MV Agusta Looking to Part Ways with Mercedes-AMG

The story of MV Agusta continues with even more interesting developments, as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer seems intent on buying back its shares from Mercedes-AMG, and recapitalizing with new investors. Talking this week to Italy’s Il Giorno, MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni said that he is “negotiating a buy-back of shares,” though that might be a task easier said than done for the Italian CEO. This is because MV Agusta’s current financial predicament is due primarily from the company’s massive debt accumulation, which now totals over €40 million. To complicate matters further, some of that debt was secured by the involvement of AMG, and its investment contract stipulates that if AMG doesn’t own 20% or more of MV Agusta then the loaned sum is due immediately.

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.

April Fools: Honda Patents Three-Stroke Engine Design

04/01/2016 @ 8:16 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Fresh from the office of the USPTO, we have confirmation that Honda has just received the patent for the first ever three-stroke motorcycle engine.

As you would expect, the unconventional engine design incorporates the power-to-displacement efficiencies of a two-stroke smoker, with fuel-to-power efficiencies of a four-stroke motor.

For many in the space, the three-stroke engine has been the Holy Grail of engine designs, with many OEMs rumored to have been working on a three-stroke engine.

Still, it is surprising to see the engineers at Honda claim the prize, as the Japanese brand up until recently has been heavily committed to its four-stroke technology.

Obviously, the engine technology can obviously be applied to any internal combustion application, however what makes this news especially A&R worthy is that Honda’s patent specifically states the engine’s purpose in two-wheeled vehicles, watercraft, lawnmowers, and generators.

Honda CRF250 Rally Coming Soon

11/06/2015 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Honda-CRF250-Rally-side

Earlier this year we showed you the Honda CRF250 Rally concept, the 250cc production equivalent to Honda’s rally raid competition machine, the Honda CRF450 Rally.

That machine appears ready to move from concept to reality, as Honda has trademarked the name in both Europe and the USA, and we expect to see the lightweight adventure bike drop, sooner rather than later.

Suzuki Trademarks “Recursion” in the USA and Europe

09/16/2015 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Suzuki-Recursion-Turbo-Concept-08

Could Suzuki’s turbocharged Recursion concept bike be coming to market? There have been rumors already, but that news just got a lot more solid because of Suzuki’s trademark filings this week.

Registering the name “Recursion” in both the US and European markets, for use with motorcycles, the Japanese brand seems set to debut the new model in the coming months.

The question of course then turns to how closely the production machine will be to the concept machine, which features a 588cc intercooled and turbocharged two-cylinder engine. Very closely, we hope.

Kawasaki Applies for Electric Motorcycle Patent

03/18/2015 @ 1:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Kawasaki-electric-motorcycle-patent-application-02

Need further proof that the future of motorcycling will include electrics? Take this recently published patent application from Kawasaki, that the Japanese OEM filed for back in 2011.

The claims are fairly rudimentary, though they do include a transmission, with Kawasaki’s lawyers mostly outlining the basics of a motorcycle powered by an electric motor, of course the news is less about the contents of the patent application, and more about the fact that it was applied for, in the first place.

Kawasaki Trademarks “Ninja R2” with USPTO & Others

03/04/2015 @ 7:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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Let the rumors fly as to what Kawasaki has up its sleeve, because Team Green has registered “Ninja R2” with the US Patent and Trademark office, as well as similar offices internationally.

The trademark application is fairly broad in what the name can be used for, but knowing Kawasaki’s product line, a new motorcycle can be expected from the “Ninja” name.

What that motorcycle could be, is up for debate. Some draw a line between the “Ninja R2” name and the recently revived “Ninja H2” model, and thus see another supercharged machine to come from Kawasaki. Others hear the whispers of a small-displacement sport bike, perhaps one with a stratospheric rev-limit (our pick).

Polaris Trademarks “Victory Charger” – An Electric Cruiser?

02/05/2015 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

victory-charger

Trademark applications with the USPTO show that Polaris has registered “Victory Charger” as a mark to be used with “electric motorcycles and structural parts therefor.”

The application is a strong hint that we could see an electric cruiser from the Victory brand, which is owned by Polaris, in the coming future.

The news is especially timely, as Polaris just acquired Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, and plans on building electric motorcycles at the company’s facilities in Spirit Lake, IA.

As if there wasn’t already enough fuel for the fire, on a product roadmap for investors, Brammo listed an “eCruiser” as a possible future model — a model that could easily be repurposed for the progressive Victory cruiser brand.

Is Suzuki Reviving the Katana and Gamma Names?

01/05/2015 @ 1:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

suzuki-katana-logo

Signs of life are starting to trickle out of Hamamatsu, as Suzuki finally seems to be working on new models for our riding pleasure. First, it was the news that the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept is likely to go into production, and now it’s that the Japanese OEM is reviving iconic names from its past: Katana and Gamma.

Suzuki has re-registered the Katana name & logo with both the European and American trademark offices, while the Gamma logo has been re-registered in the EU. What this means precisely in terms of future models is up for debate.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

04/08/2014 @ 11:54 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes.

The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model.

The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW — the thought is that the “M” model could be a MotoGP inspired bike, however that is just conjecture at this point.

Yamaha Trademarks “FJ-09” for the US Market

03/03/2014 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

yamaha-fz-09-engine-cutaway

In the digital age, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have become a good resource for sleuthing out upcoming machines from motorcycle manufacturers.

The publicly accessible online databases have outed Ducati’s plans to build a “frameless” motorcycle (later known to be a patent for the Panigale), tipped-off the coming of the water-cooled engines to Harley-Davidson, and even hinted at Honda doing something with the Africa Twin name.

Trademark registrations have tipped off bikes like the Ducati Diavel, Ducati Scrambler, and Yamaha YZF-R3; and for today, it seems another motorcycle has been outed by the government agency: the Yamaha FJ-09. Registered with the USPTO, the FJ-09 is likely to be a three-cylinder sport-tourer, if the tuning fork brand keeps to its naming conventions.

Erik Buell Racing Patents Hybrid Motorcycle Design

08/12/2013 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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It seems Erik Buell Racing has been thinking about alternative-fuel vehicles, as the company from East Troy had filed and received a patent for a hybrid drive motorcycle design.

There is nothing particularly astonishing about EBR’s patent, after all with hybrids being all the rage in the four-wheeled world, it was obviously only a matter of time before that same trend transitioned to motorcycles as well.

However, what is interesting about Erik Buell Racing’s patent is that it doesn’t set forth the Prius-inspired setup that you would expect, where an electric motor takes over or assists an internal combustion engine.

Instead, EBR’s setup is more like the Chevy Volt, with a small petrol-fueled generator being on-board to charge the bike’s batteries once they have been depleted by the electric motor, and thus killing the range anxiety that is prevalent in current EV bike designs.