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.

Trackside Tuesday: You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

12/16/2014 @ 11:17 pm, by Scott Jones9 COMMENTS

Shayna Texter Superprestigio

While Marc Marquez, Brad Baker, and Jared Mees grabbed most of the attention at this past weekend’s Superprestigio in Barcelona, each of the other forty-five racers has his, or her, own story for the two-day event.

Scott Redding had high hopes of a strong performance, but crashed heavily and tore a muscle in his chest. Guy Martin, with 17 Isle of Man TT podiums and many victories on the Irish roads circuits, never looked at ease on Barcelona’s tiny dirt oval. Moto2 champ Tito Rabat didn’t see his experience or recent practice pay off with a good result.

The greatest disappointment probably goes to Baker, whose crash and resulting concussion and dislocated shoulder forced him to retire from competition, and miss his chance to defend his title. The story of Superprestigio’s unrealized hopes has many characters.

When the story reaches Shayna Texter, the plot takes a unique turn. Miss Texter is the five-foot-tall, 95-pound flat tracker from Willow Street, Pennsylvania, and the only female racer to participate in the Superprestigio competition.

Watch: Marquez vs. Mees at the Superprestigio Superfinal

12/15/2014 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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With last year’s Superprestigio winner Brad Baker suffering a concussion to the head during qualifying, the hopes of American race fans in Barcelona rested squarely on the shoulders of 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Champion Jared Mees.

The 28-year-old Mees faced a tough entry though, as some of the great names from a bevy of motorcycling disciplines had entered this year’s event — especially last year’s runner-up, a certain Marc Marquez.

As expected, the 12-lap Superfinal race was hotly contested, and featured some good handlebar-bashing action. Thankfully the riders had plenty of on-board cameras with them, and the promoter DTX Barcelona is savvy when it comes to letting participants and media sharing that footage.

As such, we have the battle for the top podium spot, for you, straight from the perspective of America’s top entry. Enjoy!

MotoGP Notes from the Superprestigio Event

12/15/2014 @ 1:46 pm, by David EmmettComments Off on MotoGP Notes from the Superprestigio Event

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With so many MotoGP regulars either racing in or attending the Superprestigio in Barcelona, it was inevitable that a fair amount of gossip and rumor would end up circulating.

It was the first chance for some of the media to talk to riders who had been testing down in Southern Spain, while the presence of Ducati’s MotoGP bosses Paolo Ciabatti and Davide Tardozzi, attending as guests of Troy Bayliss, added real weight to the debate.

I spoke briefly to Ciabatti on Saturday, asking about progress with the Ducati Desmosedici GP15 and how Michelin testing had gone. Ciabatti was optimistic about the GP15, but confirmed that it was still not certain exactly when the bike would make its first appearance on track.

It may not be ready for the first Sepang test in February, with the second Sepang a more likely place for the bike to be rolled out.

Saturday at the Superprestigio with Scott Jones

12/14/2014 @ 2:30 pm, by Scott JonesComments Off on Saturday at the Superprestigio with Scott Jones

Race Results from the Superprestigio Superfinal

12/14/2014 @ 12:33 am, by David EmmettComments Off on Race Results from the Superprestigio Superfinal

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Marc Marquez has ended the year on a win, beating the reigning AMA Flat Track champion Jared Mees in a thrilling final. The two men got caught up in traffic when Thomas Chareyre, who got the jump at the start, forced them wide.

That gave the lead to Kenny Noyes and Gerard Ribalta, but Marquez and Mees soon chased the two down, passing Bailo with ease, Noyes with difficulty. Marquez had gained enough of a cushion to keep Mees at bay, finally getting revenge for his loss to Brad Baker in January this year, at the inaugural event.

Noyes went on to score a respectable 3rd, ahead of Bailo and Ribalta. The 16-year-old British rider Oliver Brindley gave an outstanding account of himself, finishing in 6th, ahead of Bradley Smith, who got caught up in the first lap incident, and Chareyre, who caused it.

Friday at the Superprestigio with Scott Jones

12/13/2014 @ 8:12 am, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT

How To Watch The Superprestigio Race Tomorrow

12/12/2014 @ 10:51 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

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Saturday night is the last chance to see the stars of motorcycle racing turning a wheel in anger.

On 13th December, the cream of both the MotoGP and AMA flat track paddocks meet for the second running of the Superprestigio, an indoor invitation dirt track race, at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

The setting is a classic location: the Palau Sant Jordi is part of the former Olympic park, set atop Montjuic, scene of many legendary motorcycle races of the past.

For those who could not make it to Barcelona themselves, they need not despair. The event is to be broadcast in several countries around the globe, as well as streamed live online.

Video of the 2014 Superprestigio Races

01/12/2014 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Did you miss yesterday’s Superprestigio dirt track races? Did you miss Brad “The Bullet” Baker put the smack down on Marc Marquez? Did you miss a venerable list of some of the best road racers in the world mixing it up on the dirt during their off-season? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Thankfully the promoters of the Superprestigio event, DTX Barcelona, really get this whole internet thing. Not only did they make sure the races were live on Spanish TV, but they made a live stream available so those outside of the region could see the event on Saturday.

Thanks to an intrepid motorsport enthusiast, now we have the entire day’s event on YouTube, just in case you had something too important to do on Saturday than to watch the race. Enjoy a short video with just the final race and another video with the whole day’s event as well.

Superprestigio Dirt Track Race Results – Brad Baker Wins as Marc Marquez Crashes Out

01/11/2014 @ 7:47 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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Brad Baker walked away as winner of the Superprestigio flat track race at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on Saturday night. After a hectic evening’s racing in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, Baker shook off a challenge from Marc Marquez to take a comfortable win, adding the Superprestigio final win to the win in his Open category.

The event saw riders compete in two categories, the Open class, containing the cream of European flat track racers – still an almost entirely amateur sport – and AMA Grand National champion Brad ‘The Bullet’ Baker, and the Superprestigio class, consisting of current and former Grand Prix and World Supersport riders.

Baker blasted through his heats with ease, winning the Open final almost completely unchallenged, and qualifying for the Superfinal, between the top four in the Open class and the top four from the Superprestigio class.

Marc Marquez had dominated most of the Superprestigio races, the four-race final format allowing the 2013 MotoGP champion to make a couple of mistakes along the way. He ended up winning the Superprestigio final, passing into the Superfinal with Tito Rabat, Kenny Noyes and Aleix Espargaro.

The Superfinal had been billed from the beginning as a battle between Marc Marquez and AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker, and that is exactly what ensued.

The contrasting styles of the two men made for a fascinating duel, but the more ragged style of Marquez meant that in the end, he came off worst. Marquez leaned on Baker as he passed underneath, and Marquez found himself crashing out.