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.

Segway Sponsoring MotoCzysz 2011 Racing Season

05/20/2011 @ 6:26 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

We heard rumors that Segway was sponsoring the MotoCzysz Isle of Man TT effort, but passed them off as too crazy to be true, as the rumors also suggested a three-bike team at the Isle, which we knew not to be true. Now we get official word that Segway is indeed sponsoring the Portland-based company, but not just at the Isle of Man TT, but throughout the 2011 racing season. We’re not sure which races that will be exactly for MotoCzysz, but you can count on an appearance at the FIM/TTXGP Laguna Seca round at the very least.

The press release goes on to say that “this combination results in a world class team of mechanical, electrical, and software engineers whose years of experience and knowledge will lead both companies to successes not only at the track but also with new vehicles in the marketplace,” which to us sounds like MotoCzysz has been busy hot-rodding a different kind of two-wheeled electric vehicle up in Portland. I can’t speak for the whole A&R crew, but personally I’d pay good money to see Michael Czysz on a Segway.

Hopkins to Wildcard in World Superbikes at Silverstone

03/03/2011 @ 8:59 am, by Victoria Reid9 COMMENTS

Despite newly announced title sponsor Samsung, British Superbike squad Crescent Racing will not enter John Hopkins as a wildcard entry for the Donington Park round of World Superbike racing as previously expected. Instead, both the American rider and his new teammate, reigning BST Champion Jon Kirkham, will be entered for the British WSBK round at Silverstone later in the season.

Originally, the team had announced that Hopkins would race at Donington, but with a rider new to the team testing today at Cartagena, it seems as though Crescent Suzuki has decided to wait to join the WSBK fray. They will continue their testing March 8th at Guadix, Spain in advance of the BSB opener at Brands Hatch on April 25th.

EBR 1190RS AMA Race Debut Expected at Infineon

02/17/2011 @ 11:52 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on EBR 1190RS AMA Race Debut Expected at Infineon

New surrounding Erik Buell Racing and its 1190RS street bike continue to pour in, as the company has announced a three-year title partnership deal with AMSOIL for the Erik Buell Racing AMA Pro Superbike team.

While the news of race sponsorship is certainly good for Erik Buell and his crew (Geoff May will continue at the helm of the #99 race bike), we think the company’s goal of debuting the EBR 1190RS as its race bike starting at the Infineon round in May is what will really excite Buell’s legion of fans.

EBR will start with last year’s 1125RR at Daytona, and expects to switch to the then homologated 1190RS, with its larger displacement, starting at West Coast Moto Jam held in May at the Sonoma track.

Yamaha Releases 2011 World Superbike Livery – Forgets to Add Sponsors’ Logos

02/16/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

Releasing its 2011 World Superbike livery today, Yamaha had to unveil its YZF-R1 with a profusion of the color blue, and total lack of a title sponsorship. Not renewing its contract after the 2010 season, Italian milk producer Sterilgarda is notably absent from the team livery. It might have been assumed that Sterilgarda would stay on to sponsor Italian rider Marco Melandri, but the once promising MotoGP rider obviously did not have the drawing power for the Italian brand.

This lack of corporate sponsorship is a worrying trend for the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, as Yamaha has yet to announce a sponsor for its MotoGP team, after Fiat exited with its bags of money when Valentino Rossi left Yamaha for Ducati Corse (there’s considerable talk that when Yamaha debuts its MotoGP livery in Sepang later this month, it’ll be with corporate colors as well).

Yamaha Will Debut 2011 MotoGP Livery at Sepang Test

02/11/2011 @ 8:44 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Yamaha Racing has just announced that it will debut its 2011 MotoGP team livery at the Sepang test on February 21st. Yamaha has been without a title sponsor since the departure of Valentino Rossi, as Italian car manufacturer Fiat dropped its support of the Japanese team when Rossi went to Ducati Corse for this upcoming season.

Despite having the reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, the 2010 MotoGP Rookie of the Year Ben Spies, and being the team to beat in 2011, Yamaha has reportedly struggled to find a title sponsor for the upcoming season, that is until now.

American Suzuki & Dainese Sign Elena Myers

01/25/2011 @ 9:10 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Finally we get some good news on Elena Myers’ search for funding for the 2011 season. The 17 y/o phenom spent the 2010 kicking the boys’ butts in AMA Supersport, even winning Race 1 at Infineon, and becoming the first woman to win a professional American motorcycle race (depending on how you look at it), only to be left searching high and low for racing support for the 2011 season.

She’s cute and she’s fast, and we were fairly dumb-founded to hear she was having trouble finding sponsors to go ride for this season, but luckily that all seems to be past the California native now. Announced this past weekend that she’d been signed to American Suzuki, Myers has also secured Dainese as an apparel sponsor for 2011.  To go along with wearing the Devil on her back, Myers has a very interesting sponsorship deal that American Suzuki has put together, which sees the Californian using social media to engage fans with the Suzuki brand.

The ‘Stars Align for Jorge Lorenzo

01/24/2011 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

The Yamaha Racing factory MotoGP team may not have a title sponsor for the 2011 season, but reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has had no problem getting some personal sponsorships for next season. Rumors were rife a few weeks ago that Lorenzo had made a switch from Dainese to Alpinestars for his leathers, boots, and gloves sponsorship (making an inverse flop with Nicky Hayden who was making the switch from Alpinestars to Dainese), and last week we brought you the first photos of what looked like a photo shoot that Lorenzo did with Rockstar Energy Drink.

Entering into MotoGP for the first time, Rockstar is Lorenzo’s only American sponsor. No terms have been released on the deal, but we hope Lorenzo is getting a boatload of cash from the energy drink producer, as the Spaniard has had some sort of Rockstar emblazoned garment on him at all times during his trip to Indonesia (including scuba diving?).

Castrol Honda Returns to World Superbike

01/18/2011 @ 6:34 am, by Victoria Reid8 COMMENTS

Ten Kate Honda officially became Castrol Honda at the 2011 launch of the team in the UK today. Though Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus were confirmed as riders in November 2010, the return of a Castrol Honda team to World Superbike was kept pretty well under wraps until today’s launch. Naturally the livery is very different from last season, with the previous yellow-green color of previous sponsor Hannspree completely removed in favor of a Castrol green, red, and white and a bit of Honda’s wing logo.

“When our world championship racing adventure was first beginning, many years ago now, Castrol Honda was the one team in the paddock which everyone looked up to, whose professional and performance standards we all wanted to achieve. It is an honour for us now to be racing under this famous and historically successful banner and we are privileged to be following in the footsteps of the team we admired so much in the past,” said team manager Ronald ten Kate. The factory Honda team sponsored by Castrol won three superbike championships: John Kocinski, 1997, and Colin Edwards, 2000 and 2002.

Jorge Lorenzo Goes Rockstar

01/10/2011 @ 1:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Two interesting things to note today: 1) the internet is an endless source of entertainment, especially when MotoGP Champions take to social media like Facebook & Twitter, and 2) when Jorge Lorenzo starts dressing up like Kid Rock, we can finally see how ridiculous us Americans must look to other people of the world. Observations on life aside, Lorenzo appears to have quietly picked up sponsorship with Rockstar Energy Drink, which resulted in this photo being sent out to his Twitter followers.

Ducati Corse Adds Diesel to Partnership List

01/10/2011 @ 8:41 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Ducati Corse is slowly becoming the Lord of the Rings in MotoGP — bringing together some of the largest brands outside of the industry into the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Already announcing Mercedes Benz’s tuning house AMG as its official car sponsor to the Marlboro Ducati MotoGP team, Ducati announced ahead of today’s start to the Wrooom event that apparel company Diesel would be added to the team’s rostrum of sponsors.

The maker of tight skinny jeans and other fashionable items, Diesel will be adding its “Made in Italy” brand to Ducati’s Italian bikes, and will also supply the Ducati Corse team with apparel for the 2011 season, which we can also only imagine will be made available to the public as well with a modest mark up on the not so modest base prices. Still say what you will about Italians and their fashion, one thing remains impressively true: Ducati is crushing it right now when it comes to finding dollars to go race in MotoGP.