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.

Saturday at Laguna Seca with Scott Jones

07/18/2015 @ 11:54 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

Ducati Panigale R WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

It’s great to be back on Asphalt & Rubber again, sitting next to Jensen in a media center at a race track, preparing photos for the A&R readers.

It’s great to be back at a World Superbike race as well, where the atmosphere is more relaxed than MotoGP. The bikes are just as shiny, and apparently you can just mosey down to your local dealer and buy one!

The bike above rolled right off the show room floor, I’m told. It would look great in my garage.

Leon and Ron Haslam Aprilia WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

There’s also a jovial family atmosphere. Here two generations of Haslam watch Superpole 1, which is more amusing to some than to others.

Chaz Davies Ducati WSBK 2015 Laguna Seca

Chaz Davies took the honors in Superpole 2 on a day that featured two Ducatis at the top of the time sheet.

Buy a WSBK Race Bike, Just in Time for Christmas

12/17/2014 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Buy a WSBK Race Bike, Just in Time for Christmas

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Are you still racking your brain over what to get that special motorcyclist in your life for Christmas (or Chanukah, for our Jewish readers)? Was the Paul Bird Motorsports MotoGP race bikes that are for sale a bit too spendy for your holiday budget?

Then we have a more budget friend proposition for you: the Bimota BB3 WSBK-Spec race bikes that were raced by Team Alstare in the 2014 World Superbike Championship.

Bimota Suspended from Further WSBK Participation

08/28/2014 @ 11:28 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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As was expected, Bimota has been officially suspended from the remaining World Superbike rounds, in a statement by the FIM. The suspension comes after Bimota failed to meet the initial 125 unit volume, the FIM’s new magic number for superbike homologation, as it pertained to the Bimota BB3.

Bimota Fails to Meet Homologation Quotas, Out of WSBK?

08/19/2014 @ 2:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Despite the small size of the company, Bimota has shown itself to be a strong contender in the EVO class of the World Superbike Championship. And though none of the company’s results have counted to date, as the Italian brand had failed to meet the initial 125 quota by the start of the 2014 season, Bimota has kept forging ahead.

This is because Bimota got a special dispensation to race the first part of the 2014 WSBK season, as the FIM allowed the company four months from its first race day to meet World Superbike’s initial homologation standards, which is 125 street bikes.

Unfortunately however, even with that extra time, Bimota has been unable to meet the 125 unit volume (only 40 or so machines have been built), and thus is not expected to continue racing the rest of the season.

FIM Confirms Erik Buell Racing Meets First Homologation Volume Requirement for WSBK – Denies Bimota

02/13/2014 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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The World Superbike racing season is rapidly approaching with its season-opener at Phillip Island on February 23rd, and with a bevy of OEMs set to enter World Superbike, the FIM has made house calls to make sure that the OEMs have met their first production volume requirements for homologation.

With MV Agusta’s volumes of the F4 not at issue, the crux of the FIM’s work centered around Erik Buell Racing and Bimota. Confirming that Erik Buell Racing has met its 125 unit obligation, before the first WSBK race, the FIM however could not say the same about Bimota.

Bimota’s inability to produce the requisite 125 units of the Bimota BB3 is perhaps unsurprising, as the boutique Italian brand has only recently been acquired, and the new superbike model was just unveiled at the 2013 EICMA show. Despite the World Superbike’s announcement that the FIM would bend the rules regarding homologation, it would be seem that is not the case.

Bimota Taps Alstare for Race Development and Support – Badovini & Iddon Will Ride World Superbike EVO Entries

01/13/2014 @ 3:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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When Alstare split from Ducati Corse in World Superbike, there was some speculation as to where the Belgian-based racing team would land, and it would seem the trip hasn’t been a far one.

Linking up with the recently acquired Bimota brand, Alstare has signed a five-year agreement to collaborate with the Italian brand, and will serve as the worldwide racing department for Bimota — with a key focus on developing Bimota’s Moto2 and WSBK racing platforms, the latter centering around the recently launched Bimota BB3.

Alstare’s technical expertise will also be responsible for developing Bimota’s future sports and supersport models, while the firm’s communications and marketing experience will serve as Bimota’s race marketing department.

In total, the essence of the deal sees Alstare playing a vital role in Bimota’s business plans, from developing new models, honing race bikes, finding sponsors, and working with the press. With so much of Bimota’s business being outsourced to the Belgian racing firm, one has to wonder what duties are left for the brand’s Italian base.

Alstare Splits with Ducati in World Superbike

10/25/2013 @ 2:20 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminate the contract between the Belgian Alstare team and the Italian Ducati Corse World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems at Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor as the reason.

The split has long been expected, as Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with the collaboration between his team and Ducati, not to mention the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13.

WSBK: Qualifying Results from Nürburgring

08/31/2013 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Moscow

07/21/2013 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Race Results for Race 1 at Moscow

2013 WSBK Official Phillip Island Test Day 2 Times: Checa Takes Charge From Title Candidates

02/19/2013 @ 12:15 pm, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

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Carlos Checa has removed any lingering doubts about the competitiveness of the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, after controlling the second and final day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island, and ending the test as fastest overall. The Spaniard started the day fast, and ended the day fast, maintaining a strong pace throughout.

Checa was fastest in both wet – or rather, damp – conditions and in the dry. The second day of testing started out with a damp track, a number of riders choosing to stay in the pits instead of risking uncertain conditions on the newly resurfaced track, but the track soon dried out, and conditions improved greatly in the afternoon.