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.

Aprilia ART – A Thinly Veiled World Superbike?

03/30/2012 @ 7:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The Aprilia ART, as it has become known in the GP paddock, is so far the most competent claiming rule team package (CRT) on the MotoGP grid. Powered by an Aprilia RSV4 Factory motor that is World Superbike spec and beyond, the Aprilia ART also features a chassis that has been developed by the very same Italian company. A turn-key CRT package offered by Aprilia, if you believe the rumors circulating in MotoGP, the Noale-based company’s involvement with the ART doesn’t stop at delivery.

Rumored to be the byproduct of Aprilia’s aborted MotoGP campaign, in the World Superbike paddock the RSV4 is described as a MotoGP bike that was sold to consumers with WSBK domination in mind. Taking the World Superbike Championship in only the team’s second year in the series, Max Biaggi and Aprilia have helped perpetuate that rumor further, and currently lead the 2012 Championship as it races into Imola this weekend.

If a few years ago all the paddock gossip was about how Aprilia managed to campaign a thinly veiled MotoGP bike in WSBK, then this year the talk will surely be how the Italian factory snuck its superbike onto the MotoGP grid. Despite the irony in that statement, it takes only a casual glance at the Aprilia ART and Aprilia RSV4 Factory WSBK to see the immediate similarities between the two machines.

MV Agusta Rivale by Luca Bar Design

02/28/2012 @ 2:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Luca Bar must be in his lab cranking out designs, because the talented young Italian motorcycle designer has rendered up the heavily rumored and eagerly awaited MV Agusta Rivale. Based on the 675cc three-cylinder engine found in the soon-to-be-delivered MV Agusta F3 and the soon-to-be-unveiled MV Agusta Brutale 675, the MV Agusta Rivale is expected to be a rival (see what we did there?) to the Ducati Hypermotard 796.

Considering that MV Agusta is expected to unveil the Brutale 675 at EICMA later this year, we would expect to see the Rivale break cover in 2013 as a 2014 model. The fact that we haven’t see prototypes of the bike “spied” out in the wild also lends itself to this theory, though the Italian company has reportedly already trademarked the “Rivale” name in foreign markets. Taking what we know about the MV Agusta’s design philosophy with the F3 and Brutale 675, Luca has rendered the shape he imagines the MV Agusta Rivale to take.

KTM SMX-E Imagined by Piers SP

01/23/2012 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

As we already know, the KTM Freeride E will be out in 2012 in limited numbers, as the Austrian brand tests the waters on the electric dirt bike market. Building an electric not because they believe in the technology’s immediate relevancy, but because they believe in its future and want to continue being a market leader, KTM is the first big motorcycle OEM to bring an electric motorcycle to market. Giving Zero Motorcycles (and soon Brammo & BRD) a run for its money, the KTM Freeride E is a modest design with its 30hp (peak) PERM motor and 2.1 kWh battery pack.

As a dyed-in-the-wool street biker, I was a bit disappointed that KTM was only bringing the Freeride E out as a dirt bike, with no supermoto variation available. Thankfully I was not alone in that sentiment, as Kiska Senior Pixel Pusher Piers SP also longed for an electric Austrian backing-it-in machine. The difference of course is that as a blogger, I have no concept of creating something of my own (that’s moto-journo humor right there folks), while Piers SP is a zen voodoo digital samurai (truth). Needless to say, photoshopping ensued.

Rendered: Ducati 1199 Panigale Race Replicas

12/09/2011 @ 10:07 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

It’s only a matter of time before Ducati releases some race replica paint jobs for the recently unveiled Ducati 1199 Panigale. It almost certainly won’t be during the 2012 model year, but in 2013 don’t be surprised to see some race-inspired colors adorning Bologna’s flagship superbike. Seemingly beating Ducati to the punch, the guys over at MotorBikeTV have put together some fine photoshops of what the Ducati 1199 Panigale race replicas would look like. Hayden, Bayliss, Checa…the only thing missing is perhaps the most important race replica of all: Valentino Rossi’s.

With The Doctor signing onto the Italian MotoGP squad for two seasons, the match was a marketing director’s dream come true. And while the Rossi yellow might clash with the Rosso Corsa, you can beat anything stamped with a 46 and the Ducati Corse logo will sell like hot cakes…it did for the Ducati Monster at least. A Rossi-branded Ducati 1199 Panigale? The sound you just heard was Ducatisti worldwide having spasms of joy, of the change-your-pants variety. Thanks for the tip Sergio!

Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce by Luca Bar

04/26/2011 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In case you haven’t notice, we really like the work of Luca Bar. The young Italian designer has an eye for motorcycles we like to own, so it seemed fitting that we show off one of Bar-Design’s older works, the Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce.

With the fabled Italian company set to go up on the auction block again this summer, we thought perhaps some inspiration from Maestro Bar would help pull some buyers out of the woodwork. At the very least, it’s an excuse to show off some more drool-worthy motorcycle eyecandy.

A&R’s April Fools Round-Up

04/01/2011 @ 6:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, we love us some April Fools here at Asphalt & Rubber, because like Christmas, the real joy in the holiday isn’t in the act of receiving, but in the act of giving. It’s perhaps at this time of year where the media side of the motorcycle industry reaches its zenith of creativity, producing eloquent prose, perfect press releases, and some of the most superb photo re-touches we’ve ever seen. We have in fact many maestros in our presence, and we wanted to share our Top 3 picks of the days festivities.

And our role in all this? Well we’re firm believers in the idea that if you’re going to do something wrong, then it’s best to do it right. Instead of trying to fabricate a story or two, and then convince you that they were real (that’s so 2010 by the way), we decided to switch things up and publish two stories (here & here) that we knew to be fundamentally true, and convince you that they were in fact fake. April Fools.

KTM 690 SMC R by Isaac Chavira

03/29/2011 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

More work from our man Isaac Chavira, maker of the Ducati Monster 848R everyone was drooling over last week. This week Chavira turns his attention to Austria and its resident motorcycle maker KTM. Focusing on Team Orange’s supermoto offering, Chavira has dreamed up a KTM 690 SMC R concept bike, saying “I’d really love to see this bike come to reality and frankly speaking I don’t see why it cant become a reality. Heck any gear head worth his salt can build 95% of this bike from a KTM parts catalog.” That sounds to us like a challenge.

Ducati Monster 848R Concept by Isaac Chavira

03/24/2011 @ 6:54 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Today we have a concept sketch that should appeal to A&R‘s Ducatisti readership, as Isaac Chavira brings us his rendition of a Ducati Monster 848R. The name sort of gives off what’s going on here, as Chavira has incorporated the 848’s superbike motor into a Monster chassis (a Monster 796 chassis to be exact).

While the Monster line has become Ducati’s air-cooled street machine, we like where Chivra’s head is at when explains his choice for using the 848 Superbike’s water-cooled motor: “As you’ll see I have given it a heart transplant stuffing the 848’s motor into the Monsters chassis. After all they gave it a menacing name, why not have the heart of a beast right?”

KTM Supermoto Concept by anyaverageartist

03/22/2011 @ 6:46 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

We love us some concept bikes here at Asphalt & Rubber. While not all of them live in the realm of possibility, it’s interesting to see the ideas that come forth when people put pen to paper with reckless abandon. Motorcycling is about individual expression, which we often see exhibit itself in the way people modify their bikes after purchase.

If this customization process is the physical and practical manifestation of this idea, then concept sketches and renders are examples of the same act being done as purely a mental exercise. Luckily for us, Photoshop allows for just about anyone with the skillset to now create these concepts, which supplies us with a regular healthy dose of motorcycles to day-dream about.

The Vegemite Honda RC212V by Morgan Driessen

03/18/2011 @ 5:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Here’s some Friday eye candy for you, courtesy of Morgan Driessen. When Morgan isn’t out working on his multiple degrees in graphic design (he graduated with honors we might add), he’s likely jumping over things on his trials bicycle (training to compete in the world championship on that as well).

Now in the unlikely situation where you would be unable to find Morgan doing either of those afore mentioned things, then well he’s probably day dreaming about two-stroke racers, and putting pen to pad on a motorcycle designs. Today finds us catching the young Mr. Driessen at the latter, as he has done up some splendid drawings of alternative paint jobs and sponsorships for the Honda RC212V (above) and Yamaha YZR-M1 (after the jump).