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.

Watch the Motus MST Go Around Barber Motorsports Park

04/26/2011 @ 12:48 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Another update from those southern boys at Motus, this time showing off their MST & MST-R American sport-tourers hitting some track time at Barber Motorsports Park. Obviously still in the development phase of their production process, we see that the MST-R has gotten some carbon fiber clothes (yum!), while the MST looks very fit and polished with its touring bags on-board.

We’re still not sure about how the Motus MST and MST-R will fare in free market, as we’ve seen so many American motorcycle companies generate a lot of buzz with little substance. However, one thing is for certain about the Motus project: the company has the right amount of cowbell in that KMV4 1,645cc GDI motor that should make any motorcyclist with a pulse grin ear-to-ear. Check the video out after the jump…yes, it’s ok to watch it several times.

More Motorcycling Video Goodness from Motus Motorcycles

04/14/2011 @ 9:22 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Motus Motorcycles has just released the second part of its Daytona launch video, which unlike the first version, is chalked full of close-up and detail shots of the Motus MST and the performance-packed Motus MST-R. The Daytona Bike Week was the public launch of the new American-made sport-tourer, which features the KMV4 1,645cc V4 pushrod motor with gasoline direct injection. Motus’s approach with the KMV4 is to take a page out of America’s rich hot-rodding tradition, and therefore has built a power plant that tuners and hobbiests should find the designs of familiar.

Helping Motus build this tiny buy powerful engine is Pratt & Miller Engineering, who have made a name for themselves building all sorts of racing engines, including those from the C6R Corvette Racing squad, which coincidently also uses a pushrod design. This has lead to many calling the KMV4 as simply half a Corvette motor, which the math doesn’t really support, but the philosophy surely does.

Next for the Motus crew is a ride around the United States that will not only serve as an R&D/proving method for the new bikes, but will also help drum-up interested buyers and the much needed dealers to get the motorcycle company launched off the ground. We’re looking forward to seeing the 161hp sport-tourer come to San Francisco, we just hope the rumors we’ve been hearing of a $30,000+ price tag aren’t true. Get ready to bust out your “V4” gang signs, as the video is after the jump.

Are You the Motus MST-R?

03/10/2011 @ 12:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

We just showed you the first video that Motus has shot while down at Daytona launching the company’s new sport-tourer to the Bike Week crowd. We’re clearly not on our A-game today (I’m suffering from a nasty head cold, and have to fly in 24 hours to Qatar for the MotoGP test), but luckily our readers are, as one commenter has spotted the fact that Motus switches bikes mid-way through the Daytona video.

Sans fairings, and adorned with Öhlins forks (along with a carbon fiber front fender), it looks like Motus has snuck in the Motus MST-R into the shot without anyone noticing. Still not convinced? Well the rider in the video has a clearly labeled “MST-R” logo on his helmet as well. We’ve reached out to Brian and Lee to see what they can confirm or deny on this. Stay tuned.

Video: Motus MST Rides Daytona

03/10/2011 @ 11:10 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Motus is showing off its Motus MST Prototype at Bike Week right now, and accordingly have posted a video to YouTube of the 1,650cc V4 sport-tourer riding around Daytona. While quick on the video edits, the clip shows the MST cruising around the beach-laden area with relatively little pageantry, which makes for not exactly the best eye candy. Fans however of the American motorcycle company will enjoy the extra lengths Motus has gone through in order to dub-in the audio of the Motus MST’s Corvette inspired pushrod motor. Check it out after the jump.

Motus MST – Here Comes America’s Sport-Tourer

03/08/2011 @ 11:27 am, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

After much waiting, Motus Motorcycles finally launched its MST sport-tourer to the public today. Unveiled at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Motus’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, the American motorcycle manufacturer will head to Florida for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show on Thursday, March 10th for a more public showing.

Developed in conjunction with Pratt & Miller Engineering, the Motus MST features the KMV4 motor, a 1,645cc V4 push-rod style engine that include gasoline direct-injection technology (GDI). Power for the Motus MST prototype is said to be 161hp @ 7,800 rpm; 122 lbs•ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm, while the bike tips the scales around around 500 lbs dry. Motus will be riding the MST around the United States to show off their work, meet with supporters, and look for dealers interested in carrying the line.

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