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.

MV Agusta Brutale 675 Video Teases All Trepistoni

10/27/2011 @ 1:33 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

It clearly must be almost time for the EICMA motorcycle show, as manufacturers are out in full-force teasing their 2012 model year motorcycles. One of the more anticipated models set to be unveiled in Milan, Italy is the MV Agusta Brutale 675, the naked counterpart to the still unavailable MV Agusta F3 that debuted at EICMA last year. While MV hasn’t been teasing the three-cylinder (tre pistoni) street bike as heavily as the F3, the Brutale 675 is just as important to the Italian brand in bringing the company back to profitability.

Expected to sell in the €9,000 range, the Brutale 675 will go up against other premium brand nakeds, namely the Ducati Streetfigher 848 and Triumph Street Triple. Want to get your first glimpse at the MV Agusta Brutale 675? Check out the teaser video after the jump.

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Breaks Cover

10/24/2011 @ 8:52 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Officially breaking cover now, the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer continues the British company’s revamping of its adventure-tourer line. Featuring a 1200cc three-cylinder motor, the Tiger Explorer is the bigger brother of the popular mid-sized Tiger 800, which debuted last year after much build-up. Sans a few spy photos and some rumormill, Triumph has taken a decidedly different and more low-key approach in getting buyers excited about the new Tiger, though we think Triumph fans will like what they see.

55 Photos of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160

06/20/2011 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

We brought you some of the first pictures of the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 all the way back from the 2009 EICMA show. Originally slated as 2010 model-year bike, the R160 has taken a while to make its way into dealer showrooms. The pinnacle of the TnT line, the R160 is presumably worth the wait with its 157.8hp, 88.5 lbs•ft of torque, and 474 lbs ready-to-ride curb weight. As with anything though, the devil is in the details, and the Benelli TnT R160 is no different.

There’s something about Adrian Morton’s design with the TnT that we’re drawn to like a moth to flame, nearly bringing one into this author’s stable of motorcycles (I wouldn’t mind a Benelli Tornado Tre 1130 too). Plagued with electrical issues though, the TnT line perpetuates the Italian stereotype of finicky and unreliable motorcycles trapped in otherwise gorgeous veneers. Seeing the Benelli TnT R160 in 2009, we were disappointed on the fit-and-finish of the bike, as the pitted and cloudy carbon exterior seemingly matched the interior: unrefined.

With the 2011 Benelli TnT R160 now ready for dealer showrooms, Benelli’s top streetfighter seems to have benefited from a better build process, and we hear that some of the electrical issues have even been resolved. While we’ll reserve judgment as to whether the bike can maintain a positive net charge at a stand-still, it sure is stunning in its final form. There are 55 high-resolution photos of the new Benelli TnT R160 waiting for you after the jump.

First Sounds of the 2012 MV Agusta F3

06/13/2011 @ 4:56 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MV Agusta brought out its new three-cylinder sportbike, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, to its annual international gathering of owners and enthusiasts, and as you would expect in this digital age, the cameraphones and video cameras were in full-swing as it rolled out of the truck. The F3’s design was clearly not complete in-time for the 18th annual gathering, as parts of the bike noticeably looked un-finished or were inoperable (there are no turn signals in the mirrors for instance, and we hear the LED tail light didn’t work).

But that all matters for not, as what we really want is to hear that triple purr, and these videos don’t disappoint in that regard. If anything actually, the MV Agusta F3 sounds subdued, likely because of noise and emissions standards in the EU becoming more and more strict. We imagine some aftermarket kit will help put some life into that exhaust note, but we’re sure MV fans will enjoy the silky smooth sound of the MV Agusta’s new three-cylinder lump. Two videos await you after the jump.

Concept: Bimota TB-2 675 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/06/2011 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Last week Oberdan Bezzi inked his concept for a Triumph-powered Bimota, dubbed the Bimota TB-1. That fully-faired alternative to the MV Agusta F3 naturally needs a naked streetfighter variant, and accordingly Bezzi has penned today’s latest concept sketch, which he calls the Bimota TB-2 675. Featuring the Triumph 675cc three-cylinder motor, the Bimota TB-2 675 competes against its donor the Triumph Street Triple, and goes head-to-head with the heavily anticipated MV Agusta Brutale 675 B3.

Concept: Bimota TB-1 by Oberdan Bezzi

06/02/2011 @ 8:42 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

For his latest work, Oberdan Bezzi imagines a three-cylinder Bimota that uses Triumph’s 675cc three-cylinder motor. Dubbed the Bimota TB-1 by the Italian designer, Bezzi brings up an interesting point with his sketch, namely that when the MV Agusta F3 comes it will, for all intents and purposes, be in a class of its own. You can’t really argue the point that there is yet-to-exist a premium well-designed supersport triple on the market right now (sorry Daytona owners), and Bezzi says that Bimota could easily come into this space with such a bike as seen here.

Triumph Daytona 1050 Imagined

01/06/2011 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Triumph for some time now has had these glaring holes in its model line-up, which it has only begun to address with the launching of bikes like the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC.

One hole that still remains in this Swiss cheese product offering is a liter class sportbike. Up until the recent release of the 2011 Triumph Daytona 675R, the Daytona 675 has been single-handedly holding down Triumph’s sportbike offering; while the British company’s naked plus-sized Speed Triple has nearly become the Branch Davidian of the street biking cult status, giving Triumph fans plenty of ammo to speculate upon when Triumph would release a fully-faired 1050cc three-cylinder machine that came from the best of these two bikes.

Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept

11/02/2010 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Unveiled at EICMA today, Husqvarna has brought to the Italian motorcycle show a special three-cylinder concept motorcycle dubbed the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept. Using three Husqvarna dirt bike cylinders with a common crankcase, the 993cc v-triple (one in two cylinders, one vertical cylinder) is strikingly unique beyond its peculiar power plant. Slammed to the ground, the Husqvarna Mille 3 Concept takes obvious design cues from Husky’s dirt and motard line. Coupled to that low-slung chassis are spoked rims matted to fat street tires, making the Mille 3 looks like it would be more at home on drag strip than anywhere else.

Although there might be a hidden market segment somewhere between dragsters and motards (we know we like this 3-1-2 exhaust system), Husqvarna doesn’t intend for the Mille 3 Concept to be any sort of production machine. Instead the German-owned Swedish firm that is based out of Italy merely wishes to express flex its designing ink, and we imagine the good press doesn’t hurt things either (how many times do you here us talking about Huskies on A&R?). Photos after the jump.

MV Agusta F3 Unwrapped

10/31/2010 @ 6:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Photos of the MV Agusta F3 have been posted to Asphalt & Rubber.

After teasing us relentlessly with spy photos of the MV Agusta F3, the Italian company’s three-cylinder supersport finally bares all in this photo. The recently repurchased MV Agusta is pinning high-hopes on the middleweight machine, hoping to attract wouldbe buyers with a low price-point that Claudio Castiglioni said could start as low as €9,000.

While it remains to be seen if Castiglioni can achieve that goal, a higher-spec F3 is also expected to hit the market in the €10,000-€11,000 range, which should have a direct 1:1 price conversion to US dollars if MV Agusta keeps its pricing scheme in place.

MV Agusta is also expected to come out with a smalled Brutale-esque machine that also uses the F3’s three-cylinder power plant. While The MV Agusta F3 is expected to official debut this Tuesday in Milan during the EICMA show, it’s not clear if the “Brutalina” will also debut at the event, or will make an appearance later next year. Click on the photo above and after the jump for 4,000 pixels of F3 goodness, and check out the gallery after the jump.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple Outed by Triumph

09/27/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Triumph is either really trying hard at leaking information about the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple and its other motorcycles ahead of their unveiling, or there is an intern in the UK right now whose job is about to go under the axe. Either way, the keen eyes at Visordown have spotted the fact that Triumph has outed the new Speed Triple in its online accessories catalog. While not showing the whole bike yet, we do see that the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple gets a much needed face lift, along with a substantially lighter frame. Could this be the street naked of 2011? We’re starting to think so.