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.

Video: Sometimes It’s Just Not Your Day…

05/22/2013 @ 12:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

russian-motorcycle-crash

The old adage with motorcycles is that it’s not if you crash, but when you crash. That is because over an infinite amount of time, your chances of riding a motorcycle without crashing drop to zero — if not but for the simple fact that you cannot control the actions of others.

Take for example our unfortunate Russian friend here, who had the misfortune of crossing over a path of diesel/oil/coolant left by a car on a highway off-ramp. Obeying all the laws of the road, he still ended rubber-side-up on the roadway, and left to pick-up the pieces after the crash…literally.

It is sort of a surreal video with the music choice, but serves as a good PSA for the ATGATT movement. Luckily this rider was able to walk away relatively unscathed, and his bike will live to ride another day as well. Be careful out there folks.

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BMW Motorrad Posts Best Month Ever – BMW R1200GS Leads the Way with 27% of Company Sales

05/13/2013 @ 4:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2013-BMW-R1200GS-engine

Record months, quarters, and years are becoming an old hat for BMW Motorrad, and last month continues the trend for the German brand. Selling 14,587 motorcycles in April 2013, BMW Motorrad says that it saw an 11.5% sales increase over April 2012.

The primary contributor for that sales boost is the 2013 BMW R1200GS, which has been completely redesigned from its venerable predecessor, and now includes “strategic” liquid-cooling for the cylinder heads, and a bevy of other enhancements (A&R will be swinging a leg over one shortly).

Provisional World Superbike Calendar for 2013 Released

10/08/2012 @ 11:52 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

At Magny-Cours this weekend, World Superbike released its provisional calendar for the 2013 WSBK Championship. Subject to some change, maybe more so now that Dorna is in charge of things, the big changes to the 2013 calendar over this season is the addition of a round in India, as well as the American round moving from Miller Motorsports Park to Laguna Seca.

World Superbike returns to Russia again for 2013, helping the series branch out a bit from the Western Europe centrality. Along that same vein, both Misano and Brno are absent from the 2013 calendar, with the second race in June still to be announced.

We would expect Brno to get filled-in at this slot, since the Eastern Europe circuit has the right geography, solvency, and attendance support when compared to the Italian track. However, as always, time will tell. The 2013 World Superbike Provisional Calendar for 2013 is after the jump.

WSBK: Kawasaki Retains Tom Sykes for 2013 Season

08/28/2012 @ 11:36 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

We are a bit late to this news, in internet terms at least (we’re WAAAY ahead in print terms, for whatever that is worth), but Kawasaki announced at the Moscow round that it has re-signed factory rider Tom Sykes to its 2013 World Superbike team. Eight podiums so far this season, including one race win and seven of pole-position starts, Tom Sykes has been delivering solids for Team Green this season.

So, it should come as no surprise then that Kawasaki wanted to lock-down the Brit for another season, with the Japanese manufacturer holding an option for two more years on top of next season’s contract. His third year with the Kawasaki squad, Sykes is also third in the Championship standings, just 41 points behind series leader Marco Melandri.

WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round

08/16/2012 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round

“In Soviet Russia, motorcycle race skips you” is how the joke should read. Confirming our earlier report, Liberty Racing has formally announced that it is skipping World Superbike’s Moscow round, which is two weeks away. Stating that the team will restructure itself for the future, Liberty Racing will be back on the track come the German World Superbike round, at the Nürburgring.

In addition to its restructuring process, Liberty Racing also cites Canadian rider Brett McCormick’s rehabilitation to riding form as a factor for its skipping of the Russian round. The more-than-slightly confusing press release is after the jump.

WSBK: Liberty Racing to Miss Moscow Round?

08/15/2012 @ 9:48 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

The financial woes of Liberty Racing seemingly continue, as the World Superbike team is absent from the entry list for the upcoming WSBK round in Moscow, Russia. It is being reported that all three of Liberty’s riders are missing on the entry list, as well as Team Grillini’s Norino Brignola.

It is not clear at this time why the four riders are not entered in this weekend’s race, though since it is the first time World Superbike has run at Moscow, one cannot rule out logistical issues. However, considering the type of season Liberty Racing has had this year, not to mention the rumors of the team’s financial difficulties, the non-entry at Moscow could signal a much bigger problem.

In Mother Russia, World Superbikes Ride You! (in 2012)

05/21/2011 @ 5:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In the developing markets land grab that is occurring in motorcycle racing, it looks like World Superbike has beat out MotoGP, and is the first to strike in the Russian market, as Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports (media rights holder for World Superbike) and Alexander Yakhnich, CEO of Yakhnich Motorsport announced that a partnership agreement between the two companies had been reached.

As a part of this contract, Yakhnich Motorsport will become the organizer of an FIM Superbike World Championship round in Russia, and unsurprisingly will have the TV rights to the event. Infront and Yakhnich hope to host a round in Russia by 2012, though further details of the event have not been outlined. Russia has several circuits that could host the World Superbike round, though none are FIM homologated.

Add WSBK to the List of Series Thinking About Russia

01/11/2011 @ 10:03 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

With red-headed lady spies, the Winter Olympics, a Formula1 race in 2014, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it is time to trot out some more James Bond references, and turn to thoughts of Mother Russia. Word is spreading that Infront Motorsports has begun talks to take World Superbike further afield than Western Europe with a future round in Russia. The 2011 WSBK season has only two flyaway races (Miller Motorsports Park in the US, and the season opener at Phillip Island in Australia). Thus, a future round in Russia would help expand both the physical and marketing reaches of the series.

With no track built yet, it is clear that there is still a long way to go before racing could happen. Then there are the always tricky negotiations that could easily scupper plans, no matter how public they might be. Once the F1 track is completed at least one of the obstacles to this dream will be removed, though a F1 circuit built around a Winter Olympics site (yes, that is exactly what is going to happen, complete with February to autumn turnaround) might not be the first choice for two-wheeled racing enthusiasts.

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