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.

Bold New Graphics for the 2017 KTM RC390 & Kin

10/07/2016 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2017-ktm-rc390-new-graphics

While we expect to see the KTM 390 Duke to get a minor update for the 2017 model year, along with a refresh of its design and graphics, it seems its sport bike counterpart, the KMT RC390 will just be getting the “bold new graphics” treatment.

This makes some sense in a way, since the KTM RC390 and its kin came to market a year after the KTM 390 Duke debuted. This could mean then that a model refresh is due for the pint-sized racer for the 2018 model year.

These leaked photos apparently confirm that the KTM RC390, KTM RC200, and KTM RC125 will get only changes to their liveries for the 2017 model year.

Is This the Year of the Monkey, The Honda Monkey?

09/22/2016 @ 1:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

honda-monkey-125-bangkok-concept

If you read as many motorcycle news sites as I do, then you surely know that Honda is almost definitely probably maybe debuting a new “monkey bike” in the near future. The source of this news is Honda’s recent application for design patents in the European and Japanese markets.

Intellectual property filings are a great way of seeing what a motorcycle OEM is up to, but as our colleagues at Motorcycle.com correctly pointed out, they can also be a great source of red herrings.

This is because motorcycle manufacturers not only patent and trademark the design they intend to put into production, but also the design they don’t intend to produce, but have still shown the public. This is just smart policy when it comes to intellectually property protection.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s easy to jump to conclusions when one sees a filing that exactly mimics a show bike or concept, as we’ve seen this week with the Grom-powered Honda Monkey.

Hi, Are You the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR?

09/13/2016 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler85 COMMENTS

2017-honda-cbr1000rr-similarities

If you were hoping that the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR would be a completely new machine for sport bike enthusiasts, the following might disappoint you.

This is because photos published on Twitter seem to suggest that the 2017 Honda Fireblade will get mostly cosmetic changes for the upcoming model year.

As you can see after the jump, what looks like the new CBR1000RR was caught lapping for what appears to be a PR video spot for the Japanese OEM.

While it is clear from these shots that the pictured Honda CBR1000RR has a radically new fairing design, a closer comparison to the chassis (see above) suggests that the machine is simply the current generation machine, with new clothing.

More Photos of the MV Agusta F4Z by Zagato

09/01/2016 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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It seems MV Agusta really couldn’t wait until September 4th to show us its collaboration with Italian coachbuilder Zagato, because today we have a high-resolution gallery of this one-off machine.

As the name suggests, the MV Agusta F4Z started life as an MV Agusta F4 superbike. Zagato then gave the F4 a visual restyling, with the intake, fuel tank, battery, and exhaust system all having to be redesigned to accommodate the flowing bodywork.

The lines of the MV Agusta F4Z are certainly polarizing, especially for hardcore fans of the MV Agusta brand, and that is probably just fine. This is because the MV Agusta F4Z is to be a one-of-one design, with a wealthy Japanese entrepreneur said to be the bike’s final recipient.

You can continue your love/hate relationship with this motorcycle after the jump, with some very high-resolution photos.

Behold, The MV Agusta F4Z

08/26/2016 @ 3:10 am, by Jensen Beeler84 COMMENTS

Autodesk VRED Design 2016

The much hyped MV Agusta F4Z broke cover today – much to our surprise, ahead of its scheduled September 4th debut. The bike is a collaboration between MV Agusta and Milan-based design house Zagato, using the four-cylinder MV Agusta F4 superbike as its platform.

Thanks to the not one, but two teaser videos from MV Agusta, we had a good idea what the F4Z would look like, but now there is little room for speculation with what appears to be CG renders images of the machine..

We expect that this design will certainly be polarizing, especially considering the iconic form that the F4 embodied. As such, leave your thoughts in the comments section.

The New Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Engine Debuts

08/25/2016 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Harley-Davidson-Milwaukee-Eight-engine

What you are looking at above is Harley-Davidson’s ninth iteration of its “Big Twin” engines. It’s called the Milwaukee-Eight, named after Harley-Davidson’s home town and the fact that the engine head design employs a very modern eight valves in total (four per cylinder head).

Time will tell if the Milwaukee-Eight becomes as iconic as Harley-Davidson’s other designs, like the Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead, etc. But, we do know that the Milwaukee-Eight marks a more modern approach to engine design from the Bar & Shield brand.

To this end, Harley-Davidson says that the new power plant offers a quicker throttle response, more passing power, purer sound (whatever that means), and a smoother ride (read: less vibrations).

The Milwaukee-Eight will first be used on Harley-Davidson’s touring and trike lines, though we can expect the engine design to permeate through Harley-Davidson’s lineup.

The MV Agusta F4Z Teases Us Again

08/19/2016 @ 10:57 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

MV-Agusta-F4Z-teaser

MV Agusta continues to tease its collaboration with design house Zagato, with their MV Agusta F4Z set to drop in a couple weeks’ time.

Using yet another teaser video, MV Agusta pulls the curtain back a little further, giving us a better glimpse of the F4Z’s lines, which shows off a very unique sport bike.

Zagato has given the MV Agusta F4 quite the makeover, going from superbike to something closer to a futuristic café racer. We’re not sure how that’s going to play with hardcore MV Agusta fans, but the design partnership is certainly producing some interesting results.

Tell us your thoughts, is the MV Agusta F4Z a yay or a nay? The teaser video (after the jump) is full of fast cuts, so we added some screen captures of the good bits for you.

More Teasers from MV Agusta & Zagato

08/10/2016 @ 10:53 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

mv-agusta-f4-zagato-enhanced

Seemingly reading our minds from yesterday, MV Agusta has released a teaser video for its soon-to-be-revealed collaboration with Zagato.

The video uses light a great deal to hide and reveal elements of the machine, thus obfuscating the details of the special motorcycle. But still, we can glean some important pieces of information, nonetheless.

For starters, the MV Agusta F4 does appear to be the basis for this new machine, confirming rumors from yesterday, with the video providing a good look at the crankcase cover and chassis configuration, which are the same as those on the the inline-four superbike.

The various other pieces we see suggest a motorcycle that is very different from the donor model though, with Zagato’s touches seemingly taking the F4 from superbike to avant-garde café racer (the above enhanced photo shows the silhouette).

To that end, the overall aesthetic might not be that different from the Ducati MH900E, with similarly chosen modern touches on a retro design. We wll let you watch the video, checkout the stills, and make up your own mind, though.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R250 Spotted in Australian Patents

08/04/2016 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2017-Suzuki-GSX-R250-render-01

The eagle eyes at Australian Motorcycle News have caught the patent design renders of the upcoming Suzuki GSX-R250 street bike.

The Japanese company’s proper foray into the current small-displacement sport bike market, the Suzuki GSX-R250 has been rumored for some time, but never before seen. Until now.

We should point out that the true displacement of this machine is still unknown, and Suzuki would be wise to actually bring a machine that has more punch than 250cc – as the current market trend sees 300cc bikes and larger winning at the dealership.

Wherefore Art Thou Yamaha FZ-10?

06/22/2016 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Yamaha-MT-10-Concept-AD-Koncept-03

The Yamaha MT-10 is coming to the USA as the Yamaha FZ-10. I was a bit put-off by the bike’s radical design when it debuted at EICMA last year, but if you listen to the latest episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you will see that I have been warming up to the machine, especially after seeing it in person in Los Angeles.

The Yamaha FZ-10 poses an interesting problem though, as it enters the domain of a very similar machine, the Yamaha FZ1, which has a very different, very cult following and core demographic.

The FZ1 is perhaps the last honest sport-tourer in the US market, and it enjoys a healthy loyalty from experienced riders who enjoy still riding fast, but require a little bit more in the ergonomics department than the current crop of sport bikes provide.

But, as much as the FZ-10 is the answer to the calls of FZ1 owners for an updated and modern version of their steed, this latest R1-derived street bike is probably more at home in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise, than it would be in the garage of current FZ-1 owner.