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.

MotoCzysz Confirmed For e-Power Race at Seca

05/17/2010 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.

Skip Barber Superbike School Teaches Asphalt & Rubber How to Ride at Laguna Seca

04/19/2010 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

As a California native, I’ve always wanted to ride around Laguna Seca on a sportbike. However my passion for track riding didn’t manifest itself until I moved away from the Golden State to Pennsylvania, making a Seca track day all but implausible. Having just moved back into California, and the warm weather finally upon us here in the San Francisco area, track days and Seca have been on my mind. So when Michael Czysz, Lead Instructor at the Skip Barber Superbike School (and of MotoCzysz fame) shot me an email asking me if I wanted to ride for two days around the fabled circuit and take Skip Barber’s two-day superbike course, I of course took him up on the offer. With perfect 70°F weather, I made my way to the Californian coast, ready to take on The Corkscrew with the brand new 2010 KTM RC8 motorcycle and with the help of Skip Barber’s instructors.

I’ve always heard how Laguna Seca is a special track, and how technical the course is on a motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter). Driving into Monterey from Salinas, you get about half the distance between the two cities when the track entrance jumps up on you. Most tracks you can see for miles as you approach them, but Laguna Seca is nestled behind a hillside from the roadway, and sits inside a Monterey County park. This topography not only provides a scenic venue to enjoy when you’re not going full-throttle around the race track, but also accounts for Seca’s 300′ change in elevation as you go through the 11 turns that comprise the circuit.

Driving into the park I can already feel my nerves acting up. I went through eight years of competitive sailing, two Junior Olympics, and three Nationals with this same physiological response. On a typical track day this sensation would subside after my first session, and be greatly reduced after the first full-pace lap, but upon entering into the Skip Barber office the apprehension quickly disappears.

Hands on with the MotoCzysz Frame

03/18/2010 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ending our two-part series that looked at the the MotoCzysz E1pc, we ask ourselves: why do motorcycles look the way they do? Probably the best answer to this question is that motorcycles today represent an amalgamation of 100 years of design evolution centered around the internal combustion engine. When we look at motorcycle racing, we see the design in its purest embodiment of function over form. While surely some semblance of aesthetics remains, the ultimate goal is to shave the next tenth of a second off a lap time. Each minor improvement adds up, and these aggregated can translate into substantial improvements when racing the clock and the competition.

So it surprises us when we look at electric motorcycle racing and see so many teams approaching their designs with the same ideas and concepts that were born out of this century of internal combustion engine (ICE) racing. While the two offshoots of the same branch carry over with them many similarities, the fundamentals of attaching wheels, suspension, and seat to a running motor has changed, and with that change surely there would be a large movement to rethink the way we build motorcycle frames. The fact of the matter however is that many electric motorcycle designers choose to pursue cramming an electric motor and batteries into a frame, and ultimately into and architecture, that was refined for a gasoline pumping motor and doesn’t fully integrate the chassis’s from with its function.

In an industry that rethinks motorcycles from the ground up, the biggest paradigm shift has been left out by all but a few teams and manufacturers. Looking for the next generation in motorcycle chassis design, Asphalt & Rubber recently got to sit down with Michael Czysz to get an up-close look at the 2009 MotoCzysz E1pc electric motorcycle, and also got a sneak peak at the 2010 frame and chassis. As one of the few entities to rethink how a motorcycle should be design and produced, Czysz’s insights into his design give a glimpse as to what the next 100 years of motorcycle evolution will look like.

MotoCzysz Has Dustbin at the Ready, But Still Defends Position Regarding Its Use

03/11/2010 @ 6:13 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After a lively discussion on fully-faired motorcycles in his original post, including a lengthy post by Craig Vetter, Michael Czysz follows up the discussion by further delving into streamlining, dustbins, and the difference between the two. In his discussion Czysz explains the purpose and benefit of taking aerodynamics into account not only in electric racing but also in ICE applications, and then walks us through its use on the MotoCzysz C1.

The post is a good primer on the exponential force that streamlining tries to overcome, and well worth a read for that purpose. Michael Czysz closes his post with a hint that he’ll have a dustbin at the ready should the field warrant such a fairing, and should his rider Mark Miller feel comfortable using it. Check it all out here.

Czysz: Just Say No to Dustbin Fairings

03/09/2010 @ 2:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The last time we met up with Michael Czysz, he gave us the lowdown on why allowing dustbin fairings for use in road racing events was a poor decision for sanctioning bodies to make. Thankfully, Czysz has put his words to paper (computer screen?), and explained his thoughts on the subject more deeply in a blog post.

Making comparison to the salt flats of Bonneville, where streamlining is the name of the game, and close-circuit road course races like the Isle of Man, Czysz drives home the point that this is not a technology that transcends racing venues, saying “if Bonneville was 24’ wide and lined with stone walls streamlining would be banned- and so it should be at the IOM.” You can read his full post here for more of his analysis, and click past the jump to see what all the fuss is about.

MotoCzysz Confirmed with TT Zero – Will Return to the Isle of Man with 90% New Bike

02/19/2010 @ 11:05 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz has confirmed today that they will be racing at the Isle of Man’s TT Zero event. The Portland based team has been hard at work on a new bike design that they feel not only has a chance of breaking the 100mph barrier, but possibly winning the event as well. MotoCzysz was a favorite in last year’s event, but failed to finish after suffering a failure to its Agni electric motor drive system. Learning from that hard taught lesson, Czysz & Co. are expected to return to the Isle of Man with their new 2010 E1pc, and tackle the Mountain Course once again.

MotoCzysz Makes 2012 MotoGP Bid? [Updated]

12/14/2009 @ 6:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

In a candid perspective on the current rule changes to MotoGP, Michael Czysz detailed his thoughts on the switch to the 1000cc format for 2012, and what it means to MotoCzysz and it’s racing goals.

After Czysz’s hopes of racing in the pinnacle motorcycle racing series were dashed by the switch to the current 800cc format, the new rules adopted for 2012, which will bring the racing format back to 1000cc’s, may not only breathe life back into the company’s ICE racing hopes, but also give MotoCzysz some advantages as they consider another MotoGP entry.

MotoCzysz Weighs in about Electric Racing

12/11/2009 @ 5:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

motoczysz-e1pc-tail-section-ttxgp-race

It’s been nearly six months since the inaugural TTXGP race at the Isle of Man, but electric motorcycle racing seems to be a growing subject as of late. As discussion surrounds both the FIM and TTXGP, and their respective series, we’re beginning to see teams make their 2010 racing commitments. We reached out to Michael Czysz of MotoCzysz to see why his company has been suspiciously silent on the issue to date.

MotoCzysz/Bajaj Create Joint-Venture for Next Generation Automobile

10/23/2009 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

What will transportation look like in the future? MotoCzysz and Indian based Bajaj seem to have their theories, and the two companies have announced a joint-venture that will explore the next generation of automobile. Releasing a vague press release, we suspect the two companies are in the process of creating prototype hybrid vehicle that will explore a form factor and design not previously seen in the automobile industry. More from the announcement after the jump.

Tradition Is Not A Business Model: MotoCzysz

10/20/2009 @ 11:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Today I want to broach the subject of what it means to be not only a motorcycle startup, but what it means to be an American motorcycle startup. For a majority of our readers, the concept of American motorcycling is something that we have understood since our days as children. No matter how you came to this industry/sport/lifestyle, as a reader of A&R you no doubt have a strong personal compass of what is means to be an American motorcyclist, and it is something that you touch and understand on a daily basis.

The business side of this understanding is less straight-forward though. It is one thing to identify personally with what makes an American motorcycle, but it is a very different exercise to build a product that evokes that same emotion to the mass consumer. This concept becomes even more relevant today, as the motorcycle industry is still recovering from the news of Buell’s closure and Harley-Davidson’s drastic measures to stay afloat. With no precognition of this impending news, I headed to Portland, Oregon to talk to Michael Czysz, CEO of auto-biographically named MotoCzsyz. Czysz’s journey presents a unique story about a company that has twice attempted to create an American-bred sportbike, and as such is the appropriate company in which to frame our topic about what it means to be an American motorcycle startup.