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.

A KTM 1290 Super Duke R Dirt Bike?

12/07/2015 @ 7:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-Off-Road

When it comes to inappropriate dirt bikes, we’re your guys. So, it shouldn’t surprise you then to read that we’re all about this KTM 1290 Super Duke R that’s set to compete in the 2016 Erzbergrodeo. After all, what’s not to like in a 180hp off-roader?

I’m not going to lie, I have a school boy’s crush on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, after finally getting a chance to swing a leg over one; and there’s something that tickles me about the idea of using a square peg to fill a round hole, when it comes to motorcycles.

That all being said, Jiří Heiník’s latest creation, the “KTM 1290 Super Enduro” tickles us just in the right way…he’s clearly our sort of crazy.

Watch Only Five Competitors Finish the 2015 Erzbergrodeo

08/28/2015 @ 8:11 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Competitors - Action

The Erzbergrodeo billed as the toughest single-day motorcycle race on the planet – a name the race more than live up to each year. For 2015 though, Sunday’s Red Bull Hare Scramble, as its known to the marketing-hip, was something out of Dante’s seven circles of Hell.

500 riders qualified for the main event, a number that was whittled down from the 1,500 entries. Of those 500 riders though, only 5 of them finished the course, known better as “The Iron Giant”.

Though the Erzbergrodeo is known for its low-finishing rate, this year’s event was extra difficult because the race organizers added an additional 21 miles to its length, including the new “Downtown” section, which was a virtually impassable with its ravine and steep muddy hill.

With four co-winners (Jonny Walker, Graham Jarvis, Andreas Lettenbichler, and Alfredo Gómez), and a fifth lone finisher (Mario Roman Serrano), we bet this will be a race talked about for some time. Luckily if you missed it on TV, we have the full TV episode right here, after the jump. Enjoy!

2015 Erzberg Rodeo Finishes With Four-Way Tie

06/09/2015 @ 1:03 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Winning Ceremony - Lifestyle

The Erzberg Rodeo billed as the toughest single-day motorcycle race on the planet, and all you have to do in order to check that superlative against hyperbole is to ask a competitor about the Red Bull Hare Scramble event.

With 500 riders qualifying for Sunday’s Red Bull Hare Scramble, out of some 1,500 entries, only five…yes five…finished the gruelling “Iron Giant”.

As if the past races in the open-air Austrian pit mine, haven’t been hard enough, this year’s event included a number of changes, including an all-new section lovingly named “Downtown” that was right before the finish line.

Adding 21 miles to the previous course length, the Downtown section was virtually impassable with its ravine and steep muddy hill, even for the top entries. Accordingly, the Top 4 riders banded together in order to make it through the meatgrinder and finish the race.

As such, Jonny Walker, Graham Jarvis, Andreas Lettenbichler, and Alfredo Gómez are this year’s joint Erzberg Rodeo winners, with Mario Roman Serrano credited as the fifth and final race finisher.

In case the race wasn’t breath-taking enough, the photos seemingly do it justice. We have 71 high-resoltuion shots for you, after the jump.

Watch Jonny Walker Win the 2014 Erzbergrodeo

09/22/2014 @ 11:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Jonny Walker - Action

The Erzbergrodeo is billed as the hardest single-day event on a motorcycle, and if you question that as hyperbole, here is your chance to see why first-hand.

Red Bull has made available the a full, unedited, hour and thirty-nine minute POV video of Jonny Walker winning the 2014 Erzbergrodeo. There’s a reason it’s called hard enduro.

Come Watch the 2014 Erzbergrodeo – The Most Grueling Single-Day Motorcycling Event

06/05/2014 @ 5:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Dougie Lampkin - Action

Billed as the toughest single-day enduro in the world, the Erzbergrodeo certainly seems to live up to the hyperbole. Four days of events, the Erzbergrodeo is crowned by the last day’s Red Bull Hare Scramble, where 500 qualifiers (pared down from over 1,000 entries) take to the Austrian quarry, and only a handful find the finish line.

The Erzbergrodeo is mildly ridiculous, and completely laborious…so, obviously we like it. Thankfully for the 2014 competitors, the rain wasn’t too big of a factor this year…because you know, it’s not like the hare scramble wasn’t hard enough to begin with. We won’t spoil the results for you, so a summary video (along with a bunch of hi-res photos) is waiting for you after the jump, while you can watch the 4hr long version right here.

Slow-Motion Footage of the Erzberg Rodeo

06/13/2013 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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They call the Erzberg Rodeo the toughest single-day event in motorcycle racing — we’re inclined to agree. For the 2013 edition of the hard-enduro race, 1,500 riders entered to compete, 500 qualified on Saturday to the main event, and come Sunday’s race, only 14 finished.

Battling against the added challenge of the rain this year, Erzberg riders also had an even tougher time than usual with the giant hill of mud that leads out of the quarry pit, and onto the other more technical 20 other checkpoints of hell. The one great thing about the race though, it makes for great video…especially in slow-motion with all the water, mud, and tears.

Erzberg Rodeo – Red Bull’s S&M Playhouse for Motorcycles

06/05/2013 @ 6:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Competitor - Action

There is nothing about the Erzberg Rodeo that appeals to me, other than the fact that it is totally bonkers, awesome, and horrible all rolled into one single-day event (there’s a reason this site is called Asphalt & Rubber).

Any race where 1,500 riders start, 500 qualify, and only 14 finish, has got to be an epic competition, and considering the fact that the Erzberg Rodeo starts in the excavation pit of an Austrian mine…well, it takes a special rider to be enticed by such an event.

One such special rider is Graham Jarvis, who was the first of the fourteen men to reach the 20th and final checkpoint. Taking 2 hours and 52 seconds to complete the course, Jarvis made the 2013 Erzberg Rodeo look downright easy.

However, with one look at the race-day conditions from this past weekend, we know it was anything but. Take a look for yourself after the jump — race results are here.

Motorcycling’s Most Grueling Single-Day Race?

01/07/2013 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

red-bull-hare-scramble-erzberg-rodeo

At over to 5,000 miles long, and with 14 days of competition, the 2013 Dakar Rally may be the most grueling event you can race on a motorcycle. But what about the most grueling single-day race? That honor would have to go to the Red Bull Hare Scamble at the Erzberg Rodeo. An enduro event like no other, the 2012 edition saw 500+ competitors at the starting line, but only seven actually finish the race.

An active open-air iron mine the rest of the year, the “Iron Giant” hosts some of the most determined enduro and trials riders in the world each year. A test of bike control, navigation, stamina, and a bit of luck, we imagine you will be tired simply after watching the hour-long video that is waiting for you beyond the jump. As for The Dakar? Imagine something like this for two weeks straight and you would be in the right ballpark.

Touratech’s Husqvarna Nuda-X-Cross

06/08/2012 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

I imagine that for some, despite the business case to the contrary, a Husqvarna should always play well in the dirt, which seems to be the mantra with the folks over at Touratech. Taking Husky’s first true-born road bike, and baptizing it with mud, the Touratech Nuda-X-Cross looks perfectly capable going where the sidewalk ends.

Shod with a set of knobbies, some purpose-built bodywork from Touratech’s line, and a new attitude, we dig what the ADV-touring parts company has done with Swedish brand’s latest offering. Not just a looker, Touratech intends on racing two Touratech Nuda-X-Cross bikes in the grueling Erzberg Rodeo, held in the Austrian Alps. Even that makes our street-bound hearts skip a beat. More photos after the jump.