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.”

I’m Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata, Bitch.

08/05/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The tale that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s business card at one point read “I’m CEO, Bitch” is in fact true. Perhaps tired of dealing with investors and businessmen that didn’t take him seriously, or perhaps the young entrepreneur faced a tough time telling industry specialists twice or three times his age how the world was about to change, ol’Zuck was surely responding to the titles others had placed on him. Enervated at hearing phrases like “that kid” or “the Harvard dropout”, Zuckerberg’s “I’m CEO, Bitch” business card was not only about the young CEO having an equal seat at the table, but also about his personal brand, and reminded whomever held the card that were talking to the creator of one of most popular websites ever on the internet.

If we can stretch that metaphor a bit further, the new Ducati Superbike has its own identity crisis in the eyes of the public. Like the Ducati Vyper and Ducati Cayenne that came before it, we were first introduced to Ducati’s new flagship with its internal name: Xtreme. Whether out of the desire to drive webpage hits by creating controversy, or just actually being that gullible/naive about the story, mainstream outlets began using the nomenclature as if the Bologna brand had adopted product names that tugged on a common heart strings from the Twilight faithful.

Cleverly deciphering Ducati’s secret model numbering scheme, more educated publications latched onto the more likely Superbike 1199 verbiage. There was over course precedent for this +1 trend, after watching the Superbike 998 become the 999. Knowing that Ducati would be releasing a ridiculously over-square v-twin motor with the new Superbike, we also learned early on that the new power plant would be known as the Superquadrata, which sounds far more clever in Italian than its translated English. With all these different names being banded about for the same machine, we wanted to definitely put the business card wars to bed, and say conclusively that the new flagship from Bologna will be called the Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata.

Spy Shots: Ducati Diavel Gets A Little Bit More Refined – No Pillion Available?

09/20/2010 @ 5:13 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Photos of the rear do seem to confirm that passenger pegs exist and fold underneath the tail section.

British magazine website Visordown has snagged the latest Ducati Diavel spy shots, showing the Italian power cruiser with a bit more fit & finish than has previously been seen in other photos. While the tank and headlight still have some camouflage covering them, we get an especially clearer look at the Diavel’s left-hand side, which looks to be production ready.

Showing a unique trellis frame by Ducati standards, the Diavel also has a very pronounced “chin” fairing that likely helps draw air onto a lower radiator. Covering the top radiator appears to be another fairing the features gill slits, again likely for drawing air-flow through the whole of the bike.

Perhaps the biggest revelation to come from looking at these new photos, is the noticeable absence of a pillion and passenger footpegs, which brings up the question as to whether the Ducati Diavel will be a single-rider ride. You make the call in the photos after the jump.

How the Ducati Diavel Will Look Tipped Over

09/03/2010 @ 1:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The latest leak from Bologna shows how the upcoming Ducati power cruiser will look tipped over on its side, after an owner gets hit by car, or fails to get the kick stand down in time. Snarkiness aside, reports from the Italian news site Romagna NOI say the Diavel test rider was struck by a car while testing the bike.

The rider seems to be ok, and the bike looks to have held up quite well all things considered. One thing we can glean from the photo is the two-tone paint on the headlight cowling, which might help break up what were expecting to be a very ugly line.

Ducati Trademarks “Diavel” Name in the UK

08/25/2010 @ 8:48 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Ducati has recieved a trademark with the UK Intellectual Property Office for the Bolognese word for devil, or “Diavel”, which according to MCN is to be the name of the company’s new performance cruiser.

Interestingly enough, Ducati has not trademarked the Diavel name with the United States Patent & Trademarks Office (USPTO). However with the British government, Ducati has reserved the Diavel mark for virtually every use possible, including lifestyle items like shirts, perfume, watches, and our personal favorite: skin cleansing lotions and creams.

A Better Look at the Ducati Mega Monster

07/21/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

Italian news site MotoSprint has stumbled upon perhaps the best photo yet of the new Ducati power cruiser, which has been dubbed the “Mega Monster”. From the side we can get a better glimpse on the bike’s overall lines and stature, which at leasts makes us more comfortable with how the bike’s final aesthetic will come to be. Love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments.

Source: MotoSprint via Ducati News Today

Ducati Mega Monster Spotted Again – Some Things Can’t be Unseen

07/15/2010 @ 8:26 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Spotted just outside Ducati’s Bologna factory by an amateur photographer, we now get a proper glimpse of Ducati’s “Mega Monster” performance cruiser. Based around a 1200cc v-twin motor, Ducati is hoping to tap into the American dominated cruiser market, and steal a few customers away from Harley-Davidson.

While, we’re not calling the Mega Monster a “butter face”…well…actually we are, hopefully the Rhinoplasty Fairy will come visit the bike before its debut at EICMA later this year. Ducati, for the love of God, please re-think this motorcycle. Check Motociclismo.it for more photos.

Source: Motociclismo.it

Ducati Mega-Monster Spy Shots

06/29/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

MotoBlog.it has snagged some spy shots of the rumored Ducati power cruiser, or Mega-Monster as it’s now being called in the press (the Ducati Vyper nomenclature has seemingly been dropped). Aimed to take on Yamaha V-Max and it’s crew, the Mega-Monster is a big step for Ducati in tackling new market segments.

Taking a page from the Multistrada 1200 campaign, which saw a plethora of “leaked” images, we don’t really know if you can call these photos true “spy shots”. As with that release, these photos are clearly being staged by Ducati PR people, and then being leaked to motorcycle magazines.

With each rider clearly wearing Ducati apparel, the dots are being connected for us as we can see that the Bologna brand has indeed been working on a cruiser-styled bike, despite saying the project was canned last year. Photos and more after the jump.

Ducati Abandons Vyper Cruiser Concept

07/27/2009 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

For many, this will come with a sigh of relief. Ducati VP of Marketing, Diego Sgorbati, has confirmed that Ducati has no intentions of making a cruiser motorcycle…for the time being. Long rumored to appear at the upcoming EICMA expo, the Ducati Vyper concept has stirred a few imaginations, as well as a few stomachs. Reported in various forms, we still like to visualize it with the renders that Luca from Bar-Design provided us with last year.

Ducati Vyper Spy Shots

06/23/2009 @ 1:44 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Ducati-Vyper-cruiser-concept-clay

The folks at MCN have either been playing with Play-doh again, or have managed to sneak a camera into Ducati HQ. Irregardless, the result is this image of what can only be the rumored Ducati Vyper cruiser.

Ducati Vyper Cruiser in 2010?

03/27/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Could Ducati be building a street cruiser to compete against the likes of Harley-Davidson? That’s the rumor behind the so-called Ducati Vyper, which was started by a statement made by Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali, who revealed that Ducati is looking to branch out into a wider market. The 1400cc 170hp prototype is said to be already in running form, and has started preliminary tests at the Bologna factory.

The Vyper will feature a stroked version of the company’s Testastretta engine, and house it in Ducati’s signature steel-trellis frame. A 240 rear tire mounted onto a beefy hollow-section swing-arm is also believed to be on the new machine. Luca from Bar-Design has made some exclusive renders of the Ducati Vyper for Asphalt & Rubber, and if the original looks anything like this, we might just be believers in the Italian chopper concept.