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.”

HRC’s Honda CBR250R Cup Bike

06/08/2012 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

In Japan, Honda has a nice spec-series brewing that features the new Honda CBR250R sport bike. Naturally for the cup race there needs to be a racing version of the CBR250R, and HRC has happily obliged. Nothing too fancy, after all this is supposed to be an entry-level series, but the HRC CBR250R racer features race bodywork sans lights and signals, as well as a fully-adjustable ECU that has come pre-loaded with various HRC fuel and ignition maps.

First Look: KTM Moto3 Race Bike

10/06/2011 @ 6:52 am, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

KTM has finally given us a glimpse into its Moto3 class race bike, showing renders of the bike to journalists assembled at the company’s Hangar 7 press event. The Austrian company also officially showed its Moto3 race motor, and for those expecting to see a repurposed SX motor for the 250cc four-stroke Grand Prix racing series, abolish that thought. For the inaugural 2012 racing season for GP racing’s entry-level series, the Austrian company has started from scratch when approaching its Moto3 development.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1978 Ducati 900 NCR Mike Hailwood Race Bike

08/23/2011 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The story of Mike Hailwood’s 1978 comeback season cannot be told without mentioning the 1978 Ducati 900 NCR that he rode to victory both at the Isle of Man TT and Mallory Park. Taking an 11 year break from motorcycle racing, the 38-year-old Hailwood made a triumphant return to two-wheeled racing on-board an NCR prepped Ducati 900 SS.

Making 87hp, Hailwood’s NCR was underpowered compared to the favored Honda of Phil Read, but that didn’t stop “Mike the Bike” from racing one of the most legendary races in history of the sport. Bringing out the same bike that Hailwood road on the TT course (a quick thank you to Steve Wynn and Ron Winder for the clarifications in the comments), this 1978 Ducati 900 NCR shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is comprised of the Hailwood’s race bike with a rebuilt motor from that season.

A true contender for the superlative “Greatest of All Time”, this ’78 NCR is truly special machine for racing enthusiasts as it comes from one of Hailwood’s all-time best races. Accordingly, the judges at Pebble Beach awarded it Third in Class at this year’s Concours d’Elegance.

Brammo Encite – Electric Mini Moto MMX Racer

05/04/2011 @ 4:01 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Brammo Encite – Electric Mini Moto MMX Racer

Another model announced during Brammo’s intention to get into the electric dirt bike scene is the Brammo Encite. Like its larger cousin the Brammo Engage, the pre-production Encite is based off the S.M.R.E. prototype electric motorcycle, which features the six-speed Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Seemingly designed with racing in mind, Brammo will be entering its Encite MMX into the upcoming AMA Mini Moto SX event being held in Las Vegas — a story we broke last week.

A purpose-built race bike, there is no word on pricing yet for the pint-sized Encite, likely due to the fact that Brammo wants to gauge interest on the machine, and perhaps judge whether the mini-moto can be built in an affordable enough manner. Despite this setback, interested buyers can pre-order a Brammo Encite from the company’s webpage — Christmas is only seven months away after all.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

Vyrus 986 M2 – Soon to Infect Moto2 & Showroom Floors

01/13/2011 @ 7:16 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

You remember Vyrus right? The company that makes the Vyrus 987 C3 4V…the Bimota Tesi look-alike with a Ducati 1198 motor, hub-steering, and a supercharger? Not willing to rest on its laurels as having “the most powerful production motorcycle in the world” (211hp gets you that title), the small Italian boutique firm seems set to enter Moto2 racing with its new Vyrus 986 M2 race bike, whose preliminary concept photo has just leaked out of the Rimini factory.

Taking the idea of prototype racing to its fullest dimension with its hub-center steering design, perhaps the only thing more exciting than the prospect of seeing a few of these Vyrus 986 M2’s at 18 of motorcycling’s best venues, is the prospect that a road-based version of the machine could be siting in our garage later this year (assuming we could afford such things). Details after the jump.

Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica: 200hp, 175kg, €50,000

05/10/2010 @ 4:19 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Aprilia has confirmed that the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica will not be available for purchase directly in the US, and is bought directly from Aprilia Racing in Italy. The Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is also upgradeable via Aprilia Racing’s catalog, which means gear-driven cam shafts, Biaggi swingarms, and all the other fun go-fast parts that are “publicly” available to meet WSBK regulations.

Well the rumors were true, as the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica was launched this weekend at the World Superbike races being held at Monza, Italy. Boasting the goodies found on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 race bike, the RSV4 Biaggi Replica has an astounding 200hp motor strapped to its anorexic 175kg (385lbs wet sans fuel) frame. For that level of performance, you can expect some sticker shock, and the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is no exception. Owning this true race replica will set you back €50,000, but it’s totally worth it, right? Photos and more after the jump.

Erik Buell Racing Prices Announced

05/09/2010 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has released pricing details on its EBR 1125R DSB, EBR 1125RR, and EBR 1190RR race motorcycles. In addition to these models, Erik Buell Racing also has a few track bikes that are available for sale. Prices after the jump.

For Sale: 2010 Bimota HB4 Race Bike

04/09/2010 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our friends from over at RareSportBikesForSale.com have tipped us off that Motorrad Hertrampf in Northern Germany, a Bimota, MV Agusta, and Cagiva dealer, has just posted a for sale ad on Jameslist (yes, the German rip-off of Craigslist), where they are offering a 2010 Bimota HB4 for sale. That’s right for €169,000 (without VAT), you too can own your very own Moto2 race bike complete with 145hp Honda 600cc power plant, and all the Italian goodness you’d expect from Bimota. You’ll just have to wait 10 weeks for the Italian firm to build it from the time you pay your deposit.

Aprilia Tuareg Adventure Tourer Rumored

03/31/2010 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

On the heels of a strong Dakar Rally showing, Aprilia is rumored to have a full-tilt adventure bike in the works. Based on the Shiver platform, the Aprilia Tuareg will feature a 750cc v-twin motor, steel tube chassis, and a 21″ front wheel for maximum off-road capability. The Aprilia Toureg is expected to tip the scales under 200kg (441lbs), and a road version with a 19″ front wheel and 1200cc motor could also make the 2011 line-up.