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.

Dorna Sports Fined For Tax Evasion

03/01/2016 @ 3:36 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

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The Spanish Supreme Court has imposed multi-million dollar fines on Dorna Sports and its executives for tax offenses arising out of the sale of shares in 2003 and 2004.

The court found that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and COO & CFO Enrique Aldama had simulated the sale of shares in order to avoid paying income tax and to receive undeclared dividends from the shares the two men hold.

The ruling of the Division of Administrative Litigation of the Supreme Court was that Dorna Sports S.L. sold shares to a separate company owned by the same partners (including Ezpeleta and Aldama) who were selling the shares.

The share purchase was financed using debt held in part by the partners who owned the company buying the shares. Dorna claimed that this was a form of leveraged recapitalization, but the Supreme court disagreed with that assessment.

In reality, the Supreme Court ruled, Dorna and its executives were pursuing a means of receiving hidden dividends.

Dorna Will Manage TV Rights for Other FIM Championships

01/20/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Dorna Sports is starting to consolidate its position as the TV right holder for all international motorcycle championships, as the Spanish media giant has signed an agreement with the FIM to manage the television rights for a number of less-popular FIM Championships.

Starting this year, Dorna will handle the TV rights for Championships that the FIM manages, namely the the FIM Trial, X-Trial, MOTUL Ice Speedway, Speedway GP Challenge, Sidecar and Cross-Country Rallies World Championships, and the FIM International Six Days Enduro.

Dorna Eyeing a North American Championship?

06/23/2014 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

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The discourse in AMA paddock is palpable. From 2013’s surprise revelation that AMA Pro Road Racing’s TV package would not cover all the events, to 2014’s complete lack of television coverage, there have been serious questions raised about DMG’s ability to market the premier road racing series in the United States.

A constantly dwindling calendar of events has caused many to wonder about DMG’s ability to organize race weekends, as this year’s provisional five-event calendar was marked with the absence of any races west of The Rockies (the motorcycle industry’s sweet spot), a move that would cause John Ulrich of Roadracing World to start his own three-event “Superbike Shootout” series (Laguna Seca would later be added to the AMA calendar as a sixth event).

This year was also marked by an exodus of top-level teams (Michael Jordan Motorsports and Erik Buell Racing), as well as marquee sponsors (The Army National Guard and GEICO).

Just recently torrential rain, a field of Superbikes on slicks, and not a red flag in sight caused a dust-up just a few weeks ago at Road America, resulting in a modest investment in publication ink regarding the officiating at AMA Pro Road Racing events, especially in regards to rider safety.

American road racing has long been in decline, but never before has the frustration with the series been so evident across the series’ stakeholders of riders, teams, sponsors, fans, and journalists. The malcontent is evident whenever the subject is broached.

No one can say for certain what form American road racing will take for the 2015 season, but things do not seem to be taking a positive direction with DMG’s ownership of AMA Pro Racing.

American road racing is in serious danger of fracturing if the Superbike Shootout continues, and it could legitimately collapse altogether if DMG continues operating the way it has to date. As if that wasn’t enough, a third option is waiting in the wings: Dorna.

MotoGP: BT Sport Gets UK Broadcast Rights for 2014-2018

05/09/2013 @ 9:39 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

Searching for Signs of Intelligent Life...

Dorna Sports issued the following press release on the acquisition of the broadcast rights for MotoGP in the United Kingdom for the next five years. More information and full commentary will be released soon, but there are a few key details which are already known.

Firstly, for details on how to receive BT Sport, see the BT Sport website. Secondly, although the commentary team is as yet unknown, the names of Julian Ryder and Keith Huewen are circulating, though this could of course be wishful thinking.

Thirdly, it seems almost certain that British Eurosport will no longer provided delayed broadcast of the MotoGP races, as that deal was tied up with the BBC contract. After the jump is the press release from Dorna:

MotoGP And World Superbike To Be “Brought Together”

10/02/2012 @ 11:26 am, by David Emmett26 COMMENTS

Bridgepoint has announced today that it has brought MotoGP and World Superbike, the two motorcycle racing series it owns, under a single umbrella organization. The reorganization will see Dorna Sports become the parent organization for both series, though Infront will operate as an independent entity and continue to organize World Superbike under its own banner. Infront has also been named as “marketing advisor and global advisor” for both MotoGP and WSBK.

The implications of this announcement are huge, but not immediately clear. The logic behind the move is impeccable: the two series are spending too much of their time competing against each other instead of working together to promote the sport of motorcycle racing. By combining their marketing efforts, the hope is that both series will be made stronger.

Dorna Sports Declared “Best Spanish Business”…in Italy

12/03/2010 @ 5:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Dorna Sports Declared “Best Spanish Business”…in Italy

File this one under stuff we couldn’t make up if we tried (although the fake press release would be awesome). Dorna Sports, media rights holder to our one and only MotoGP World Championship racing series, has been declared the “Best Spanish Business”…in Italy…by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce…in Italy…yeah it just got that weird.

Apparently the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, which operates in Italy and helps facilitate business operations between the two countries, has made it a habit to recognize Spanish businesses that have a substantial amount of their business in Italy, and promote the economies of both countries, which is great, if not slightly strange.

Kawasaki Secretly Signed on as Sole Motor Provider for Moto2?

04/17/2009 @ 4:03 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Visordown is reporting that they have a source who has uncovered an unofficial report that Kawasaki has been chosen as the sole motor supplier for the new Moto2 race series. The source goes on to allege that a deal has already been signed for Kawasaki to supply the one-make motors for the class, despite Dorna’s claims that the contract is still open for tender. Apparently, the deal has been done on down-low in order to keep Kawasaki involved in the MotoGP racing series.

 

Melandri And Kawasaki to Field Single Bike Campaign?

02/14/2009 @ 7:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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According to both Tuttosport and Sportmediaset (both members of the overly-excitable and sometime unreliable Italian press), Marco Melandri will be riding a privately run Kawasaki for 2009. In a deal brockered by Carmelo Ezpeleta, the team will be led by Michael Bartholemy. Details are somewhere between sketchy and nonexistent, but it seems that Kawasaki will make all of the 2009-spec bikes available to Bartholemy, who will field a single rider, Marco Melandri.

Shortly after the news broke that Kawasaki would be withdrawing from MotoGP, the factory said that it had enough bikes and parts to last approximately a quarter of a season, and so presumably, this would be enough to run a single rider for at least half the season, or perhaps a little longer if the practice restrictions are pushed through as expected.

Finance for the project will most likely come from Dorna who want to avoid breaching their own contract with the FIM to field at least 18 riders for a world championship, with Kawasaki possibly kicking in some seed money since they don’t want to breach their contract with Dorna. Melandri would presumably be riding the 2009-spec bikes tested by Olivier Jacque in Australia during January, despite reports of poor reliability. 

Source: MotoGP Matters

Bridgestone Signs 3 Year Agreement as Single MotoGP Tire Supplier

01/26/2009 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Bridgestone Signs 3 Year Agreement as Single MotoGP Tire Supplier

Bridgestone has finally signed the agreement with Dorna Sports making it the only tire supplier for MotoGP for the next three seasons. Last season saw for Michelin dwindle as Bridgestone became the favorite shoe in the paddock, so much so that Dani Pedrosa jumped ship mid-season, leaving teammate Nicky Hayden behind who was not given the same option to switch to Bridgestone. The agreement comes about as Dorna tries to further reduce cost and make closer wheel-to-wheel racing. Continue reading for more.

 

Ezpeleta Holds Kawasaki to 2009, But Not 2010 and 2011

01/14/2009 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Ezpeleta Holds Kawasaki to 2009, But Not 2010 and 2011

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Really, we’re trying to think of a way that the 2009 MotoGP season could become less of a soap opera, but it continues to act like one. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, has shed some more light on the back-and-forth between his organization and Kawasaki.

“I’ve already said that I would not accept the breakdown of Kawasaki’s contract signed with us until 2011. I have proposed that they run in 2009, and in exchange, to allow them to withdraw in 2010 and 2011. They told me that they had an engine for only four or five races of the season. So I looked for a company in France able to help develop the bike. The last obstacle for the Japanese is to meet these people and accept their program.” 

This meeting is scheduled for early next week, and Ezpeleta is pushing for Kawasaki to honor its contract with its riders as well as Dorna, “The team will be led by Michael Bartholemy, and I think it is important to keep the two pilots under contract, John Hopkins and Marco Melandri.” Ezpeleta finished by reiterating that he would take Kawasaki to court if it defaulted on their commitment with Dorna Sports.