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.”

A KTM 1290 Super Duke Tourer?

05/15/2015 @ 12:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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We have already seen “spy photos” of the KTM 1290 Super Duke based tourer. Some more photos are making the rounds again, you’ve probably seen them on other sites.

We stumbled upon this render of the new model, and think it looks pretty spot-on to what the general public can expect to see later this year, when undoubtedly the new model debuts.

Whether you call it an SMT or a Grand Tourer, this new model looks simply to be a Super Duke with a windscreen and luggage options — an interesting choice from the Austrian brand.

A Better Look at the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218

05/14/2014 @ 5:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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It was only two days ago that Lightning Motorcycles teased its upcoming LS-218 superbike, complete with a shadowy look of the 200hp+ electric machine.

With the official debut scheduled for this Saturday at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, California, we don’t have long to wait for the full monty; but with a little Photoshop work, and a little sleuthing, we can have a pretty good idea of what to expect of the final design, or do we?

Raising the exposure and adjusting the levels on the press photo reveals a machine that is about 75% complete. Noticeably missing are the hand controls and instruments, a dash, and it seems some bodywork like the undertail, lower fairing, and windscreen (the photo shows an opaque windscreen, which we have a hard time imagining being a part of the final design).

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

04/03/2014 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800” would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common.

The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale.

With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and Audi’s ownership of Ducati seeing new models debuting outside of EICMA and INTERMOT, a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question — in fact it’s been the norm with 2015 model year bikes for a variety of brands.

Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster. Seriously, if there wasn’t Luca’s logo on these photos, we could probably pass them off as five-fingered studio shots. Nice work Luca!

Pierobon Ducati 1199 Panigale Streetfighter by Krax Moto

02/17/2014 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Do you remember the Pierobon frame kit for the Ducati 1199 Panigale that we showed you back in November? If you’re a loyal reader, you should — it was one of our most popular articles that month.

An answer for those who think that the Panigale’s “frameless” chassis is affected by the same woes as the MotoGP project, Pierobon’s steel-trellis frame replaces the load-bearing headtube/airbox design from Ducati.

While we wait to hear back from the folks at Pieroban about how their creation goes around the race track, the clever Photoshoppers at Krax-Moto have takien the Italian fabricator’s photos, and used them to ink a very impressive streetfighter / café racer concept.

A little headlight here, and little leather seat there — it’s really surprising how little need to be tweaked to make the design work. If the Pierobon folks are sharp, they’ll include Krax Moto’s changes in a kit for customers. Would you take this over a Ducati Monster 1200 S? We would.

This is Not Rossi’s New Yamaha MotoGP Livery

01/14/2013 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The great winter depression is nearly over for MotoGP fans, as tomorrow Ducati Corse will debut its 2013 team(s) for the premier class, and soon enough we will see similar events from Honda and Yamaha as well. In February, the boys with their bikes will be back on the track, as the pre-season tests at Sepang again give us our first glimpse at the teams’ progress over the off-season.

Of course, the anticipation doesn’t stop some. Take graphic designer and DeviantArtist Samuel from Italy, he spent the long-winter months photoshopping together what many Rossi fans have been speculating about: the nine-time World Champion’s new livery now that Monster is sponsoring the Yamaha Racing MotoGP team.

Ducati Streetfighter Panigale Concept

07/09/2012 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

It remains to be seen how the high-reving Superquadro motor will fit into Ducati’s “one-motor-fits-all” strategy, but the speculation is already becoming rife about a supersport version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale, and of course a streetfighter version as well.

With the Panigale’s engine being an integral part of the superbike’s design, there is a definite challenge for Ducati’s design team in making the Emperor of the Sport Bike Kingdom look good naked. Until we see what Borgo Panigale can conjure up, we are lucky to have weekend couch jockey’s on the Ducati.ms forum who happen to have incredible photoshoping skills.

Aprilia ART – A Thinly Veiled World Superbike?

03/30/2012 @ 7:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The Aprilia ART, as it has become known in the GP paddock, is so far the most competent claiming rule team package (CRT) on the MotoGP grid. Powered by an Aprilia RSV4 Factory motor that is World Superbike spec and beyond, the Aprilia ART also features a chassis that has been developed by the very same Italian company. A turn-key CRT package offered by Aprilia, if you believe the rumors circulating in MotoGP, the Noale-based company’s involvement with the ART doesn’t stop at delivery.

Rumored to be the byproduct of Aprilia’s aborted MotoGP campaign, in the World Superbike paddock the RSV4 is described as a MotoGP bike that was sold to consumers with WSBK domination in mind. Taking the World Superbike Championship in only the team’s second year in the series, Max Biaggi and Aprilia have helped perpetuate that rumor further, and currently lead the 2012 Championship as it races into Imola this weekend.

If a few years ago all the paddock gossip was about how Aprilia managed to campaign a thinly veiled MotoGP bike in WSBK, then this year the talk will surely be how the Italian factory snuck its superbike onto the MotoGP grid. Despite the irony in that statement, it takes only a casual glance at the Aprilia ART and Aprilia RSV4 Factory WSBK to see the immediate similarities between the two machines.

MV Agusta Rivale by Luca Bar Design

02/28/2012 @ 2:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Luca Bar must be in his lab cranking out designs, because the talented young Italian motorcycle designer has rendered up the heavily rumored and eagerly awaited MV Agusta Rivale. Based on the 675cc three-cylinder engine found in the soon-to-be-delivered MV Agusta F3 and the soon-to-be-unveiled MV Agusta Brutale 675, the MV Agusta Rivale is expected to be a rival (see what we did there?) to the Ducati Hypermotard 796.

Considering that MV Agusta is expected to unveil the Brutale 675 at EICMA later this year, we would expect to see the Rivale break cover in 2013 as a 2014 model. The fact that we haven’t see prototypes of the bike “spied” out in the wild also lends itself to this theory, though the Italian company has reportedly already trademarked the “Rivale” name in foreign markets. Taking what we know about the MV Agusta’s design philosophy with the F3 and Brutale 675, Luca has rendered the shape he imagines the MV Agusta Rivale to take.

KTM SMX-E Imagined by Piers SP

01/23/2012 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

As we already know, the KTM Freeride E will be out in 2012 in limited numbers, as the Austrian brand tests the waters on the electric dirt bike market. Building an electric not because they believe in the technology’s immediate relevancy, but because they believe in its future and want to continue being a market leader, KTM is the first big motorcycle OEM to bring an electric motorcycle to market. Giving Zero Motorcycles (and soon Brammo & BRD) a run for its money, the KTM Freeride E is a modest design with its 30hp (peak) PERM motor and 2.1 kWh battery pack.

As a dyed-in-the-wool street biker, I was a bit disappointed that KTM was only bringing the Freeride E out as a dirt bike, with no supermoto variation available. Thankfully I was not alone in that sentiment, as Kiska Senior Pixel Pusher Piers SP also longed for an electric Austrian backing-it-in machine. The difference of course is that as a blogger, I have no concept of creating something of my own (that’s moto-journo humor right there folks), while Piers SP is a zen voodoo digital samurai (truth). Needless to say, photoshopping ensued.

Rendered: Ducati 1199 Panigale Race Replicas

12/09/2011 @ 10:07 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It’s only a matter of time before Ducati releases some race replica paint jobs for the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale. It almost certainly won’t be during the 2012 model year, but in 2013 don’t be surprised to see some race-inspired colors adorning Bologna’s flagship superbike. Seemingly beating Ducati to the punch, the guys over at MotorBikeTV have put together some fine photoshops of what the Ducati 1199 Panigale race replicas would look like. Hayden, Bayliss, Checa…the only thing missing is perhaps the most important race replica of all: Valentino Rossi’s.

With The Doctor signing onto the Italian MotoGP squad for two seasons, the match was a marketing director’s dream come true. And while the Rossi yellow might clash with the Rosso Corsa, you can beat anything stamped with a 46 and the Ducati Corse logo will sell like hot cakes…it did for the Ducati Monster at least. A Rossi-branded Ducati 1199 Panigale? The sound you just heard was Ducatisti worldwide having spasms of joy, of the change-your-pants variety. Thanks for the tip Sergio!