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.

WSBK: Geriatrics Battle for Race 1 at Misano

06/27/2010 @ 7:49 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Max Biaggi turned a year older yesterday, making the Italian rider 39 years-old, but he isn’t the only rider on the World Superbike grid that’s whose a bit weathered with age. Battling for Race 1 at Misano this weekend, the old duffs came out of the woodwork, and showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Get out your walked, and check out all the race spoilers after the jump.

Aprilia: Victories Trump Tablecloths

06/21/2010 @ 3:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Aprilia USA has tapped Hell for Leather and Tangent Vector to help them market the 2010 Aprilia RSV4 sport bike in a three-part video clip series. First up is a response to the BMW tablecloth trick video, which went viral on YouTube three months ago. Deciding to rest its laurels on its World Superbike doubles at Miller Motorsports Park, Monza, and Portimao, instead of cheap parlor tricks, Aprilia is clearly poking BMW in the eye with this video response. Check it out after the jump.

WSBK: Race 2 at Monza Should be Called “The Crash, The Motor, & The Podium”

05/10/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

With strong showings by familiar and unfamiliar faces this season, Race 2 at Monza proved to have some excitement up its sleeve. This anticipation proved to be worth it, as crashes took out victory hopefuls, leading to a comfortable finish for one rider, and nail biter for another. With a surprise podium in the mix, there’s a team still partying in Italy as we speak. Find out why after the jump.

Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica: 200hp, 175kg, €50,000

05/10/2010 @ 4:19 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Aprilia has confirmed that the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica will not be available for purchase directly in the US, and is bought directly from Aprilia Racing in Italy. The Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is also upgradeable via Aprilia Racing’s catalog, which means gear-driven cam shafts, Biaggi swingarms, and all the other fun go-fast parts that are “publicly” available to meet WSBK regulations.

Well the rumors were true, as the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica was launched this weekend at the World Superbike races being held at Monza, Italy. Boasting the goodies found on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 race bike, the RSV4 Biaggi Replica has an astounding 200hp motor strapped to its anorexic 175kg (385lbs wet sans fuel) frame. For that level of performance, you can expect some sticker shock, and the Aprilia RSV4 Biaggi Replica is no exception. Owning this true race replica will set you back €50,000, but it’s totally worth it, right? Photos and more after the jump.

Max Biaggi Breaks World Superbike Record with 203.1 mph Top Speed at Monza

05/07/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It was Suzuki who drew first blood, breaking the 200mph barrier at Monza, but it was Max Biaggi who set the bar the highest today during World Superbike FP1 practice. Clocking 203.21 mph (nearly 327 kph) down the straight, Biaggi broke the WSBK top speed record, but still fell short of the all-time superbike record, which was also set at Monza, and also by an Aprilia.

Last week, Fabrizio Pellizzon clocked 203.4 mph on his CIV spec’d Aprilia RSV4. Either way you look at it, the Alitalia Aprilia team is sure to be a force in Italy this week.

Aprilia RSV4 Race Replica Coming?

04/29/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoBlog.it is reporting that Aprilia is set to release a race-spec replica of its RSV4 superbike. While the rumor is not clear if this will be a track-only model, or street-legal race rep like the Desmosedici RR, what is clear is that the bike is expected come with a WSBK spec motor, chassis, and electronics package.

With a price tagged rumored to be around €50,000, the race replica RSV4 certainly won’t be cheap if it’s built, but compare that price to the €90,000 price tag that comes on Ducati’s 1198RS race bike that teams have to purchase from Bologna if they want to compete in WSBK, and the RSV4 starts looking very affordable. However, with most rumors, we’re not sure this story is all that it’s cracked up to be. Keep reading for our analysis and thoughts.

Aprilia RSV4 Allowed to Use Gear Driven Camshaft Motor in World Superbike Racing

04/05/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

World Superbike has clarified its position after teams lodged a complaint against Aprilia for the team’s use of a gear-driven camshaft motor during the practice session at the Phillip Island WSBK stop. Despite the fact that the gear-driven camshaft is a publicly available upgrade to the RSV4 motor, and was not specially outlawed in WSBK regulations, other teams in the paddock threw a fit when they got word that Aprilia was testing the motor while in Australia, and planned to use it in Portimao.

Not wanting to be on the wrongside of the rules, Aprilia refrained from using the technology at Portimao, but it looks like WSBK’s clarification of Rule 2.4.8 would have left the Italian team in the clear, with a caveat.

Replacement Motors Arrive for Aprilia RSV4 Recall

02/23/2010 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Aprilia USA, the North American importer and distributor of Aprilia Motorcycles and scooters has sent out an update on the recall for the 2010 Aprilia RSV4‘s motor, saying that replacement motors from Italy have arrived, and that the company is ready to begin replacing affected machines. Aprilia USA expects the recall to take two to three weeks to replace every RSV4 motor sold in the USA, but it’s unclear how long it will take for the Noale brand to recover its lost footing with would-be Aprilia purchasers.

Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 Ready for World Superbike Duty

02/10/2010 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

For the 2010 World Superbike season, Aprilia is looking to build upon their successful 2009 season, which saw Max Biaggi finishing 4th despite the RSV4’s first outing in WSBK racing. While the 2009 factory Aprilia team ran no title sponsorhip, that’s all set to change in 2010 with the announcement that Italian airline Alitalia will be headlining on the teams livery.

Faulty Connecting Rods Recall Aprilia RSV4 Fleet

02/02/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Per an announcement by the NHTSA, it’s now been confirmed that the RSV4’s connecting rods were to blame for Aprilia having to recall 335 RSV4 Factory and RSV4 R motorcycles. The rods, which are supplied by an outside supplier, were straightened using a method that compromised their strength and reliability, and were apparently responsible for not only sidelining an RSV4 track event with the press, but also requiring almost all the RSV4’s sold to-date to be brought in for servicing via this recall.