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.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R Special Edition Is So Orange

11/17/2015 @ 6:32 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The KTM 1290 Super Duke R Special Edition is an easy motorcycle to explain. You take the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, raid the KTM power parts catalog, slap some gold paint on the sucker, and call it done.

The extra goodies include an Akrapovič titanium exhaust, wave brake discs, stiffer triple clamps, adjustable hand levers, carbon fiber engine cover, and of course the orange anodized paint scheme.

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 Gets Murdered for 2016

10/23/2015 @ 2:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Here’s a little clickbait for your Friday consumption, though we think you will enjoy it ultimately. For the 2016 model year, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 will be getting the “bold new graphics” treatment, with a blacked-out paint job that Kawasaki calls “Mirror Coated Spark Black”.

It doesn’t seem any other changes will come to the supercharged H2 street bike, though let’s be honest…how do you improve upon a supercharged hyperbike like the H2 in the first place? It might not be as svelte as the latest crop of superbikes, but we’re told that black is slimming so…

XXX: The Yamaha YZF-R1 in “Speedblock” Yellow & Black

09/19/2015 @ 6:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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As we speak right now, Endurance World Championship machines are lapping around the Paul Ricard Circuit, competing in the 2016 Bol d’Or 24-Hour race.

Ahead of the endurance event though, Yamaha’s factory teams debuted a tribute to the company’s 60th birthday, as Yamaha Motor Company was founded in July 1955.

For us YZF-R1 fans, this weekend means a special yellow and black “speedblock” livery for the Yamaha race bikes – a paint scheme that will be available to the general public (in Europe, at least) starting December 2015.

This isn’t the first time that Yamaha’s special limited edition speedblock livery has helped spice up the R1, and like its previous efforts, we like the result. The added Akrapovic pipe is a nice touch too.

Speaking of results, Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) is sitting in second place, at the time of this writing, just one lap behind the leaders, Honda Endurance Racing. Meanwhile, the French factory team that is Yamaha GMT 94 team sits in 5th (+4 laps), with roughly 11 hours remaining in the event.

We’re sure Yamaha would love to tie-up this press debut with a victory at the French track, with either of its yellow-clad factory teams. Until then, we have some super high-resolution photos of the 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1 in its 60th Anniversary livery. Drool over them, after the jump.

It’s Impossible to Lose This MV Agusta in a Parking Lot

09/16/2015 @ 11:16 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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MV Agusta and AMG are at the 66th IAA Frankfurt International Motor Show this week, celebrating the partnership the two brands share, as AMG is a minority shareholder in the Italian motorcycle brand.

Helping that celebration is this very colorful “Solar Beam” MV Agusta F3 800, which is just so damn yellow, we had to share it with you.

The machine isn’t anything more than a paint job, which happens to also be a nod at the Mercedes-AMG GT that rocks the same “Solar Beam” livery, but that’s ok with us — it’s a fetching color design, no?

We won’t waste more words with you: more photos of this impossible-to-lose-in-a-parking-lot motorcycle are after the jump, for your viewing pleasure.

Only 30 Triumph Speed Triple R “Dark” Bikes for the UK

02/14/2013 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Our friends across the pond get all the cool stuff: crumpets, Ginger Spice, and the 2013 Triumph Speed Triple R “Dark” street bike.

While they may have an overabundance of the prior two items, the Triumph Speed Triple R “Dark” unfairly comes with a limited production run of 30 units, making it one venerable and exclusive piece of machinery.

Collaborating with custom shop 8 Ball to make the limited edition Speed Triple R bikes, Triumph has put together a sporty machine for only £11,349 — £200 over the MSRP of the standard Speed Triple R.

For that extra coin, one gets a color-matched screen and belly pan. Other highlights include the “R 1050” logos (with serial number) and an air-brushed Union Jack flags on the fuel tank.

How very patriotic. Photos after the jump.

Ducati 1199 Panigale S Nero by Commonwealth Motorcycles

01/24/2013 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Visual aesthetics have always been something of import and interest to me, a trait that is probably tied into the fact that I am visual learner. So it interests me when we see subtle changes having a great affect on a design.

Take the new Repsol livery on the 2013 Honda RC213V — the simple change from black to white creates a significantly different visual understanding of the MotoGP bike, though the basic idea of the livery remains the same.

We can see the same process with the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Nero by Commonwealth Motorcycles, as the Kentucky-based Ducati shop has massaged in a bit black paint on the already stunning Ducati 1199 S Tricolore paint scheme (work by Robbie Nigl of Peach Pit Racing).

The effect? A whole new take on an already very classy looking machine. Nice work guys…now let’s talk about posting some hi-res photos next time, eh? Far too small pictures are after the jump.

2013 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE

10/02/2012 @ 4:40 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Sorry Ducatisti, there is no Panigale-inspired supersport-class Ducati Superbike this model year, but those Italians have made an update to their sport bike line-up for new year with the 2013 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE. Sort of like the 2012 Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE that was debuted last year at EICMA, this one has an aluminum tank, but with the added bonus of a special two-tone “Ducati Test Team” livery.

The Ducati Superbike 848 EVO Corse SE also has Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Quick Shift, an Öhlins rear shock, and upgraded 330mm brake discs. Certainly not what anyone was misguidedly hoping for from the Bologna brand at INTERMOT, but you have to admit, that’s one dead sexy paint job. Expect the real Ducati goodness to drop next month at EICMA. More photos after the jump.

2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale – Now in Arctic White

10/02/2012 @ 3:39 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

While the Ducati 1199 Panigale is getting a number of revisions under the skin for its second year on the market, like an improved chassis and suspension setup (more on that later), it seems Ducati has also seen fit to offer its superbike in a color other than red. Behold from INTERMOT, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale in Arctic White. Apparently this is the new matte black, which is what we’re all really waiting for. Photos after the jump.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Gets Adaptive Electronic Steering Damper – Welcome to 2004 Says Honda

07/10/2012 @ 12:29 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

For the next model year, Kawasaki is giving a modest update to its flagship model, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Mostly touching up its work from 2011 with a dollop of new paint, the one intriguing feature of the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-10R is its new electronic steering damper, which adjusts the level of steering damping based on how fast the motorcycle is traveling.

Kawasaki developed the damper with the help of a little Swedish company named Öhlins, and is the first manufacturer to use the new suspension from the famed suspension brand, which is sure to be a standard item on the bikes of other OEMs in the coming years — just like the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) that Big Red debuted circa 2004.

Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport ‘Corsa’ Special Edition

05/16/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Our British cousins across the ponds are some lucky buggers today, as the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport ‘Corsa’ Special Edition was just released from the Italian brand. Taking your standard Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport, and dressing it up in a special red & white paint scheme with gold trim, the 1200 Sport ‘Corsa’ is an attractive take on a classic motorcycle line. Sure the special edition model is just some fresh paint on the v-twin standard, but Moto Guzzi isn’t adding on any additional cost for the machine (£9,378 OTR), which just makes this simply a very attractive option in the 1200 Sport line-up. Tastefully done, it shows that a little extra styling can go a long way.