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.”

An Analysis of the Troubles with the Ducati Desmosedici

08/09/2011 @ 2:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The obvious point to make in the 2011 MotoGP Championship is that Ducati Corse is struggling to compete with Yamaha and Honda, despite having the G.O.A.T. himself, Valentino Rossi, riding for the Italian squad. The recent history of the Desmosedici is fraught with bullet points of issues, most of which coming back to the bike’s notoriously vague front-end. Though showing moments of promise, even brilliance, including a World Championship with Casey Stoner at the helm, the Ducati Desmosedici has earned the reputation as a career-ender and a confidence destroyer among its less fortunate pilots.

When the dream team of development came to Ducati, in the guise of Valentino Rossi and Jeremy Burgess et al, the talk before the 2011 season was that the nine-time World Champion and his perhaps even more impressive garage crew could have the Desmosedici figured out in no-time at all. With the now infamous quote from Burgess that the GP10 could be sorted out in about 20 seconds still resonating in the MotoGP paddock, we stand now well over half of the way through the current MotoGP season, and the Championship standings hide what’s been apparent from day one: the Desmoproblema requires more than a quick-fix.

The solution to fixing the Ducati Desmosedici can be broken down into three camps, and depending whose opinion you solicit, you’ll get one of the following causes for Ducati’s uncompetitive season: the motor, the chassis, or the rider. Walking us through that analysis is our good friend David Emmett (bookmark his site MotoMatters.com right now), who may not be the most astute automatic transmission driver we’ve ever seen, but when it comes to comprehensive MotoGP analysis, the man is second to none.

Putting together an exhaustive digest on the issues that are surrounding Valentino Rossi, Ducati Corse, and the Desmosedici, Emmett weighs and measures the different dynamics of the problem at hand. Head on over to MotoMatters with your beverage of choice in-hand, and hear what MotoGP’s most-enlightened journalist has to say on the biggest subject in MotoGP.

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

There Are No Sacred Cows: Harley-Davidson Patents Cylinder Head Cooling System

06/20/2011 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

The rumors that Harley-Davidson has been eying a liquid-cooled motor design have always been in abundance, and 10 years ago we saw the company test the waters of that pool with the Porsche-engineered lump that was found in the V-Rod. While the VRSC line may not have been as big of a success compared to the other models in Harley’s line-up, the water-cooled bastard child of Milwaukee still seems to sell in the tens of thousands each year, even after nearly a decade of only cosmetic revisions.

Faced with an aging demographic, an uninspired motorcycle line-up, and 21 takes on the same motorcycle design, there’s a push internally at Harley-Davidson to break-out and find a new way to engage riders, especially younger riders. The core ethos of change seems to start at the motor itself, and Harley-Davidson has already done the rounds at various electric motorcycle and drivetrain companies. There also exists amount of external and internal pressure over Harley’s pervasive use of air-cooled motors, and now whispers of a water-cooled v-twin power plant have gotten louder in Milwaukee. With those rumors now reaching a boiling point (see what I did there?), Harley-Davidson has patented a very clever way of adding liquid-cooling to its iconic v-twin motor design.

Four Images Reveal More About the New Suzuki Middleweight Adventure Bike

06/07/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Rumors are still fuzzy on the upcoming release of a new middleweight Suzuki adventure bike, with there being some debate as to whether the V-Strom replacement will be a 650cc, 1000cc, or perhaps even an 800cc machine. Suzuki is pushing the adventure statement hard, which to us means that this new bike will be more off-road capable than the current V-Strom, which to us has always seemed like a sport-tourer duped into doing something it wasn’t intended to do.

With Suzuki’s US website even sporting the teaser images now, this looks to be a worldwide release; and we won’t have to wait long to find out all the details, as this Saturday should bring us more information on how the Japanese brand is finally getting on this mid-life crisis bandwagon. So far the best guess we’ve heard are new look, new chassis, and new motor. More teaser photos after the jump.

Rumor: New KTM Super Duke & Adventure Bikes in 2013

01/19/2011 @ 7:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The news coming out of Holland this morning is that KTM is working on a new set of Super Duke and Adventure series motorcycles, slated to appear in 2012 as 2013 model year bikes. The news comes from Dutch site Nieuwsmotor, who talked to Robert Prielinger, Head of Development / R & D of Street Bikes at KTM, while visiting the KTM factory, and according to Prielinger KTM is working on a new v-twin motor and electronics package that will see introduction into the Super Duke and Adventure lines by 2013. Also new for the 2013 Super Duke line is a new single-cylinder engine model, which will pick up where the KTM 690 Super Duke left off.

2012 Ducati Superbike: +20 HP/-20 lbs

11/24/2010 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2011 marks the end of the current Ducati Superbike 1198 as we know it, and Ducati has been hard at work on the successor to the crown jewel in its model line-up. Undertaking the most expensive model design in the history of the company, Ducati has poured a ton of resources into its 2012 Superbike in order to make it a market leader. Recently stretching the faith of the Ducati loyal by introducing bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and now the new Ducati Diavel that extend Ducati into non-racing segments, 2012 is the Bologna brand’s answer that it is heavily committed to its Superbike roots.

Starting from scratch with its design, the 2012 Ducati Superbike features two impressive performance figures: an additional 20hp (taking the Superbike up to 190hp), and a weight reduction of 20 lbs across the model line. Host to a bevy of street bike firsts, our Bothan Spies also tell us that the new Superbike is going to be a stunner.

BeOn SXV 450 – Your Pocket Racer

11/12/2010 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

We don’t know if the whole dirt bike into street bike club racing thing is more than just a fad, but the BeOn SXV 450 sure looks like it would be a blast during our local track day excursions. Based around an Aprilia SXV 4.5 supermotard, BeOn has constructed a body kit that includes roadracing fairings, fuel tank, and seat with rear tail. While the motor and frame remain stock, other amenities include road oriented suspension, wheels, gearing, and single-disc brakes.

This isn’t the first time BeOn has made ready-to-race “450GP” bikes out of cheap dirt bikes, but the use of the Aprilia 450cc v-twin SXV/RXV motor, instead of your typical Japanese single-cylinder, certainly has us intrigued. With the Aprilia lump making 60hp in its stock form (70hp if you use the SXV 5.5 motor), and the whole package by BeOn weighing 130kg (265 lbs), the BeOn SXV 450 would be a barrel a fun for any track day enthusiast, and make up for the Aprilia RSV550 that never materialized (sad trombone).

Officially Official: 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200

11/01/2010 @ 9:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After first making the 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200’s owner’s manual available to Aprilia owners, then showing a photo of the Dorsoduro 1200 during Piaggio’s HQ launch in Milan, along with a subsequent video, Aprilia is now ready to officially tell us about its 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200. Available with Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option, the Dorsoduro 1200 makes 130hp and 83 lbs•ft of torque with its 492lbs curb weight (a figure Aprilia conveniently leaves out of its press release). The maximoto to the Shiver’s street-naked, the Aprilia’s 1197cc liquid-cooled platform is under-powered and over-weight when compared to the other bikes in the 1200cc category.

While Aprilia positions the Dorsoduro as a maximotard, we’re not sure how the lack of umpf and extra heft will go over with the sporty crowd. With rumors of a Shiver 1200 still circling about, and an early glimpse of the Tuono V4R already showing a 162hp machine, we’re still not sure how this 1200cc street-only motard fits into Aprilia’s model line-up, and how it will differentiate itself to potential buyers.

World Superbike Favoring Four Cylinders Over Two?

04/26/2010 @ 6:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

If you take a look through our coverage of World Superbike’s stop in Assen this weekend, you’ll notice a trend in the standings on how riders finished in relation to what type of equipment they ran in the race. The trend seems to suggest an advantage for the inline-four cylinder bikes, and didn’t go unnoticed by Carlos Checa, who found himself struggling to compete with the four cylindered machines this weekend on his twin cylindered Ducati.

As one of the privateer Ducati’s on the grid, Checa and the Althea Ducati team believe the current WSBK rules hinder the twins in being competitive with the focus in both acceleration and top speed. You make the call after the jump.

Nelis 1000R: A Re-imagining of the TL1000R

02/25/2010 @ 5:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The Suzuki TL1000R is a special bike. It garnered little love from the media during its release; but despite being discontinued seven years ago, the TLR continues to foster a cult following, especially in Europe. So it doesn’t surprise us a great deal that when 25 year old fabrication apprentice, Mathijn Nelis, set out to create is first custom work under the careful gaze of master builder Nico Bakker, that the young Dutchman chose to work with the stout TL v-twin powerplant that dwarfed its Italain competitors during its initial release.

Filippo Barbacane’s Moto Guzzi Diamante 1400

09/10/2009 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Filippo-Barbacane-Moto-Guzzi-Diamante-1400-1

Filippo Barbacane woke up one day displeased with the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V, so he did something about it. The result of his labor is this “diamond” in the rough, the Moto Guzzi Diamante 1400, which Barbacane will be producing in a limited run of 30 motorcycles. Pictures and more after the jump.