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.

Photos of the Delicious Bimota Supercharger

11/18/2015 @ 9:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Bimota is known for making drool-worthy motorcycles, and at EICMA the boutique Italian brand debuted two fine motorcycles. But, we think the real show-stopper for Bimota was its add-on supercharger system for its Ducati-powered motorcycles.

Good for 15% to 20% more power (probably more, if you like to tinker), the Bimota supercharger kit uses a Sprintex dual-screw supercharger, which has been tastefully made to match the belt covers on the Ducati Testastretta engine.

As you can see from the photos below, the supercharger looks pretty damn good, especially when paired with the “Bimota Experience” package, which adds a carbon fiber frame and swingarm to the chassis.

The Bimota Impeto is the first model to officially have the supercharger as an option, but the Italians say it can be made to work with any of its water-cooled Ducati-powered models.

Bimota Supercharger Kit for Ducati-Powered Models

11/16/2015 @ 6:23 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Bimota continues to impress, ahead of the company’s new-model debuts at the 2015 EICMA show. Not only will Bimota have two new models to show us, the Bimota Tesi 3D RaceCafe and Bimota Impeto, but the brand from Rimini says it is also getting into the forced induction game.

As such, Bimota has developed its own supercharger, which will be available on all of the company’s Ducati-powered engines that are liquid-cooled, which effectively means the DB8, DB9, & and DB11, as well as Bimota’s models that will debut in Milan, Italy this week.

That should be good news to those owners, as the Bimota supercharger is said to add roughly 15%-20% to the maximum torque figure, as well as smooth out both power and torque delivery.

Triumph Thruxton Gets Updated for 2016

10/27/2015 @ 1:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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It is only logical that if there’s a new water-cooled Triumph Bonneville T120 for the 2016 model year, then the 2016 Triumph Thruxton should get an update as well, right?

Accordingly for 2016, the Triumph Thruxton gets the same more powerful 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine that is debuting on the Bonneville T120.

Triumph is also adding the Thurxton R to the lineup, a more cafe racer inspired design that comes with a larger front fairing, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo brakes. An optional “Thruxton Inspirational Pack” is available as well, which adds a bevy of cosmetic changes, as well as a Vance & Hines exhaust system.

Like on the Bonneville, the chassis and other components have been improved upon as well, though you would have a hard time seeing those changes, as Triumph has been careful to retain that heritage look on the Thruxton.

We expect that retro-riders who are looking for a reliable café racer out of the box will need to look no further than the 2016 Triumph Thruxton. Expect to see the machine officially debut tomorrow, October 28th.

LEAKED: Liquid-Cooled Triumph Bonneville T120

10/27/2015 @ 1:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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It’s been no big secret that Triumph is about to add liquid-cooling to the venerable Bonneville and its ilk. The cult classic hasn’t changed much in its long and storied past; and don’t worry, beyond the liquid-cooling, it hasn’t changed much for the 2016 model year either.

Thankfully, Triumph has kept the Bonneville aesthetic well inline with what discerning retro-riders and hipsters are looking for in their motorcycles, discretely hiding the machine’s blacked-out radiator.

While the 865cc Triumph Bonneville T100 will still come to the USA for the 2016 model year (free of the EU’s new stricter emission standards), the 2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 will travel worldwide, with its 1,200cc parallel-twin engine.

Triumph Begins Teasing the Liquid-Cooled Bonneville

10/12/2015 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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That headline is a bit of a misnomer, since the new liquid-cooled Triumph Bonneville has been “spied” for some time now in the media.

Triumph is at least capable of admitting that its hipster machine is getting an update now, releasing this teaser video that hints at “something big” coming our way – if liquid-cooling an engine is something big, then we couldn’t agree more.

2015 BMW R1200R — A Liquid-Cooled Boxing Roadster

09/30/2014 @ 2:43 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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As expected, BMW Motorrad has finally added its liquid-cooled boxer engine design to the R1200R roadster model, debuting the 2015 BMW R1200R at INTERMOT today.

Using the same 125hp engine that powers the BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200RT, the new BMW R1200R makes more power, more linearly, than its predecessor, though keeps the old R1200R’s basic roadster look and feel intact.

Ducati Monster 821 – A Midsummer Dream from Bologna

05/28/2014 @ 2:14 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Once we saw the unveiling of the Ducati Monster 1200 at EICMA last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before Bologna wedged its new 821cc liquid-cooled motor into a mid-size Monster machine.

That feeling was fueled further by spy photos the 821cc Monster making their way onto the internet, and now we have confirmation of the mid-sized Monster, as Borgo Panigale has officially launched its Ducati Monster 821.

Borrowing the 821cc Testastretta 11° engine (112hp and 65.9 lbs•ft) found on the newly revised Ducati Hypermotard, and its cousin the Ducati Hyperstrada, the Monster 821 continues Ducati’s trend to repurpose powerplants for multiple product families.

The Ducati Monster 821 also continues Bologna’s new trend of building its lower-spec midrange motorcycles with double-sided swingarms, to help further stratify and differentiate its models.

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

Harley-Davidson Debuts Liquid-Cooled Engines for Tourers

08/21/2013 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

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Harley-Davidson has debuted its 2014 touring and trike motorcycles, which would normally be an event that we’d forgo even mentioning here at Asphalt & Rubber, after all “brand new” to Harley typically means new paint and chrome pieces to bikes that already exist in the line-up — that’s not entirely the case this year though.

Rolling out eight “new” motorcycles for enthusiasts, Harley-Davidson has listened to customer feedback and made changes to the following models in its line-up: Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited, and CVO Road King. Nothing crazy there, right?

However what was called “Project Rushmore” inside the motorcycle company, we now know refers to the company’s effort to bring more technology to its two-wheeled midlife crisis machines… the most drastic change being a liquid-cooled engine design. We’ve got your attention now, don’t we?

Debuting two liquid-cooling engine configurations, the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 motor will be used on the 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited and the Tri-Glide Ultra trike, while the Screamin’ Eagle Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 110 will be featured on the 2014 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited.

2013 BMW R1200GS – A Water-Cooled Icon

10/02/2012 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Building off of three decades of tradition and 170,000 units sold worldwide, the 2013 BMW R1200GS has some big shoes to fill. Officially debuting today at the INTERMOT show, the Bavarians have kept most of what makes a GS a “GS” intact, while of course adding a much speculated, hyped, and rumored water-cooled boxer-twin motor into the mix.

The big push with the new model is its ability to meet stricter noise and emission standards, hence the move to liquid-cooling. Though, BMW says it also aimed to improve the R1200GS’s on & off-road performance, increase the bike’s safety, and of course continue the GS heritage that has basically defined the segment.

Using “precision cooling” derived from Formula 1, the 2013 BMW R1200GS only uses liquid cooling on the parts of the motor that need the additional heat exchange, thus allowing the engine still to use a high-degree of air-cooling, which BMW says helps justify the continued use of the boxer-twin motor design. Other changes include a wet slipper clutch and left-hand side cardan shaft drive. As we reported earlier, power is 123hp and 92 ft•lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm, while the curb weight is 525 lbs (238 kg) without fuel.