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 Monster Diesel

03/15/2012 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

In case you hadn’t noticed, Ducati made a bunch of friends last year, and entered into partnership agreements with companies like AMG, Diesel, and Cigarette Racing. With the first two companies footing a larger bill and sponsoring Ducati Corse’s MotoGP effort, it stands to reason that AMG and Diesel’s involvement with the iconic motorcycle brand would be a bit more extensive than just some logos on a bike and team livery.

With Mercedes-Benz and Ducati intertwined in acquisition talks, it was not too surprising to see the Ducati Diavel AMG Special Edition break cover, though we have to admit we were a bit shocked to see today’s news about the Ducati Monster Diesel — we didn’t see this bike coming.

As the name implies, the special edition motorcycle is based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO, with styling cues that evoke the Diesel brand. The Italians are calling this “an ‘urban military chic’ interpretation of Ducati’s iconic naked motorcycle,” which is one way of saying it features olive green paint and matte black accents.

It’s an interesting effect to say the least, though it will probably only resonate with a select group of Ducatisti. Ducati says the Monster Diesel will be available in dealerships from late-July onwards, with pricing in the US set at $13,795. If you came here thinking Ducati had abandoned the gasoline engine, we apologize. We didn’t pick the name.

Up-Close with the Bimota DB10 Bimotard

11/14/2011 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Making its debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard is the boutique Italian motorcycle firm’s latest creation. Borrowing from the Bimota DB6’s frame design, the DB 10 Bimotard takes the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve Hypermotard 1100 EVO motor, with its 95hp peak power output, and builds around this platform a compelling maxi-motard design. Perhaps better labelled as Bimota’s take on building a better Hypermotard, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard also promises the usual Bimota design and exclusivity, and helps bridge the gap to the Italian company’s latest off-road offerings, which are amazingly less-compelling, vanilla, and not going to grace the pages of A&R.

Carbon fiber, Marzocchi suspension, Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, and Zard exhaust…all the usual suspects are present on this cleverly portmanteau-named Bimotard. The fit and finish in person is what you’d expect from Bimota: flawless. A part of me says that you have to praise the small Italian company for breaking from its recent tradition of glorified street-naked motorcycles a bit, and offering a motorcycle with a slightly different ethos. That being said, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard isn’t really that huge of a departure from the DB5, DB6, and DB8s that came before it. A Bimota DB6 with different clothes on, the DB10 is really more evolution than revolution, but it still manages to please us…just not wow us. No price yet, but “cheap” is a four-letter word here.

NCR M4 ONE SHOT – Ducati Monster Lovers, Your Christmas Has Been Ruined

10/09/2011 @ 2:12 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

NCR has just unwrapped its latest creations: the NCR M4 and the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Based off the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO motor, the NCR M4 carries over the general aestheic of the popular Italian street bike, but at sub-300 lbs weights, the NCR M4 and the NCR M4 ONE SHOT, with their titanium parts and copious amounts of carbon fiber, are not your average Italian two-wheelers. A quick glance of the M4, and you’ll see the treatment is typical of NCR, with a titanium frame & sub-frame being the crowning jewel of performance added to the package.

Also true to NCR form, you better start saving now if you like what you see here because the NCR M4 isn’t going to be cheap. The 107hp, 84 lbs•ft of torque, 286 lbs, NCR M4 comes complete with carbon fiber parts like its tank, wheels, instrument cluster, airbox, oil cooler housing, and fenders. Also a part of the basic package are NCR’s in-house billet triple clamps, fork bottoms, & rearsets. Brembo monoblocks and Öhlins suspension come as standard as well, and help the NCR M4 to have an MSRP of $49,900, with delivery in Spring 2012 (US market only, other markets TBA).

Of course, if you want a truly pinnacle air-cooled v-twin machine, you’ll want the higher-spec NCR M4 ONE SHOT. Fitted with an NCR 1200 modified Ducati EVO 1100 engine, the higher displacement M4 makes 132 hp (105 lbs•ft of torque), courtesy of its stroker crank, titanium connecting rods, NCR slipper clutch, and other titanium bits. Dropping another 6 lbs off the base M4, the 278 lbs motorcycle is truly featherweight. And for that kind of performance, you better brace yourself, as the NCR M4 ONE SHOT comes with a hefty $69,900 price tag.

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).

Ducati Monster 1100 EVO Photos and Video

04/11/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Launched at the 2010 EICMA show, Ducati has updated its top-of-the-line Monster for 2011, creating the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO. Distinguishing itself with the return of the shotgun style exhaust, the 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO takes an aesthetic revision to the iconic two-valve v-twin motorcycle. With an even 100hp on tap, the 373 lbs machine should be a fun city romper, and comes packed with features like Ducati’s ABS, traction control, and data acquisition system.

We’ll have to wait until the Monster 1100 EVO makes it stateside to get our first glimpses of the street naked, and see how it compares to its predecessors. Until then though, feast your eyes on 15 images of the new Monster, along with a promotional video.

Ducati’s First Valentino Rossi Branded Motorcycle

03/03/2011 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Helping send off Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden on their 2011 MotoGP Championship season, Ducati is holding a big event in downtown Bologna on Friday night. Naturally of course the two MotoGP riders will need something to make an entrance with, and Ducati thought this would be the perfect time to tap its Monster Art program for some Rossi/Hayden GP replica paint schemes that take their cues from the duo’s Ducati Desmosedici GP11 race bikes.

The first of what is surely to be many Ducati motorcycles to have the yellow “46” on them, we’re still having some trouble getting used to the neon yellow/Rosso Corsa combo, but we’re this will be the best selling livery in Ducati Monster Art personalization package. Wake us up when the Ducati Superbike 1198 Rossi Rep comes out.

2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO

11/01/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati has updated the Monster 1100, giving it the EVO treatment, which brings with it +5hp on top (for a total of 100hp), while keep torque at 76 lbs•ft. The 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO also benefits from Ducati’s electronics package, which now includes standard ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), and Ducati Data Acquisition (DDA) as standard OEM equipment.

Fitted with a two-canister side exhaust (you can debate if this is being channeled from the Diavel or the Streetfighter), the Monster 1100 EVO tips the scales at 373lbs, 4lbs less than the 2010 Monster 1100 ABS. In addition to these goodies, Ducati has also revised the sitting position by adding a new seat and a 20mm higher bar-riser, there’s some nice rally stripes thrown into the mix.

Diehard Ducati fans will be sad to hear the Monster 1100 EVO is fitted with the APTC wet clutch, making for smoother transmission work, but perhaps less Italian soul (this means the entire Monster line will now have wet clutches). Photos after the jump.