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.

Alstare Splits with Ducati in World Superbike

10/25/2013 @ 2:20 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

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After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminate the contract between the Belgian Alstare team and the Italian Ducati Corse World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems at Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor as the reason.

The split has long been expected, as Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with the collaboration between his team and Ducati, not to mention the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13.

WSBK: Team Ducati Alstare With Checa & Badovini

11/12/2012 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Team Ducati Alstare With Checa & Badovini

All the conjecture about Ducati’s factory World Superbike team can now come to a halt, as the Italian brand has announced that Francis Batta’s Belgian organisation, Team Alstare will take over the reigns of the company’s new WSBK effort.

At the helm of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 will be former WSBK Champion Carlos Checa, who will be joined by Ayrton Badovini. Handling Ducati’s World Superbike campaign for the next two years, Alstare takes over from Althea Racing — a move that made headlines just a week ago.

The WSBK Saga Continues: Ducati Corse Talking to Alstare?

10/30/2012 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It seems we won’t get through each day of the week without an update on Ducati Corse’s World Superbike plans. After first hearing that Ducati Corse and Althea Racing had parted ways, with Ducati then confirming the news, it seems now the Italian brand is being linked to the Belgian Alstare Team, previously of Suzuki fame.

Talks between Ducati Corse and Team Alstare have been confirmed by Team Principal Francis Batta, with the negotiations between the two parties set to conclude tomorrow. Interestingly enough, the conclusion of the Alstare deal is fresh on the news of Althea Racing’s split from Ducati, which only adds more fuel to the speculation about the two parties.

Team Alstare Racing an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport?

12/16/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

You can’t keep a good race team down, as talk in the World Superbike paddock this week has been swirling around the Alstare Racing team. One of several teams to be on the receiving end of Suzuki’s withdrawal from the major racing series, Alstare found its factory-support from Suzuki draw to a close at the conclusion of the 2011 WSBK Championship season. We use the words “factory support” loosely of course, as Alstare Suzuki had been developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 almost exclusively in-house, receiving only production OEM parts from Suzuki when needed.

As Suzuki shut its doors to WSBK and MotoGP racing, in the hopes of saving money to buy its stock back from minority shareholder Volkswagen (among other things), the Alstare Team Principal Franics Batta vowed that he would race with the Japanese manufacturer, or not race at all. News then came out that linked Team Alstare to possibly taking over the Kawasaki Factory WSBK team, which would later be handed to World Supersport’s Provec Motocard Kawasaki team. Other rumors linked Batta as interested in campaigning with MV Agusta, though the Belgian team owner could not get a callback from Varese.

Progress has seemingly been made on that front though, as Alstare Racing is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Italian company to campaign an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport, with the relationship possibly growing to include an MV Agusta F4 RR in a seaon’s time.

WSBK: If Suzuki Goes, So Does Alstare Says Team Manager

08/08/2011 @ 7:30 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Alstare Suzuki team manager Francis Batta has announced that should Suzuki decide to follow Yamaha’s footsteps, and withdraw from World Superbike competition as a factory, his Championship winning team would also withdraw, instead of pursuing a different manufacturer for its backing. The team announced, “If Suzuki decides not to take part in the World Superbike Championship next year, Francis will also stop rather than continue with another manufacturer.”

After Yamaha announced its withdrawal from WSBK competition at the end of the 2011 season, Batta felt the need to “clarify his position regarding current speculation about 2012.” Rather than continue with a different manufacturer such as Kawasaki, which was rumored, as Team Green is currently accepting bids for the 2012 factory team, Batta “would like to continue with them [Suzuki] alone in the future.”