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.

Vtopia Hypermotard by Vtopia Design

01/04/2017 @ 5:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good Hypermotard. So, when I saw this inaugural work from Vtopia Design, I was hooked.

Vtopia Design is the business name for Giorgio Cerrato, a 26-year-old designer from Italy. Vtopia has built his creation off the air-cooled generation of the street-going supermoto, creating something that brings the design more into a modern street-tracker aesthetic.

The Vtopia Hypermotard get this from the angular bodywork, which has an interesting geometric quality to it; along with the modified subframe, which cleans up the tail for the machine (for a lack of an undertail exhaust) and helps make for a flatter seat, like you would see on a proper tracker.

10 Things to Look Forward to in Motorcycle Racing for 2017

01/02/2017 @ 11:51 am, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

The new year has officially started, the real world of contracts finally lining up with the world of motorcycle racing.

Riders who swapped factories are now free of their old contracts, their new contracts having commenced as the world greeted 2017.

That also leaves them free to post about the new season on social media again. Aleix Espargaro was so keen to do so that he posted right on the stroke of midnight.

If the riders are excited, that gives fans reason to be excited too. Here are 10 reasons to look forward to 2017.

XXX: 21 Hi-Res Shots of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera

12/29/2016 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Did Santa forget to put a certain carbon fiber superbike under the tree this Christmas? Us too.

Since we aren’t one of the lucky 500 people who will be receiving the Ducati 1299 Superleggera in 2017, we will have to make do with appreciating Ducati’s latest halo bike from a distance.

Ducati officially lists the 1299 Superleggera as making 215hp and weighing 156kg dry, though with the installation of the included race kit that peak horsepower figure pops to 220hp, while the dry weight drops to a near-nothing 150kg. OMGWTFBBQ.

Numbers aside, the truly astounding part of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera is its carbon fiber chassis, a first for a production motorcycle.

Make no mistake, the Bologna firm has been continuously pushing the boundaries of what defines a superbike, and it has been interesting to watch other brands react to their creations.

There might be a lot of talk about the death of sport bikes, but we argue that they have never been more intriguing.

You won’t find any photos of the Ducati 1299 Superleggera at a higher resolution than the ones after the jump. Enjoy!

Recall: Ducati Scrambler

12/29/2016 @ 10:41 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati is recalling over 5,500 units of its Scrambler motorcycles for a faulty kickstand pivot nut, which can potentially detach from the motorcycle. The recall affects 2015 and 2016 model year bikes, manufactured between February 17, 2015 and November 11, 2016.

If the pivot nut loosens or detaches, it can cause the kickstand position sensor not to function properly, which can lead to either the motorcycle stalling, or the rider being able to operate the motorcycle with the kickstand still down. Either scenario is potential dangerous.

Marco Melandri Talks About His Return to World Superbike

11/27/2016 @ 10:46 am, by Kent Brockman10 COMMENTS

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The return of Marco Melandri to World Superbike in 2017 has been one of the biggest talking points in the series over the last few months. The Italian has won 19 races, from 100 starts, in the championship, and as a former 250GP World Champion, and 22-times Grand Prix winner, his credentials are highly impressive.

The last two years have been a blot on the copybook, however. Having enjoyed an exceptionally strong finish to the 2014 WorldSBK season, Melandri looked well placed to finally win a second world title.

Winning six races and finishing fourth in the standings looked to be a perfect springboard for a title run the following year, but Aprilia had other ideas and with Melandri, and the Italian was forced to race in MotoGP. The relationship then turned sour.

Ducati MHLeggera Concept by Speed Junkies

11/19/2016 @ 5:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Superleggera might be the most technically astounding machine ever to come from the Italian brand, but all those exotic materials and fancy electronics are lost on some riders – motorcyclists who prefer more simpler times.

So the good folk at Speed Junkies have heard this call, and mashed-up the 1299 Superleggera with Ducati’s perhaps most coveted nod to the past, the Mike Hailwood inspired Ducati MH900e.

Both the Superleggera and MH900e are beauties in their own right (a proper Ducati collection should be considerd incomplete if it is without an example of both machines), though there is something interesting to the design that Speed Junkies proposes with the two bikes together.

We thought you would find the concept interesting, and there is a second “race” version waiting for you after the jump as well. We are of the belief that either would look good in our garage.

Ducati Monster 1200 Gets a Bevy of Updates for 2017

11/11/2016 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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At the 2016 EICMA show, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali said that so many changes had come to the 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 line, that the updated motorcycles were effectively all-new machines.

We are not so certain about that, but you cannot deny that the Monster 1200 gets a sizable update for the 2017 model year.

At the head of those changes is a revised Testastretta 11° DS v-twin engine for the 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 and 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 S, which makes 150hp and 93 lbs•ft of torque.

As a result, this means that the base model Ducati Monster 1200 gets a 15hp increase, while the Ducati Monster 1200 S gets a 5hp bump. The Monster 1200 R continues to lead the line with its 160hp unit, and all three Monster 1200 variants are now Euro4 compliant.

Watch the Ducati 1299 Superleggera Shred a Race Track

11/09/2016 @ 12:41 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Superleggera is a truly amazing motorcycle. With its carbon fiber chassis, 215hp engine, and state-of-the-art electronics, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera represents everything that the Italian brand is capable of achieving within the superbike format.

More importantly though, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera represents all that the Italian brand can achieve, when it decides to do so. That’s an interesting point to remember with this limited edition machine, as you watch it rip around a race track.

The Ducati 1299 Superleggera’s creation doesn’t come about from some loophole in the rules to some racing organization. It doesn’t exist because it will an incredibly profitable endeavor for Borgo Panigale.

Instead, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera simply is because it can be. It is a line in the sand for Ducati, showing what the Italian brand is capable of creating. If this sounds like hyperbole, it should. We are off the charts now, and in new waters.

Ducati Monster 797 – The Air-Cooled Monster Returns

11/07/2016 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

HyperFocal: 0

The third amigo to Ducati’s air-cooled posse debuting at EICMA, the Ducati Monster 797 brings back Bologna’s 803cc two-valve engine to the Monster family.

The return of the Monster 797 also happens to add a third model to Ducati’s iconic street-focused Monster line, offering another affordable entry point into the Ducati brand for those who aren’t interested in the Italian company’s scrambler or café racer models.

Ducati Multistrada 950 – A “Baby” ADV Bike from Italy

11/07/2016 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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The Ducati Multistrada line is growing at this year’s EICMA show, with the debut of the 2017 Ducati Multistrada 950. This “baby” Multistrada uses the 937cc engine that is found in the Hypermotard 939 and Ducati SuperSport, which makes 113hp and 71 lbs•ft of peak torque.

The design borrows bits and pieces from the current Multistrada 1200 and Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and it is designed to be a more affordable ADV model that will appeal to a wider range of riders.

As such, the Ducati Multistrada 950 has some versatility with the fitting of a 19″ front wheel, as well as a double-sided swingarm, to its street-focused chassis.

This allows the Ducati Multistrada 950 to come in four flavors with its accessory packs: Sport, Enduro, Touring, and Urban. Each pack includes accessory items fitting that application, like knobby tires, engine guards, luggage racks, hard bags, and more.