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.

Triumph Unit Sales Up 9% in April – Will Enter New Motorcycle Market Segments by 2012

05/17/2010 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

The motorcycle industry continues to thaw after its deep freeze during the recession, and a part of that warming effect comes from Triumph Motorcycles, who reported a 9% increase in unit sales in the United States for April 2010 when compared to April 2009. “It’s feels good to see consistent growth, and we’re optimistic about the future” said Mark Kennedy, President and CEO of Triumph Motorcycles North America. Continuing, Kennedy said, “…the U.S. economy is showing signs that indicate we should have a good year.” Part of the growth Kennedy is referencing to is of course having more customers purchase models from the existing model line-up, but Triumph also has its eye on new segments as well. More on that after the jump.

Piaggio Group Sales Up 11% in Q1 2010

04/30/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Piaggio Group is reporting an 11.2% increase in its first quarter 2010 sales across its motorcycle and scooter subsidiaries compared to last year’s numbers. The group netted  €2.9 million for Q1, which is noticable increase from its €4.7 million loss in Q1 of 2009. For motorcycle sales alone, the company saw a 12.4% increase unit sales, with the European market leading the charge.

S1000RR Puts BMW in the Black for February

03/16/2010 @ 4:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

While the US motorcycle market posted a 36% decline last month compared to a year ago, BMW was busy posting up some impressive numbers. The German company is reporting its February 2010 sales numbers are up 52% compared to February 2009. The main reason for the surge: the 2010 BMW S1000RR superbike, which would make BMW’s gamble of competing head-to-head with the Japanese Four a venerable victory. More after the jump.

Dainese No Longer “Made in Italy” – Moves Remaining Italian Production to Tunisia

01/19/2010 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Italian apparel manufacturer Dainese, (who also owns Mavet and AGV) is shutting down its Molvena, Italy plant, and moving the bulk of its production to Tunisia. The move is presumably to help lower costs to the Italian brand, as sales have slumpped during the industry-wide economic slowdown. It’s unclear whether Dainese will open a new factory in Tunisia, or add the capacity to one of its two factories already in the North African country.

Honda Motors Profits Down 56%, Motorcycles Only Down 17% – Expects Profit in First Half of 2009

11/05/2009 @ 8:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

honda-logo

Honda has released its second quarter financials, with the highlight (if you can call it that) being a 56.2% drop in their net income. Honda attributes this loss primarily to decreased car sales, and the currency exchange. For its part though, Honda’s motorcycle sales were down only 16.8%, with 2.4 million units sold during Q2.

SOLD: It’s A Buyer’s Market – $4,225 MV Agusta Brutale [UPDATED]

11/04/2009 @ 3:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MV-Agusta-Brutale-deal-of-the-year

UPDATE: The bike has now been sold.

We don’t usually post up bikes for sale, but this one seemed like too much of a bargain not to comment on, and in a way it speaks to the current state of the used motorcycle market. A 2004 salvage title MV Agusta Brutale for $4,225, it sounds like one of those bad eBay scams, but reading through this thread on ADVrider, the deal seems not only legit, but also some buyer’s lucky day.

Yamaha Motors President Out After $2 Billion Loss

11/04/2009 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Takashi-Kajikawa-Yamaha-Motors

At this point it’s abundantly clear how hard the recession has hit the motorcycle industry, so it doesn’t come with too much surprise that some management types are having to take the fall for the down-turn in profits. For Yamaha Motors President, Takashi Kajikawa, the only silver-lining to the situation is that this isn’t feudal Japan, and no one is offering him a sword to fall on. Unfortunately though, Kajikawa will still have to resign from his position as company President, as Yamaha Motors prepares for a $2 billion loss.

Metric Motorcycle Sales Still Slipping

08/05/2009 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

atomic-explosion

It’s doom and gloom today. The motorcycle industry continues to be slogged on the nose like a near-sighted proctologist, as exports from metric manufacturers declined by 65% this June from 2008’s figures. This drop comes after May only showed a 58% loss over last year’s numbers, showing an escalation of the problems for the motorcycle industry, instead of the beginnings of an abatement. For those who aren’t keeping score, 2009 so far has sold 25% less units than 2008, with the crunch hitting the hardest as sales normally would pick up during the summer.

Benelli to Go Under?

06/04/2009 @ 12:33 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

2008-benelli-tornadotre1130e

While Ducati is recording all-time high sales figures, times are significantly tighter at Benelli, that other Italian motorcycle manufacturer. With many of its workers on part-time status (and with the Government paying part of their paycheck), production at the Benelli factory has been scaled back to around 1,000 motorcycles for 2009, down from the 20,000 the company had anticipated to make when it set it goals back in 2007.

This year, Chinese owner, Qiang Jiang, is taking a closer look at the Italian acquistion, with the possibility of folding the company not ruled out. This just a few months after Qiang Jiang pumped $26 million into the Italian brand.

Yamaha Follows Other Japanese Manufacturers in Reported Sales Drops

05/15/2009 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Yamaha Follows Other Japanese Manufacturers in Reported Sales Drops

yamaha-squid

Our day wouldn’t complete if we didn’t bring you gloom from all four of the Japanese manufacturers; and yes, even Yamaha wasn’t spared the wraith of the global economic slowdown. Yamaha Motor Corporation is reporting double-digit percentage sales drops in its two-wheeled and four-wheeled retail sales.

Yamaha said its U.S. motorcycle retail sales of 21,000 units is a 30% dip from last year’s numbers. Similarly, its U.S. ATV retail sales fell 26% to 17,000 units. This number is at least better than the ATV industry average of a 33% sales decrease. Overall for its worldwide operations, Yamaha reported a sales decline of 35.5% from the year-ago quarter, and a net loss of $189 million for its first quarter, which ended March 31.

Source: PowerSports Business