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.

MotoGP: Loris Baz Confirmed with Forward Racing for 2015

10/04/2014 @ 11:57 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Loris-Baz-Kawasaki-Racing

Loris Baz has finally found his place in MotoGP. After being signed and then disposed of by the Aspar team, the Forward Racing team finally announced that they have signed the 21-year-old Frenchman for the 2015 season.

Baz will line up alongside Stefan Bradl on board the Open class Forward Yamaha. The Forward Yamaha will be close to a 2014 spec satellite Yamaha M1, but using the Open software.

Voxan Wattman — A French Brand Revival Brings an Electric Power Cruiser to Market

12/02/2013 @ 6:28 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Voxan-Wattman-02

The Voxan brand has been reborn, this time with Gildo Pastor, the billionaire Monégasque man behind the Venturi automobile project. Building off of his experience with Venturi’s use of electric drivetrains, Pastor has revived the Voxan brand to bring electric motorcycles to market, thus making good on his promise in 2010 to bring an electric to market within three years.

The Voxan Wattman, the company’s first new model, has just broken cover at the Paris Auto Show, and the machine sports a power cruiser form factor with some eye-catching specs. At the Wattman’s core is a liquid-cooled 200hp permanent magnet motor that is also good for 147 lbs•ft of torque at 6,000 rpm.

Coming with ABS, traction control, and Beringer four-disc front brakes as standard, Voxan also quotes a 12.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack as well. Visually hefty with its 240mm rear tire, the Voxan Wattman tips the scales at a portly 771 lbs — that number is not a typo.

Redux: This is How You Thank Your Sponsors

12/15/2012 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Those crazy Frenchmen at Luc1 Motorsport are back with another rolling tutorial on how race team’s should thank their sponsors. Perhaps not as robust as last year’s video, if you’re a fan of supermoto, or just generally a two-wheel hooligan, you’ll want to enjoy the clip after the jump. Be good, do wheelies, and wear gear. Thanks for the tip Gigi!

Boxer Design SuperBob Concept is all Turbo and Monocoque

11/29/2011 @ 4:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Carbon monocoque frame, turbo-boosted v-twin motor, single-sided swingarm, duolever front suspension geometry, and premium components — that’s what French firm Boxer Design’s SuperBob is made of. You’ll either love or hate the SuperBob’s general aesthetic, but you have to admit up close, the details of the sport-naked are superb. Based around an 88° 997cc v-twin motor that was developed by French firm Technologies (the same company behind the stillborn Inmotec MotoGP project’s motor), the Boxer Design SuperBob massages its peak power output to 158hp, thanks to some light turbo work (6-9 psi).

Voxan Bought by Venturi – Electrics in Three Years

06/02/2010 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

voxan-logo

Beleaguered French motorcycle company Voxan has found life after death, and today was acquired by Venturi Automobiles. Backed by an investment group in Monaco, Venturi itself was resurrected back in 2001, but with new cash in-hand the company sees motorcycles as a way to bolster its portfolio.

The French conglomerate has released some interesting plans for its newly acquired motorcycle company, namely that it hopes to have Voxan release a production electric motorcycle in the next three years.

European Commission Could Be Considering 100HP Limit for Motorcycles

03/29/2010 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Several publications are reporting the possibility that the European Commission (EC) could be preparing to implement a European-wide limit of 100HP on motorcycles when the European executive power meets this summer. The issue arises after France instituted a 100HP ban on new motorcycles, causing the country to be out of line with the rest of European Union. France’s new law places an undue burden on manufacturers, who must now make a French variant for each new EU motorcycle model (or just not offer the bike in the French market all-together), and as such the EC aims to bring the EU under one policy.

This has created cause for alarm in the industry (or just in sensationalist journalists) who fear that the EC could place 100HP limits across the entire EU, along with other hindering provisions as well (mandatory ABS brakes seems to be the other main concern), in order to bring balance to the Union’s approach on motorcycles. If that sounds ridiculous to you, then you’re in the same boast as us. Considering how the EC and EU directives, regulations, and decisions actually operate, the real likelihood seems to be the possibility of France’s law being repealed, but that doesn’t mean activists have any less cause for alarm.

Krisfox’s Ducati Hypermotard 1098S

01/06/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

In the hands of one Frenchman, what began life as a mild-mannered Ducati 1098S Superbike, has turned into a water-cooled Hypermotard that would do the engineers in Bologna proud. Known to us only as “Krisfox”, this builder was looking for more than the standard streetbike experience. Wishing to see the more powerful water-cooled 1098 motor in a motard format, he set out to make one of his own, dubbed the Hypermotard 1098S. Pictures and more after the jump.

WSBK: Magny-Cours Superpole

10/03/2009 @ 6:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Magny-Cours Superpole

magny_cours_superpole_spies

World Superbike makes its way to France this weekend for its second to last stop of the season. With only 3 points separating Ben Spies from Noriyuki Haga’s lead in the Championship, Magny-Cours proves itself to be an important stop in a battle for the lead that seems unable to die. Both Haga and Spies will be looking to take a double here in France, and try to establish some breathing room over the other, before they head to Portimao.

Lazareth Wazuma Bio V12 Runs on E85

08/19/2009 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Just slightly more practical than the Dodge Tomahawk motorcycle, is the French-built Lazareth Wazuma Bio V12. With a supercharged BMW V12 motor that puts out over 500hp, the Wazuma counters its ludicrous impracticability by sensibly using E85 corn-fuel. Aww heck, at €200,000 there’s nothing sensible about this. Photos and a video of the Wazuma in action after the jump.

The Multiple Personalities of the Boxer SSR

08/05/2009 @ 12:28 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Boxer-SSR-naked-sport-bike

You might think that French Company Boxer Design’s Boxer SSR has multiple personalities after you read this post. With a body kit and fairly modular design, the Boxer SSR can go from naked streetfighter to full-faired sportbike with an easy to make cosemetic adjustment. Both designs are stricking, and with the added modularity, and limited production run, you’re sure to have a unique bike at any meet-up or event.