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.

e-Power Could Rival MotoGP for Grid Size at Seca

07/07/2010 @ 3:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

With the US round of the e-Power Championship closing in upon us in two weeks, news of the grid size has begun to form. We had earlier predicted that the California rounds of the TTXGP and e-Power series would attract the largest field of competitors, when compared to the other races, and we were right. Set to go off on July 25th, with the MotoGP racing weekend at Laguna Seca, the e-Power Championship race at Seca is set to have 15 electric motorcycles or more on its starting line.

MotoCzysz Confirmed For e-Power Race at Seca

05/17/2010 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.

Betti Wins FIM e-Power Championship at Le Mans

04/19/2010 @ 10:34 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

This weekend France played host to the FIM’s first round of the e-Power Championship, which took place in Le Mans. Starting before the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance World Championship race, only five riders took to the starting line, with Belgian rider de Ridder not making it to venue. Taking the first win in the FIM’s first zero-emission motorcycle race was Thomas Betti, the son in the father-son duo of Betti Moto.

FIM Releases e-Power Entry List for Le Mans

04/14/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The electric sportbike season is rapidly approaching us, and the first event is the FIM’s e-Power Championship race at Le Mans. With six bikes and five teams on the entry list, the race will be sparse with entrants and could see the field shrink further if rumors are right that suggest one bike might be jumping ship to the Italian TTXGP series. Despite all this, the FIM’s first race has a great venue. Set to take place April 16th, the e-Power Championship launches just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans World Endurance Championship race in Sarthe, France.

Vito Ippolito Speaks on The Future of Motorcycling and the FIM’s e-Power Championship

03/25/2010 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

During at stop in Utrecht, Netherlands, David Emmett over at MotoMatters was able to have a sit down discussion with FIM bossman Vito Ippolito. In their conversation, Emmett gets a rare chance to ask Ippolito a variety of questions regarding the latest MotoGP rule changes, and inner-workings of the FIM, and its involvement in roadracing events.

The interview sheds terrific insight into how manufacturers, sponsorships, national and internationa pressures, and rule making shape the sport we all enjoy, and as the interview winds down, Emmett asks Ippolito about the role the FIM is taking in electric motorcycle racing, and how the FIM sees the future of motorcycling. With permission from MotoMatters we’ve reproduced this section of the interview after the jump, but recommend everyone to read the full interview transcript on MotoMatters.com. It’s well worth the read, and one of the best interviews we’ve seen in a while in the racing space.

e-Power Coming to Laguna Seca During MotoGP

03/25/2010 @ 6:10 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: The Laguna Seca round is now officially added to the e-Power Championship.

UPDATE: It would seem the folks at Laguna Seca are still negotiating with the FIM, and nothing has been signed yet. This statement does confirm however that Seca is the targeted venue for the e-Power Championship.

The FIM isn’t saying it outright, but it looks as if the e-Power Championship is slated to occur during MotoGP’s stop at Laguna Seca on July 25th. Listed as “TBA,” the FIM’s new venue is listed as being organized by the AMA, and of course the race falls on the same date as the US GP, so putting two and two together on this one isn’t too hard. This addition to the schedule comes after the FIM cancelled the e-Power Championship’s stop at the Doha endurance race, and the Dutch GP at Assen. More after the jump.

FIM Cuts Two Races From e-Power Championship

02/19/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by John Adamo3 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz e1pc three motor electric drive

The FIM has cut Doha and Assen from it’s e-Power electric motorcycle racing program’s list of 6 race venues. Keeping with e-Power tradition, FIM gave no reason for the decision. FIM claims interest from teams is high but it appears it’s not high enough to support six races in 2010.

In only about 6 months, the electric motorcycle racing world went from one high profile race in 2009 at the Isle Of Man, to three competing organizations and an abundance of high profile of venues. Three crowns are up for the taking and it appears there is not enough incentive or teams to fight for all of them. In racing, the value of the crown is usually measured by the caliber of teams fighting for it.

Roehr eSuperbike Enters Electric Motorcycle Racing

01/04/2010 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Roehr eSuperbike Enters Electric Motorcycle Racing

Roeher Motorcycles, maker of the 180hp supercharged 1250sc, has announced that they will be entering into the electric motorcycle scene with two bike offerings. The American sportbike manufacturer has also announced its intent to go racing with a company backed racing effort in the upcoming 2010 US TTXGP series. Roehr will also supply their eSuperbikes race prepped to teams wishing to race in either the TTXGP series or the FIM’s e-Power Championship.

Zero Enters TTXGP Racing Series [Updated]

12/02/2009 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Zero-Motorcycles-gauge

UPDATE: Neal Saiki comments about using the Mavizen chassis.

Zero Motorcycles has announced their entry into the 2010 TTXGP series, where they will race against Team Agni, and competitors using the CRP Racing and Mavizen platforms. Early reports peg Zero as also using a Mavizen TTX02 platform, essentially a KTM RC8 chassis gutted of its ICE components. Despite using the Mavizen/KTM chassis, the race bike will be powered by Zero’s Z-Force battery packs and motors.

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