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.”

Ducati 1199 Panigale Café Racer Concept by AD Koncept

12/10/2015 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ducati-1199-Panigale-Cafe-Racer-AD-Koncept

I think in 2016, we will find that the whole post-authentic motorcycle movement officially jumped that shark right about at this point in time. The 2015 EICMA show was inundated with café racers and scramblers from manufacturers that wanted to cash in on the budding trend.

Now with Deus ex Machina up for sale and no Honda CB350 left behind, the industry feels ready for the next moto du jour – though not before we give it one last go, of course.

Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe Is “Pinnacle Weird”

11/17/2015 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Bimota-Tesi-3D-RaceCafe-02

If you’re not listening to the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you should…there is some good two-wheeled gold in the show. So, with a hat-tip to my co-host Quentin Wilson – whose new favorite phrase is “pinnacle weird” – we present you with perhaps the strangest motorcycle to debut at the 2015 EICMA show.

The Bimota Tesi 3D champions the hub-center steering chassis design, and is one of the more unique motorcycles in the industry right now. Its design is positively futuristic, so it is a little strange that Bimota is trying to make the Tesi 3D into a café racer with the launch of the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe.

Powered by the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that’s found in the Scrambler series, you can tell that Bimota is trying to latch onto the post-heritage trend that is dying a slow death in the motorcycle industry, but hasn’t quite figured out how to do it yet.

Things We Like, Part 1: Honda CB4 Concept

11/17/2015 @ 11:29 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

CB4 Concept

Honda isn’t saying too much about its CB4 concept, and we are not sure they need to – the motorcycle speaks for itself. Just in case you can’t hear it, the retro-style standard is an appealing machine, which draws a distinct line to the Hondas of a couple generations ago.

The Honda CB4 concept seems to be built off the Honda CBR650F platform, though the concept is certainly as far as you can get from the CBR650F in terms of feeling and inspiration.

To that end, a single-sided swingarm has been added, the exhaust routed stylishly and polished, and we are a big fan of the solid iron front brake discs with radially mounted Tokico calipers, in red…naturally.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 Concept Helps Define the Future

11/17/2015 @ 10:37 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Husqvarna-Vitpilen-701-concept-09

Ever since Stefan Pierer bought the Husqvarna brand, we have been curious to see how “Husky” would fit within the KTM family.

As of late, Husqvarna models have been little more than recycled KTM motorcycles, with a few minor changes and some cosmetic tweaks seemingly being the only thing that separates the Swedish brand from its Austrian owner.

Part of this is a necessary evil, as it takes time to design and build new models, with the current overlap at least serving to update the Husqvarna line until actual new models can be released.

In 2017, we will see the first truly new Husqvarna models come to market, the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen & Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen. Now we can see a third model, which further defines how we will understand Husqvarna in the future, its called the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 concept.

Yamaha XSR900 Adds to Yamaha’s Sport-Heritage Range

11/16/2015 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

2016_MTM850-60th

If you’ve ever wondered what the FZ-09 would look like as a café racer, the Yamaha XSR900 is it. Fresh off its EICMA debut, the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 is the Japanese brand’s attempt to build out its “sport-heritage” line. That is to say, it’s Yamaha’s attempt to appeal to the skinny jean and beard crowd.

That’s about all the hate we can muster for the Yamaha XSR900 though – probably because we used it all up earlier on the Yamaha MT-10 – but truthfully, Yamaha’s appeal to the “heritage demographic” feels a lot more genuine than say, a certain Italian brand that also debuted a hipster bike today.

Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe – Hub-Center Steering Café Racer

11/10/2015 @ 12:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

bimota-tesi-3d-rc-teaser

Bimota has a number of things to debut at next week’s EICMA show, the biggest being the company’s latest model: the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe.

The concept seems pretty simple, take the hub-center steering design of the Bimota Tesi 3D, and style it to look like the café racer of the future – if that oxymoron makes sense to you.

The above image is the teaser for the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe, which shows a more traditional headlamp on the futuristic machine. Other changes include the use of Ducati’s air-cooled 803cc v-twin engine, which is currently powering the Ducati Scrambler line.

Triumph Thruxton Gets Updated for 2016

10/27/2015 @ 1:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

2016-Triumph-Thruxton-Bonneville-leak-06

It is only logical that if there’s a new water-cooled Triumph Bonneville T120 for the 2016 model year, then the 2016 Triumph Thruxton should get an update as well, right?

Accordingly for 2016, the Triumph Thruxton gets the same more powerful 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine that is debuting on the Bonneville T120.

Triumph is also adding the Thurxton R to the lineup, a more cafe racer inspired design that comes with a larger front fairing, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo brakes. An optional “Thruxton Inspirational Pack” is available as well, which adds a bevy of cosmetic changes, as well as a Vance & Hines exhaust system.

Like on the Bonneville, the chassis and other components have been improved upon as well, though you would have a hard time seeing those changes, as Triumph has been careful to retain that heritage look on the Thruxton.

We expect that retro-riders who are looking for a reliable café racer out of the box will need to look no further than the 2016 Triumph Thruxton. Expect to see the machine officially debut tomorrow, October 28th.

Husqvarna 701 Enduro Coming for 2016

09/08/2015 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

husqvarna-logo

I had the supreme pleasure of being a guest at the KTM factory last week, touring the Austrian company’s headquarters at Mattighofen.

Seeing some things that I should have perhaps not have seen, Asphalt & Rubber can now confirm two things: the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto looks awesome in person, and that there will be a Husqvarna 701 Enduro for the 2016 model year.

Husqvarna 701 Café Racer Spied

08/27/2015 @ 12:30 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Husqvarna-701-cafe-racer-03

The spy photographer who sent us these photos calls this mystery motorcycle a “Husqvarna 701 café racer” which honestly is as good of a guess as any when it comes to figuring out what the Swedish brand is doing with this machine, and its 2016 motorcycle lineup.

Based off the KTM 690 Duke, as is the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, this machine promises to have a 70hp thumper at its heart, mixed with a short seat-height, clip-on handlebars, underslung exhaust, and an attractive trellis swingarm.

To our eye, the motorcycle in question looks like Husky’s take on the KTM 690 Duke – a naked street bike that’s equally at home in the city as it is in the twisties – more than it does a café racer.

More Modern Streamliners by Mehmet Doruk Erdem

06/30/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Alpha-Romeo-Spirito-Concept-Mehmet-Doruk-Erdem

Continuing our thoughts from last week about streamliner designs, there are a few more concepts from Mehmet Doruk Erdem that are worth sharing.

While the Turksih designer’s BMW “Apollo” streamliner is a more stylized version of the designs we are accustomed to, his Eternity, Alpha, and Spirito concepts tread more into the futuristic realm, and are our subjects for today.

Before we get to the renders themselves though, it is of note that Erdem’s concepts relate to car manufacturers, thus leading us to the idea that at some point the quest by automakers to make small and efficient vehicles will lead them eventually down a two-wheeled road.