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.

Husqvarna Nuda 900 Base Model Breaks Cover

08/12/2011 @ 6:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Husqvarna’s foray into true-blue street bikes has unsurprisingly taken a two-pronged approach (for an “R” version to exist, a base model must exist as well, right?), as the Swedish brand has unceremoniously dropped photos of the base model Husqvarna Nuda 900. Sporting lower-spec components, and having a noticeably absent “R” missing from its nomenclature (that’s called product differentiation), the Husqvarna Nuda 900 is no doubt going to be Husqvarna’s more affordable version of the Nuda 900R.

Though we can only discern the differences that are skin deep at this point in time, it would look like the base model sees the R’s Öhlins rear-suspension, Brembo monoblocs, and carbon-accented exhaust exchanged for lesser models. The base model’s rear shock is now a Sachs unit (matching the fully-adjustable Sachs forks Husqvarna says it will be using on the Nudas), while the exhaust can is aluminum stem-to-stern. Noticeably still present though is the Nuda’s anti-lock brake pick-up discs (in fact, the entire wheel/fork package looks to be the same), which could also suggest that a traction control system is available on the base model.

It will be interesting to see how Husqvarna prices the Nuda 900 against the higher-spec Husqvarna Nuda 900R. Unless there is significant differences between the two bikes’ motors, the R-variant will have a hard time commanding more price tag for a shock and carbon fiber-tipped exhaust, especially considering the latter will be one of the first things owners will be replacing. 21 photos of the Nuda 900 base model after the jump, including the mysteriously really bad ones where you can see the photographer’s turntable in every photo…go fig.

Video of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R Makes Us Feel…Bleeh!

07/06/2011 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

The straw vote in the A&R office is that the jury is still out on the recently unveiled Husqvarna Nusa 900R. We like that BMW is setting up Husqvarna to be the more edgy on-street brand in its two-wheeled house, and the maxi-motard is a safe street entry for the otherwise dirt-based company. A narrow, fairly light, and peppy twin should be fun to blast from stoplight to stoplight, lane-split between traffic-packed cars, and generally just hoon about town. Price of course will be an issue for the Nuda 900R, as its components don’t suggest a cheap price tag, of course we don’t think Husqvarna (read BMW) is too concerned with that issue, as they’re likely focusing on the more exclusive side of the market continuum.

Speaking of select target markets, the looks are not the most generally palatable, with our office’s spectrum of reception ranging from drool-worthy praise to motions of people hanging themselves with their belt (and not in that good auto-erotica asphyxiation sort of way). One thing we can agree on, as far as promo videos go…this one doesn’t really achieve any of the goals we’d think Husqvarna would set out for its first street bike.

Husqvarna Nuda 900R Revealed

07/01/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Find 23 Official Photos of the 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R here.

These are the first images of the Husqvarna Nuda 900R motorcycle (taken by our good friends at OmniMoto), the Swedish brand’s first foray into the street bike scene. Making over 100hp and weighing less than 385 lbs, the new Husqvarna will hit dealer floors by the end of the 2011 (hopefully by then they’ll have the spec-sheet ironed out a bit more). What technical specifications we do is this: 320mm Brembo disc brakes, fully adjustable 48mm Sachs forks, and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock. Check out the photos and video from the unveil after the jump.

Video: Husqvarna 900 Spied on the Street

06/24/2011 @ 9:30 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Husqvarna 900 Spied on the Street

The ever infamous motorcycle industry spy footage continues, as a video of the Husqvarna 900 naked street bike has surfaced on the internets. Compared to the “spy shots” Husqvarna sent out to the press last week, there isn’t too much new information to glean from this short video clip of the Husqvarna 900 cruising down a city street, as even the exhaust note is muffled by the camera’s wind blast. Still, seeing the bike in motion adds another dimension to the machine, and likely whets the appetites of anyone in the market for a new large-displacement maxi-motard. Check the video out after the jump.

Video: The Design of the Husqvarna 900

06/15/2011 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Along with the “don’t call them spy shost” photos that Husqvarna released yesterday, the Swedish brand owned by a German company that’s based in Italy has also released a video that elaborates on the design of the new Husqvarna 900 street bike. As we’ve seen already from the concept sketches, and affirmed in the photos, the new street-going Husky is a super-sized supermotard that features BMW’s F800 series parallel twin motor, albeit slightly revised to 900cc. Find the design philosophy of the new Husqvarna 900 according to Head of Husqvarna Design Raffaele Zaccagnini after the jump.

First Shots: Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike

06/15/2011 @ 7:34 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Here’s an interesting twist: instead of going through the trouble of setting up some sort of “spy shot” moment, and leaking it to the press, Husqvarna has cutout the middleman, taken its own photos, and sent them to web and print publications. Because of this, the use of the “spy shot” label is probably not appropriate, though we’d make arguments that it hasn’t been an appropriate label in many other situations as well. Leaving that subject for another time, what you really wanted to see is the new 900cc Husqvarna street bike in almost all of its glory.

Even More Teasers of the New Suzuki V-Strom

06/15/2011 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Suzuki continues to string us along with dates and teasers of its expected V-Strom replacement/update. Showing three more blurred, yet revealing, photos of the new middleweight adventure bike, Suzuki is now saying to come back to its website on June 22nd for more details on the machine.

From what we hear from our European colleagues, Suzuki has sent out invites for the new V-Strom’s unveiling, which is schedule for June 27th in Croatia — a great venue, but also a week and a half away. Whether or not we’ll get a glimpse of the machine before then remains to be seen (or more teasers for that matter), but there is at least now a definitive timeline on when this madness will conclude. More photos after the jump.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike in Sketches

05/26/2011 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The folks at MCN have had their finger on the Husqvarna street bike pulse lately, and today published sketches of the soon-to-be released BMW-derived 900cc Husqvarna street bike. Part street-naked, part supermotard, these sketches seem to suggest that the new Husky will stick somewhat to its dirt roosting roots. Despite the large displacement size, the street-going Husqvarna looks to be very minimalistic and svelte, though how much of that will translate over into the final design remains to be seen.

We’re still apprehensive as to what BMW’s plans for Husqvarna are in the coming years, as the German company clearly wants to use Husky for its evil road-going purposes, but so far there’s nothing in these sketches that send us running for a long rope and a short drop. The designs appear to stay true to what we’d expect from Husqvarna, though you can leave your conclusions in the comments. Additional sketches after the jump.

Husqvarna 900cc Street Bike Will Be Naked – Two Versions

05/20/2011 @ 10:18 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Details on the impending Husqvarna street bike have been scarce, though we have seen the Swedish brand’s Mille 3 Concept, but the folks at Visordown managed to get a Husqvarna represented to spill some of the beans on the machine. Knowing that the 900cc parallel-twin motor comes from the BMW F800 series, it’s expected that the extra displacement will come from the motor being bored out.

Now adding to our knowledge, Husqvarna UK has outlined that the new 900cc street bike will be a naked machine that comes in either a standard and “factory” specification. The new 900cc parallel twin motor will also be the basis for further street machines from Husqvarna, which will be released farther down the line.

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor

05/18/2011 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Husqvarna is getting into the street bike scene, and the first order of business for the Swedish brand was to create a motor suitable for such a purpose. Husqvarna doesn’t have to undertake this endveour alone though, as parent company BMW Motorrad has been helping the previously dirt-based brand with the new powerplant. Based off the BMW F800’s lump, Husqvarna has increased the 800cc motor’s displacement to somewhere in the 900cc range, likely by stroking-out the combustion chamber.

Husqvarna isn’t talking much about specifics, just simply stating that the new motor will have a “reasonable increase in power and torque.” With news that the bike is road testing, it’s only a matter of time before the obligatory spy photos start popping up, as the company targets a November release of the new street bike at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. Brand extension, or brand dilution? You make the call in the comments. Video after the jump.