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.”

MotoGP: Loris Baz Confirmed with Forward Racing for 2015

10/04/2014 @ 11:57 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

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Loris Baz has finally found his place in MotoGP. After being signed and then disposed of by the Aspar team, the Forward Racing team finally announced that they have signed the 21-year-old Frenchman for the 2015 season.

Baz will line up alongside Stefan Bradl on board the Open class Forward Yamaha. The Forward Yamaha will be close to a 2014 spec satellite Yamaha M1, but using the Open software.

Voxan Wattman — A French Brand Revival Brings an Electric Power Cruiser to Market

12/02/2013 @ 6:28 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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The Voxan brand has been reborn, this time with Gildo Pastor, the billionaire Monégasque man behind the Venturi automobile project. Building off of his experience with Venturi’s use of electric drivetrains, Pastor has revived the Voxan brand to bring electric motorcycles to market, thus making good on his promise in 2010 to bring an electric to market within three years.

The Voxan Wattman, the company’s first new model, has just broken cover at the Paris Auto Show, and the machine sports a power cruiser form factor with some eye-catching specs. At the Wattman’s core is a liquid-cooled 200hp permanent magnet motor that is also good for 147 lbs•ft of torque at 6,000 rpm.

Coming with ABS, traction control, and Beringer four-disc front brakes as standard, Voxan also quotes a 12.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack as well. Visually hefty with its 240mm rear tire, the Voxan Wattman tips the scales at a portly 771 lbs — that number is not a typo.

Redux: This is How You Thank Your Sponsors

12/15/2012 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Those crazy Frenchmen at Luc1 Motorsport are back with another rolling tutorial on how race team’s should thank their sponsors. Perhaps not as robust as last year’s video, if you’re a fan of supermoto, or just generally a two-wheel hooligan, you’ll want to enjoy the clip after the jump. Be good, do wheelies, and wear gear. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

Boxer Design SuperBob Concept is all Turbo and Monocoque

11/29/2011 @ 4:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Carbon monocoque frame, turbo-boosted v-twin motor, single-sided swingarm, duolever front suspension geometry, and premium components — that’s what French firm Boxer Design’s SuperBob is made of. You’ll either love or hate the SuperBob’s general aesthetic, but you have to admit up close, the details of the sport-naked are superb. Based around an 88° 997cc v-twin motor that was developed by French firm Technologies (the same company behind the stillborn Inmotec MotoGP project’s motor), the Boxer Design SuperBob massages its peak power output to 158hp, thanks to some light turbo work (6-9 psi).

Voxan Bought by Venturi – Electrics in Three Years

06/02/2010 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Beleaguered French motorcycle company Voxan has found life after death, and today was acquired by Venturi Automobiles. Backed by an investment group in Monaco, Venturi itself was resurrected back in 2001, but with new cash in-hand the company sees motorcycles as a way to bolster its portfolio.

The French conglomerate has released some interesting plans for its newly acquired motorcycle company, namely that it hopes to have Voxan release a production electric motorcycle in the next three years.

European Commission Could Be Considering 100HP Limit for Motorcycles

03/29/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Several publications are reporting the possibility that the European Commission (EC) could be preparing to implement a European-wide limit of 100HP on motorcycles when the European executive power meets this summer. The issue arises after France instituted a 100HP ban on new motorcycles, causing the country to be out of line with the rest of European Union. France’s new law places an undue burden on manufacturers, who must now make a French variant for each new EU motorcycle model (or just not offer the bike in the French market all-together), and as such the EC aims to bring the EU under one policy.

This has created cause for alarm in the industry (or just in sensationalist journalists) who fear that the EC could place 100HP limits across the entire EU, along with other hindering provisions as well (mandatory ABS brakes seems to be the other main concern), in order to bring balance to the Union’s approach on motorcycles. If that sounds ridiculous to you, then you’re in the same boast as us. Considering how the EC and EU directives, regulations, and decisions actually operate, the real likelihood seems to be the possibility of France’s law being repealed, but that doesn’t mean activists have any less cause for alarm.

Krisfox’s Ducati Hypermotard 1098S

01/06/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

In the hands of one Frenchman, what began life as a mild-mannered Ducati 1098S Superbike, has turned into a water-cooled Hypermotard that would do the engineers in Bologna proud. Known to us only as “Krisfox”, this builder was looking for more than the standard streetbike experience. Wishing to see the more powerful water-cooled 1098 motor in a motard format, he set out to make one of his own, dubbed the Hypermotard 1098S. Pictures and more after the jump.

WSBK: Magny-Cours Superpole

10/03/2009 @ 6:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Magny-Cours Superpole

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World Superbike makes its way to France this weekend for its second to last stop of the season. With only 3 points separating Ben Spies from Noriyuki Haga’s lead in the Championship, Magny-Cours proves itself to be an important stop in a battle for the lead that seems unable to die. Both Haga and Spies will be looking to take a double here in France, and try to establish some breathing room over the other, before they head to Portimao.

Lazareth Wazuma Bio V12 Runs on E85

08/19/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just slightly more practical than the Dodge Tomahawk motorcycle, is the French-built Lazareth Wazuma Bio V12. With a supercharged BMW V12 motor that puts out over 500hp, the Wazuma counters its ludicrous impracticability by sensibly using E85 corn-fuel. Aww heck, at €200,000 there’s nothing sensible about this. Photos and a video of the Wazuma in action after the jump.

The Multiple Personalities of the Boxer SSR

08/05/2009 @ 12:28 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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You might think that French Company Boxer Design’s Boxer SSR has multiple personalities after you read this post. With a body kit and fairly modular design, the Boxer SSR can go from naked streetfighter to full-faired sportbike with an easy to make cosemetic adjustment. Both designs are stricking, and with the added modularity, and limited production run, you’re sure to have a unique bike at any meet-up or event.