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.”

Team Alstare Racing an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport?

12/16/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

You can’t keep a good race team down, as talk in the World Superbike paddock this week has been swirling around the Alstare Racing team. One of several teams to be on the receiving end of Suzuki’s withdrawal from the major racing series, Alstare found its factory-support from Suzuki draw to a close at the conclusion of the 2011 WSBK Championship season. We use the words “factory support” loosely of course, as Alstare Suzuki had been developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 almost exclusively in-house, receiving only production OEM parts from Suzuki when needed.

As Suzuki shut its doors to WSBK and MotoGP racing, in the hopes of saving money to buy its stock back from minority shareholder Volkswagen (among other things), the Alstare Team Principal Franics Batta vowed that he would race with the Japanese manufacturer, or not race at all. News then came out that linked Team Alstare to possibly taking over the Kawasaki Factory WSBK team, which would later be handed to World Supersport’s Provec Motocard Kawasaki team. Other rumors linked Batta as interested in campaigning with MV Agusta, though the Belgian team owner could not get a callback from Varese.

Progress has seemingly been made on that front though, as Alstare Racing is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Italian company to campaign an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport, with the relationship possibly growing to include an MV Agusta F4 RR in a seaon’s time.

Casey Stoner on Developing the Honda RC213V

07/07/2011 @ 10:25 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Sitting down with Casey Stoner after the Italian GP at Mugello, the HRC media department asked a bevy of questions to the Australian rider. In the interview, Stoner primarily talks about about the upcoming 1,000cc 2012 Honda RC213V and its differences to the current batch of 800cc motorcycles. Stoner also sheds light on his riding style, how he operates during the race weekend to setup his race package, and what he looks for from a motorcycle to fit his riding strengths.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come from Stoner’s statements is how similar the RC213V is to the RC212V, and his thoughts on over-taking and passing in MotoGP. While the insight is an important one, one should always consider the source, and it doesn’t surprise us that a GP rider would suggest that its an increase in caliber of rider that’s responsible for less passing and overtaking in GP racing. Engineers, for example, might suggest that it’s the electronics packages that have changed the racing. Read the interview after the jump, and leave your thoughts on that subject (or any other) in the comments.

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

06/20/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

Harley-Davidson Considering an Electric Model

04/01/2011 @ 10:11 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Our favorite brand from Milwaukee continues to surprise us, as we’ve gotten confirmed reports that Harley-Davidson is considering an electric model to its line-up. Details are scarce on the project, but the company has made a poor secret out of its desire to return as an industry innovator (yes, there was in-fact a time when you could call a Harley-Davidson a trendsetter in the motorcycle industry…it just hasn’t been in this blogger’s lifetime). Likely eyeing the next big trend in motorcycling, internally the Bar & Shield brtand has been exploring the idea of an electric or hybrid ICE/electric drive train.

One on One: Valentino Rossi & Masao Furusawa

02/06/2011 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Continuing its “ONE on ONE” series, Yamaha has pitted two staples of its MotoGP garage to interview each other: nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former-Executive of Engineering Operations Masao Furusawa. The video is obviously a bit untimely, as Rossi has already made the switch over to Ducati, but the interview proves relevant as he and Furusawa talk about why Rossi made the jump in the paddock from Honda to Yamaha in 2003. If you supplant the appropriate manufacturers’ names, you could almost hear Rossi talking about his reasoning thus far with the Italian racing brand.

So far the video series is two-parts long, and has some great insights into the relationship that was the driving force for Rossi joining Yamaha, and for his departure (Furusawa’s retirement from Yamaha being one of many factors in Rossi’s decision to leave the Japanese marque).  Over the course of their discussion, fun trivia bits come up, like what Max Biaggi said when Rossi won the opening GP race at South Africa in 2004. Check past the jump to find out what his response was, and to watch the videos in their entirety.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

KTM 250 Duke in 18 Months

12/06/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Perhaps our only gripe with the 2011 KTM 125 Duke (besides of course that it’s not coming to America), is the too small for American roads 125cc displacement. With no graduated licensing programs to be found, unlike our European brethren, the 125cc learner format just doesn’t seem to work in our “can travel anywhere by car” society here in the United States. Not to fret says KTM though, as a 250cc or even 300cc version of the orange pocket rocket is under development at the Austrian company.

We think 250cc/300cc would be an ideal size for blasting from stoplight to stoplight on city streets, both for new riders and veteran hooligans alike, and it won’t take much to place the outwardly similarly sized motor in the KTM 125 Duke frame. Thinking along those same veins, KTM says an 18 month trail time is expected from the 125 Duke launch to when we’ll see the next larger iteration.

BMW to Sell Motorcycles in India

10/28/2010 @ 3:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After successfully launching its cars in the growing markets of Asia, BMW plans on having its motorcycles available for purchase in three Indian dealerships by December of this year. Making available its R & K series street motorcycles, along with the S1000RR superbike, BMW will have a presence in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, with the bikes being imported directly from BMW’s factory in Berlin. BMW has targeted India as an area for strong growth in the future, and joins companies like Brembo, Yamaha, Honda, Royal Enfield, and KTM who have increased their presence and production in the budding Western Asia area.

Ducati WSBK Fans Lash Out Against Rossi at Imola

09/29/2010 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

There were some not so happy racing fans this weekend during World Superbike’s penultimate stop at Imola. A home track for Ducati, the race stands where filled with Italian racing red, and also some signs from some very unhappy Ducatisti. Perceiving Valentino Rossi’s switch in the MotoGP from Yamaha to Ducati as the reason for Ducati shutting down its World Superbike racing efforts at the end of this season, Ducati WSBK fans aired our their discontent with anti-Rossi and anti-Ducati banners and stickers throughout Imola.

Aprilia Halts RSV4 WSBK Development

09/15/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Aprilia is either confident or cocky, because according to MCN, the Italian manufacturer’s racing department has halted development on the 2010 World Superbike spec RSV4 Factory race bike. Comfortable with Max Biaggi’s 58 point lead over Leon Haslam and his Alstare Suzuki, Aprilia wants Biaggi to focus on racing with his current setup, rather than risk having a prototype part breaking, and costing the team and Biaggi the World Superbike Championship.