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.

Ducati 1199 Panigale Café Racer Concept by AD Koncept

12/10/2015 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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I think in 2016, we will find that the whole post-authentic motorcycle movement officially jumped that shark right about at this point in time. The 2015 EICMA show was inundated with café racers and scramblers from manufacturers that wanted to cash in on the budding trend.

Now with Deus ex Machina up for sale and no Honda CB350 left behind, the industry feels ready for the next moto du jour – though not before we give it one last go, of course.

Ducati 959 Panigale Spotted – Not Much Has Changed

10/05/2015 @ 7:56 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Ducati was all the talk of last week, after its Ducati 959 Panigale and Ducati Hypermotard 739 were outed in filings with the California Air Resources Board.

According to the CARB documents, the new “middleweight” Ducati sport bike is set to get a 955cc displacement increase, though we wondered what else would change.

Now we have a pretty good answer, as “spy photos” of the production machine are floating around the internet now, which show that the 959 Panigale is very similar in shape to the 899 Panigale it replaces.

2016 Ducati 959 Panigale Revealed in CARB Documents

09/28/2015 @ 10:40 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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It appears one of our predictions for the 2016 model year has been confirmed, as Ducati is set to update its “supersport” model, the Ducati 899 Panigale, with a replacement.

Outed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), we know that the new model will come with a two-cylinder engine, with a 955cc displacement, and officially be called the Ducati 959 Panigale.

Rumors: Ducati 1299 Streetfighter & New Engine Coming?

07/18/2015 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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If you believe everything you read on the internet, then surely you know that Ducati is allegedly getting ready to release a Panigale-based Streetfighter in the next few months. Another potent rumor making the rounds is that Ducati is working on a totally new v-twin engine, which will meet Euro 4 emission standards.

The first rumor got its start from Visordown, which says that it has received an invitation for press launch in September that will consist of “a track test for a road bike.”

The British publication deduces that the new model must be a sport-oriented machine to warrant the track time for journalists, and the only model in Ducati’s lineup that’s long-in-the-tooth that fits the bill is the Streetfighter 848, and the recently discontinued Streetfighter 1098.

The second rumor comes from Moto-Station, with the French site getting word from a source that Ducati has an all-new Euro 4 compliant engine that it will debut at EICMA this November. They go on to speculate that the engine could have Ducati Variable Timing (DVT), and would fit a sport-touring bike.

Let’s examine these two rumors a bit further, in turn.

Ducati 1299 Panigale Mega Gallery

01/31/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1299 Panigale launch is just wrapping up in Portimao, and while Asphalt & Rubber isn’t there to tell you all about Ducati’s new flagship model, we’ve got a bevy of high-resolution photos of the new superbike for you.

With 205hp from its bored out v-twin Superquadro engine, the 1299 is said to be beast. Thankfully Ducati has put some of the most advanced electronics on the new Panigale, including one of the first inertial measurement units (IMU) on a motorcycle — an acronym we suspect we will be talking a lot about in the next few years.

Unfortunately, our analysis today is limited to the refined looks of the Ducati 1299 Panigale, which has minor aesthetic changes from the 1199…most notably, the wider front cross-section, for better wind protection and aerodynamics.

We’ll have more to say when we’re finally allowed to swing a leg over one, until then enjoy all 167 wallpaper-ready photos after the jump.

New Ducati 1299 Gets +100cc, While 1299R Gets None

10/13/2014 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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For 2014, Ducati is giving the Panigale a bit of a model update, and thanks to an ill-framed photo from the Ducati North America dealers’ meeting, we know that the new superbike will be called by the 1299 designation.

The upgrade in number caused some confusion though, as Ducati has a mixed history of matching designation numbers to actual displacement sizes. Hoping to clear up the confusion and speculation, we received some details from our Bothan spy network.

Volkswagen XL Sport – A Ducati Superleggera Powered Car

10/01/2014 @ 6:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

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Whoa, hold on…don’t worry, you’re still at the right site. Yes this is a car, and yes this is a site dedicated to motorcycles, but it will all make sense in a minute…or however long it takes you to read the headline of this story. Don’t worry…scroll up…we’ll wait.

Anyways, one of the perks for Audi AG’s acquisition of Ducati is that parent company Volkswagen can play around with interesting concepts that involve the compact, yet powerful, engines that come out of Borgo Panigale. One of those flights of fancy has manifested itself into a real-life concept, the Volkswagen XL Sport.

Video: An Intimate Look at the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

05/23/2014 @ 1:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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The Ducati 1199 Superleggera is finally here, Ducati’s exclusive 500 customers are starting to receive their bikes, and Ducatista around the world are acting like its Christmas in May. We can’t blame them; after all, the Superleggera is a rolling showcase of what the engineers at Borgo Panigale can do with a street-legal machine.

Our friends at Moto Corsa were lucky enough to get three fine specimens in the first wave of deliveries — the Portland, Oregon shop will receive nine Superleggeras in total — a pretty sizable sum when you consider that less than 200 will make their way across the pond to US soil.

Naturally Arun and his cohorts took the opportunity to examine up-close what $200,000 worth of carbon fiber, titanium, and aluminum looks like. Even better, they documented the experience, for our viewing pleasure of course.

Here’s a Dyno Graph of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

05/14/2014 @ 11:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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If you were one of the early birds to put a deposit down on the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, chances are that your $60,000 worth of titanium and magnesium, dripping in carbon fiber we might add, is sitting at your local Ducati dealer right this very second. We don’t know how you’re maintaining your composure under these circumstances…just breathe.

And soon, we all will be reading all about the Superleggera’s stellar attributes, as the chosen few of motorcycling’s journalistic ranks are headed to Mugello to put Claudio Domenicali’s homage to engineering through its paces. That’s not in our cards just yet, so we will have to keep ourselves warm at night with some cold hard numbers. Dyno graph numbers.

The good folks at RSRacecraft have stuck a Ducati 1199 Superleggera on the shop’s Dynojet 250i chassis dyno, breaking in a Moto Corsa customer’s machine at their request, and the impressive results are above.

Ducati Recalls 2,000 Panigale Models for Handlebar Switch

05/06/2014 @ 1:33 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

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On April 2nd, Ducati North America announced they would be recalling 2,083 of their 1199 Panigale and Panigale S models due to a malfunctioning handlebar switch. The recall affects 1,515 motorcycles manufactured in 2012 and an additional 568 manufactured in 2013.

According to Ducati, “the left handlebar switch may not get power from its connection at the dashboard, preventing the horn, headlight high beam, instrument panel display and right turn signals from functioning.”