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Tokyo Motor Show Concepts Point to Merger of Motorcycles and Scooters: MD Reader Responses Part One

We asked readers to respond to the scooter concepts presented at the Tokyo Motor Show, some of which were shown in our article dated October 20, 2003. Here are some of those responses, unedited.

  • If they scream, are great on gas, and handle well, they’ll sell.

  • I believe that this is proof once again that, while there is no lack of creative juices flowing in the road bike industry, the street bike industry has no interest in me as a customer. I want a bike that weighs less. I don’t have any interest in bikes that weigh over one hundred pounds more than a heavy dirt bike. The repackaging of some overweight bikes will continue to be ignored by me ’till I can no longer get plates for dirt bikes/supermotos. Some States don’t allow that sort of thing but others will for a long time to come. I would rather just buy a bike but I don’t do mediocrity.

  • Most Definitely!

    This is a wonderful trend for us short legged types. I am getting to the
    miserable point of looking at seat height instead of price as a variable to
    new bike choices. All out sport bikes I can understand the trend towards
    higher and higher seat heights because of the geometry involved in getting
    the most out of sport bikes. But please! Now all the new model Naked or
    Standard bikes are following suit with the tail in the air motif. Look at
    the wonderful FZ1 at 32″, ZRX1200R at 31.5″, Z1000 at 32″, 919/599 at 31.1
    and so on. Give us short guys and gals more options on fast maneuverable
    bikes and allow us the pleasures of getting off cruisers. I know exactly
    what you’re going to say “Get your short ass on a Ducati”. But is that it,
    is that our only option other than cruisers?

    Quick fixes such as shaving the seat cushion, “T-Boning” the suspension,
    and shorter shocks make radical changes to the geometry and unless precisely
    done can cause harm to you or the bike. I truly wish I could afford the
    $30,000 for one of Dan Gurney’s creations, however, if this trend for lower
    longer bikes does catch on I might just be able to eventually afford it when
    Honda or Kawasaki produces them in mass numbers. As a bicycle rider I
    laughed at the Recumbents until I took one out for a spin. Now even Huffy
    started mass producing them.

    Please, you guys in the industry have the manufacturers ear. Let them know
    that we need to start lowering present day models or manufacturing these
    types of machines.

  • I would be more interested in big scooters if they had optional
    luggage-either saddlebags or trunk bags. Also larger fuel tanks for
    greater range. Not personally into sound systems. Just my $0.02
    worth.

  • First: THANKS for the great website!!!

    I really like the Japanese concepts, especially the Griffon. I feel this model, with a smooth and relatively compact flat-4 placed mid-way between the wheels, a very low cg, and useful weather protection, would be a beneficial replacement for the recently-discontinued, stodgy-looking old Honda designs. I’m afraid it might be seen as too progressive / scooter-like for the U.S. market, though (where most riders seem to be trying a bit too hard to prove their masculinity).

  • While you’ll undoubtedly receive a lot of mail complaining about scooters, please ignore those xenophobic relics. Let these narrow-minded closet cases argue about whether the 1937 Indian Chief had a cadmium-plated screw or a chromium-plated screw on its carburetor float bowl drain screw. These individuals, God bless them, are irrelevent and are best ignored.

    Everyone who has ridden the new breed of scooters, at least everyone who is comfortable with his or her sexuality, loves them, and with good reason. They are comfortable, fun, and practical. I know for a fact I could smoke a lot of posers on R1s and GSX-Rs on a tight racetrack with a Silver Wing.

  • To attract more people over to two wheels these large scooter things are a good idea. 250cc is no good though cause to be practical they will have to keep up with freeway traffic. Perhaps something to cover your head for protection from the weather would be a good idea, we definatly need something like this to ease traffic conjestion.

  • I LIKE the concept myself. I just hope they make some for 2up & able to carry stuff for touring.

  • Honda Griffon looks bad ass, I’d be happy to own one. I don’t like the low riding Suzuki G-Strider or the Honda scooter look-alike Yamaha Mabris.

  • Great site – I usually read it during my lunch. I like your unbiassed reports – you appreciate all forms of bikes and are not hung up on the latest, most powerful releases.
    Keep up the good work.

    My throughts about morphs:
    Anything that will encourage more people onto the roads on a motorcycle is a great thing.
    Like the idea of better weather protection.
    CVT’s – like the idea – I’d have one no worries. (with a preprogrammed manual change for when I want to feel like a racer/dork)
    I have no real problems with the smaller wheels.
    I’ll sure take a test ride on any that are released in Oz.

    I guess the manufacturers will have to figure out who would buy one and if they can gain acceptance with current riders. Tricky marketing exercise.
    The “superscooters” have not sold well here. Like your nation, what we actually buy are dreams – (i.e. 4×4’s sell by the bucketload here – not many go off road).
    Anyway, I’m all for ‘em.
    See ya and keep up the great work.

  • The new movement towards high displacement, automatic transmission, scooter ergo motorcyclcles is inevitable. These new type scooters never replace the core motorcycle, but they will bring more riders into motorcycleing, which the sport needs. Motorcycling has to go mainstream if it is to remain a viable alternative means of transportation and these types of machines will be a good bridge to those people who see motorcycles as too dangerous or too lifestyle oriented. It’s just more pussification of the world. Don’t make it fast or theatening, and the public just might sop it up. The suzuki doesn’t remind me so much of the Gurney Alligator as it does the bike from Akira.

  • Looks to me like two wheeled transport for the masses, and a cool remedy for single occupant urban gridlock, not to mention the potential environmental benefits. Might even sharpen up poor driving skills/habits of half the driving public out behind the wheel today (no cocoon, leading to fuller awareness to ensure self preservation).

    Perhaps the concept’s time has come. Very 21st century. These machines wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars
    movie. I like ‘em, and have a particular fascination for the G-Strider. Can’t decide between it and the Guzzi Breva 1100.
    If Suzuki offers the G-Strider with optional front wheel drive, I’ll buy two.

    Thank you for a very excellent service and superb, outstanding photography. Much appreciated.

  • I might watch too much sci-fi, but if they made a low-slung two-wheeled
    upright sitting performance vehicle that handled, I’d think that’d be
    great. I’m not a fan of automatics–never even ridden a scooter–but I’m
    sure automatics they have their place. Something kinda like that Suzuki
    G-Strider with bigger wheels and a lower seat is what I’m thinking.
    Don’t really know though, maybe it’s too concept and the physics of it
    wouldn’t actually work for performance.

  • I don’t think these will catch on in the US, at least not in a big way. Motorcycles in the US are not sensible transportation; they are recreation, fueled by dreams of looking like Captain America and Billy, or Valentino Rossi or maybe Mat Mladin or possibly Ricky Gadson. Bikes that don’t look cool, bad, and dangerous don’t sell well in a land where you can buy a running car for a few hundred dollars. Making it even less likely that these will catch on is that they look like they have been bombarded with ugliness rays by orbiting space aliens. Especially the Honda. (The Suzuki looks like a cool ride, though. The Yamaha is the best looking, but the engine is too little).


    It’s really too bad. Just think of how much better off we would all be if every biz-commuter fatass driving to work in a Lincoln Navigator traded it in for one of these.

  • I think it’s great! With computers, automatic transmissions, anti-lock, anti-spin and other technology, Americans will get super scooters that will satisfy an unmet demand in this country- nimble, clean, powerful, fast, simple-to-ride scooters that non-motorcyclists will consider as an alternative to the current 3-ton SUV.


    I know a lot of motorcyclist bash scooters, but scooter-bashers suck. Their snobbishness is just as bad as the attitudes that have vilified motorcycles as practical alternative transportation in this country for the last 40 years. Better they ride scooters than driving their gas-guzzling, space wasting, congestion-causing behemoths, watching TV while eating lunch and talking on a cell phone.


    I would love to have a scooter as fast and light as my F2 with automatic tranny, space for my helmet under the seat and a nice comfy seat for the spouse. As I age, my knees and wrists can’t take too many miles on a sportbike, and riding across San Francisco becomes agony as you shift 3 or 6 times a block.


    900cc v-twin sport scooter? YEAH!

  • I’ll get right to the point…I actually LOVE the look of those motorcycle/scooter hybrids! They remind me of the legendary cartoon Akira. I do like the Honda Griffon and especially the Suzuki G-Strider more than the Yamaha, though. The styling is better, plus they have much bigger motors.
    One thing I wonder…is it possible for them to create a manual/automatic tranny, like what is in a lot of cars now?

  • I am intrigued by the trend of motorcycle/scooter hybrid and ever since I
    saw the first Suzuki Bergman thought the future would be in the touring
    world because the longer wheelbases and lower centers of gravity would be
    beneficial in this group. I don’t think sportbike riders like myself will
    ever trade in the traditional style for a sit-back and ride through the
    twisties; however, once the motorcycle makers start getting bigger engines
    (2 you show pictures of), I think the American public will be more willing
    to accept the style as long as they still have some performance.

    PS- Keep up the great work, I thoroughly enjoy the web-site and count on
    “Motorcycledaily” to keep me abreast of the latest motorcycle news.

  • The Griffon and G-Strider look excellent. The G-Strider does take its cues
    from the Alligator, but I suspect you may receive emails comparing it to the
    bike from the anime Akira! The Griffon is a really impressive and shapely
    concept. I know it would become more pedestrian if it approached production,
    but even so, the concept itself is sound, and even very appealing. Granted,
    I wouldn’t want one as the only motorcycle, or even the second, but if I had
    three bikes in the stable, the Griffon would be quite welcome in the third
    spot.

    (Right now I’m considering how to fill the first spot with an FZ6, 599, or
    Speed Four, one of which will be my first brand new motorcycle.)

    Please keep bringing us any shots you get from the Tokyo Show, as long as
    they’re more *bike* than *car*.

    Attached is a photo of another recent Honda concept. Not sure what it’s
    called, but it’ll probably be at the Tokyo show as well.

  • Great looking concepts, especially the Suzuki, but I am afraid that the
    “scooter” image will still stick to them and kill them in this market.
    If people were more open minded, they would find these bikes an
    absolute hoot. I rode a 125cc Aprilla this summer and it was a great
    throwback experience. All the bike I’d need in the city. But too pricy,
    and too fey.

  • Interesting piece. I’ve always wondered why Europe gets the latest styles and seem to lead us with new trends.
    Could it be that we are too stuck in a groove? A V-twin cruiser groove (namely HD)?
    Sometimes I wish I lived over there just to sample more original thought.

  • What I think you’ll see happen is that more people will get into the sport because of these machines, but will that be a good thing? Probably not. I think these machines will attract the “cup holder” SUV crowd who will not take the time to learn how to ride properly and will therefore be involved in many more accidents.

  • I think the trend to more “super” scooters is a good one. This opens up the motorcycling world to a wider variety of people, plus, from what I’ve heard, the things are great fun. The more people that are out there having fun on two wheels, the better for the sport/lifestyle as a whole.

  • I think they are cool. I’m sure there will be some haters out there but rest assured haters, the motorcycle is here to stay. I particularly like the Honda design. I bet the thing goes like mad in the twisties and on the way to work. Not sure about the auto trans though. But it really looks like practical art work, I wouldn’t be ashamed to have in my driveway.

  • The more the merrier I say. I love the look of the Zuk and Honda. Scooters make sooooo much sense in a city environment. Easy to use, move around on, some storage and still fun. The only problems are the ones all cyclists face and that is cars, busses, trucks, etc..

  • I thought Dan Gurney was out of his mind when I saw the Alligator for
    the first time. I never thought any motorcycle company would head in
    that direction. Now that Suzuki has the G-Strider, I see that I was
    mistaken. I say “Bring it on!” and let us experience what Gurney has
    been enjoying for all of these years… and make it affordable, unlike
    Gurney’s ‘gator.

    I know a lot of people out there will probably say that these
    motorcycle/scooter things aren’t real motorcycles. I believe that
    anything that gets more people on two wheels is a good thing. There are
    those people out there who can’t, or don’t want to manually shift and
    the motorcycle/scooter hybrids are the perfect combo for them. You
    probably won’t find one in my garage anytime soon but when the carpal
    tunnel syndrome kicks in eventually, I wouldn’t mind having an automatic
    to ride.

    Yamaha may want to step out of the ’80s and into the ’00s though. That
    friggin’ Mabris is one ugly beast.

  • I would never have become a motorcyclist 42 years ago had it not
    been for “non-terrifying” scooters. I rode a Lambretta for a year, and have
    been Through at least 35 motorcycles since, with 5 in the garage at this
    moment.

    I welcome the trend/evolution of two wheeled vehicles. Each type has
    it’s own advantages. The automatic transmission gives me pause, however. My
    wife’s first street bike was a Suzuki automatic. I couldn’t get used to the
    feeling that one was still putting power to the drive system with the
    throttle closed. I really feel comfortable with engine breaking. Both of my
    dirt bikes are four strokes, so I may just be an obstinate old-timer on that
    score.

  • Scooters are very popular worldwide for commuting.
    The trend towards larger and faster scooters inevitably leads to hybrids.
    I can’t see how customers could prefer auto trans on a fast bike. I’d think that it
    would be dangerous if the auto trans upshifted mid-corner, for example.
    Do the mega-scooters use a shift-lockout button?

  • I like em. The Alligator is too much money, so for us guys in the trenches, something like the Suzuki might fit the bill. If you can start thinking outside the box, then the whole realm of motorcycles is likely to become much more interesting.

  • This is a great trend, and I hope the scooters exhibited at the Tokyo show become production vehicles.
    Motorcycle design of late has been more evolutionary than revolutionary; the introduction of scootercycles is a breath of fresh air. I own a HD Softtail, and recently drove a Honda Silverwing and an Aprilia Atlantic. Both were wonderful! I expect to add a scooter to my fleet for fun and convenient urban and suburban trips.

  • I like the new generation of Scooterbikes but think they will have a tough going here in the states. Just like the old Yamaha Vision, SR500, RZ350, etc. small unusual bikes do not go over well here. I personally don’t need or want a bigger bike. The Honda Griffon looks really nice although I would need a place to put my feet :>). I had several of the bikes I listed above and now own a 89 GT647 Hawk which I love. It is the perfect combo of weight and power for me. I ride a lot of back roads in western Washington and the great roads up near St Helens. These new scooterbikes would be a blast up there although the guys on there Ducks and RC51’s might not talk to you at the dinner and that’s where the major problem is. It is not that the scooterbikes are not incredibly good it is the social outcasting which is a big part of the motorcycle riding experience that would be the issue. I would imagine looking at these things that the center of gravity would be extremely low. That coupled with the long wheel base and auto tranny I bet I could hang with my hawk.

  • A motorscooter is a type of motorcycle with several of the following design elements:
    1. A step thru frame.
    2. Bodywork enclosing the engine and providing rider proctection.
    3. An engine below and/or behind the rider.
    4. Small wheels.
    5. An automatic or semi-automatic transmission, or a manual transmission designed to be convient to shift.

    There are no hard and fast rules as to which or how many of these elements are required before a motorcycle is considered to be a motorscooter, and there have always been hybrid models that are hard to categorize. Fun fact: both the world’s first commercially sucessful motorcycle, the Hildebrand & Wolfmueller of 1894, and the world’s most popular motorcycle, the Honda Super Cub, were hybrid motorbike/motorscooter designs.