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.

Phillip Island WSBK Test Tuesday Summary: Rea Answers

02/23/2016 @ 1:59 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

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Jonathan Rea leads the field after an incident-packed second day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. Warmer weather and intense testing saw several riders take some serious tumbles, with a couple of riders suffering significant injury.

Fabio Menghi fell and fractured a hip in the morning, while Josh Hook crashed in the afternoon and dislocated his shoulder, and fracturing his greater tubercle (top of the bone in the upper arm). The crashes and subsequent clean-up meant that much of the afternoon session was lost, as marshals tried to clear the track.

The second day of testing did throw up the intriguing prospect of a nicely mixed field. Rea topped the morning session on the Kawasaki, while Sylvain Guintoli was quickest in the afternoon, on the Pata Yamaha. The top four overall times were set on four different bikes, less than a quarter of a second separating them.

Phillip Island WSBK Test Monday Summary: Sykes Leads

02/22/2016 @ 1:46 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

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With the World Superbike season almost upon us, the WSBK grid is at Phillip Island for two days of testing, ahead of the first event of the year which starts this weekend.

Rain disrupted practice for WSBK, just as it had for MotoGP last week, though the consequences were less severe. The rain and track conditions saw a few people fall – some, such as Karel Abraham, quite hard – but everyone will be fit to start testing again tomorrow.

With the start of the season so close, most of the work being done was on set up for the weekend, and it was once again the Kawasakis who came out on top, especially during the afternoon session.

Tom Sykes ended up on top of the timesheets, much to the delight of the Kawasaki man, who has historically not fared well at the circuit.

Nicky Hayden Moves to WSBK with Honda for 2016

10/08/2015 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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The future of Nicky Hayden’s racing career has finally been revealed, as the factory Honda team announced its official rider lineup for the 2016, and it features the Kentucky Kid alongside rising star Michael van der Mark.

With seemingly no options in the MotoGP paddock, Hayden embarks on a move that many fans had hoped to see: competing in the World Superbikes, and potentially becoming the first rider in history win both the MotoGP and World Superbike Championship.

Hiroshi Aoyama to World Superbike with Castrol Honda

10/15/2011 @ 5:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rumored to be headed to World Superbike, or at least a CRT bike in MotoGP, Hiroshi Aoyama’s 2012 season plans have finally been unveiled. Signing with the the Castrol Honda team, the former-250GP Champion will leave the MotoGP paddock to race next season in World Superbike, alongside new teammate Johnny Rea. The move means the displacement of Ruben Xaus from the Ten Kate Honda squad, which is hardly a surprise considering the Spaniard’s horrid season(s).

The announcement also adds further speculation regarding whether San Carlo Gresini Honda will run a solitary bike for next year, at he team has already confirmed a factory RC213V with Maro Simoncelli on-board. Honda has reportedly intervened on Gresini’s plans to run a second bike under the CRT structure, which makes for something interesting to chew on, as the CRT rules were created as a direct reaction to the major manufacturers’ influence over how MotoGP was run and headed, with Honda headlining that now failing initiative.

Castrol Honda Talks about Being Castrol Honda

02/11/2011 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

The name “Castrol Honda” in motorcycle racing is something that spans several decades, and for this writer conjures up the days when v-twins ruled World Superbikes. The battle in 2002 between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss is a season talked about when referencing “the glory years of World Superbike”, and I can still remember watching The Showdown at Imola, the final race of 2002 season, when Colin Edwards clinched the World Championship (did you just get goose bumps too?)…in fact it’s that race that got me hooked on motorcycles in the first place.

Taking that legacy into 2011, the newly reformed Castrol Honda team, campainged by Ten Kate Racing with factory Honda support, has quite a legacy to live up to…and the team knows it. Talking about what it means to wear the green, white, and red livery, Castrol Honda team members talk about the name’s past, and what they plan to accomplish this season while wearing the oil company’s banner. Check out their video after the jump.

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.

WSBK Testing Gets Started Next Week

01/07/2011 @ 5:22 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

For kids too old for Santa, the beginning of racing season often brings about more excitement than a jolly man delivering presents. Winter testing often fills the gap for race fans. A long season of private and series-sponsored tests for World Superbikes get underway beginning next week, stretching until just days before the season opener at Phillip Island on February 27th.

The Kawasaki factory team and and satellite Team Pedercini get the season started off with their test, this coming Monday, January 10th through 14th, at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, while Liberty Racing Ducati will be riding around at Guadix, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ten Kate will be at Motorland Aragon, which was highly praised at its MotoGP inaugural round last season, two weeks from now on January 20th and 21st.

Ruben Xaus to Ten Kate Honda

11/11/2010 @ 1:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

After being booted from the BMW factory World Superbike team at the end of the season, Spaniard Ruben Xaus has landed himself a new job with the Ten Kate Honda WSBK squad. The Captain of Crash in the 2010, Xaus and the BMW S1000RR seemingly couldn’t come to an accord on the fastest way around the race track, which often resulted in Xaus ending up on wrong side of the gravel traps.

With murmurs starting early in the season that the WSBK veteran would be given the boot, there was little fanfare or surprise when Xaus was replaced by Leon Haslam in the BMW World Superbike team for the 2011 season. Finding a place in the Ten Kate Honda team, Xaus in many ways is moving up in the WSBK paddock, as Ten Kate’s Honda CBR1000RR has been consistently competitive in World Superbike racing. Xaus will join Johnny Rea for the 2011 season, where the duo will fight again for the World Championship. The season’s opening round will be Xaus’s 200th start in World Superbike.

Jonathan Rea Continues with Ten Kate Honda

09/12/2010 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hanspree Ten Kate Honda has announced that it has retained the services of Johnny Rea for the 2011 season. Rea is two years into his three-year contract with Ten Kate, with the Dutch-based team having an option to renew the Irishman for another year. Currently third in the World Superbike series, Rea joined Ten Kate Honda in 2008 as one of the team’s World Supersport riders, where he finished second to teammate Andrew Pitt.

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole

03/30/2010 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Max Neukirchner was a unlucky (or is it lucky?) man this weekend while World Superbike made a race weekend at Portimao. While racing during the Superpole event at the Portugese track, the German rider found himself and his Ten Kate Honda on the wrong end of a nasty highside. Cresting over the hill, you can see Neukirchner spin like a top, while his Honda CBR gets its rear wheel crushed. As you’ll see in the video after the jump, Neukirchner came out of the crash relatively unscathed, and was able to start Race 1 at Portimao.