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.

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

09/27/2009 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

Michel-Fabrizio-Superpole-WSBK-Imola

Race 2 promised to have more close racing, as many riders in Race 1 proved they could race near the top (not to mention, many riders in WSBK have contracts up for renewal). With Imola being the home track for the Ducati loyal, a lot of fans we’re waiting to see the red bikes up front.

Many Xerox Ducati fans were also keen to see if Haga could retake the lead in the World Superbike Championship standings with a strong showing at Imola. They would not be disappointed, a full race report after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

09/27/2009 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

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.

Breaking: Stoner Out Next 3 MotoGP Races

08/10/2009 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Casey-Stoner-fatigue-Brno

Ducati has just announced that Casey Stoner will miss the GP this weekend at Brno, as well as the next two races. The decision was made by Stoner and his medical staff back in Australia, who have been trying to track down the reason for the rider’s chronic fatigue.

Stoner will return to MotoGP racing in October, at the Portuguese GP. Until then, Mika Kallio will replace Stoner on the Ducati Marlboro factory bike, and WSBK rider Michel Fabrizio will take Kallio’s spot on the Pramac Ducati satellite team.

Video: Fabrizio/Spies Crash from Brno

07/27/2009 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Fabrizio/Spies Crash from Brno

We called it the crash that could cost the Championship. Time will tell whether we were right about that one, but you can make the call for yourselves as to whether you think its possible to surf a sliding R1. We gave Ben a C-.

This isn’t the first time Fabrizio has collided with a competitor while passing. Last year he took out Max Biaggi…twice (Misano then later Portimao). Fabrizio, in his garage before race 2, displayed a little note to the cameras apologizing for the incident, it read, “I’m realy sorry. I love you Ben”, clearly feeling bad about the incident.

Spies wasn’t feeling the love though, writing on his site that “it was not the best move in the world, but that’s how racing goes sometimes. Michel was trying to apologize to me after the crash and I didn’t want to hear it. I was trying to tell him to use his head. Obviously I was not happy at the time.”

Source: YouTube via TwoWheelsBlog

WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

07/26/2009 @ 8:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Something to Prove in Race 2 at Brno

Biagii-Race-2-Brno-WSBKjpg

Continuing on our Eastern European tour, Race 2 had a number of riders with something to prove on two wheels. With teams on a more level playing field after the recent test at the Brno venue, Race 2 proved to be an opportunity for the diamonds in the rough to shine, and for old rivals to get some payback.

WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

07/26/2009 @ 7:32 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race 1 at Brno – The Crash That Could Cost the Championship

Spies-Biaggi-Brno-Race-1-WSBK

Brno has a variety of meanings to different people. To the Old Czech, the words means muddy, to the Slavs it means to fortify, to men aged 16-55 it means rail thin supermodels, but to motorcycle race fanatics, the city should take on the meaning of unpredictable racing action. You’ll have to continue after the jump to see why Race 1 proves this theory.

Hopkins Questionable for Racing at Brno

07/17/2009 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

John-Hopkins-Stiggy-Honda-WSBK

Despite being 6th fastest in today’s World Superbike testing at Imola, Italy, John Hopkins may not be at Brno in two weeks, when WSBK takes up racing again. After yesterday’s off, Hopkins was in pain through out the night, and after this mornings testing session, the American had some X-rays taken of his leg.

After looking at the results of his X-ray, doctors here in the US determined that Hopkin’s bones were not developing calcium deposits properly, and diagnosed him with osteoporosis. This finding leaves some doubt as to whether Hopper will be on his Honda at Brno, since a crash there would likely have dire consequences on his body in its current state.

Fabrizio Fastest at Day 1 of Imola WSBK Test

07/16/2009 @ 2:50 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Fabrizio Fastest at Day 1 of Imola WSBK Test

imola-1

Michael Fabrizio was the fastest man of the day while testing at Imola today for World Superbike. He was followed closely by Ben Spies, who was just a tenth of second behind the Italian rider.

Notably absent from the testing day was the injured Noriyuki Haga, who isn’t expected to be back to WSBK until the race at Brno, which is in two weeks.

However, noticably present near the top of the leaderboard was Ruben Xaus, with the BMW squad clearly making some progress with their $13,800 motorcycle.

WSBK: Race 2 at Donington Park Ends with a Nearly Fractured Vertebrae

06/28/2009 @ 6:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Ben-Spies-WSBK-Race-2-Donington-Park

If the close racing of Race 1 wasn’t enough drama for the fans at Donington Park, Race 2 provided it in full. Another breakaway start, and a couple key crashes, lead to a shake up in the finishing results, and one rider was rushed off to the hospital for a suspected fractured vertabrae that might change the course of the season. Continue reading for spoilers.