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.

Video: Developing the KTM Super Duke 1290 R

10/10/2013 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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In order to develop the KTM Super Duke 1290 R, KTM employed ex-GP racer Jeremy McWilliams to put The Beast through its paces, and make it the asphalt terrorizing machine that it is.

Helping go over those developments with us, McWilliams is aided by Toby Moody (his voice may sound familiar to MotoGP fans of a Eurosport persuasion), as the duo speaks from what looks like Kiska’s design studio.

The six-minute video is a PR piece of course, but it is interesting to hear McWilliams’ thoughts on the machine.

He and Moody spend quite a bit of time going over the Super Duke 1290 R’s electronic systems, with the clear intention of addressing the concerns of motorcycling’s Luddite contingency — we think they succeeded in this regard. KTM, just stop teasing us and take our money already!

Come Watch the KTM Super Duke 1290 R Do Its Thang

10/03/2013 @ 2:08 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Nine months ago, KTM unleashed “The Beast” on the unsuspecting roadways. Devouring turns, chewing tires, and lofting wheelies ever since, The Beast has become the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R — or at least that’s what the marketing folk in Austria would like to have us say for the bike’s genesis story.

At 177hp, 417 lbs dry, aggressively styled, and fitted with ABS and traction, the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R is a potent street-hooning machine, and if the response to its debut earlier this week is any indication, you are going to enjoy the video we have after the jump. So what are you waiting for? Click through already!

2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R Finally Revealed

10/01/2013 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The countdown clock is at zero, and that means the wait is over for the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. At EICMA last year, they called it “The Beast” and with 177hp (132 kW) coming from the 1,301cc v-twin engine, we are inclined to agree.

As svelte as it is powerful, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R tips the scales at 417 lbs dry, and comes with a ride-by-wire throttle control system, along with traction control and ABS that can be disengaged, as A&R also predicted.

Say Hello to the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R

09/26/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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With four days still on the countdown clock, we didn’t expect to see the 2014 KTM Super Duke 1290 R until its October debut, but those crafty Frenchies at Moto-Station have gotten their hands on a couple photos of Austria’s new street hooligan machine.

Giving us a glimpse into “The Beast’s” final lines, we see that the new KTM Super Duke 1290 R retains the headlight shape from the prototype concept (better seen on the Patriot Edition concept), though sadly does not incorporate Kiska’s underslung GP-style system, opting instead for the standard single-can setup that was seen in the various spy photos that we have shown.

KTM Super Duke 1290 R Debut Coming Very Soon

09/18/2013 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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In just eleven days, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R is going to make its official production debut. We have already seen the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype, which took the 2012 EICMA show by storm.

We have also already seen Jeremy McWilliams take the RC8-powered street-naked up “The World’s Most Famous Driveway” at the Goodwood Festival of speed, which of course only whet our appetite further for “The Beast” that KTM has created.

Just in case we forgot about all that though, KTM has created a teaser website for the Super Duke 1290 R, complete with countdown clock, along with another teaser video.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype Rides at Goodwood — There’s a Reason Why They Call It ‘The Beast’

07/19/2013 @ 7:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Set to debut at the 2013 EICMA show, we best know the KTM 1290 Super Duke from the prototype concept that zie Austrians showed at the Milan trade show last year, though the bevy of spy photos that have cropped up on the internet also hels to form the bike in our minds. While much will be said about KTM’s RC8-powered streetfighter later this year, the buzz on the 1290cc v-twin machine is just how much of a beast it is in real life.

Taking to the world’s most famous driveway for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the “Beast” was put through its paces by none other than Jeremy McWilliams — and the former MotoGP racer certainly had his work cutout for him. Really more of an exhibition than a race, McWilliams still showed how fast the new Super Duke will be…in every direction.

We have been really looking forward to riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke R when it comes out, but after watching this video…well…we’ll takeout a bit more life insurance, that’s for sure. Watch the bucking, sliding, dragging, wheelieing machine at Goodwood after the jump.

Moar Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition

07/01/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Greeting American KTM dealers this past week, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition is a Stars & Stripes hat-tip to the soon-to-be-released KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Expected to be in dealerships by December of this year, “The Beast” will make its official public debut at the 2013 EICMA show.

However, we might get a glimpse of the bike before then, as KTM will be hosting moto-journalists this autumn for a road and track test, but until then, these are the best photos of the machine to-date.

Looking past the paint, which is a bit too ‘merican for our eyes, the lines to the new Super Duke R seem to be taking shape, as the exhaust here matches what we have seen in spy photos. What is most interesting is the headlight, which you will either love or hate, but we hope it’ll make it to final production (the one on the test mule is so ‘meh’).

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition – Meanwhile, Super Duke R Confirmed for December Arrival

06/28/2013 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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American KTM dealers are in Austria this week visiting the mothership in Mattighofen, and to help greet them is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype. Dressed for the occasion though, KTM is calling this one-off Stars & Stripes adorned hooligan machine the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition — ’cause you know, ‘merica!

The name might be a little over the top, but the bike is the visual centerpiece to some good news on the Super Duke front. Debuting a prototype of “The Beast” at last year’s EICMA show, KTM will unveil the final production model at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, and says that the bike will be on dealer showroom floors in December.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke Caught in the Wild

04/20/2013 @ 7:09 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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Spy photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke are nothing new, and the Austrian company has even gone as far as to tease us with a heavily massaged KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype at the 2012 EICMA show. With the final version of the superbike-powered streetfighter expected to be decidedly less edgy, the photo brought to us today (one can only guess when it was taken), if anything else, is a reminder to be reluctant our expectations.

The ever elusive “spy” photo, what we have here looks to be a near production prototype of the KTM 1290 Super Duke that has been caught in the wild. Easily the clearest photo we have seen of the road-going bike, it clearly holds KTM’s LC8 motor as well as the same trellis frame found on the “beast” prototype.

KTM Super Duke 1290R Concept by Mirco Sapio

04/10/2013 @ 3:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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One of the most eye-catching machines at the 2012 EICMA show in Milan, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R shows the Austrian brand’s return to making beastly asphalt-churning street-nakeds. Edgy in design, and featuring a bored-out version of the KTM 1190 RC8 R’s v-twin engine at its core, we are counting down the days until the Maestros at Mattighofen release the new Super Duke upon us.

Helping tide us over until that day is this very interesting re-imagining, Micro Sapio’s KTM Super Duke 1290R concept. We have featured Sapio’s work here on A&R before, though we have to say we are more smitten with his more recent take on the Super Duke than his last.

Taking some cues from KTM’s concept design, the highlights of Sapio’s concept are its gorgeous tail section and exhaust, as well as the unique front-end fork and air-intake design. We wouldn’t mind seeing some of these ideas incorporated into KTM’s final work, though we think the LED headlight and some other details are going to put off some enthusiasts. More photos after the jump.