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.

Schwantz Releases Another Statement about COTA & Dorna

09/14/2012 @ 12:34 pm, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

Kevin Schwantz has issued another statement in response to the press releases put out by both the Circuit of the Americas and Dorna, concerning his legal proceedings over the case. In the press release, Schwantz lays the blame for the situation at the feet of the Circuit of the Americas, and claims they attempted to obtain the contract to organize the MotoGP race in Texas by forcing him out of the deal with Dorna. The full statement issued by Kevin Schwantz is after the jump.

Dorna Weighs in on the Schwantz/COTA Controversy

09/12/2012 @ 12:22 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

After news emerged at the end of last week that Kevin Schwantz is suing the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the track in Austin, Texas where the third US GP is to be held in 2013, attention turned to the details of just who held the contract to organize the event. In their lawsuit, Schwantz’ company 3FourTexasMGP alleged that the COTA had attempted to defraud him out of the rights to organize the race, something which the circuit denied in a press statement, with COTA claiming that Schwantz had never held a contract to organize the event.

In a statement issued by Dorna, the Spanish rights holders to the MotoGP series clarified the current legal situation between the various parties. The statement shows that both Schwantz and COTA are right: Dorna states that it signed a contract with both COTA and Schwantz’ company 3FourTexasMGP for the event, with Schwantz being granted the rights to organize the race, subject to being able to show he had come to an agreement with the circuit.

However, when asked by Dorna to provide the proof that he held a contract with COTA which would allow him to organize the MotoGP race there, Schwantz was unable to, and the contract was then passed to the Circuit of the Americas. COTA currently holds the rights to organize the event.

MotoGP: Austin GP in Doubt as Schwantz Sues COTA

09/08/2012 @ 4:38 pm, by David Emmett18 COMMENTS

The chances of a MotoGP round taking place in Austin, Texas seem further away than ever. Yesterday, Kevin Schwantz filed suit against the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), claiming an attempt to fraudulently deprive the 1993 500cc World Champion of the rights to organize the MotoGP race that would be held at the circuit outside of Austin, Texas.

In the lawsuit, Schwantz accuses COTA of going behind his back to arrange a deal directly with Dorna to organize the Austin round of MotoGP, while Schwantz’ company, 3fourTexasMGP, has a ten-year contract to organize the race. In a statement issued tonight by the circuit press office, COTA denies that Schwantz holds any rights to organize the event.

Video: Kevin Schwantz – A World Champion

05/11/2012 @ 4:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Back in 1993 when grids were full, sponsors were smokey, and Americans dominated the sport, Kevin Schwantz was king. Riding on the Suzuki RGV500, Schwantz had to battle with a slew of 500GP legends in order to win his first World Championship — namely rival Wayne Rainey.

Deliciously 1990’s, the video is a bit hokey at times with its montages and questionable fashion choices, though it speaks to important issues currently being faced in MotoGP — namely the use of electronics.

Go ahead end the work-week an hour early, these four 15 minute segments are well worth watching, and show how far along Grand Prix motorcycle racing has, or hasn’t, come in roughly 20 years.

Question Marks for MotoGP at Austin – WSBK Instead?

03/09/2012 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

News of a possible MotoGP round in Austin, Texas sent GP fans in the United Stats into a flurry, but the proposed third US round has been anything but a sure thing since its announcement, and continues to be so even after the signing of a 10-year contract. Trouble first started brewing as the Circuit of the America’s had trouble finalizing its deal with Formula 1, a deal that was the linchpin to the circuit’s financing. With the issues with F1 resolved, and the premier car racing series set to take the green flag at Austin later this year, MotoGP seemingly is having the same problem of coming to Austin.

Reported by the local Austin news site the Statesman, the issue is both complex and relatively simple. As with Formula 1, the rights to host MotoGP at the Austin track reside with Full Throttle, a promotion company owned in part by Tavo Hellmund, who in turn was a partner of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) project. When last year Formula 1’s contract with Hellmund was found to be in breach, F1 Boss Bernie Eccelstone terminated his contract with Hellmund, which then sent the F1 deal at Austin into a tailspin, and caused COTA to deal directly with Formula 1 in securing the racing series.

With Hellmund also being the bond that tied MotoGP to Austin, the same issue has arisen with COTA and Dorna, the media rights holder to the MotoGP Championship. According to court documents, Hellmund alleges that COTA had an opportunity to buy the rights to host MotoGP for $18 million from Full Throttle/Hellmund when it bought the similar rights to Formula 1. Clearly unable to close that deal at the time, unless the Circuit of the Americas can secure those rights in the coming months, the Austin GP scheduled for 2013 will likely not be held.

Kevin Schwantz Will Ride Marco Simoncelli’s Race Bike in an All-Hands GP Memorial Track Ride

11/05/2011 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Sunday morning here in Valencia marks the final race of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, and the already bittersweet Grand Prix will become increasingly somber as the GP paddock will also be paying its final respects to Marco Simoncelli. Starting at 10:10am, 125GP, Moto2, and MotoGP riders will partake in a parade lap around the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana. The procession will be lead by Kevin Schwantz, who will ride Marco Simoncelli’s San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V race bike for the occasion.

Americans Get Ready for Moto2 at The Brickyard

08/23/2010 @ 1:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Taking a two-day testing session at The Brickyard, American riders Roger Lee Hayden, Jason DiSalvo, Kenny Noyes, Robertino Pietri (US Resident) had an opportunity to lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Moto2 race held during the Indy GP this coming weekend. The first riders to take to the 2.6 mile, 16 corner course since MotoGP visited The Brickyard last year, the four riders were given 90 minutes each day to setup and practice for Sunday’s race.

Honda Moto2 Livery for Indy Revealed

07/07/2010 @ 4:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

American Honda has released the race livery of their wild card Moto2 entry for the Indianapolis GP, which sees Roger Lee Hayden riding at the helm of the bike and Kevin Schwantz managing the team’s effort. Using a Moriwaki MD600 chassis, American Honda tapped Drudi Performance to come up with the red, white, and blue Honda paint scheme. Additionally, Drudi has also designed a special set of leathers for Hayden, find them and more info after the jump.

Wayne Gardner Calls Stoner’s Absence “Suspicious”

10/14/2009 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Wayne-Gardner-1989-Japanese-GP-500GP

After Casey Stoner chastised the press, and called out Kevin Schwantz for his opinion on Stoner’s illness,  Wayne Gardner, the 1987 500GP Champion, has weighed in his thoughts on Stoner’s absence from MotoGP racing. Saying what everyone already felt, Gardner calls Stoner’s absence “very suspicious” but still considers the Australian rider the favorite at the Australian GP this weekend.

Kevin Schwantz Speaks to US Troops About Safety

05/07/2009 @ 11:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Kevin Schwantz Speaks to US Troops About Safety

kevin-schwantz-old-school

For the second time in recent months, the US Government is having a major motorcycle racer talk to US servicemen about safely operating motorcycles. A few months ago it was Nicky Hayden who spoke to the troops about rider safety, and today it is Kevin Schwantz, the 500cc GP World Champion, who will speak at a number of road safety seminars.

 

Trying to find a common theme with his subjects, Schwantz refers to his races as battles (rightfully so), but emphasises there is a time and a place for riding fast:

“They were battles fought on the racetrack. It may look intense but it’s actually a very controlled environment. And that’s nothing like the battles our brave service personnel are fighting. For the military sportbike riders we’re talking about today, the real battleground is right here at home – on the streets.”

Back in October, CNN ran an interesting story about how motorcycle related deaths have killed more Marines in the past 12 months than enemy fire in Iraq. Similarly, the US Navy is finding a similar rise in motorcycle accidents by military personnel. In 2008, 25 Marines died on motorcycles, compare that to the 22 killed in hostile action in Iraq. Pentagon sources say a rising trend started in 2004, when seven Marines died on bikes.

Source: Visordown