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.”

New MV Agusta Brutale 675 Coming in Q2 2016

01/25/2016 @ 11:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Confirmed at the launch of the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 in Spain, MV Agusta will bring the smaller sibling to its three-cylinder Brutale line in the second quarter of 2016.

Like the new Brutale 800, we can expect the updated Brutale 675 to be fully Euro4 compliant. We would also expect the 675cc to have the same mechanical and styling changes that are found on its 800cc sibling, namely a revised chassis geometry, updated MVICS 2.0 electronics (traction control, ABS, & quickshifter), and visual changes to the headlight, exhaust, and body.

XXX: 2016 MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton

11/17/2015 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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In addition to the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800, the other big new model release from the Varese brand is the MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton, a bike that pays homage to the reigning Formula 1 World Champion.

The concept is pretty simple, take MV Agusta’s already attractive Dragster RR model, and let Mr. LH44 go wild on it. The idea is to create another collectable MV Agusta model, so things stay pretty much the same for the Dragster RR’s 140hp motor and steel trellis frame.

The rest of the bike though, gets a solid going-over, by Lewis Hamilton himself, if you can believe the MV Agusta press release.

The MV Agusta Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR is Coming to a Burnout Near You

10/15/2015 @ 12:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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You remember the MV Agusta Dragster RR right? The Brutale 800 without a tail section? Of course you do…it was pretty bold design from MV Agusta, which is probably saying something, considering that the Varese brand tends to lead with design, rather than follow.

It turns out that Lewis Hamilton is a bit of a fan of the machines from MV Agusta – it also helps that AMG has a 20% interest in the Italian brand, and Hamiliton is the team’s star F1 driver, at least when teammate Nico Rosberg isn’t around – so, in true MV Agusta fashion, a special limited edition machine must be produced, right?

Behold, the Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR: a collaboration between the F1 World Champion and the Italian motorcycle marque. MV Agusta hasn’t quite revealed the machine yet, but this teaser video does a pretty good job of getting the point across. We took some stills, just in case the edits were too much for you.

MV Agusta Recalls Certain 2014 Models for Faulty Hardware

05/14/2014 @ 12:08 am, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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MV Agusta has announced that it will be recalling 223 motorcycles with production dates ranging from December 18, 2013 through March 10, 2014. The recall affects the 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 675, 2014 MV Agusta Brutale RR, 2014 MV Agusta F3 800, 2014 MV Agusta F3 675, and 2014 MV Agusta Rivale 800.

According to MV Agusta, it was discovered that that some of its motorcycles were produced using a swingarm pin that is secured by a non-conforming fixing screw, which is subject to potential failure during normal use of the motorcycle, thereby increasing the risk of a crash.

Tech Specs of the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster

01/31/2014 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster finally broke cover today, if you haven’t already seen the bevy of photos we published earlier. We won’t belabor the fact that the Dragster borrows heavily from the established Brutale 800 platform, and differs primarily in aesthetic and purpose.

So down to brass tacks it is, the key technical specifications of the 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster are the following:

  • In-line three-cylinder engine, 798 cc
  • Bore 79.0 mm, stroke 54.3 mm
  • Maximum power 125 HP-EC (92 kW) at 11,600 rpm
  • Maximum torque 81 Nm at 8,600 rpm
  • Limiter at 13,000 rpm
  • Dry weight 167 kg
  • Power-weight ratio 1.34 kg/HP
  • Tyres Pirelli DIABLO Rosso II 120/70 – ZR 17 front, 200/50 – ZR 17 rear

Official Photos of the MV Agusta Dragster 800

01/31/2014 @ 9:43 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It’s been a long tease with the MV Agusta Dragster, with Giovanni Castiglioni hinting at the machine’s debut as far back as the 2013 EICMA show. We still expect the machine to debut any day now, but MV Agusta has dropped some more details by adding scenes to its “Metallica” promotional video.

A few official studio photos have also leaked out of Varese, which if nothing else confirm the lines we have been seeing these past few weeks.

Borrowing heavily from the Brutale 800 platform, the Dragster 800 defines itself really with a lower seat height, a chopped tail section, and it 200 width rear tire. Will those differences be enough to distinguish the Dragster from the Brutale? We don’t think so.

As fanciful as the turbo rumor was, it at least created a reason for the Dragster to exist alongside the Brutale. It’s an attractive motorcycle, like all MV Agustas, but we suspect that it will serve only to cannibalize sales from the Brutale line.

MV Agusta Dragster 800 Spotted in the Wild

01/27/2014 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Although MV Agusta has already teased us with a video of the upcoming MV Agusta Dragster 800, the company’s Ducati Diavel rival has still been hard to glimpse.

We have seen a render of the completed bike, which was attached to the lurid rumor of a turbocharged engine (we are doubtful of that possibility), and a couple frames of video confirmed that design as being the final one.

Today though we get a proper look at the new Dragster, as it was caught at a gas station outside of Varese, Italy. Part Brutale, and part Rivale, it is hard to see how the Dragster will land in MV Agusta’s model lineup.

The seat height looks quite low, and there are interesting design cues, but does the Dragster distinguish itself enough from its brethren? Only time will tell.

Video: MV Agusta Dragster 800 Teaser

01/20/2014 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With all the details and rumors surrounding the new MV Agusta Dragster, it doesn’t surprise us to see MV Agusta drop us a hint about its newest motorcycle model. Accordingly, we have a teaser video of the Dragster, MV Agusta’s answer to the Ducati Diavel, to show you today.

Based around the company’s three-cylinder 800cc engine, we don’t expect the Dragster 800 to be a turbo, but we do expect it to be muscly and fun bike to ride. With burnouts and wheelies galore, along with a Metallica soundtrack, the Italian brand is certainly making us some promises of that nature, and as usual the bike is a looker to boot.

Rumor: MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster a Turbo?

01/18/2014 @ 9:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Italy’s venerable Motociclismo magazine is starting an interesting rumor that MV Agusta is experimenting with a turbocharged version of its 800cc three-cylinder engine, and that the forced-induction lump could find its way onto the soon-to-be-released MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster model for 2014.

The Italian publication is also running the above render of the machine, which matches up with the photos found earlier this week. Filings with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), list the 2014 model motorcycle as the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster, and as the name and photos suggest, the “Ducati Diavel rival” is based heavily upon the MV Agusta’s Brutale platform.

Though a highly respected publication, Motociclismo‘s speculation sounds a bit far off the mark this time around to our ears, so as always, time will tell on this one.

First Photo of MV Agusta Dragster 800

01/15/2014 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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When the brand from Varese debuted the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 at last year’s EICMA show, the folks at MV Agusta told us to expect two more machines in early 2014. One of those machines we have known about for sometime, the MV Agusta Dragster 800.

Taking a cue from the Ducati Diavel, the Dragster is supposed to be a more laid back version of the Brutale; however the only thing we have known for sure is the machine’s name, which showed up in trademark and patent filings. Today however we get our first glimpse at the new MV Agusta Dragster 800, though not too much is given away by the photo.