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.

KTM Drops Hint of “Revolutionary” New Engine Platform

03/31/2016 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

KTM-800-Duke-spy-photos-02

Aside from Husqvarna bringing the Vitpilen & Svartpilen concepts into production, another gem to come from KTM’s investor report for 2015 is that the Austrian company is working on what it calls a revolutionary two-cylinder engine design.

KTM is surely referencing the parallel-twin project that has been spotted a few times by spy photographers (shown above, and featured after the jump), which is rumored to feature an 800cc lump.

We are not too sure what is so revolutionary about a parallel-twin power plant – my Two Enthusiasts Podcast co-host Quentin loves to go on rants about how much he hates the engine design – but what is interesting is to hear that KTM plans on using the engine as a platform for multiple models.

2014 Honda CTX700 & CTX700N Coming Soon

02/08/2013 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

2014-Honda-CTX700

Continuing to blur the lines between established motorcycle segments, Honda has teased out another pair of unique motorcycles, which will formally go-down as 2014 model year machines. Available in Spring 2013. The 2014 Honda CTX700 & 2014 Honda CTX700N use the same 670cc parallel-twin engine found in the NC700 series, which was an engine designed to be a sensible and practical urban power plant for city bikers.

Building something that looks the cross between a street-standard and a cruiser, Honda is offering ABS brakes and an automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as an available $1,000 option. The hope is clearly that the Honda CTX700N & Honda CTX700 will be an approachable and affordable motorcycle for new motorcyclists, and with prices at $6,999 & $7,799 respectively ($7,999 & $8,799 with DCT and ABS), Honda seems to have achieved that goal.

2013 BMW F800GS Gets Modest Updates

07/02/2012 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The dirt-going counterpart to the road-bound 2013 BMW F700GS, the 2013 BMW F800GS sees a modest update to its adventure/enduo platform for the next model-year. Unlike the F700GS, the new F800GS doesn’t get a power-boost, and sports the same 798cc four-valve parallel-twin liquid-coooled motor that we have all grown to know and love (and was the basis of the Husqvarna Nuda 900’s 900cc motor).

Making 85hp at 7,500 rpm, and 61 lbs•ft of torque at 5,750 rpm, the real changes to the 2013 BMW F800GS come to its updated gauges, controls, and bodywork — oh, and of course the now standard anti-locking brakes system that BMW is pushing across its entire model line-up.

2013 BMW F700GS Breaks Cover

07/02/2012 @ 12:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BMW has updated its 800cc GS line, starting with the new 2013 BMW F700GS. An adventure bike with the road more in mind, BMW is differentiating the 2012 BMW F700GS from the 2103 BMW F800GS by using lower-spec suspension, cast wheels, a 19″ front wheel, lower seat height, and lower horsepower output.

Using the same 798cc four-valve parallel-twin liquid-coooled motor, the BMW F700GS gets a modest power increase over the BMW F650GS it is replacing, as peak power has been pushed to 75hp, up from the 71hp the F650GS made. Peak torque has also been boosted to 56.8 lbs•ft, while the curb weight is 209 kg (460 lbs).

Video: Husqvarna 900cc Parallel Twin Motor

05/18/2011 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Husqvarna is getting into the street bike scene, and the first order of business for the Swedish brand was to create a motor suitable for such a purpose. Husqvarna doesn’t have to undertake this endveour alone though, as parent company BMW Motorrad has been helping the previously dirt-based brand with the new powerplant. Based off the BMW F800’s lump, Husqvarna has increased the 800cc motor’s displacement to somewhere in the 900cc range, likely by stroking-out the combustion chamber.

Husqvarna isn’t talking much about specifics, just simply stating that the new motor will have a “reasonable increase in power and torque.” With news that the bike is road testing, it’s only a matter of time before the obligatory spy photos start popping up, as the company targets a November release of the new street bike at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. Brand extension, or brand dilution? You make the call in the comments. Video after the jump.

Confirmed: 2012 Husqvarna Street Bike to Debut at EICMA

02/22/2011 @ 6:01 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Husky fans are going to have something to talk about for the next 8 months as BMW Motorrad VP Hermann Bohrer has confirmed that the Husqvarna brand would be dipping its toe into the street bike waters with a new bike launching at EICMA later this year. Said to have German technology with Italian design, the new Husky will be a middleweight adventure bike that features a BMW F800GS parallel-twin motor that’s been increased to 900cc in displacement, which makes it not too dissimilar from the Husqvarna Mille 3 concept (shown above) we saw last year at the Italian trade show.