Ducati’s 2017 World Superbike Team Debuts

Race teams continue to debut their 2017 liveries and riders, and this time around we feature the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike squad that will race in the World Superbike Championship. Chaz Davies of course returns to the team, and this season he will be joined by Marco Melandri. The duo will be an interesting pair to watch this season, with Davies holding onto his impressive form from the last-half of the 2016 season, and Melandri making his return to motorcycle racing, after sitting out last season. With 2017 to be the penultimate season for the Ducati Panigale R in the World Superbike Championship, the v-twin superbike has shown itself to be an extremely mature machine on the race track.

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.

HJC Is Coming Out with Star Wars Themed Helmets

10/05/2016 @ 2:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Pardon me while I geek out, just a little bit. It looks like HJC has gotten the rights to make Star Wars themed helmets for their 2017 collection. Right now, HJC is showing two helmets, one that mimic’s Kylo Ren’s helmet in The Force Awakens, and the other that replicates Boba Fett’s iconic lid.

Both of these themed helmets are based off the HJC RPHA 11 helmet, the company’s top-of-the-line helmet, which also serves as a platform for HJC’s other branded, tribute, and special edition helmets.

There will also be a “Death Trooper” helmet, based on the HJC FG-17 helmet, that will debut in time to milk interest from the opening of Rogue One.

It should be noted that rumors about a possible Princess Lela helmet, with side-mounted hair buns, are unfounded and possibly started by this publication.

There is no word on price yet (you’ll probably have to sell your speed for it though), but we would expect something north of $600 or so, judging from the price tags on HJC’s helmets that use designs from the MARVEL comic book universe.

Where Do Internet Trolls Go When They Get Banned?

02/09/2016 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler77 COMMENTS

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Managing the community aspect of a website like Asphalt & Rubber is no easy feat, especially considering the online personalities some people take on while behind the keyboard.

The history of the internet troll is as rich and long as the internet itself, as anonymity (or at least the appearance thereof) allows a cultivation of personality traits that would otherwise not manifest themselves in public.

In essence, what I’m trying to say is that people online can be dicks.

We are fairly lenient in the comments section, but that doesn’t mean that our ban hammer is sitting in the corner collecting dust – every once and a while, we have to banish a user from the pages of A&R. But once gone, where do they go? Alas, we finally have the answer.

What’s Bigger: Indy Motor Speedway or Star Wars?

08/10/2014 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Since we are a bunch of stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herders, it seems only appropriate that we conclude this already slightly absurd string of articles about the size of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the only way we really know how: using equally absurd Star Wars references.

So, in the narrow overlap that occurs in the Venn diagram of MotoGP factoids and outright nerdiness, we ask you to ponder which is bigger: the IMS oval or the Star Wars universe’s iconic spaceship, the Imperial Star Destroyer?Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.

The Most Awesome Thing You Will See Today

07/22/2013 @ 8:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Regular readers will know that Asphalt & Rubber is littered with Star Wars references — we are a bit dorky like that. Speaking for myself, I am an equal opportunity sci-fi nerd, giving healthy viewing times to the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5 franchises, just to name a few (David for some reason enjoys Farscape…no one is perfect).

If you read enough of our articles, a Boba Fett, Deathstar, or Bothan Spy reference is more than likely to crop up (dear I say, they are even expected??!) — so for the kids who were cool in high school: deal with it.

With that disclaimer being said, we bring to you the most awesome thing you will see this Monday: Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi photoshopped into the iconic movie frame of Yoda mentoring Luke Skywalker in the swampy forests of Dagobah. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

Video: Watch the Fastest Motorcycle Lap Around The ‘Ring

06/06/2012 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

We probably would have posted this video out of sheer Star Wars geekdom, but a 7min 10sec lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife (BTG) is also nothing to scuff at as well. Such is the accomplishment of Andy Carlile, a 33-year-old Englishman living in Germany who was on a mission to be the fastest on two-wheels around the ‘Ring.

Setting the record on street-legal Dunlop rubber, perhaps the only thing more impressive than Carlile’s lap time is his feat of keeping the squirrely but otherwise mostly stock and street-legal 2005 Yamaha YZF-R1 at bay, as the video shows the massive movement of the bike on braking and acceleration. Jedi mind trick for sure.

BMW is Developing a Laser-Powered Headlight

09/01/2011 @ 1:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yes, you read that right — frickin’ laser beams. Prompting too many mainstream sci-fi culture references for our overly-geekish selves, our heads here at A&R are literally exploding like Alderaan right now over the idea of sharks or ill-tempered sea bass motorcycles using lasers as a headlight replacement.

Setting its BMW phasers to stun today, our favorite Bavarian company is already exploring ways to replace the brand-spanking-new LED headlight technology that is just now making its way onto premium automobiles.

BMW hopes that laser technology will not only make for a more advanced headlight in terms of features, but also one that is more energy efficient.

Admittedly the company is only exploring the technology initially for its automobiles, but we can only imagine the laser headlights will trickle down to motorcycles before we have to travel 88 mph and go back to the future.

Lightning Motors “Flying Banana” Drops 150lbs, Adds 50hp

05/05/2011 @ 2:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.

When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.

Mission Motors Racing at Infineon with Steve Rapp*

05/03/2011 @ 10:27 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

More news from the Asphalt & Rubber Bothan Spy network (that’d be a great spin-off site by the way…if George Lucas wouldn’t bullseye us like womp rats from a T-16 for our copious use of Star Wars references in our posts), as we’ve gotten word that Mission Motors is gearing up to go racing at the TTXGP season-opener at Infineon Raceway in two weeks’ time. At the helm of the gorgeous Mission R electric superbike will be AMA Pro Racing’s Steve Rapp.

The caveat to this news is that it all is contingent on Mission Motors getting its race bike ready to race in time for the event. The Bothans go on to tell us that the bike’s battery pack still needs to come together, which is something we’ve heard for some time now, but could suggest that the team has advanced its tech further and is upgrading the Mission R for even more on-board energy/power. As always, time will tell.

Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Street Bike Announcement Hype Machine Gets Under Way

09/08/2010 @ 7:40 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has quietly been “tipping” sites off to the fact that Buell’s record label, Rat Pak Records, is selling t-shirts for a Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycle. What is the 1190RS you ask? “The 1190RS will be the new street bike from Erik Buell Racing! The design is currently in the pre-production / testing stage and is not yet available for public sale,” says the website (Asphalt & Rubber brought you the first teaser of the 1190RS way back in July). However, a video of the pre-pre-production 1190RS will be up on September 14th, officially making this a teasing of a teaser video (are you still with us?).

Before you Buell fans start getting all in a tizzy, we have to break the news that the hype being generated about the EBR 1190RS is more about raising money for Erik Buell Racing, than announcing an upcoming motorcycle. Erik Buell & Co. have been making the rounds to investors looking for capital to build-out its production line, reportedly with little success. With a company built around a “never say die” attitude, Erik Buell hasn’t given up looking for cash (buy more t-shirts people!), and the 1190RS announcement is a way for EBR to show that there is a market demand for its motorcycles. Once the market is proven to exist, EBR is hoping investors will then open up their wallets.