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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 20 – Fans or Fanatics?

04/25/2016 @ 12:32 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

two-enthusiasts-podcast

Episode 20 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast builds off the previous episode, which covered in-depth the mythos that surrounds Erik Buell, Buell Motorcycles, and Erik Buell Racing. Exploring the differences between fans and fanatics, as they exist in the motorcycling realm, we move from Buell, to other manufacturers with cult followings, before finally landing on MotoGP.

Fresh from the MotoGP round in Austin, we talk about the rise of Rossi fans as a tyrannical force in Grand Prix racing, and how that has permeated through the paddock in various forms. Naturally, a few rabbit holes of side-discussion occur along the way, per usual.

Before all that though, we talk about the Motus Motorcycles project, as I rode the American-built MST and MSTR sport-tourers while in Texas. A very unique motorcycle, the true American machine is a good segue into the topic at hand. We think you will enjoy it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 19 – Debunking Buell

04/08/2016 @ 8:00 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

two-enthusiasts-podcast

First of all, apologies for how long it has taken us to get this episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast out to you. There are a few reasons why this particular show took so long to get out on the feed, but the biggest reason is that I have been slowly working through a massive backlog of stories. So, apologies for that.

That being said, Quentin and I are very stoked to bring you our third attempt at tackling the Buell/EBR story on the podcast. As such, Episode 19 covers Buell’s divestiture from Harley-Davidson, Erik Buell Racing’s launch from those ashes, and EBR’s very convoluted and complicated receivership process.

We also talk at great length about Quentin’s experience with the racing side of Buell and EBR, as well as my familiarity with EBR’s business operations and products. Whether your a fan of Erik Buell or not, we think you will find the show very interesting.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Erik Buell Racing Sold at Third Auction, Will Live On Again

01/14/2016 @ 2:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

buell-pegasus-logo

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet today. Much like the spirit of its riders, Erik Buell Racing refuses to go quietly into that good night. After two failed receivership auctions, the brand has now been acquired for $2.05 million via a third auction held Wednesday, and seems set for another revival.

The winning party of this latest auction is the same winner from the second auction, Liquid Asset Partners – the same company that liquidated Buell Motorcycles when it was shutdown by Harley-Davidson, which makes for some interesting trivia.

Walworth County Circuit Judge Phillip Koss approved the winning bid today, despite a similar bid from Bruce Belfer, the first auction winner. According to a report by the EBR receiver, Belfer’s bid did not conform to the terms of the auction, and thus was not recommended to the court.

Ronin – 47 American Street Bikes Like No Other

10/01/2014 @ 1:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Ronin-Motor-Works-RMW-47-Ronin-07

You will have to go back almost five years to remember Magpul’s Ronin motorcycle concept. Based off the Buell 1125R chassis and engine, the Magpul Ronin was very refreshing and different approach to an American street bike.

Fast-forward to the present, and Ronin Motor Works (the company spun out of Magpul to make the Ronin motorcycle) is ready to sell its first 12 units of the avant-garde bike.

Key items on the Ronin include a linkage fork design, with a Penske shock handling the bumps traveling up the aluminum girders. Our favorite feature, the radiator has been place high up, near the handlebars, and features an integrated headlight design.

Bottpower’s BOTT XC1 Cafe Racer Rendered

03/06/2014 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Bottpower-XC1-Cafe-Racer-09

Earlier this year, we announced to you that Bottpower was working on a café racer version of its XR1 street-tracker motorcycle. Using a Buell XB as a donor bike, the Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer kit transforms the big-displacement American twin into something a little bit more hipster.

Though we are not big on the café racer scene (you wouldn’t know it, looking at our posts lately though) we have been enchanted with the work done by Bottpower on this project so far. We imagine the finished result will be coming forth shortly; until then though, we’ll just have to drool over these nearly finalized renders.

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

buell-firebolt-xr12-holographic-hammer

It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.

27 Years of Buell Motorcycles

03/04/2013 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

buell-motorcycles-poster-crop

If the American motorcycle brand was still in business, this year would have been the Buell Motorcycle Company’s 30th birthday. Treated more like a line on the cash flow sheet to its parent company Harley-Davidson than a true self-supporting motorcycle brand, Buell motorcycles suffered from not being “Harley enough” for the Bar & Shield devout, and conversely wasn’t adopted by the non-believers because of its extensive compromises with the Milwaukee brand.

Still, in its 27 years, Buell Motorcycles managed to build a cult following of riders, though the numbers in its ranks were never enough to make the brand truly profitable. With Harley-Davidson facing dire straights during the recent economic depression, the company circled the wagons around its core assets, and closed the doors to Buell Motorcycles in the process.

The ethos of the brand continues with Erik Buell Racing though, which soon after its creation released the EBR 1190RS superbike — a race-ready motorcycle that isn’t too dissimilar from the Buell 1125R sport bike. We still don’t know what the future holds for Erik Buell’s new company, though a bevy of models are on his company’s product road map. We think if you polled a few former Buell owners, they would want to see this poster (full-size after the jump) updated.

Magpul Ronin 1125R – A Samurai Looking for a Master

01/17/2013 @ 3:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

Magpul-Ronin-1125R-02

It has been some time since we saw the Magpul Ronin concept bike, a re-imagined Buell 1125R that was built by the folks at Magpul Industries — a company more well-known in the gun community than than in motorcycling. Making waves with the design though, Magpul setup a new company, Ronin Motorworks, to explore the idea further. Hiring a team of designers and engineers from the motorcycle industry, the result of this endeavor is the Magpul Ronin 1125R sport bike, of which 47 examples will be made, in honor of the 47 Ronin story from feudal Japan.

A fitting metaphor for the story behind the closure of Buell Motorcycles, the 47 Magpul Ronin 1125R bikes will be built from new Buell 1125 chassis that were stored from the original inventory. While a limited-production machine, one of the cooler details of the Magpul Ronin 1125R is that instead of a number plate scheme for the 47 motorcycles, Ronin Motorworks will name each bike after one of the samurais from the original story.

Bottpower BOTT XR1 is Finally Ready for Street Track Duty

12/15/2012 @ 6:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

For almost two years now, we have been waiting for Bottpower to finished its BOTT XR1 custom motorcycle. Starting with an air-cooled v-twin motor from a Buell XB, the BOTT XR1 is the perfect intersection of old-school flat tracking and high-tech street shredding — we’re not sure if we should strap on a steel shoe, or get some fresh knee pucks. Available as a stand alone machine from Bottpower, the Spanish firm also plans on making a kit for XB owners.

Built with an ample amount of carbon fiber, Bottpower used the stock eight-piston Buell 1125R Brake system (with ISR levers for the front brake and clutch). For the rear suspension an Öhlins shock has been implemented, while the under-slung exhaust is from Torque Hammer. The flat handlebar is by Easton, while the gauges are from Motogadget. If don’t have a street tracker on your holiday wish list, we suggest a revision. Tasty photos after the jump.

Beeler’s Law

04/01/2012 @ 9:49 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

“As an online discussion about motorcycles grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Erik Buell or Buell Motorcycles entering the conversation approaches a value of one.” — Beeler’s Law