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As the year winds down, we continue to think about the future. The other day, Bugatti showed us its 3D printed titanium brake calipers, and now we turn ourselves to another budding technology.

Roam Robotics is not a company you are likely to have heard of, but Yamaha Motor certainly is, and the Japanese motorcycle brand recently flexed its investing arm, leading a $12 million investment round  into the aforementioned Silicon Valley tech startup.

While the technology is complex, the concept behind Roam’s business is not, as they are developing an exoskeleton system that will help to enhance the physical movements of both the able-bodied and handicapable.

If you live in the United States and like World Superbike racing, then we have good news for you, as the 2019 WorldSBK Calendar now includes Laguna Seca as a destination for next year.

After many indications that the World Superbike Championship would not be coming to the United States next year, after a contract dispute with the California track and Spanish racing series, that course has seemingly made a 180° turn.

Therefore, Laguna Seca will play host to the World Superbike series – sans World Supersport or Supersport 300 – during the July 12th-14th racing weekend.

It surprising to us that there is so little investment in technologies and business in the two-wheeled space by the established players.

Maybe it is the conservative nature of the motorcycle industry, or maybe it is because motorcycle companies are just miserably bad at corporate development. Whatever the reason may be, it makes today’s headline an intriguing one.

This is because Yamaha Motor Corp. in Japan has just set aside $100 million to invest in technologies and business startups, over the next 10 years. 

Every year around this time, the streets of Long Beach fill with motorcycles as the International Motorcycle Show comes to town. This year’s show was preceded by three major motorcycle shows at INTERMOT in Germany, EICMA in Italy, and AIMExpo in Las Vegas.

Because of the short turn time between EICMA and AIMExpo, very few of the major product introductions that occurred in Europe made it to the halls of the Mandalay Bay convention center.

Would any of these new motorcycles show up in Long Beach? Well, I’m happy to report the answer is a resounding yes!

This week at the EICMA show in Milan, we expect to see the 2019 World Superbike Championship calendar released. However, we do not expect to see the Laguna Seca round listed on it…not yet, at least.

As we understand it, the WorldSBK calendar will be released with a “TBD” in the month of June, where the Laguna Seca round should normally be found. 

With the circuit and Dorna still arguing over licensing fees, and the future of World Superbike racing in the United States, the inclusion of the American round has been put into jeopardy.

Hello from sunny SoCal, where we are about to go ride the new KTM 790 Duke, which is finally coming to the United States as an early 2019 model.

The first of KTM’s parallel-twin middleweights, the new Duke packs a lot of features into an affordable body, with promises of being a potent streetfighter.

To test that theory, the Austrian brand has brought us near its base of operations in the United States, and today we will tackle the roads along the Oceanside coast, and then head up to the famous Palomar mountain for some twisty fun.

The KTM 790 Duke has been on our short-list of bikes we have wanted to swing a leg over, ever since we saw the concept for the machine debut two years ago at EICMA.

“How many axes does the IMU use?…And who makes it? Bosch?” asked a journalist during our press launch briefing for the new Honda Monkey. That journalist was yours truly. I am that guy at the Monkey launch.

To be fair, my curiosity was mostly personal. After all, one of the cheapest motorcycles in Honda’s arsenal comes available with IMU-assisted ABS, while more than a few of Big Red’s full-on sport bikes in the lineup do not…how weird is that? Please tell me more, Honda.

But, the question strikes a larger tone when it comes to bikes like the Honda Monkey: the tech specs don’t really matter. No one cares. The appropriate measuring stick for a bike like the Honda Monkey isn’t an objective one that is found on spec-sheets and lap times, which is a tough pill to swallow for a detail-oriented motorcycle journalist.

To that end, I am not sure if the Honda Monkey is a good motorcycle. But more importantly, I am not sure that it matters. Let me explain.

Hello from Santa Catalina Island, where we are about to go ride the new Honda Monkey mini-moto. A play on Honda’s past, the Monkey is built off the modern Honda Grom platform, but uses styling that is more at home in the 1970s.

A retro-modern approach to the mini-bike craze, the Honda Monkey is trying to rekindle some of those “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” feelings, which launched the Japanese brand into the public mainstream almost 50 years ago.

As such, we will be spending the day on this popular Californian destination to see how the Honda Monkey handles not only from a technical perspective on the road, but also we want to see what “je ne sais quoi” of two-wheeled fun the Monkey brings to the table.

With cars largely verboten on Catalina, bikes like Honda’s old Trail 70 and Trail 110 are popular choices here (as are golf carts, but that is an entirely different story), which makes the island a smart pick for this press launch.

Per our new review format, I will be giving you a live assessment of the Honda Monkey right here in this article (down in the comments section), and I will try to answer any questions you might have about this unique motorcycle.

So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Honda Monkey, before even my own proper review is posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Honda personnel. So, pepper away.

You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #HondaMonkey, #POWERofNICE #RideRed.

When we broke the news that Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors were parting ways, we teased the idea that the Bar & Shield brand might go it alone with its electric future.  Since that breakup, there have been murmurings that Harley-Davidson was going to build its own EV design and research center, right in the heart of Silicon Valley, and today those rumors became true.

Announcing the plans during the company’s 115th birthday celebration, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich described the plan as an extension of Harley-Davidson’s commitment to make electric vehicles, and the move is an obvious grab at some of the top electric vehicle talent that resides in Northern California.

What makes a good motorcycle show? Is it the amazing bikes? Is it the venue? Or is it the spirit of community that makes some of these events more special than others?

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Golden Bolt Motorcycle Show at The House of Machines (THoM), in the Arts District of Los Angeles, and it was a great mix of bikes, venue, and community.

The brainchild of bike build Kevin Dunworth of Loaded Gun Customs fame, the Golden Bolt offered a change from other motorcycle shows by adding some unique aspects.

Elected on a platform to do away with regulatory interference, especially Obama-era fuel economy targets, the Trump Administration is now looking to end California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act.

Ending the waiver effectively means that the United States would finally have a unified set of regulations for vehicles emissions and fuel efficiency standards, as California (through the California Air Resources Board) often sets higher requirements, through its Clean Air Act waiver.

Looking to gut the regulatory force of CARB, this news would also mean that vehicle makers would have lower targets to hit for gas mileage efficiency (37mpg instead of 46.8mpg), which in turn means that brands would have to sell fewer electric vehicles as well.

Lastly, under the proposed changes, vehicle emission standards would freeze at the planned 2020 levels, until the year 2026.