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.”

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

04/21/2016 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own.

This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic.

Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction.

Ducati XDiavel Mega Gallery

02/19/2016 @ 9:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The Ducati XDiavel is the latest push by the Italian manufacturer into a market dominated by American brands. The XDiavel evolves the Diavel aesthetic, with its longer and lower power cruiser lines, and the controversial addition of forward-controls and a belt final-drive.

The XDiavel model is designed to evangelize non-Ducati riders into the Italian company, and as such the XDiavel sits somewhere between the Ducati Scrambler and other more “traditional” Ducati models, in terms of its integration into the core Ducati brand.

Abandoning the Rosso Corsa of its siblings, Ducati says that the color of the XDiavel is black. Accordingly, we have a slew of black and white press photos for you after the jump.

The test will be whether the XDiavel can grow Ducati’s cruiser lineup, especially with new Ducati riders, or if it will simply cannibalize on the Diavel’s sales. We will have our thoughts on all that in our ride review – look for it tomorrow.

In the mean time, enjoy the super high-resolution photos after the jump.

Gone Riding: Ducati XDiavel S

02/03/2016 @ 6:25 am, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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Coming to the end of two weeks straight on the road, our final stop is in San Diego, CA for the international press launch of the Ducati XDiavel power cruiser.

Like its sibling and namesake, the Ducati Diavel, the XDiavel blurs the line between sport bike and cruiser, showing the Italian brand’s interpretation of an ubiquitous American motorcycling concept.

The XDiavel treads further into the cruiser segment than the Diavel does though, and as such it features feet-forward controls, a belt final drive, a teardrop-shaped gas tank, and a 240-width rear tire.

Bologna hopes that we will still regard the XDiavel as “true” Ducati though, with its Testastretta DVT 1262 v-twin engine producing 156hp, while making its peak torque of 95 lbs•ft at only 5,000 rpm.

Upping the performance factor is a suite of electronics: traction control, cornering ABS, launch control, wheelie control, ride-by-wire, and an IMU.

Will all of this make a power cruiser we wish we had in our garage? Well, that’s why we ride these things. So far though, the initial impression is favorable. Photos don’t do the lines of the XDiavel justice. I’m still not sure it’s my cup of tea, but we’ll let the brew marinate a bit longer, and see how it tastes.

Ducati draXter Concept Debuts in Verona

01/22/2016 @ 4:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Ducati is at this year’s Motor Bike Expo in Verona, and it has a bevy of concepts and customs it wants to show the world. The Italian brand’s trio of Sixty2 Scrambler concepts didn’t really spark our engine, but the Ducati draXter Concept is certainly of note and worthy of further scrutiny.

The Ducati XDiavel was Bologna’s big reveal at EICMA this year, and while the cruiser model wasn’t our cup of tea, we might have to change our tune with this decked-out version of the machine.

Ducati says that the draXter model interprets the XDiavel from a “sports” point-of-view, and the modifications made to the machine certainly do a good job of connoting a bike that leaps from the line.

US Female Motorcycle Ownership Reaches All-Time High

12/18/2015 @ 1:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler89 COMMENTS

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More and more women are riding motorcycles, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) latest motorcycle ownership survey. The data from the survey shows that out of the 9.2 million motorcycle owners in the United States of America, 14% of them are women. Booyah!

This figure is a stark contrast to the 8% ownership rate for women that was found in 1998, though it shows that the motorcycle industry still has a great deal of ground to cover when it comes to appealing to both sexes equally.

Encouraging though is the fact that 30 million people in the USA swung a leg over a motorcycle, with over a quarter of those people being female (some presumably as passengers), which shows that the sport and industry is at least reaching out beyond the gender lines.

Victory Ignition Concept Is A Very Sporty Cruiser

11/18/2015 @ 2:47 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

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It had been widely rumored that Victory Motorcycle would launch a sportier offering, using the 60° water-cooled 1,200cc engine that powered the Project 156 race bike almost to the top of Pikes Peak.

The new model is a tectonic shift for Victory, which also this year debuted its first electric model – though the Empulse TT is really just a rebadged Brammo Empulse R.

Debuting the Ignition concept at the 2015 EICMA show today though, it’s clear that Victory Motorcycle is becoming more than a modern alternative to Harley-Davidson and the metric cruisers from Japan.

2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress

11/17/2015 @ 11:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We fell in love with the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype at last year’s EICMA show, so it is good news to hear that the Italian brand has tapped the model for the 2016 model year.

In case you didn’t know, the 2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress is a 1,400cc bagger, that like all bikes of the brand, includes a 90° transverse V-twin engine.

The model is built around the American motorcycle lifestyle, with the idea of bombing down Route 66 with the wind on your face. We just like its wealth of carbon fiber.

This is the Ducati XDiavel Power Cruiser

11/16/2015 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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In addition to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, the Scrambler Sixty2, and Ducati 959 Panigale that have debuted ahead of the EICMA show, we can also bring you the first photos of the Ducati XDiavel, the much-talked about belt-driven cruiser from Italy.

A lot of the Ducati XDiavel, and its higher-spec sibling the Ducati XDiavel S, is “what you see is what you get” and not really our cup of tea, to be honest. Though, the models represent an expansion of the Diavel line that is certainly intriguing and likely to bring more riders into the Ducati family.

Underneath all the cruiser styling is a potent and new 1,262cc engine, which has variable valve timing and makes a healthy 156hp and 96 lbs•ft of torque.

Ducati Teases Its New “X” Cruiser

11/09/2015 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Ducati has nine new models to show us at EICMA, one of which is surely a feet-forward cruiser design that’s based off the Ducati Diavel. The teaser campaign for this new model has been going on for quite some time now, but we have been ignoring it since there was absolutely no substance to what Ducati was showing…until now.

Finally giving us a glimpse of what the hell the Italian brand has been saying with its “This is…” tagline, Ducati isn’t exactly showing the full monty, but it’s enough for us to recognize the belt-driven cruiser model that we’ve seen in spy photos.

We are not sure how such a model is going to be received by hardcore Ducatisti, but clearly Ducati is looking to expand its reach of new customers, and is looking to take a little bit of Harley-Davidson and Victory’s action.

Time will tell if it pays off – expect to see this new Ducati unveiled in one week’s time at the EICMA show in Milan.

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2016 Ducati Diavel Carbon – Bold New Carbon

09/22/2015 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Do you like the current Ducati Diavel? Do you like carbon fiber? If you answered yes to those two questions, chances are then that you will like the 2016 Ducati Diavel Carbon model that has just been released.

At the core of the Ducati Diavel Carbon remains the same Testastretta 11° Dual Spark engine, which makes 162hp claimed and is packaged into the same 452 lbs mass that carves turns and turns heads.

The only actual technical change then is the Zircotec ceramic coating on the exhaust headers being the mainstay, along with a new seat that has special trim. In the motorcycle world, we call that bold new graphics for the Diavel – though tastefully done, as only Italians can do.

In addition to the Carbon version, the 2016 Ducati Diavel will also be available in a “Dark Stealth” model.