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.

Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Scooter

09/28/2011 @ 9:07 am, by Joanne Donn7 COMMENTS

As fuel prices continue to go up, you might be considering another way to go to the movies, meet your friends for coffee, or run a quick errand. Such is the case in an urban city like San Francisco, and, If you’ve ever visited my beloved city, you know how impossible it is to find parking on a Friday night in a trendy neighborhood like the Mission or the Marina. And if you’re lucky enough to find parking after circling the block for 30 minutes, what if your car doesn’t quite fit that awkward spot between two driveways?

Imagine pulling up on a scooter, parking within minutes, and walking right into the restaurant without worrying if you’ve made your reservation on time. You leave your helmet and gloves in the storage compartment under the seat, and sit down to dinner a minute or two early even. If that sounds like a better alternative to the usual metropolitan shuffle, a nimble little ride like the Zuma might be the perfect choice for you.

BMW Concept e Maxi-Scooter – Electric Urban Mobility

09/13/2011 @ 2:14 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

BMW is latching like a lamprey onto the idea of urban mobility in a big way. In addition to debuting the Husqvarna Concept E-go, zie Germans also launched the BMW Concept e at the Frankfurt International Motor Show today. An electric variant of the BMW Concept C we brought you last year, BMW realizes that when it comes to urban people-movers, the electric power train becomes a ripe contender.

Announcing that it will debut two maxi-scooters by the end of 2011 that address the needs for transportation in urban environments, with the Concept e being the electric component to that two-pronged solution. Though we are certain that the BMW Concept e is an electric maxi-scooter, we should note that BMW’s press release makes conflicting statements about the eletric Concept e, which sees the media communication also state that BMW would debut two maxi-scooters that feature a twin-cylinder internal combustion motor.

Del Torchio Puts the Kibosh on Ducati Scooter Rumors

03/07/2011 @ 9:55 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ducati Motor Holdings Product Chief Claudio Domenicali set the internet on fire last week when he mentioned that the famous Italian brand was working on a maxi-scooter offering. But before Ducatisti can begin sharpening their pitchforks, Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio has put the kibosh on the idea, stating that Ducati is “concentrating on the next project for the sports market…We have no maxi-scooter in mind.”

The “sport market” project del Torchio refers to is of course the 2012 Ducati Superbike, which our sources have confirmed will be a quantum leap from the current generation 1198 Superbike, and more importantly will be Ducati’s anchor as it dives deeper into non-core segments.

Honda Mid Concept – Is This The Year of the Scooter?

11/03/2010 @ 8:55 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Want further proof that the maxiscooter segments is poised to move in the next five years? Honda has also released its own take on the crossover market segment that sits between scooters and motorcycles, dubbed the Honda Mid Concept. With the upright and feet-forward sitting position of a scooter, but the 17″ wheels, dual-clutch transmission, and Pro-Link suspension of a Honda motorcycle, the Honda Mid Concept is another stab at looking for vehicles that fit the wants and needs of future motorcyclist and commuters.

It seems pretty apparent by now that motorcycle manufacturers foresee gasoline prices increasing over the coming years, as the finite resource becomes increasingly scarce. With transportation in urban settings already drastically changing (try driving into downtown London sometime), motorcycle companies are looking for practical, yet sophisticated responses to our transportation needs. Enter the maxiscooter segment.

BMW Concept C – Making Scooters Look Cool

11/03/2010 @ 6:08 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

There is a joke in motorcycling about the two things you don’t want your friends to catch you riding, with the second part of that punch line involving scooters; and while we like to stay open-minded about our two-wheeled vehicles, there’s a reason you don’t see them covered that often here on A&R. All that goes out the window though if the scooters of the future look like this BMW Concept C Maxiscooter, which was released at EICMA this week.

Proof that the Bavarians can make a good looking two-wheeler (although they usually muck-up the end result after showing an attractive concept), the Concept C is the German company’s exploration of what will likely be the growing segment in the motorcycle industry. As gas prices continue to increase, people are going to have to become more practical about their forms of transportation (this statement goes two-fold for us Americans), not needing/wanting a full-sized motorcycle, the maxiscooter segment could be the answer on how to travel practically while not compromising on performance and image.

MINI Scooter E Concept Unveiled – When OEM’s Come Out To Play

09/23/2010 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

After teasing us with some sketches of the MINI Scooter E Concept before the Paris Motor Show, MINI has finally taken the wraps off its two-wheeled excursion. Showing a variety of flavors, MINI has tried to synthesize the unique elements of its automobile brand into scooter form with the MINI Scooter E Concept. Styling and features come straight from the cars, although they don’t share a common parts bin, while the general ethos remains: an individualistic, yet practical, form of transportation that has the urban commuter in mind.

The important part about the MINI Scooter E Concept though isn’t its fun styling or urban-hipster appeal, but instead the fact that OEM’s are coming out of their holes after weathering the recession’s storm, and getting serious about electrics and electric motorcycles. The fact that a small automobile manufacturer is considering an electric two-wheeled vehicle should send a message to the traditional motorcycle OEM’s and electric startups alike.

MINI Electric Scooter Concept at Paris Motor Show

09/10/2010 @ 10:44 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BMW subsidiary MINI is set to debut an electric scooter concept at the Paris Motor Show later this year in October. Dubbed the MINI E Scooter Concept, the bike will likely be shown along with MINI’s rumored electric car, or MINI E Concept, which has been testing in New York and Los Angeles. The pairing of electric cars with electric scooters is becoming the go-to strategy for the German automakers, as Mercedes-Benz is expected to unveil an electric scooter along with an all electric car at the Paris Motor Show, both under the company’s Smart brand.

Video: Crocs vs. Asphalt

07/01/2010 @ 3:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

There’s so many things going on in this video, we’re not certain where to begin. Filmed on Mulholland Highway by the same fine folks who brought us video footage of the guy who crashed in front of a CHP officer, this new saga takes a different approach to riders exceeding their limits on city streets.

Take an unsuspecting white Honda Elite scooter, a pair of Crocs shoes, and some invisible knee pucks, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a bizarre Sunday morning lowside that could have been much, much, much worse.

While we’ll give bonus points for good dirt-tracking technique, be sure to check the slow-mo footage for the exact moment the rider’s shoes depart humanity, and dive over the cliff. Video after the jump. Thanks for the tip Jelly!

Slidescooters Makes Scooters Cool Again

01/01/2010 @ 6:43 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

We apologize for that headline…scooters were never cool in the past, but they are cool now. Slidescooters has taken your basic unsuspecting Piaggio/Vespa/Honda, and slaped onto the front a steerable ski, and onto the back a rugged treaded tire. The result? Budget hooliganism in the powdery white stuff. Video, photos, and more after the jump.

The Difference Between Men & Boys is the Price of Their Toys: Polini Pocket Drag Bike from EICMA

12/02/2009 @ 6:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Polini-drag-bike-EICMA-3

Every octane-loving American should own one of these, a Polini pocket bike stretched out for drag duty. We spotted this beauty as we were meandering through the halls of EICMA, and knew we had to have one. With a single-sided swingarm, and no suspension to speak of, this 94cc pocket-rocket is about as close to flying at street level as one can get. More pictures after the jump.