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.

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900

06/15/2011 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Along with the “don’t call them spy shost” photos that Husqvarna released yesterday, the Swedish brand owned by a German company that’s based in Italy has also released a video that elaborates on the design of the new Husqvarna 900 street bike. As we’ve seen already from the concept sketches, and affirmed in the photos, the new street-going Husky is a super-sized supermotard that features BMW’s F800 series parallel twin motor, albeit slightly revised to 900cc. Find the design philosophy of the new Husqvarna 900 according to Head of Husqvarna Design Raffaele Zaccagnini after the jump.

Kiska Helps Decorate the 2012 KTM SX Bikes

05/31/2011 @ 3:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Out of all of the industrial design firms that dabble in the motorcycle industry, it has to be the angularly inclined folks at Kiska who we admire the most. Responsible for more than their fair share of “Ready to Race” motorcycles and cars, the Austrian firm has brought us favorites like the KTM RC8 Superbike, KTM Crossbow track car, and the recently debuted KTM 125 Duke street bike.

Helping KTM spruce up its 2012 line of dirt machines, we’re digging the chrome on white color scheme…and we’re not even dirt bike guys. To describe the work in the words of Paris Hilton: “that’s hot” and you can check out more of the 2012 after the jump.

Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce by Luca Bar

04/26/2011 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t notice, we really like the work of Luca Bar. The young Italian designer has an eye for motorcycles we like to own, so it seemed fitting that we show off one of Bar-Design’s older works, the Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce.

With the fabled Italian company set to go up on the auction block again this summer, we thought perhaps some inspiration from Maestro Bar would help pull some buyers out of the woodwork. At the very least, it’s an excuse to show off some more drool-worthy motorcycle eyecandy.

Primer: The Ducati Diavel

03/03/2011 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Tomorrow Asphalt & Rubber must make the trek down from perfect Northern California, to SoCal and the pits of Los Angeles, where dreams go to die. As we descend down through the lower rings of Dante’s ladder and into hell that is the perpetually sunny and warm Los Angeles, our final destination will in fact bring us face-to-face with The Devil himself. Riding the latest creation from Bologna, the American motorcycle press will get its first chance at the highly anticipated Ducati Diavel.

Since we’ll be bringing you live coverage from the event, and writing a few pieces on Ducati’s stab at the performance cruiser segment throughout the rest of the week, we thought it best to start with a primer on the motorcycle. Find after the jump the 2011 Ducati Diavel‘s technical specs, photographs, and design synthesis, and features.

2012 Honda Goldwing Gets Minor Tweaks

02/21/2011 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There must be a new rule in the tourer market segment where “all new bikes” consist of minor revisions to existing machines, as Honda has apparently taken a page out of Harley-Davidson’s playbook, and done an exciting upgrade to the 2012 Honda Goldwing. While rumors were overly-hyped that an all-new Goldwing would be making an American appearance, it appears instead that the Honda engineers have gone on to further improve upon their design of the legendary touring motorcycle.

No longer built in America at Honda’s now defunct Marysville, Ohio plant, the Japanese produced 2012 Honda Goldwing comes with a slightly larger price tag, but boasts some improvements to justify the cost. Revamped bodywork, larger capacity luggage pieces, improved built-in GPS with iPod/MP3 player support, and revised suspension complete the changes for the new Goldwing. It’s hard to impress sport bike guys with a big bike like the Honda Goldwing, but if you’re interested in buying the gold standard (no pun intended) of motorcycle touring, things just got a bit more appealing we imagine.

Motorcycle Lust: KTM/Vyrus Frankenbike

02/19/2011 @ 4:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

This has to be the most impractical motorcycle ever conceived…but we absolutely have to have one. A mixture of the KTM Dakar 450 & KTM Freeride concept, and the Vyrus 987 C3 4V, this Frankenbike not only grabs our attention for its outrageous design, but for its handy work in Photoshop as well. You’d think with the combined forces of KTM‘s proven Dakar winner, Ducati’s stout 1198cc v-twin power plant, and Vyrus‘ hub-center steering chassis design, this would be the last word on all things two wheeled, but as its creator points out, that’s likely not to be the case.

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.

Here’s One for the MV Agusta Fans

01/20/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

If you’re a lover of all things Italian (MV Agusta‘s in particular), and near the Midland, Michigan area, then you should stop by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art before April 10, 2011. A part of the Midland Center of the Arts, the museum is showing an exhibit on Italian art that includes a gallery full of classic and modern MV Agusta motorcycles, along with photographs of Italian cars, and 17th century Italian sketches.

Showing the merger of form and function, MV Agusta motorcycles easily top our list as some of the finest-looking two-wheeled machines ever made. As much as we slog the Italian company for going to the well on its most recent creation, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, its predecessor the MV Agusta F4, whose lines were penned by the master Massimo Tamburini, has to be the most gorgeous modern motorcycle ever produced by mortal man.

A video of the exhibit is embedded after the jump, along with a gallery of the MV Agusta F3. If any A&R readers go to the exhibit, we’d love to post your photos of the MV’s on display.

The Mission R with Its Clothes Off

01/18/2011 @ 12:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The Mission R, the latest creation to come from San Francisco-based Mission Motors, looks like any typical gasoline-powered sportbike (well, any really good looking gasoline-powered sportbike), and that’s sort of the point behind the machine: an electric motorcycle that can excite petrol-heads and electron nerds alike. Although the Mission R was made to draw mainstream appeal, today we see further proof that any resemblance to modern ICE motorcycles was made to be only skin deep.

Beneath the carbon-laid fairings of the Mission R, we see a hint of the bike’s unique chrome-moly trellis frame that mates to a previously hidden headstock/front sub-frame unit that was made by Speedymoto and designed by James Parker (of GSX-RADD fame). With the Mission R’s mass centralized around the 141hp 3-phace AC induction motor, Parker also had to contend with Mission’s carbon enclosed two-tiered battery pack that comprises the bulk of the race bike’s weight.

Read after the jump as Parker walks us through his process and thoughts on designing the Mission R, and be sure to check out the photo galleries for an up-close look.

Pierre Terblanche Leaves Piaggio for Norton

01/13/2011 @ 9:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.