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.

2015 Ducati Monster 800 Spotted

03/25/2014 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that with the debut of the Ducati Monster 1200, that another liquid-cooled Monster was around the corner, to fill in the middleweight segment. With Ducati already having the 821cc Testastretta 11° engine in the Hypermotard line, that engine will get double-duty with the 2015 Ducati Monster 800.

Spotted by the BikeSocial website run by Bennetts, an insurance company in the UK, we get our first glimpse of the Monster 800 in the wild. Visually the 821cc machine is almost identical to its 1,200cc counterpart, but the new Monster clearly has a double-sided swingarm holding onto its rear tire.

2014 Ducati Monster 1200 – Water-Cooling an Icon

11/04/2013 @ 8:20 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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With the Ducati 1199 Superleggera already shown ahead of the 2013 EICMA show, the big news from Milan for Ducati is the long-rumored 2014 Ducati Monster 1200.

Saying goodbye to the Monster’s air-cooled v-twin, the Monster 1200 takes a page of history from the Ducati S4/S4R, and uses Ducati’s water-cooled Testastretta 11° motor (as seen on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 and Ducati Diavel) for its locomotion.

Surely to ruffle a few feathers with the hardcore Ducatisti, the water-cooled engine isn’t the only big innovation for the Ducati Monster 1200, as the motorcycle is the continuation of Ducati’s chassis philosophy, as seen on the Ducati 1199 Panigale. As such, both the steel trellis main frame, and steel subframe, attach directly to the Testastretta 11° engine’s cylinder heads.

Ducati Begins Teasing a New Monster

10/29/2013 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Earlier this month, it appears Ducati setup a Twitter account to promote the Monster brand, and for the past couple of weeks the tweets have been fairly mundane. However, the latest cropping of 140 character messages reveal that the company is ready to spill some of the secrets of its upcoming water-cooled Monster.

Are You The Ducati Monster 1200?

10/07/2013 @ 1:01 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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At the German Auto Show, the Boys from Bologna debuted the Ducati 899 Panigale, a “super-mid” version of the Italian company’s superbike platform. A bit too big to be a supersport class machine, the 899 Panigale should however be fun on the track, in a vein that is similar to the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.

That premise will have to remain as conjecture for us though, as while Ducati’s chosen few are currently gathered in Bologna right now for the press launch of the 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale, Asphalt & Rubber was not among those who crossed the pond for the launch and test ride. Not to worry though, we should start hearing the initial impressions from journalists shortly.

Meanwhile, we can turn our attention to the machines that Ducati has yet to debut to the public, though will be shortly. A&R broke the news last week about the upcoming Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superleggera, and we have already seen spy photos of the Ducati Scrambler (said to be a 2015 model, if it gets the production nod), and a liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

Spy Shots: A New Water-Cooled 1198cc Ducati Monster?

06/26/2013 @ 7:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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Oh the ever *cough* elusive motorcycle spy photo, how we love to hate thee. No brand has been a greater “victim” of its pre-production motorcycle being caught by eagle-eyed photographers than Ducati, so it should come as no surprise then that first machine on the pre-EICMA buzz machine should be one from the Bologna brand — though cynicism, it is an interesting machine that has been spied.

Having the clear lines of the Ducati Monster line, our subject today has the curious oddity of being equipped with what appears to be a water-cooled Testastretta 11° motor, which is fitted with an exhaust that looks suspiciously like the lump found in the Ducati Diavel.

If the interwebs are correct, and this new Monster is indeed a 1198cc beast, then that means that we likely have a modern take on the Ducati Monster S4 on our hands, which should good for 150 hp of street terror.

Spy Video: BMW R1200GT

04/17/2013 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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News that BMW will be coming out with a water-cooled replacement of its current R1200RT is really nothing new. Since the debut of the new BMW R1200GS, and its precision water-cooled motor, it has seemed like only a matter of time before the BMW’s next-generation boxer engine made its way into the German company’s other models.

We have already seen the 2014 BMW R1200RT strutting its stuff in camouflage before, but those photos were small and blurry — really just enough to give us an idea of what we were looking at, and nothing more. This is not the case today however, as a German blogger has been fortunate enough to catch what he calls the BMW R1200GTt out in the wild, and has included a 1080p walk-around to prove it.

Water-Cooled 2014 BMW R1200RT Spotted

03/27/2013 @ 11:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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With the water-cooled BMW R1200GS official debuted and soon to be released for the 2013 model year, it was only a matter of time before we saw the same “precision liquid-cooled” version of the BMW R1200RT make its spy shot debut.

Coming to us in a very blurry form, a blogger at the french publication MotoMag caught the 2014 BMW R1200RT out for a spring time jaunt in the South of France.

Heavily disguised in camouflage, it is hard to understand how far zie Germans have strayed from the old model’s lines, though we hope that the touring machine gets as much of an overhaul as the Gelände Straße.

To our eyes, the fairings look physically much larger, and it looks like the headlights could be borrowed from the KT1600GT platform. More photos after the jump, call out any other changes you might see.

Wunderlich BMW R1200S Concept by Nicolas Petit

12/17/2012 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

If you don’t follow the work of Nicolas Petit, you should. The French designer has been inking some of the most striking motorcycle concepts in the industry, and the best part is many of them are coming to life thanks to BMW accessories provider Wunderlich.

Refusing to let go of the thesis provided BMW HP2 Sport, Petit envisions BMW’s new semi water-cooled boxer engine (first seen on the 2013 BMW R1200GS) as providing the basis for a new sport bike in the HP2’s vein, complete with a single-sided swingarm, dual undertail exhaust, and Öhlins suspension.

It might be a tough sell now that the BMW S1000RR and BMW HP4 have hit dealership floors, but there is something really quite elegant in Petit’s design, and we imagine there are more than few weekend riders who wouldn’t mind such a unique machine with a boxer’s punch.

The 2013 BMW R1200GS in 293 Hi-Res Photos

10/02/2012 @ 6:54 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The big news out of the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany is the public unveiling of the 2013 BMW R1200GS — the liquid-cooled progeny of the venerable air-cooled GS line. The bike that continues to define the adventure-touring market, the R1200GS not only gets a mechanical makeover for 2013, but a cosemetic one as well.

Wanting to give us the utmost insight into the design and engineering process that went into the new BMW R1200GS, the Bavarians have dumped nearly 300 photos into their media site for our consumption.

Naturally, we’ve uploaded them all here to Asphalt & Rubber because we loves us some tasty photos. Chances are the image viewing lightbox is too big for your monitor, so right-click as you see fit. We’ve picked our favorites out, and have them on display after the jump.

2013 BMW R1200GS – A Water-Cooled Icon

10/02/2012 @ 3:45 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Building off of three decades of tradition and 170,000 units sold worldwide, the 2013 BMW R1200GS has some big shoes to fill. Officially debuting today at the INTERMOT show, the Bavarians have kept most of what makes a GS a “GS” intact, while of course adding a much speculated, hyped, and rumored water-cooled boxer-twin motor into the mix.

The big push with the new model is its ability to meet stricter noise and emission standards, hence the move to liquid-cooling. Though, BMW says it also aimed to improve the R1200GS’s on & off-road performance, increase the bike’s safety, and of course continue the GS heritage that has basically defined the segment.

Using “precision cooling” derived from Formula 1, the 2013 BMW R1200GS only uses liquid cooling on the parts of the motor that need the additional heat exchange, thus allowing the engine still to use a high-degree of air-cooling, which BMW says helps justify the continued use of the boxer-twin motor design. Other changes include a wet slipper clutch and left-hand side cardan shaft drive. As we reported earlier, power is 123hp and 92 ft•lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm, while the curb weight is 525 lbs (238 kg) without fuel.