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.

Christini Working on “2WD” Snow Bike

04/11/2016 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Christini-AWD-II-Track

A photoshopped image, along with suspicious timing, got us on the wrong track (pun intended) with Christini Technologies, but indeed the American outfit is working to bring its two-wheeled drive dirt bike technology to the snow bike market.

The idea seems fairly obvious, which of course is why we thought it was the perfect April Fools story, since all it requires is Christini to attach a Timbersled track to the rear of its chassis design, and develop a front track and ski that can be powered by the Christini 2WD drivetrain.

Armotia Due R – An Electric 2WD Supermoto

03/02/2016 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Armotia-DueR-electric-2WD-supermoto-03

The electric side of the motorcycle industry is slowly showing life again, as we first got the flash in the pan, and now we are getting the sizzle. Some of that sizzle is coming from projects that have been in the works for quite some time, like the Alta Motors Redshift.

However, some of that sizzle is coming from new players, like Armotia. The Italian-based outfit has two interesting offerings to show us, the Armotia Due R and the Armotia Due X.

The Due R is Armotia’s electric supermoto, while the Due X is the company’s electric enduro model. Both bikes feature a two-wheel drive setup that makes 15hp, 5.1 kWh battery pack, and a smartphone dash.

Wunderlich Hybrid BMW R1200GS LC with Electric 2WD

11/19/2015 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Wunderlich-X2-Electric-2WD-BMW-R1200GS-03

BMW aftermarket parts specialist Wunderlich really knows how to promote itself. The German company is known for its one-off machines and concepts, some which have tipped BMW’s hand when it comes to new models. For a boutique German brand, it is impressive that it is known around the world.

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Wunderlich is grabbing headlines once again, this time with an intriguing concept: a two-wheel drive BMW R1200GS that uses a hybrid drivetrain with an electric front-end that was developed with Italy’s electric specialist Evolt.

Wunderlich calls its creation the BMW R1200GS LC, and it features a 10 kW hub motor on its front wheel, in addition to the GS’s boxer-twin gas engine. The electric motor has regenerative braking, which helps charge its modest battery pack (located under the front beak, to our eye).

Yamaha PES2 Electric 2WD Concept to Debut in Tokyo

10/16/2015 @ 11:37 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

yamaha-pes2-concept

Back in 2013, Yamaha debuted two electric motorcycle concepts: the Yamaha PES1 street bike and the Yamaha PED1 dirt bike. This was a big deal, because Yamaha said it planned to bring an electric motorcycle to market by 2016.

Well, here we are just a few weeks from the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, where 2016 models from the Japanese manufacturers would typically debut…and it seems Yamaha has more electric motorcycle concepts for us.

The Yamaha PES2, as the name suggests, is an evolution of the PES1, though it does look slightly more ready for production than its predecessor.

Watch These Urals Ford the River, Oregon Trail Style

08/19/2015 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

ural-ford-the-river

I don’t really get the people who obsess about riding a Ural – a Russian knock-off of a German sidecar just doesn’t strike me as an enjoyable time on a motorcycle.

Of course, my saddle time on a Ural has been relegated to around-town and highway riding, which isn’t really the Ural’s domain of choice. These Cossack bikes really shine off-road, where their funky WWII-era 2WD design becomes an asset, not a hinderance.

Add to the fact that Urals are bone-simple to work on — owning a Ural means you will be wrenching on it, a lot, by the way — and you’ve got a motorcycle that’s well-suited to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of where the road ends…especially when the road ends in a river.

Attempting to ford the river, Oregon Trail style, these Ural owners are experiencing all that the Russian marque has to offer. Seeing is believing, after the jump.

A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

04/10/2014 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

brd-redshift-mx-electric-dirt-bike

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Big Sur and a Ural T Sidecar

04/05/2013 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

ural-t-sidecar

Riding a Ural is an interesting experience. For starters, the Russian-made sidecar can trace its origins back to BMW’s WWII-era three-wheeler, and includes a near facsimile of the German company’s now iconic boxer-twin motor as its power plant. While BMW Motorrad has changed significantly in the decades since the Second World War, IMZ-Ural remains sort of stuck in time.

One could use pejorative comparisons to farm equipment while riding the Cossack motorcycle, and they would not be inaccurate. In our modern time of silky smooth gearboxes, stout motors, and powerful brakes, the Ural T sidecar lacks just about all of these superlatives — and yet, the brand has been booming.

Maybe it is the two-wheel drive off-raodability of the Ural’s design, which has struck a chord with the ADV crowd. Maybe its the machine’s “authentic” and low-tech pedigree, which appeals to motorcycle enthusiasts who feel constantly corned by the growth of rider aids like slipper clutches, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and their progeny.

Or, maybe it is the company’s obscure brand and its Soviet heritage, which resonates enough counterculture “fuck the man” goodness to lure in the skinny-jean espresso-sipping crowd. The answer is probably “all of the above” to be honest.

KTM Files Patent For 2WD

11/17/2008 @ 10:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

KTM has filed with the German Patent Office a number of patents that cover the used of a two-wheel drive system of off-road vehicles. The patents hold claims for a two-wheel drive system that can be fitted to either an enduro or motocross type of motorcycle. KTM’s patent centers around having a conventional motor to drive the read wheel, and an electric motor for the front wheel.

This would be a different method than the hydraulic method for powering the front wheel that Yamaha has been prototyping for over a year now.

Source: visordown

I’m still waiting for the 2WD Akira bike.