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.”

Ducati SuperSport Priced at $13,000 for the USA

10/06/2016 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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If were to judge things by traffic on Asphalt & Rubber alone, the new Ducati SuperSport was the bike of the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany. The return of a cult classic, it seems Ducati has successfully tapped into the vein that made the original so well-loved.

Releasing pricing for the US market today, there might be more to love about new SuperSport and its up-spec SuperSport S sibling, as both bikes come with attractive price tags.

As such, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will MSRP for $12,995 in the USA, while the 2017 Ducati SuperSport S will come with a sticker price of $14,795 MSRP.

2017 Ducati SuperSport – The Sport Bike Returns

10/04/2016 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen Beeler66 COMMENTS

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The Ducati SuperSport is back for the 2017 model year, bringing a street-focused sport bike into Ducati’s motorcycle lineup once again. As you would expect, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport will come in two models, the SuperSport base model and a higher-spec SuperSport S model.

Both bikes use the 937cc, water-cooled, 113hp v-twin engine that’s found in the Ducati Hypermotard 939. Ducati has also used a steel trellis frame for the SuperSport, which looks very similar to the one used on the current Monster line. Obviously, the front fairing takes some cues from the Panigale superbike.

Ducati’s focus is for the SuperSport to augment its street lineup with something sporty that could go on the race track, but would be more at home on twisty roads, even with a passenger on the back.

Here’s Another Yamaha YZF-R6 Teaser Video

10/04/2016 @ 10:04 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 is coming soon. We know this because Yamaha has released a second teaser reminding us to that fact. Set this time at what looks like Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, the teaser video again is light on giving anything away.

A few glimpses of a sport bike can be seen, and of course there’s the aural pleasure of hearing a 600cc inline-four engine being revved out to infinity. Our ear hears a flatplane crank for the new Yamaha YZF-R6, which is a topic we’ve covered before, in the last teaser video.

If we sample the frames to this video, we do get a couple good detail shots. One is of the vents on the fuel tank / airbox cover, another shows us what looks like an LED headlight, the best shot though shows us the shilouette of the new R6, which looks to be based closely off the current R1.

Beyond this, what features could Yamaha be bringing to the class-leading supersport? Only time can tell.

Ducati SuperSport Photos Leaked

10/03/2016 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler72 COMMENTS

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The big reveal for Ducati, at INTERMOT, will be the Ducati SuperSport. Bologna already teased this machine at this year’s World Ducati Week gathering at Misano, giving hardcore Ducatisti a first look at the sporty street bike.

Naturally, photos of the machine promptly leaked from WDW2016, which coupled with eyewitness reports, means we have a pretty good idea what to expect in Cologne, Germany this week.

Because of all that, we can confirm that the following are indeed photos of the 2017 Ducati SuperSport, though we will obviously have to wait until tomorrow to see high-resolution images and tech specs released.

The Ducati SuperSport Gets Teased Ahead of INTERMOT

09/30/2016 @ 11:03 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The start of “New Bike Season” is nearly here, with various brands getting their teaser campaigns ready for next week’s INTERMOT show. One of the best in the business at this, Ducati is ready to unveil its long-awaited Ducati SuperSport model.

The rebirth of one of Ducati’s more popular models in the past, the 2017 Ducati SuperSport works on the same idea of making a sporty street bike, which is not only good for spirited weekend rides, but also capable of doing some short-distance touring.

As such, the SuperSport fits a narrow niche in Ducati’s lineup, somewhere between the Hyperstrada 939, the Monster 821, and the Panigale 959.

Lausitzring World Superbike Debrief: The Rain Lottery

09/21/2016 @ 6:32 pm, by Kent Brockman1 COMMENT

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It was a weekend of contrasts in Germany. Four weathers in a race weekend is usually something associated with Phillip Island, but with 86°F temperatures having welcomed the WorldSBK paddock from their summer break, the heat gradually transitioned to a downpour on a cold and windy Sunday.

With Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea claiming the spoils in the races, there was little reason to think that this was a standout weekend, but in many ways the German round of WorldSBK could prove pivotal when the season concludes.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #33 – Wankeled

09/20/2016 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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I’m not going to lie to you, Episode 33 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast starts off a little rowdy, and never really stops partying. In it, we look at the recently spied 2017 Honda CBR1000RR and recently teased 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6, two incredibly important machines in the sport biking side of the industry.

We also talk about the Wazer water jet cutting project, and how that’s going to affect builders and makers. From there, we pivot to a discussion on the consumerization (that’s a word now) of high-tech manufacturing techniques, which has made things like water jet cutting and rapid prototyping accessible to the masses.

The show ends with a listener question about ABS brakes, which is good timing, considering our interesting discussion about electronics as a whole, and the progression of rider aids in the motorcycle industry. Wankel jokes aside, it is a pretty interesting, and dare we say entertaining show.

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!

2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Hinted for INTERMOT Debut

09/15/2016 @ 9:46 am, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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For a couple months now, we’ve had some indications that Yamaha was getting ready to release a new sport bike. With the Yamaha YZF-R1 coming up on two-years-old, the timing suggested that Yamaha was ready for a follow-up to that hit. That is to say, it is time for a new Yamaha YZF-R6.

Yamaha seems to agree, today posting a teaser video to its website and social media accounts. The video is sanitized from giving away too much information, with us only seeing a rider going around a race track. The sound though, is a strong giveaway.

The video’s soundtrack is filled with the screaming of a multi-cylinder machine. Our ear hears a four-cylinder engine, with a flat-plane crankshaft, that is revving to the stratosphere.

This give us a strong indication that a supersport bike is just around the corner, and the video ends with the promise of showing more on October 4th, the first press day of the INTERMOT trade show in Cologne, Germany.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #27 – The Ducati Show

08/11/2016 @ 11:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Part 2 of our big catch-up, Episode 27 continues our conversation about my recent travels, with this episode focusing those trips with Ducati.

In the show, we talk about my recent interview with Claudio Domenicali, giving a teaser of what’s to come from A&R’s conversation with the Ducati CEO. We then turn our attention to my two trips to Italy, one for World Ducati Week, and the other for the DRE Enduro course.

On both trips I was riding the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, so Quentin and I talk a bit about that as well.

We finish up the show by talking an speculating about Ducati’s 2017 model lineup, which includes the Ducati 1299 Panigale Anniversario and the Ducati Supersport. If you’re a Ducatista, you won’t want to miss this show.

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!

What It’s Like to Party with 81,000 Ducati Fans

08/04/2016 @ 5:10 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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“It’s like drinking from a firehose” is the phrase I would use over and over while telling people about my recent trip to this year’s World Ducati Week.

The three-day event attracted 81,000 rabid Ducati fans through the gates of the Misano race track, which is just a stone’s throw from Italy’s Adriatic Coast. One of the best race tracks in the world, along one of Italy’s best beaches…the recipe for success here might seem obvious.

Beyond these factors though, World Ducati Week itself is a magnet event that attracts Ducatisti from the world over by offering them the ultimate Ducati experience.

Strangely enough though, you don’t even have to be a Ducati fan to attend – though it helps – as WDW2016 is something that any motorcyclist can enjoy.

For my part in this, I will admit to having more than one Ducati in my garage (none on press loan, mind you), so consider my glass of Kool-aid aptly filled, but truthful Ducati has put together a motorcycle enthusiast agenda that other brands and venues should take note of .

As such, World Ducati Week is a great example of how to get motorcyclists excited about being…well, motorcyclists.

Ducati does this by having no shortage of events and spectacles for fans to enjoy, and while the venue is a race track, most of what makes World Ducati Week special doesn’t take place on the Misano Circuit itself.

Instead, the key to World Ducati Week’s success is the carnival atmosphere, that immerses attendees in the very best that the Ducati brand has to offer.