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.

Good News, You Can Now Watch AMA Supermoto on TV

03/30/2016 @ 12:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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For the first time in eight years, you can now watch AMA Supermoto racing action on TV, as the rebooted series has signed a television deal with the MAVTV Motorsports Networks.

The TV package is a bit limited, as it includes 12 airings of six episodes (two apiece), which will cover racing from three venues, as well as highlights from the other three races on the calendar, but it is still a step in the right direction for supermoto racing in the USA.

The three race venues that MAVTV will cover are the rounds in Sturgis, South Dakota (round three); Denver, Colorado (round five); Tuscon, Arizona (the season finale).

In addition to the MAVTV package, the main event at the Quebec City race (round four) will get national and international coverage, as its part of the World Rally X Series.

Ducati Hypermotard 939 Mega Gallery

03/07/2016 @ 4:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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I will admit a bit of bias to this article, since I enjoy flogging my Ducati Hypermotard SP down the streets of Portland, Oregon on a regular basis.

It’s one of those machines that a brief stint on the press model loaner wasn’t nearly enough to whet my appetite, so I plunked down my hard-earned blogging dollars and made space in my garage for one.

For 2016, Ducati has updated the Hypermotard family with a 937cc engine that is now Euro4 compliant. Overall power hasn’t increased much on the new Ducati Hypermotard 939, but the engineers in Bologna have found some extra midrange torque, which suits the Hypermotard family’s urban punchiness better.

Subtle changes have been made to the plus-sized supermoto: a slightly longer exhaust can, the addition of an oil cooler, and revised body pieces can be spotted here and there.

More noticeable is the new paint scheme, which draws inspiration from the Ducati Corse effort in the MotoGP Championship. Otherwise, the basic formula that makes the Hypermotard such a fun bike to ride has remained.

Hopefully in the coming weeks Ducati USA will have us hopping a leg over the new Hypermotard 939, and we can tell you if the new model is worth the extra coin it’s commanding over its predecessor. Until then, we have over 100 high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.

Armotia Due R – An Electric 2WD Supermoto

03/02/2016 @ 8:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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The electric side of the motorcycle industry is slowly showing life again, as we first got the flash in the pan, and now we are getting the sizzle. Some of that sizzle is coming from projects that have been in the works for quite some time, like the Alta Motors Redshift.

However, some of that sizzle is coming from new players, like Armotia. The Italian-based outfit has two interesting offerings to show us, the Armotia Due R and the Armotia Due X.

The Due R is Armotia’s electric supermoto, while the Due X is the company’s electric enduro model. Both bikes feature a two-wheel drive setup that makes 15hp, 5.1 kWh battery pack, and a smartphone dash.

Warp 9 Racing Offers Tubeless Forged Supermoto Wheels

02/26/2016 @ 3:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Maybe it’s because my poor Yamaha YZF-R1 track bike gets left in the garage way more often that my Husqvarna SMR 511 does, but I’ve had supermotos on the brain lately. It’s easy to see why, supermoto racing is a cheap and fun way to get your doctor prescribed dosage of braaap.

So, it is a bit of a mystery why supermoto racing isn’t more popular in the USA. Thankfully we’ve got a series starting up in the Pacific Northwest this year, and it looks like with the AMA involved again that supermoto might get second coming on this side of the pond.

If you haven’t tried riding a supermoto yet, you should. It doesn’t take much, really just a dirt bike that you are willing to shod with 17″ wheels, which brings us to the story at hand, as one of the better places to get some cheap quality supermoto wheels has been Warp 9 Racing, a company based right here in the USA (Salt Lake City).

Warp 9’s spoked wheelsets might not be the lightest on the market, but they do offer great bang for the buck for racers and enthusiasts alike, and what has us really excited today is the debut of Warp 9 Racing’s new forged aluminum wheelsets for supermoto bikes.

2016 AMA Supermoto Championship Calendar Released

01/19/2016 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Now in its third year of racing, since its revival, the AMA has released the 2016 AMA Supermoto Championship calendar.

For this year’s racing, American supermoto racers will have six events to test their mettle, most of which take place in the Western half of the United States, though there is one round in Quebec City, to keep the Canucks at bay.

Perhaps most importantly though, the AMA Supermoto Championship will return to television, as the series has inked a TV package with MAVTV Motorsports Networks. The TV package includes six episodes, with 12 airings, which will be produced by Greg White.

Alta Motors Makes First Redshift Customer Delivery

12/17/2015 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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It has been a long time coming for Alta Motors (the electric motorcycle company formerly known as BRD) to bring its electric motorcycles to market, but that day has finally arrived.

Alta Motors has delivered its first motorcycle to a customer yesterday, with Eric Gauthier and Jeannine Smith of Suspension Performance taking delivery of their new Redshift MX.

“We’ve been quietly driving towards this moment for over 8 years in pursuit of creating the best motorcycles money can buy,” said Marc Fenigstein, Co-Founder and CEO of Alta Motors.

Photos from the 2015 Superprestigio in Barcelona

12/14/2015 @ 12:01 am, by Steve English7 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber is fortunate to publish this outstanding photos by friend and photographer/journalist Steve English. Most motorcycle racing fans will know Steve for his work in the MotoGP paddock, but thankfully his skills translate well on dirt ovals. We hop you enjoy his work and captions. -JB

Failure to prepare leads to failure. On Friday, Brad Baker made sure that everything was just right for him to succeed on Sunday. Having crashed heavily last year and broken his shoulder and elbow, the Washington native took a different approach to this year’s Superprestigio.

“Last year was tough and when I crashed I was just trying so hard. This year I took a different approach because the win is given on the last race and I was building all weekend towards it. Two serious surgeries in two years helps you realize that the most important race is the final. Last year I was going out to impress everyone and I crashed and missed the race. This year I was able to win both finals and it’s great after such an emotional year.”

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Double Pro Flat Track Grand National champion Jared Mees wasn’t able to make the magic happen in the Superfinal, but enjoyed the weekend and said afterwards that “I’m glad Brad won because it means that it’s another win for America!”

The flat track rivals both joked that this weekend was a very different challenge for them. “For me and Jared we’re usually on opposite sides and looking to beat each other so it was fun that we both approached this weekend thinking ‘If I don’t win I hope you do,'” was how Baker summed up their approach to the weekend.

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“Is that a penny at the apex?” Marc Marquez brought a tremendous style to MotoGP when he arrived three years ago and his flat track style is equally impressive.

Leaning so far off the bike to try and generate grip from the edge of the tire is a very different style to that employed by the full-time flat track racers, but on the 200m Barcelona track it worked well for the Spaniard.

Race Results from the 2015 Superprestigio Superfinal

12/13/2015 @ 9:51 am, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

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Brad Baker has won the third edition of the Barcelona Superprestigio, holding off a strong challenge from Marc Marquez to take his second victory in the event. Jared Mees, who got boxed in at the start, took a comfortable third.

Superprestigio: Day 1 Practice – Marc Marquez & Toni Elias Lead Jared Mees & Brad Baker

12/12/2015 @ 1:57 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

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The first sessions of practice for the Barcelona Superprestigio event took place on Friday evening, and the man behind the event is fastest, as might be expected.

Marc Marquez posted a lap of 11.797 during his second run on the track, ahead of Toni Elias, with an 11.8. Jared Mees and Brad Baker were the fastest of the Open riders, for off road and dirt track specialists, both posting times in the 11.9 bracket.

Headline times are not the full story, however, with Marquez’s times less consistent than the two Americans. Brad Baker was particularly impressive, posting a long strings of 11.9s, showing he has good race pace.

How to Watch the 2015 Superprestigio Race in Barcelona

12/10/2015 @ 5:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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This year marks the third time that road racers and flat track racers will meet in Barcelona for the revived Superprestigio event.

The short-track format dirt track race is a welcomed addition to the doldrums of the winter off-season, and it features international names like Marc Marquez, Toni Elias, Jared Mees, Brad Baker, and many others (see the entry lists, after the jump).

DTX Barcelona, the promoter of the event, has been very forward-thinking its approach to the Superprestigio, and as such we have been blessed with a quality live stream each year, the 2015 Superprestigio being no different.

FansChoice.tv will host the live stream, which will begin with the opening ceremonies on Saturday, at 9am PDT. For a full schedule of the day’s events, check here. Be sure to tune in, it should be a fun event for the off-season.