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.

Paul Teutul Jr. + World of Warcraft = Azeroth Choppers

05/05/2014 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

azeroth-choppers

We honestly thought the whole American Chopper / Paul Sr. vs. Paul Jr / Orange County Choppers thing had finally run its course. OCC Merchandising filed for bankruptcy protection, American Chopper was unable to find a new cast to work with Paul Sr., and Paul Jr was off in his own shop of obscurity. In other words, order had been restored to the universe. Not. So. Fast.

It seems the folks at Blizzard Entertainment want a piece of the OCC action, and it’s coming to us in a new direct-to-web video series: Azeroth Choppers. The premise is pretty simple: two design teams will build two bikes that fit the “Alliance vs. Horde’ motif in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

WoW gamers will then later get to vote on which bike gets digitized and made available for play. And, Paul Teutul Jr. is charge of the whole build process. We could not make this up if we tried.

American Chopper Cancelled: Thank You Jesus?

11/16/2012 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

After 10 years and 233 episodes on the air, American Chopper is finally getting dragged out behind the shed, and put out of its misery on December 11th, 2012. It has been a long road with the Teutul family, as for the past decade we have watched the Oedipal struggle between Paul Jr. and Paul Sr., with man-child Mikey trapped in the middle, serving as the only adult in the group.

Things started out well enough, with the folks at Orange County Choppers making some interesting customs, and exposing a mainstream TV audience to the world of motorcycles…albeit in the same lowest-common denominator way that is typically found on WWF’s Monday Night RAW.

Like all good Hollywood dreams, the money started to trickle in for “theme” bikes on the show. Turning what should have been an exposé of mechanical craftsmanship into a marketing/PR circle-jerk with the Teutul family’s severe anger-management issues as the sideshow distraction.

Somewhere within the plot lines of Paul Sr.’s bicep size, and his battle with son on who can more perfectly fit the description of narcissism in the DSM-IV, bikes were made…but really we just showed up to see how many chairs could be thrown across the room in a single episode, or how often Paul Jr. could act like a spoiled brat.

Orange County Choppers Facing Foreclosure

01/27/2011 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, only have basic cable, and don’t frequent moustache competitions, you’ve likely heard of Orange County Choppers, American Chopper, and the Teutul family. Originally started by father (Paul Sr.) and son (Paul Jr.), the small theme bike builders of Orange County Choppers came to fame when The Discovery Channel (later moved to The Learning Channel) picked them up for its hit show American Chopper.

Usually centering around a bike with spider theme, and the generally dysfunctional relationship between Paul Sr. and his sons, the show almost hit the skids when Paul Jr. left the company to start his own venture Paul Jr. Designs.

As the father and son battle out in court over a stock buyout between the two Teutuls (Paul Sr. has a 80% share, Paul Jr. 20%, and there’s some interesting buyout clauses in their ownership agreement), Discovery pitched a new concept for the show, calling it American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, which follows the two motorcycle shops as they struggle to build bikes in the moments when they aren’t trying to destroy each other. Throwing chairs while discussing business issues is just good family fun and a totally appropriate way to communicate with another person, right?

Whether you take Junior’s side or Senior’s, or even follow the melodrama as it still airs on television (or TMZ), there’s a very real possibility that Orange County Choppers could go into foreclosure, as GE Capital has reportedly not received a payment from Paul Sr. in sometime.

American Chopper is Back: Senior vs. Junior

04/09/2010 @ 2:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler233 COMMENTS

That’s right your favorite motorcycle show to hate, American Chopper, is back on TLC for another season, this time pitting father against son. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior centers around both Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. building motorcycles in a sort of head-to-head competition. The father-son duo hasn’t spoken in over a year, which has created a great deal of drama in what was hailed as the last season of the original show. It looks like that drama is set to return to a television near you.

American Chopper Cancelled by TLC

02/08/2010 @ 9:00 am, by Jensen Beeler81 COMMENTS

UPDATE: American Chopper is back as American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior. The new show sees both Teutuls going head-to-head in bike build offs at their respective workshops.

The Learning Channel (TLC) has finally given the television series American Chopper the boot, releasing information that show’s season finale will debut this Thursday at 9pm (8pm Central). We can only conclude that the show’s demise comes as a result of the ongoing rift between Paul Teutul Sr. and his sons, in particular his former partner Paul Teutul Jr. The two Paul’s are locked in a legal struggle regarding ownership of the American Chopper business, which has bled onto the television screen.

Orange County Choppers’ Teutuls Head to Court: Paul Sr. Sues Paul Jr. for Over $1.5 Million

12/29/2009 @ 5:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler873 COMMENTS

UPDATE 2: American Chopper is back as American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior.

UPDATE: TLC has cancelled American Chopper.

Even with Paul Jr. and Mikey off of the show American Chopper, Paul Teutul Sr. has found a way to fight with his children, and further estrange himself from his family. Paul Sr. has filed a dispute with the Supreme Court of New York state (the State’s lowest court), which alleges that the elder Teutul has the right to purchase his son’s stock in Orange County Choppers Holdings, Inc., the company behind OCC.