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.”

Effenbert Liberty Racing Withdraws from WSBK…Again

05/21/2013 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Sweet baby Jesus, here we go again. We are only into the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship, and Effenbert Liberty Racing is having its first (and hopefully last) kerfuffle. Announcing that “the adventure of the team in the WSBK 2013 is not of our further interest” in a press release today, Effenbert Liberty Racing announced that it will no longer race in World Superbike.

Explaining that the team was unable to promote the interests of its sponsors and partners through WSBK racing, the Liberty Racing will skip the Donington Park round, which would have been only the fourth round of the season for the squad, having skipped the opening round at Phillip Island, and starting its season at Motorland Aragon.

Effenbert Liberty Returns to World Superbike with Mark Aitchison and a Ducati Superbike 1098R

04/05/2013 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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After very publicly imploding part-way through the 2012 season with its four-rider team, which included a dust-up between the Czech team and French Rider Sylvain Guintoli, it would seem that Team Effenbert Liberty Racing is ready to give things another go, though on a much smaller scale.

Accordingly, after missing the season-opener at Phillip Island, Liberty Racing will once again compete in the World Superbike Championship, and plans to campaign the rest of the 2013 season with Mark Aitchison on a Ducati Superibke 1098R.

2013 Provisional WSBK Entry List Shows Only 19 Riders

02/04/2013 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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As feared, the World Superbike grid seems likely to shrink for the 2013 Championship season, with only 19 riders listed on the provisional list by the FIM. Down from the 23 bikes on the grid at Phillip Island in 2012, the euro-centric series is still dealing with the economic downturn in Europe, which continues to linger in the important markets of Spain and Italy.

However though, it is of note that the difference in machines can be attributed to the absence of the Liberty Racing Team, which ran four riders in the early part of the 2012, before falling to pieces by the conclusion of the season. Only one former Liberty Racing rider returns to WSBK for 2013: Sylvain Guintoli, who will race on the factory Aprilia Racing team, with Maxime Berger, Jakub Smrz, and Brett McCormick unable to secure rides in WSBK for the coming season.

Ducati Corse Confirms Carlos Checa & Panigale RS13 in WSBK – Hints at Factory Team for 2013

10/29/2012 @ 1:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

After the shocking news this weekend that Ducati and Althea Racing would go their separate ways, the Bologna Brand has issued its own press statement about the break-up. Confirming that it has contracted former World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa to its payroll for next season, Ducati Corse also reaffirmed its commitment to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale in the series.

Ducati Corse has yet to release its official plans to race in the series, but the writing on the wall hints towards a factory team for 2013. Citing its strong ties and good relationship with the Althea Racing team, Ducati’s press release mentions the possibility of a “cooperation between Ducati and Team Althea” that could still be “found in the future,” which suggests that Althea could come on as a satellite team for 2013, or again takeover as the factory-backed effort at a later point in time.

While Ducati’s WSBK racing effort is still very much in the air, names like Liberty Racing and Davide Tardozzi are being banded about, and it is certain that Ducati Corse is exploring every option available. What is perhaps most intriguing in the news is Ducati Corse’s reconfirmation of its plan to race the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 next season.

WSBK: Suzuki Slams Sylvain Guintoli for Breach of Contract

10/15/2012 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Some more controversy is brooding for World Superbike rider Sylvain Guintoli, as Paul Denning and the FIXI Crescent Suzuki have slammed the British-living French-born rider for backing out of his 2013 commitments with the team. Issuing a statement to the press, Crescent Suzuki states that Guintoli and the team came to a “full and final agreement” at Magny-Cours, which was singed by the Frenchman.

According to Crescent Suzuki, Guinters made significant steps with the team to test at Aragaon starting today, but since that agreement, Guintoli has informed the team that he has to back out of his testing obligation in order to consider a new offer from a rival team. That rival team is heavily rumored to be Aprilia Racing, which may be scrambling to find a replacement rider for the still undecided Max Biaggi, the now-current World Superbike Champion.

For devout WSBK fans, the statements from FIXI Crescent Suzuki sound similar to those made by Liberty Racing, when the Czech team let Guintoli go mid-season, citing a number of reasons, including the Frenchman’s on-track results. Starting strong early on, Liberty Racing’s swan song started at Monza, and ultimately saw the team release its riders one-by-one, before finally missing the last race at Magny-Cours altogether.

For added Drama Llama, the press statement from FIXI Crescent Suzuki and Paul Denning is after the jump.

WSBK: Liberty Racing Drops Jakub Smrz for Lorenzo Lanzi

09/07/2012 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After its absence at the Moscow round, Effenbert Liberty Racing affirmed earlier this week that it would be participating in World Superbike’s Nürburgring round with all three of its riders. Always keeping things interesting though, the team has followed up that announcement today with the news that it has replaced Jakub Smrz with Italian rider Lorenzo Lanzi. This should surprise no one.

Rumored heavily to be in financial difficulty, after Effenbert reduced its support for the team after the round at Monza, today’s move is just the latest of many strange developments for the Liberty Racing squad, which showed so much promise earlier in the season, but has spiraled out of control ever since.

WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round

08/16/2012 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round

“In Soviet Russia, motorcycle race skips you” is how the joke should read. Confirming our earlier report, Liberty Racing has formally announced that it is skipping World Superbike’s Moscow round, which is two weeks away. Stating that the team will restructure itself for the future, Liberty Racing will be back on the track come the German World Superbike round, at the Nürburgring.

In addition to its restructuring process, Liberty Racing also cites Canadian rider Brett McCormick’s rehabilitation to riding form as a factor for its skipping of the Russian round. The more-than-slightly confusing press release is after the jump.

WSBK: Liberty Racing to Miss Moscow Round?

08/15/2012 @ 9:48 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The financial woes of Liberty Racing seemingly continue, as the World Superbike team is absent from the entry list for the upcoming WSBK round in Moscow, Russia. It is being reported that all three of Liberty’s riders are missing on the entry list, as well as Team Grillini’s Norino Brignola.

It is not clear at this time why the four riders are not entered in this weekend’s race, though since it is the first time World Superbike has run at Moscow, one cannot rule out logistical issues. However, considering the type of season Liberty Racing has had this year, not to mention the rumors of the team’s financial difficulties, the non-entry at Moscow could signal a much bigger problem.

WSBK: Effenbert Liberty Racing vs. Infront Sports & Media

05/10/2012 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

After the debacle of a round at Monza, the Effenbert-Liberty Racing Team had some choice words regarding how the World Superbike Championship was being handled last weekend. Surely having something to do with the fact that Effenbert racer Sylvain Guintoli qualified on the pole position, the Czech squad had to watch as the French rider’s bike died on the sighting lap for Race 2. Gaining momentum from its win at Assen, the guys at Effenbert-Liberty Racing were surely frustrated by the events in Italy, though things have seemingly escalated from there.

First stating that the team would only minimally participate at the Donington Park round, i.e. not bring a full hospitality service, and would reconsider its involvement in the rest of the WSBK season, the words from the Ducati squad have cooled to some degree, but continue to be rather ominous. With Infront Sports & Media, the rights holder to World Superbike, publicly saying it has deferred the matter to its legal council, Liberty Racing released another statement, noticeably absent of its title sponsor’s name, that confirmed its previous statements about Donington Park.