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.”

Kawasaki SC-02 “Soul Charger” Concept Debuts at EICMA

11/17/2015 @ 7:01 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Kawasaki-Soul-Charger-SC-02-concept

Part of Kawasaki’s future is surely in supercharged motorcycles, as the Japanese manufacturer has debuted its second supercharged concept, in just a month’s time.

You may remember from the Tokyo Motor Show the Kawasaki SC-01 “Spirt Charger” concept, which depicted what many believed would be the next supercharged model from Kawasaki. Now we have the Kawasaki SC-02 “Soul Charger” concept, a model Kawasaki is being very coy about.

Honda City Adventure Concept – An ADV Scooter?

11/16/2015 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

City Adventure Concept

Now, I’m not one to talk when it comes to slapping knobby tires on an inappropriate street bike, and heading out to the dirt trails on it. But that being said, the Honda City Adventure concept takes the notion even farther than we could imagine.

For those times when you feel like getting your ADV on, but you know…with a scooter…the Honda City Adventure concept is there for you, and it debuted today at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

Honda seems to like blending different kinds of bikes in order to create new segments, we have seen this practice with a number of machines, and it has produced some interesting ideas.

The Honda City Adventure concept is equally interesting, though it seems like the answer to a question no one is asking. Maybe we are wrong though, and there are just thousands of scooter riders out there, eager to hit the trails on their feet-forward machines…

Yamaha OR2T Concept – Four Wheels of Leaning Fury

11/06/2015 @ 6:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha-OR2T-concept-1

We have been talking a lot lately about the Yamaha MWT-9, the three-wheel leaning FZ-09 concept that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show; and we have also talked a bit about the Yamaha “Sports Ride” concept, a sport car that Yamaha was also showing off in Tokyo.

So hoping to leave no stone unturned, Yamaha has created something that takes from the highlights of both of those concepts – the Japanese call it the Yamaha OR2T, a four-wheel leaning motorcycle…thing.

The Yamaha OR2T is about as close to the Yamaha Tesseract, which debuted in 2007, that we have seen in the living flesh; and honestly, it looks pretty damn awesome.

Suzuki Shows Off a New Turbocharged Engine in Tokyo

10/29/2015 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Suzuki-EX7-Recursion-turbcharged-intercooled-engine

Suzuki is making it no small secret that it plans to get in on the forced induction game in the two-wheeled space. The Japanese manufacturer first teased us with the turbocharged Recursion concept back in 2013, at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Since then there have been rumors that the Suzuki Recursion will go into production, and just a few months ago we spotted Suzuki trademarking the Recursion name in the US and European Union.

Now at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Suzuki has a turbocharged engine on display, though little to say about it.

If Yamaha Made a Sports Car, It Would Look Like This

10/28/2015 @ 2:41 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

yamaha-sports-ride-car-concept-tokyo-motor-show

Yamaha Motor Corporation is known better for its powersports offerings, but what if the tuning fork brand followed Suzuki and Honda down the rabbit hole of also making a automobiles?

Yamaha might just be considering such a path, releasing what it calls the Sports Ride concept at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

The two-seater concept is very sporty, and Yamaha is quoting a 750kg weight…that’s roughly 1,600 lbs. While we are well into Lotus territory, there is no information at this time as to what could be powering the Sports Ride concept (if it even exists outside of computer renderings).

The Supercharged Kawasaki SC-01 “Spirit Charger” Concept

10/28/2015 @ 1:58 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

spirit-charger-concept-image

When we first saw the Kawasaki Ninja H2 and Kawasaki Ninja H2R motorcycles debut, we knew this wouldn’t be the last of the forced-induction machines from Team Green, and Kawasaki is now giving us our first glimpse at its next supercharged model.

Debuting the Kawasaki SC-01 “Spirit Charger” concept at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, we suspect Kawasaki is teasing us our first glimpse of the rumored “S2” motorcycle, which is expected to be a 650cc engine mated to Kawasaki’s special supercharger design.

Yamaha MWT-9 Leaning Trike Concept Debuts in Tokyo

10/28/2015 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Yamaha-MWT-9-concept

As expected, Yamaha has a leaning multi-wheel concept at the Tokyo Motor Show for us to chew on. Without further ado, let us introduce to you the Yamaha MWT-9 leaning trike concept.

The key to understanding the MWT-9 is the number three. Three wheels to grip the road, three cylinders to power the engine, and three Predator movies to get the aesthetic jussssst right. Three groups of three makes nine, and blammo, you have the MWT-9.

In seriousness though, there is a lot to take in with the Yamaha MWT-9, once you get past its alien/insect/whatever-that-is look.

Tokyo Motor Show: Honda “Light Weight Super Sports” Concept Shows Off a 14,000 RPM Redline

10/28/2015 @ 12:38 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Honda-Lightweight-Super-Sport-Concept-01

The first images are starting to emerge from the Tokyo Motor Show, and already we have some excitement. Naturally one of the items we are most keen to learn more about is the Honda “Light Weight Super Sports” concept, which many are saying is a pre-cursor to a Honda CBR250RR successor.

A product from the glory days of small-displacement warfare, the Honda CBR250RR was a screamer of a machine, even by today’s standards, and the CBR250RR made big horsepower from its quarter-liter engine.

While the Honda “Light Weight Super Sports” concept may not rev into the stratosphere like the CBR250RR did, reports show that the LCD dash does indicate a 14,000 rpm redline – significantly higher than the CBR250R/CBR300R.

Reports also show that the concept has a parallel-twin engine, confirming our suspicions. All indications point to Honda producing the small-displacement sport bike, though many questions about it remain.

This Is What the Kawasaki Ninja H2 Could Have Looked Like

10/27/2015 @ 8:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki-Ninja-H2-Concept-SC-01-02

Things are about to kick-off in Japan, with the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and we expect to see some interesting things from the Japanese OEMs there…finally.

One of those items of interest is Kawasaki’s next supercharged motorcycle, widely expected to be the Kawasaki Ninja S2 – a 650cc machine with liter-class horsepower figures.

The above is certainly not what we expect the Kawasaki S2 to look like, though it might not be too far off the mark.

This Ducati 1199 Panigale ST Concept Whets Our Appetite for a 200hp Sport-Tourer from Bologna

10/26/2015 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

ducati-1199-panigale-st-concept

Ducati has nine new models to showoff at the EICMA show later next month in Milan. We know one of them is the Monster 1200 R, and it seems very likely that we will see two more Ducati Scrambler models as well.

CARB filing documents point to a Ducati 959 Panigale, as well as a Ducati Hypermotard 939, which we expect to be mild updates to the current models, with obviously larger engine displacements.

All of this leaves another four models for us, though rumor suggests we could see some more variants of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 line come to market.

One of those variants is expected to be an off-road focused model, which will align better against the BMW R1200GS; while the other variant is thought to be a long-distance touring model, which will align better against the KTM 1290 Super Adventure.

One model were are unlikely to see is a revised sport-tourer, since the current Multistrada 1200 fills this niche quite well, but that doesn’t mean Ducatisti cannot dream of another ST model.