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.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1954 A.J.S. E-95 “Porcupine”

08/19/2009 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1954 A.J.S. E-95 “Porcupine”

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One of only four E-95’s created, the A.J.S. E-95 is a modified version of the A.J.S. E-90 horizontal twin motor, and was called the porcupine because of the spiky cooling fins protruding from the cylinder heads.

Originally designed to be supercharged, those plans had to be scrapped when the FIM banned supercharging in 1946. Despite its reputation for not living up to its hype, a finished Porcupine is valued somewhere north of a $250,000. Pictures and more after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Sunbeam S-7

08/19/2009 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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If you ever wondered what a Honda Goldwing would look like in the 1940’s, here is probably the best example: The 1947 Sunbeam S-7. With its over-sized tires, overhead camshaft motor mounted in rubber, and shaft-driven rear-wheel, the Sunbeam was very sophisticated, but proved to be perhaps too ahead of its time.

The bike is powered by a 500cc in-line twin motor; and like the Model-T, you could get it in any color you wished, as long as it was black.

Considered a touring motorcycle, the S-7 was quiet, smooth, and had modest performance. However, the S-7 was one of those motorcycles that contribute to Britain’s fame of producing unreliable vehicles. Pictures after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special “Gunga Din”

08/18/2009 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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This 1947 Vincent-HRD Series B Rapide Special, with its 998cc motor, has a special story. Named “Gunga Din”, the bike started out like any other standard Series B Rapide, but was quickly recruited by the factory to showcase new parts, and serve as a publicity test ride bike. The bike also served as the beginning point for bike like the Vincent-HRD Black Shadow and Black Lightning race bikes.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

08/18/2009 @ 7:00 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

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The 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel is one of the most innovative motorcycles to be produced by Alfred Scott. Built in Yorkshire, England, the Flying Squirrel cost twice as much as comparable four-stroke sport motorcycles, partly because of the innovative solutions it housed. For instance, Scott employed a unique thermosyphon convection cooling system to lower the temperature on his 596cc two-stroke motor, and would paint the bottom of the motor either green or red for racing or road use, respectively. Pictures and more after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport

08/18/2009 @ 1:18 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport

Here we have a 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport, complete with saddle bags. Built from 1925 to 1940, the SS100 was one of the most famous motorcycles to come out of George Brough’s Brough Superior.

Powered by a 980cc v-twin motor from JA Prestwich, each bike came with a signed guarantee that the bike had been timed, and reached over 100 mph over a quarter-mile. Pictures after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1957 Manx Norton Featherbed 40M

08/18/2009 @ 12:46 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: The Stig Cruising the Motorcycle Section

08/17/2009 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Some say he never blinks, and that he roams around the woods at night foraging for wolves…

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: Confederate P120 Fighter Combat Official Launch

08/17/2009 @ 3:39 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Asphalt & Rubber spent the weekend in Monterey, drinking flutes of champagne with the rich and marginally famous. Despite rubbing elbows with our eledged betters, we did get to see the first ever showing of motorcycles on the greens at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

As such, there were plenty of motorcycles around the course, and Confederate Motors picked the locale for the public unveiling of their new P120 Fighter Combat. Our invitation to the event must have been lost in the mail, but we still managed to get some photos of the new bike in the flesh.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight up for Auction

08/15/2009 @ 8:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight up for Auction

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We find ourselves down the California Coast this weekend, hobnobbing with the suits down at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Amongst the bevy of tasty four-wheeled vehicles that seem to abound here (who knew?), we found a few motorcycles that we thought would fancy you, our dear reader. First up, is this 1979 MV Agusta Magni Superlight that is up for auction at the MidAmerica Auctions here at the Concours.

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