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.

2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R: 175hp…Sorta

11/12/2010 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

If you’ve heard any loud thuds while visiting A&R the past two weeks, it’s been us falling over ourselves over the 2011 KTM 1198 RC8 R. For 2011, the new RC8 R gets a number of refinements to its already stout package, and for the spec sheets racers the most drool-worthy stat perhaps is the bike’s modest power boost to 175hp, up from its base of 167hp. There’s a kicker to that power figure though, it comes from switching the base engine map, which is designed for 91 octane (AKI rating, which is what we use here in the USA), to a 93 octane map.

It could seem like we’re splitting hairs here, but unless you live next to a race track where gas stations will often carry the 93 octane rated fuel, you’ll be risking pinging KTM’s beautiful 1195cc motor with the lower-rated fuel, and be relegated to using the 170hp engine map while on the street. We don’t know how RC8 R owners will only handle 170hp on the street, hopefully the photos after the jump will help.

2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R Leaks Ahead of EICMA

10/29/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

According to the folks at Hell for Leather, KTM is not only updating the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R with a bevy of eye-catching color schemes (see the drool-worthy gallery after the jump), but has also taken it upon itself to upgrade the Austrian bullet with an additional 7hp or so, bringing the RC8 R’s final total up to 175hp (torque gets a modest increase of 1.5 lbs•ft, totaling in at 93.6 lbs•ft).

Installing a new crankshaft, heavier flywheel, and dual-plug ignition, KTM hopes that the new 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will not only be more powerful than its predecessor, but also smoother and easier to ride. We found the 2010 KTM 1190 RC8 R to be one of the best bikes we’ve ever ridden on the track (we are partial to v-twins though), so the idea that the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R will build upon an already exceptional package tickles our fancy quite a bit.

The Unofficial KTM 690 Supermono

05/11/2010 @ 12:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

OmniMoto has a great piece on some KTM R&D engineers who built the fabled KTM Supermono during their off-work time. The project, which wass not supported by KTM, centers around a KTM 690 Duke motor and modified Duke/RC8 chassis. With about 80hp coming from the single-cylinder motor and its cloth-on-carburetor airbox, this RC4 wannabe looks very appealing on paper with its 140kg (308lbs) weight.

The entire front section of the motorcycle is off a KTM RC8, sans one brake disc for added weight loss. The Austrian-loyal have been clamoring for some time now for a KTM Supermono, and if it looks and sounds as good as this, we’d like one in our garage as well. Check out OmniMoto’s post for a bevy of photos, and bring Google along if you don’t parlo italiano.

Source: OmniMoto

Mavizen TTX02 An Electric KTM RC8? [UPDATED]

10/27/2009 @ 3:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Mavizen-TTX02-electric-KTM-RC8

UPDATE: You have to love Photoshop…it looks like the good folks at Mavizen forgot to whipe the original photo thumbnail, click here for an unblurred (albeit small) picture of the new TTX02 that confirms its RC8 lineage.

UPDATE #2: The Mavizen TTX02 has been officially unveiled here.

In one week’s time, Mavizen (a product of Team Agni’s TTXGP race-winning electric motorcycle team) will release what they call the world’s first production electric racing superbike, the TTX02. With a teaser image hitting the TTXGP website today, speculation is already swirling around the company, its bike, and its RC8 look-alike chassis.

KTM Withdraws from 125GP Racing

10/06/2009 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

KTM-quits-125GP-racing

After previously leaving 250GP racing and the Dakar Rally, KTM has announced its withdrawal from another race series: 125GP. Choosing instead to focus its 2010 racing efforts on the RC8‘s upcoming World Superbike debut, KTM cites financial difficulties as its reason for leaving the GP scene. KTM will continue to be involved with the Red Bull Rookies Cup, which features talented young riders racing around on spec KTM 125cc race bikes.

KTM Venom Put On Hold While RC8 Gets Developed

03/25/2009 @ 1:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

ktm-venom-concept

KTM has put the Venom naked superbike project on hold to focus solely on bringing the RC8 to market successfully. In 2004, the Venom concept was shown as a variant to the RC8 Superbike that would debut one year after the RC8 (which would have been this year). Clearly that is not the case, and KTM’s Thomas Kuttruf explained to MCN the reason for the delay:

KTM Ads You Won’t See in the United States

01/15/2009 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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In our opinion, KTM leads the pack when it comes to TV spot ads. With superb photograph and quick edits, KTM creates ads that are just as edgy as the lines on the RC8, and promotes the hooligan within all of us. Unfortunately the way product liability works in the United States prevents many of these ads from actually airing in the US market. So, we thought we’d bring them to you so you can see how KTM envisions you using their bikes on the street and track. Continue reading for the videos.

 

KTM RC8 Only Available Until The End of 2008

12/12/2008 @ 9:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

xmas-ktm-1190-rc8

News has just broken that the 2009 KTM 1190cc RC8 will only be sold via KTM’s Priority Delivery Deposit Program, which ends on New Year’s Eve.

Editor’s note: F@#!!!

Which means you have less than 19 days (and counting) until it will be too late to get your hands on Austria’s first purpose-built sportbike. Nothing has been mentioned about the race-inspired RC8R, but we expect a similar arrangement. Oh, and did we mention production numbers will be limited.

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BREAKING: Price and Release Dates for New KTM Models

11/23/2008 @ 1:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on BREAKING: Price and Release Dates for New KTM Models

Four days ago we broke for you the price on the Aprilia RSV4, and today we bring you price leaks on not only one bike, but three of them: the 2009 KTM Super Duke 990 R, the 2009 KTM Adventure 990 R, and the 2009 KTM RC8 1190 R. Click after the jump to see the release dates and prices for these three bikes.

 

Supercharged KTM RC8

11/08/2008 @ 10:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Supercharged KTM RC8

KTM released the 2008 RC8 in extremely limited numbers. Worried that these early adopters might feel their exclusivity was at risk, is releasing a KTM RC8 R version for 2009….for those discerning buyers.

Well what do you do if you want an even more exclusive RC8? What if you want to run in the 9’s on the 1/4 mile? Oh, well then you’ll need to supercharge it. And that’s just what Lantto Racing, a Finnish drag racing team, has done. Read more, and watch a dyno-run after the break.