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.”

Video: Chaz Davies’ Ducati Panigale R Erupts in Flames

05/27/2016 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you. That was the case for Chaz Davies at Donington Park today, as the Ducati rider found his Panigale R race bike going up in flames during FP2.

An unknown mechanical issue forced Davies to pull off the track, and not long after getting his bike to a stop did flames started erupting out of his Ducati Panigale R.

The bike was a total loss, and the whole ordeal cost Davies a valuable time during the practice session, but at least Davies didn’t have to abandon ship at full-speed – like Colin Edwards did on the Aprilia RS Cube.

Recall: All 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT

02/26/2015 @ 5:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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BRP is recalling all 5,165 units of its 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT “motorcycles” for problems with the engine compartment temperature when idling or in warmer temperatures.

Apparently the engine compartment on the 2013 Can-Am Spyder RT can retain an excess of heat, which in turn could burn the rider or cause the trike to catch fire.

Video: Grant Wagstaff’s Pit Lane Fire from the Supersport TT

06/05/2014 @ 6:05 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Aside from the motorbikes lapping at 120+ mph around the Snaefell Mountain Course during Race 2 of the Supersport TT, there was a fair bit of drama at the Isle of Man TT pit lane, especially when a race bike caught on fire.

Coming in for his one pit stop, in between the second and third laps, Grant Wagstaff found himself subject to an unsuspected fireball, after a gas spill was ignited by his Yamaha R6’s hot exhaust pipes.

A terrifying sight, thankfully the incident was taken care of quickly by the fire brigade and everyone else involved.

The result was the pit lane being closed for about a minute, leaving the affected riders to have a time credit given to their official times. Last we heard, all involved will live to race another day, though Wagstaff was sent to Noble’s Hospital and treated for burns.

Battery Fire at Brammo HQ Causes $200,000 in Damage

07/09/2013 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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July isn’t getting off to a great start for electric motorcycle manufacturer Brammo Inc, as the Ashland, Oregon company suffered a fire in the company’s R&D lab during the start of the month. The fire broke-out over the weekend of June 30th, as the EV company was doing extended testing to a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fortunately, Brammo’s automated sprinkler system was able to put out the blaze caused by the malfunctioning battery pack, but in the process caused roughly $200,000 in water-damage to equipment located in the facility.

MotoGP: Disaster Avoided after Garage Fire Strikes Monster Yamaha Tech 3 at COTA

04/18/2013 @ 1:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you from the Grand Prix of the Americas this week, and things are already off to an interesting start. With a fire breaking out in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage during the night, the gear for the satellite Yamaha squad was flooded by the Circuit of the America’s fire suppression system, which also affected the garages for Yamaha Racing, LCR Honda, and Cardion AB.

Yamaha Racing Boss Lin Jarvis explained that while the small fire was quickly put out by COTA’s sprinklers, the team lost one of two servers and several computers to the blaze before it was extinguished. It is not anticipated that the fire will have any affect on Sunday’s race, though it could pose a problem for the teams, since they have a quick turnaround for the Jerez round.

Currently, the cause of the fire is presumed to be the lithium battery to Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s electric starter for the GP motorcycles, making this incident another eyebrow raising episode in the handling of high-tech battery packs, which have different tolerances and operating procedures than conventional battery pack types.

While certainly a setback to the start of the race weekend, the teams involved dodged a serious bullet by having the fire occur while MotoGP is at COTA, since the Texan track has a sophisticated fire prevention system in place.

Unlocking the BMW K1600GT’s Secret Missile Feature

01/13/2012 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Well it is Friday the 13th today, so we better kick things off right. Now before the sky darkens, it rains everlasting fire and brimstone, and the creatures of the underworld rise out of the cracks of the earth to enslave mankind for an eternity of toil and torture, we wanted to be sure to share with you this clever piece of motorcycling humor that involves the BMW K1600GT.

Maybe it will provide you with a ray of hope in our soon-to-be-realized dystopian future. Maybe it will arm you with the knowledge on how to take on the zombie hordes that will roam our streets. Or maybe…just maybe, you’ll chuckle and pass it on to Gil in the accounting department, because all he has to live for each day, as he moves numbers from one column on a spreadsheet to another, is that 37 minute commute home on his BMW K1600GT, which somehow continues to sustain his will to go living just for one more day in this upside-down mortgage world we live in.

Photo of the Week: Blue Fire for the Land of the Rising Sun

04/04/2011 @ 9:31 am, by Scott Jones6 COMMENTS

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen a similar image a few weeks ago, and read the story about how many tries it took to get an instance of the blue fire. Here it is again for those who missed it.

On Saturday night of the 2011 season opener, I was working in the pit lane when I noticed something visually striking. When some bikes were revved up by the mechanics in front of the pit boxes, every now and then some blue flame would appear deep within the exhaust pipe. This blue fire was visible for a tiny fraction of a second, but I thought if I could capture one appearance it would be an interesting image. We often see unburned fuel escape from engines and flame out from exhaust pipes, but during the day this fire is orange. But there is something about the night lighting in Qatar that makes it this distinctive blue.

What Does a Bike Catching on Fire at 120 MPH and Crashing into a Wall Look Like? Just Ask Jonathan Rea

02/24/2011 @ 1:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Despite the concern that he might not race this weekend, Jonathan Rea appears to gotten of easy with his latest get-off during testing at Phillip Island. Having to make the difficult choice between being a human fireball and hitting the tarmac at 120 MPH, Rea opted for the latter, ditched his firing stead, fractured his wrist, and injured his hand & arm in the process.

Now with video of the frightening event, we get a glimpse into the crash that nearly sidelined the British rider, who will still ride in Sunday’s World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island. We generally don’t like our motorcycles on fire, and there’s something very creepy about watching Rea’s Castrol Honda CBR1000RR do a ghostride into a barricade. While unconfirmed reports say Colin Edwards has welcomed Rea to the club, check after the jump for Rea’s personal message to Arai Helmets.

A Close Call at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

04/21/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Racing for third place, Honda National Motos wass rushing to fill their CBR1000RR when all of a sudden gallons of race fuel come out of the refueling hose, and slathered the bike in flammable liquid. What happens next is completely predictable to even the most casual race enthusiast.

Likely hitting the super-heated header pipes, the fuel ignites while crew members with minimal fire protection are crowded around the motorcycle trying to dry it with mechanic’s rags. Luckily it would appear no one was injured, but check the video out after the jump to see how close this could have been to a real disaster.

Harley-Davidson Recalls 111,569 Motorcycles

12/10/2009 @ 3:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Harley-Davidson is issuing a recall on its 2009 & 2010 touring line made between June 6, 2008, and Nov. 19, 2009, which consists of 111,569 motorcycles in total. The recall is due to concerns over the fuel tank mounts on these motorcycles, which might distort in a collision, possibly leaking fuel, and thus causing a fire.