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.”

New MV Agusta Brutale 675 Coming in Q2 2016

01/25/2016 @ 11:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Confirmed at the launch of the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800 in Spain, MV Agusta will bring the smaller sibling to its three-cylinder Brutale line in the second quarter of 2016.

Like the new Brutale 800, we can expect the updated Brutale 675 to be fully Euro4 compliant. We would also expect the 675cc to have the same mechanical and styling changes that are found on its 800cc sibling, namely a revised chassis geometry, updated MVICS 2.0 electronics (traction control, ABS, & quickshifter), and visual changes to the headlight, exhaust, and body.

XXX: 2016 MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton

11/17/2015 @ 4:57 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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In addition to the 2016 MV Agusta Brutale 800, the other big new model release from the Varese brand is the MV Agusta Dragster RR Lewis Hamilton, a bike that pays homage to the reigning Formula 1 World Champion.

The concept is pretty simple, take MV Agusta’s already attractive Dragster RR model, and let Mr. LH44 go wild on it. The idea is to create another collectable MV Agusta model, so things stay pretty much the same for the Dragster RR’s 140hp motor and steel trellis frame.

The rest of the bike though, gets a solid going-over, by Lewis Hamilton himself, if you can believe the MV Agusta press release.

The MV Agusta Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR is Coming to a Burnout Near You

10/15/2015 @ 12:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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You remember the MV Agusta Dragster RR right? The Brutale 800 without a tail section? Of course you do…it was pretty bold design from MV Agusta, which is probably saying something, considering that the Varese brand tends to lead with design, rather than follow.

It turns out that Lewis Hamilton is a bit of a fan of the machines from MV Agusta – it also helps that AMG has a 20% interest in the Italian brand, and Hamiliton is the team’s star F1 driver, at least when teammate Nico Rosberg isn’t around – so, in true MV Agusta fashion, a special limited edition machine must be produced, right?

Behold, the Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR: a collaboration between the F1 World Champion and the Italian motorcycle marque. MV Agusta hasn’t quite revealed the machine yet, but this teaser video does a pretty good job of getting the point across. We took some stills, just in case the edits were too much for you.

MV Agusta USA Announces 2015 Pricing

12/30/2014 @ 11:12 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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MV Agusta USA has released the pricing info for its 2015 model year motorcycles, after the Italian company had re-evaluated its pricing strategy in the USA. Accordingly, MV Agusta has gotten very aggressive with its US pricing, with several models seeing a modest price decrease, or ABS added for free.

The biggest price drop is the MV Agusta Rivale, which has been made more affordable and to give room for the touring-oriented MV Agusta Stradale. The MV Agusta Turismo Veloce has been added to the 2015 model year list, as expected.

But, perhaps most surprising is the announcement of the MV Agusta F4 RC — a motorcycle that was leaked ahead of the EICMA show, but was not shown at the Italian motorcycle fair. No details on the machine exist on MV Agusta’s public or press sites, but we can expect a 200+hp superbike that’s ready for racing homologation.

Tech Specs of the MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster

01/31/2014 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster finally broke cover today, if you haven’t already seen the bevy of photos we published earlier. We won’t belabor the fact that the Dragster borrows heavily from the established Brutale 800 platform, and differs primarily in aesthetic and purpose.

So down to brass tacks it is, the key technical specifications of the 2014 MV Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster are the following:

  • In-line three-cylinder engine, 798 cc
  • Bore 79.0 mm, stroke 54.3 mm
  • Maximum power 125 HP-EC (92 kW) at 11,600 rpm
  • Maximum torque 81 Nm at 8,600 rpm
  • Limiter at 13,000 rpm
  • Dry weight 167 kg
  • Power-weight ratio 1.34 kg/HP
  • Tyres Pirelli DIABLO Rosso II 120/70 – ZR 17 front, 200/50 – ZR 17 rear

Official Photos of the MV Agusta Dragster 800

01/31/2014 @ 9:43 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It’s been a long tease with the MV Agusta Dragster, with Giovanni Castiglioni hinting at the machine’s debut as far back as the 2013 EICMA show. We still expect the machine to debut any day now, but MV Agusta has dropped some more details by adding scenes to its “Metallica” promotional video.

A few official studio photos have also leaked out of Varese, which if nothing else confirm the lines we have been seeing these past few weeks.

Borrowing heavily from the Brutale 800 platform, the Dragster 800 defines itself really with a lower seat height, a chopped tail section, and it 200 width rear tire. Will those differences be enough to distinguish the Dragster from the Brutale? We don’t think so.

As fanciful as the turbo rumor was, it at least created a reason for the Dragster to exist alongside the Brutale. It’s an attractive motorcycle, like all MV Agustas, but we suspect that it will serve only to cannibalize sales from the Brutale line.

MV Agusta Dragster 800 Spotted in the Wild

01/27/2014 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Although MV Agusta has already teased us with a video of the upcoming MV Agusta Dragster 800, the company’s Ducati Diavel rival has still been hard to glimpse.

We have seen a render of the completed bike, which was attached to the lurid rumor of a turbocharged engine (we are doubtful of that possibility), and a couple frames of video confirmed that design as being the final one.

Today though we get a proper look at the new Dragster, as it was caught at a gas station outside of Varese, Italy. Part Brutale, and part Rivale, it is hard to see how the Dragster will land in MV Agusta’s model lineup.

The seat height looks quite low, and there are interesting design cues, but does the Dragster distinguish itself enough from its brethren? Only time will tell.

Video: MV Agusta Dragster 800 Teaser

01/20/2014 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With all the details and rumors surrounding the new MV Agusta Dragster, it doesn’t surprise us to see MV Agusta drop us a hint about its newest motorcycle model. Accordingly, we have a teaser video of the Dragster, MV Agusta’s answer to the Ducati Diavel, to show you today.

Based around the company’s three-cylinder 800cc engine, we don’t expect the Dragster 800 to be a turbo, but we do expect it to be muscly and fun bike to ride. With burnouts and wheelies galore, along with a Metallica soundtrack, the Italian brand is certainly making us some promises of that nature, and as usual the bike is a looker to boot.

MV Agusta Will Debut Two More Motorcycles in 2014

11/22/2013 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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MV Agusta had only a single new model to show at the 2013 EICMA show, its new sport-touring machine, the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800. An important brand extension for the Italian company, CEO Giovanni Castiglioni admitted that MV Agusta scrapped its original design for the Turismo Veloce, simply stating that the produce design didn’t have the same “wow effect” that the MV Agusta motorcycle should evoke. Developing the current iteration of the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce in just eight-months time, time will tell on whether the Turismo Veloce has been rushed to market or not.

MV Agusta has cleverly spun its recent history of releasing half-baked motorcycles to market (the press debut of the MV Agusta F3 675 and its horrible fuel-mapping are still fresh in our memory), by saying the company has adopted a strategy where its machines are in “constant upgrade” from the MV Agusta’s legion of engineers. There is an interesting story there about the sophistication of electronics now, though we would just prefer the bikes work properly in version 1.0, not 1.1.

Now raising its own bar on sophistication, the Castiglioni says that the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 is the most advanced model ever to come from Varese. Time will soon tell how the sport-tourer rides (we hear it was a non-runner in the company’s promotional video), but as for the future of the Italian company, it is still full-speed ahead on other projects, which brings us to where we are today.

Some news that seemingly got lost with all the other announcements at EICMA, Giovanni Castiglioni shared at the Milan show that his road map for the future of MV Agusta includes two more yet unannounced new models, in two new market segments, which will debut in the first-part of 2014.