On May 11, 2000, I wrote an article titled “Jet Lag”, and asked MD readers to email their comments to me regarding market segments they feel are being ignored by the manufacturers. What follows are the many responses (unedited) I received. I hope the manufacturers are reading too!
“You hit the nail on the head with your thoughts about a new breed of touring bikes.
I have a Honda VFR 800 and although I love my bike I wish it had more power and hard bags.
I believe that if some manufacturer would build the bike you described it would be an immediate
success. If you don’t have the bucks to buy a BMW or don’t like the Honda ST 1100 then you
are out of luck. Both the BMW and the Honda are old designs and lack the cool looks of the
new sport bikes. Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha could make the bike affordable to the masses.
The bike needs to be at least 1000 cc, handle, look great and most of all not break you neck.
I have been seriously considering a Kawasaki ZRX1100 because of the upright seating position.
I rode a ZRX (great bike by the way) about a week ago and decided it would be great around town
but lacked adequate wind protection for touring duty.
Some of us forty somethings are not ready to drive the typical big-twin touring rig. We still
like the performance of a sport bike without the radical riding position. Believe me when I tell
you I know several guys that would be interested in a bike like this.
A couple of months back some of the magazines were indicating that Yamaha was rumored to be working
on a R1 powered VFR killer. I was all set to jump on one of these bad boys. I have not heard anything
since have you?
If they build it I will buy it (most definitely if it’s a Honda or Yamaha).
Those of us that don’t fit on a R1 or a Goldwing are out of luck.”
“Kawasaki has tried for years to do this. Honda did it. The motorcycle press,
testosterone hampered as they are, ALWAYS ambush the bike by stating “not bad,
but I sure wish it had the super XXX motor.” Or similar comment. Then the squidly
reader interprets this as “not as good as a Super XXX” and buys a Super XXX.
Also, The manufacturers seem to price the stripped bikes kind of high, even though
the development costs have been largely borne by the original sport bike. A mistake
The relatively warm reception the KZ? 750 got is the rare exception. I’d be interested
in how sales are actually going for that bike.”
“Thanks for asking. Would more people work to ride/ride to work if
there were more shaft driven machines available at the low end of the price
I recently spent a ton of money (not to mention incurring a huge debt) on
a Honda ST1100, mostly to ride to work on a comfortable, reliable bike with
hard luggage capacity, shaft drive, and liquid cooling. Do I need all that
displacement and horsepower? Of course not. I’d have preferred to buy a
Honda Deauville/NT650V. Why didn’t I buy a Kawasaki Concourse? Rumors of
buzzing in the Kawi’s pegs and bars, plus my old machine was a Honda CB250
that never once let me down.”
“I agree that there is a big market for naked bikes, I would like to have
a kawasaki zrx with the new zx-12 engine. With the zrx paint scheme … Bring on some new stuff!!!!”
“I agree. I like the naked bikes, street fighters, cafe racers, etc. I
think all that one has to do is look at Ducati’s and Buell’s increases in
sales to get an idea of market direction. Even though they are small
players in the US, watching the percentage of bike sales increase could
indicate the trend you’ve identified for the bean counters.
I own a ’98 M2 and love it for what it is (although too rough for distance
travelling). I own a ’93 GTS1000 and love it for what it is (although too
heavy). Combine the two and you might be hitting the nail on the head.
Your suggestion of a modified R1 sounds perfect. Lightweight, ergonomically
friendly, optional detachable bags for functionality, and a little torque
for the fun of riding. Take off some body panels, blacken or polish some
engine parts and you may compete with the Ducs and Buells.”
“I share with you the feeling that m/c makers are missing a huge market by
not producing a sport tourer (exceptions are BMW and Triumph) for the U.S. market.
I would really like to see Suzuki take one of their TL1000s and instead of
competing against each other turn one into a sport tourer making the simple changes
that you mentioned. Hard bags are a must for a tourer or commuter. The Honda ST1100
and Kawasaki Concourse are just “Sporty Tourers” not Sport Tourers.”
“I wonder when a ‘world’ market will really be a reality. What would it take to
have a single Euro/Japan/US-DOT spec so manufacturers don’t have to build 3+ versions
of the same bike… US dealers wouldn’t need to stock every bike, but they would be
able to order anything in their manufacturer’s lineup.
Thought about this when I visited honda-japan web page and saw a VTR250 with 4 frame
colors, 3 wheel colors, and 9 body paint choices = 108 combinations!”
“Is it my imagination or is there slightly more interest in trials than
there was a few years ago. Is it time for a Japanese company to make a
trials bike again?”
“I just read your piece about the manufacturer’s inability to read the
market. I couldn’t agree more. Whatever happened to the lightweight,
agile standards/sport-standards? Sure, Suzuki has the Bandit and the SV,
but not EVERYBODY wants a Suzuki. Yamaha no longer makes the Seca
II. Both the Nighthawk and the ZR7 could lose 40 lbs and an inch in seat
height in my opinion. Honda might be bringing back the Hawk GT, but with
150 more ccs and the hefty price tag of a Honda 800cc bike, it’s no longer
in the same league as the Bandit, Seca, etc. The manufacturers should
quit making their bikes larger and larger — not everybody who wants a naked
bike wants a ZRX1100 or an X11. I think plenty of the population would
snatch up 400lb, 600cc, 60hp bikes. I sure would.
PS: It’d also be nice if the US ever saw the unfaired versions of the
Bandit and the Seca (available in Japan and Europe). They have much
cleaner lines (in my humble opinion).”
“Regarding your comment titled “Jet-Lag” I had a semi-related conversation
at the Ontario Sportbike Ralley with a Honda Canada rep, last July. I was
asking him regarding the possibility of getting the Transalp, the Africa
Twin or the Varadero in Canada.
The only one of the three that he felt there was a chance of getting in our
market is the Varadero, and only if it came with a VTR spec motor. He went
on to say that the Transport Canada requirement for bikes coming into
Canada is that they be tested to the American EPA standard, a $110,000
emissions test. For a bike like the Varadero that is likely to only sell
100 – 200 a year, at the very best, (and more likely 50 units) this testing
would be spread out to the tune of >$500 per bike plus administrative
costs, etc and would end up inflating the selling price of that model
So basically, unless the USA wants a bike, we don’t get it, and we only get
it with USA spec motors. (I have heard that some European bikes are tuned
to make significantly more HP.)
My understanding is that this Transport Canada ruling came in in the late
“What is Ducati doing with the ST-2 and ST-4? What about the Monster,
doesn’t it qualify as naked?”
“Thanks for the update on naked bikes. I currently own a 99 Hayabusa, but I
am very interested in naked bikes. There may be more people interested in
naked bikes, here in North America, than the manufacturers realize.
I would be very interested in an SV1000. A truly naked one (the SV650 comes
with a small fairing here in Canada). Or a naked Yamaha with an R1 motor.
1000cc seems about right. But I don’t know how to get my feedback to the
manufacturers. Any suggestions on who to contact (i.e., e-mail addresses)?
Why a naked bike is appealing to me: It can do everything well. It is the
best all-round compromise.
What a naked bike would give me:
- Sporting ability that I can’t get in a tourer, or cruiser, and some
- The ability to add a full windshield, so I can sports-tour in comfort.
For those longer trips I just want to get out of the wind. Even with my
earplugs in, when travelling long distances on the Hayabusa, typically at a
fairly good clip, battling the wind and noise becomes tiresome.
- Typically lighter than most tourers and sport-tourers. At least those
with full windshields. I DON’T want a naked bike that is as heavy as the
Hayabusa (though the Hayabusa is a very good bike).
- Versatility. The ability to do everything (carry a passenger etc.),
without being in the full tuck position.
- Reasonable cost.
- A way of achieving motorcycling ‘balance’.
If I want to go to full sports mode, then I can always get a GSXR-1000,750
or 600 to ride.
Anyways, any suggestions on how to get this feedback to the manufacturers
would be appreciated.”
- Sporting ability that I can’t get in a tourer, or cruiser, and some
“I just bought a ZRX1100 Kawasaki, I didn’t think that I was going to be
buying a new bike this year and then Kaw came out with the black model and
when I saw it in the flesh I thought that this was the right time to get
one. The things that sold me were the styling, riding position, the power
and the price.
The point of this is that the manufacturers may not understand when they
consider the US not friendly to naked bikes, is that in the past the bikes
that I liked (retro….naked) were missing the mark on at least one area.
Styling, rider position, power or price and it was usually power. We
Americans want power, too much is just right. Retro the styling, retro the
price, but don’t retro the power. The ZRX isn’t perfect but it comes close
enough that it talked me into replacing my V65 Sabre, when I thought that I
was content with what I had. Isn’t that the point of marketing? To get you
to buy when you thought that you weren’t going to?”
“I like the idea. I have a ’92 Suzuki GSX1100G Standard roadster. Not the latest and greatest,
but comfortable ergos and plenty of power this 43 year old rider. I drilled
and tapped the foot pegs for warning tabs since I almost rode off the tires
last week in north Ga. Amazing what lower bars, braided stainless lines and
DP brakes, radial tires, Race-Tech springs and cartridge emulators, and a
Works Performance shock will do for a heavy, long wheel base shaft driven
Since it doesn’t have a fairing, it is quite easy to service and there are
hop up parts for the GSXR series that work on it as well. Best of all, I only
have about $5700.00 in it!”
“I couldn’t agree more. I have been in the market for a naked bike for years. After having spent my entire youth on sport bikes, I wanted something with similar performance but targeted towards my mid-aged body. I bought a Harley FXDX because it came closest to what I wanted. I gave up a lot of performance but I got a comfortable bike with a standard seating position, no chrome and I can look at, enjoy, and work on the engine.
Another segment that I think is being neglected is the beginner and play bike. this is especially important as all future riders must start here. Honda is doing a pretty good job with the XR series and Yamaha is finally on board with the TTR’s but we have nothing from Kawasaki or Suzuki.
Additionally, what all of the manufactures have failed to realize is that most folks don’t want to do doubles or triples and quite a few don’t even want to shift. If a manufactur came out with a 100-175cc four stroke with five to seven inches of travel, 30″-32″ high comfortable seat, electric start and clutchless transmission like the XR70 or TTR90 my friends and I would buy five or six right now for our wives and girlfriends.”
“I think you’re right on the money about the growing sport-tourer market.
As more people my age (mid to late baby boomers) enter their 40’s, they
have some disposable cash and are willing to return to motorcycling. The
next bike I buy will be a sport-tourer because I want some decent
performance but I just don’t need a crotch rocket. And in fact, I’m
specifically waiting to see what Aprilia’s going to do because I’m
interested in V-twin, without going the street cruiser-poser route. I’m
not too thrilled with the current sportier models (VFR and Sprint)
anyway because of the smallish ergonomics — I’m a tad over 6 feet and
find most sport oriented bikes seem to be designed with shorter people
in mind (bad knee placement, tight fit at clutch and brake). I wish all
bike reviewers clearly stated their height and comfort level when
reviewing bikes. I note that you seem to make a good habit of this…”
“I can’t agree more. Having to deal with the OEM’s intpretations of the US market can be frustrating, but I do think that the sales figures and projections to show some important trends in the US market that cannot be ignored. For example, I cannot believe what my racing friends pay for a ten year old FZR 400 that has been flogged on tracks for years. There are no small sporting bikes imported here and Buell gives us that Blast abortion. Taking the position of the OEM’s – FZR 400’s
sell in small numbers to racers, but I have trouble seeing the power hungry US market jumping on these light fun bikes, they simply will not sell like the 600’s.
Turning this arguement to naked bikes, only recently has the US gotten any serious naked bikes. Take the Europe spec Honda Hornet, a F3 with slightly relaxed ergoes that is either naked or this year comes with a half-fairing. I’d trade in my CB750 in a hot second. I love the idea of the SV650, but why oh why can’t we get the S model? Naked big bore bikes like the Bandit 1200 and ZRX1100 are great, but they are long and heavy and usually require serious suspension mods to be really capable back road bandits. The Monster 900 many would argue, is the perfect naked sport oriented bike, but who wants to spend $500+ on a desmo valve adjustment every 6000 miles? Plus, just ask the Duc dealer – they need pipes and a jet kit to clean up the lean carbs and you are looking at $11000+ out the door, when I could get a R1, ZX9, 929, GSXR strip off the plastic and kick the hell out of the monster while saving over a thou.
I have heard rumors of the potentially new Honda VTX800 costing in the $8000 range – who would spend this while the SV650 is sub-$6000? Additionally, this 800 twin is appealing to a different group than the typical 600 buyer, but if I was looking at the bang-for-the-buck analysis, the new 600’s have plenty of torque, especially for their weight, and for the same money it would be a tough call.
My two cents, Honda or Suzuki, take that sweet 996 liquid cooled reliable twin from the TLS and/or VTR and jam it into a nice ergo friendly naked or mini-faired package with decent suspenders and nice rubber, DON”T de-tune, KEEP the 6 speed trans and sell it for $8499. In other words, do what Cagiva is doing with the Raptor, but keep the price down a bit. Or, bring the Hornet here, just for a model year or two. If it doesn’t sell, OK, but at least I’d have one :)”
“In your article “Jet Lag”, you mention the need for a big-bore single, that’s light, nimble and is comfortable. What about the Suzuki Savage? It’s a 650 single that seems to fit that description. Suzuki has been producing it for 15 years or so I think. I suppose it sells okay, but people think of it as a lady’s bike or a starter bike.”
“I wish one of the big four would build a bike along the lines of the
Ducati Supersports. The current 600’s and 750’s are just too powerful for me
and I would like a V-Twin around 650-800 on a fully faired sportbike.”
“I absolutely agree with you about the niche market. I had an R-1 and
loved the motor, the handling, brakes, etc. but I just got tired of
riding to the canyons all hunched over. When I asked the dealer to get
me a set of bar risers, he scoffed and said, “this is a race bike.” Oh.
Well, tying up 10 grand in a bike that I could ride at track day maybe
four times a year (if I was lucky) was not economically sane. On the
other hand, if I had been able to ride it even semi-comfortably, I would
not have sold it. (And I don’t think it needs to be retuned for
mid-range torque or anything else, it was ludicrously fast as it sat
from zero rpms to however much I wanted to twist on.) That was its
appeal. I still have the 916 and even with bar risers and a more
comfortable seat, it’s still a sometime thing because of the unpleasant
riding position. You are right: why can’t these dingbat manufacturers
see that there is a market for a light, nimble, go anywhere, fun to ride
sport touring machine that doesn’t weigh 500 lbs and can be fun in the
canyons as well? I thought my T-bird Sport would do it, but it drags
footpegs and the upswept exhaust in spirited riding, and it’s heavy and
has no wind protection to speak of. So I looked into the Ducati ST2 and
-4 and when I saw what they wanted for a marginally comfortable, detuned
sport tourer ($14,000+!) I bowed out. The bottom line is, all street
motorcycles are supposed to be: fast, powerful, nimble, lightweight and
at least semi-comfortable with the ability to take trips, cruise the
mountains, amble down a dirt road without falling over, pack a friend,
carry a reasonable amount of baggage (or, at least, a weekend’s worth)
and still be a hoot to ride. Believe it not, my little vertical twin
Kawasaki W650 does 90% of that (it’s not powerful on acceleration but
will cruise all day at 90 and get 45 mpg). With a Corbin seat and and
small windshield, it’s even comfortable.”
“I agree with you 100%. I wish the Jap manufacturers would put a big bore
motor in a SV650 type chassis and give the rider the option (a concept
unknown by Jap manufacturers except Suzuki with the DRZ400 electric
start and kick start) to add hard bags and a wind screen by the OEM.
Like BMW!! I don’t care if the bike is 7-8K just give me what i want.
How about an SV650 motor in a dual sport DRZ-400 chassis. Suzuki version
of a Cagiva Grand Canyon. Cagiva was smart enough to take the TL1000
motor and put it in thier bike.
When you make big money innovation disappears and everything revolves
around protect what you have instead of being innovative (KTM). I do
give Yamaha credit because they put attorneys at the bottom of the food
chain where they belong and their management does have a small pair of
stones. Honda does appear to be making an effort to not get left behind
but the are the most chicken shit. even though they have excellent
engineers and deep pockets.
Anyway i like your writng style and opinions. When i read your article i
usually think to myself that is what i would write if i was and editor.
Your love of motorcyling comes through. Ride hard and smart!!”
“As to your query, I think the “Bigger Better Buell” is a market waiting to be
tapped. Suzuki’s Bandit is a great start, but a little small – where’s its
big brother? Honda should look at PUNCHING OUT the VTR motor instead of
sleeving it to create the next (on the money, this time) Superhawk.
And Yamaha’s MT-01? One can only hope. Buell has a fantastic concept – big,
torquey twin in a light, nimble chassis, with ergonomics to fit us Drew Carey
wannabees. Only problem is, Mr. Buell felt it imperative to source American,
and was locked into a forty year old paint shaker of an engine which
struggles to tear itself in half every revolution. Vibration (“Pulse”, in
Yamaspeak) is a Very Good Thing, but in the right dose.”
“What american motorcyclists want is what they can have. What they don’t want is what they already have or have had. Bikes like the Hawk, Zepher, GSF1100, CB1000, GSF400, Transalp, TDM850, have all been failures, although they were all great bikes.
To have great, all-purpose streetbikes in th eUSA, we need a “culture of motorcycling” like European countries have. There, people ride year round, every day. They need dependable, fun, multi-purpose machines. Here, we’re very hung up with niches, because, let’s face it, for 95% of American motorcyclists, the motorcycle is a toy, and a 4-ton sport-ute is the daily driver.
Great idea for the sport-tourer, BTW, but isn’t Yamaha supposed to come out with one? And isn’t that kind of what the Sprint and ST4 are about?
I agree with you though, I’d love to see a japanese street thumper, or better, an F650R- that great Rotax motor in a nicely styled, lightweight BMW package. That would be great!”
“Why not take a big-bore sportbike, such as a Yamaha R-1 or Kawasaki’s ZX-9R, for instance, relax its ergonomics a bit (higher bars and lower pegs), give it a slightly larger fairing for better wind protection, tune the motor for a bit more low end and mid-range torque, and put some attractive, removable, hard saddlebags on it? Voila! Instant cutting-edge sport tourer.
It seems intuitively obvious to me. Are the manufacturer’s looking at bikes like the Ducati ST4 or Triumph Spint ST to see how these fare in the marketplace ? Seems like the other mfgrs could undercut the Ducati price by a couple thousand and still end up with the same or even higher performance solution. These bikes are even safer on the street too via rider being more visible to cars (helmet is higher due to less lean) and the rider able to see with the increased height.
I don’t get it. I would just love to see an interview with representatives from the top three mfgrs and see what their response is to these questions. They must know something we don’t.”
“The manufacturers are ignoring the market for an emissions legal direct fuel
injected 500 cc two-stroke V-twin sportbike.”
“Yeah, give me a RC51 thats made to ride all day long, saddle bags, the works!
I too cant figure out why these MC manufactures think everyone who might
ride all day, on long trips, would not want a high horsepower good
handling bike. All we get is heavy, slow, poor handeling sleds. Bring on
the good stuff.”
“About the article labeled ‘Jet Lag’ , I for one, agree with you 100%. I would
love to see more naked bikes and big bore singles! Right now I am thinking a
DRZ400s with more street-oriented tires (ala Michelin Sirac) and possibly
some suspension changes to go with it, might just be the ticket I am looking
“You know, I’ve been waiting for 10 years for a Japanese 4 cylinder with the
characteristics you describe, plus shaft drive as a bonus.
I sent letters to anyone that wanted or not to hear, I talked to dozens of
people in the business begging to ask for a sit up tourer. All you see is
these race and “track” crap, with these ridiculous color and graphics,
suitable for teenagers or older trying to “live” the adventure and feel young
again, but zero knowledge of what a comfortable regular performance
motorcycle is, of truly enjoying motorcycling and all that comes along with
Money is the ONLY thing the manufactures care, and they think they learn from
the past. Honda used to be able to create a market. Now they are all doing
the same, with most resources concentrated in racing. You are correct about
Chrysler as well.
The 2 big motorcycle magazines here in the US don’t do much about it either;
racing is the only thing they care. “Standars” are seen as “beginner”
motorcycles, and are seldom reviewed.
Just like a girl that one pursues forever, finally one simply looses interest
if it doesn’t happen.
I’m so pissed they didn’t do it I just don’t care anymore, bought a VFR800
and be done with it.
My money is no longer going to motorcycle manufacturers/dealers, or even
American moto rags. Just “Bike” from England to keep the extinguishing flame
“One of the things I’d love to see the bike manufacturers do is adjustable
ergonomics. I love sport bikes but I’m getting older and the pain of riding
is getting higher and higher. I’d love to see an R1 with adjustable clip-ons
and adjustable rear-sets. Imagine, raising the bars and lowering the pegs on
the drone to the twisties and then stopping for a couple of minutes to lower
the bars and raise the pegs. Ahh, heaven… :)”
“I spent several hours aboard a TL-R not long ago, and while it didn’t fire me up in it’s de-
signed role as sport bike, it did have me thinking…what a great VFR competitor Suzuki could
have by stretching the wheelbase some, relaxing the ergos, and adding fairing coverage. Do
remap the torque curve too, it’d still have hell-a strong top-end! The thing’s a bit lost out there
right now, and such a model could appeal. How hard could it be to make it more attractive than
an ST Duc?”
“Two new bikes that would be hot sellers:
- Lightweight twin. New Honda HawkGT to compete with the SV650. This shouldn’t be too hard. They’ve probably got the most experience with twins. A LIGHT (375lb. or less) bike with a 4-valve 599cc or 650cc twin making about 65-70hp would kick butt. Make it a naked bike, with provisions for mounting bodywork later. They could use the CBR600F3 forks, and if they’re too cheap to design a new frame, use the old Hawk one as a starting point. It would be great if they designed a 599cc motor that was overbuilt, allowing it to be easily bored out and tweaked; think of Harley with their 883 Sportster. I say that because it would then allow the bike to be marketed to beginners (who would keep it stock) and to racers who would want more power. Plus, since the insurance companies usually give quotes based on displacement, being a 599cc would make it cheaper to insure. Give it slightly more fuel than the original for longer range. And most important, keep the single-sided-swingarm!!! It’s what separates the bike from all the other Japanese bikes. Finally, it would also have to be cheap…say $6000. Kawasaki could also make a decent lightweight twin by basically giving the EX500 decent frame, forks, and wheels and by upgrading the motor a little.
- Lightweight single. Above all else, make it LIGHT…325lbs or less. Give it a 599cc 4-valve (5-valve for Yamaha?) motor making 50hp…leave enough meat in the cylinder to bore it to at least 750cc. Again, make sure the motor is very overbuilt so racers and the power-hungry can build on it. An underseat exhaust would be pretty neat. Give it a great chassis! Handling and light weight will be its selling points. Like the bikes described above, market it as a beginner bike, with lots of potential for upgrading for the racers. Make it cheap…I’d say $5000.”
“I have a 1983 Honda V45 with the Hondaline fairing and bags.
In looking at the market today I dont see a bike that will do the job
a lot better and most dont fit me ( 5′ 7″ 165#). Your suggestion for a
sport tourer may produce one for me. Also have a 1986 Yamaha SRX 6 for local rides and a 1973 RD 350
so I dont forget the smell and rush of a good 2 stroke.”
“I’m with you on the ridiculuos nature of GP-like ergonomics for street bikes.
Current sport bikes are so uncomfortable that for the last couple of years I have sat on the sidelines as
new models rolled out. I am currently riding a VFR 800 (with helibars) and
previously rode a VFR 750 (also with helibars). I would have liked a ZX9, ZX12,
or CBR929 – but no way with the current seating positions.
To add insult to injury, the ZX9 has those ridiculous fairing stays which
decrease the space between bars and fairing, only allowing a minimal helibar
treatment . The CBR929 has the bars so close to the fairing that another only
minimal helibar effect is possible. The ZX12 may benefit the most from helibars
– but it will still be a long reach on such a big, long bike.
If these toys came with an optional higher bars / lower pegs option, one would
be in my garage right now. I would hope at least the manufacturers would at
least in the future design the bikes with longer cables (to accomodate maximum
helibar treatment), more bar to fairing clearance, and adjustable rearsets.
That way, those of past the boy racer / poser stage could by one of these toys
and make the ergonomics more reasonable.
I guess I’ll have to wait for the VFR900 – if it ever comes. I know the
helibars guys will come through on this bike as well.”
“I was glad that you (essentially) agreed with my last letter, even though
you may not have had time to read it: an R1 based Sport-Tourer, with
relaxed ergos, but with the Barn-Burner capabilities of the sportier unit,
would satisfy a lot of demand out there…..I in fact think that this would
not be a “niche” at all, but a widely sold configuration.
I will pause and say that you are so right: there seems to be very little
market survey data compiled.
I say this because almost EVERY rider in my age group (45+) say they would
own this or that bike, but the “bars are too low” or the “pegs are too
I heard this a lot at Sears last week, as I attended the Sonomafest rides
and most of the guys were older than 35….we are the group who have made
enough money to take a week off (mostly self employed and have some cash and
I also agree that a real street capable (FAST!!) DP bike would be great.
I have a single cyl DR650 and I am seeking ways to increase the
horsepower…..it is just anemic, that’s all.
Finally a new entry: how about a light weight TOURING bike. All of the
entries (I think that this is true) are weighing in at over 550 pounds.
How about a Beemer or Goldwing that actually is lighter weight, and has
fixed compartments and other accessories where the engineers actually spent
some time on weight reduction.
I own a Goldwing, because that’s the only bike that will persuade my wife to
ride with me. That bike is so damned heavy, that almost every time I take
it out, I am caught by surprise with an off balance situation….”Oops” is
the feeling as I catch the sucker before it goes over on its side….I have
dropped it once, at 1 mph and it was a struggle to get that behemoth back up
from its side (there’s a technique, but I hate practicing it).
Anyway, great set of articles on bikes beyond today, Sir!”
“You really hit the nail on the head
What about a big-bore, single-cylinder streetbike with comfortable
ergonomics, light weight, and nimble handling. Seems like something easily
doable by several manufacturers, and at a low price to boot. Aside from dual
sport bikes that are not designed to perform well on the street, big-bore
singles have been ignored. Why? Our own reader response indicates there is
very significant demand for such a bike (with more performance than Buell’s
When I look around, all I see are racer-replica’s and cruisers! In
fact it takes a little looking to even find a dealer brave enough to bring a
Dual-Sport into his dealership for fear of having it sit for a year or
Most of my riding buddies have succumbed to the cruisers-me-too cool
marketing schemes of the Boomer-codgers trying to find a piece of there
childhood in some chrome-dipped behemoth!
I myself am the odd-ball single cylinder (EX-honda) fanatic, who has been
enlightened enough to find that rare bike in today’s market that is truly an
all-around gem no matter what type of riding I want to do—The Kawasaki
KLR650! This terrifically functional machine has not been redesigned
since it’s ’87 introduction!?
What gives!? Every year we are “treated” to ALL NEW! Cruisers an road
rockets that are at a disadvantage to my lowly KLR when versatility is
brought into the equation!!!
I had high hopes for the Buell Blast, I foresaw a ROTAX 652cc Liquid-cooled
monster…..little did I know corporate types didn’t want some “little
single” that would out-perform the Sportster line-up!!!
My hope is that the buying public will collectively come to their senses an
stop buying image over substance!”
“I hoped that Honda’s ‘domination’ was going to take effect….but alas, I think they are not ready yet. They need to look at Chrysler and the reason they have come to such prominence is their innovations. Their products are not that great, but being the cutting edge has made their sales phenominal. Honda could get the initial sales boom like Chrysler AND follow it up with enough substance to keep people buying Honda. They need a cruiser in the 1600cc range, V-twin, classic style, and 110 HP. They need a naked bike along the lines of the SV650 in a 700-750 size. They need a 500cc beginners bike to be used in the MSF program that comes with a discounted purchase on that bike for graduates. They need to set up more dealers. They need to not undercut their segments of the market now (I ride a Valkyrie and there is lots of talk on the new 1800 being way different). My $.02 anyway. Thanks.”
“I agree with you wholeheartedly. REcently MCN (UK) remarked that the
upcoming/projected Yamaha S1 (the nekkid version of the R1) was destined
for the US since we here were more concerned with style and comfort.
[Their words, not mine!]
I replied that I didn’t think that was the case as in Europe, Yamaha has
at least a half-dozen or more faired and unfaired “standards” and naked
sportbikes that are NOT imported to the US; the implication being why
would Yamaha import the S1 when it is missing the boat on the other
bikes they manufacture. In fact, the only “standard” from Yamaha
available here is the VMAX. (Yuck.)
Those who DO import standards and naked sportbikes here to the US seem
to do quite well: Kawasaki seems to be able to sell every ZRX1100 it
can produce, and the ZR-7 should prove quite popular. Suzuki does quite
well with the SV650 (just TRY to buy one!) as well as their bandits.
It seems that Honda and Yamaha just do not get it. Where are the X11
and the Fazers (2 models), XJ Series (5 models)? They are not selling
here, that’s where they are.
Parenthetically, in addition to their “nekkidness”, these bikes tend to
have more reasonable seat heights, making them available to those of us
who are female or who are inseam-challenged.”
“You just described my ZRX 1100! (without the bags and windshield, many available aftermarket). This bike renewed my passion for motorcycles last year.
I have ridden for 30 years and to be honest was getting a bit board with it. I liked the performance of the FZ’s and the CBR F2 I had but, their just plain uncomfortable and, you have to have them redlined to enjoy the power. All that was well and good when I was 20 years old but now days I’m not as flexible and don’t the thought of way to high insurance with the tickets that go along with redlined bikes on the street.”
“I’ve thought about Harley’s more recent popularity and what may be some of the factors behind the success. There are perhaps any number of reasons for Harley’s growth in the market but I got to thinking about the naked bike issue. I have an old Honda full-line sales brochure from either ’69 or ’70. It takes me back to times of my youth but one thing struck me hard. All the bikes had their engines out in full sight for one’s eyes to feast upon. I remember going down to the Honda shop and looking over the engines of all the bikes on the floor. I loved engines, I loved how they smelled, how they sounded and of course the visuals they lent to the bike’s overall look.
Today we either have cruisers which do show their engines and take us back to an earlier styling theme but also in most cases take us back to lower performance levels or we have the wrapped up sportbikes. I believe that sportbikes have become too narrow focused and people are looking for a greater visual treat. I think that has helped Harley and I believe we need more of that in the industry. I have a book on the history of Japanese motorcycles and one picture in it comes to mind that backs up my thoughts. In it is a picture of a late ’80’s Kawasaki Zepher that I found quite striking because of its visceral looks. Remember the original CBX? Same thing. Who could ignore that motor? Today I have to look hard to tell specifically which Ninja model I might see. They all look so very much alike. The central theme of a MOTORcycle is the MOTOR. Why hide it and cover it up? Beautify it and glorify it.”
“I own a 2000 ZRX and a 1984 Nighthawk 700S…….perhaps a naked bike by
today’s standards but a “fancy-pants” when it came out 16 years ago??
The hawk has all the req’mnts for a naked bike…..bikini fairing,
sporty styling as in “muscular”, enough grunt for blvd to freeway rides,
etc. I also owned a 1983 CB1100F….very similar to the hawk……lots
of power. The ZRX is fantastic…..lots of power, good looks…….could
use a softer seat, 6 speed, maybe a clock and/or digital gear indicator.
The hawk feels like a “cruiser” after riding the ZRX……higher bars
and foot pegs…..waaaaaay soft seat.I don’t understand why the Honda CB1000 of the early to mid 90’s did not
catch on?? Maybe too early??”
Thank you readers for taking the time to send me your comments.