moving into the the top six “Title Fighters” group of riders is tremendously important to winning the overall Championship. In BSB, only the riders who are in the top six in the points standings qualify to compete for the “British Superbike Champion” title, which occurs over the final three rounds of the season.

A Behind the Scenes Look of Alpinestars HQ with Jon Kirham and Crescent Suzuki

04/28/2011 @ 7:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Where does Crescent Suzuki’s Jon Kirkham go when he needs custom racing leathers made for his British Superbike Championship bid? Why Alpinestars of course. Testing in Spain before the 2011 season began, Kirkham stopped by the Alpinestars HQ in Italy to get fitted for his new racing suit, and the Crescent Suzuki team brought along its cameras to share the experience with everyone else.

You don’t have to follow the BSB series to appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a custom leather suit, and getting an inside look at one of the top brand’s operation is certainly enlightening. The process is more involved than just taking a stock suit and putting logos on it. Instead each piece is custom cut to the rider’s measurements, and hand sewn to make a completely unique garment for Kirkham.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that if he bins it during practice or a race, a new custom suit can be made from scratch in just eight hours. Check the video out after the jump.

Hopkins to Wildcard in World Superbikes at Silverstone

03/03/2011 @ 8:59 am, by Victoria Reid9 COMMENTS

Despite newly announced title sponsor Samsung, British Superbike squad Crescent Racing will not enter John Hopkins as a wildcard entry for the Donington Park round of World Superbike racing as previously expected. Instead, both the American rider and his new teammate, reigning BST Champion Jon Kirkham, will be entered for the British WSBK round at Silverstone later in the season.

Originally, the team had announced that Hopkins would race at Donington, but with a rider new to the team testing today at Cartagena, it seems as though Crescent Suzuki has decided to wait to join the WSBK fray. They will continue their testing March 8th at Guadix, Spain in advance of the BSB opener at Brands Hatch on April 25th.

Hopper Testing at Qatar with Rizla Suzuki

02/09/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

It started out as a rumor, with Crash.net reporting that John Hopkins could see himself once again taking to the Suzuki GSV-R in a one-off wild card race during the 2011 season. That notion in the past few days has expanded to to include Hopper riding at the IRTA test in Qatar next month, presumably to see if he would be capable of replacing Alvaro Bautista, should the Spanish rider become injured during the 2011 season.

For those keeping track, that’s Hopkins going from the AMA, to the BSB Championship, and now MotoGP (albeit as an alternate) in a matter of months; and as MCN reports, it’s due largely to the fact that Paul Denning owns not only the Crescent Suzuki Team, but is also the Team Manager for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP effort.

Official: Hopper to British Superbikes

01/19/2011 @ 9:37 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Truly official now, John Hopkins has signed-on with the Crescent Suzuki British Superbike team for the 2011 season. Hopper’s first duty on the BSB team will be to test at the upcoming sessions at the Spanish tracks of Cartagena and Guadix. Crescent Suzuki also says that Hopkins will ride as a wildcard entry at the World Superbike round at Donington Park in March, which precedes the season BSB opener at Brands Hatch in April.

“I am really looking forward to BSB and working with Crescent again, it will obviously be a different crew but I know they are a great group of guys and that will be a good foundation to start the season. It is going to be a huge challenge for me, I know there are new tracks to learn, but I am not too concerned,” said Hopkins

Hopper to BSB Reportedly A Done Deal – Still Not Official

01/10/2011 @ 7:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Hopper to BSB Reportedly A Done Deal – Still Not Official

Confirming earlier rumors (x2), reports are coming out of the Crescent Racing’s British Superbike team that Anglo-American John Hopkins will be riding for the Suzuki-based team in the upcoming 2011 season. While no signatures have reportedly been made, Crescent Racing Team Manager Jack Valentine is calling Hopper’s ride for the now non-factory Suzuki team (Relentless by TAS has been tapped by Suzuki to be its “factory team” for 2011 in BSB) a “done deal,” as Hopkins has already begun training for his new assignment, and is eager to get back to racing.

The British Superbike series seems like a last hope bid for Hopkins, who is coming off a controversial season with Team Hammer’s M4 Suzuki squad. Team owner John Ulrich blasted Hopkins on the WERA message board late last year, all but accusing the American-born rider of lying to him about his physical health before the start of the 2010 season.

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper

12/10/2010 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Being the fine British blokes that they are, MCN was able to get ahold of Crescent Suzuki Boss Jack Valentine, and ask him about the validity to the rumors suggesting that the British Superbike team is pursuing John Hopkins as a possible rider for the 2011 season. Confirming that the rumors were true, but that nothing has been agreed to yet, Valentine told MCN that “Crescent are in discussions with former MotoGP star John Hopkins, who is now fully fit again and finished on the podium in the last two rounds of the AMA series.”

Rumor: John Hopkins to British Superbike?

12/08/2010 @ 9:44 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Don’t call the silly season over just yet, as the rumor mill has begun to churn away on Anglo-American John Hopkins. Finishing 10th in the AMA American Superbike Championship, Hopper had a mixed season with the M4 Suzuki squad, missing several races because of a wrist surgery. Now finally on the mend, Hopkins is being linked to the Crescent racing team in the UK, which is headed by former Rizla Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning, and if true could be heading back to his other motherland for the 2011 racing season.