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.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Race Kit Parts Now Available

04/05/2016 @ 8:49 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a perfectly capable superbike on the track, but as with any bike available for the street, compromises have to be made. That’s why Kawasaki always makes special factory racing parts, available right from your local Kawasaki dealer.

For the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, things are no different, and now Kawasaki has released this year’s go-fast parts catalog. If you are a privateer, looking for some factory-backed performance, this should be your first stop before your racing season begins.

Tasty items include an adjustable ECU that optimizes fuel, ignition, timing, over-rev, traction control, launch control, etc. There is also an ABS dongle that can disable anti-locking brakes for one or both of the wheels.

Of course, you can also get the usual chassis adjustment pieces and engine performance parts that you would expect from an OEM racing kit…just be sure to bring your wallet, winning isn’t cheap.

Recall: 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

02/29/2016 @ 12:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R hasn’t been available for very long, but the venerable superbike already has its first recall. Affecting 805 units, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is being recalled for faulty steering damper bracket mounting bolts, which might break due to being over-tightened.

The recall affects ZX1000RGFAL, ZX1000RGFL, ZX1000SGFAL, and ZX1000SGFL models of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, which were manufactured between October 28, 2015 and January 18, 2016.

Since the steering damper bracket could detach and interfere with the steering of the motorcycle, thus increasing the risk of a crash, Kawasaki USA has registered a recall with the NHTSA.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R “Winter Test Edition”

11/18/2015 @ 12:47 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The folks at Kawasaki are really enjoying their 2015 World Superbike Championship victory – and honestly, can you blame them? Jonathan Rea lit up the WSBK field, and dominated the series on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R race bike.

For 2016, you can already get the race-inspired Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KRT Edition, but for our European riding brethren, another model might tickle your fancy. Behold, the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R “Winter Test Edition” street bike.

Here’s a Walkaround of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

11/05/2015 @ 10:21 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R might just be an “update” to the WSBK Championship winning superbike, but Team Green has put enough new tech and features into the machine to get us pretty excited about its debut.

Boasting a revised chassis and motor, more electronics, more aerodynamic fairings, Kawasaki not only surprised us, and the rest of the motorcycle media, with its the midlife model refresh, but we think Kawasaki surprised even themselves with the machine, making a bike that potential-R1 buyers will definitely have to consider when they make a trip down to their local dealership.

Team Green has changed so much on the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R that we will let them list all the changes in the video, after the jump. If you can get past the techno music and hyperbole, it is actually pretty interesting.

XXX: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R KRT Edition

10/08/2015 @ 9:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

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The 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a pretty big “refresh” for the WSBK-winning superbike, much more so than we expected. With a revised engine, chassis, and electronics suite (including the addition of an IMU), it’s probably easier to list what hasn’t changed, than what has.

Of course, Kawasaki is trying to stay as competitive in the marketplace as it is on the race track, and the latest 10R finds a happy medium in that pursuit with the limited.

Coming with all the updates on the base model, the KRT Edition adds what you would expect: race-team inspired graphics. We would use the pejorative “bold new graphics” statement here, but it actually applies…in a positive way.

For $300 extra on top of the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R’s $16,000 price tag, we can see a few WSBK enthusiasts opting for the premium paint job. Just in case you happen to be one of those people, we have a bevy of high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.

2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Debuts with Serious Updates

10/08/2015 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It may be evolution, instead of revolution, for the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in the 2016 model year, but Team Green has made sure to make sure that this model refresh is more than just “bold new graphics” and minor tweaks. The updated 10R is a serious beast, with a fresh WSBK scalp on its belt.

Trying to draw a parallel between Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike Championship victory, and Kawasaki’s latest superbike offering, the new Ninja ZX-10R is replete with features that come from Kawasaki’s production-racing efforts. This is no ordinary model refresh.

The changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R include a revised and more powerful motor – 207hp with ram air and 83 lbs•ft of torque on the European-spec model, though we expect those figures in the USA to be less. Curb weight is set at a competitive 454 lbs.

Other goodies include lightweight titanium exhaust, a revised chassis, more aerodynamic fairings, upgraded Showa Balance Free suspension, Brembo M50 monobloc calipers, a five-axis Bosch IMU, and a revised electronics package.

Updated 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Confirmed

09/08/2015 @ 9:56 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Kawasaki will be bringing WSBK-influenced changes to the 2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the company said in a press statement today, thus confirming earlier reports about a new superbike for the upcoming model year.

Kawasaki says that the new model will have a direct link to the World Superbike Championship winning machine that is being campaigned by both Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes at the moment.

The new ZX-10R will feature a “subtle yet highly effective” change to the cowling design, in addition to new suspension and braking components, but Team Green is quick to say though, this is not a ground-up new bike from Kawasaki.

New Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Coming for 2016

07/22/2015 @ 2:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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Superbike fans should rejoice to the news that Kawasaki has an all-new ZX-10R in the works for the upcoming model year. The news comes from Germany’s reliable Speedweek publication, which interviewed Guim Roda, the Team Manager of Kawasaki’s World Superbike racing effort.

Talking to Speedwekk, Roda said “we will have a new Kawasaki ZX-10R in 2016. The concept will be the same but, with some details and changes, it will be even more competitive.”

“Given that the current rules are very restricted, the motorbikes have to be developed with an eye on the sport. We are heading on a path that Aprilia, Ducati and BMW have already taken for this year by bringing out new bikes,” he added.

Video: Watch Jeremy Toye’s Winning Lap up Pikes Peak

07/10/2014 @ 5:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The fastest motorcyclist up Pikes Peak this year, Jeremy Toye upset the Ducati contingency in the “Open” class, with his stellar 9 minute 58.687 second race to the clouds, aboard his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R superbike.

A newcomer to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Toye also laid claim to the “Rookie of the Year” title with his impressive pace. So, sit back and take a ride up Pikes Peak’s 12.42 mile course, with its 156 turns and 4,720 feet of elevation change, courtesy of Toye and Kawasaki. This is probably as close as you’ll get to the event from now on.

2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R – Celebrating 30 Years of Ninja

05/06/2014 @ 2:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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There aren’t too many product lines in the motorcycle industry that can claim a thirty-year heritage, and with the whimper of marketing coming from Kawasaki, you would hardly know that the Ninja has been on the scene for three decades now.

To fix that problem, the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been released early to help Team Green celebrate the Ninja’s birthday. However, don’t get your hopes too high, the changes for 2015 are only skin-deep, and are comprised of the following:

  • A special 30th Anniversary Ninja ZX-10R model features Lime Green/Pearl Stardust White paint and 30th Anniversary badges on each side of the fairing
  • The standard Ninja ZX-10R model is now painted in Metallic Matte Carbon Gray/Flat Ebony