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.

Photos: Rizla Suzuki ‘Micron’ Livery from Misano

09/06/2011 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Photos: Rizla Suzuki ‘Micron’ Livery from Misano

Álvaro Bautista sported some new race livery this past weekend in Misano, as the Spanish rider donned a chrome paint scheme at the San Marino GP to help title sponsor Rizla hock some more cancer sticks. The “Micron” paint scheme, done by Troy Lee Designs, is one of the many ways the Rizla Suzuki team has tried to promote itself for its financial backers, with PR rides by John Hopkins and Elena Myers also filling the bill. While the Suzuki team has struggled in MotoGP the past few years, the more recent races this season have shown that Bautista and the Suzuki GSV-R are capable of mixing it up with the second-tier of riders (when the bike stays on the track of course).

Finishing most recently 6th and 8th, respectively at the Indianapolis and San Marino GPs, Bautista seems finally comfortable on the 800cc GSV-R. If rumors are true, Suzuki could very well continue with the 800cc package into the 2012 season, electing to mix things up with the larger displacement bikes from Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati (though, the displacement on some of those machines is surely not the full 1,000cc as well).

Elena Myers Rides The Brickyard on the Suzuki GSV-R

08/25/2011 @ 4:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Elena Myers got a bit closer today to her dream of racing a MotoGP motorcycle, as the young AMA Pro Supersport rider got a chance to ride one of the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R race bikes around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway GP circuit. The outing started with a rocky start, as the Suzuki GSV-R cutout after Myers finished her out-lap, and was on her first proper lap of the session. Getting it started and riding back to the pits, Elena got back out on the track, after her tires were thrown back on the warmers for 20 minutes, and gave the Suzuki a proper go of things.

Taking a slew of laps around The Brickyard’s GP layout, Myers, to our knowledge, is the first rider on a GP bike to go around the newly paved infield section (Nicky Hayden lapped last week on a production Ducati Superbike 1198 SP). Eager not to crash one of Álvaro Bautista’s race bikes, the 17-year-old rode a smooth and consistent pace around IMS, but still managed to open up the Suzuki a bit with a top 306 km/h (190 mph) speed down the front straight. More of a chance for Myers to try out the MotoGP machinery than an actual test, her GSV-R was race-spec sans for some steel brake rotors (MotoGP bikes typically run carbon fiber brake discs).

Elena Myers Will Lap the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R at Indy GP

08/19/2011 @ 9:33 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

AMA Pro Supersport racer Elena Myers will have a chance to flog one of the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R bikes at the Indianapolis GP this year. Getting an opportunity to acquaint herself with the MotoGP machinery, Myers will do a few laps at 12:45 PM on Thursday before the Indy GP, in a PR event put together by American Suzuki. After a similar publicity event fell-through last year, the ride will be Myers’s first on a GP bike, and hopefully a glimpse into the future, as the young California native has made it clear that the premier class is where she wants to take her career.

“Words cannot describe how excited I am to ride the Suzuki GSV-R at Indy during the MotoGP weekend this year,” said Myers. “We had talked about it last year, but things didn’t work out, so here’s a big thanks to everyone involved for making this possible. When I sat on the bike last year, it felt like it was made to fit me. So actually being able to spin a few laps on it will be quite the treat. I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

Hopper Turns Down Tech3 and Repsol Ride Offers

06/06/2011 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

With two riders out of MotoGP right now because of shoulder injuries (Dani Pedrosa & Colin Edwards), the number of riders in the premier class has dropped down to just 15 expected to compete at the British GP. With that news comes pressure from Dorna for the teams to find replacements, and with a limited talent pool, the usual suspects are being bandied about. One of the people on the short list is former-GP rider John Hopkins, who raced for Rizla Suzuki at the Spanish GP in Jerez after Álvaro Bautista broke his femur at Qatar and was unable to compete.

Álvaro Bautista Will Race in Sunday’s Portuguese GP

04/29/2011 @ 7:25 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Álvaro Bautista Will Race in Sunday’s Portuguese GP

In the press release announcing Álvaro Bautista’s intent to race in the Portuguese GP, the heading describes the Spaniard as having “true grit” during today’s Free Practice sessions at Estoril. Now normally with MotoGP press releases, these headings are a bit of hyperbole, but considering just over a month ago Bautista’s femur, the largest bone in the human body, was in two pieces, we’re inclined to agree that the Spanish rider has shown remarkable determination in getting back onto the saddle of the Suzuki GSV-R.

Initial estimates pegged Bautista’s return to be at Le Mans for the French GP, but hard work at his physical therapy sessions, and an obscene amount of time in a hyperbaric chamber have accelerated Bautista’s healing process. With today’s work in the Rizla Suzuki garage showing that he has the ability to ride on his leg just a mere 42 days after he broke it, the young GP rider has earned a lot of street cred in the MotoGP paddock.

Álvaro Bautista Medically Cleared to Ride in Portuguese GP

04/28/2011 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Good news for Álvaro Bautista fans today, as the Spanish rider has been medically cleared to participate in the upcoming Portuguese GP by MotoGP’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarmento. After giving Bautista a thorough examination, Dr. Sarmento deemed that the Spaniard was fit enough to ride a motorcycle, which will occur during tomorrow’s first Free Practice.

Rizla Suzuki and Bautista will asses his riding fitness from there, and decide whether the Álvaro will compete in the Portuguese GP, or if Suzuki test rider Nobuatsu Aoki will take over the reigns for the race weekend. If he races on Sunday, Bautista will have made his recovery from a broken left femur in a remarkable 42 days.

Álvaro Bautista Hopeful for Estoril Return to MotoGP

04/26/2011 @ 11:03 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Álvaro Bautista is hopeful that he will return to MotoGP racing this weekend, as Rizla Suzuki heads to Estoril, Portugal for the third round of the season. Bautista was sidelined at the season-opener in Qatar when he broke his left femur during a high-speed crash, and many pegged his return to MotoGP at a much later round, like Le Mans for instance.

To get back in the saddle, Bautista has been undergoing intensive physiotherapy, and will test his fitness on the Suzuki GSV-R during Friday’s first practice session. Should he not be ready to race at the Portuguese GP, Suzuki test rider Nobuatsu Aoki will fill-in for Bautista, as John Hopkins has duties in British Superbike this weekend.

Irony.

04/12/2011 @ 7:39 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Paul Denning Explains the 2011 Suzuki GSV-R

04/08/2011 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

While the 2011 Suzuki GSV-R may look the same on the outside as the 2010 machine, but as Rizla Suzuki Team Manager Paul Denning explains, nearly everything on the bike has either been changed, modified, or optimized for the new season. In all fairness, the team really has just continued development of their current race package, but it is interesting to see what changes they’ve made to be more competitive in the 2011 season.

With the team showing improvement and promise during testing at Qatar, Álvaro Bautista’s unfortunate injury will, in the best of conditions, only delay any sort of progress on the results sheets for the GP team. Still Rizla Suzuki managed to score some points with John Hopkins at the helm during a rainy and crash-happy Spanish GP, but Denning and his crew are shooting for better results this season with their single-rider team. Check out the video after the jump as the Rizla Suzuki boss man explains the 2011 Suzuki GSV-R.

John Hopkins’s Track Notes at the Spanish GP

04/02/2011 @ 6:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT