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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.

If there is a cringeworthy trend in tech right now, it is the concept of blockchain. The core technology to cryptocurrency, blockchain acts as a distributed digital ledger to keep track of ownership and transfers. It is a clever technology, with practical uses.

However, the number of dubious companies and concepts that have latched onto the crypto-craze has made blockchain something of a joke in Silicon Valley and the rest of the world.

There has even been a trend of companies “using” blockchain purely to boost stock prices and secure funding – even if the technology was relevant to their field.

Finding people who understand blockchain is even tougher to achieve, as is the case within the ranks of Dorna, the media rights holder to the MotoGP and WorldSBK championships.

Announcing today the debut of MotoGP Cryptobilia, the premier motorcycle racing championship is about to embark on the whacky adventure of digital motorcycle racing collectibles, powered by blockchain technology.

Indian’s heavyweight models aren’t really our cup of tea, though we do get an immature chuckle when we hear them talk about their “Thunder Stroke” engine platform. Childish jokes aside, some interesting news caught our eye about the American brand’s 2019 models.

Included as part of the 2019 Indian Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster models is a number of new features, the most interesting of which is the inclusion of rear-cylinder deactivation.

We have seen this technology most recently in the World Superbike Championship (and it is no stranger in the land of four wheels), where manufacturers deactivate cylinders mid-corner to improve bike’s response during partial throttle applications.

Indian is using this concept in a different way though – one that will be more applicable to riding on the street.

I got an interesting email today from a startup company with a “revolutionary” new helmet concept. No, it wasn’t that motorcycle helmet startup, but the aftermath of Skully does make anyone wanting to swim in this space drip with a bit of radioactivity.

Instead in this case, Feher Helmets hopes to bring air conditioning to a helmet near you. To do this, Feher takes a relatively simply concept, and applies it in a way that no one else is doing in the market.

The Feher ACH-1 is pretty simple, though I am sure the technology behind it takes a bit more skill and engineering to execute. As you would expect, the cooling unit is a small and efficient heat pump, which turns hot air into cold, and then pushes it into the helmet shell.

Using air channels and mesh fabric (note the lack of air vents on the shell design), the cool air then moves around the rider’s head, where it obviously lowers the head’s surface temperature.