Imagining the 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 Supermoto

It is a tremendous shame that the options for a road legal supermoto for are so limited, with the venerable Suzuki DR-Z400SM being the only offering in the 450cc on-road class. For virtually a decade, Suzuki has left the DR-Z basically unchanged – as it has done with many of its sport models – so we would love to see Suzuki and other manufacturers give this space more attention (a hat tip to Husqvarna for bringing the track-only FS450 to market, long with the 701 Supermoto). Although you can wake-up the DR-Z400 with a few simple modification, and there are a bevy of aftermarket kits that can punch the 398cc machine out in size, what we really want from Suzuki is a proper 450cc street supermoto – one that doesn’t stray too far from the brand’s current strong motocross offering. So, when we saw this little bit of Photoshop work by the folks at the German Suzuki dealership of DSR-Suzuki, we got a little excited.

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.

The 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / ZZR1400 Makes Under 200hp

10/11/2011 @ 5:32 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

After debuting the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R / 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400, Team Green has been fairly tight-lipped about quoting specific performance figures on the company’s revamped hyperbike. Carefully gleaning the performance specifications from its US and UK websites, it looks like Kawasaki Motors Europe has spilled the beans on the ZX-14R’s horsepower figures. Perhaps letting down those who expected the ZX-14R/ZZR1400 to break the 200+ horsepower barrier, Kawasaki’s site quotes power figures just shy of 200hp.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Breaks Cover

10/10/2011 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

True to its teaser campaign, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 to our friends abroad) finally got revealed today. Tweaking its hyperbike offering, Kawasaki has confirmed that the ZX-14R (note the added R to the name) will get a displacement bump to 1,441cc, along with a cosmetic overhaul and other basic features. Most notably added to the Kawasaki ZX-14R is the addition traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle control system. Kawasaki hasn’t spilled all the beans about the new ZX-14R, but power is said to be over 200hp at the crank with ram-air.

Kawasaki is already pitting the ZX-14R against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, perhaps in an attempt to re-ignite the speed wars of the 1990’s. While no top speed has been touted, the Japanese company is quoting the Kawasaki ZX-14R as “the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle.” A lengthy superlative, but it will be interesting to see if Suzuki responds with an update to the aging Hayabusa, which hasn’t had a meaningful upgrade since its 1999 market introduction.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R Frame and Motor Revealed

10/07/2011 @ 6:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The last time we showed you the latest teaser from Kawasaki for its upcoming 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends across the pond), we found it fairly amusing when several sites called the video’s authenticity into question. Systematically leaked to media sites through Kawasaki channels, and generally having the production quality of a professional job, nay-sayers apparently over-looked the smoking-gun fact that the videos in question were hosted on Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14R mini-site, which for added authority resides on a Kawasaki.com sub-domain. Yes, this video is real. Yes, an updated version of the Kawasaki ZX-14R/ZZR1400 is coming. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing you a new 1,440cc motorcycle. Only a few more days until this baby drops on October 10th. Stay tuned.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 Comes Together in Teaser Videos

09/16/2011 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is gearing up to launch its new hyperbike, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 or the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 as it’s known to our friends outside of the US market. Keeping a constant stream of video teaser videos over the past few weeks, Team Green has finally given us a glimpse at the new Kawasaki ZX-14 in it’s latest “Ultimate” video. Flashing the dimensions “84 x 65mm” in the video, the new ZX-14/ZZR1400 will surely live up to its name with a 1,440cc engine displacement, and is expected to make over 200hp in production trim.

The new ZX-14 is also likely to include anti-lock brakes and traction control, in order to help tame all that hyperbike power on-tap. If you’ve missed out on Kawasaki’s teaser campaign, we’ve got all of them waiting for you after the jump in reverse chronological order. Expect to see the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 unveiled on October 10th if Kawasaki can keep it under wraps for that long, sooner if the Japanese company can’t.

Are You the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 / ZZR1400?

09/06/2011 @ 8:50 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The internet has been abuzz lately with leaked/early/spy photos, some real, and some not so much. Looking a bit like the genuine article, we get another alleged glimpse at a soon to be released motorcycle before its public unveiling. While Kawasaki has been busy teasing the interwebs with videos that feature a nice exhaust note, a flash of green light, and the date: 10/10/2011,  it looks like Asian motorcycle magazine Young Machine has released its issue featuring the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 (that’s the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 for our friends in other markets) a tad early.

In what looks to be the first photos of the new Kawasaki ZX-14, we also get a look at some of the basic features that the new hypersport will boast in 2012, namely a 1429cc motor, anti-lock brakes, Kawasaki’s traction control system, and rider-selectable engine maps. As for looks…ZX-10R owners will be pleased. Photos after the jump, and if you read what appears to be Japanese, help us out with a translation in the comments. Thanks for the tip John!