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What Will Honda’s Next Step Be Towards "Industry Dominance"?

I believe Honda spoke about a three-year plan towards “industry dominance” at last year’s dealer meeting. We have seen some of the fruits of that program, including the all-new Gold Wing, last year’s CBR929RR, the re-designed CBR600F4i, and the big-bore, four-stroke motocross machine now in its development phase (and likely to be in dealer’s showrooms as a 2002 model). What else does Honda have up its sleeve?

The following would best be described as “educated speculation”. The ST1100 is clearly long-in-the-tooth, and Honda’s X-Wing concept (see our previous articles dated October 26, 1999 and October 29, 1999) hints at the direction Honda might be headed for this model. We think the X-Wing is a bit radical for a production model, particularly from conservative Honda. Nevertheless, a v-six powered sport tourer may be in the cards, perhaps as early as next year.

The current VFR800 has been around for several years (and is still a superb bike — we are testing one now), and Honda is undoubtedly looking at changes to this model to keep it at the top of the sport tourer segment. We expect a replacement of this model, but perhaps two years from now (not next year). Larger displacement and, finally, detachable saddle bags would be logical changes.

Interestingly, Honda’s CBR929RR may be due for significant changes in the next model year. Although all-new last year, Suzuki has clearly upped the ante in the open sportbike class with its GSX-R1000, and Honda will be anxious to keep pace with expected updates to Yamaha’s R1 and Kawasaki’s ZX-9R next year. Expect significant modifications, but not an all-new model, next year.

There are still rumors of a middleweight Honda v-twin standard — a spiritual successor to the Hawk GT. Perhaps, next year.

There are undoubtedly other new and revised models in the works, but these are some of the models we are looking for.