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.

Watch Jonathan Rea’s Record WSBK Superpole at Portimao from a Mechanic’s Point of View

12/19/2011 @ 6:16 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Watch Jonathan Rea’s Record WSBK Superpole at Portimao from a Mechanic’s Point of View

Taking the pole position at the final World Superbike round at Portimao, Jonathan Rea not only put his Castrol Honda on the front of the grid, but also broke set the fastest lap ever for a motorcycle at the Portuguese track. Fortuitously, the factory Honda WSBK team fitted one of its mechanics with a GoPro camera to capture the Superpole from the team’s point-of-view. At 6’10” tall (2.1 meters), the view provided by Daniel Postmus is not only one that few get to witness in side the team garage, but also comes from an altitude slightly higher than many are accustomed.

Lagging all season, the Castrol Honda team found some momentum in the latter races of the season, more specifically when the team was allowed to outfit its WSBK-spec Honda CBR1000RR with ride-by-wire throttle control. Hopefully the team can keep that momentum going forward, as it will have to contend with another season on an only mildly updated racing platform, the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR. Video after the jump.

Hiroshi Aoyama to World Superbike with Castrol Honda

10/15/2011 @ 5:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rumored to be headed to World Superbike, or at least a CRT bike in MotoGP, Hiroshi Aoyama’s 2012 season plans have finally been unveiled. Signing with the the Castrol Honda team, the former-250GP Champion will leave the MotoGP paddock to race next season in World Superbike, alongside new teammate Johnny Rea. The move means the displacement of Ruben Xaus from the Ten Kate Honda squad, which is hardly a surprise considering the Spaniard’s horrid season(s).

The announcement also adds further speculation regarding whether San Carlo Gresini Honda will run a solitary bike for next year, at he team has already confirmed a factory RC213V with Maro Simoncelli on-board. Honda has reportedly intervened on Gresini’s plans to run a second bike under the CRT structure, which makes for something interesting to chew on, as the CRT rules were created as a direct reaction to the major manufacturers’ influence over how MotoGP was run and headed, with Honda headlining that now failing initiative.

Did Castrol Honda Just Out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR?

08/08/2011 @ 8:27 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

UPDATE: The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR has been leaked ahead of schedule by Honda Honk Kong.

Castrol Honda boss, Ronald ten Kate, may have just outed Honda’s latest iteration of its street-going superbikes, as the Dutch manager was quoted on his aniticipation of the new model, and what it would mean for his relatively uncompetitive World Superbike team. First talking about the team’s status and position in the World Superbike Championship, ten Kate talked about the morale boost of having Jonathan Rea back from his injuries. Ten Kate also stated that his team has put the 2011 season behind them, and is instead focusing on the 2012 season.

Also helping boost morale is what Honda has in store for next season. Stating that the Ten Kate Honda squad was looking forward to the arrival of the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR, it would appear that ten Kate himself has let slip that Honda would be bringing out a a whole new machine for next year, and in conjunction with that statement, a new Honda CBR1000RR would also have to be in the pipe.

WSBK: Alex Lowes in at Castrol Honda for Injured Rea

06/22/2011 @ 6:00 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

Alex Lowes will replace Jonathan Rea for the World Superbike round at Brno next month while the rider recovers from surgery. Rea had a huge crash during the warm-up ten days ago at the Misano round, resulting in a broken collarbone, injured foot, and radial fracture and ligament damage to his right wrist. He underwent surgery Monday and was scheduled to miss this past weekend’s racing at Aragon and return for Brno.

Instead, considerable ligament damage to the wrist was found, necessitating “external pins in it and screws,” according to a tweet by the rider Thursday. Rea explained further, “I was pretty upset when I got the news after the surgery yesterday because it means a longer rehab than we’d thought. It’s difficult, of course, and I’m devastated, but I’ve got a great team around me so I know I’ll get all the support I need to come back strong.” That team includes surgeon Mike Hayton, who has had a busy couple of weeks operating on Rea last Monday and Troy Corser this week.

WSBK: Jonathan Rea In Surgery to Miss Aragon Round

06/15/2011 @ 12:34 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Jonathan Rea underwent surgery today to repair a broken right radius, and will miss this weekend’s World Superbike round at Motorland Aragon. The Castrol Honda rider suffered the injury, along with a now-ubiquitous broken collarbone and some injuries to his right foot during a warm-up crash at last weekend’s Misano round. Rea will not be replaced this weekend, leaving only teammate Ruben Xaus to ride for the team at Aragon.

Rea fractured his right radius and left clavicle in the crash at Misano’s Turn 11 on Sunday. That day he explained, “I had a crash yesterday which needed some stitches in my arm and then a 230kph crash this morning at one of the fastest corners on the calendar.” Rea continued, “Of course, I’m frustrated and I have some injuries that I want to take time to heal properly. We’ll have to miss Aragon next week, unfortunately, but Brno is a month off and the doctors tell me that the break in my arm would normally keep someone off work for three weeks.”

WSBK: Checa Edges Biaggi for Superpole at Phillip Island

02/25/2011 @ 10:31 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on WSBK: Checa Edges Biaggi for Superpole at Phillip Island

Lapping by a very narrow margin over reigning World Champion Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa won the pole position for the 2011 World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island today. Though the Spaniard dominated the testing and practice sessions this week, Biaggi continued to improve his times, and was only .013s slower at the end of qualifying session. Also showing strong results were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, who complete the front row for Sunday’s races.

Jonathan Rea rallied after a severe testing crash and his second crash of the day to qualify twelfth, while Leon Camier, suffering from glandular fever, qualified sixteenth and did not make Superpole, a blow for the Aprilia factory team even as teammate Biaggi unveiled his #1 plate.

What Does a Bike Catching on Fire at 120 MPH and Crashing into a Wall Look Like? Just Ask Jonathan Rea

02/24/2011 @ 1:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Despite the concern that he might not race this weekend, Jonathan Rea appears to gotten of easy with his latest get-off during testing at Phillip Island. Having to make the difficult choice between being a human fireball and hitting the tarmac at 120 MPH, Rea opted for the latter, ditched his firing stead, fractured his wrist, and injured his hand & arm in the process.

Now with video of the frightening event, we get a glimpse into the crash that nearly sidelined the British rider, who will still ride in Sunday’s World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island. We generally don’t like our motorcycles on fire, and there’s something very creepy about watching Rea’s Castrol Honda CBR1000RR do a ghostride into a barricade. While unconfirmed reports say Colin Edwards has welcomed Rea to the club, check after the jump for Rea’s personal message to Arai Helmets.

UPDATE: Jonathan Rea to Race at Phillip Island

02/23/2011 @ 7:07 am, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

Jonathan Rea has been cleared to race by doctors at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne after a test crash on Tuesday left his race weekend in question. Rea crashed at Turn 3 on the Phillip Island circuit after his Honda caught fire. Though he said he felt “a bit like a FMXer that just f**ked up a record attempt at the longest distance double backflip. Pretty much look like that guy too!” Rea’s doctors have discharged him with clearance to race. “He’s on his way back to Phillip Island with an all-clear from the hospital docs,” Castrol Honda announced, adding a picture of Rea eating dinner for good measure.

Jonathan Rea Might Miss Phillip Island WSBK Race

02/22/2011 @ 9:57 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Jonathan Rea Might Miss Phillip Island WSBK Race

Jonathan Rea could miss the season opening World Superbike race at Phillip Island this weekend after crashing there during testing Tuesday. Rea went off at Turn 3 when his Castrol Honda caught fire from an oil leak. Though Rea has not sustained major injuries, he has broken and dislocated the ring finger on his left hand, and was flown to Alfred Hospital in Melbourne for tests. When combined with the general soreness from getting off the bike at 130 mph and the lingering issues from his fall last week at the Honda private test at Phillip Island, Rea is questionable for the race this weekend.

Carlos Checa Dominates at Phillip Island Test

02/21/2011 @ 10:17 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Carlos Checa Dominates at Phillip Island Test

Carlos Checa was fastest overall, with a lap time of 1:30.578, as the final World Superbike winter test ended Tuesday at Phillip Island. That time was also nearly a half second faster than the existing lap record set by Regis Laconi in 2009, and almost 1.3 sec faster than Troy Corser’s race lap record from 2007. In addition to Checa, Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea, Jakub Smrz, and Joan Lascorz completed the fastest five. Rea’s time from Tuesday morning kept him third fastest despite a crash at Turn 3 in the afternoon that resulted in an injured hand. No word is available yet on the specifics of his injury.