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.

Niccolò Canepa Charged for Track Day Altercation

08/04/2015 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Niccolò Canepa is in deep water with Italian officials for an incident that occurred at Mugello, back in 2013. Allegedly participating at a track day at the iconic Italian circuit, Canepa has been named as the rider that closed-circuit cameras picked up having an altercation with another rider, on track.

The camera footage shows quite clearly two riders gesticulating to each other while riding around the track between the Poggio Secco and the Materassi turns.

The footage then goes on to show that the rider, who is alleged to be Canepa, intentionally hits the other rider’s front brake, causing that rider’s bike to fall and nearly take out another non-involved rider in the process.

The crashed rider has been identified as Davide Cappato, who fractured his collarbone in the fall. Taking recourse with authorities in Florence, Cappato seems finally set to have his day in court with Canepa.

Sunday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/20/2015 @ 6:23 am, by Scott Jones3 COMMENTS

WSBK Laguna Seca weather

The weather is often a large part of the story at Laguna Seca. Usually it’s either heat, like the dangerously hot 2006 MotoGP weekend, or morning fog that delays the start of a day’s sessions, like nearly every time an event is held at this circuit.

But today the weather was a sudden thunderstorm that started just before sunrise. As the paddock came awake, lightning was flashing to the south and rain was drenching the circuit, washing the rubber off the asphalt and soaking the Media Center, to name only a couple of moisture-related casualties.

Out came the rain tires for the morning warm-up, and away they went on a track that was drying but still wet. But by the time Race 1 arrived, it was back to slicks for two dry races.

Saturday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/18/2015 @ 11:54 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

Ducati Panigale R WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

It’s great to be back on Asphalt & Rubber again, sitting next to Jensen in a media center at a race track, preparing photos for the A&R readers.

It’s great to be back at a World Superbike race as well, where the atmosphere is more relaxed than MotoGP. The bikes are just as shiny, and apparently you can just mosey down to your local dealer and buy one!

The bike above rolled right off the show room floor, I’m told. It would look great in my garage.

Leon and Ron Haslam Aprilia WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

There’s also a jovial family atmosphere. Here two generations of Haslam watch Superpole 1, which is more amusing to some than to others.

Chaz Davies Ducati WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

Chaz Davies took the honors in Superpole 2 on a day that featured two Ducatis at the top of the time sheet.

Weekly Racing News Digest #7

04/22/2015 @ 11:29 am, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

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Can you ever have too much motorcycle racing? You can if the amount of racing over one weekend actually exceeds the number of hours in each day.

That was pretty much the case last weekend, when we MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, World Superbikes – including World Supersport, FIM Superstock 1000, the European Superstock 600 Championship, and the European Junior Cup – at Assen, British Superbikes at Brands Hatch (the very short, very fast Indy circuit, not the longer GP layout), the second round of the inaugural MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta, and the 24 hour race at Le Mans in France.

Looking beyond motorcycle road racing, there was also the fourth round of the MXGP motocross world championship at Trentino in Italy, and a Formula One race at Bahrain.

Although the constraints of long seasons mean that there will always be clashes, this was a little ridiculous. Racing series are not completely free to set their calendars as they wish – they are tied down by a host of factors such as track availability, the weather, other events organized at the circuits, local government permission and many, many others – this weekend was one of the more spectacular scheduling SNAFUs. Let us hope this can be avoided next year.

For the upcoming weekend, the calendar is much more limited. The FIM Repsol CEV championship – what we used to know as the Spanish championship – has its first race at Portimao in Portugal.

The field is as varied as ever, with riders from all over Europe and Asia, as well as an Australian and an American in Moto3, an even more varied field in Moto2 – including exotica such as the Vyrus, ridden by British youngster Bradley Ray – and Barcelona-based American rider Kenny Noyes defending his title in the Superbike class.

Their Italian counterpart, the CIV championship, also kicks off this weekend with their first races at Misano. Both series will be streamed live, CEV on their Youtube channel, and the CIV via a specialist Italian motorsports channel called Sportube.

WSBK: Team Hero EBR Still Racing This Weekend

04/17/2015 @ 1:43 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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With the news that Erik Buell Racing has ceased operations and will be headed into receivership, doubt has been cast on the company’s racing efforts in the World Superbike Championship. Allaying some fears, Team Manager and Rider Larry Pegram spoke to the WorldSBK.com website, saying that the team would indeed race in Assen, as planned.

“For Team Hero EBR, nothing has really changed,” Pegram said while speaking to WorldSBK.com. “We are going to be racing this weekend and we plan to continue for the season. All indications are that we are going to be able to do that. There is obviously some restructuring and financial stuff going on in the USA, but we are over here in Assen and getting ready for a good weekend.”

Weekly Racing News Digest #3

02/28/2015 @ 1:11 pm, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

troy-bayliss-ducati-corse-phillip-island-wsbk

It has been a busy week for racing, with the World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island followed by the MotoGP test at Sepang, including the extra day of testing on Michelins.

There has been a lot of news, but there have been one or two things we may have missed, so again here’s our weekly round-up of racing news.

WSBK: Big Changes for Team Hero EBR in 2015

12/03/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

2014-Team-Hero-EBR-1190RX

Despite an abysmal year in the World Superbike Championship last season, Team Hero EBR will return to the WSBK paddock for 2015. The team’s return is perhaps in name only, as major changes have been made to EBR’s WSBK presence, which will continue to be based out of Italy.

Most notable is Team Hero EBR’s new riders — Larry Pegram and Niccolo Canepa — with Pegram having double-duties, as he will act as the Team Manager in charge of the Pegram Racing crew, which will take over running the Team Hero EBR program.

WSBK: Althea Racing Returns to Ducati – Will Field Niccolò Canepa with an EVO Entry in 2014

12/19/2013 @ 5:16 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

althea-racing-laguna-seca-jensen-beeler

The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.

They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199 R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes.

MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro To Replace the Injured Niccolo Canepa At Valencian GP

11/03/2009 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Niccolo-Canepa-MotoGP

It looks like Aleix Espargaro will be replacing Niccolo Canpea a little bit earlier than planned at the Pramac Ducati team. Canepa, who was scheduled to lose his ride to Espargaro after the final round of MotoGP, has just announced that he won’t be racing at Valencia because he is still recovering from his skin transplant caused be his crash at Phillip Island a month ago.

Hayden Sachsenring Qualifying Highside Video

07/20/2009 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

On Saturday’s qualifying, Nicky Hayden got launched in Turn 8, as his Ducati Desmosedici GP9 highsided from the rain at the Sachsenring. Luckily, fellow Ducati rider Niccolo Canpea was there to break Nicky’s fall. Check the video above (0:38 in) to watch Hayden takedown Canepa Terry Tate Office Linebacker style.