The Next, Next Big Thing in Motorcycles: Haptic Feedback

We are at an interesting point in time for motorcycles, namely because the technological landscape for the transportation sector is shifting radically. Long-time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will note some of the issues at play here, namely autonomous vehicles, rider aids, and vehicle interconnectivity. Over the next few weeks I want to revisit those items in more depth and detail, with a series that focuses on emerging technologies that are either already permeating into our two-wheeled lifestyle, or will be hitting the motorcycle industry over the next decade or so. But before I tackle the more obvious items on this list, I want to invest some words on a lesser-known technological innovation, which has the potential to be the next, “next big thing” in the motorcycle industry.

You Already Want This Honda Grom Race Bike from HRC

Understanding one’s lust for a Honda Grom is a lot like explaining good pornography: it is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. That idea encapsulates everything you need to know about Honda’s monkey bike. We can’t tell you why you want one, we just know that you do. Honda’s sales on the Grom back that notion up, as well. Beyond being just an adorable grocery-getter, we are seeing a plethora of Groms at the race track – and not just as pit bikes. Grom racing is becoming a thing, with more than a few minimoto series making spec-classes for Honda Grom racers, or including them in their 150cc programs. To that end, Honda’s racing department, HRC, has the Grom that you want – nay – need. Behold, the Honda Grom race bike from HRC.

Honda CBR250RR Headlight Spotted in Patents

We are literally marking time until Big Red debuts the Honda CBR250RR, the sportier sibling to the Honda CBR250R, which should rev to the moon and make more power with its two-cylinder engine. We have seen the prototype of the Honda CBR250RR already at trade shows, and the new CBR250RR is definitely on the edgier side of things, which is surprising coming the ever-conservative minds at Honda. How much of the edgy design will remain in the production version has yet to be seen, but we do have our first glimpse of some of the machine. The headlight shape has been filed with European patent offices, which is sort of a weird thing to be reporting on, but it does show insight into where Honda is headed.

Could BMW Be Working on an XDiavel Killer?

Here’s some more BMW Motorrad speculation for your two-wheeled consumption, as Germany’s Motorrad Magazine says that BMW is looking to take on the Ducati XDiavel, with a power cruiser model of its own. This of course isn’t the first time that BMW has included a cruiser-styled motorcycle in its lineup, with the BMW R1200C being a unique, though slightly odd, offering to the cruiser demographic. Like Ducati, BMW seems to be learning from its mistakes in going after the cruiser crowd, and instead of offering a motorcycle that is BMW’s take on the cruiser concept, they are building a cruiser that has cues back to the BMW lineup. A subtle but potent distinction. Time will tell on how this rumor plays out, though there are number of interesting things to consider with a BMW power cruiser.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles. As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride. With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Is BMW Working on 300cc GS Model?

When the BMW G310R arrived, the German brand indicated that the small-displacement street bike would be the first of many model based on the 313cc platform. Now it seems that the first iteration is ready to drop, with news that BMW Motorrad is working on a G310R-based adventure-touer model. According to Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, BMW Motorrad UK’s Director Phil Horton has confirmed that a BMW G310GS model will debut, perhaps in time for the 2017 model year, saying “new models aside, the line-up isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. But there are plenty more bikes to come, including, hopefully in 2017, a G310R GS-style derivative.” The idea of small-displacement ADV machine does mimic what we have been seeing from other brands.

EPA Withdraws Racing Emissions Proposal

If you have a modified track-only motorcycle, then we have some news to share that you will enjoy, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn proposed language that would have specifically given it the ability to regulate the emissions of production vehicles that were being used at track days or similar events. The proposed rule caused quite a storm in automotive enthusiast circles, as it would have affected racing and recreational uses of products that have been sold under “race use only” provisions for years. Of course, the larger issue at stake here was the continued selling of race parts to street enthusiasts. Still, since it is hard to find a motorcycle on the road these days that hasn’t seen its emissions equipment modified, it doesn’t surprise us to see the backlash coming from the motorcycling community.

Honda Halts Operations at Its Kumamoto Factory After Earthquakes Strike Japan

If you have been following mainstream news, you will know that the Pacific Rim has been active with earthquake activity these past few days. In addition to the devastating movements in Ecuador, Japan has been rocked by a series of earthquakes as well, two of which have centered on the Kumamoto prefecture of the country. If that names sounds familiar to motorcycle enthusiasts, it is because Kumamoto is Honda’s mothership for motorcycle production. As such, Honda is halting the operations of its Kumamoto factory, thru the rest of this week (ending April 22, 2016). Honda says that its subsequent production plans will be determined according to facility restorations and component supply.

Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened & What Happens Next

In case you missed it, Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati Corse for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP World Championship seasons. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed. We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

It’s Official, Jorge Lorenzo Will Race with Ducati Corse

As expected, the announcement dropped today that Jorge Lorenzo will be leaving the Movistar Yamaha team at the end of this season, for a new racing opportunity with Ducati Corse. Details are light at this time, mostly because of Lorenzo’s ongoing contract with Yamaha Racing for the rest of the MotoGP season, but we do know that the Spaniard has inked a two-year with the Italian outfit. Lorenzo’s move to Ducati will mean a cascade of changes in the MotoGP paddock, with the next phase of the silly season process likely to focus on who will replace him as Valentino Rossi’s teammate. Good money is on Maverick Viñales, but as we pointed out in the latest Paddock Pass Podcast episode, Suzuki has redoubled its efforts to retain the young Spanish rider.

Euro4 Claims Its First Victim – No Two-Stroke 125cc Enduros from KTM & Husqvarna for 2017

02/25/2016 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It looks like Europe’s new Euro4 emissions standard has claimed its first victim (if you don’t count the exhaust pipe on the Ducati 959 Panigale), as neither KTM nor Husqvarna will be producing their 125cc two-stroke enduro models for 2017, and the foreseeable future afterwards.

The move is a euros and cents decision, and a slightly complicated one at that, but it boils down to the fact that making the small-displacement smokers meet the more stringent Euro4 emissions requirements was financially prohibitive.

Husqvarna Vitpilen Line Coming with 125cc Counterpart

11/23/2015 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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We already knew that the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 had been green-lit by the Austrians, as a production model for the 2017 model year, but the Swedish brand has now confirmed that a 125cc version, a Vitpilen 125, of its stylish new street bikes will be made as well.

That news about a Vitpilen 125 isn’t perhaps too surprising, considering that the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen is based off the KTM 390 Duke, which has 125cc and 200cc variations throughout its global market reach.

Would You Rock This Electric Dirt Bike from Yamaha?

10/16/2015 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Astute readers will realize that if there’s a Yamaha PES2 electric concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, then surely there must be a Yamaha PED2 concept as well, as the two electric concepts were two-sides of the same coin, back in 2013.

Yes Virginia, there is a PED2 concept, and while it looks closer to being production ready than its predecessor, Yamaha seems content to simply call this electric motorcycle a concept…for now.

Yamaha MT-125 – Europe Gets Another MT

05/07/2014 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Need a small-displacement naked bike for your urban commute? Yamaha has something for you then, as the tuning fork brand has announced the Yamaha MT-125 for the European market today. Based off the Yamaha YZF-R125 platform, the MT-125 is essentially the R125 stripped of its fairings.

Featuring the same steel delta box frame, and 124.7cc single-cylinder thumper as the Yamaha R125, the big changes to make the MT-125 are the obvious ones, namely the “MT” styling that we have seen on the Yamaha MT-09 (that’s the Yamaha FZ-09 to us Americans) and the Yamaha MT-07.

2014 Yamaha YZF-R125 Debuts for Europe

02/18/2014 @ 12:06 pm, by Bryan Delohery7 COMMENTS

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Yamaha chose this year’s MCN London Motorcycle Show to announce the release of an updated version of the Yamaha YZF-R125 sports bike, which is scheduled to hit dealers in the Europe this April.

For 2014 the performance numbers remain largely unchanged from the 2013 model, still claiming 14.75 hp at 9,000 rpm, and just over 9 lbs•ft of torque at 8,000 rpm.

As a small displacement sports bike targeted for young riders and learners, Yamaha decided to upgrade stability and stopping power by coupling an upside-down front fork, a new radial front brake caliper design that clamps down on a 292 mm floating disc, along with a redesigned rear suspension linkage.

More Photos of the Honda MSX125

01/22/2013 @ 12:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Judging from the response we got on Asphalt & Rubber, there is a lot of buzz regarding Big Red’s new monkey bike, the 2013 Honda MSX125. A small-in-stature motorcycle with a single-cylinder 125cc thumper that puts out 9.7hp, the Honda MSX125 is designed to be a world-market machine that is both fun and practical in nature.

We don’t know how practical the MSX125 might be on the roads here in the United States (it makes a lot more sense in the tighter, pot-hole riddled, car-less roads elsewhere though), but man it sure looks like a fun small-displacement motorbike. Maybe the marketing is working on us? More photos after the jump.

Honda MSX125 Will Make a Monkey Out of You

01/09/2013 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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If there ever was a motorcycle that earned the word “cute” is its best descriptor, the Honda Monkey might be it. A diminutive and fun motorcycle, it was hard to look good on Honda’s old Z-series bikes, though the machines themselves still carry their own unique flavor of cool to this day.

Fast-forward fifty-years later, and Honda is bringing the Monkey back, this time in the guise of the 2013 Honda MSX125. Manufactured in Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 (MSX = Mini Street X-treme 125), the 125cc, 9.7 hp, four-stroke, two-valve, single-cylinder, fuel-injected fun machine will be a Spring 2013 model in markets around the world (no word on North America though).

The ultimate pit bike for us Anglo-Saxons, the Honda MSX125 also serves as a practical and durable machine for markets where potholed asphalt is a luxury where roads rarely exist. With the seat just a touch above 30 inches off the ground (30.1″ to be exact), the new Honda Monkey is a friend to the short man (or woman) as well.

Aprilia RS4 125 Video – Who The Hell is This Bike For?

11/24/2010 @ 10:51 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

The folks in Noale have a video out now (watch it after the jump), promoting the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 – the four-stroke 125cc street bike that is a spitting image of the Aprilia RSV4 superbike. With 16hp coming out of that tiny single-cylinder motor and cool styling from its larger sibling, the Aprilia RS4 125 seems like the perfect beginner bike for some teenager in Europe, but we have our reservations about how the bike will sell here in the United States. A classic example of how ideas don’t always carryover, Aprilia seems hellbent on bringing this 125cc bike to a market that demands twice that displacement for practical street bikes.

2011 Aprilia RS4 125 Comes to America

11/02/2010 @ 5:16 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

American youths can rejoice to the news that the 2011 Aprilia RS4 125 will be coming to the United States for 2011. The four-stroke 125cc beginner bike may only have 15hp, but it has been done-up to look like the RSV4, and that’s what matters right? Replacing the RS125, the RS4 125 is supposedly just a Derbi in sheep’s clothing, but considering both brands come from the Piaggio mother ship, we fail to see why that would be an issue to a 16-year-old who has somehow managed to convince his/her parents to buy them a motorcycle. The liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC motor comes with electric fuel-injection, and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. Weight is 264 lbs with a full 3.8 gallon tank of gas. Technical Specifications after the jump.

2011 KTM 125 Duke – The Bike Bajaj Built

10/09/2010 @ 1:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Finally officially debuted at Intermot, KTM took the wraps off its 2011 KTM 125 Duke, a single-cylinder street bike geared towards young riders. While KTM has always included off-road machines in its line-up that are aimed at getting younger riders to ride orange, the company until now has left a gapping hole in its on-road offering for the same demographic. With Bajaj taking a 35% stake in KTM, the Indian company has not only given the Austrian company the capital it needed to expand its line, but is also rumored to be the major driving force behind the 2011 KTM 125 Duke.