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.

WSBK: Brett McCormick Stable After Neck Fracture at Assen

04/22/2012 @ 9:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Injury-wise, it has been a treacherous season in the World Superbike paddock so far this year. While everyone patiently waits for good news about Joan Lascorz, this weekend another ride has suffered a neck injury: Canada’s Brett McCormick. Crashing in Race 2 at Assen, the Effenbert Liberty Racing rider was immediately attended to by the circuit’s medical center, where it was deemed he had suffered trauma to his cervical spine (the same area Lascorz injured), but thankfully did not appear to have any damage to his nervous system.

Video: Community + Motorcycles = Motomethod

01/23/2012 @ 2:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Consider this video as a primer on a larger subject I like to call: The Motorcycle Shop Deconstructed. There is a lot that can be said about why dealerships fail or succeed (we’ve already seen an interesting insight on the subject of shops being open on Sundays), and one aspect on how to be a successful dealership that will surely rise to the top is one of community.

Here, Vancouver-based Motomethod is all about the community, as the do-it-yourself community garden style repair shop has become a place for British Columbian riders not to work on their motorcycles, but also to congregate together with a shared love of riding on two wheels. Not exactly a new concept business-wise, but still a fresh perspective in an otherwise unwilling to change industry. More on this thought process to be published in the coming weeks. Enjoy.

Ducati North America Posts 43% Sales Growth in 2011 – Now Ducati’s Top Market Worldwide

01/23/2012 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

If you read A&R with any sort of regularity, you should know by now that the European motorcycle companies have been cleaning house during these otherwise tough economic times, with 2011 being the high-water mark for many of these more premium brands. BMW Motorrad posted its best sales year ever in 2011, while Triumph and KTM have been holding their own as well.

The same has been true for Ducati, and now Ducati North America has posted its sales numbers for 2011, which show a 43% gain over the previous year. This increase in sales has now established North America as Ducati’s #1 market for the first time ever, and the Italian brand continues to grow here in the United States, Canada, and Mexico (while declining back home in Italy).

Yamaha USA Swallows Up Yamaha Canada

10/04/2011 @ 6:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The past recession, and its possible double-dipping nature, still has the motorcycle industry on its heels. This fact can be no better exemplified than by the latest move from Yamaha, whose board of directors recently voted to merge its North American operations under one roof. In an effort to restructure itself more appropriately, Yamaha Motor Canada will become a subsidiary of Yamaha Motor USA, which would in turn take responsibility for the entire North American market.

Lito Green Motion Sora Electric Motorcycle

04/18/2011 @ 1:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our French-speaking cousins to the north have apparently been toiling away designing a 185 mile electric street-naked motorcycle. While we only have CAD renderings right now, Lito is set to debut the Sora at the June 12th Formula 1 stop at Montreal. The French-Canadian company says its electric motorcycle features “the best design elements of Bobber and Café Racer/Street Fighter bikes”…whatever that means. Perhaps Lito is waiting to see how the bike is received before putting a label on it, which is fine by us since words aren’t stopping us from digging the look of the Sora.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R Outed in Canada – Replaces the MV Agusta Brutale 920?

04/07/2011 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE: According to CMGonline, the MV Agusta Brutale 1090R will replace the Brutale 920 only in the Canadian market.

The Canadian importer of MV Agusta motorcycles has once again outed a new model from the Italian company. First it was the entry-level (if you can call it that) 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 that broke cover because of our neighbors to the north, and now the Canadians have let slip news of the 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R, another lower-spec version of the Brutale 1090RR (let us pause for a moment while we collectively go “hmmm…”)

Available in Summer 2011, the MV Agusta Brutale 1090R is sporting a $16,695 price tag in Canada, which will likely translate into a sub-$15,000 MSRP here in the United States. At the core of the Brutale 1090R is a 1078cc that’s good for 144 hp, which is based off the Brutale 990R’s motor, but makes similar spec’s as the lump found in the Brutale 1099RR.

If you’re asking yourself why does MV Agusta need another lower-spec Brutale? “It doesn’t” would be the answer, but the Italian company has seemingly quietly nixed the Brutale 920, presumably in favor of the 1090R instead. With the Italian site still listing the entry-level Brutale as a 921cc model, Canada has either outed a new model, or the news that the Brutale 920 will be replaced by the Brutale 1090R (interestingly enough, the Canadian site has done away with almost all reference to the 921cc machine). Either way, details on this bike are after the jump.

BRP Developing Hybrid Can-Am Spyder

01/06/2011 @ 10:47 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The Canucks are getting into the hybrid scene, as news from up north reveals that BRP, with help from the Canadian government, will develop a hybrid model of its Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler. Working alongside the Université de Sherbrooke, BRP is investing $5.1 million CAD ($5 million USD) into the school’s Centre de Technologies Avancees (CTA), while the Canadian government’s Automotive Partnership Canada program is matching funds to the tune of $6.2 million CAD ($6.1 million USD).

BRP and the researchers at Université de Sherbrooke will be building a ground-up hybrid system, since apparently the systems currently available for cars have proven to be inadequate for the confines of motorcycles and trikes. We guess they missed the product releases from MotoCzsyz (D1g1tal Dr1ve D1) and Mission Motors (MissionEVT), both of whom have developed their drive trains from electric motorcycles. More info after the jump, along with an obnoxiously French-Canadian video.

Canada Outs New MV Agusta Brutale Model & Pricing

12/20/2010 @ 4:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After recently announcing the return of MV Agusta to the Canadian market, MV Agusta’s Canadian distributor Motovan has outed the Italian company’s new Brutale model. While it doe not seem that this model is the 675cc “Brutalina” that Castiglioni hinted at earlier this year, this Brutale instead appears to be an F4 derived street-naked, and is expected to hit the North American markets in mid-summer 2011. With pricing starting at $15,595 CAD, we expect pricing here in the United States to be closer to $14,595.

Likely based off the revised MV Agusta F4, which debuted at EICMA back in 2009, the new Brutale should see a style update to keep the street-naked inline with MV’s current take on the F4. Noticebale from Motovan’s pricing is the new Brutale’s lower price tag amount, which should help move some more units. We expect the new Brutale to have a 920cc displacement, and borrow heavily from the F4’s chassis design and aesthetic.

MV Agusta Coming to Canada

12/02/2010 @ 1:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MV Agusta has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Motovan Corporation to serve as MV Agusta’s exclusive importer to the Canadian market. The agreement will finally bring the Varese company’s motorcycles to our neighbors to the North, but don’t expect it to happen overnight, ehh. According to Motovan and MV Agusta, import levels in 2011 will be extremely limited for Canada, and serious buyers will have to reserve their motorcycle online if they want to receive it. With the MV Agusta F3 being a 2012  model, we imagine that for the bulk of would-be MV Agusta owners, this supply issue will not be a problem.

Yamaha FZ8/Fazer 8 Coming to Canada – USA Next?

06/11/2010 @ 7:57 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Yamaha Canada has just announced that the 2011 Yamaha FZ8 and 2011 Yamaha Fazer 8 street bikes will be available in the Canadian market. Perhaps as a disappointment for some, both models of the new street-naked will come without the option for ABS.

Presumably the Canadian market has now cleared out its back-stock of Yamaha FZ6’s, which the 8-series has been replacing in European markets, and can now begin to offer the new middleweight.

With Canada getting the 8’s in its line-up, all eyes are now on the Yamaha USA to see if/when they’ll bring the bike to the US market. When they do, we can probably look forward to some great commercials, like these gems from the European campaign (that’s sarcasm for those keeping score). Check them out after the jump…did we mention they’re really bad?