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.

Veneman Replaces Toseland for Home WSBK at Assen

04/06/2011 @ 10:52 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Veneman Replaces Toseland for Home WSBK at Assen

Barry Veneman will replace the injured James Toseland at BMW Motorrad Italia for the World Superbike round at Assen. Toseland had surgery to implant wires in his wrist after a testing crash at Motorland Aragon left him with displaced bones and a lack of blood flow. With the surgery requiring at least six weeks of recovery time, Toseland was forced to sit out Donington Park and the next WSBK round at Assen. BMW Motorrad Italia did not replace Toseland for Donington, but has announced Dutch rider Veneman as the Briton’s replacement for the round held April 17th.

Veneman, who competed in 500cc MotoGP racing back in 2001, was a promising rider in Supersport and Superstock racing. He won a Dutch national championship in the mid-1990s, and much more recently he won the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race with Suzuki. Not only a local to the Assen circuit, Veneman has been racing a BMW Superbike in the German national championship as well as participating in BMW Motorrad testing.

Toseland Out for Donington & Assen After Testing Crash

03/20/2011 @ 7:10 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Toseland Out for Donington & Assen After Testing Crash

James Toseland will miss at least the next two World Superbike rounds after crashing during private testing on Friday at Motorland Aragon. The former WSBK champion crashed on Friday in a highside at Turn 10, landing heavily on his head and right wrist. Initially Spanish doctors gave Toseland the go-ahead to race this coming weekend at Donington Park, after examining hi,m and finding only a small fracture in the wrist.

“But when I got back to the hotel, the pain in my right wrist was unbelievable and, considering that I had a race coming up in a week’s time, I sent the scan on to a specialist I know in Manchester,” said Toseland. “They took a new X-ray from a different position in Manchester and found that I had badly displaced bones in my wrist. At that point, things were getting critical as there was no blood flow in the wrist, meaning that the bone could die if I wasn’t operated on immediately.”

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

03/16/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

Motorland Aragon will host a private test for the factory Kawasaki and BMW Motorrad Italia World Superbike teams Thursday and Friday this week. Though Kawasaki had a good bit of winter testing both at the official WSBK test in Portugal and private testing in Sepang, the Italian BMW team suffered the effects of inclement weather and lost testing time. This private test comes just one week before the World Superbike season resumes at Donington Park in England, whose improvements have recently been approved by the FIM.

Importantly for Kawasaki, Chris Vermeulen is expected to test in Spain. After injuries and surgery kept him out of much of the 2010 season, the Australian hoped to return at his home round but was unable to pass the physical. He sat out testing and racing in Australia, remaining at home and working on his physical therapy.

WSBK: Checa Edges Biaggi for Superpole at Phillip Island

02/25/2011 @ 10:31 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on WSBK: Checa Edges Biaggi for Superpole at Phillip Island

Lapping by a very narrow margin over reigning World Champion Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa won the pole position for the 2011 World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island today. Though the Spaniard dominated the testing and practice sessions this week, Biaggi continued to improve his times, and was only .013s slower at the end of qualifying session. Also showing strong results were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, who complete the front row for Sunday’s races.

Jonathan Rea rallied after a severe testing crash and his second crash of the day to qualify twelfth, while Leon Camier, suffering from glandular fever, qualified sixteenth and did not make Superpole, a blow for the Aprilia factory team even as teammate Biaggi unveiled his #1 plate.

BMW S1000RR Superstock Limited Edition

02/23/2011 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

To help celebrate Ayrton Badovini’s complete domination of the 2010 FIM Superstock 1000 Championship (the Italian won nine out of the ten races, finishing second only in the tenth race), BMW Italia is releasing a limited edition BMW S1000RR street version of the winning superstock bike.

With only 50 units being made, and available only in Italy, lucky owners will get the already potent S1000RR, along with a bevy of aftermarket goodies like a Akrapovic “Racing Exhaust” (pictures show a slip-on though), Gilles Tooling rearsets and levers, carbon fiber panels, LED turn signals, and of course BMW Italia’s racing colors.

Carlos Checa Dominates at Phillip Island Test

02/21/2011 @ 10:17 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Carlos Checa Dominates at Phillip Island Test

Carlos Checa was fastest overall, with a lap time of 1:30.578, as the final World Superbike winter test ended Tuesday at Phillip Island. That time was also nearly a half second faster than the existing lap record set by Regis Laconi in 2009, and almost 1.3 sec faster than Troy Corser’s race lap record from 2007. In addition to Checa, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea, Jakub Smrz, and Joan Lascorz completed the fastest five. Rea’s time from Tuesday morning kept him third fastest despite a crash at Turn 3 in the afternoon that resulted in an injured hand. No word is available yet on the specifics of his injury.

WSBK: Checa Fastest at First Day of Phillip Island Testing

02/20/2011 @ 11:29 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Carlos Checa was fastest overall during World Superbike testing Monday at Phillip Island, nearly a second faster than anyone else during the dry running in the afternoon. Monday was a quick day for Ducatis, as Sylvain Guintoli led the morning session and was second fastest overall, while Jakub Smrz was third fastest of the day. Reigning champion Max Biaggi was fourth fastest, with Michel Fabrizio fifth overall. Notably absent was Christopher Vermeulen who will not ride during the test or his home race this weekend, and has been replaced by Akira Yanagawa at the factory Kawasaki team.

WSBK: BMW Motorrad Italia Launches in Monza

01/17/2011 @ 2:21 pm, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

BMW Italy launched its satellite team at Monza on Monday, which will see James Toseland partnering with WSBK rookie Ayrton Badovini, on BMWs that are only barely removed from the factory effort. According to Bernhard Godmayer, Head of BMW Motorrad Motorsport, “Now we can count on two teams, and we want to establish an excellent relationship between them, allowing for a constant exchange of data.

The German engineers will have a chance to compare themselves to the Italian engineers, and vice versa.  The first step in development will be given to the factory team, and once it is tested and approved, it will be passed on to the Italian team.”

As such the major engine development for the BMW Superbike effort will fall on factory riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam. Toseland is on his second season back in WSBK after a failed effort in the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP squad. His experience and double world championships should help BMW in its effort to improve beyond what Godmayer called the team’s “not satisfactory” 2010 season.

BMW approved this Italian arm of the BMW Superbike effort on September 21st, according to team director Andrea Buzzoni, in an effort to improve the company’s overall standings in World Superbike.

Photos: BMW S1000RR WSBK Hits the Wind Tunnel

11/16/2010 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

As the BMW World Superbike team prepares for the 2011 season, Leon Haslam and Troy Corser took a break from their training regiment to spend some time in BMW’s wind tunnel facility in Bavaria. Looking to hone the maximum performance out of the S1000RR, both riders worked on their optimal streamlined body positions in speeds up to 150 mph. The BMW WSBK team also looked at the S1000RR’s fairing, examining how to optimize the bike’s Cx or coefficient of drag (we assume any modifications that were made were WSBK legal of course).

The team will get to test its results later this month in Jerez, and in the meantime Haslam and Corser will be shipped off to a BMW fitness training bootcamp with fellow BMW riders James Toseland and Ayrton Badovini from the BMW Italia squad, along with members of the BMW Enduro team. We don’t like the sound of this training camp, but BMW has given us 12 high-quality shots of the S1000RR in the wind tunnel, which we enjoyed.

BMW Homologates New S1000RR Crankshaft

07/07/2010 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The FIM has announced that BMW has homologated a new crankshaft design for World Superbike and World Superstock racing. Effective since June 10th, the new crankshaft, much like the Aprilia RSV4’s upgraded camshaft, could be part of the equation for BMW’s recent success in WSBK, and continued domination in STK1000.

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