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.”

Honda Africa Twin Supermoto Concept by Nicolas Petit

10/17/2016 @ 4:46 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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The Honda Africa Twin doesn’t lend itself naturally to a supermoto format, though it is one of the most capable off-road adventure bikes on the market, but you have to admit that this photoshop render by French designer Nicolas Petit is very intriguing.

Maybe it’s our obvious bias towards anything supermoto that is talking, or maybe it’s that there is something to the idea of taking the Africa Twin, adding 17” wheels, and lowering it just enough that riders can actually flat-foot the machine while sitting on it.

Add in some styling cues that scream “supermotard” and you have a very handsome machine that is ready to conquer anything the urban environment can throw at it. Hell, it’s probably just a scary clown costume away from a good time on a gravel road. Right??!

We doubt Honda has any eyes on offering a more on-road version of the CRF1000L, though if they did, and it looked like this, we might be intrigued. Just leave the DCT off of it.

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.

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!

Here’s How You Make A Proper-Fast Electric Motorcycle

08/17/2016 @ 4:11 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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It’s been a long-time coming, but customer bikes are starting to roll out of the Alta Motors production facility outside of San Francisco. That’s music to the ears of many patient and eager owners, and we’re pretty excited about it too.

This is because the Alta Motors Redshift SM is a designed to compete against any 250cc supermoto on the market, and the same can be said of the Californian company’s MX model as well, when it comes to motocross duties.

So far, every indication points to the Redshift living up to that promise (A&R will know first-hand, soon enough). Until then though, we’re chewing on this time-lapse video that Alta Motors posted to YouTube.

It’s interesting to see how the Alta Motors crew assembles their production electric motorcycles; but perhaps what is most striking, is the relatively clean and simple design that makes the Redshift come to life.

For a bike powered by batteries and liquid-cooled, there are almost no visible wires or hoses. See for yourself, after the jump.

2017 Husqvarna FS 450 Puts the “Super” in Supermoto

06/20/2016 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

2017 Husqvarna FS 450 Supermoto

The 2017 Husqvarna FS 450 is the most advanced factory-built supermoto on the market, full stop.

That’s not exactly saying much, considering there are few factory-built supermotos on the market these days, but that doesn’t make the Husqvarna FS 450 any less impressive…nor does it make our desire to have one, any less.

A refinement to the machine we saw debut last year, the 2017 Husqvarna FS 450 sees the Swedish supermoto upgraded with air forks, proper traction control, and a list of other enhancements that will help you demolish your local kart track.

While not officially listed on Husqvarna North America’s website, American riders looking for some supermoto in their garage should be able to make arrangements at their local Husqvarna dealership.

Good News, You Can Now Watch AMA Supermoto on TV

03/30/2016 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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For the first time in eight years, you can now watch AMA Supermoto racing action on TV, as the rebooted series has signed a television deal with the MAVTV Motorsports Networks.

The TV package is a bit limited, as it includes 12 airings of six episodes (two apiece), which will cover racing from three venues, as well as highlights from the other three races on the calendar, but it is still a step in the right direction for supermoto racing in the USA.

The three race venues that MAVTV will cover are the rounds in Sturgis, South Dakota (round three); Denver, Colorado (round five); Tuscon, Arizona (the season finale).

In addition to the MAVTV package, the main event at the Quebec City race (round four) will get national and international coverage, as its part of the World Rally X Series.

Ducati Hypermotard 939 Mega Gallery

03/07/2016 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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I will admit a bit of bias to this article, since I enjoy flogging my Ducati Hypermotard SP down the streets of Portland, Oregon on a regular basis.

It’s one of those machines that a brief stint on the press model loaner wasn’t nearly enough to whet my appetite, so I plunked down my hard-earned blogging dollars and made space in my garage for one.

For 2016, Ducati has updated the Hypermotard family with a 937cc engine that is now Euro4 compliant. Overall power hasn’t increased much on the new Ducati Hypermotard 939, but the engineers in Bologna have found some extra midrange torque, which suits the Hypermotard family’s urban punchiness better.

Subtle changes have been made to the plus-sized supermoto: a slightly longer exhaust can, the addition of an oil cooler, and revised body pieces can be spotted here and there.

More noticeable is the new paint scheme, which draws inspiration from the Ducati Corse effort in the MotoGP Championship. Otherwise, the basic formula that makes the Hypermotard such a fun bike to ride has remained.

Hopefully in the coming weeks Ducati USA will have us hopping a leg over the new Hypermotard 939, and we can tell you if the new model is worth the extra coin it’s commanding over its predecessor. Until then, we have over 100 high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.

Armotia Due R – An Electric 2WD Supermoto

03/02/2016 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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The electric side of the motorcycle industry is slowly showing life again, as we first got the flash in the pan, and now we are getting the sizzle. Some of that sizzle is coming from projects that have been in the works for quite some time, like the Alta Motors Redshift.

However, some of that sizzle is coming from new players, like Armotia. The Italian-based outfit has two interesting offerings to show us, the Armotia Due R and the Armotia Due X.

The Due R is Armotia’s electric supermoto, while the Due X is the company’s electric enduro model. Both bikes feature a two-wheel drive setup that makes 15hp, 5.1 kWh battery pack, and a smartphone dash.

Warp 9 Racing Offers Tubeless Forged Supermoto Wheels

02/26/2016 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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Maybe it’s because my poor Yamaha YZF-R1 track bike gets left in the garage way more often that my Husqvarna SMR 511 does, but I’ve had supermotos on the brain lately. It’s easy to see why, supermoto racing is a cheap and fun way to get your doctor prescribed dosage of braaap.

So, it is a bit of a mystery why supermoto racing isn’t more popular in the USA. Thankfully we’ve got a series starting up in the Pacific Northwest this year, and it looks like with the AMA involved again that supermoto might get second coming on this side of the pond.

If you haven’t tried riding a supermoto yet, you should. It doesn’t take much, really just a dirt bike that you are willing to shod with 17″ wheels, which brings us to the story at hand, as one of the better places to get some cheap quality supermoto wheels has been Warp 9 Racing, a company based right here in the USA (Salt Lake City).

Warp 9’s spoked wheelsets might not be the lightest on the market, but they do offer great bang for the buck for racers and enthusiasts alike, and what has us really excited today is the debut of Warp 9 Racing’s new forged aluminum wheelsets for supermoto bikes.