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.

How About Some Halo Bike Spec-Sheet Racing?

06/19/2015 @ 2:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler60 COMMENTS

RC213V-S

With the Honda RC213V-S debuting at Catalunya last week, much has already been said about Big Red’s road-going GP bike…especially in terms of how it compares to other halo bike motorcycles that have been 0r currently are on the market.

So, in the interest of exploring solely the most basic attributes from a motorcycle’s technical specification sheet, we have compiled a spreadsheet to see how the Honda RC213V-S stacks up against its most analogous street bikes.

As such, we have compiled the horsepower, dry weight, and cost of the the Ducati Desmosedici RR, Ducati 1199 Superleggera, Kawasaki Ninja H2R, MV Agusta F4 RC, EBR 1190RS, and Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycles — you can see the easy-to-read chart (after the jump), and make your own comparisons to the RC213V-S.

Erik Buell Racing Teases Us Some More

08/08/2013 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

erik-buell-racing-headlight-teaser-crop-exposure

Erik Buell Racing continues to tease its upcoming models on the company’s Facebook page, and to compliment the two-seater ass shot from several weeks ago, EBR has posted up a shot of a bike hiding in the shadows, with its LED marker lights illuminated.

Though Erik Buell Racing has purposefully doctored the photo, so we can’t decipher more of this bike’s details, the big reveal here is the new headlight design for EBR that replaces the very Roehr/MV Agsuta setup found on the EBR 1190RS.

Are You the Erik Buell Racing 1190RX?

07/25/2013 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

erik-buell-racing-1190rx-teaser

On its Facebook page right now, Erik Buell Racing is teasing a two-seater bike, which looks suspiciously similar to the EBR 1190RS homologation-special racing machine.

With EBR teasing the names of three future machines on its website: the RX, SX, and AX, those who are capable of putting two-and-two together can deduce that the Milwaukee-based company is getting ready to bring another version of its 1190cc street bike to market, complete with a pillion.

Erik Buell Racing Gets Flooring Financing From GE Capital

12/07/2012 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing is well on its way, after announcing today that the American sport bike company has secured inventory financing from GE Capital. An important step in setting up a strong dealer network, GE’s commitment to Erik Buell Racing means that EBR dealers will be able to purchase their inventory on credit (the standard industry practice) from a top-tier financial institution.

GE Capital has become the go-to financier in the motorcycle and powersports industry, and the group has been making some very competitive offers to up-start motorcycle companies in the recent years. For EBR, getting GE Capital on-board with the fledgling company is a crucial step in building out the company’s dealer network, and putting bikes on the showroom floor.

Photos: A Future AMA Star in the Making

05/10/2012 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

One of the banes of any photographers existence is when someone walks right into the middle of your shot. There seems to be two schools of thought on how to deal with such an incident, with some preferring to let nature take its course, and wait for the intruder to leave the frame, while others prefer the scream/temper-tantrum school of thought that may or may not include throwing a gear bag in a fit of rage.

Where a photographer falls on that spectrum seems to be a function of how much time he or she spent setting up the shot, how much Red Bull had been consumed that morning, and whether it was another photographer who decided to start working with reckless abandon for his fellow photojournalists. However, there are some incidents where when someone walks into your shot, it is a welcomed addition. Snapping photos of the American flag-clad Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, I had such a moment, which I think touches the inner-child of all of us.

Up-Close with the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS ‘merica Edition

05/07/2012 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler67 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing had a good weekend at Sears Point, with Danny Eslick riding the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS to its first podium in Race 1, with Team Hero. Making an encore podium in Race 2, Geoff May also put the EBR 1190RS on the third step, this time for Team Amsoil/Hero. With the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS benefiting from Sear Points emphasis on handling instead of horsepower, the EBR has made up a ton of ground in just a short amount of time.

While the EBR 1190RS race bikes were on the track, their $40,000+ street-legal counterparts were on display outside of the Erik Buell Racing garage. Rocking an American flag livery, I naturally took pictures of this show bike. Eye catching to say the least, nothing says “Made in ‘merica” better than a red, white, and blue color scheme, especially when it is laid over carbon fiber. And while I want to love this bike because of its nuances and outside-of-the-box technical design, I don’t.

Trading patriotism for originality, Erik Buell Racing is still pushing the same worn-out Americana marketing plan that Harley-Davidson built for the sport bike company way back when. With two podium victories, a gorgeous product, and a story that is an encapsulation of hard work overcoming adversity, you would think that the folks from East Troy could put away the cheap parlor trick of using Americana to sell motorcycles. One gorgeous bike in its own right, but a played out theme as well. What happened to being innovative guys? Photos after the jump.

Video: EBR Nation Part 3 – “Made in America”

08/10/2011 @ 7:38 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Erik Buell Racing has another installment of its “EBR Nation” video set, with part three of the YouTube series focusing on EBR’s “Made in America” credential. Unlike the previous videos (Part 1 & Part 2), it’s hard to get behind this one, as Buell and his crew go back to the well with their “it’s made in America, so you should buy it” philosophy/sales pitch. The short clip starts out well enough, with Buell saying “over the last few years there was a feeling that the dream of America is getting away from us.” Whether you believe that is actually true or not, there certainly has been a movement expressing this very idea after watching the credit market collapse, and seeing someone like Buell trying to make something out of the ashes of the recession is a bit inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the same reused tagline that because something is built in the USA it is somehow automatically better that the competition. This sort of continued thinking its precisely what put Buell out of business the first time around, and like the reused action shots for this video (you may have seen many of these quick-cuts in Parts 1 & 2, and a couple are even used twice in Part 3), you get tired of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again with no result.

The whole idea behind Erik Buell Racing was that it was a company that could flourish from outside Harley-Davidson’s thumb, and the whole purpose of the EBR 1190RS was that it was supposed to be an American superbike that we could appreciate on the merits. The fact that all of this is being done by Americans, in America, is all the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Rant over. The video is after the jump.

Video: EBR Nation Part 2 – “Fingertips”

07/27/2011 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Erik Buell Racing has the second part to its strobed-out EBR Nation video series (previously titled “The Making of the EBR 1190RS”), and we see the videos go from previously a more narrative take to a more promotional role (that’s marketing for yah). Like the Prologue, “Fingertips” has Geoff May talking about the bike, with a few sound bites from Erik Buell himself sprinkled in for good measure.

One of May’s more interesting comments is that the EBR 1190RS handles so well, that you’d have to go down to bikes half its displacement to find similar handling characteristics. Worthy praise for sure, though it’s probably a bit too soon on the heels of the Daytona Sportbike fiasco under Harley-Davidson’s reign.

There’s unfortunately little information to learn from the segment, which is a shame considering how few riders will actually get to experience the 100 hand-made 2012 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS motorcycles that will be produced (assuming EBR hits its production goals). Hopefully when Buell tips his hand more on the RX, SX, and AX models it’ll mean more attainable motorcycles for riders with mortal-sized wallets. Made for the true Buelltisti, you’ll get your East Troy fix after the jump.

The Making of the EBR 1190RS: Part 1 (Prologue)

07/19/2011 @ 1:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

After unveiling the $40,000 Erik Buell Racing 1190RS street bike to the public last year, and recently taking the EBR 1190RS to Mid-Ohio for its AMA Pro Superbike racing debut, the guys at EBR are ready to show some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into America’s newest sport bike.

In what looks to be a several part video series, we’re given the prologue of the making of the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS, complete with sounds from Buell’s own record label, Rat Pak Records, and some seizure inducing footage (we actually like the production work, but worry about our epileptic readers watching this video…no, really).

So far we have little to go on as to where this “EBR Nation” series is headed, but there is one Geoff May talking some hyperbole about the EBR 1190RS (the latest AMA paddock scuttle-butt says that he will not be with the Erik Buell Racing team next year), and it closes with a fitting message from Erik Buell himself. Check it out after the jump, and check back here for more of these videos as we get them.

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

07/11/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Mid-Ohio is a great destination if you’re looking to do a track day (we’d recommend riding with these guys), and Mid-Ohio is an even better place to leave if you don’t have a motorcycle with you. However, once a year, the Buckeye State redeems itself by playing host to an AMA Pro Racing weekend. The AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio were extra special this year, as KTM debuted Chris Fillmore on its factory-backed KTM 1190 RC8 R Superbike, bringing the Austrian company into a more active relationship with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Also making its first racing debut was the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Superbike, the race version of Erik Buell’s latest street machine (or is it the 1190RS the street bike version of Buell’s latest race bike?). However which way you read that development process, this weekend was the first time Geoff May got to flog the EBR 1190RS in anger on a track with other racers present.

The much anticipated bigger horsepower Superbike was supposed to put Erik Buell Racing on an even playing field with the other manufacturers, as the team had previously been cobbled with its 1125cc homologated Buell 1125R, and accordingly the EBR team tent saw it’s fair share of visitors..

With KTM making its first AMA race outing on its otherwise tried and tested RC8 R platform, and Buell banking on several AMA season’s worth of racing experience to launch its previously un-raced 1190RS Superbike, and interesting contrast comes out from AMA Pro Racing’s latest stop at Lexington, Ohio.