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.

2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Gets ABS & Bold New Graphics

09/30/2014 @ 8:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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When it comes to the four Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT, Suzuki is looking more and more like it slept in late on test day. Both Honda and Yamaha have been pushing the ball forward, releasing some interesting, albeit not inspiring, motorcycles to the market. Those bikes were fresh at least, and showed some life going on in the motorcycle departments of those companies.

Then there is Kawasaki, which brought out an all-new Ninja ZX-10R superbike in the middle of the recession, and today at INTERMOT they debuted the game-changing Kawasaki Ninja H2R hyperbike. That is a tough act to follow.

To its credit, the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is a welcomed addition to Suzuki’s lineup, however other models like the Suzuki GSX-S1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F, makes us think that Suzuki is afraid to build anything truly new and inspiring again. Need further proof? Take the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F — A Sporty Sport-Tourer

09/30/2014 @ 5:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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We caught a glimpse of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000F yesterday, as it sat on the expo floor at INTERMOT, and we were curious about the machine. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the details.

Essentially a fully-faired version of the Suzuki GSX-S1000, the Suzuki GSX-S1000F fills the void in Suzuki’s lineup for a 1,000cc sport-tourer that is actually sporty — think of it as a response to the Honda VFR800.

The GSX-S1000F uses the same purpose-built chassis and retuned 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine that the GSX-S1000 uses, though Suzuki obviously wrapped that package in a full-fairing design.

Also carried over is the three-way adjustable traction control system as standard, KYB suspension, and Brembo monoblock brakes. Anti-locking brakes are available as an optional item.

2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 – How To Sell Leftover GSX-R’s

09/30/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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A bike we spotted in Southern California shooting a commercial, we already knew to expect the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S1000 at the INTERMOT show this week. Built around the same inline-four engine that was found in the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000 has been tuned for street use, though Suzuki isn’t exactly talking key figures.

Proving that it’s not selling just a rebadged GSX-R, Suzuki has built an all-new aluminum frame chassis for GSX-S1000, with an eye on making the machine more of a roadster than a streetfighter.

Also of note is the addition of a three-way selectable traction control system, something even the GSX-R1000 doesn’t have. ABS is available, but only on the aptly named Suzuki GSX-S1000.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure – Even with 180hp, Is This the Safest Motorcycle in the World?

09/30/2014 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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KTM wasn’t bashful about wedging the 1301cc lump from the KTM Super Duke R into the company’s ADV offering, as the Austrians were fairly frank about 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure debuting at INTERMOT. There may not be too many surprises about the adventure-tourer then, but it certainly is a stout package from KTM.

Obvious is the massive horsepower that the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is putting down, but KTM has also infused control into the ADV bike. Bosch’s MSC “cornering ABS” system is standard, as is traction control, cruise control, and semi-active suspension from WP. LED cornering headlights are also standard, while an electronic hill hold control (HHC) can be fitted as an option.

Of note is that the 1290 Super Adventure does not use the exact same engine as the 1290 Super Duke R. The two machines use the same cylinders, connecting rods, and pistons, but KTM’s engineers built a special crankshaft and cylinders for the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which also has a heavier flywheel than the Super Duke R.

2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS – Wee-Strom Gets a Beak

09/30/2014 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The leaks ahead of INTERMOT turned out to be true, as the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT broke cover today in Germany. Taking its cues from its 1,000cc sibling, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT is visually very similar to Suzuki’s other ADV bike, though at its center is the same tried-and-true 645cc v-twin engine.

Noticeable differences to the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, beside the engine of course, are the wire-spoked wheeles, side-by-side dual headlight (the V-Strom 1000 has a stacked headlight). Like the V-Strom 1000 though, the V-Strom 650XT comes with a 19″ front wheel (17″ rear).

At 474 lbs at the curb, the V-Strom 650XT ABS is a lighter option to the V-Strom 1000, and gives the Triumph Tiger 800XC & BMW F800GS a good run for their money — expect the 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT ABS to be priced aggressive, as such.

2015 BMW S1000RR – 199hp, New Chassis, & Cruise Control

09/30/2014 @ 2:35 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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Unsurprisingly, BMW Motorrad debuted an updated BMW S1000RR superbike at INTERMOT — building upon the company’s already stout package.

Revising the frame geometry for better handling, massaging the engine for an additional 6hp (peak power is now 199hp, while torque is at 83 lbs•ft), and reducing weight by 9 lbs (449.7 lbs with a full tank of fuel and ABS), the Germans hope that the 2015 BMW S1000RR remains the superbike to beat in the coming years.

2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS Gets More Power

09/04/2014 @ 1:25 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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It’s hard to fault the current Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, except perhaps the sport bike’s alphabet soup name, which the Italian company seems to grow longer with each passing year and added feature.

That being said, the Tuono V4 R is easily our pick for the best streetfighter on the market — it packs a punch with its V4 engine, has the industry’s best electronics package, and is just downright fun to ride.

Noale, Italy isn’t resting on those laurels though, so accordingly the 2015 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS is getting some minor updates: namely a bump in peak power (170hp) and torque (83.3 ft•lbs), thanks to a new exhaust system.

BMW HP4 Gets ABS-Supported Brakes for Cornering

07/21/2014 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Stability control for motorcycles is the new rage right now, after the Bosch MSC system was announced, and made available for the KTM 1190 Adventure.

It seems BMW Motorrad is the next manufacturer to receive this new anti-locking brakes system that works while leaned over, and the BMW HP4 is the first Bavarian machine to get the upgrade.

BMW Motorrad is calling the Bosch MSC system “ABS Pro”, and it functions by adjusting the inputs to the brake calipers based on the acceleration, roll, and yaw of the motorcycle.

This avoids accidentally tucking the front-end of the motorcycling while trail braking, and also eliminates the bike standing up when the brakes are applied while in a moderate lean.

2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS 30th Anniversary Edition

07/11/2014 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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In case you didn’t know, this is the 30th anniversary of the Ninja motorcycle line from Kawasaki. To commemorate the occasion, Big Green has already debuted the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 30th Anniversary Edition and 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 30th Anniversary Edition motorcycles, and today the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS 30th Anniversary Edition joins them.

Like its sport bike brethren, this special ZX-14R comes with a special livery, which will be available to only 300 lucky owners (each unit is specially numbered). Finished in a “Firecracker Red” with “Metallic Graystone” paint, along with gold pinstriping and gold brake calipers, you can be certain that the changes are purely skin deep for this special model.

66,000+ Harley-Davidsons Recalled for Front-Wheel Lockup

07/10/2014 @ 8:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Bad news for 2014 Harley-Davidson Touring and CVO-Touring motorcycles with ABS installed, as the Bar & Shield brand has issued a recall with the NHTSA for 66,421 motorcycles that could potentially see their front-wheel lockup unexpectedly during normal operation.

The problem comes about because the affected motorcycles may have been assembled with the front brake line positioned in such a way that it could be pinched between the fuel tank and frame, causing the front brake fluid pressure to increase. If the fluid pressure does increase, it could cause the front wheel to lockup, and possibly cause a crash. To-date, five such crashes have occurred, with thankfully only minor injuries being reported.