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The electric motorcycle segment is beginning to mature. We know this because word from Japan has Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha collaborating together on various standards for electric motorcycles.

If it doesn’t immediately strike you as such, this is incredibly big news.

The move sees the Big Four creating a consortium that will work together to bring homogenized battery, charging, infrastructure, and other items into reality so that there can be interoperability between the brands and less confusion in the marketplace. 

The future of motorcycle safety apparel just took another step forward, as a new brand has entered the airbag game for motorcycle track and race suits.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see that the brand in question is REV’IT, as the Dutch company is already at the forefront of motorcycle apparel design, and is an avid safety partner for racers at the top level of the sport.

REV’IT joins Alpinestars and Dainese in offering an in-house airbag safety technology system for track use, but the brand is taking things to the next level with its novel approach to keeping riders safe.

For REV’It, the issue isn’t just in deploying the soft protection that an airbag offers a rider. Instead, their new airbag design promises to be lighter in weight and cooler in temperature than the units from the competition.

We just published a long story for our A&R Pro readers about the new rev limits in the WorldSBK Championship, and how the Ducati Panigale V4 R is ringing out to 16,500 RPM in the production racing class.

One of the ways that Borgo Panigale was able to bring such a high rev limit to its Desmosedici Stradale engine was through the use of lightweight titanium connecting rods. The red bikes are not alone on this, as the big go-fast change for the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is also titanium con rods, courtesy of Pankl.

Pound for pound stronger than steel, titanium has been helping raise the roof on rev limits for quite some time now…and maybe it is time to give another element on the periodic table a chance. Like say…carbon?

A patent application spotted by Ben Purvis at Cycle World hints at Honda expanding its variable valve timing technology on its two-wheeled offerings, with designs of a sophisticated VVT system could come to a new CBR model.

Filed in June 2018, the patent application (not yet an actual US patent, mind you) is a restatement of a Japanese patent that dates back to 2017, and in it Honda describes a mechanism where “an internal combustion engine is provided with a variable valve operating apparatus.”

2018 is coming to a close now, so we of course are looking back at what happened over the past year in the motorcycle industry.

There was no shortage of weighty stories in 2018, so we picked just our Top 5 big themes from the year to share with you.

They range from business items, racing news, and new motorcycles (or the lack thereof). Without too much fanfare, let’s get into it, and see Asphalt & Rubber‘s most important stories from 2018.

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 needed further proof that the 3D printing revolution is upon us, take this case study from Bugatti to heart. The French brand is at the pointy end of the automotive space, which means that Bugatti gets all the fun toys.

One of the spaces where they are innovating is in the use of titanium parts that have been created by using an additive manufacturing process.

In this case, they are making a brake caliper (shown above)…which also happens to be the largest 3D-printed titanium component ever produced.

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. 

Additive manufacturing (better known as 3D printing) is going to change the motorcycle industry – and industry in general – in a big way. Rapid prototyping materials are already changing how we develop new products, and as cost, sophistication, and quality increases, we can see this technology turning manufacturing completely on its head. It is exciting to watch.

For the motorcycle industry, this means that there will come a day when all you need to do to get a new part for your motorcycle is to download the design from the OEM, and “print” it out at home or at a local 3D printing facility.

This will fundamentally change the role of dealerships and how we design and build motorcycles. I cannot emphasize this point enough. The day of this industrial revolution just got a little closer today too, as we see what is being dubbed as the world’s first completely 3D printed motorcycle

I once had a conversation with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, where he described that in terms of safety advancement, cornering ABS was to the front wheel what traction control was to the rear wheel.

A few years later now, we see that the Italian brand is taking cornering ABS very seriously, and during the company’s EICMA unveiling event, Domenicali announced that Ducati is making cornering ABS a standard item on all of its 2019 model year motorcycles.

We have known about the 2019 BMW R1250GS for some time now, but today we get our first real look of the machine, thanks to the bike’s promotional video, which has leaked on the internet (hat tip to the folks at Motorcular.com). And, despite everything we knew about the BMW R1250GS, the Germans still managed to surprise us.

This is because instead of the “Shiftcam” technology that BMW Motorrad has developed for its revised boxer engine.

Originally tipped to have variable valve technology, we now see how BMW is going to achieve this goal, and the answer is with a camshaft that has dual lobes and a shift gate that engages the high valve lift set during full throttle applications.