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.

2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress

11/17/2015 @ 11:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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We fell in love with the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype at last year’s EICMA show, so it is good news to hear that the Italian brand has tapped the model for the 2016 model year.

In case you didn’t know, the 2016 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress is a 1,400cc bagger, that like all bikes of the brand, includes a 90° transverse V-twin engine.

The model is built around the American motorcycle lifestyle, with the idea of bombing down Route 66 with the wind on your face. We just like its wealth of carbon fiber.

BMW Motorrad Concept 101 – Six Cylinders of Bagger

05/22/2015 @ 11:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Released today at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy, the BMW Motorrad Concept 101 is a six-cylinder bagger aimed at the American market. Using the K1600 platform as a base, BMW once again enlisted the help of Roland Sands to build a concept, this time one that was suitable for touring on America’s highways.

The name “Concept 101” comes from the 1,649cc displacement, which clocks in at roughly 101 cubic inches. BMW says that the name is also an homage to Highway 101, which isn’t far from BMW’s design studio in Southern California, where this bike was conceived.

“The Concept 101 opens up a new chapter in the history of our concept bikes. It is the BMW Motorrad interpretation of endless highways and the dream of freedom and independence – the perfect embodiment of ‘American touring’. Designing this big touring bike study was amazingly exciting for us because we haven’t been involved with a motorcycle concept like this before. To me, the Concept 101 is the epitome of elegance, power and luxury on two wheels,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design.

2014 Honda CTX1300 — Not Your Father’s Bagger

11/04/2013 @ 9:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2014 Honda CTX1300

Honda’s new model philosophy is all about crossovers between already existing segments, and from that we get the 2014 Honda CTX1300 & 2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe. Aesthetically similar to the Honda Gold Wing F6B that we saw earlier this year, the Honda CTX1300 features the a modified version of the Honda ST1300’s 1,261cc V4 engine and five-speed gearbox.

Honda’s key focus with the CTX line is the combination of comfort and technology, which is where the motorcycle series gets its three-letter model name. Honda says the CTX1300 has a comfortable riding position and low center of gravity with its 29.1-inch seat, which all makes for an effortless cruising experience that has the American highway system in mind with its 5.1 gallon fuel tank.

2014 BMW K1600GT Sport – Familiar, But Different

07/11/2013 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad has just released a bevy of minor changes to its 2014 motorcycle line, and amongst the facelifts and feature changes comes a “new” motorcycle from zie Germans. Unsurprisingly, the 2014 BMW K1600GT Sport is a take on the company’s flagship tourer, the K1600GT, but with a sportier, baggier, feel.

To be honest, we can’t help but think that the folks at BMW Motorrad saw the positive response that Honda had with the Honda Gold Wing F6B bagger conversion, and figured the same would work for them. If you can’t beat them, join them, eh? BMW junkies, we’ll want to hear your thoughts on this one.