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.”

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA – Adios FB Corse?

01/14/2010 @ 6:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Something is up in the John Hopkins camp. First the American GP/WSBK racer was linked with MotoGP upstart FB Corse. A few days after the team announced a deal with Hopper, his manager said nothing was signed, and rumors about his involvement in the AMA began to ramp up.

While FB Corse continues to insist that Hopper will be riding with the Italian team next season, the American seems to be making every indication that he will be returning home with RoadRacing World is reporting that Hopkins will testing a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with Team Hammer (aka Team M4 Suzuki) at Fontana on Februrary 2nd & 3rd.

John Hopkins Confirmed with FB Corse?

01/05/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

There seems to be a back and forth going on as to whether John Hopkins will be riding with FB Corse at a limited number of MotoGP events this year. First there was the announcement that was picked up by major reporters and even some racing sponsors which slotted the American with the Italian team.

However when the news reached Bob Moore, Hoppers manager, he flat out denied that Hopkins had signed anything, and that they were still considering offers including a ride in the AMA. Now Italian site MotoBlog.it, which has been well connected to the FB Corse team from day one, is again saying the American will be in the riders seat at the team’s unveiling later this month.

UPDATE: Hopper Has NOT Signed with FB Corse

12/29/2009 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

It would seem reports that John Hopkins will be back in MotoGP with FB Corse were premature. While confirming that Hopper has been talking to the Italian GP team, his manager Bob Moore has denied any news that the American rider has signed with the team. Moore goes on to say that Hopkins is still considering all options at this point in time, including a ride in the AMA Pro Racing series.

Ben Bostrom Signs with Pat Clark Motorsports – Jake Zemke & John Hopkins in Talks with PCM

12/16/2009 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Ben-Bostrom-Graves-Yamaha

A reliable source in the AMA has just tipped us off to the fact that Ben Bostrom has signed with Pat Clark Motorsports (PCM) for the 2010 season. PCM, which has been linked to Bostrom since the beginning of the month, is keeping the deal under wraps though as they try to sign both Jake Zemeke and John “Hopper” Hopkins to the team as well. If successful, this would mean PCM is building the Deathstar of AMA Superbike teams for the 2010 AMA season.

Hopper Out the Rest of World Superbike Season

09/11/2009 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Although initial reports suggested that John Hopkins went relatively unscathed after his crash at the Nürburgring (video above),  Dr. Ting here in the United States has concluded upon further examination that Hopper had a small hemorrhage on his brain that has since stopped bleeding. The discovery of this injury is a show-stopper for Hopkins, who has been plagued with adversity this past year.

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful

04/24/2009 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

john-hopkins-crash-assen-motogp-2008

If you were to ask John Hopkins what his least favorite track is right now, we’d bet good money the American would say the Dutch track Assen. The last time Hopper was in Assen, he smash his leg in a huge crash, which left him sitting out of two races, and struggling in pain for the rest of the season. Now, after only four laps around the course this year, Assen has shown its teeth again for Hopper. During the free practice today Hopkins dislocated his hip in another big crash, and there is doubt surrounding his return to riding by Sunday.

 

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda

03/19/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

john-hopkins

UPDATE: Roberto Rolfo announced on his website that he would be leaving Stiggy Racing, due to “reasons beyond his control.” Those reasons beyond his control would seem to be: John Hopkins joining Stiggy Honda, having sponsorship coming with him, and generally not performing that well last season.

It seems the rumors were true. According to Roadracing World, John Hopkins is officially racing with Stiggy Honda’s World Superbike team. John Hopkins’ agent Bob Moore confirmed the news that that Hopper will be riding a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike Championship series, starting with the next round at Valencia, which starts April 3rd. 

 

John Hopkins to World Superbike?

02/03/2009 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on John Hopkins to World Superbike?

Hopper and Melandri still seem to be in MotoGP pergatory, which only gives people more time to speculate on what might become of the two riders. The prevailing rumor right now is that Hopper could end up with a World Superbike ride with Stiggy Honda Motorsports, along-side rider Leon Haslam. This move would mean that Hopkins would replace Roberto Rolfo, who has had problems with a dislocated shoulder.

This appears to be news to Rolfo who recently posted to his site about his recovery and plans for the season without any apparent concern about being replaced by the American.

Hello boys!
In these days I am receiving a lot of mail regard to my injury, I want in the first place say you “thanks” for your support! During the tests of Portimao I completed only a few laps, the lesion was still too much fresh; I knew that it would not have been immediately easy, but it has been however important for me to enter in track, to better know the bike and the new team! I’m happy because the upgrades them is very high!
The days before the next tests in Australia are enough for being able to recover the form with a lot of motivation and training! I am not losing not even a minute of time, therapy, race, bicycle, swim, always with much music: thanks special also to Diabo for the songs of the “El Canto del Loco”! I will take advantage of every day at best, in order to arrive to the top in Australia for the next tests!
By by… and always… Gasss!
Roby44

With the pace that the news has been going about these two, it is really only a matter of time before the Hopkins/Melandri Moto2 rumors start surging; but until then, WSBK might seem like a nice fit for Hopper.

Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes

11/28/2008 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Phillip Island: John Hopkins Goes to Surgery Immediately After Testing Finishes

Kawasaki concluded their testing at Phillip Island before the winter break today, after which John Hopkins headed almost immediately to the hospital to have surgery performed on his leg.

Hopper had been experiencing pain ever since the surgery performed after his crash in Assen early in the 2008 season. Toughing it out, Hopkins showed determination to get this last week’s worth of testing in:

“Today was more positive for me. The injuries weren’t such a big problem, although I had to adapt because I still can’t put any pressure on the left footpeg…we found a pretty good setup on the bike, and my lap times were pretty consistent over the long runs we did for Bridgestone, and it’s this consistency that’s important to our development program right now.”

Hopper clocked in 1’32.1 lap today, about a second off his qualifying time at Phillip Island earlier this year.

Even though MotoGP is such a high profile sport, it is understated how often MotoGP riders become injured during the racing season (Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo also had notable injuries during 2008), and how often  they ride on Sunday’s races with aliments and pains that would leave most of us weekend racers sitting on the couch with a cold one in hand, watching the races instead.

Hopkins plans to take it easy after the surgery, make a full-recovery, and then “train [his] butt off ready for the new season”.

Source: MotoGP; Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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