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.

How 3D Printing Is Going To Change Motorcycling

10/05/2012 @ 2:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

For the past few weeks or so, I have been conversing back-and-forth with my cousin-in-law about 3D printing. Apparently, some sort of hobbyist 3D printing shop has opened in his home town of Pasadena, and my geekier-than-me relative has been chomping at the bit to see what the consumer-level 3D printers can build.

Since my special brand of geekiness has already assured that the bloodline stops at my branch of the family tree, you can imagine the uber-nerd fest we both have been having, trading links on Facebook about the different things that rapid-prototype machines and 3D printers can achieve.

For those who are not familiar with the technology, the name really does give away about 90% of the special sauce. Using a plastic in lieu of ink, 3D printer can actually build three-dimensional objects in a process not that dissimilar to your home ink jet printer (Jay Leno has been using 3D printing to replace impossible-to-find parts for his classic car collection).

The more robust and industrial units use lasers to shape and heat the plastic ink, and are able to achieve a high-degree of object resolution. We can think of more than a few electric motorcycle startups that are currently using this rapid-prototyping process to develop their street and race bikes. It’s very fascinating, but also very expensive stuff.

This is where the consumer side of the equation comes in, as the post-industrial form of 3D printing has not only rapidly increased in its ability to flawlessly create a high-resolution object, but the cost of both the 3D printer and its “ink” have dramatically dropped. Hobbyist models are now in the $400-$2,000 range, and could soon be as ubiquitous as the printer sitting next to the computer you are using to read this article.

As the price-point drops and resolution increases further, the consumer end of this technology could rival the industrial side of 3D printing, and that is where things get real interesting for the motorcycle industry, and manufacturing in general.

Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio

04/25/2012 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

While the Ducati Monster S4R is a special machine in its own right, using a water-cooled four-valve superbike-derived motor, this custom by Paolo Tesio caught our eye as something singularly different from the Italian brand’s fine work. First creating a custom subframe, tail section, and fork guards in CAD, Tesio’s finished motorcycle compliments the original design of the Monster S4R quite well, in a balanced “evolution, not revolution” sort of way.

Complete with an underslung box-style exhaust, the look is clean, different, but still very true to the Monster’s café roots. Our favorite part is perhaps the least functional, as the fork guards give a girder front-end feel, and are tastefully emblazoned with the retro Ducati logo. If there is enough interest, Tesio says he will make a kit available to S4R owners. More tragically small and horribly cropped photos after the jump.

CAD Drawings of the Ducati Streetfighter 848

04/11/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Overall, our impressions of the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 was that the new baby Fighter from Ducati, is a well-improved upon successor to the original Ducati Streetfighter 1098. Helping differentiate the SF848 from the higher-spec, though otherwise identical, Streetfighter 1098 S, the Streetfighter 848 takes the geometry from the Ducati Superbike 848, which means it gets a much-better handling 24.5° rakes. Ducati has also brought over the Testastretta 11° engine, which made its first debut on the Ducati Multistrada 1200, and then found its way onto the Ducati Diavel.

Smoother and easier to operate, the new Streetfighter’s 849cc motor may be down on power compared to its Superbike counterpart (132 hp at its peak, compared to the Superbike 848 EVO’s 140hp), but the SF848 has a much flatter torque curve and a power band that extends into a more useable range for urban and aggressive street riding. When compared to its predecessor, just about the only thing we don’t like about the Ducati Streetfighter 848 is the foot clearance issue with the shotgun exhaust, which limits the movement of a rider’s right foot on the Streetfighter’s peg.

Releasing these CAD drawings at the 2012 Ducati Streetfighter 848 US press launch, maybe some eagle-eyed industrial designers can come up with a solution for this reporter’s kneecap. CAD renders after the jump.

Rondine Moto2 Race Bike

02/27/2012 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

When the Moto2 Championship was conceived, the racing public was pitched the idea of exotic prototype racing machines that would be built around production-based motors. Immediately the idea of a grid full of Bimota-like machines began to tickle our fancy, however the reality has been that Moto2 chassis designs have been far-more grounded in their approaches and configurations.

Though we did see Bimota build a Moto2 racer with the Bimota HB4, it is motorcycles like the Vyrus 986 M2 that we really want to see filling the Moto2 grid. Of course with the spec-engine rules, races are being won and lost by just the smallest differences in chassis specifications, making the use of exotic designs a venerable game of Russian roulette. Don’t tell any of this to Rondine though, as the Italian firm is working hard on a unique Moto2 design of its own.

XXX: Ducati 1199 Panigale Naked

12/27/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale represents a huge step in motorcycle design, mostly due to its frameless chassis or monocoque design. Using the engine as an integral component to the Panigale’s chassis, Ducati’s hallmark achievement was building an integrated headstock/airbox off the front cylinder. With the seat and subframe built off the rear cylinder, and the swingarm bolting directly to the motor, the Ducati 1199 Panigale was able to not only shed 22 lbs of its predecessor’s design, but also continues the Italian company’s new design trend of having components that take on multiple functional roles.

Being sure to keep the fairings on the Ducati 1199 Panigale fastened at all times, we have very little insight as to what Ducati’s new chassis looks like underneath its clothing, and after hounding Bologna for the past few weeks over the issue, these four renders of the Panigale’s frame are the best we can muster for our readers. The black background makes the black frame components hard to see, but the CAD drawings do provide at least some insight as to how the 1199 comes together. If the Panigale goes as well on the track as it does on the spec sheet, you very well could be looking at the future of production motorcycle chassis design.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.

Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat Gets Rendered – Due Date Pushed Back to Q2 2011, Price Increased

11/26/2010 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Confederate is readying its next iteration of its Hellcat series, posting these CAD renderings of the Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat on its website. Originally set to debut on Halloween of this year, Confederate has pushed back the launch date to the second quarter of 2011. For a bike that seemingly only exists on a computer screen, Confederate is being rather cheeky with its tech specs, simply stating that the new Hellcat will have 145 lbs•ft of torque, while listing the horsepower as “sufficient”.

Snake Road Motorcycle Concept by Bruno Delussu

11/11/2010 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Drawing inspiration from Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Motors series (Simon designed the Tron lightcycle in the up-coming Tron Legacy movie by the way), designer Bruno Delussu has dreamt up the Snake Road motorcycle concept. Set in a nondescript time in the future, the Snake Road uses a fiberglass body to house its internal combustion engine (apparently EV’s still haven’t taken off in Delussu’s future).

Made for fun, Delussu admits there are some deficiencies in the design (the front wheel can’t turn for example), and explains the choice of an internal combustion engine as follows: “Being a motorcyclist myself, I love the sound of a motorcycle engine (reminiscent of a raging lion), so the engine is a traditional internal combustion engine rather then electric, as the new trend would have it (a matter of ecology).”

Aprilia RSV4 R Technical and Design Line Drawings

11/24/2009 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Aprilia-RSV4-R-technical-design-line-drawing-1

Taking a motorcycle off the computer screen and into real life is a difficult process, and we always enjoy seeing an insight to that undertaking. As such, we present to you some wireframe drawings of the 2010 Aprilia RSV4 R to drool over. On a side note if you’re in the market for an RSV4, these images are the perfect template for designing your own bike paint scheme. Photos after the jump.