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: Race 2 at Portimao is All Over, But the Crying

10/26/2009 @ 1:56 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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With Race 1 changing two riders’ fate, the last race of the last round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship would be the only redemption left, until next year. Just as catastrophe changed the Championship in Race 1, disaster here in Race 2 could just as easily swing the pedulum. With this pressure still looming, Spies and Haga both had to be ready for a fight to the finish. Spoilers after the jump.

WSBK: Crash in Race 1 Could Cost the Championship

10/26/2009 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ben-Spies-Race-1-WSBK-Portimao-Portugal

It’s the day that all World Superbike fans have been looking forward to, the day that the battle for the World Superbike Championship would finally come to an end. Some say it is Noriyuki Haga, who has come so close to Superbike supremacy in the past, only to miss his day by a few simple points. Others say it is Ben Spies.

The Texan has been dominating his rookie season abroad, and now with his MotoGP plans for 2010 solidified, it would be unfinished business if he left World Superbike without a Championship wreath. We think both riders have a solid argument for why they should win the crown, but talking does little for victory on the race track.

With two races at Portimao to find our champion, it would seem that all we’d need is Race 1 to find our Champion, as a costly crash early into the race by one of these riders has likely dashed their hopes for the day. More after the jump.

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

10/24/2009 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

Ben-Spies-Qualifying-Portimao-WSBK

It’s the qualifying session we’ve all been waiting for: the last Superpole of the 2009 season at Portimao, Portugal. A vetting process for tomorrow’s races, today’s Superpole gives us a glimpse into how this amazing season might end. How close would Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga be on the starting line come Sunday? Who would be faster? By what margin? And lastly, would Ben Spies be able to take the outright pole record for World Superbike racing? Those answers after the jump.

Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

10/23/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

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We typically don’t cover the Free Practice/Qualifying sessions in World Superbike, but considering that the entire season will come down to Sunday’s race, we’re making an exception. With QP1 in the bag already at Portimao, we get some insight into how the grid could come together for the last race of the WSBK season, and the results might surprise some people. More after the jump.

WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

10/05/2009 @ 8:55 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

WSBK-Race-3-Magny-Cours-Max-Biaggi

You have to appreciate the two race program in World Superbike. Not only does it give fans a chance to see their favorites battle it out twice in one day, but it also gives riders a second chance to make a grab for the podium. With only a handful of points separating Spies and Haga, the points that Race 2 provides will definitely determine the WSBK Championship outcome. Spoilers and results after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

10/05/2009 @ 8:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

WSBK-Race-1-Magny-Cours-Ben-Spies

Eclipsing the excitement in MotoGP this week, World Superbike has heated up to be a great series to watch in these final two outings. Recently signed to Tech3 Yamaha, Ben Spies looked for W in Race 1 to try and take back the Championship lead from Noriyuki Haga.

Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride, Haga entered Race 1 also looking for a win, to help further his points lead in what could be his first WSBK Championship trophy. Johnny Rea on the other hand, entered Race 1 to try and crash into one of the top riders, and spoil the whole series for everyone else. Continue after the jump to find who was successful in their endeavors.

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.

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

09/26/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

Michel-Fabrizio-Superpole-WSBK-Imola

With track conditions at the Imola causing a near mutiny during the practice sessions, there was a panic in the WSBK paddock as to whether racing would occur at the Bologna circuit this weekend. After track officials cleaned the Imola tarmac, it became too slippery to ride upon. Whether due to the mixture of oil and water on the track, or the absence of the usual layers of rubber forming on the race line, the conditions caused riders to refuse to take to the track over safety concerns.

Commenting about the conditions, Ben Spies stated the course was slipperier than full wet conditions. Max Biaggi was also heard saying that the course was too slippery for racing, and that Sunday’s races could not take place on the course under these circumstances. Despite this, WSBK Superpole action still occurred, read on for more.

WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes

09/06/2009 @ 8:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes

WSBK-Race-2-Nurburgring

Race 2 continues World Superbike’s tour of Germany and the Nürburgring. With the balance of the Championship standings still tipping precariously after Race 1, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga were both looking for a victory that would give them a sure lead in the Championship points.

WSBK: Strong Superpole Results in Germany Show the Season Ain’t Over Yet

09/05/2009 @ 5:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Noriyuki-Haga-Nurburgring-WBSK-Superpole

World Superbike action returns from its summer hiatus, and comes to you this weekend from the Nürburgring in Germany. With Ben Spies only 7 points behind the injured Noriyuki Haga, it appeared the American would take the Championship lead this weekend with little effort, as Haga would not be able to push himself to compete with the Texan. Nitro Nori would appear to have some gas still in his reserves, and has proven thus far that he won’t give up his lead without a fight.