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.

2016 Honda CB500X…With You Guessed It, Modest Changes

10/22/2015 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2016-Honda-CB500X-03

For 2016, we know that Honda will bring its big “adventure-tourer” the US market, known to Europeans as the Honda Crosstourer, and introduced to Americans as the Honda VFR1200X. For the 2016 model year, the Crosstourer gets some minor updates, as does its 700cc sibling the Honda NC700X.

So if you’re keeping score, that leaves one more machine to get a modest update for 2016…yup, Honda CB500X, we are talking about you!

A Goldilocks-busting lineup of street-focused ADV machines, the 2016 Honda CB500X rounds out Honda’s lineup with a lightweight and nimble machine that is also good for the A2 licensing countries.

2013 Honda CB500X – Eats Potholes on a Budget

11/12/2012 @ 1:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2013 Honda CB500X – Eats Potholes on a Budget

If you haven’t caught on yet, American Honda has announced a trio of 500cc machines, just ahead of the upcoming EICMA show. Featuring the fully-faired 2013 Honda CBR500R sport bike, and its fairing-less sibling the 2013 Honda CB500F, the slightly taller 2013 Honda CB500X completes the trifecta, and adds an adventure-esque dimension to Honda’s midrange options.

Like the Honda CBR500R & Honda CB500F, the Honda CB500X uses the same modest liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 180° crank, parallel-twin motor that will put down 54hp at the wheel for the US market (tiered-license countries will see a 47hp machine).

A slight variation on the chassis that is shared with the other 500cc machines, the CB500X has a bit more travel to its suspension (5.5″ on the front forks), and the seat height is a full inch higher (31.9″ to be precise). Visually the philosophically similar to the Honda NC700X, the Honda CB500X is also a tad heavier than its relatives, sporting 430 lbs of fully-fuel heft at the curb, which is likely due to its larger 4.5 gallon tank (4.1 gallons on the other models).

Building three motorcycles from one versatile core design, American Honda has some aggressive prices on the CBR500R & CB500F, but the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has yet to release a price on the CB500x. We would expect something in the $5,000 range though when it hits dealer floors in July 2013, with the ABS version getting a $500 price increase over the base model. Full technical specifications are after the jump.

First Official Shots of the 2013 Honda CBR500

11/11/2012 @ 4:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

We are still a few days away from the official unveiling of Honda’s 500cc line-up, which will include the 2013 Honda CBR500, 2013 Honda CB500R, and 2013 Honda CB500X motorcycles. Based around a 469cc parallel-twin motor, Honda’s new mid-range bikes are for the budget-oriented rider, and produced a modest 54 hp in their non-restricted state for tiered-licensed countries (47hp in restricted form).

Expected to be the big new thing from Honda at EICMA, we have seen quite a bit already on the Honda CBR500 and its siblings ahead of their debut at the trade show in Milan, Italy. The Honda CBR500 is the logical progression of the Honda CBR250R, which is a budget-focused single-cylinder sport bike that’s available worldwide, including the US.

We’ll have to wait and see which of the 500cc machines American Honda brings to the USA, but the CBR500 is heavily expected to come to both the American and Canadian markets. Time will tell as to whether the Honda CB500R (not likely) and Honda CB500X (more likely) come to North America as well. Photos after the jump.

Spotted: Honda CBR500, Honda CB500R & Honda CB500X

10/25/2012 @ 4:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Honda is set to debut a number of 500cc machines at EICMA next month, two of which we have already glimpsed: the Honda CBR500 & Honda CB500R. Joining the smaller sport bike and street-naked is is the Honda CB500X, a 500cc version of the Honda NC700X.

Spotted all together at an Italian commercial shoot, all three models are said to share a 500cc parallel-twin motor that makes 45hp, as well as the same basic chassis.

Fitted with “traditional” telescopic forks, single brake discs up front, and all three models sharing a bevy of major parts, Honda should be able to be very aggressive with its pricing structure on the new 500cc model line.

Looking at the components as well, it is clear that Honda intends its new CBR500, CB500R, and CB500X motorcycles to be priced at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, making them attractive to newer and price-sensitive motorcyclists — especially our friends across the pond who are riding with an A2 license.