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.

Are You the 2014 BMW S1000R Streetfighter? Nope.

10/24/2013 @ 4:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Is this an image of the much anticipated BMW S1000R – the streetfightered version of BMW’s popular S1000RR superbike? Nope, it’s not…but, it is a spot-on approximation of what we expect to see from BMW Motorrad early next month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. Italian site DueRuote commissioned this render from the folks at MotoRendering.com, and we have to say it is some damn fine work.

Yamaha MT-DM 850 Concept by Luca Bar Design

06/18/2013 @ 5:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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By now you have surely seen the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 naked/standard/street bike from our favorite tuning fork brand. Featuring a 847cc three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 65 lbs•ft of torque, all within a 414 lbs curbside hulk, the FZ-09 has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is the bike’s $7,999 price tag.

Like we said in our first assessment of the Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha has really hit the nail on the head with a solid middleweight street bike, save for a few design elements that look a bit off to our eyes. We aren’t too worried about it though — an aftermarket exhaust here, a couple cosmetic tweaks there, and just about any motorcyclists can stamp the FZ-09 with their own unique look.

The first of many triples to come from Yamaha, it is easy (perhaps too easy, reading some of the comments left here on A&R) to put the Yamaha FZ-09 into other market segments.

With some longer suspension and armor, an adventure bike could be born from the FZ-09. Just as easily, put some saddlebags, a taller windscreen, and change the ergonomics a tad, and a sport-tourer you have…and that’s exactly what Luca Bar has done here with his Yamaha MT-DM 850 concept.

KTM RC4 Concept by Luca Bar Design

05/06/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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KTM is shaping up to be the brand of 2013. Surpassing BMW Motorrad in outright unit sales, and becoming the largest motorcycle brand in Europe, zie Austrians have been on a tear with their small-displacement machine strategy. Most of that move has been buoyed by KTM’s partnership with Bajaj, which in-turn owns a very sizable minority stake in the Austrian company, but KTM also has been making other moves as well, like the acquisition of Husqvarna by CEO Stefan Pierer and his company Pierer Industrie AG.

Surprisingly, what has been occurring in KTM’s boardroom is almost overshadowing what is occurring in the company’s model line-up, with the KTM 1190 Adventure set to finally come to the USA later this year, almost a year after its European debut, as well the upcoming release of the KTM 390 Duke and its sport bike and adventure variants. Perhaps lost in the wash is the 2013 KTM 690 Duke, which is a new machine for the US market this year.

A single-cylinder hooligan-maker, the KTM 690 Duke is 330 lbs (curbside without fuel) and 67hp of two-wheeled fun, and we hope that the Austrians bring the KTM 690 Duke R our way as well. While we are on the topic of things missing from KTM’s American line-up, a decent supersport is painfully obvious, yet we can’t see the folks at KTM following the paths of other brands. That’s where our friend Luca Bar comes to mind with his latest concept: the KTM RC4.

This is Not Rossi’s New Yamaha MotoGP Livery

01/14/2013 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The great winter depression is nearly over for MotoGP fans, as tomorrow Ducati Corse will debut its 2013 team(s) for the premier class, and soon enough we will see similar events from Honda and Yamaha as well. In February, the boys with their bikes will be back on the track, as the pre-season tests at Sepang again give us our first glimpse at the teams’ progress over the off-season.

Of course, the anticipation doesn’t stop some. Take graphic designer and DeviantArtist Samuel from Italy, he spent the long-winter months photoshopping together what many Rossi fans have been speculating about: the nine-time World Champion’s new livery now that Monster is sponsoring the Yamaha Racing MotoGP team.

Honda RC213 Concept by Luca Bar Design

10/01/2012 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Our friend Luca Bar has been busy since the last time we showcased his work, and today the young Italian designer brings us his vision of the heavily rumored, and now confirmed, MotoGP-inspired V4 superbike that Honda will bring to market in 2014.

With Honda CEO Takanobu Ito drawing a distinct connection between the upcoming model and the Honda RC30, Bar has obviously chosen to dress his machine in the RC30’s livery, which has recently also made an appearance on this year’s Honda TT Legends machine.

Ducati Streetfighter Panigale Concept

07/09/2012 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

It remains to be seen how the high-reving Superquadro motor will fit into Ducati’s “one-motor-fits-all” strategy, but the speculation is already becoming rife about a supersport version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale, and of course a streetfighter version as well.

With the Panigale’s engine being an integral part of the superbike’s design, there is a definite challenge for Ducati’s design team in making the Emperor of the Sport Bike Kingdom look good naked. Until we see what Borgo Panigale can conjure up, we are lucky to have weekend couch jockey’s on the Ducati.ms forum who happen to have incredible photoshoping skills.

Ducati Monster S4R Concept by Paolo Tesio

04/25/2012 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

While the Ducati Monster S4R is a special machine in its own right, using a water-cooled four-valve superbike-derived motor, this custom by Paolo Tesio caught our eye as something singularly different from the Italian brand’s fine work. First creating a custom subframe, tail section, and fork guards in CAD, Tesio’s finished motorcycle compliments the original design of the Monster S4R quite well, in a balanced “evolution, not revolution” sort of way.

Complete with an underslung box-style exhaust, the look is clean, different, but still very true to the Monster’s café roots. Our favorite part is perhaps the least functional, as the fork guards give a girder front-end feel, and are tastefully emblazoned with the retro Ducati logo. If there is enough interest, Tesio says he will make a kit available to S4R owners. More tragically small and horribly cropped photos after the jump.

KTM Super Duke 1200 R Concept by Mirco Sapio

04/12/2012 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

According to its leaked product road map, KTM is due to upgrade the SuperDuke for the next model year (meaning we should start seeing “spy photo” teasers any day now). Designated at the KTM Super Duke R 1290, we can only assume that the new model from Austria will feature a v-twin motor fits in the 1,200cc displacement category, though KTM has been notorious about having its number designations not quite lining up with the bike’s actual displacement.

For 2014, the Super Duke R 1290 will be the basis of another model, the KTM Adventure 1290, which will update the current KTM Adventure 990, and bring KTM more in-line with the offerings from BMW, Ducati, Yamaha, etc.

While we wait for those exciting new models from Team Orange, Italian industrial designer Micro Sapio has penned this concept of a KTM SuperDuke 1200 R. Unfortunately, all we have is the front and back shots, which make fully-appreciating the renders a bit of a challenge.

Of course the orange-painted steel trellis frame pops, though we are not a huge fan of the headlight being used here. However, the low-slung exhaust and single-sided swingarm are nice touches.  Your thoughts?

Moto Guzzi Sportbike Concept by Luca Bar Design

03/28/2012 @ 1:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

We are big fans of Luca Bar’s imagination and what comes from the stylus of Luca Bar Designs, and today just reinforces that point further. Drafting a Moto Guzzi sportbike concept, Luca has created a very eye-catching design that takes the longitudinal v-twin motor and places it into a modern sportbike chassis.

With the frame design and tail section borrowed from the Aprilia RSV4, the front-end incorporates a Hossack suspension system, instead of the customary fork tubes. The single-sided swingarm is a nice touch, and of course everyone loves carbon fiber bodywork.

Ducati 798 Desmosport R Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

03/22/2012 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Much has been speculated about the alleged Ducati 799 Superbike that surely is being planned in Borgo Panigale this very minute. Connecting the dots with the Italian company’s product roadmap, Ducati surely has a smaller-displacement version of its 1199 Panigale in the works, though what it will be called and what displacement it will use is still the subject of much conjecture. Today Oberdan Bezzi takes us back down that thought process with his Ducati 798 Desmosport R concept.

A supersport-market model, Bezzi’s focus is not with the water-cooled 1,200cc Superquadro motor, but the tried and true DesmoDue air-cooled lump currently found in the Hypermotard and Monster lines. Looking for a €9,000 price point, 100hp power figure, and 365 lbs dry weight, Oberdan Bezzi is striking the same vein that Radical Ducati and NCR have been touching on for the past few years, albeit at different ends of the price spectrum.