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.”

Trackside Tuesday: The Black Box Revealed

12/02/2014 @ 11:45 pm, by Scott Jones9 COMMENTS

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You may have seen this image in a PHOTO.GP post a while back, one that wondered what this item is. The label reads Intertechnique Pressure Reducer and at PHOTO.GP we’ve speculated about what exactly this apparatus does when placed atop the Yamaha YZR-M1. We’ve come to refer to it as The Black Box.

The photo above is from 2013, and I’ve been wondering about this item at least since Mugello of last season. But only recently did I take steps to find out just what it is.

The fact is that while I wander up and down pit lane as someone who understands, at least in relation to the level of technology on display in MotoGP, only the basics of how motorcycles work, I frequently see exotic bits of engineering that are utter mysteries to me.

MotoGP: When Will Yamaha’s Seamless Gearbox Arrive? Probably Not This Season

06/19/2013 @ 10:36 pm, by David Emmett15 COMMENTS

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Why did the factory Yamaha team head to the Motorland Aragon circuit to join Honda and Suzuki at a private test? Was it perhaps to give Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi their first taste of the seamless gearbox Yamaha have been developing, to counter Honda’s advantage?

That is the question which many fans have been asking, and in recent days – and weeks – I have been inundated with questions about the seamless gearbox. Well, question, singular, actually, as it all boils down to just the one: When will Yamaha finally start to race their seamless gearbox?

It is a question I have been trying to pursue since the start of the season, since rumors first emerged that they may have used the gearbox at the first race of the year. All inquiries I made, at all levels of the Yamaha organization, received the same answers: Yes, Yamaha is developing a seamless gearbox, and is testing it back in Japan. No, Yamaha has not yet raced it, and has no plans to race it. And no, it is not yet ready to be tested.

Up-Close with the 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1

04/29/2013 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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In case you missed our exhaustive coverage of the Grand Prix of the Americas, those fools at Dorna gave me pit lane access this MotoGP season. So while the whole paddock waits for the Spaniards to come to their senses, I don’t plan on wasting the opportunity to share with our readers our extreme access to motorcycling’s premier racing class. Accordingly, here comes another installment into our ever-continuing “Up-Close” series, featuring the very finest Iwata has to offer: the Yamaha YZR-M1.

Over the past few seasons, Yamaha has managed the power-deficit created by the Honda and Ducati machines by having ballerina like handling. Truly at home only when the machine was tipped-over to the extreme, the edge-grip and handling of the Yamaha YZR-M1 has been its counterpoint in the ongoing MotoGP-design argument.

A true GP bike, in the sense that it requires a riding style that has been cultivated from years of 125cc & 250cc two-stroke racing, the flowing lines of the M1 on the race track have been a stark contrast to the harsh point-and-shoot styles seen more so on the Ducati Desmosedici, but also more recently on the Honda RC213V as well.

However now with HRC having developed a seamless gearbox for the RCV, the battle of Honda’s motor vs. Yamaha’s chassis has changed. Where Yamaha riders used to beg the Japanese factory for more horsepower (they still do, by the way), they know find themselves asking for parts to combat the Honda’s ability to get on the power while still at extreme angles — an attribute once reserved only for the Tuning Fork brand.

Thirty 2000px-wide photos are waiting for you after the jump.

Yamaha Confirms MotoGP Engine Lease Agreement

04/06/2013 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Fresh on the heels of the news that Honda would continue to supply Moto2 with spec-engines through the 2015 season, Yamaha has confirmed that it will lease to MotoGP teams its YZR-M1 engine, on an annual basis, through the 2016 season.

Teams will then be free to develop their own bikes around the engine, or work with an independent chassis manufacturer to build a complete race bike.

Rossi, Lorenzo, and the 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1

03/22/2013 @ 9:59 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The last of the factory MotoGP teams to unveil its 2013 livery (Ducati Corse, Pramac Ducati & Repsol Honda here), Yamaha Racing has finally officially debuted the 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1 race bike, along with the team livery for riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

Unlike his 2011 defense, Lorenzo will not rock the #1 plate, perhaps getting wind of the dreaded number’s propensity to kill its owner’s chance of a successful title defense. For Rossi fans, the return to Yamaha is surely a welcomed sight, with The Doctor’s neon yellow “46” working better with Yamaha’s blue and white paint scheme. Somethings just seem to go better together, right?

Yamaha YZR-M1: 2013 vs. 2006

02/13/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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It is hard to believe, but it has been eight years since Valentino Rossi raced a Yamaha in liter capacity in MotoGP. Without even getting into the 800cc era that started in 2007 and ended in 2011, it is safe to say that a lot has changed since Rossi’s 2006 Yamaha YZR-M1 and the still unofficially debuted 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1.

While we already have a pretty good idea what was under the fairings of Rossi’s 2006 M1, since Yamaha Racing made detailed high-resolution pictures of the machine publicly available, what lies beneath the fairings of MotoGP’s current crop of prototypes is a closely guarded secret.

That secret must not have been guarded closely enough though, because the eagle eyes at GPone have gotten a photo of the Jorge Lorenzo’s M1 in the buff, and the Pride of Iwata has some interesting secrets to share with us.

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi’s Sepang Livery, Just Add Monster

02/04/2013 @ 8:47 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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You can tell it is the off-season when the subject of what Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1 will look like is an instant buzzworthy item, and you know MotoGP fans have been pretty hard-up over the past few months when even the test livery creates a frothing at the mouth. Today is no different.

Allegedly tweeted by the bike itself, Valentino Rossi’s test livery for MotoGP’s first pre-season test at Sepang is already creating quite a stir on Twitter. There isn’t all that much different about the Sepang livery and the livery on the Yamaha M1 that Rossi tested last November in Valencia, except of course for the fact that Monster Energy has been added to the layout.

Photos: 2003 Yamaha YZR-M1 Prototype

12/05/2011 @ 10:42 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It seems only fitting that after reviewing the BRD RedShift SM prototype, that we should turn our attentions to another prototype machine…or should we say, a prototype of a prototype. A glimpse into how lost in the woods Yamaha was with its MotoGP program pre-Rossi, the 2003 Yamaha YZR-M1 prototype is the work of a company desperately looking for a solution against Honda’s very potent RC211V. Employing two Öhlins rear shock absorbers, Yamaha’s philosophy and process of handling over power is very evident in this prototype’s design, though the implementation seems a bit murkier.

Laced with linear potentiometers through out the M1’s chassis, it is at least interesting to note the unit extending from one of the rear shock mounting points to the front of the frame — presumably measuring the flex of the chassis from front to back. With all the data acquisition that is on the 2003 prototype M1, you would think Yamaha would notice one of the most obvious mistakes with the design, namely how the exhaust routing was cramped in with both shock absorbers, surely cooking both units as the machine came up to temperature.

MotoGP: Yamaha Tests the 1,000cc M1 at Misano w/ Video

09/07/2011 @ 2:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After finishing a very successful weekend at the San Marino GP, the factory Yamaha squad stuck around Misano for another day, and tested the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. Though the 1,000cc class MotoGP monster has remained basically unchanged from its debut at Brno, reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and teammate Ben Spies continued development on the bike’s electronics package and overall setup. Misano proved to be a good contrast for Yamaha, as the Italian track’s tighter layout made the extra horsepower from the new M1 less of a factor than it was in the Czech Republic.

“It’s been a little bit more difficult here than Brno, which is a very fast track. Misano is a little bit slower so the difference between the 800 and the 1000 is much smaller,” said Jorge Lorenzo. “It’s difficult to understand the riding style you must use straight away. We’ve made a lot of progress in a couple of hours and the bike has a lot of potential. I’m very excited about the future. We’ve been working on the electronics to help in the braking area but mainly I’ve been getting used to the riding style of the bike and also adapting the bike to my riding.”

Are You the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP Race Bike?

08/11/2011 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Taken during a Yamaha testing session in Japan, these two videos appear to be our first glimpse into Yamaha’s next MotoGP race bike: the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. Though MotoGP regulations will be allowing up to 1,000cc in factory team motor displacement, it is still anyone’s guess as to what displacement Yamaha and the other teams will be running. Likely not to reveal that information until the new M1’s formal launch ahead of the 2012 season, we will still get our first official glimpse of the new Yamaha M1 on Monday.

After the race at Brno, Yamaha plans to test its 1,000cc bike with Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies. On-hand will be Honda with its 2012 Honda RC213V, while Ducati will test its 2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, and not the new GP12. There’s no word yet on what Suzuki will be doing for 2012, though it is widely held that the team will run an updated version of it 2011 machine in a 800cc capacity. A second spy video is after the jump, and though the video quality is poor, the sound of the new M1 is crisp.