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Hybrids for Sale

With the introduction of Yamaha’s new Road Star Warrior, I began to think about something that should have been fairly obvious to me long ago. Instead of trying to categorize every new motorcycle, we should simply accept that motorcycle manufacturing is moving away from categories altogether.

Think of television stations. With the introduction of cable TV years ago, and, more recently, satellite television, we now have hundreds of television programs to choose from. Programs that satisfy every niche, every nook and cranny of American interest. Channels dedicated to dogs, travel, weather, home shopping, surfing, etc.

These television producers are looking for that niche of viewers that is unsatisfied with current offerings, and then quickly filling it. Of course, the cost of entry is different — making a T.V. show for a cable television station is probably cheaper than manufacturing a new motorcycle line (probably, but not certainly).

Well, Honda’s VTX1800 power cruiser, albeit ground breaking in the engine department, nevertheless stays in the cruiser category fairly securely. Yamaha’s Road Star Warrior does not. The Warrior employs, according to Yamaha, sportbike suspension and wheels, sportbike brakes and a sportbike-inspired aluminum frame. What the hell is this?

Sticking a huge, air-cooled 1670cc, pushrod, V-twin into the mix makes this a motorcycle without a category. Or, if you must, a motorcycle that creates its own new category.

But why worry about categories at all? Why do manufacturers spend countless hours and dollars designing the next “sport tourer”, “cruiser”, “luxury tourer”, and so on? Why not just build motorcycles that do things people want them to do, and have the features people want them to have. Okay, its a cliché, but it is called “thinking outside the box”.

I have to admit that Yamaha is pretty good at this “thinking outside the box” thing. Perhaps, there is a lesson for other manufacturers here.

By the way, we will present a meaningfully detailed article on the Yamaha Road Star Warrior soon.