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.

Tragedy Claims the Lives of Two MotoAmerica Racers

07/19/2015 @ 11:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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It is with a heavy heart that we have to report the passing of Daniel Rivas (pictured after the jump) and Bernat Martinez (pictured above), both of whom died during today’s MotoAmerica Superbike/Superstock 1000 race.

The multi-bike incident occurred during the start of the race and included other riders who were more fortunate, such as Josh Chisum, Devon McDonough, & Kevin Pinkstaff.

Fan video of the start shows Rivas’ bike going down the front straight of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and then lose speed relative to the rest of the starting grid.

On the ground, Rivas was ultimately struck by another rider. He was airlifted to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, where he succumbed to injuries. He was 27.

One of the riders involved in the aftermath was Bernat Martinez, who was less fortunate than the rest. After the incident, he was transported from the raceway by ambulance to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, where he too succumbed to his injuries. He was 35.

Carl Sorensen Has Died While Practicing at Pikes Peak

06/25/2015 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Tragic news comes to us today from Colorado, as racer Carl Sorensen died during today’s practice session for the 93rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

With the motorcycles on the top section of the mountain, Carl crashed in a fast left-hand turn, known to have a bump on the racing line, near the summit.

Carl’s last run would have been one of the final runs up the course for the day, as the bikes were closing-in on their end time. Conditions reported to Asphalt & Rubber were that it was very cold at the Devil’s Playground staging area, with the road thawing from a measured 32°F to 42°F by the end of the sessions.

Thursday marks the third day of sanctioned practice for the motorcycles entered in Sunday’s racing event, with qualifying being tomorrow, on the lower section of the course (Pikes Peak practice sessions are divided into three course segments, with one motorcycle group and two car groups rotating through the course during practice week.

Familiar with the PPIHC race course, Carl finished last year’s hillclimb an impressive 16th overall, and 10th in the competitive “Open” class on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. For this year’s race, he made his move into the middleweight class, riding on a Ducati 848 Superbike.

A loyal A&R reader, and an avid motorcycle racer, Carl is survived by his wife and son, and will be sorely missed by all his family, friends, and racing compatriots. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by Carl’s passing.

Franck Petricola Has Died While at the Isle of Man TT

06/04/2015 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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We are sad to report that the 2015 Isle of Man TT has claimed its first fatality, as French rider Franck Petricola died during Wednesday’s qualifying session, in an incident at Sulby Crossroads.

The 32-year-old was competing in his first Isle of Man TT, though he had been a regular in the Irish Road Racing Championship, where in 2013 he achieved his top overall finish with an 11th in the Superbike category.

Enjoy This Dane Westby Tribute Video

04/02/2015 @ 1:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Our friends over at OnTheThrottle.tv have put together a great video of Dane Westby, using footage they collected from the 2014 season.

It’s a great tribute to a competitor whose time came far too early, and it shows how the tough times are what make the good times so good.

If you say that you didn’t get a little misty-eyed in the comments, we won’t believe you.

Video: Dane Westby at the COTA Tire Test

03/26/2015 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The American road racing community is still coming to grips with the loss of Dane Westby this week, after the 28-year-old died tragically while riding his street bike in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

While his family, friends, and fans work through their grief over the loss of Dane, we can at least remember “The Wolverine” for the competitor that he was.

As such, Yamaha has put together a nice video of Dane at the MotoAmerica tire test at COTA. Set to race in the Superstock 1000 class this year, Dane clearly was measuring himself against the faster guys in the Superbike class — the true mark of a true competitor.

That’s just one of the reasons why everyone liked him so much

Racer Dane Westby Has Died

03/24/2015 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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It’s with a heavy heart that we regretfully inform you of the passing of AMA Pro Road Racing and MotoAmerica racer Dane Westby, who died on Monday night while riding his street bike to his parents’ house in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Early reports say Dane struck a utility pole with his Honda Hawk street bike, and according to a report on RoadRacing World that quoted Westby’s friend and former-mechanic Dustin Meador, the 28-year-old may have been trying to avoid a collision with another vehicle at the time of the crash.

Video: David’s Story

09/04/2014 @ 11:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

A Great Loss: Massimo Tamburini Has Died

04/06/2014 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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It is our unfortunate task today to report that Massimo Tamburini, 70-years-old, has died this weekend, succumbing to his battle with cancer. A maestro of design in the motorcycle industry, Tamburini gave motorcycling two of its greatest treasures: the Ducati 916 Superbike and the MV Agusta F4 – two of the most iconic sport bikes in modern time.

It almost doesn’t do the man justice to list all of his accomplishments and creations, as surely some would fall through our words, but Tamburini is best known for his contributions to Cagiva, Ducati, MV Agusta, and Bimota — with the last two letters in “Bimota” standing for the first two letters in “Tamburini”.

Remembering Tommy Aquino

02/11/2014 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

We are still getting over the loss of Tommy Aquino, who died while riding motocross in Southern California just last week. A popular rider in the AMA Pro Racing, British Superbike, and Spanish CEV series, the untimely passing of Tommy is being felt around the world.

A memorial service for Tommy will be held at 2PM on Saturday, February 15th at the Bishop Alemany High School (11111 North Alemany Drive, Mission Hills, CA). A remembrance is also scheduled afterwards at 28588 Santa Catarina Road, Saugus, CA — the Aquino Family encourages all to attend.

While we all continue to grieve, we do best to remember the good times, and as such Roversberg Productions has put together a nice tribute video of Tommy. Enjoy it above.

Tommy Aquino Has Died While Motocross Training

02/02/2014 @ 8:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of AMA Pro Racing rider Tommy Aquino, who died today in a motocross accident at the Piru Ranch MX — Tommy’s local riding spot. Colliding head-on with another rider at around 12:30 pm, Tommy was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Ventura County Star.

Tommy started his racing career back in 2008, at the age of 16. With five seasons in AMA Pro Racing, Tommy finished third in the 2011 Daytona SportBike Championship, with a race win at New Jersey Motorsports Park that season. In 2013, Aquino moved his racing across the pond to Great Britain, riding a superstock machine in the BSB series.

Universally loved for his big hair, great smile, and positive attitude, there are many in the A&R family who were close to Tommy and are grieving tonight. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. At only 21 years of age Tommy was loved by many, and will be dearly missed by us all.