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.

69 Photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200

10/03/2012 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The new Ducati Multistrada 1200 is a lot like the old Ducati Multistrada 1200, but we figured there are enough Ducatisti trolling the pages of A&R that a little moto porn wouldn’t hurt things too much. Gone is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Sport, which has essentially be replaced by the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak bike (which looks a-mazing).

The whole line benefits from the Testastretta 11° DS engine, which features a dual-spark ignition system that gives the MTS1200 a slight mid-range power boost, as well as the LED low-beam headlights. However, the real changes occur at the “S” trim level, which are the first bikes from Bologna to get the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) semi-active suspension package.

The last big change to the Multistrada line is the addition of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Grantourismo, which has some more kit for you if the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring isn’t touring enough for you. One-hundred-twenty-one liters of panniers and top case, the Grantourismo also has crash bars, LED fog lights, and a larger windscreen for its extra $2,000 over the Touring model.

We were thoroughly impressed with the original Multistrada 1200 when it came out in 2010, and the updates to the 2013 line seem compelling enough to keep Ducati in the mix for adventure riders who are looking for something a little bit more sporty than the 2013 BMW R1200GS and 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure.

While both the BMW and KTM are attractive machines in their own right, it is hard to beat that Italian sense of style. As such, sixty-nine high-res photos of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 model line are waiting for you after the jump.

Confirmed: Ducati Multistrada 1200 Features Dual-Spark Motor – Sachs Suspension & More Photos

09/20/2012 @ 10:35 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yesterday, we broke the news that Ducati’s second-generation Testastretta 11° motor features a dual-spark configuration, and we got a bit of flak in the comments section of that article over that claim. Well, today Ducati has released the technical specifications of the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 line, and the Italian company has confirmed a dual-spark setup in what it is now calling the Testastretta 11° DS engine.

The new Testastretta 11° DS engine is mostly the result of the ever-tightening emissions standards in Europe, though the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 (along with the other bikes that will get the Testastretta 11° DS engine) benefits from a smoother power delivery, as well as increased mid-range power and torque. Accordingly, peak torque on the Multistrada 1200 goes from 87.5 lbs•ft to 91.8 lbs•ft for 2013. Zesty.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Gets Semi-Active Suspension

09/18/2012 @ 8:48 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Ahead of this fall’s motorcycle shows, Ducati has unveiled its 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 range, which sees the sport-tourer getting a host of updates. Featuring a second-generation Testastretta 11° motor, perhaps the bigger news is the inclusion of Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), Ducati’s new semi-active suspension system. Other changes also include an updated three-level ABS system, as well as revised aesthetics.

As we tipped yesterday, the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak edition gets a new color scheme, as it uses the team’s livery from this year’ hill climb, and appears to take the reigns as Ducati’s “sport” offering for the MTS1200. In addition to the new colors, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak gets the Ducati Skyhook Suspension, as does the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring. DSS will not be available on the base model Multistrada 1200 however.

New for 2013 is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo, which is aimed to be a more purpose-built touring option in the Multistrada line. Featuring an increased side luggage capacity, top case, additional LED illumination, enhanced wind protection, and long-distance tires among other things, it will be interesting to see how Ducati prices the Granturismo against the regular Multistrada 1200 S Touring model here in the US.

2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Race Bike

08/09/2012 @ 7:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Ducati is in Colorado this weekend, taking part in the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second oldest motorsport race in the United States (the first being the Indy 500), 2012 is the first year that the Race to the Clouds will take place on a fully-paved road course, which is sure to bring a new chapter in this historic race.

Asphalt & Rubber made the great trek out to Colorado (braving the far-too-early mornings), and we are here mostly to heckle our boy Carlin Dunne, who won the race last year in his rookie debut (setting a course record no less). Riding with the Ducati Spider Grips Team this year, Dunne will be joining Greg Tracy, as the pair will again ride the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S up to the 14,000+ foot finish line.

Ducati hopes to continue its dominance on the mountain this year, and the Ducati has rolled out another iteration of its Multistrada 1200 S race bike, which we gushed over last year. It is hard to believe that the previous bike feels a bit dated now (though, we still wouldn’t mind a Pikes Peak edition MTS 1200 in our garage), but this year’s machine brings added refinery to the race bike, as well as an understated and classy, yet beautiful paint job.

Ducati Gearing Up for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

05/30/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

There are a number of things this summer we’re pretty pumped about here at Asphalt & Rubber, two of which are are the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and the release of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition. Part Formula 1, part World Rally Championship, there’s something about a race course where one wrong move in a priceless no-limits vehicle can send you over the edge of a 3,000 foot cliff that we find intriguing (yes, we have issues). So naturally this summer we had to put the PPIHC on our calendar, just one of the many bucket list items we’re attending to this year.

Another thing that gets us pumped is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition that the Italian brand built after last year’s PPIHC race. We rather enjoyed the Ducati Multistada 1200 when we tested one back in 2010 when the bike first came out. But when we saw the first photos of the MTS1200 that the Spider Grips Ducati Team built, we picked up the phone to the folks at Ducati North America, and said “you have to build this bike!” We doubt our insistence had anything to do with the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Edition being released, but it warms out heart that Ducati is doing a limited edition run of the machine.

So it goes without saying that footage of both Pikes Peak and the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Edition makes us happy, and eagerly await the run up the mountain later this June. Our product lust is in full-swing at this point, and that fact that this is really well done video spot doesn’t help matters further. Check it out after the jump, along with some photos of the racing replica MTS1200.

Ducati Puts the Kibosh on Multistrada 1200 S Corse Rumors

03/30/2011 @ 8:24 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

If you’re one to believe a recent filing with the California Air Research Board (CARB) and those pesky internet blogs, Ducati is set to bring a “Corse” version of its Multistrada 1200 to the United States. While we like anything named “Corse” that’s from Italy, we weren’t sure exactly what a 2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Corse model would look like in reality, considering in the past the Corse line has been comprised of some go-fast parts, and the Ducati Corse paint scheme.

Since that’s essentially the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Special Edition in a nutshell, we reached out Ducati North America to see what the lowdown was on this apparently new model (which our sources forgot to tip us off about) that will likely be making the rounds on the interwebs today. The answer is frighteningly simple: it’s what the company was going to call the Pikes Peak edition if they didn’t get the nod from the famed mountain race to use its trademark. Sorry folks, nothing to see here.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition

03/08/2011 @ 8:29 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

UPDATE: According to Ducati North America the United States will not get the carbon fiber Termignoni exhaust can, and instead will feature a numbered badge on the engine crankcase cover. Pricing is $21,995, available June 2011.

Helping celebrate Ducati’s heavyweight class win (and 2nd place overall) at Pikes Peak last year, the Italian company has released the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak Special Edition today. We’ve been saying that Ducati needs to build a Pikes Peak Special Edition of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S since…well, since we first laid eyes on the beautiful machine a year ago. Launching the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak today though, we’ll have to find something else to pester the Italian company about, but that’s fine by us.