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.

Honda Crosstourer Concept

11/02/2010 @ 3:07 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Not to be confused with the Africa Twin, which would be missing two cylinders, Honda returns to its rugged off-road expedition-style adventure past with the Honda Crosstourer Concept. Based on the Honda VFR1200F’s V4 motor and dual-clutch transmission, the Crosstourer concept is designed to be the rugged off-roader that the Crossrunner and VFR1200F are not.

Honda Teases Last Sketch of Its V4 Adventure Bike

10/27/2010 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease its V4-based adventure bike ahead of its unveiling at EICMA next week. Finally showing off the actual lines of the machine, Honda has clearly made a cross between the CB1000R and VFR1200F in this design. Tall and purposeful, the concept clearly has the extra travel to soak-up an uncertain path, but Honda insists the bike is designed for on-road use. We dig the single-sided swingarm, but it will be interesting to see how Honda finishes off the exhaust pipe, and of course the final fit and finish of the design as a whole (the tail, like on the VFR1200F, seems to be an afterthought).

Honda Releases Another V4 Adventure Concept Teaser

10/19/2010 @ 2:25 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Honda continues to tease us with concept sketches of its VFR inspired middleweight adventure bike, this time with a drawing of the bike head-on. Expected to have a smaller displacement than the VFR1200F sport-tourer, the advenutre-esque concept will fit a V4 power plant in a more upright and exposed frame and bodywork.

Showing the stacked headlight design, Honda’s new V4 will have a slim profile for better high-speed stability and engine/rider cooling. Honda is also saying that a “floating” instrument cluster will come on the bike, which should help keep eyes pointed down the road’s path.

Honda VFR Adventure Concept – A Naked VFR1200F?

10/14/2010 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Released in Italy today, Honda has taken the wraps off a concept drawing that shows a new crossover motorcycle, based off the VFR1200F. Super-imposed over the shape of the new VFR, this new concept rendering shows a largely reduced fairing, in anticipation of its more “adventurous” segment orientation. If rumors are to believed on the internet, the bike may not share the same 1237cc displacement as its sport-touring cousin, and instead will sport a middleweight displacement (800cc’s seems to be a popular number).

This new VFR is one (or two?) of eight new models Honda has said it will debut in Milan. One of the other rumored models is a 1200cc concept bike, which will reportedly be a 2012 model year motorcycle with Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the rest of what Honda has in store for us.

2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 Rumors Heat Up

09/21/2010 @ 10:23 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After letting the cat out of the bag about the 2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, speculation almost immediately began about what other machines in the 2011 Aprilia line-up could be using the 1200cc mill as well. While we still await word on a Shiver 1200, the company from Noale seems set to debut a restart to its well-aged Tuareg line. Expected to be unveiled at the EICMA show later this year, the 2011 Aprilia Tuareg 1200 was hinted at by Roberto Colaninno, head of the Piaggio Group, during the company’s Milan HQ launch party.

Video: 2011 Triumph Tiger Cub – Chassis Details

09/01/2010 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Triumph continues its march of slowly releasing information about its 800cc three-cylinder Tiger Cub adventure bike, which will come in two varieties for buyers. For those inclined to go off the beaten path, a 21″ front-wheeled knobby is available, while those with asphalt in mind can hit the twisties with a 19″  front wheel.

More Details on the 2011 Triumph Tiger Cub

08/05/2010 @ 7:35 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Triumph is right on schedule, releasing more information about its two upcoming adventure bikes. Set to have a smaller displacement than the Tiger, the 2011 Triumph Tiger Cubs will feature a long-stroke three-cylinder engine. Triumph says that the compact triple will be ideal for road and dirt use, allowing you “to do the business” (yeah, we can’t believe they said that) with the bike’s torque-on-tap power plant. Photos and video after the jump.

Longer Triumph Adventure Video

07/19/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Were the 30 or so seconds of the Triumph Adventure promo too short for you? Fortunately the A&R summer intern came stocked with some mad computer haxor skillz, and was able to grab the extended version playing on the Triumph website. With more shots of the Triumph adventure bike nestled in the longer version, get ready to enjoy some more teasers of what is being rumored at the long-awaited Triumph Tiger Cub. Video after the jump.

2011 Triumph Adventure Teased – Tiger Cub Cometh?

07/07/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Triumph is announcing a new adventure bike model on its dedicated website and Facebook page today, which for now is dubbed the Triumph Adventure. Presumably based off an sub-1050cc three-cylinder motor, the 2011 Triumph Adventure is expected to debut at the 2010 EICMA show, and come in two varieties: street and off-road.

Aprilia Tuareg Adventure Tourer Rumored

03/31/2010 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

On the heels of a strong Dakar Rally showing, Aprilia is rumored to have a full-tilt adventure bike in the works. Based on the Shiver platform, the Aprilia Tuareg will feature a 750cc v-twin motor, steel tube chassis, and a 21″ front wheel for maximum off-road capability. The Aprilia Toureg is expected to tip the scales under 200kg (441lbs), and a road version with a 19″ front wheel and 1200cc motor could also make the 2011 line-up.