New-bike season is now in full swing with the opening of the Cologne INTERMOT show, one of the largest motorcycle consumer shows in Europe. The biggest story is a pair of new GSX-Rs (which are both coming to the USA, hooray!) from Suzuki that Dirck covered yesterday, but there’s also tantalizing news from Ducati, Triumph, Kawasaki and KTM.
Triumph Speed Triple
We showed you some glimpses of the new Speed Triple a few days ago; here’s what the whole bike looks like. As we reported, the frame is all new. It’s got a lighter and slimmer appearance, although the bike’s claimed wet weight has actually crept up to 481 pounds. Rake has also softened, to 22.8 degrees, and the wheelbase has increased by .4 inches to 56.5 inches. The bodywork is also new, as are the headlights — we imagine Speed Triple fans will bemoan the loss of the round lamps, but I think the new ones look good with the optional flyscreen fitted. Without it, they look, um…different. The motor seems largely unchanged, although Triumph claims torque increases by seven percent, to 81 ft.-lbs. at 7500 rpm, along with a modest horsepower increase.
We know this will be a great bike to ride, but it may not be the hit Triumph hopes — these days, a bike had better have some ground-shaking new features to get people into showrooms. That may be the job of the yet-to-be-officially announced Tiger 800. There is no word yet on USA pricing, but we’d expect to see the new Speed Triple in dealers in the next few months.
Just so Ducatisti wouldn’t feel left out of the party, Ducati announced the changes to its Superbike lineup. Most notable — aside from the 2011 848EVO, which we told you about in July — is the new 1198 SP. It’s replacing the 1198S and supplanting the 1198R, which is discontinued for 2011. So it’s basically last year’s S model with some race-kit goodies, like a Ducati Performance slipper clutch, aluminum fuel tank and an Öhlins TTX rear shock. Also new is a Ducati Performance quick shifter (called DQS) to smooth full-power shifting. The good news is you get the extras — probably a few thousand bucks worth — for $21,995, just $200 more than the 2010 1198S.
The 1198 keeps its $16,495 pricetag, but it also gets some added goodies. The DQS is standard, as are the Ducati Traction Control and the downloadable data analysis (DDA) feature usually just found on the 1198S. Is it a newly weakend Euro? Or are the folks in Borgo Panigale just in a charitable mood? Who knows? If you’ve been waiting to buy a Ducati superbike, this seems as good a time as any.
Another one for the you-can’t-have-it file. Austrian company KTM announced a learner-friendly streetbike, the Duke 125. You may remember some cute 125 concept bikes from KTM at last year’s Milan EICMA show; this bike looks like it came from the same tree. With a trellis frame, top-notch suspension, and a liquid-cooled, four-valve, 125cc motor producing 15 hp, the little Duke should be just the thing to train young hooligans. We probably won’t see this bike in the USA, but stranger things have happened…
So what else won’t we get? This swanky new take on a retro classic, the Kawasaki W800. It’s basically a bored-out W650 — available in the USA for just a few years and now a collectible cult classic — which was itself a remake of Kawasaki’s venerable W1 from the late 1960’s, that company’s first big four-stroke motorcycle. The W1 was an improvement on the Maguro K model, which was a license-built BSA design. To quote Woody Allen, it all becomes clear when we realize George Eliot was a woman.
Anyway, the W800’s circuitous history doesn’t take away from its interesting and stylish design. It’s nicely finished and dripping with cool touches like the bevel-drive four-valve head, spoked aluminum wheels, Smiths-ish instruments and gaiter-equipped front fork. A 31-inch seat and 480-pound curb weight should keep it manageable and fun to ride.
So we won’t get it for 2011, but there’s hope; Kawasaki responds to letter-writing campaigns and public demand, so drop Team Green an email or a postcard and let them know if they build it, you may buy.