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.

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

11/16/2015 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

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I have a soft spot for the Pikes Peak models to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 line. Perhaps it’s because I have spent many a cold morning on Pikes Peak, photographing the race version of these machines. Or perhaps it’s that I’m drawn to the Ducati Corse livery, which drips carbon fiber and Rosso Corsa.

Either way, here we are, talking about the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak motorcycle – the latest model from Ducati to get the special livery from “The Race to the Clouds”, which also comes with Öhlins suspension, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and a Termignoni exhaust.

If you have seen the previous Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak models, this is perhaps not something that moves the dial on your rev-limiter too far, but the newly updated Ducati Multistrada 1200 certainly looks good with the Pike Peak package.

It seems that the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak will be available in both Europe and North America, thus bringing more awareness to Ducati’s racing efforts on the 14,000+ foot mountain.

More photos are after the jump. Bring your drool-rag with you.

2016 BMW F700GS & F800GS Get Cosmetic Changes

11/16/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 BMW F700GS & F800GS Get Cosmetic Changes

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BMW Motorrad said it had some announcements coming for its F-series, and now we know that means that the BMW F700GS & BMW F800GS are getting some cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year.

The changes include the tank and ignition covers, the knee and radiator covers, and the two-color seat – the latter having five possible seat levels, making the BMW F700GS & BMW F800GS versatile of riders of varying heights.

BMW has also made four different seats available, as well as optional lowered suspension, which makes the F700GS & F800GS truly a friend to shorter riders.

You can check out the new look on the 2016 BMW F700GS/F800GS in the photos, after the jump.

First Photos of Nicky Hayden on the Honda CBR1000RR

11/16/2015 @ 9:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Nicky Hayden is back to work this week, testing his new WSBK-spec Honda CBR1000RR race bike at the Motorland Aragon race track. An important day for the Kentucky Kid, the weather unfortunately didn’t get the memo and thus didn’t cooperate – heavy fog engulfed the track, along with very cold temperatures.

As such, Hayden didn’t get much time on the Honda CBR1000RR, riding only a handful of laps during the test – mostly fulfilling team media obligations and getting the Honda’s basic setup to his liking.

Hayden will have a second opportunity to test the Honda CBR1000RR at Aragon on Tuesday, and later this week he will appear at the EICMA trade show in Milan, Italy.

If you want an advance preview to Hayden’s appearance, Honda Pro Racing has put together a nice video interview with the former MotoGP champion. Check it out, after the jump.

Yamaha XSR900 Adds to Yamaha’s Sport-Heritage Range

11/16/2015 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

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If you’ve ever wondered what the FZ-09 would look like as a café racer, the Yamaha XSR900 is it. Fresh off its EICMA debut, the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 is the Japanese brand’s attempt to build out its “sport-heritage” line. That is to say, it’s Yamaha’s attempt to appeal to the skinny jean and beard crowd.

That’s about all the hate we can muster for the Yamaha XSR900 though – probably because we used it all up earlier on the Yamaha MT-10 – but truthfully, Yamaha’s appeal to the “heritage demographic” feels a lot more genuine than say, a certain Italian brand that also debuted a hipster bike today.

The Yamaha MT-10 Is Not Your Grandpa’s FZ-1

11/16/2015 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler47 COMMENTS

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Perhaps a model whose debut is obvious to us now, hindsight always being 20/20, Yamaha has just dropped the 2016 Yamaha MT-10 on us at this year’s EICMA show.

The Yamaha MT-10 helps round out Yamaha’s MT brand, with affordable and edgy models available from 125cc all the way up to now 1,000cc.

Without even riding the Yamaha MT-10 we are fairly certain that this street bike, with its Yamaha YZF-R1 race track DNA, is a hoon to ride with its over-abundance of personality – it would have to, with a face like that.

Honda City Adventure Concept – An ADV Scooter?

11/16/2015 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Now, I’m not one to talk when it comes to slapping knobby tires on an inappropriate street bike, and heading out to the dirt trails on it. But that being said, the Honda City Adventure concept takes the notion even farther than we could imagine.

For those times when you feel like getting your ADV on, but you know…with a scooter…the Honda City Adventure concept is there for you, and it debuted today at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

Honda seems to like blending different kinds of bikes in order to create new segments, we have seen this practice with a number of machines, and it has produced some interesting ideas.

The Honda City Adventure concept is equally interesting, though it seems like the answer to a question no one is asking. Maybe we are wrong though, and there are just thousands of scooter riders out there, eager to hit the trails on their feet-forward machines…

2016 Honda CB500F Gets Much-Needed Facelift

11/16/2015 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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When the Honda CB500F first debuted, it was a welcomed addition to Honda’s lineup, as the Japanese brand was really filling out its 500cc/A2 offerings, but the bike itself was hardly something to get excited about, especially in the looks department.

That seems to have changed now, with the release of the 2016 Honda CB500F at the EIMCA show in Milan, as the street “standard” is looking a lot more aggressive and edgy with its new haircut.

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – 400cc of Hipster

11/16/2015 @ 9:23 am, by Jensen Beeler42 COMMENTS

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The eagerly awaited 2016 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is the small-displacement machine we have been waiting for from Ducati, and it has finally dropped at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. The Scrambler Sixty2 joins the Scrambler Flat Track Pro as one of the two new Scrambler Ducati models for 2016.

Accordingly, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 takes the basic Scrambler chassis and re-sleeves the machine’s air-cooled v-twin for 400cc of displacement, with a 72mm x 49mm bore and stroke (compared to the 88mm x 66mm bore and stroke on the 803cc models).

The result is a bike that Ducati says is better suited for new riders with its 41hp and 368 lbs dry weight. That’s only a 7 lbs reduction from the the 803cc models, so the Scrambler Sixty2 is still a bit heavy, but the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 does fit into Europe’s A2 license format, so there’s that.

Ducati Scrambler Flat Track Pro – When Hipsters Go Racing

11/16/2015 @ 8:49 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Debuting today in Milan, Italy – just ahead of the EICMA trade show – Ducati has announced the Ducati Scrambler Flat Track Pro. The model comes from Ducati’s foray into the flat track realm, where Troy Bayliss made a tough return to motorcycle racing.

Ducati’s flat track race bike hasn’t really mimiced anything in the Italian company’s lineup, until now of course. Behold the first new model to the Scrambler Ducati brand, the Ducati Scrambler Flat Track Pro.

2016 Ducati Hypermotard 939 – Modestly More Powerful

11/16/2015 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Hypermotard family, which include the Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP, and Hyperstrada gets a displacement increase to 937cc, but we knew that already from CARB documents earlier this year.

Now we know that the plus-sized supermoto model will make 113hp (+3 hp from previous) from its Euro4 compliant engine, which also comes with a 10% torque increase (+7 lbs•ft of torque).

The styling is obviously the same, as you can see from the photos after the jump, though there are some subtle changes to the turn signals and handguards, that may look familiar if you’ve perused the Ducati Performance catalog recently.