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.”

Ducati Scrambler Concepts by Luca Bar & Lusca Custom

08/26/2011 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a concept from the pen of Luca Bar, and in bringing us this design of a Ducati single-cylinder motorcycle, Luca also introduces us to Lusca Custom Designs, as the two designers collaborated on several designs that use half a Multistrada 1200 motor. With Luca penning the scrambler model and the motor configuration, and Lusca working the street tracker, we get at least an idea about the rumored small-displacement motorcycles from the Italian brand would look like.

With Ducati’s Thai plant now operational, everyone is waiting for the rumored other shoe to drop, and for Ducati to start manufacturing small-displacement machines for the Asian market. While all of that is conjecture, there is a strong business case for Ducati going after the lucrative people-mover market in developing countries overseas. How that would resonate with the current Ducati brand isn’t entirely clear, though it plays well with the rumors we’ve heard of an Asian IPO. More on that later, concepts after the jump.

Ducati Supersport Concept by Luca Bar

07/15/2011 @ 11:41 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Tracing back to when Ducati made the SS line, Luca Bar has put pen to pad again, rendering a modern-day version of the Ducati Supersport. Envisioning a motorcycle based off Ducati’s popular Monster 1100 EVO platform, the Supersport would feature the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve v-twin motor of the Monster, which should provide plenty of power and take some design cues from the top-spec naked bike. Bar also points out that using the Monster as the basis for the Supersport could help keep costs down as well, and keep the MSRP close to the Monster 1100 EVO (we’d imagine pricing would have the SS as slightly pricier than the Monster).

2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 Rendered by Luca Bar Design

06/15/2011 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Ever since we heard about the new 2012 Ducati Superbike, we’ve been marking the days until we could see the v-twin sex machine in the flesh. There’s no denying that the specs being banded about on the new Superquadrata motor are impressive, as the new bike is expected to make up to 20hp more than the current Superbike 1198 (though peak performance numbers only tell one side of the story). Also intriguing is the MotoGP-derived stressed-airbox chassis arrangement, which finally does away with the iconic trellis chassis, though has caused some problems for Valentino Rossi on his move to Ducati Corse.

Just last month we got our first look at the new Superbike prototype, as Ducati leaked first a Supersport spec version of what many think will be called the Ducati Superbike 1199. An encore to that moment, the street version of the v-twin superbike leaked just days later. While many of us will have to use our imagination on what Ducati’s latest creation will look like, we’re lucky that Luca Bar Design (website here: bar-design.net) can take those thoughts and put them to paper, err…pixels. Rendering the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 from what information that is available, this is perhaps one of the best glimpses as to what the Bologna Bullet will look like. Two more renders after the jump.

Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce by Luca Bar

04/26/2011 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t notice, we really like the work of Luca Bar. The young Italian designer has an eye for motorcycles we like to own, so it seemed fitting that we show off one of Bar-Design’s older works, the Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce.

With the fabled Italian company set to go up on the auction block again this summer, we thought perhaps some inspiration from Maestro Bar would help pull some buyers out of the woodwork. At the very least, it’s an excuse to show off some more drool-worthy motorcycle eyecandy.

Honda CBF1000 by Luca Bar Design

04/05/2011 @ 7:44 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Honda CBF1000 by Luca Bar Design

We must have missed this April Fools render done by Luca Bar Design for the Italian site MotorBox, as Luca has once again flexed his skills with the pixels with his vision for motorcycles. Drawing on the idea that Honda would update its sport-touring line with a new version of the half-faired CBF1000, Bar explains that he has already been pondering the idea of an update for Honda before being set to his task of penning an April Fools bike.

Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Endurance Racer by Luca Bar

02/03/2011 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

When the Moto Guzzi V7 Clubman Racer debuted at EICMA in 2009, it looks like we weren’t the only ones smitten by the bike’s retro yet refined presence. Moto Guzzi’s creation also caught the eye of the purveyor of pixels himself, Luca Bar of Luca Bar Designs, as the Italian designer plans on having a V7 in his garage, albeit with a slightly different look and feel from the stock model.

Basing his design off the endurance racers of the 1970’s, Bar is constructing a streamlined forward fairing for his Guzzi. Of course the process is added by his talented eye for design, which brings us the render you see here. Staying true to the classic lines of the Clubman, we think there might be more demand for such a piece than just the one destined for Bar’s garage.

Ducati ST1200 Concept by Luca Bar Design – Teasing ST Owners Never Looked So Good

11/19/2010 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati ST owners were less than thrilled to learn that their sport-tourer would not return for the 2008 model year, after Ducati sold just barely over 1,000 units of the bike in 2007. Adding insult to injury was the news that Ducati wasn’t looking to revive the ST brand in the coming years, leaving the Italian company without a proper sport-tourer in its model line-up.

With the introduction of the Ducati Multistrada 1200, the Italian brand offered what some ST owners thought was a poor successor for their cult status motorcycle. With the MTS 1200 being more oriented for adventure duty than a pure street/sport tourer, there remains a gap in Ducati’s line-up that some believe should be filled.

One of those persons is designer Luca Bar, who took some time to make a Ducati ST1200 concept, which draws inspiration from the Multistrada 1200, and shows that Ducati could make a convincing sport-tourer that could share heavily from the common parts bin, thus making it a cost-effective model.

Aprilia 5.5 Street by Luca Bar Design

11/17/2010 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

If you liked the BeOn SXV 450 (and we know you did from the comments and traffic the article got), then you’ll love Luca Bar‘s take on the SXV platform as a more purposeful street bike. Based around the peppier SXV 5.5, the 550cc Aprilia motor and its 70hp of pony power should be more than enough “umpf” to get you into trouble on this svelte frame and body.

While we are suckers for a v-twin (especially in a dirt bike frame), what really catches our attention is the styling Bar has done to the bike. Showing off the motor with a minimalist fairing, and then slinging the exhaust underneath gives that streetfighter/naked look you’re looking for, while the minimalist lines are simple and refined. We’d add one to our garage if it ever left fiction and became reality. Simply delicious.

Ducati Vyper Cruiser in 2010?

03/27/2009 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Could Ducati be building a street cruiser to compete against the likes of Harley-Davidson? That’s the rumor behind the so-called Ducati Vyper, which was started by a statement made by Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali, who revealed that Ducati is looking to branch out into a wider market. The 1400cc 170hp prototype is said to be already in running form, and has started preliminary tests at the Bologna factory.

The Vyper will feature a stroked version of the company’s Testastretta engine, and house it in Ducati’s signature steel-trellis frame. A 240 rear tire mounted onto a beefy hollow-section swing-arm is also believed to be on the new machine. Luca from Bar-Design has made some exclusive renders of the Ducati Vyper for Asphalt & Rubber, and if the original looks anything like this, we might just be believers in the Italian chopper concept.

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