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.

2013 Bimota DB11 – The Bitter to Know the Sweet

11/13/2012 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

If you were as blown away over the supercharged 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX as we were, you might have not realized that we forgot even to introduce the Bimota DB11 to you in the first place. A fully faired sport bike with a 1198cc Ducati Testastretta 11° engine held in its beautiful steel trellis and aluminum-plate frame, the DB11 puts out a reasonable 160hp and less reasonable 97 lbs•ft of torque.

At 385 lbs dry, the 2013 Bimota DB11 makes a good argument for being a robust sport bike, even if most of them will sit in the garages of collectors. Using the same frame design as the Bimota DB9 Brivido, we must admit that the design aesthetic here is also getting some mileage, which sort of detracts from the “my pants are fitting oddly” problem that Bimotas generally generate.

2013 Bimota Tesi 3D Naked – Hub-Center Steering for Two

11/13/2012 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

In my list of the Top 10 motorcycles ever, I think the Bimota Tesi 3D would make a strong showing. A truly unique machine, the lack of fairings only serves to showcase the hub-center steering mechanism, making the Tesi 3D an intriguing work of both art and science.

Separating the braking forces from the suspension travel, on paper motorcycle’s with hub-center steering have a significant mechanical advantage over their traditional counterparts, in reality though they have failed to live up to the hype on the track.

A product of either riders who are groomed to expect the workings of traditional linear fork suspension systems, or simply a answer to question that wasn’t asked, hub-center steering hasn’t exactly taken off…yet.

The Bimota Tesi 3D perseveres though, and for the new model year, Bimota has made my Tesi 3D obsession more conducive to my social agenda with motorcycles. This is all the excuse I need to share the photos after the jump with you. Enjoy.

2013 Bimota DB12 – The Most Expensive Multistrada Ever?

11/13/2012 @ 1:31 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

While we wait to here the specs on the upcoming Bimota BB2, the boutique Italian firm’s rekindled collaboration with the German motorcycle manufacturer, Bimota continues to work with Ducati lumps, both of the air and liquid-cooled variety. One of the more intriguing concepts put forth at EICMA, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is an expression of an uber-exotic Ducati Multistrada 1200.

Unlike the supercharged Bimota DB11 VLX, the Bimota DB12 will remain naturally aspirated in its 160hp state, but like how the Multistrada 1200 was part of the Bologna Brand’s movement away from being solely a sport bike company, the DB12 represents the same movement for Bimota. Already showing a dirt bike at last year’s EICMA show, the 2013 Bimota DB12 is clearly the Italian brand taking a step back, and testing the waters with this design direction.

2013 Bimota DB11 VLX – Supercharged Italian Hotness

11/13/2012 @ 12:56 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Bimota is known for making some exquisite machines by taking production motors from other OEMs, and wrapping those engines in frames of Italian company’s own design. Art on two wheels, Bimota rarely strays from this formula, though when it does, something interesting usually happens. One such example is the 2013 Bimota DB11 VLX , which looks strikingly similar to the Bimota DB9 Brivido we saw at EICMA last year.

Bimota BB2: The BMW S1000RR Powered Bimota Cometh

11/12/2012 @ 3:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Holy motorcycle lust Batman! BMW has just announced that it will be supplying Italian boutique brand Bimota with engines from the BMW S1000RR superbike. The Bimota BB2 will break cover at EICMA in a concept bike form at Milan, and likely ruin Christmas for everyone in attendance.

BMW says Bimota chose the S1000RR engine because of its extremely low weight (132 lbs) and high power output (193 hp). No word yet if the the Bimota BB2 will be a fully faired sport bike, or naked wheelie monster of doom (check out these concept sketches by Oberdan Bezzi), but the news is a welcomed turn of events for Bimota fans who wanted a little variety in the Ducati-heavy model line-up. Press release after the jump.

Bimota/BMW Concepts by Oberdan Bezzi

06/19/2012 @ 1:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We follow Oberdan Bezzi’s work pretty closely here at Asphalt & Rubber, if for no other reason than we like the Italian designer’s ability to fantasize about the endless possibilities available in the two-wheel world — and after, who here doesn’t like to daydream about exotic motorcycles? Lately it seems Bezzi’s imagination has gone to a world where Bimota uses more than Ducati’s v-twin lumps in its exclusive street bikes, with his most recent sketches envisioning a BMW/Bimota collaboration.

Inking the Bimota BB-2 superbike, and it’s naked sibling the Bimota BB-3 “Paura”, the usual Bezzi lines and style are present in the designs. Oberdan’s thought-process on the Bimota BB-3 seems to be well-timed though, as the Bavarian company has recently been caught testing a naked version of the well-selling BMW S1000RR at its facility. Set to be a true Germans streetfighter, BMW could very well succeed in a motorcycle segment that the Japanese have historically struggled with here in the US.

Bimota to Wild Card in a World Superbike Race?

12/14/2011 @ 10:10 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Aside from one or two suspiciously similar motorcycles a year, we don’t often hear from the Italian brand of Bimota. Known for building exotic motorcycles that feature custom frames around production motors (now, what does that sound like?), Bimota used to sample the best engines from all the manufacturers, but lately the motorcycle company seems to favor almost exclusively another certain Italian company in Bologna.

There was also a point in time where Bimota raced its designs, helping the small firm earn a reputation not only for its aesthetic graces, but also for its technical prowess. Hoping to return to its roots with that latter element, Bimota was caught on the track in Spain recently. Testing at the Almeria track, Ruben Xaus (yes, that Ruben Xaus) has settled into his new job as Bimota’s Sporting Director quite nicely.

Xaus is helping the small Italian company improve upon its Bimota HB4 Moto2 bike and Bimota DB8 Superbike. With this testing, Bimota is teasing the possibility of the Ducati 1198-powered Bimota DB8 making a World Superbike wild card appearance for the 2012 season.

Bimota DB9 Brivido – The Best Looking Diavel Yet

11/16/2011 @ 2:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Astute readers this week would have noticed our coverage of the Bimota DB10 Bimotard, and wondered how the boutique Italian firm jumped from the DB8 to the DB10 designation. Well yes Virginia, there is a DB9. The Bimota DB9 Brivido arrived to the 2011 EICMA show with slightly less fanfare, but its still a classic example of the motorcycle company’s current design and ethos. Based around the 162hp Testastretta 11° motor from the Ducati Diavel, the DB9 Brivido continues the aesthetics that began with the Ducati Superbike 1198-powered DB8, and works in the more streetable maintenance-friendly Diavel motor.

Like every Bimota, the real masterpiece is the chassis that the Italian company builds around the production motors of other companies. In the case of the Bimota DB9 Brivido, the frame is made from both aluminum and a chromoly alloy, while the forks are 43mm Marzocchi units with the rear shock being from Extreme Tech. Brakes are of course Brembos, while the race exhaust is by Arrow. Bimota quotes the dry weight of the Bimota DB9 Brivido as 177kg (390 lbs), though true to the Italian company’s form, that weight can get further reduced with other premium options.

Up-Close with the Bimota DB10 Bimotard

11/14/2011 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Making its debut at the 2011 EICMA show, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard is the boutique Italian motorcycle firm’s latest creation. Borrowing from the Bimota DB6’s frame design, the DB 10 Bimotard takes the same 1,078cc air-cooled two-valve Hypermotard 1100 EVO motor, with its 95hp peak power output, and builds around this platform a compelling maxi-motard design. Perhaps better labelled as Bimota’s take on building a better Hypermotard, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard also promises the usual Bimota design and exclusivity, and helps bridge the gap to the Italian company’s latest off-road offerings, which are amazingly less-compelling, vanilla, and not going to grace the pages of A&R.

Carbon fiber, Marzocchi suspension, Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, and Zard exhaust…all the usual suspects are present on this cleverly portmanteau-named Bimotard. The fit and finish in person is what you’d expect from Bimota: flawless. A part of me says that you have to praise the small Italian company for breaking from its recent tradition of glorified street-naked motorcycles a bit, and offering a motorcycle with a slightly different ethos. That being said, the Bimota DB10 Bimotard isn’t really that huge of a departure from the DB5, DB6, and DB8s that came before it. A Bimota DB6 with different clothes on, the DB10 is really more evolution than revolution, but it still manages to please us…just not wow us. No price yet, but “cheap” is a four-letter word here.

Concept: Bimota TB-2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/06/2011 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Last week Oberdan Bezzi inked his concept for a Triumph-powered Bimota, dubbed the Bimota TB-1. That fully-faired alternative to the MV Agusta F3 naturally needs a naked streetfighter variant, and accordingly Bezzi has penned today’s latest concept sketch, which he calls the Bimota TB-2 675. Featuring the Triumph 675cc three-cylinder motor, the Bimota TB-2 675 competes against its donor the Triumph Street Triple, and goes head-to-head with the heavily anticipated MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3.