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.

WSBK: Race 2 at Monza Should be Called “The Crash, The Motor, & The Podium”

05/10/2010 @ 6:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

With strong showings by familiar and unfamiliar faces this season, Race 2 at Monza proved to have some excitement up its sleeve. This anticipation proved to be worth it, as crashes took out victory hopefuls, leading to a comfortable finish for one rider, and nail biter for another. With a surprise podium in the mix, there’s a team still partying in Italy as we speak. Find out why after the jump.

WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza

05/10/2010 @ 5:49 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza

World Superbike racing was back again this weekend with a stop in Monza, Italy. The Italian circuit played host to a very fast group of riders, which helped shed the course’s former lap record and top speed with little effort. With Max Biaggi and his Aprilia RSV4 at the top of the heap, all eyes were on them for a hometown victory. Check after the jump to see how Biaggi et al fared, and for the full race results.

WSBK: New Record Set During Superpole at Monza

05/09/2010 @ 1:00 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Max Biaggi took his first career Superpole today (as well as Aprilia’s first Superpole), at his home track of Monza no less. As if that wasn’t enough for the Italian rider and his Italian team, Biaggi also set the fastest top speed for the track on a superbike (205 mph), as well as a lap record (1’42.121).

Superpole however wasn’t as kind to the other Italian manufacturer, with only Michel Fabrizio making it into the third Superpole round. Fabrizio finished 3rd for the day, but his teammate, Norikuki Haga, finished at the bottom of Superpole 2 in 16th position.

With Ruben Xaus finishing 6th in the Superpole, six different manufacturers will make up the top six riders on the starting grid come Sunday, which should make the races exciting for any fan. Check the full Superpole results after the jump.

Max Biaggi Breaks World Superbike Record with 203.1 mph Top Speed at Monza

05/07/2010 @ 3:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

It was Suzuki who drew first blood, breaking the 200mph barrier at Monza, but it was Max Biaggi who set the bar the highest today during World Superbike FP1 practice. Clocking 203.21 mph (nearly 327 kph) down the straight, Biaggi broke the WSBK top speed record, but still fell short of the all-time superbike record, which was also set at Monza, and also by an Aprilia.

Last week, Fabrizio Pellizzon clocked 203.4 mph on his CIV spec’d Aprilia RSV4. Either way you look at it, the Alitalia Aprilia team is sure to be a force in Italy this week.

Yoshimura Suzuki Set for WSBK Debut at Monza

04/28/2010 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

After getting grounded by a run amuk volcano, Team Yoshimura Suzuki is set to race in WSBK at the upcoming round in Monza, Italy. The team was originally set to race at Assen this past weekend, but having to fly from Japan, that possibility was dashed as flights were cancelled in and out of Europe.

Now as flights are once again moving, the team has merely shifted its wildcard racing plans, and set its sights on the Italian circuit. At Monza the team will used a modified version of its 2010 Suzuki GSX-R1000, which just won the Suzuki 8 Hours endurance race. At the helm of the Yoshimura Suzuki will be team rider Yukio Kagayama.

Noriyuki Haga Hits Back Against the Pigeons

05/14/2009 @ 2:29 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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You may remember from this weekend’s World Superbike race at Monza that Noriyuki Haga had a bit of a run in with a flock of pigeons during Race 2, causing him to drop to 15th place by the time he crossed the finish line. In response to his avian encounter, the Japanese rider has updated his site with a humorous anti-pigeon campaign banner.

WSBK: Monza Race 2 Results – Attack of the Pigeons

05/11/2009 @ 3:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Monza Race 2 Results – Attack of the Pigeons

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Race 2 proved to be a less hectic event without a red flag in sight. With the race being won by a comfortable margin, the World Superbike season is shaping up to be a good close one.

WSBK: Monza Race 1 Results – No Justice for the Emperor

05/11/2009 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Monza Race 1 Results – No Justice for the Emperor

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The first chicane of the Monza circuit is notorious for accidents and hated by all racers because it tightens into a dangerous and tight funnel. Race 1 of the World Superbike Championship at Monza would not be spared of the dangers of the first chicane as a terrifying accident brought the race to an almost immediate halt with five riders seriously involved. Race 1 would continue to prove itself to be full of surprises as more riders ran in to different sorts of difficulty throughout the race’s duration. Continue reading for more and spoilers.

193hp BMW S1000RR Street Bike Unveiled at Monza

05/11/2009 @ 1:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Before the World Superbike race at Monza this weekend, BMW officially revealed the S1000RR street bike that they have been teasing us with over the past 6 months. The bike isn’t the prettiest, but it has it where it counts. Tipping the scales at 183kg dry (403lbs), and 204kg wet (449.7lbs), the S1000RR makes a claimed 193hp at 13,000 RPMs, and 82.5 lb•ft of torque at 9,750RPMs. The S1000RR will also feature a four-stage ABS and race-derived traction control system. All this, and a price tag that BMW promises will be competitive against the Japanese manufacturers.

The S1000RR’s other features include a slipper clutch, six-speed gearbox, fully adjustable 46mm USD forks, fully adjustable rear monoshock, ride height adjustment at the rear, Brembo brakes (with radial-mount callipers at the front), and an aluminium chassis that uses the engine as a load-bearing member. The swingarm features an eccentric pivot, enabling different adjustments to raise and lower the height of the S1000RR in order to change the bike’s steering geometry. What’s not to like?…Besides the headlight. Tons of photos and a video after the jump.

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