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.

Team Agni Confirmed for TT Zero

03/15/2010 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Officially official now, Team Agni has confirmed their entrance into the Isle of Man’s TT Zero electric racing event. Although we’ve suspected for some time that this announcement would come, Agni through up a dust storm a couple months ago when they said they would not compete at the Isle of Man if generators were being used to power the TT Zero paddock. The use of generators was quickly denied by TT Zero organizers, and apparently Team Agni was content with their response. For 2010, Agni will field two bikes on the TT Zero grid, with the hopes of achieving the first 100+mph speed average over the Mountain Course.

BMW & KTM Take on The 2010 Isle of Man TT

03/04/2010 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BMW announced today that it will send a factory backed team to compete in the Isle of Man’s Superbike and Senior TT’s. This announcement ends over 30 years of the Bavarian brand’s absence at the Isle of Man. For Austrian-based KTM, this will be their first time running at the Isle of Man TT. The KTM RC8 R will be entered in the Superstock, Superbike, and Senior TT’s. More after the jump.

MotoCzysz Confirmed with TT Zero – Will Return to the Isle of Man with 90% New Bike

02/19/2010 @ 11:05 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

MotoCzysz has confirmed today that they will be racing at the Isle of Man’s TT Zero event. The Portland based team has been hard at work on a new bike design that they feel not only has a chance of breaking the 100mph barrier, but possibly winning the event as well. MotoCzysz was a favorite in last year’s event, but failed to finish after suffering a failure to its Agni electric motor drive system. Learning from that hard taught lesson, Czysz & Co. are expected to return to the Isle of Man with their new 2010 E1pc, and tackle the Mountain Course once again.

Isle Of Man Gives Their Take On TT Zero Replacement Of TTXGP [UPDATED]

02/08/2010 @ 8:29 am, by John Adamo10 COMMENTS

Late last month it was announced that the eGrandPrix who ran the 2009 TTXGP clean emission race at Isle Of Man TT would be replaced by TT Zero. TT Zero would be run without the involvement of eGrandPrix and instead the responsibilities would be split among the IOM Department of Tourism And Leisure and the ACU. Speculation followed about the FIM’s role in the TTXGP’s departure and the reasons for TT Zero coming into existence.

The Isle Of Man issued a statement in response to speculation on why TTXGP was replaced by TT Zero at the Isle Of Man TT for 2010. We are waiting for a response from TTXGP which we will add to this post. Please check back for updates. Click the break to see the full statement from the Isle Of Man.

Update: A response from TTXGP is posted at the end of this blog post.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M

08/18/2009 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.

Team Agni Wins Inaugural TTXGP

06/12/2009 @ 6:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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In case you missed it this morning, the first running of the TTXGP, a zero-emission TT held on the Isle of Man, occurred today with Team Agni being the victor. Team Agni has dominated the whole week, setting the fastest times in both practice sessions. Their bike, piloted by Rob “Rocket” Barber, is a modified Suzuki GSXR frame, with Agni’s proprietary electrical motor in place of the standard internal combustion engine. Report and results below.

IoM Superbike is in the Bag with a New Course Record

06/09/2009 @ 1:33 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IoM Superbike is in the Bag with a New Course Record

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The Dainese Superbike race of the Isle of Man TT is in the bag after being rained out this weekend, and with it a new record lap on the Mountain Course. Spoiler to follow if you dare make the jump.

Brammo Caught Out Practicing for TTXGP

06/06/2009 @ 6:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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First to arrive on the Isle of Man, Brammo has been the most photogenic of the TTXGP contestants from the United States. If IOM gossip is to be believed, the team has been spotted swinging the occasional wrench in between pub hosted team meetings. 

Today on the Isle, Brammo was out testing the TTR on a 40 mile circuit. While they haven’t been out on the full Mountain Course yet, they were able to test the TTR over the 40 miles at a continuous race pace, with a focus on the increasing the endurance of the electric race bike. They were kind enough to shoot a couple shots of Roy Richardson putting the TTR through its paces. Photos after the jump.

VIDEO: Brammo TTR Road Testing

06/04/2009 @ 3:23 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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With bullet cams in hand, the Brammo crew headed out to the forrested roads of Oregon to conduct some road tests on the Brammo TTR race bike in preparation for the upcoming TTXGP. Video after the jump.

Brammo Enertia TTR Electric Motorcycle – Sponsored by Best Buy

06/02/2009 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Today is a double Brammo day. Earlier this morning we teased you with a picture of the Brammo TTR in race trim. You may have noticed two things. 1) The bike is green…kind of like the Hungry Hunter, and 2) Best Buy is sponsoring it. We don’t mess with giant men that have brussels sprouts growing on them, so this article will solely focus on the latter of the two observations. More pictures after the jump.