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.

Rumor: New Honda Africa Twin Coming? To the USA Even?!

08/07/2013 @ 1:30 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Rumors have long been around that Honda was looking to bring back the Africa Twin model to its line-up; and with a quick scrolling through Honda America’s “Adventure” category, one can see that the less-than-inspiring odd-couple that are the Honda NC700X and Honda CB500X, while fine machines they might be (though we’ve heard the word “soulless” used more than once to describe them), proper adventure-bikes they surely are not.

With the tuning-fork brand putting out the stout Yamaha Super Ténéré, and Suzuki teasing the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Honda and Kawasaki have been late to the Great American Adventure Bike party  — though at least Team Green fanatics can pretend like the Versys is a viable option for this category.

With Europeans having a variety of adventure motorcycles to chose from in the Honda brand, bikes like the Honda Transalp, Honda Crossrunner, Honda Varadero, and Honda Crosstourer, us Americans have been left out in the cold.

Well, that might be set to change, as our stroll yesterday though the USPTO’s online database (check-out our find on upcoming Ducati Scrambler) has revealed that Honda Motor Co. has registered “Africa Twin” for use in the American market. Could a proper adventure-tourer from Honda be headed our way?

Say Hello to the 2013 Honda…Grom?

05/14/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

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We already covered the Honda MSX125 monkey bike when it debuted at the start of this year, and at the time we knew that the tiny street-terror would be a world market machine. Confirming our hopes at the time of its launch, Honda Motor Corp. has announced that it intends to bring the MSX125 to the United States, renaming it the Honda Grom.

The 2013 Honda Grom will come with just under 10hp, and features a four-speed gearbox that is mated to a 125cc single-cylinder motor, which comes from the common-parts bin of the Japanese company’s popular Honda Wave 125i scooter. Fuel-injected, 225 lbs at the curb when topped-off with its 1.45 gallons of fuel, and priced at $2,999 MSRP, we think Honda hit its mark with an affordable, bulletproof, and fun grocery-getter.

Track day enthusiasts, we have found your perfect pit bike; new riders, we have the ideal machine for you to cut your teeth on, while still being “cool” in the eyes of your more experienced riding friends; and for those who are vertically challenged, your 29.7 inch inseam machine is ready. More photos after the jump, but note America will only be getting the red & black models.

2014 Honda CTX700 & CTX700N Coming Soon

02/08/2013 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

2014-Honda-CTX700

Continuing to blur the lines between established motorcycle segments, Honda has teased out another pair of unique motorcycles, which will formally go-down as 2014 model year machines. Available in Spring 2013. The 2014 Honda CTX700 & 2014 Honda CTX700N use the same 670cc parallel-twin engine found in the NC700 series, which was an engine designed to be a sensible and practical urban power plant for city bikers.

Building something that looks the cross between a street-standard and a cruiser, Honda is offering ABS brakes and an automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as an available $1,000 option. The hope is clearly that the Honda CTX700N & Honda CTX700 will be an approachable and affordable motorcycle for new motorcyclists, and with prices at $6,999 & $7,799 respectively ($7,999 & $8,799 with DCT and ABS), Honda seems to have achieved that goal.

2012 Honda Goldwing Gets Minor Tweaks

02/21/2011 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There must be a new rule in the tourer market segment where “all new bikes” consist of minor revisions to existing machines, as Honda has apparently taken a page out of Harley-Davidson’s playbook, and done an exciting upgrade to the 2012 Honda Goldwing. While rumors were overly-hyped that an all-new Goldwing would be making an American appearance, it appears instead that the Honda engineers have gone on to further improve upon their design of the legendary touring motorcycle.

No longer built in America at Honda’s now defunct Marysville, Ohio plant, the Japanese produced 2012 Honda Goldwing comes with a slightly larger price tag, but boasts some improvements to justify the cost. Revamped bodywork, larger capacity luggage pieces, improved built-in GPS with iPod/MP3 player support, and revised suspension complete the changes for the new Goldwing. It’s hard to impress sport bike guys with a big bike like the Honda Goldwing, but if you’re interested in buying the gold standard (no pun intended) of motorcycle touring, things just got a bit more appealing we imagine.

2011 Honda CB1000R Coming to America

11/02/2010 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

While the tri-color paint scheme might still be too cool for the United States, Honda has finally seen the light, and decided to bring the 2011 Honda CB1000R to the America after all. Based-off a de-tuned CBR1000RR, the CB1000R is Europe’s fun street-naked from the Honda brand that brings some punch to the table (even more when you bring it back to RR specification). While the headlight might remind some of a certain Star Wars bounty hunter, the single-sided swingarm and radial brakes bring a stylish and sporty emphasis to the CB name (that exhaust pipe is a whole different issue though).

Available in any color you want, as long as it’s black, the white and tri-color paint schemes will stay in the EU for now. Honda is still finalizing the technical specifications on the 2011 Honda CB1000R (likely for emissions purposes), so it will be interesting to see if the CB1000R gets further restrictions to meet EPA noise and pollution standards like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Expect to see the 2011 Honda CB1000R in dealerships in Spring of 2011. Photos and technical specifications after the jump.