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.

2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale – 195hp / 395 lbs (Base)

09/23/2011 @ 11:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Confirming what we reported back in November of last year regarding the performance figures for Ducati’s new Superbike, Ducati dealership Pro-Italia posted on its Facebook wall (now redacted) a less-than-cryptic “395/195” message while in attendance at the Ducati Dealership meeting in Miami, Floria. Noting the wet weight and brake horsepower, the new 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale makes good on its promise to trump its predecessor by over 20hp and 20 lbs. To thank for the these benchmark miracles is the 1199 Panigale’s very over-square Superquadrata motor (also known as the SuperQuadro in some rumor reports), which will rev higher than any other previous Ducati Superbike motor to-date, and the company’s new “frameless” chassis design, which has been floundering in MotoGP.

While we can’t speak for the efficacy of Ducati’s new chassis philosophy, and how it will work on the company’s new v-twin production bike, the spec-sheet racers should be impressed with this latest piece of information. And as if those figures weren’t impressive enough already, Asphalt & Rubber has learned that the Ducati 1199 Panigale homologation special, the made-for-racing “production” model which has been making its appearance in the bulk of the 1199’s spy shots, has been producing over 205hp at the crank during its recent testing at Borgo Panigale facility (the namesake for the 1199 Superbike), while in its “stock” form. While we don’t know what naming convention Ducati will use on the race-bike-with-lights-on-it 1199, A&R does know that it will not receive “R” nomenclature that we’ve seen in the past.

Are Electronics the New Horsepower?

03/01/2011 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The news of the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 R APRC got me thinking today about where the sport bike market is headed from a big picture perspective.

The sport bike market has been dominated the constant need to develop motorcycles with more power, less weight, and new performance enhancing technologies, and you’d be hard pressed to find a year where the bike with the most horsepower wasn’t the top-seller in this category (case in point: the complete sales domination of the BMW S1000RR during 2010).

For years the motorcycle manufacturers, especially the Japanese, have been painting themselves into a corner by constantly having to one-up each other with horsepower figures in order to sell motorcycles in this segment.

With bikes like the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R approaching the 200hp barrier, the question about “how much power is enough?” has been cropping up, and it certainly could be that we’re approaching the point in time where the relevancy of this metric is losing it’s power (pun moderately intended).

So what will be the new kingmaker for sport bikes? The electronics package.

Official: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Gets 750 RPM Redline Reduction Because of EPA Noise Laws

10/08/2010 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

We just got off the phone with Kawasaki HQ, and it’s official: the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R will inadvertently get a power decrease when it comes to the United States because of the EPA’s regulation of noise pollution, confirming earlier rumors from this week. The issue surrounds the EPA’s new methodology for measuring exhaust noise levels, which now involves taking the measurement at a percentage of the total rev range, instead of a specific rpm value.

The result is that the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R passes the Euro III standards, but fails the EPA standards in its unadulterated form. To come into compliance with the EPA’s Noise Control Act, Kawasaki has lowered the rev-limit on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R by 750 rpm in order to meet the new criteria. The byproduct of lowering the rev-limiter will reduce the new ZX-10R’s maximum power output, but Kawasaki isn’t saying by how much.

Rumor: 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Getting Horsepower Reduction for the American Market

10/07/2010 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Immediately after the launch of the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R, which claimed a 207hp figure at the crank with ram-air (197hp sans the air), rumors began to swell that the new ZX-10R’s peak performance figure would be drastically less in the American market. Apparently and supposedly due to federal regulations by the EPA, Kawasaki will be lowering the rev-limiter on the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R in order to comply with US government provisions.

Whether those rumors are in regards to the ZX-10R’s emissions or noise levels at that rev range is unclear at this time, but speculation that the power decrease is due to the new 10R’s peak power figure being north of 200hp are completely unfounded (Editor’s note: the United States has no provisions, at both the state and federal level, that cap motorcycle horsepower performance levels from the factory). We’ve reached out to Kawasaki for an official response on the issue, more as we get it.

Aprilia RSV4 Gear Driven Camshaft Good For 3-5HP

07/01/2010 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

After getting the nod to use their gear driven camshaft in World Superbike racing (shown above is the Aprilia’s belt driven camshaft), Aprilia has become a tour de force on the WSBK grid. Aprilia first used the gear driven cams in race environment while at the Miller Motorsports Park round, much to the protest of the other teams.

Aprilia and Max Biaggi have been on a bender since the new camshaft’s implementation, with the Aprilia RSV4 going double-double (no, not that Double-Double) and winning every race since the gear driven camshaft was installed on the race bike.

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.

BMW Sandbags S1000RR Power Figures – Makes 183hp at the Wheel on the Dyno

12/12/2009 @ 5:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2010-BMW-S1000RR-183hp-at-the-wheel

When BMW announced the S1000RR, they claimed power figures of 193hp at the crank. While the clear class winner on quoted power figures, OEM claims on horsepower are “ambitious” when viewed in even the most favorable of light. However as Bike found out in the case of the S1000RR, it would seem that BMW might have actually under-promised on the bike’s performance potential, and then over-delivered.

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