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.

MotoGP: Attendees for the Day of Champions at Silverstone Raised Nearly £200,000 for Riders for Health

08/29/2014 @ 8:54 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Thursdays at MotoGP races usually mean the first chance the media has to talk to riders for the week, both at their debriefs and at the pre-event press conference, but at the British Grand Prix it means something a little bit more special.

Helping raise money for Riders for Health, Silverstone played host to the Day of Champions event, which sees fans able to ride the massive British track, walk the pit lane and see bikes up-close, meet GP stars, and bid on one-of-a-kind GP memorabilia.

All of the money raised from Day of Champions will help Riders for Health ensure health workers in Africa have access to reliable, well maintained motorcycles and ambulances so that they can continue to deliver life-saving health care to 14 million people. The Day of Champions is a great event, and it supports a wonderful charity.

This year accordingly, Riders for Health is proud to announce that the 3,500+ fans in attendance helped raise £193,802 at the Day of Champions event, a figure which the UK government will match. Booyah!

How to Hangout with Randy Mamola at Austin

04/07/2014 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Are you getting into Austin early for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas? Maybe you’re already there, sitting on 6th St. sipping down a cool beverage? May we recommend then that you set aside some time on Thursday, and head to the Circuit of the Americas race track for the Day of Stars, a special event put on by Riders for Health.

The official charity of MotoGP, and a cause near and dear to our A&R hearts, Riders for Health puts on two special events, one in the US and one in the UK, which give fans unprecedented access to the grand prix experience.

It goes without saying then that the Day of Stars event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet MotoGP stars, see the paddock and team boxes, and of course to hangout and talk motorcycles with Randy Mamola.

Riders for Health’s Day of Stars Comes to MotoGP in Austin

02/18/2014 @ 4:40 pm, by Aakash Desai3 COMMENTS

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You definitely can’t buy happiness (nor love for that matter, *cue violin and post V-day sadness*), but you can buy a behind-the-scenes pass to the Austin, Texas for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. Riders for Health, the official charity of MotoGP, is bringing its “Day of Stars” event to Austin and giving fans an exclusive view behind the world of MotoGP.

If satisfying your selfish desire to meet MotoGP riders and pit-crews, getting served a catered lunch, and taking your own bike for a spin at the Circuit of the Americas wasn’t existentially appealing to you, you can be rest assured that $375 out of every $500 ticket will go as tax-deductible donation directly to Riders for Health.

Support Riders for Health – Fly to Valencia – Meet Rossi

10/07/2013 @ 3:58 pm, by Jake Fuchs2 COMMENTS

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Say you and a buddy decide to go to Valencia for the final round of the MotoGP season next month. You’ll need two round-trip flights. You’ll need some place to stay. You’ll need money for food, ground transportation, and of course, tickets for the race. How much do you think all that will cost? If you’re lucky, about $3.

Riders for Health – the official charity of MotoGP, with support from Bridgestone and MCN, is running a contest right now that, if you win, will have you and a friend flown from anywhere in the world to Valencia, put up in a four-star hotel, and given VIP treatment all weekend from November 8th thru 10th.

Why Asphalt & Rubber Supports Riders for Health

10/03/2013 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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You would have to be living in a hole not to have heard about the video footage of a Range Rover plowing through a group of motorcyclists, and the chase through New York that ensued afterwards.

I say this not because the video has been the highest trafficked article on Asphalt & Rubber this week so far, though it is; nor do I say this because the video has been posted to virtually every motorcycle forum and blog on the internet, though it has; but instead because the video has elevated itself out of our obscure sport and into the national, if not international, public consciousness.

It is rare that motorcycling finds its way into mass media, and unfortunately it is rarely a good thing when it does so. Motorcycling by and large has an image problem in the United States. Few motorists commute via motorcycle, which means our industry is filled with people who come to motorcycles from either a hobby, sport, or lifestyle perspective, and because of this motorcycles remain on the fringe of mainstream society.

For some, that is the allure. Motorcycling is “something different’ which in turns allows a motorcyclist to express their individuality in an obvious manner. To illustrate this point, I am fairly certain that the vast majority of flame threads that start on forums and blogs can be boiled down to the premise that because your enjoyment of motorcycles is different from my enjoyment of motorcycles, it therefore must be wrong.

Valentino Rossi Has Raised Nearly £250,000 for Riders for Health Over the Past 10 Years

09/02/2013 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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If you haven’t heard of Riders for Health, it is the official charity of MotoGP, and also happens to be Asphalt & Rubber‘s favorite cause to support. Last year I had the supreme opportunity to attend Rider’s biggest fundraising event, the Day of Champions, which was held the Thursday before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. While unfortunately I missed this year’s event (David and Scott got to attend though), I was very pleased to hear that British MotoGP fans raised £216,249 (over $336,000) for the charity.

That money will go towards helping Riders for Health to improve access to healthcare in Africa, where the charity relies on motorcycles to help bring healthcare professionals to remote villages, as well as reliably transporting medical samples, vaccines, etc. to places where four-wheeled drive vehicles cannot reach. I won’t go into a huge spiel about how awesome Riders for Health is, but if you want to read more about the great work these people are doing, you can read about them here.

While many in the MotoGP paddock have given endless amounts of support to Riders for Health, one standout supporter of this great cause is Valentino Rossi. During last Thursday’s rider auction, Rossi helped to raise £13,250 in just 20 minutes with nine items, which included a unique clay hand print, knee sliders, and the baseball hat he wore onto the stage. In total, the auction raised £77,090 for Riders, making Rossi’s star power account for over 17% of the money raised.

Sign-Up: Riders for Health’s Day of Stars at Laguna Seca

04/02/2013 @ 3:48 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Sign-Up: Riders for Health’s Day of Stars at Laguna Seca

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For those who haven’t noticed, Riders for Health is our go-to charity here at Asphalt & Rubber, and in case you’re not familiar with Riders (that’s what the hip kids call it), the organization is a registered not-for-profit charity that was started by Andrea and Barry Coleman, along with some guy named Randy Mamola, and provides critical health care services to millions of people in Africa — all on the back of a motorcycle (health care workers on motorcycles can reach six-times as many people as their counterparts in SUVs and cars, booyah).

Also, the official charity of the MotoGP Championship, the two big fundraisers for Riders for Health are the Day of Champions, which is held on the Thursday before the British GP, and the Day of Stars, which is held on the Thursday before the US GP. Whereas the Day of Champions is a massive event held at the Silverstone Circuit that is attended by thousands of two-wheeled enthusiasts, the Day of Stars is a smaller, more intimate, affair that is open to only 50 lucky participants.

A chance to spend time with current GP riders and past GP legends, you really won’t get a better racing experience ahead of the Laguna Seca round (don’t miss the auction too, where you can buy all sorts of rider gear and memorabilia). We highly recommend signing up for the event if you are in town ahead of the Laguna Seca round. A full press release with all the details is after the jump.

Trackside Tuesday: The Face of a Champion

10/09/2012 @ 2:26 pm, by Scott Jones13 COMMENTS

Even before I met Max Biaggi in 2011, I had the sense that here was someone who takes himself and his racing pretty seriously. From the immaculately trimmed facial hair, to his manner in the pit box, to his long career as a motorcycle racer, if there is anything he takes lightly, it is certainly not racing.

Some riders are approachable, quick to smile, who naturally put others at ease even on race weekends. Biaggi is not among this group. But I didn’t appreciate just how intense he is when he’s at work until, as one of my contributions to benefit Riders for Health, I decided to ask him to sign a print I was donating at last year’s Miller WSBK round.

I had brought a matted print of Biaggi from 2010 with me, and as I approached the track on Saturday morning I considered that it would likely fetch a higher price, and thus a greater donation to Riders for Health, if it bore Max’s signature. So I set about getting that done with no idea how easy or difficult it might be.

First I approached the Aprilia media officer, a pleasant fellow who worked with me, half in Italian and half in English, to come up with a plan to approach his star rider. He suggested we talk to someone in the pit box, someone who knew Max better than he did in his recently acquired role with the team.

We descended into the Aprilia garage and found someone whose exact role I never understood, but who also liked the idea of doing something for Riders for Health. He did not, however, care to be the one to bring it directly to Max. The three of us considered the situation and appealed to one of the senior mechanics, who gave us a sympathetic look and said in gestures instead of words that he wanted no part of the business.

We stood to the side of the box, waiting for inspiration, and I wondered if the plan were doomed. Max spoke to mechanics as if discussing matters of life and death. Team members approached him respectfully, presented their concerns for his comment, and left him alone. In some garages the guys joke and there is music in the business of racing motorbikes. In Max’s garage, it’s more like a war room, its business deadly serious.

Day of Champions Raises £250,000+ for Riders for Health

06/15/2012 @ 8:53 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The official charity of MotoGP, and an example of motorcycles making the world a better place, Riders for Health is an organization Asphalt & Rubber truly enjoys supporting. For those still not familiar with the work being done by Riders for Health, the charity was founded by Andrea & Barry Coleman, along with some guy named Randy Mamola. Providing motorcycles to health workers in Africa, Riders for Health has helped bring vital and reliable (this point being key) medical care to remote locations in DRC, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Being here in Silverstone for MotoGP’s British GP has meant the unique opportunity to participate in the Day of Champions, the trackside Thursday event that helps raise money for Riders for Health. The event is perhaps most well known for its rider auction, which has forever been immortalized with the antics of then teammates Cal Cructhlow and Colin Edwards.

For an added bonus this year, the British government has graciously agreed to match any funds raised by Rider for Health at the Day of Champions, which means yesterday’s event helped raise in total £254,989 for the organization. British readers, if you want to help support Riders (and get a gold star in our book), you can donate 3 by texting the letters “RFH” to  70303 (your donation will also be doubled by the Crown). US readers, you can go to Riders.org to make a donation (I’m told the text message donation system doesn’t work abroad).

Thursday at Silverstone with Scott Jones

06/15/2012 @ 7:07 am, by Scott Jones1 COMMENT