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.”

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #28 – Getting Cranky

08/15/2016 @ 7:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Episode 28 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts with some recent news: the closure of Skully and the near-passage of California’s lane-splitting law.

The conversation about Skully quickly moves from the failed startup, to a broader conversation about helmet design and the progress of technology in this space. The show then turns to California’s lane-splitting law, and what it could mean for motorcyclists in states other than California.

Once the news items are out of the way, the show spends a bit of time talking about crankshaft design, namely what it means to have a “crossplane” crankshaft.

Further down the rabbit hole, this turns into a larger conversation about how engines make their power, and how that power is tuned for specific tasks. It’s a tough subject to do only via voice, but we think you’ll enjoy it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

2015 Yamaha R1 Spotted – DCT, 4 Cyl., & 230hp Rumored

07/18/2014 @ 6:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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The eagle eyes at the Australian Motorcycle News bring us our first look at the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, as Iwata’s superbike was caught testing at the Eastern Creek International Speedway.

With the picture, comes the first rumored details of the new R1, with the biggest news being that Yamaha will bring two versions of the machine to market: one street version, and one for race homologation.

From the photo above, both models will heavily take their styling cues from the current YZF-R6, and will also continue to use a four-cylinder crossplane engine configuration — this revelation squashes any notion of a three-cylinder superbike from Iwata.

Video: A Primer on Crossplane Crankshafts

02/04/2013 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Reading through the comments on the Attack Kawasaki CRT bike and its new crossplane crank, it is clear that the concept of what makes an engine have a crossplane configuration, like the one found in the current Yamaha YZF-R1, is still a bit of an enigma for some motorcyclists.

Referring to the way a crankshaft is built, with the four crank pinks at 90° from each other, an inline-four engine with a crossplane configuration fires its four pistons in a different order, and with different intervals between ignitions, than a normal engine with 180° pin positions.

A subject we’ll broach in greater detail at a later time, we thought this video from Yamaha would at least highlight some of the major differences and reasons for using a crossplane crank in a sport bike motor. Enjoy it after the jump.

Listen to Attack Kawasaki’s Crossplane CRT Bike

02/01/2013 @ 10:52 am, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

crossplane-crankshaft

The 2013 MotoGP Championship season is rapidly approaching us, and while many of the teams are now making their way to Sepang, Malaysia for their first test since the winter ban period, Attack Kawasaki and rider Blake Young were out in the California desert, putting laps in on Rich Stanboli’s new crossplane-enginged Kawasaki CRT bike at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway.

Only time will tell on how Attack’s racing package performs at its three MotoGP wildcard events (Austin, Laguna Seca, and Indianapolis), but so far the project is music to our ears. The only Kawasaki with a crossplane crankshaft that we can think of, enjoy the video posted by RM Racing after the jump. And remember, it’s Friday, so no one at work would judge you if you bumped up the speakers.

No Cross-Plane Crankshaft for 2010 Yamaha FZ1

08/27/2009 @ 5:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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MotoRevue is reporting that the 2010 Yamaha FZ1, like the 2010 Yamaha R6, will not be updated with the R1’s cross-plane crankshaft. The FZ1 is a shining example of Reaganomics, getting the trickle down technology of the YZF-R.

So, it comes with some surprise that we hear that it won’t get the MotoGP inspired crankshaft, but never fear loyal Fazzer owners, it does seem that the FZ1 will get some love in the next two years.

No Cross-Plane Crankshaft for 2010 Yamaha R6

08/14/2009 @ 9:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2009-Yamaha-YZF-R6

Rumors are already flying about the 2010 Yamaha R6, which is due for an update this next model year. One of the prominent theories is that that supersport would inherit the cross-plane crankshaft found in the current R1 liter bike. While Yamaha has officially been quiet on this matter, R1 project leader, Toyoshi Nishida, has pretty much ruled out the possibility of that technology trickling down to the 600cc bike. However, it does seem certain that the new R6 will tip the scales at a paltry 385 pounds or less…wet.

2009 Yamaha R1 Reportedly Heavier and Less Powerful than the 2007 R1

04/15/2009 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2009 Yamaha R1 Reportedly Heavier and Less Powerful than the 2007 R1

2009-yamaha-yzf-r1

Performance Bikes magazine is reporting that their independently conducted dyno tests show that the 2009 Yamaha R1 makes less power and torque than the 2007 R1. Furthermore, Performance Bikes also got a chance to throw the 2009 R1 onto a scale, and found that the bike weights more than the 2007 version as well. In the liter-bike class its all about stronger and lighter, crossplane crankshaft or not, so is the 2009 R1 all its cracked up to be?