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.

Brivio to Leave Yamaha for Ducati?

08/24/2010 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Now that Valentino Rossi has made his move to Ducati official, the only thing left to speculate upon is who will decide to join him at Ducati Corse. Most of this speculation surrounds Rossi’s Crew Chief, Jeremy Burgess, who many consider to be the man behind the man. However other familiar faces at Fiat-Yamaha could be jumping ship as well, namely Davide Brivio.

Brivio is Rossi’s Team Manager at Fiat-Yamaha (with the wall in the Fiat-Yamaha garage, Lorenzo has his own Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg), and if the Italian leaves Fiat-Yamaha along with Jeremy Burgess, the team will see a decisive blow in its talent pool.

Yamaha Looking to Sign both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to the Factory Team

08/17/2010 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The news is a bit obvious, but Lin Jarvis, the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, has confirmed that the factory MotoGP squad intends to retain the services of Jorge Lorenzo, and bring Ben Spies into the squad for the 2011 season.

The news comes on the heels of Valentino Rossi’s decision to move to Ducati for next season, and has been assumed to be a done deal once Rossi’s announcement was made public. This is however the first time that anyone at Yamaha has spoken about the team structure for next year in such a direct tone, likely because of the need to keep Rossi’s departure under wraps.

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino

08/16/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

Handwritten and then reproduced by Fiat-Yamaha, Valentino Rossi included an open letter with the announcement of his departure from Fiat-Yamaha to Marlboro Ducati. In his own words Rossi documents his “relationship” with the Yamaha YZR-M1, and is quick to point-out that it was Rossi’s direction and input that turned the bike into the weapon of choice in MotoGP. Reading the letter, it might be a bit strange as to why the message was included with the official press release from Yamaha, but peering between the lines some parting words can be inferred from Rossi, and perhaps greater insight into what makes a nine-time World Champion.

V-Day Will Be Sunday after the Race

08/12/2010 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Asked when he would announce his move to Ducati his future plans during the pre-race press conference today, Valentino Rossi confirmed that he would make an announcement after Sunday’s Czech GP race. The next few days will probably be the longest ever to occur in Italy, but we all must wait a little longer for the the arrival of V-Day, and to know what we already know.

The Countdown to V-Day

07/29/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography

Rossi Considering WSBK after MotoGP

07/24/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

During the rider debrief on Thursday we found Valentino Rossi looking in good form and ready for the race weekend at Laguna Seca. Noticeably better on his feet, the conversation actually turned from the Italian’s injury, and approached normalcy by centering once again on Rossi’s future.

However this time the speculation wasn’t about whether he’d ride for Ducati, but instead what Rossi would like to do after he finishes his MotoGP career. His answer? World Superbike. Read it for yourself in the Q&A after the jump.

Ducati & Yamaha’s Gentlemen’s Agreement: Rossi to Test GP10 at Valencia – Announcement Delayed

07/21/2010 @ 3:01 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

After breaking the news that Valentino Rossi signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse, or as we like to refer to it: the worst kept secret in the MotoGP garage, we waited to see the official news of Rossi’s departure materialize after the weekend break, but to no avail. Knowing that our information was correct, we now understand why the announcement didn’t materialize when we expected it: because of a gentleman’s agreement between Ducati & Yamaha.

In exchange for delaying the announcement until after the American round at Laguna Seca (now slated for the Monday after racing at Brno), Yamaha is allowing Rossi to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 when MotoGP stops at Valencia at the end of the 2010 season.

Let’s Try This Again…Caption This Photo

07/17/2010 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Rossi Given the Green Light to Race at Sachsenring

07/15/2010 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Meeting today with the Chief Medical Officer at the Sachsenring, Rossi has received word that he can participate in, and race at, the German GP. This means Rossi can turn a wheel in Friday’s practice sessions, and further assess his readiness for MotoGP racing. Should Rossi take to the Yamaha YZF-M1 by Saturday, he will have gone from injury to competition in just six weeks’ time, an incredible feat.

Although he completed 46 laps at Brno this week, Rossi still reported pain in his leg and shoulder, along with being tired from the testing sessions. With fans and MotoGP keen to see the nine-time Champion is keen to get back to racing, we can imagine there’s little that will stop Rossi from riding on Sunday, thus giving Wataru Yoshikawa a reprieve from his duties.