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.

Concept: Chaparral A1 e-Racer by Oberdan Bezzi

08/03/2010 @ 7:52 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Italian designer Oberdan Bezzi (view our coverage here) is at it again with his pen and paper, and this time he’s set his mind to imagining a battery-powered electric motorcycle. Based off the now defunked Chaparral brand, Bezzi sees the Texan company reinventing itself and entering the electric motorcycle racing scene. The bike has a full carbon chassis, a liquid cooled motor, and great attention to aerodynamics, according to Obiboi. We can also see five removable battery packs on each side of the motorcycle, and single shock suspension used not only on the rear, but also on the front fork assembly.

Wait…we feel like we’ve seen this before…Yes, it seems Bezzi has ripped-off every detail found on the MotoCzysz E1pc, right down to the motor and controller mounting points. Of course the A1 e-Racer looks like the E1pc 1.0, with its square battery packs. Oberdan must have missed our article on the eDD where we explained that the E1pc’s chevron shaped batteries allowed for more front wheel clearance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right Michael?

MotoCzysz Wins e-Power at Laguna Seca

07/26/2010 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The FIM’s e-Power Championship came to American soil this weekend, as the series piggybacked off the Red Bull US GP. Twelve teams from around the world arrived at Laguna Seca to test their mettle against the historic and technical track. While the racing would technically be bike against bike, the undulating tarmac of Seca was certainly also an adversary as well.

Lightning Motors and Michael Barnes took the pole position during Saturday’s qualifying, leaving MotoCzysz and Michael Czysz relegated to the second position on the starting line. Coming from behind on Sunday’s race, MotoCzysz won the e-Power race at Laguna Seca with a dramatic pass just 10 feet from the finish line.

Future.

07/20/2010 @ 8:09 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Track Testing with MotoCzysz

07/08/2010 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Over the long weekend, Asphalt & Rubber got the chance to swing by Portland International Raceway for MotoCzysz’s first track test with the 2010 E1pc electric race bike. It’s hard to believe, but this was Michael Czysz’s first time riding his creation on the track. The session was prompted by Czysz’s need to get ready to race the E1pc at the up-coming e-Power Championship race at Laguna Seca. Czysz had hinted to us several months ago that he might pilot the electric race bike at Seca, and now has confirmed that intention to race the bike himself. .

Getting to tag along during the new E1pc’s first actual track test, we got to see how the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc compared to ICE track bikes while lapping at PIR. Observations, photos, and two videos that prove we need to get a proper camcorder in the A&R office are awaiting you after the jump.

Around the Isle of Man with the MotoCzysz E1pc

06/23/2010 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The Isle of Man TT organizers have released some on-board footage of the TT Zero winning 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc. Other than the impressive speed from the electric sportbike, what’s really noticeable about this video is the wind noise. The subject of electric motorcycles lacking the exhaust note normally associated with motorcycles has been hashed out numerous times before, but watching this video reminds us of a comment that Michael Czysz once made to us about how electric motorcycles were like sailboats.

Once you get out to the open water, and turn off your motor it transforms the experience into something else. We imagine that must have crossed rider Mark Miller’s mind at some point…before he quickly had to train his attention on the rapidly approaching street course. Check the video out after the jump.

Up-Close with the TT Winning MotoCzysz E1pc

06/10/2010 @ 6:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Last week we got a leaked photo of the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc, and knew the bike would be a contender in today’s TT Zero at the Isle of Man. Now that the TT for electrics is over, we can get a closer look at the machine that left the competition behind in the dust. MotoCzysz was a scratch at last year’s TT, and following that mantra the team effectively started-over from scratch for their 2010 effort. Back for 2010, there is of course the familiar MotoCzysz-designed 6X Flex front-end suspension system, but the rest of the bike centers around a revised energy package that’s been refined to engineering simplicity.

We’ve already covered how the central “suitcase” or eDD incorporates space maximizing v-shaped removable battery packs that pop-out with the push of a button. And how the entire 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc involves virtually no wiring, since everything dovetails perfectly together. We’ve also covered how the MotoCzysz D1-10 motor is replacing the three Agni motors from last year’s bike. Running off nearly 500 volts of power, the liquid-cooled IPM motor makes 250lbs•ft of torque, and generates over 100hp. The aerodynamics of the 2010 bike have been completely rethought, and employ a palatable design that achieves the aerodynamic goals to give the team a greater advantage with their limited on-board energy.

All of this is well and good, but it doesn’t mean shit if the bike doesn’t go fast.

MotoCzysz Wins TT Zero – 96.820 MPH Average

06/10/2010 @ 9:51 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Mark Miller took the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc to victory today at the Isle of Man’s TT Zero race. Miller lapped the MotoCzysz E1pc around the Mountain Course with an average speed of 96.820 MPH and with a time of 23:22.890. Just shy of the 100 MPH average speed barrier, Miller passed through the Sulby speed trap going 135.300 MPH, and topped 140 MPH at one point.

Following Miller was Rob “Bullet” Barber who averaged 89.290 MPH on the streamlined Team Agni machine. James McBride finished on the podium with a 88.653 MPH average on the Man TTX race bike. Jennifer Tinmouth on the second Agni finished 4th, just seven seconds behind McBride.

The Big Question for Tomorrow’s TT Zero Is…

06/08/2010 @ 3:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

What’s going to be mounted on these protruding brackets? So far the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc has been lapping the Isle of Man without its full fairing on the motorcycle. If history teaches us anything, the presumption, of course, should be that MotoCzysz has something still up its sleeve before the team takes to the Mountain Course tomorrow for the TT Zero event. Last year it was batteries in the tail-section, this year it would seem to be streamlining the E1pc.

While Michael Czysz has derided the use of a dustbin style fairings in road racing, he has acknowledged that a course like the Isle of Man creates an opportunity for a race team to find some benefits in the design. As such, Czysz wrote three months ago that he would have a dustbin fairing at the ready, should someone else show up with one as well…and that’s exactly what’s happened.

MotoCzysz Confirmed For e-Power Race at Seca

05/17/2010 @ 2:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.

Skip Barber Superbike School Teaches Asphalt & Rubber How to Ride at Laguna Seca

04/19/2010 @ 6:00 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

As a California native, I’ve always wanted to ride around Laguna Seca on a sportbike. However my passion for track riding didn’t manifest itself until I moved away from the Golden State to Pennsylvania, making a Seca track day all but implausible. Having just moved back into California, and the warm weather finally upon us here in the San Francisco area, track days and Seca have been on my mind. So when Michael Czysz, Lead Instructor at the Skip Barber Superbike School (and of MotoCzysz fame) shot me an email asking me if I wanted to ride for two days around the fabled circuit and take Skip Barber’s two-day superbike course, I of course took him up on the offer. With perfect 70°F weather, I made my way to the Californian coast, ready to take on The Corkscrew with the brand new 2010 KTM RC8 motorcycle and with the help of Skip Barber’s instructors.

I’ve always heard how Laguna Seca is a special track, and how technical the course is on a motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter). Driving into Monterey from Salinas, you get about half the distance between the two cities when the track entrance jumps up on you. Most tracks you can see for miles as you approach them, but Laguna Seca is nestled behind a hillside from the roadway, and sits inside a Monterey County park. This topography not only provides a scenic venue to enjoy when you’re not going full-throttle around the race track, but also accounts for Seca’s 300′ change in elevation as you go through the 11 turns that comprise the circuit.

Driving into the park I can already feel my nerves acting up. I went through eight years of competitive sailing, two Junior Olympics, and three Nationals with this same physiological response. On a typical track day this sensation would subside after my first session, and be greatly reduced after the first full-pace lap, but upon entering into the Skip Barber office the apprehension quickly disappears.