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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 17 – EPA, Q&A, & KSU

03/03/2016 @ 12:53 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

two-enthusiasts-podcast

Episode 17 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast a show we’re pretty proud of, as it tackles some meaty subjects.

As such, Quentin and myself get into a healthy discussion about the EPA’s recent statement that it intends to change wording to the Clean Air Act in order to close the “race use only” loophole for aftermarket equipment for motor vehicles. We hope our arugments spur further debate amongst your own circle of riding friends.

We then shift gears and answer a listener’s question about whether or not he should become a mechanic, and per usual it takes some interesting turns as we discuss the current trends of education, labor, and economics, which eventual devolves into a more philosophical discussion on life, the universe, and everything.

We think you’ll find the whole show highly engaging.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Polaris Slingshot Prices Going Up $1,200 for 2016

07/02/2015 @ 12:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

polaris-slingshot-chassis

If you’ve been debating whether or not to get a Polaris Slingshot, your indecision may have just cost you $1,200. Just posted to the company’s website, Polaris has raised the MSRP on both its Slingshot models by $1,200.

The price hike is a simple matter of supply and demand, as Slingshot dealers cannot keep the three-wheeled not-a-car fun machine stocked on their showroom floors. With many dealers sold out, and Polaris capped on how many units it can produce a year, the only economic choice then was to raise the prices.

This price increase is already effective, as of the beginning of this week, and any further Slingshot orders this year will come at the more expensive. As such, the base model Slingshot is $21,199 and the Slingshot SL is $25,199.

How the Law of Supply & Demand is Growing MotoGP

06/11/2013 @ 3:34 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

apple-orange-freakonomics

Dorna took Suzuki’s departure from MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season badly. After bending over backwards to accommodate the Japanese factory during their final few years in the class, Suzuki finally pulled out of the series altogether, though they promised to return at a later date.

This of course was after Dorna gave Suzuki an exemption from the (now defunct) Rookie Rule, allowed the factory a larger engine allocation, and finally accepted the reduction from a two-rider effort to just a single entry, that of Alvaro Bautista.

Coming on top of Kawasaki’s withdrawal ahead of the 2009 season, Suzuki were the second Japanese factory to depart the class after a string of broken promises.

Why Implementing Price Caps Is the Best Way of Cutting Costs for Teams in MotoGP and WSBK

01/04/2013 @ 2:04 pm, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

With the announcement of the introduction of price caps for brakes and suspension in MotoGP from 2015, the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP’s rule-making body, appears to have finally found an effective way of controlling costs in the series. Instead of trying to control costs indirectly and seeing their efforts kicked into touch by the law of unintended consequences, the rule-makers have decided to attempt to go straight to the heart of the problem.

Will capping prices unleash a whole set of unintended consequences of its own? Will, as some fear, the move to cap prices lead to a drop in quality and therefore a reduction in R&D in the areas which are price-capped? And will the price cap act as a barrier to new entrants, or stimulate them? These are hard questions with no easy answers, yet there are reasons to believe that price caps are the most effective way of controlling costs, while the risks normally associated with a price cap, such as a reduction in quality, are lower in a racing paddock than they are in other environments.

Gas Prices by County in the United States

03/09/2011 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t been to a pump recently, gas prices are getting more and more expensive lately, thanks mostly in part to the civil unrest in the Middle East (Libya in particular). While the current sticker shock on gas prices is due to temporary issues, the United States is still bracing itself for $5.00/gallon gasoline this summer, which our friends abroad would love to see in their home countries as they pay nearly double that price for only a litre of fuel. Curious to see how gas prices breakdown by state and by county? Check out this cool widget that Brammo is hosting on its website.

Moto2 Costs €700,000 per Season – Moto2 Bikes Are Over 10x Cheaper than 250GP

03/12/2010 @ 5:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Spanish news site AS.com has an interesting story that breaks down the cost teams will have to bear in the new Moto2 600cc prototype series. Moto2 replaced 250GP for one main reason: money. The series was designed to be cheaper to enter and cheaper to compete in, as well as having bikes that were more analogous to what is making it into consumers’ hands on the showroom floor. So did Moto2 live up to these goals? The answer as AS.com found out is a resounding yes. Click past the break to see the price breakdown and comparison to 250GP.

The Good, Bad, And Ugly of the Used Buell Market

11/18/2009 @ 7:57 pm, by Joshua Minix19 COMMENTS

buell-economics

It’s been a few weeks since Harley-Davidson announced the immediate closure of its subsidiary Buell, where dealers began slashing prices both to liquidate stock and to cash-in on Harley’s $5,000 sale incentive. Basic economics dictates that any time a price is raised or lowered it has repercussions to the product’s resale value, and in the case of Buell’s sudden price drop and dumping of basically new bikes into the market, the consequences for current Buell owners seem dreary. Or are they?

In order to find an answer to that question, we asked Joshua Minix, former government think-tank Economist, and current John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at Harvard Law School, to wade through the implications of Buell’s closure, and how it affects the used Buell motorcycle market. Click past the jump for his analysis.