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.

Rossi/Stoner: Cooler Heads Prevail in Jerez, but Tempers Still Simmer When Words Are Exchanged in the Pit Box

04/04/2011 @ 5:45 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the incident between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi at the Spanish GP (if you haven’t seen the race yet, stop reading now). Charging to overtake Stoner at Turn 1, Rossi found himself going too hot into the turn, and too heavy on the brakes. With Stoner swinging wide to let Rossi through, the Italian went up the inside of Casey’s line, tucked the front, and the rest is history.

While Stoner would later call the crash a “racing incident” in his press debrief, he still chastised his counterpart for making a rash move and an apology that seemed more like a media stunt than a sincere gesture. For the Australian that got shunned by the marshals in the gravel trap, and watched a few laps from behind the guardrail, this weekend certainly seemed like a rough result because of an incident where he made no fault.

Insult was perhaps added to injury as Rossi continued on with his race (Stoner clapping as the Italian came by Turn 1 the very next lap, a sarcastic gesture for Rossi’s move and outcome), and then went on to finish the race with a fifth place result. Coming into the Repsol Honda garage with several TV cameras in tow, Rossi apologized to Stoner, with the following interaction occurring between the two riders (find it after the jump).

Honda Goes 1, 2, 3, at Second Day of Testing at Sepang

02/23/2011 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

The Honda boys were out in full-force today, as MotoGP testing continued at Sepang. With only Toni Elias outside of the Top 7, Honda’s race package for the 2011 season is looking very stout, despite the fact that chassis selections still haven’t been finalized. While landing at the top of the results list is about as useful as yelling “first” in the comments section, Casey Stoner just barely snatched the honor away from Dani Pedrosa in his final lap around the Malaysian circuit, leaving only .058 seconds between the teammates.

Like yesterday, the Yamaha Racing factory squad looked in good form as well, with Spies showing marked improvements despite crashing in one of the sessions. Jorge Lorenzo spent some time on two different bikes, confirming the direction his crew was going with developing the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 for the new season.

Things weren’t progressing as well in the Ducati camp though, as all the teams struggled with front-end issues. Notably absent from the day was Valentino Rossi, who has come down with cold/flu like symptoms. He retired to the hotel, in the hopes of being well enough to ride in tomorrow’s last day of testing. Carrying the Corse flag alone, Nicky Hayden had a tough day that ended with gearbox problems. Still, the ever-positive American was hopeful for better fortunes on Thursday as the team seems to have worked out some chatter issues.

Casey Stoner Leads MotoGP Testing at Sepang

02/22/2011 @ 12:14 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Casey Stoner Leads MotoGP Testing at Sepang

Casey Stoner set the pace today at MotoGP’s second off-season test at Sepang. The Australian, and the rest of the four factory Honda riders, proved to be very impressive on the Malaysian track, as the 2011 Honda RC212V seems to be hitting its stride just before the season opener in Qatar in a few weeks.

The Honda riders don’t have things all sewn up though, as the Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo was looking very fast, as were Americans Ben Spies and Colin Edwards. Earlier in the day, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi even cracked into the Top 5 on the standings, and despite finishing the day just over a second behind Stoner, the Italian was upbeat about the team’s progress and his physical condition.

Final Quotes from the Rossi/Yamaha Era

11/08/2010 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, tomorrow is the day that Valentino Rossi will officially leave Yamaha, and ride the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 for the first time. In 7 seasons Rossi won 4 Championships and 46 GP’s for the Japanese company, and helped turn the YZR-M1 from MotoGP dud, to the MotoGP stud in that timeframe.

Appropriately, former World Champion Valentino Rossi, along with Executive Officer of Engineering Operations Masao Furusawa and Managing Director of Yamaha Racing Lin Jarvis, have released statements about the past seven years, which shed a great deal of insight into the relationship between Yamaha and Rossi, and the impact that the Italian rider will leave behind on the Japanese company. Quotes and some photos after the jump.

Ducati to Cycle World: You’re a Bunch of Liars

08/05/2010 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

On Tuesday night we were delighted to see that American print magazine Cycle World had gotten a chance to sit down with Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio, and talk about the future of Ducati, the upcoming power-cruiser, and of course Valentino Rossi. To our surprise, del Torchio seemingly spilled the beans about Rossi moving over to Ducati, and so we, like many other sites, jumped on the news and published it.

This article of course has surprised the folks in Bologna, who have released a statement saying that the Italian brand has not signed Rossi, and that Cycle World‘s article “misreported” the facts. This is of course Ducati saying politely that Cycle World made the quotes up, which regardless if it’s true or not, is a sizeable issue for motorcycle publications and their readers.

Top Rider Fake Quotes from TwitGP

04/27/2010 @ 6:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

If you haven’t already heard about the TwitGP that took place on Twiegi twitter this weekend, then you missed out on one of the best crowdsourced virtual online racing events ever to take place on the interwebernets. A bit silly, yes. But TwitGP, which came about as a result of the cancelled Japanese GP, was a clever use of modern media and user interactivity that created a humored and enthusiastic approach to twitter and MotoGP. One of the best parts about the TwitGP was the ongoing puns, and fictitious rider quotes that came from people all over the world. We’ve reproduced some of the best after the jump, enjoy.