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.

Friday at Valencia with Tony Goldsmith

11/06/2015 @ 9:26 am, by Tony Goldsmith9 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa continued his recent fine form to finish Day 1 with the second fastest time.

Friday-Valencia-Grand-Prix-of-Valencia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-584

Jorge Lorenzo was all smiles at the start of FP2.

Friday-Valencia-Grand-Prix-of-Valencia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-59

Andrea Iannone was third fastest today at Valencia.

Sunday at Sepang with Tony Goldsmith

10/25/2015 @ 11:57 am, by Tony Goldsmith55 COMMENTS

Sunday-Sepang-Grand-Prix-of-Malaysia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-8620

Dani Pedrosa rode a great race to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Sunday-Sepang-Grand-Prix-of-Malaysia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1595

Jorge Lorenzo finished 2nd and reduced Valentino’s lead in the championship to just 7 points.

The talking point of the race and of the season happened with 14 laps remaining. Having been locked in battle with Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi appeared to lose his cool at Turn 14.  He looked over twice at the Honda rider before the two came together, which caused Marquez to crash. I’ll let David Emmett pick the bones out of that.

Friday at Sepang with Tony Goldsmith

10/23/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Tony Goldsmith4 COMMENTS

Friday-Sepang-Grand-Prix-of-Malaysia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-348

Dani Pedrosa was 2nd fastest today at Sepang.

Friday-Sepang-Grand-Prix-of-Malaysia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-813

Jorge Lorenzo ended Day 1 with the fastest time, but he was only 0.047 secondss faster than Dani Pedrosa in 2nd place.

Friday-Sepang-Grand-Prix-of-Malaysia-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-283

Marc Marquez completed the provisional front row.

Sunday at Phillip Island with Tony Goldsmith

10/18/2015 @ 6:53 pm, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

Sunday-Phillip-Island-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-3914

Some victories taste better than others. We think Marc Marquez will remember Phillip Island 2015 for quite some time to come.

Sunday-Phillip-Island-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-3768

No holds barred.

Sunday-Phillip-Island-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-3609

From the first few corners, it was evident that the Australian GP would be a close affair.

Saturday at Phillip Island with Tony Goldsmith

10/17/2015 @ 1:19 am, by Tony Goldsmith10 COMMENTS

Marc Marquez will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.

Saturday-Phillip-Island-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-2024

A 2nd place start for Andrea Iannone on his ridiculous looking Ducati. What are the odds on Ducati picking up some sponsorship from a certain Austrian energy drink?

Saturday-Phillip-Island-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-2480

Jorge Lorenzo grabbed 3rd place on the grid with his final lap of qualifying.

Friday at Phillip Island with Tony Goldsmith

10/16/2015 @ 10:02 am, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

Friday-Aragon-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-648

Jorge Lorenzo was fastest in FP1 and was just 0.05 seconds behind Marc Marquez in FP2.

Friday-Aragon-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1194

An excellent day for Maverick Vinales who finished with the third fastest time.

Friday-Aragon-Australian-Grand-Prix-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-669

Marc Marquez was quickest on Day 1 at Phillip Island but only just from Jorge Lorenzo.

Sunday at Aragon with Tony Goldsmith

09/27/2015 @ 12:32 pm, by Tony Goldsmith10 COMMENTS

Sunday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-2059

Jorge Lorenzo celebrates his 60th Grand Prix victory.

Sunday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1977

Dani Pedrosa came out on top after a titanic battle with Valentino Rossi for 2nd place.

Sunday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1715

Andrea Iannone battled through the pain of his injured shoulder to finish in 4th place.

Saturday at Aragon with Tony Goldsmith

09/26/2015 @ 2:55 pm, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

Saturday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1218

Marc Marquez set a new lap record of 1’46.635 to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Aragon.

Saturday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1766

Jorge Lorenzo was only just behind Marc Marquez, in 2nd place.

Saturday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-878

Andrea Iannone battled through the pain of a dislocated shoulder to take the final place on the front row.

Friday at Aragon with Tony Goldsmith

09/25/2015 @ 10:49 pm, by Tony Goldsmith6 COMMENTS

Friday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-248

Jorge Lorenzo dominated FP1 & FP2, and finished over half a second ahead of the rest of the field.

Friday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-745

Valentino Rossi was 2nd at the end of the first day at Motorland Aragon.

Friday-Aragon-Grand-Prix-of-Aragon-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-180

Bradley Smith finished 3rd to complete a Yamaha clean sweep of the provisional front row.

Sunday at Misano with Tony Goldsmith

09/13/2015 @ 12:55 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Sunday at Misano with Tony Goldsmith

Sunday-Misano-Grand-Prix-of-San-Marino-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1931

Marc Marquez wheelies past his crew after winning the Grand Prix of San Marino.

Sunday-Misano-Grand-Prix-of-San-Marino-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-2041

A fantastic ride by Bradley Smith. When everyone else changed to their wet setup bike he stayed out on slicks. The gamble paid off as he finished 2nd.

Sunday-Misano-Grand-Prix-of-San-Marino-MotoGP-2015-Tony-Goldsmith-1805

Scott Redding picked himself up off the floor to claim 3rd place and his debut MotoGP podium.