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 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.

Bimota BB3 — Italian Design, German Performance

11/06/2013 @ 7:53 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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Today marks a formal new beginning for Bimota, as the boutique Italian firm has recently been acquired by Daniele Longoni and Marco Chiancianesi. Helping to commemortate that event, Bimota debuted at the 2013 EICMA show its new S1000RR-powered Bimota BB3 sport bike.

Using the 999cc four-cylinder superbike motor found on the BMW, the Italians quote 190hp for the Bimota BB3, the same as what the Germans have been able to coax from the S1000RR. Weight is 394 lbs dry, also the same as the BMW S1000RR, so on paper the two bikes appear to be quite similar. In person though, they are anything but.

Ninja’d: BMW S1000R Streetfighter Caught on Camera

11/04/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Our friends at Oliepeil.nl have some serious “lef” going on, because through some “enhanced journalism” those crazy Dutch moto-enthusiasts have managed to grab a couple photos of the BMW S1000R as it waits in the BMW Motorrad exhibit, ahead of its official EICMA debut tomorrow.

A streetfighter version of the venerable BMW S1000RR, the BMW S1000R drops an “R” from its predecessors name, but still features the same inline-four engine as it superbike counterpart –though the motor has likely been detuned to a more sane level.

Unfortunately, we don’t have word on specs or features for the 2014 BMW S1000R, but we do have an idea now of what its finished form looks like. Photos after the jump, but be sure to see more photos and watch the the walk-around video on Oliepeil.nl…just don’t eat the mayo while you’re there.

Bimota BB3 Will Debut at EICMA

11/02/2013 @ 9:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Last year we were wowed by the Bimota BB2, and not necessarily in a good way. The boutique Italian brand has a reputation for making rolling pieces of art that feature production motors with Bimota’s own chassis genius. While the BB2 was powered by the venerable BMW S1000RR’s inline-four engine, Bimota failed to live up to its end of the bargain, which made the Bimota BB2 an interesting, although rather unappealing, effort.

From what our sources have told us, that project has since been taken out behind the woodshed, and to help make up for things, a clean-slate Bimota BB3 will debut at this year’s EICMA show. The first machine to debut under Bimota’s new owners, Marco Chiancianesi and Daniele Longoni, the BB3 again features an S1000RR power plant, and from what our sources have been telling us, the BB3 swaps the BB2’s throwback retro look for a 21st century racing aesthetic.

Are You the 2014 BMW S1000R Streetfighter? Nope.

10/24/2013 @ 4:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Is this an image of the much anticipated BMW S1000R – the streetfightered version of BMW’s popular S1000RR superbike? Nope, it’s not…but, it is a spot-on approximation of what we expect to see from BMW Motorrad early next month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. Italian site DueRuote commissioned this render from the folks at MotoRendering.com, and we have to say it is some damn fine work.

Spy Photos: The BMW S1000RR Naked Bike Winks at Us

07/16/2013 @ 1:36 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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That BMW is making a streetfighter version of its venerable S1000RR superbike is no secret, as we have seen the “BMW S1000R” naked bike already before from the lenses of Europe’s plethora of spy photographers. Today we get another glimpse of what zie Germans have been up to in their workshops, and what we expect them to debut at the EICMA show in Milan later this fall.

Caught head-on and from the side (see after the jump), we get a good look at what appears to be a final, or near final, headlight assembly, and true to BMW form, it is winking at us. From the side, we can see that the naked bike retains many of the S1000RR’s components, including its exhaust design. Of course, the real question will be what’s inside the cylinder casings.

WSBK: Chaz Davies Hits the Wind Tunnel Ahead of Monza

05/09/2013 @ 4:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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BMW Motorrad Goldbet SBK’s Chaz Davies had some homework ahead of this weekend’s World Superbike round in Monza, as the Welshman spent time in BMW’s high-speed wind tunnel to work on his aerodynamics with the BMW S1000RR. With Monza being one of the fastest courses on the WSBK calendar, a rider’s ability to have the optimal body position down the the track’s long sections, where speeds can easily exceed 200 mph, is a crucial element to race-day success.

“It was a really interesting afternoon”, said Davies. “When testing on a track, you try new development parts and different settings but you are not working on your body. So it was great to experience in a stable environment with my riding position, to move myself around on the bike, to have elbows and shoulders in different positions and to then see in the data what difference it makes.

XXX: BMW Motorrad GoldBet WSBK-Spec S1000RR

02/05/2013 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the upcoming changes that will “dumb down” World Superbike racing. With Dorna pushing an agenda that brings the premier production-bike class into something that races bikes that are actually similar to the bikes on the showroom floor, there is a vocal portion of fans and enthusiasts that will hate to see the current spec of machinery go away.

While we may think that making World Superbike more affordable and closer in specification to the current Superstock rules is a positive step for the series, we will certainly miss the bike porn that comes from all the fine WSBK machines.

A motorcycle dripping in sex, one can spend hours drooling over photos like these of the factory BMW S1000RR in WSBK-spec. So a hat-tip to the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK team, for providing this week’s bathroom reading. There are a couple photos of Marco and Chaz in there as well, for the ladies.

BMW Motorrad USA Says Sales Were Up 14% in 2012

01/03/2013 @ 3:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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2012 was a good year for BMW Motorrad USA, as the German motorcycle brand saw its sales rise 14% over last year’s figures, despite the industry trend of marginal growth. Selling 12,057 units in 2012, BMW’s leading bikes in the USA were the BMW S1000RR and BMW K1600GT/GTL.

BMW Motorrad sold 1,934 S1000RR superbikes last year, a figure that is surprisingly 21% higher from the RR’s 2011 numbers. Zie Germans also had their first full-year of K1600 sales, where the six-cylinder touring bike had 1,601 delivers of the GTL model, and 697 deliveries of the GT variant (note: these are dealership deliveries, not customer sales), seemingly making it the best-selling motorcycle in the BMW fleet for the USA.

Recall: BMW S1000RR Sidestands

01/02/2013 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

BMW is recalling 2,385 units of its 2012 & 2012 BMW S1000RR superbikes because of a faulty kickstand. Affecting machines built between September 2011 and December 2012, the recall addresses the attachment bolts to the sidestand, which could start to loosen their way off the motorcycle.