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.”

WSBK: Joan Lascorz & Kawasaki Talk for the First Time about the Crash at Imola

09/05/2012 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Recovering from the injuries he sustained while testing for Kawasaki at Imola, we learned earlier this year that Joan Lascorz was lucky to escape with his life from the frightful event, though he will never walk again. Suffering from paralysis from his abdomen down, the well-liked Spaniard is still recuperating, but has released a press release (along with Kawasaki) about the event, the months after it, and Jumbo’s coming future.

Recounting the incident, Lascorz also gives an insightful description of his current state of mind, and his thoughts about his road to a new life. The full press release is after the jump. It’s okay if you get a bit misty-eyed while reading it. We certainly did.

WSBK: Update on Joan Lascorz’s Condition

04/20/2012 @ 11:40 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

With World Superbike in Assen this race weekend, the Kawasaki Racing Team has released an update on team rider Joan Lascorz, who broke his neck during a crash at a post-race test at Imola earlier this month. Though the press release is terse with information, it does say that Lascorz is conscious and remains in the ICU of the Hospital de la Valld’Hebron in Barcelona. Saying it could take months to know the full-extent of the Spanish rider’s injuries, no further update on his condition was given.

However, MCN is reporting that in an interview with Kawasaki Team Manager Guim Roda, Lascorz is said to have movement in his arms, but currently not in his legs. With inflammation still surrounding the injury to his C6 vertabra, the hope is that as the swelling subsides Lascorz will regain use of his legs, though nothing is certain at this point. With a lengthy road to recovery still ahead of him, everyone is being cautious about predicting the full-extent of the accident’s effects.

Everyone in the World Superbike and motorcycling community at large, including Asphalt & Rubber, is hoping for a full and speedy recovery of the well-liked Spanish racer. Carlos Checa perhaps said it best with his recent comment on Twitter: “Joan Lascorz is in another championship, a race that [he] is sure going to win and we will all be there to support you at all times. Take heart!” Press release from Kawasaki after the jump.

Still No News on Joan Lascorz

04/10/2012 @ 1:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The low-point of a great race weekend, factory Kawasaki rider Joan Lascorz was airlifted out of the Imola circuit, after crashing during a post-race test at the Italian track. Flown immediately to the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, Lascorz was diagnosed with a broken 6th vertebra (C6), and was reported to have suffered trauma to his spinal chord. Since the Spanish rider has been moved back to Spain, details about Lascorz’s condition have not been coming forth with regularity, though the latest update from the team is that the rider has been kept sedated to minimize his movement and because he still had fluid in his lungs.

WSBK: Joan Lascorz Airlifted from Post-Race Test at Imola

04/02/2012 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Factory Kawasaki World Superbike rider Joan Lascorz has been airlifted from the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola today, after the young Spanish rider crashed his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R during a post-race test. Treated first at the circuit’s medical center, it was decided to airlift Lascorz to Bologna when it was suspected the WSBK rider had fractured a vertebra.

Scoring a 7th and 9th place in Sunday’s two World Superbike races, Lascorz lost control of his Kawasaki in the final minutes of the today’s testing session. Unconfirmed reports say the Spaniard hit a wall on the outside of the track, fracturing either his 5th or 6th vertebra. According to the Spanish press, Lascorz is currently in surgery for his injuries. A&R hopes for the best for the young WSBK rider, and that he has a full and speedy recovery from this incident. A statement from World Superbike is after the jump.

Kawasaki WSBK Team – Behind the Scenes at Phillip Island

03/06/2012 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

After consistently struggling in the World Superbike Championship, Kawasaki finally seems to have all its duck in a row for the 2012 season. Teething the recently updated Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R over the course of last season’s races, Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz made it clear at the season’s opening round at Phillip Island that Team Green can contend for podium finishes and even race victories against the mighty Ducati of Carlos Checa and Aprilia of Max Biaggi.

With Sykes starting at the pole position after the cancellation of Superpole qualifying, the Englishman lapped in the position in both races at the Australian track. Battling with a very strong Honda factory team, Sykes even squeaked out a great victory over fellow countryman Johnny Rea, securing a podium finish for Kawasaki on the team’s first outing of the season. Clearly excited by that start, Kawasaki Racing has put out a video of the team’s weekend at Phillip Island. Check it out after the jump.

WSBK: Rain Causes Crash-Filled Superpole at Misano

06/11/2011 @ 7:12 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off on WSBK: Rain Causes Crash-Filled Superpole at Misano

Checa led Biaggi, Corser, Haslam, and Camier as the fastest five in the first free practice of the Misano weekend, and continued to lead through the first qualifying practice with a lap time of 1:36.024. Friday afternoon, Biaggi, Melandri, and Fabrizio completed the provisional front row after the first qualifying practice. Corser caused that session to end early, crashing just minutes from the flag. He hit his head and was taken to the medical center but was cleared to continue riding for the weekend. James Toseland did not participate in either session and would not race with a relapse in the recovery of his right wrist. He has been replaced by Italian Lorenzo Lanzi both this weekend and at Aragaon.

In Saturday’s Superpole sessions, Tom Sykes (1:55.197) held off a late charge from Carlos Checa to take pole position for the World Superbike round at Misano despite the damp conditions. Rain began falling minutes before Superpole 1 began, leading to crashes by Ruben Xaus, Leon Camier, Eugene Laverty, Carlos Checa, and Jakub Smrz. Neither Xaus nor Camier, despite being the earliest crashers, were able to complete a timed lap and were knocked out in Superpole 1. Smrz led much of the final run for pole, fighting with Sykes. In the end, Skyes, Checa, Smrz, and Marco Melandri will start from the front row for tomorrow’s races.

WSBK: Vermeulen Preemptively Out for Miller Round

05/24/2011 @ 8:02 pm, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

Despite his perennially upbeat demeanor on Twitter, Chris Vermeulen’s recovery continues to progress slowly. The factory Kawasaki rider, who has yet to complete a race in the 2011 World Superbike season, will remain in Europe while teammates Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes travel to this weekend’s race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.Vermeulen has been attending recent races in Europe and participating in practice and qualifying sessions, but an off at Monza tore a hole in his elbow and added to the Australian’s injuries.

Vermeulen will test for the team at Motorland Aragon early next month, with a plan to return to racing at Misano for the June 12th weekend. “It is disappointing to not race in America but my injuries are still healing. The good thing is they are improving,” said Vermeulen.

Vermeulen Tests His Knee on a Kawasaki ZX-6R in Spain

04/07/2011 @ 2:13 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

With his knee injury and subsequent recovery has taken far longer than expected, Chris Vermeulen took another step forward today in his attempt to properly return to World Superbike racing. The Australian rode Thursday at Parcmotor Castelloli in Spain, just before a Kawasaki festival being held at the circuit this weekend. However Vermeulen was not testing the WSBK Kawasaki ZX-10R, but instead riding a Ninja ZX-6R, the reasoning of which he explained on Twitter as: “Had a good ride on the supersport bike today a little less physical than my bike but did 40laps and knee did ok.”

Though Vermeulen has been plagued with a slow recovery, he did participate in some of the practice and qualifying sessions of the second round of World Superbike racing at Donington Park last month. However, he sat out both races at Donington, in addition to missing the season opening round at Phillip Island. Since then, Vermeulen has been slowly working his way back into the full-season ride he has with the factory Kawasaki team run by Paul Bird Racing.

Vermeulen May Not Race at Donington Park

03/25/2011 @ 8:33 am, by Victoria Reid8 COMMENTS

The saga of rehabilitating Chris Vermeulen’s knee continues this weekend at the second round of the World Superbike season. The Australian will participate in the practice and qualifying sessions beginning Friday at Donington Park, but he may sit out the races on Sunday.

This news comes after Vermeulen missed the season opener and winter testing at Phillip Island because his knee has not recovered as quickly as planned, and it was hoped that skipping his home race would allow Vermeulen time to recover enough to race the rest of this season, but it seems the Australian and his factory Kawasaki team are taking this weekend one session at a time.

The former MotoGP rider spent some time testing at Motorland Aragon in Spain last week (where compatriot James Toseland fractured his wrist, forcing him to sit out this WSBK weekend) and just yesterday spent some more time on the seat riding around Cadwell Park. After this most recent outing, Vermeulen tweeted, “was great to get back on the bike but still work to do on my knee to be race fit.”

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

03/16/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

Motorland Aragon will host a private test for the factory Kawasaki and BMW Motorrad Italia World Superbike teams Thursday and Friday this week. Though Kawasaki had a good bit of winter testing both at the official WSBK test in Portugal and private testing in Sepang, the Italian BMW team suffered the effects of inclement weather and lost testing time. This private test comes just one week before the World Superbike season resumes at Donington Park in England, whose improvements have recently been approved by the FIM.

Importantly for Kawasaki, Chris Vermeulen is expected to test in Spain. After injuries and surgery kept him out of much of the 2010 season, the Australian hoped to return at his home round but was unable to pass the physical. He sat out testing and racing in Australia, remaining at home and working on his physical therapy.