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.”

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/01/2011 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Obiboi has done up a Kenny Roberts paint scheme version as well. Find it after the jump.

Do you dream of Yamaha producing a V4 sport bike? How about naked-variant that supplants the popular FZ1? Does a carbon/aluminum trellis frame work for you, with a titanium exhaust of course? If you answered yes to these questions, and envision such a bike late a night when you’re forming your dream garage in, then Oberdan Bezzi has just the concept sketch for you.

Drawing on the same 1,000cc fairing-less street bike theme as the FZ1, Bezzi imagines a Yamaha with a forward-tilted V4 motor that has an almost perpendicular cylinder arrangement, and is capable of being a platform with worldly appeal.

Ducati ST1200 Concept by Luca Bar Design – Teasing ST Owners Never Looked So Good

11/19/2010 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Ducati ST owners were less than thrilled to learn that their sport-tourer would not return for the 2008 model year, after Ducati sold just barely over 1,000 units of the bike in 2007. Adding insult to injury was the news that Ducati wasn’t looking to revive the ST brand in the coming years, leaving the Italian company without a proper sport-tourer in its model line-up.

With the introduction of the Ducati Multistrada 1200, the Italian brand offered what some ST owners thought was a poor successor for their cult status motorcycle. With the MTS 1200 being more oriented for adventure duty than a pure street/sport tourer, there remains a gap in Ducati’s line-up that some believe should be filled.

One of those persons is designer Luca Bar, who took some time to make a Ducati ST1200 concept, which draws inspiration from the Multistrada 1200, and shows that Ducati could make a convincing sport-tourer that could share heavily from the common parts bin, thus making it a cost-effective model.

Aprilia 5.5 Street by Luca Bar Design

11/17/2010 @ 11:56 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

If you liked the BeOn SXV 450 (and we know you did from the comments and traffic the article got), then you’ll love Luca Bar‘s take on the SXV platform as a more purposeful street bike. Based around the peppier SXV 5.5, the 550cc Aprilia motor and its 70hp of pony power should be more than enough “umpf” to get you into trouble on this svelte frame and body.

While we are suckers for a v-twin (especially in a dirt bike frame), what really catches our attention is the styling Bar has done to the bike. Showing off the motor with a minimalist fairing, and then slinging the exhaust underneath gives that streetfighter/naked look you’re looking for, while the minimalist lines are simple and refined. We’d add one to our garage if it ever left fiction and became reality. Simply delicious.

Honda Teases Last Sketch of Its V4 Adventure Bike

10/27/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease its V4-based adventure bike ahead of its unveiling at EICMA next week. Finally showing off the actual lines of the machine, Honda has clearly made a cross between the CB1000R and VFR1200F in this design. Tall and purposeful, the concept clearly has the extra travel to soak-up an uncertain path, but Honda insists the bike is designed for on-road use. We dig the single-sided swingarm, but it will be interesting to see how Honda finishes off the exhaust pipe, and of course the final fit and finish of the design as a whole (the tail, like on the VFR1200F, seems to be an afterthought).

Honda Releases Another V4 Adventure Concept Teaser

10/19/2010 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease us with concept sketches of its VFR inspired middleweight adventure bike, this time with a drawing of the bike head-on. Expected to have a smaller displacement than the VFR1200F sport-tourer, the advenutre-esque concept will fit a V4 power plant in a more upright and exposed frame and bodywork.

Showing the stacked headlight design, Honda’s new V4 will have a slim profile for better high-speed stability and engine/rider cooling. Honda is also saying that a “floating” instrument cluster will come on the bike, which should help keep eyes pointed down the road’s path.

Norton MotoGP Racer Imagined by Oberdan Bezzi

08/27/2010 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has seized on the news that Norton intends to field a MotoGP bike in 2012, and came up with a drawing of what that British-born race bike could look like. The Italian designer sees Norton using a carbon-framed chassis to house its four-cylinder motor with pneumatic valves, and of course with a British rider at the helm. Obiboi sees Norton rocking the white paint-job, but we’re hoping that Norton will choose a color that stands out from the pack a bit more…British Racing Green perhaps?

Source: Oberdan Bezzi

Concept: Chaparral A1 e-Racer by Oberdan Bezzi

08/03/2010 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi (view our coverage here) is at it again with his pen and paper, and this time he’s set his mind to imagining a battery-powered electric motorcycle. Based off the now defunked Chaparral brand, Bezzi sees the Texan company reinventing itself and entering the electric motorcycle racing scene. The bike has a full carbon chassis, a liquid cooled motor, and great attention to aerodynamics, according to Obiboi. We can also see five removable battery packs on each side of the motorcycle, and single shock suspension used not only on the rear, but also on the front fork assembly.

Wait…we feel like we’ve seen this before…Yes, it seems Bezzi has ripped-off every detail found on the MotoCzysz E1pc, right down to the motor and controller mounting points. Of course the A1 e-Racer looks like the E1pc 1.0, with its square battery packs. Oberdan must have missed our article on the eDD where we explained that the E1pc’s chevron shaped batteries allowed for more front wheel clearance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right Michael?

LEAKED: Sketch Explains Ducati Mega Monster

07/16/2010 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

This sketch really explains itself. Porportedly coming from an unnamed Ducati dealer, we see that the yet-to-be unveild Mega Monster will feature the 1198cc Testastretta 11° v-twin motor. Also mentioned in the sketch is a ride-by-wire throttle and traction control system. If this is truly Ducati Project 0803, can we please move on to Project 0804…this one makes baby Jesus cry.

Source: Ducati.ms via Ducati News Today

Ducati Desmolight 450 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

06/04/2010 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t publish any more Ducati singles by Oberdan Bezzi, after the Italian designer set out with his pen and paper to imagine the Italian brand with a bevy of off-road inspired motorcycles; however Bezzi’s Ducati Desmolight 450 concept was just too great of a design to ignore, and thus here we are. With styling drawn from the current Monster line, Obiboi’s 450cc single looks delicious, especially with the coloring that’s reminiscent of Ducati’s Corse theme. This is the kind of bike that would go in our fantasy garage, and we’ll need a Prozac knowing it won’t be built.

Oberdan Bezzi Rounds out the Ducati Off-Road Line with the Desmoscrambler 450

05/13/2010 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Oberdan Bezzi has clearly been dreaming about Ducati entering the off-road/mixed terrain market recently. The Italian designer has already come out with a Ducati dirtbike and Ducati supermoto, and now adds to that collection with a Ducati scrambler, dubbed the Desmoscrambler.