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2001 Model Year Rumor Round Up – Street Bikes

We are still several months away from the introduction of most of the 2001 model year street bikes, but here is a quick summary of some of the things we have heard, and expect to see.

Suzuki should introduce an all-new GSX-R600. In keeping with tradition, Suzuki revamps its 600 one year after introducing a new GSX-R750. The 600 should be based largely on the chassis of the 750, but be significantly lighter. Since the 750 is already lighter than any existing 600, expect the new GSX-R600 to set an impressive standard for light weight in the class (around 350 pounds dry). The big question is whether the bike, like its 750cc brother, will feature fuel injection.

A new Honda Goldwing is expected to debut. With approximately 1800cc, the engine should retain the flat six-cylinder layout of the current model, but expect the bike to be substantially new, including an all new chassis and styling. It looks as though the bike will be as heavy, or heavier, than the current Goldwing, despite weight saving efforts (including extensive use of aluminum). Luxury features will take the touring market to a new level. Look at the luxury features in today’s luxury automobiles, including GPS, and you will get an idea of what the new Goldwing may feature.

Kawasaki is expected to introduce a new ZX-7R. We expect this bike to feature some of the design elements of the new ZX-12R, including fuel injection and, possibly, the backbone frame. Although Kawasaki’s current ZX-7R is long in the tooth by street bike standards, it is still an extremely competitive race bike platform (look at its double win last week at Sugo, Japan, for instance). This may be the main reason Kawasaki has stayed away from development of a new 750. Coupled with the growing popularity of the 600 and open classes, Kawasaki may have also felt that a 750 is not destined to be a volume seller. In any event, the rumor mill is churning strongly on this, and it really is about time Kawasaki had a more competitive 750 on the street. As a future superbike platform, expect extreme frame rigidity, and aggressive ergonomics.

What about Yamaha? Will Yamaha finally replace, or substantially revise, the V-Max? I think you can expect it. Will it be a v-twin like the incredible MT-01 shown by Yamaha at the Tokyo motor show last year (see MD’s October 28,1999 article)? Perhaps, but expect something exciting in either a v-four or v-twin configuration, with much better handling than the current V-Max.

Other bikes that I personally expect to see are not really found in the rumor mill, yet. Honda’s pledge of “industry dominance” should result in a big-bore v-twin cruiser, a’ la, Yamaha Road Star. Although Honda makes some fine 1100cc cruisers (see our Shadow Sabre ride review), it has to go into the big bore v-twin cruiser market, and it knows it. With its theme of “performance first”, expect Honda’s cruiser to pack some serious horsepower and torque.

Honda will also replace, or thoroughly revamp, the ST1100 soon, perhaps next year, and perhaps with a v-six motor similar to that shown on its X-Wing concept.

The Kawasaki Concours sport tourer is long overdue for replacement, but that was true last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Will Kawasaki finally replace this bike? Although the Concours has almost a “cult” following, it is no longer a volume seller for Kawasaki, and expect it to be replaced — probably next year. Kawasaki has plenty of modern engines and chassis suitable for conversion to a sport tourer — particularly, a lightweight sport tourer with bags. The sport tourer market is growing fast, and Kawasaki has to realize it needs a fresh competitor in this market.

Suzuki is already boasting that it has a large number of new, or substantially revised, motorcycles to be introduced in the 2001 model year. Rumors about a big-bore GSXR sport bike have been circulating for months, and it is logical for Suzuki to finally replace the GSX-R1100. Could this be one of Suzuki’s new models? Probably so. What displacement? Probably under 1000cc. Suzuki has sat on the sidelines watching the big-bore sport bike market explode in popularity (largely due to the introduction of Yamaha’s R-1 two and one-half years ago). Suzuki has a strong heritage in this class, and it has been missing out on sales in this class for too long.

We think Suzuki will have a few, additional surprise bikes, but we’re not sure what they are, yet.

Other bikes that you can expect to see “tweaked” with relatively minor changes include Honda’s CBR600F4, Yamaha’s R-6, as well as several cruiser models from several manufacturers.

Among the European manufacturers, the long-awaited successor to Ducati’s 996 should arrive. Aprilia will introduce at least one, and possibly two, new bikes based on its RSV1000 engine, including a sport tourer and possibly a large displacement trail bike (like the BMW GS1150).

Triumph’s long-awaited 800cc Bonneville should arrive — looking very much like the Bonneville did decades ago. Expect the Bonneville to have modern features hidden beneath a retro exterior, but be relatively heavy.

Spy photos of a new BMW Boxer have been circulating on the Internet. Expect a larger displacement Boxer motor to be featured in at least two revamped BMW models.

MV Agusta should introduce at least one new model next year. A 900cc version of its 750cc in-line, four-cylinder motor is expected — perhaps in a naked bike.

Benelli’s three-cylinder 900 Tornado will finally debut in production form next year. Laverda has been developing its own 900cc triple for years, but finances have kept it from coming to fruition. It is probably still a couple of years off, and don’t expect it in 2001.

These are just some of our thoughts, and we have probably missed a number of bikes and rumors. We’ll have a similar article devoted to off-road and dual sport motorcycles soon, and we will periodically bring you the latest information on expected new motorcycles.

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