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.

Mugen Shinden Go Debuts in Japan with More Power

03/25/2016 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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The Mugen Shinden Go has officially dropped in Japan, showing us the Japanese outfit’s fifth evolution of the Isle of Man TT electric superbike.

As we reported earlier, the Shinden Go comes with obvious changes to the fairing design, though likely there are further enhancements underneath its skin.

To our eye, the Shinden Go looks to have smaller frontal cross-section than bikes of the past, and there are noticeable changes to the race bike’s carbon fiber chassis, which now looks to be of a monocoque design. The carbon fiber swingarm design has also been changed.

Additionally, Mugen says that the rear suspension is a “cross link rocker” design, which has been developed specifically for the Shinden Go.

Of course, the biggest change people will be talking about is the 10kW power increase, which brings the Mugen Shinden Go’s peak horsepower figure up to 161hp. Weight remains at 550 lbs, with peak torque down to 154 lbs•ft (from 162.24 lbs•ft).

Mugen Shinden Go Caught Testing in Japan

03/21/2016 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is still two months away, but Team Mugen is looking ready to make it a three-peat in the TT Zero electric race. Mugen’s 2016 bike is called the Shinden Go, and while “go” might be Japanese for “five” the name is very appropriate for the electric superbike.

Many expect Mugen to break the 120 mph lap barrier at the Isle of Man TT, especially since John McGuinness came extremely close to the mark last year, with a 119.279 mph lap.

Caught testing in Japan this month, here are our first glimpses of the Mugen Shinden Go, with test rider Hikaru Miyagi on-board at the Tsukuba Circuit (above) and Sodegaura Forest Raceway (photos after the jump).

Suter MMX 500 Hopes to Smoke the Field at Isle of Man TT

02/15/2016 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Two-stroke fans were stoked to hear of Suter Racing building a 500GP-styled superbike smoker, the Suter MMX 500. The 576cc, V4, two-stroke machine promises superbike power coupled to a GP-level punching weight, 195hp and 280 lbs respectively, with modern suspension and chassis design.

Only 99 specimens of the Suter MMX 500 will be produced though, each costing CHF 120,000 – roughly $125,000 or €109,000. And now, one of those machines has been tapped for racing duty, as Suter will be competing in the 2016 Isle of Man TT.

Therefore, expect to see the Suter MMX 500 racing in the RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT races, with Ian Lougher behind the handlebars.

Arai Unveils Its 2016 Limited Edition Isle of Man TT Helmet

02/10/2016 @ 6:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Every year Arai Helmet comes out with a highly coveted limited edition lid for the Isle of Man TT; and each year has a different design, with the latest crop coming from the studio of Aldo Drudi.

This year’s design comes on the Arai Corsair-X, a helmet we were very impressed with when we tested it at Thunder Hill last year.

As you can see from the photos, Drudi has emblazoned the Corsair-X helmet with the “TT” logo, as well as the island nation’s Triskelion symbol, which is of three running legs. “Ellan Vannin” is of course the native Manx name for the Isle of Man.

Mugen Confirms “Shinden Go” for 2016 Isle of Man TT

01/29/2016 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Development for properly fast electric racing motorcycles has fallen onto the shoulders of one brand: Team Mugen, and the Japanese firm has confirmed that it will continue to push boundaries at the Isle of Man TT this year.

Confirming this week that it would race the 2016 Isle of Man TT, in the SES TT Zero electric race, Mugen also announced the return of its two-rider team of John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey.

In addition to that news, Mugen formerly divulged the fifth edition of its electric superbike, called the Shinden Go  – in case you haven’t caught onto Mugen’s naming scheme, “go” is “five” in Japanese.

Guy Martin Will Not Race in the 2016 Isle of Man TT

01/19/2016 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The world’s favorite road racer will not be at the 2016 Isle of Man TT, nor at the North West 200, as Guy Martin says he will be missing those events on this year’s calendar. Instead, Guy Martin will take to a different kind of road bike, cycling in the Tour Divide race through North America.

There has been rumor for some time about Martin forgoing the TT for quite some time now, and there has even been talk of the Lincolnshire man hanging up his leathers entirely.

The latter doesn’t seem to be the case, but Martin does seem to be drifting away from the Isle of Man TT – an event he has never won a race at, though he has come close.

“I’m not done with motorbikes and if I race on the roads again this year it will be with the TAS team,” said Guy Martin, talking with the Isle of Man TT website. “The BMW bikes are mega and the team are spot on.”

Paddock Pass Podcast – Episode 13 – Superprestigio

12/19/2015 @ 5:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Just because it’s the off-season, doesn’t mean that the Paddock Pass Podcast has a dearth of topics to cover. As such, Episode 13 comes to you from Barcelona, where the guys were on-hand for the third meeting of the Superprestigio event.

This special race, hosted by Marc Marquez, once again showed some close racing from riders across a variety of disciplines and nationalities. If you happened to miss the Superfinal, or your live feed died on you mid-race, you can watch/re-watch it on FansChoive.tv now.

In addition to all the happenings in Spain, the crew also wraps-up some updates from the MotoGP and Moto2 paddocks, namely the progress of KTM’s factory MotoGP team and the departure of Suter Racing from the Moto2 series.

If you notice a new voice on the show, it’s because Steve English is back on the mics with us. We are very happy to have Steve working with us again, and we think his exceptional insights will be enjoyed by all racing enthusiasts.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Paddock Pass Podcast – Episode 12 – Jerez Test

12/03/2015 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Just because it’s the offseason doesn’t mean the guys from the Paddock Pass Podcast aren’t busy cranking out shows. Episode 12 finds David, Neil, and Tony after the Jerez test for both the MotoGP and World Superbikes, as well the Macau Grand Prix.

The boys talk about how the MotoGP teams are handling the unified electronics and adapting to the Michelin tires. They also gives us a status update on how the Aprilia and KTM projects are coming along.

Moving on to WSBK, there is a good discussion about the speed from the Kawasaki factory bikes, and how Nicky Hayden is handling the switch to the production class, with the Honda CBR1000RR. You will also enjoy Tony’s report from the Macau Grand Prix, the last stop on the 2015 road racing calendar.

The show is continues its mix of useful racing insight and friendly banter – if you ever wanted to know how much KTM’s Moto3 bike weighs in pixie farts, this is the show for you.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

The 49th Macau Grand Prix with Tony Goldsmith

11/25/2015 @ 10:41 am, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

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Peter Hickman on his way to victory. He crashed on his debut at last year’s Macau Grand Prix, and didn’t make the race as the bike sustained too much damage. That makes his victory in this year’s event even more impressive.

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The start of the race and Martin Jessop leads the field into the tight Lisboa turn on the opening lap.

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Ian Hutchinson leaves pit lane to start Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session. The Macau race was Hutchy’s last appearance on the Kawasaki before he moves to the Tyco BMW squad for the 2016 season.

Peter Hickman Wins the 2015 Macau Grand Prix

11/22/2015 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS