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.

BMW “Cornering ABS” Now Available on Older Models

09/29/2015 @ 2:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Last year, BMW made the Bosch MSC “cornering ABS” system available as a retrofit for the BMW HP4, branding the advanced safety feature as ABS Pro. Now BMW is making the ABS Pro safety package available as a retrofit to a number of BMW model that came with an ABS unit.

Most excitably, the upgrade kit can be used on the 2012-2014 BMW S1000RR, with the 2015-2016 BMW S1000RR kit in development as well. The addition of the ABS Pro on the 2015 S1000RR will include the “Race” riding mode, as well. The slip threshold and brake pressure gradient have been set at a higher level for use on roads with high friction coefficients compared to the “Rain” and “Sport” modes.

BMW HP4 Gets ABS-Supported Brakes for Cornering

07/21/2014 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Stability control for motorcycles is the new rage right now, after the Bosch MSC system was announced, and made available for the KTM 1190 Adventure.

It seems BMW Motorrad is the next manufacturer to receive this new anti-locking brakes system that works while leaned over, and the BMW HP4 is the first Bavarian machine to get the upgrade.

BMW Motorrad is calling the Bosch MSC system “ABS Pro”, and it functions by adjusting the inputs to the brake calipers based on the acceleration, roll, and yaw of the motorcycle.

This avoids accidentally tucking the front-end of the motorcycling while trail braking, and also eliminates the bike standing up when the brakes are applied while in a moderate lean.

Michael Dunlop and BMW Talk About Racing in 2014

02/17/2014 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Michael Dunlop’s shock announcement that he will be racing with a factory-backed BMW for the 2014 Isle of Man TT is still percolating through the road racing paddock.

It was only in November of 2013 that the Irishman announced that he was likely to sit out the 2014 season, after failing to come to an agreement with the factory Honda squad, the Honda TT Legends.

Winning four solo-races in the 2013 Isle of Man TT, Dunlop solidified himself as being the man to watch in 2014, and perhaps the racer with the best chance of challenging John McGuinness on race day.

With Honda keen to see McPint break Joey Dunlop’s record of 26 TT race wins (McGuinness has 20 thus far), the backstory for Dunlop seems fairly obvious to guess.

Michael Dunlop Rumored to be Racing for BMW at IOMTT

02/10/2014 @ 8:32 am, by Bryan Delohery3 COMMENTS

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After an announcement in late 2013 that Michael Dunlop would be forced to sit out the 2014 road racing season, rumors are flying that he has pitched a tent in the BMW paddock.

Although no official statement has been made yet, MCN and Bennetts are both reporting the seven-time TT winner will be signing a deal to ride an BMW S1000RR for BMW Motorrad in the Superbike TT classes, along with a BMW HP4 that he will be riding for his own team, Michael Dunlop Racing, in Superstock TT race.

Simon Andrews to Ride for Penz13.com at IOMTT

02/06/2014 @ 2:37 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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After sustaining injuries in the FIM World Endurance round at Le Mans last year, Simon Andrews is returning to racing for the 2014 Isle of Man TT in Rico Penzkofer’s paddock. The 29-year-old will be riding a BMW HP4 prepared by the Penz13.com BMW racing team, not only in the TT, but also the Macau Grand Prix and the North West 200.

During his TT debut in 2011, Andrews made it clear he was a serious competitor taking 11th in the Superstock and Senior races while setting a lap record of 125.134 mph, making him the third fastest newcomer of all time.

Add to that a fastest lap time of 126.001 around the TT Mountain Course, and you can start to see why his TT career includes four Top 15 finishes, along with a podium finish in the 2012 Macau Grand Prix where he took third.

BMW Motorrad Had Best Sales Year Ever in 2013

01/17/2014 @ 1:20 pm, by Aakash Desai3 COMMENTS

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Just days after issuing a North American recall for 50,000+ of their motorcycles, BMW Motorrad issued a press release to talk about its successful sales sales volumes. For 2013, BMW achieved its third all-time sales high of 115,215 vehicles, an 8.3% increase over the previous year. Of that total, 14,100 were sold in the United States.

Video: BMW R1200GS vs. BMW HP4 on the Track

06/04/2013 @ 12:21 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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I am just wrapping up my thoughts on the new liquid-cooled 2013 BMW R1200GS, but before I post up the ride review, I thought I would share this little gem of a video that BMW Motorrad USA showed us at the US media launch for the R1200GS. Filmed at the Circuito de Almería in Spain, a new BMW R1200GS gives chase to a BMW HP4, and interesting results ensue.

Now I’m not saying that the R1200GS is a more capable track bike than the HP4, a fast rider on any bike is still a fast rider, after all. But, you have to be impressed by the GS here, it certainly wasn’t losing any ground to the HP4 (except maybe on the straight). As for the the nitty gritty, the R1200GS rider clocked a sub-two-minute lap time, an entirely respectable time at the Spanish circuit, which sees WSBK-spec machines lap in the 1:35 range.

BMW Motorrad says the 2013 BMW R1200GS is like the Swiss Army knife of the motorcycle world, and with some on-track chops like this, we might just have to agree. For those that are wondering, it rides nice on the road and trails as well. Video after the jump, and look for the review this week.

BMW Motorrad Posts Best Month Ever – BMW R1200GS Leads the Way with 27% of Company Sales

05/13/2013 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Record months, quarters, and years are becoming an old hat for BMW Motorrad, and last month continues the trend for the German brand. Selling 14,587 motorcycles in April 2013, BMW Motorrad says that it saw an 11.5% sales increase over April 2012.

The primary contributor for that sales boost is the 2013 BMW R1200GS, which has been completely redesigned from its venerable predecessor, and now includes “strategic” liquid-cooling for the cylinder heads, and a bevy of other enhancements (A&R will be swinging a leg over one shortly).

2013 BMW HP4 Priced at $19,990*

10/02/2012 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Possibly the most lust-worthy sport bike of the year, the BMW HP4 has finally been priced by the Bavarians for the North American market. Clocking a $19,990 price tag MSRP, as usual, there is more to BMW’s pricing scheme than meets the eye.

While BMW plays its usual tricks, what is interesting is that despite all the add-ons, the BMW HP4 remains a relatively affordable premium sport bike. Punching just above the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s price tag, the German steed could easily justify its added cost with the inclusion of BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control, a semi-active suspension system.

Available in Q4 2012, the BMW HP4 comes with a variety of packages that significantly boost the HP4’s price into the mid-$20,000 range. We break down the cost of the packages and what you get with them, after the jump (mega photo gallery here).

BMW HP4 Mega Gallery + Video

09/10/2012 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

The international launch of the 2013 BMW HP4 is now over, and while we may not have been in Spain to bring you our thoughts on the pepped-up S1000RR, BMW was at least kind enough to provide A&R with some more photos of its winky-faced superbike. More than just an updated BMW S1000RR, the BMW HP4 features the German brand’s Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system, a semi-active suspension system that fine-tunes the HP4’s suspension settings on the fly for the road and riding conditions.

Initial reports on the HP4 appear to be very favorable, though expect the pricing here in the United States to be as extreme as the Bavarian motorcycle’s tech specs. BMW hopes that with the DDC and bevy of aftermarket parts, the HP4 will more than justify its expected $20k+ price tag. Will it be enough to persuade riders away from the Aprilia/Ducati/KTM of their choosing? Check out the 126 photos and two videos after the jump and let us know.