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.”

Motus MST Drops GDI in Favor of Port Fuel Injection

03/13/2012 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

It is a rarity that an A&R reader is better informed than us on a topic, but one of the great things about online media is that there is an instantaneous two-way dialogue on every subject we publish. As such, a special hat-tip goes out to commenter “Bob” who spilled the beans that Motus had dropped gasoline direct injection (GDI) for the Motus MST sport-tourer that the company is soon to unveil at the Daytona Bike Week. We followed up the comment with Lee Conn, President and Co-Founder of Motus, about the comment, where he confirmed that Motus would adopt a port fuel injection & ride-by-wire scheme instead of the heavily touted GDI setup.

“Having ridden the MST’s with GDI all over America, I can report that we pioneered a really cool GDI system and it works great,” said Lee Conn. “GDI is a modern, smart and efficient way to fuel an engine, but after a lot of discussions with dealers, customers, technicians, and tuners, we concluded that there is not enough support in the current industry to roll out this technology yet.” After seeing what bikes A&R commenters were using in comparison to the Motus MST, Lee made a joke about how the Motus team would have to rethink its product messaging, and then said something that is very central to the Motus MST ethos.

Motus to Reveal Production Plans at Daytona Bike Week

03/09/2012 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

The last time Motus Motorcycles graced the pages of A&R it was August 10th of last year — yes, I actually went back thru the pages to check that date. Since that time, the American motorcycle startup has been busy getting its sport-tourer finalized and ready for production. Launching the Motus MST prototype at the 2011 Daytona Bike Week, Motus Motorcycles will be returning to the Floridian biking event this year to announce its production plans, pricing, and availability of its American made motorcycle.

While we’ll have to wait to hear from Motus for its official plans, we expect to hear something along the line of a production run of under 300 units, with pricing in the $30,000+ range. Certainly exclusive, it remains to be seen if Motus can sell such an expensive sport-tourer without the gadgets and gizmos that normally accompany that market segment. Featuring the gasoline direct injection (GDI) 1,645cc KMV4 engine, the Motus MST will make over 160 hp from the power plant, which is also being sold as a crate motor.

Motus KMV4 Motor Will Be Available as a Crate Motor

08/10/2011 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Talking to Lee Conn when Motus was on its US tour here in California, the Motus founder revealed that part of Motus’s business plan incorporates selling the Katech-designed KMV4 motor as a crate motor for enthusiasts and tuners. Though the Motus MST motorcycles will be using a 1,645cc 160+ hp version of the gasoline direct injection (GDI) motor, Katech and Motus have left plenty of beef to the KMV4’s cyclinder housings, allowing the V4 lump to be bored out to a 2L displacement.

Up-Close with the Motus MST at Alice’s Restaurant

07/26/2011 @ 4:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Stopping on the way back from the US GP at Laguna Seca this weekend, the Asphalt & Rubber crew stopped by Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline to check-out the Motus MST & MST-R Prototypes. Making a cross-country trek on the bikes, Lee Conn and Brian Case have been gathering some development data while meeting with local dealers and potential customers. Hoping to produce somewhere between 200-300 motorcycle next year, Motus is looking for 25 or so quality dealers for its initial launch.

The bikes are clearly test mules, both because of their unpolished state that has data acquisition boxes clearly visible, and also because of the emblazoned “Prototype” sticker set. Still, it’s also clear that Case’s design is reaching its final-production trim, and fellow Penn State alum has included plenty of interesting details into the Motus MST that owners will enjoy.

The side-mounted clutch is perhaps the one feature that will sneak-up on you the most easily, as it’s a pretty standard vision on motorcycles these days…just not on longitudinally-mounted motors (are you reading this Moto Guzzi?). In fact, much of the Motus MST seems to come from a pragmatic approach, as you can even service the motor without removing any bodywork.

If you have a chance to stop by Alice’s, try the “Harley” burger. The rumors that its applewood bacon and breakfast sausage toppings will take years off your life are probably untrue, but not completely unfounded. Though lighter on the cholesterol, the photos of the Motus MST & Motus MST-R prototypes after the jump may make your heart skip a beat.

Watch the Motus MST Go Around Barber Motorsports Park

04/26/2011 @ 12:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Another update from those southern boys at Motus, this time showing off their MST & MST-R American sport-tourers hitting some track time at Barber Motorsports Park. Obviously still in the development phase of their production process, we see that the MST-R has gotten some carbon fiber clothes (yum!), while the MST looks very fit and polished with its touring bags on-board.

We’re still not sure about how the Motus MST and MST-R will fare in free market, as we’ve seen so many American motorcycle companies generate a lot of buzz with little substance. However, one thing is for certain about the Motus project: the company has the right amount of cowbell in that KMV4 1,645cc GDI motor that should make any motorcyclist with a pulse grin ear-to-ear. Check the video out after the jump…yes, it’s ok to watch it several times.

More Motorcycling Video Goodness from Motus Motorcycles

04/14/2011 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Motus Motorcycles has just released the second part of its Daytona launch video, which unlike the first version, is chalked full of close-up and detail shots of the Motus MST and the performance-packed Motus MST-R. The Daytona Bike Week was the public launch of the new American-made sport-tourer, which features the KMV4 1,645cc V4 pushrod motor with gasoline direct injection. Motus’s approach with the KMV4 is to take a page out of America’s rich hot-rodding tradition, and therefore has built a power plant that tuners and hobbiests should find the designs of familiar.

Helping Motus build this tiny buy powerful engine is Pratt & Miller Engineering, who have made a name for themselves building all sorts of racing engines, including those from the C6R Corvette Racing squad, which coincidently also uses a pushrod design. This has lead to many calling the KMV4 as simply half a Corvette motor, which the math doesn’t really support, but the philosophy surely does.

Next for the Motus crew is a ride around the United States that will not only serve as an R&D/proving method for the new bikes, but will also help drum-up interested buyers and the much needed dealers to get the motorcycle company launched off the ground. We’re looking forward to seeing the 161hp sport-tourer come to San Francisco, we just hope the rumors we’ve been hearing of a $30,000+ price tag aren’t true. Get ready to bust out your “V4” gang signs, as the video is after the jump.

Are You the Motus MST-R?

03/10/2011 @ 12:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We just showed you the first video that Motus has shot while down at Daytona launching the company’s new sport-tourer to the Bike Week crowd. We’re clearly not on our A-game today (I’m suffering from a nasty head cold, and have to fly in 24 hours to Qatar for the MotoGP test), but luckily our readers are, as one commenter has spotted the fact that Motus switches bikes mid-way through the Daytona video.

Sans fairings, and adorned with Öhlins forks (along with a carbon fiber front fender), it looks like Motus has snuck in the Motus MST-R into the shot without anyone noticing. Still not convinced? Well the rider in the video has a clearly labeled “MST-R” logo on his helmet as well. We’ve reached out to Brian and Lee to see what they can confirm or deny on this. Stay tuned.

Video: Motus MST Rides Daytona

03/10/2011 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Motus is showing off its Motus MST Prototype at Bike Week right now, and accordingly have posted a video to YouTube of the 1,650cc V4 sport-tourer riding around Daytona. While quick on the video edits, the clip shows the MST cruising around the beach-laden area with relatively little pageantry, which makes for not exactly the best eye candy. Fans however of the American motorcycle company will enjoy the extra lengths Motus has gone through in order to dub-in the audio of the Motus MST’s Corvette inspired pushrod motor. Check it out after the jump.

Motus MST – Here Comes America’s Sport-Tourer

03/08/2011 @ 11:27 am, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

After much waiting, Motus Motorcycles finally launched its MST sport-tourer to the public today. Unveiled at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Motus’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, the American motorcycle manufacturer will head to Florida for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show on Thursday, March 10th for a more public showing.

Developed in conjunction with Pratt & Miller Engineering, the Motus MST features the KMV4 motor, a 1,645cc V4 push-rod style engine that include gasoline direct-injection technology (GDI). Power for the Motus MST prototype is said to be 161hp @ 7,800 rpm; 122 lbs•ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm, while the bike tips the scales around around 500 lbs dry. Motus will be riding the MST around the United States to show off their work, meet with supporters, and look for dealers interested in carrying the line.

Video: Motus MST Stretches Its Legs on the Dyno

02/11/2011 @ 4:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

There might be snow on the ground for most of the United States, but things in the south are starting to heat up now that Motus has gotten its MST sport-tourer on the dyno, and for a quick ride in its latest video on YouTube. Letting the 1645cc gasoline direct-injection KMV4 motor “unleash the beast” as it were, the project seems to be coming together nicely as we’re given a rapid succession of quick-cuts on the MST’s build job.

We expect to see the built-in-America bike on city streets once the ice thaws (or Motus realizes it was 70°F in sunny San Francisco today, and makes a stop by the Golden State), and the video’s ending suggests we’ll get another installment while we wait for winter to subside.

We’re still going through the video to see if there’s any nuggets of info hidden inside. Call them out in the comments if you see something.