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.

Checkout This Historic Suzuki DR-Z Dakar Rally Race Bike

10/10/2016 @ 1:03 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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One of the gems on display at the INTERMOT expo in Cologne, Germany this year was this Dakar Rally race bike, built off the Suzuki DR-Z dual-sport model. A predecessor to the bikes that share its name now, these DR-Z750 and DR-Z800 bikes were the OG of adventure bikes.

The modern-day equivalent now is the DR-Z400, which comes to the US both in a dual-sport and supermoto trims. Despite closing in on its second decade of service, the DR-Z400 remains a popular model, offering a reliable motorcycle package at an affordable price.

As a rally raid racer, the Suzuki DR-Z400 offers a reliable and affordable racing platform for privateers, and if you look far enough down the entry list of races like the Dakar Rally, you will find this venerable dirt bike listed.

This particular DR-Z800 was raced by Belgian Gaston Rahier, a two-time Dakar Rally winner (’84 & ’85) on the BMW R100GS, but during the 1989 Dakar Rally, he campaigned this Suzuki with the Hessler Rallye Team.

Rahier’s race bike is a cool piece of history, and it is an interesting glimpse into a piece of Suzuki’s past that should be remembered.

The headlines out of INTERMOT have been about the return of the King of Superbikes, so its easy to forget that Suzuki’s success go beyond the road racing paddock. Hopefully we’ll see a follow-up on great bikes like these from Suzuki, now that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has awoken from its slumber.

KTM 1090 Adventure R – A Milder Insane ADV Bike

10/04/2016 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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If the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is too much beast for you ADVness, then might we suggest the milder 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R for your overlanding needs?

With KTM retiring the 1190 Adventure line, in favor of a dual-pronged attack with the 1090 and 1290 models, it makes sense then to see that the KTM 1090 Adventure will get an “R” badge for next year.

Typical for the Austrian brand, the KTM 1090 Adventure R makes its “R” distinction by being more off-road capable. That means 21″/18″ tubeless wire-spoke wheels, shod with Continental TKC 80 tires, along with other dirt-focused goodies.

Behold, The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

10/04/2016 @ 6:21 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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We like it when OEMs go big with their ideas, and that’s exactly what the Austrians have done with the 2017 KTM 1290 Adventure R.

The more svelte and off-road focused cousin to the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, this R model is meant to defend KTM’s domain in the ADV world against would-be competitors…like perhaps, Ducati.

The plan here is pretty simple, take the base model KTM 1290 Super Adventure, but add in crash protection, tubeless wire-spoked wheels (21″ in the front, 18″ in the back), and even more travel in the WP suspension pieces (22omm, front and back).

2017 also sees the Super Adventure line getting a makeover, which you will either love or hate, as KTM’s lineup continues to read like a Spy vs. Spy comic.

A Pint-Sized ADV Bike Spotted, The BMW G310GS

10/03/2016 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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When the BMW G310R debuted, we knew that the Germans would use its small-displacement machine as a platform for other models.

There have been hints that one of those models could be a 300cc-ish adventure bike, and now we get out first glimpse of the so-called BMW G310GS, thanks to Italian magazine Motociclismo.

It’s not clear if we’ll see the 2017 BMW G310GS at this week’s INTERMOT show, or if BMW Motorrad will save the bike for November’s EICMA show, in Italy. Either scenario is equally plausible, and this is something we’ve already covered here at Asphalt & Rubber.

2017 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto Updated with New Motor

09/28/2016 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto and Husqvarna 701 Enduro will be getting an update for the 2017 model year, with both bikes receiving the updated 690cc single-cyliner engine that is currently found in the new-generation KTM 690 Duke.

The biggest highlight of the new engine is its secondary balancing shaft, which reduces vibrations to the rider, and also allows the big thumper to rev higher and thus create more power.

This means that the 2017 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto will have 74hp (+6hp), as well as 52.6 lbs•ft of peak torque (+4.4 lbs•ft) – a modest gain for this already stout package.

Sidi Crossfire 3 SRS Boots Set to Debut

09/25/2016 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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There might be no finer off-road boot than the Sidi Crossfire 2 SRS, which boasts superb design, riding versatility, and modular parts. And yet, the Italian company endeavors to improve upon that design, teasing this weekend the debut of the Sidi Crossfire 3 SRS.

I am not sure if the debut of an off-road boot needs to be drawn out over several teaser videos — I can hardly stand it when the same is applied for a new motorcycle launch — but we might forgive such a marketing scheme for such a worthy piece of kit.

To that end, the Sidi Crossfire 3 SRS continues the trend of the Italian brand, with replacement parts and pieces readily available for owners. This makes repairs from heavy spills an easy affair, it also makes the SRS line of boot highly adaptable for different types of riding.

This is because like its predecessor, the Sidi Crossfire 3 SRS has a variety of replacement soles available, which can be easily installed for riding motocross, enduro, adventure-touring, and supermoto.

2017 Montesa Trials Bikes Available in the USA

09/16/2016 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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American Honda will once again be importing a range of Honda-powered Montesa trials bikes into the USA, which is music to our ears. As such, both the  and the 2017 2017 Montesa Cota 300RR will be available for order at Honda dealerships.

For the 2017 model year, the Montesa Cota 4RT260 gets mostly bold new graphics, though it does have a longer kickstarter lever, for easier starts. The Montesa Cota 300RR (above), however, gets more substantial changes for this coming model year

Not-A-Review: Alta Motors Redshift MX

09/06/2016 @ 2:59 pm, by Quentin Wilson40 COMMENTS

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For a long time now, Asphalt & Rubber has been following the progress of Alta Motors (formerly BRD Motorcycles), as they have worked to make a lites-class comparable electric motorcycle.

With the Redshift MX motocross and Redshift SM supermoto bikes now shipping from the company’s San Francisco facility, the motorcycle community can finally see in the flesh what I have been calling one of the most competent electric motorcycles yet produced.

I have no problems saying I have had a hearty drink of the Alta Kool-aid. I was impressed with the Redshift SM prototype that I rode back in 2009, and the finalized form of the Redshift has only matured further from its strong start. 

I don’t want you simply to take my biased word for it though, so for today’s post, I have enlisted the help of my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host, Quentin Wilson. For those who don’t follow the show (shame on you), Quentin is a former chassis mechanic for the Graves Yamaha AMA team and the MotoCzysz MotoGP project. 

He is also an accomplished racer, generally go-fast guy, and has a fair bit of electric motorcycle riding experience as well. It also helps that he is familiar with the woodsy trails we have here near Portland, as we were riding Alta Motors’ motocross machine for the first time, at the Browns Camp OHV Area.

Quentin is like me though: we see electric motorcycles not as an answer to saving the environment, though that is a nice side effect, but instead as a superior method of making motorcycles not only faster, but more rideable.

With those two aspects in mind, I asked Quentin for his thoughts on the Alta Motors Redshift MX, after a couple hours of trail riding.

As you will see, Quentin’s usual ride is a Christini Honda CRF250X, which is an unusual bike in its own right, but fits into the 250cc class that Alta Motors is targeting right now with the Redshift series.

It is an interesting contrast, to be sure, but we think you will enjoy it. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks too for my more measured review on the Alta Motors Redshift SM. -JB

Oh Yes, Honda’s ADV Scooter is Coming

08/31/2016 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

City Adventure Concept

Remember how Honda teased with a 21-part video series for the Africa Twin adventure-tourer? Get ready for the same treatment again, this time for Big Red’s ADV Scooter, which so far we only know as the “Honda City Adventure” concept.

This off-roading feet-forward scooter is coming to Europe, and likely North America as well, which should be an interesting test for this crossover model.

The latest teaser video gives us a pretty good glimpse of the machine, which doesn’t stray too far from its trade show concept, complete with wire wheels and dual-sport tires.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #30 – The Need for Speed

08/30/2016 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Your weekly two-wheeled podcast addiction continues with Episode 30 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast. This installment sees us discussing three different powertrains, the motorcycles that they power.

First up is Harley-Davidson’s new Milwaukee-Eight engine, which will power its Big Twin touring models for the 2017 model year. We then turn our attention to Ducati (no surprise there), and discuss the seeming return of the air-cooled Ducati Monster, which was spied last week.

We finish the show with a lengthy debrief on the Alta Motors Redshift MX, as Quentin and I had previously spent a day riding this electric dirt bike in the mountains near Portland, Oregon.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!