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The Slow Death of the Sportbike Market, and Why It is Not a Surprise

We saw an excellent article on the Cycle World website earlier today about the apparent decision by Suzuki to discontinue the iconic GSX-R750 (sales of this model will continue in the U.S. market next year, but European sales have ended thanks to strict emission standards, and the cost of bringing a model into compliance with these new standards when the particular model does not sell well). The fact is that sportbikes, with their radical ergonomics, have continually declined in sales. Sub-1,000cc models might be the most affected by this trend.

Sportbikes still have their place (we have Kawasaki’s excellent 2019 ZX-6R in our test fleet currently), but their popularity for street use has plummeted. As we noted in an article titled “Upright is Alright” more than a dozen years ago, street performance is not hampered, in general, by upright, comfortable ergonomics. You can take a look at our recent article about the importance of rider skill versus motorcycle specifications, as well.

For years, we (and our readers) complained about the fact that state-of-the-art engines and components (including suspension and brakes) only appeared on radical sportbikes … not on the more comfortable, upright, standard machines. That is no longer the case, of course, so a rider can enjoy the benefits of new technology on a comfortable mount.

Another factor might be the decline in the fascination with road racing. Do you want to pretend you are Valentino Rossi when you climb aboard your street bike? That may have been a bigger factor in consumer decisions years ago.

In any event, the rise in popularity of more upright motorcycles, including Adventure models, has largely squeezed out sportbikes … to the point that Suzuki has discontinued development of one of the most important models in its history.

204 Comments

  1. Artem says:

    It is really strange that nobody byes Gikser

  2. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    OK . Gotta say. As much as I like motorcycles of the standard type, deep inside I have always wanted a sport bike for the ‘supposed’ aerodynamic efficiency. Cornering and speed are nice but for me the aerodynamics interested me the most. Gotta be some way to go supersonic on 100 horsepower, and get 75 mpg. Two problems. Can not bend like a pretzel, and with the exception of the Hyabusa the aerodynamics are an illusion. Styling rules much of motorcycle design and certainly proper aero. I am amazed how butt poor the efforts of the manufacturers are with all the tools they have. Consider just the windscreens. Most do not parallel the airflow at the trailing edge, and all are too far from the rider thereby developing turbulence and wasting energy. Some now provide back pressure, but often with fake NACA ducts. The edges of which must be a sharp angle to induce vortex airflow. All bumps, edges grooves or whatever other than a simple straight waterline, make pressure variances that cause drag. It just could be MUCH better without going to dustbin fairings. Had a SL650 and saw a reduced manifold pressure at a steady state load and speed on the freeway by just strapping on a humongous dufflelbag behind me on the seat. Aerodynamics are free energy. Lust for smooth !

  3. Xracer says:

    I think insurance costs are the big thing (literally). Run a quote as a 25-year-old on a new S1000RR and brace yourself. I moved to ADV bikes 13-15 years ago because I live in a place with terrible, straight roads where riding a pure sportbike is nearly torture. But I noticed something a couple years ago when some odd circumstances led to me briefly owning and “flipping” a Honda 954RR…the motoring public hates sportbike riders! I rode the bike a few times while I had it and even with OEM exhaust, proper riding gear and my old-man riding style, people in cars and even on other types of bikes shot daggers from their eyeballs. The “typical” sportbike rider is apparently a complete a-hole that the public at large is fed up with. I would have ridden the bike more while I had it but honestly I hated the puppy-murderer shade being thrown my way every time I did and I was glad to see it go. Between loud chopper-goons and sportbike antisocial-types, those genre’s have lost the “coolness” factor and when that’s gone, it’s game over.

    • Mike says:

      Cops notice your sports bikes as well. They look and sound fast even when riding slower. Cops don’t look much at standard nakeds but a race replica, yes.
      I even have a big scooter which I have ridden like an idiot in city traffic and it is invisible to cops. Big money savings right there.

      • Xracer says:

        I get away with murder on my DR650. Nobody notices.

        • George K says:

          I’m a relatively a sedate rider, but when I bought my first Dual-Sport it was like I became possessed! I rode it like a demon in traffic and had the most fun you can have on a bike. It was like a personality transition. I then jumped on my Harley and it was back to Mr. Sedate. Biking is way more fun on a DS than on an 800# touring machine. Take my word for it!
          BTW- I’ve never earned a ticket on a Dual-Sport. Stealth mode?🙂

  4. StickyTires says:

    Thank goodness for the Kawasaki Concours 14. A sportbike with comfortable ergos and hard luggage. If you need more power, you should be wearing race leather. Track bikes don’t make sense on the street. Yes, they’re cool as hell, and any rider would love to feel the insane power, but there are many better options when it comes time to pull out the wallet.

  5. Frank says:

    $3,000.00+ insurance premiums put these bikes out of reach of many the young guys who want them.

    • todd says:

      That sounded like BS to me so I had my insurance company give me a quote for a new GSX-R750. $65 per month is nowhere near $3,000 except after four years. I would love to have one of those bikes and the insurance is hardly in the way. I just don’t have a need for one when my other bikes fit the bill for me just fine.

      • TimC says:

        How old are you and what’s your driving record like?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Yes, well $780 per year isn’t exactly a good deal, IMO.

        And you are also 40-ish. Maybe a 19-yo single male who doesn’t own a home on the forum could provide us with some comps. $3K a year might be the high end of things, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see plenty quotes in the $1500 – $2000 range.

      • matt says:

        young guys with just a fZ07 get charged 3000/yr in various districts.

  6. ATBScott says:

    Jeremy for the win!!!
    (Regan, take a spelling / punctuation course. I’m sure Mrs. DeVos offers one).

    • regan says:

      Thanks ATBScott for showing whos bringing politics into this site. It will be interesting to see if this upsets apolitical Jeremy.

  7. Fred says:

    Sports Bikes are the class leaders of Naughty and Nice.
    It will turn full circle given time, Marketing Dept’s will see to that.
    I just read here on Honda Aust. web site that 72 C125 Cub scooters will be on offer come Jan 19,as a tribute to the original one that Mr Honda San made for a good Mate all those years ago.

  8. VFRMANE says:

    I love the way sportbikes look and acknowledge the performance of 1 liter machines is completely

    over the top. We Americans believe if some is good a lot more is better. I plan to ride my VFR

    into the susnset. It’s comfortable to me and looks great. Hard to hear about our shrinking

    demographics but, it is what it is.

    Maybe in 10 years there will be a good looking electric bike that appeals to the masses.

  9. North of Missoula says:

    I am patiently waiting for the death of the cruiser

    • mickey says:

      I’m guessing you’ll go first. Cruisers aren’t going anywhere in this country.

    • Pacer says:

      I think cruisers are going to evolve. Harleys will alway be Harleys (that’s a good thing), but Triumph has figured out how to make their own without coping. Honda and Kawasaki have been doing their part. I hope others add their $.02 as well.

    • Selecter says:

      For what it’s worth (and it may not be much)…

      I’m 39. A standard/ADV/sportbike guy since I started riding in 2004. For a part of the country that generally only has 7, maybe 8 (if you’re willing to ride in 30-40 degree temps) months of good riding weather, I’ve done pretty well in those seasons, averaging 9000 miles on slow years, and 12,000 on good years.

      In 2016, I bought a V-Star 1300. I liked the bike, but sold it to finance a car purchase, when it turns out, I didn’t really need the extra money. So, I bought another last August, a Tourer model. And I can definitely see the draw. Their popularity may decrease, but I doubt they’ll ever truly go away. Somebody somewhere will always want that recumbent seating position and relaxed engine behavior, even at the expense of outright performance or cornering clearance. With the windscreen and bags, it’s an eminently capable daily ride, it gets great fuel economy, it’s low-maintenance, and it is practically free to insure – about $100/year for full coverage. Especially for folks wanting very low seat heights. Which is not me by any stretch (the Super Tenere is my usual dialy rider), but there are countless folks out there where that is an extremely desirable trait, even necessary to some.

      It’s the same reason I doubt sportbikes will every truly die out. They’ll adapt and change with the markets, but count me as one that still finds them really appealing. Although there are some wacky-good sport-standards out there (Tuono, GSX-S1000, Street Triple) of many shapes and sizes, they still don’t put an exact bead on that “feel” – of having all of that weight right over the front tire, and the incomparable feel from the front end that a sportbike gives. The number of offerings will diminish, but there will still be options.

    • Paul says:

      To be replaced with ? I love my 2000 Valkyrie, best bike I have ever owned (30+ bikes).

  10. Kermit says:

    I remember trading my favorite CB900F for a new VF750F in ’83. My first thought was “Damn did I make a mistake?” because the riding position seemed so extreme. Turned out it wasn’t so bad. Few years later bought an ’88 CBR1000 Hurricane. Fast and comfortable. But the love for sportbikes ended with a new 2000 RC51. Just couldn’t do it. Ever since, my eye is on a comfortable do all bike. The UJM, for lack of a better term. Reason for the ’13 CB1100F in the garage right now. And it’s not going anywhere. If bikes are getting away from the radical chiropractor special riding position and everything that goes with it, so be it. Maybe it’s time. It has been a glorious run.

    • Tommy D says:

      I just added a CB1000R “Neo Sports” to my collection for the same reason. I am old enough to remember why everyone wanted a Japanese in-line 4. To remove all the character from twins and smoking 3’s we were riding. The lack of character of the inline 4 with smoothness of an electric drill were once praised. Yes I still have a Ducati in the garage but I think this CB will be around long after the Duc is gone with its character filled psycho manners.

  11. GT08 says:

    The look of sportbike dont help. Now they look like transformer or some kind of aliens. Whit dark color. Theyre simply not fun to look at.
    Remember FZ750 of 87 or 85 Interceptor 500/750/1000, Ninja, Katana 88 to 92, even the first GSXR’S. They had real seat to go ride with girl, good lookin, let’s transpirate modernism over cruiser. They were in movie, (Top Gun Ninja)
    You get stepmother approval.
    Retro being en vogue now. Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha/Kawasaki could redo these bike whit modern touch.
    Suzuki try it wiht the Katana, but miss the mark, at keast thet try. Kawasaki entirely miss it with the Z900RS.
    Try a white & red FZ750 3/4 faired
    Try 750 GSXR color of 1985 or 89 (blue & white)
    All with real seat.
    No need to be top shelph performance
    VW did it for 25 years with the Beetle 2
    Ford did the Mustang 2005
    Be imaginative

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I don’t think any of the bikes you mentioned are good looking bikes. I personally think today’s sport bikes are stunning works of functional art.

      I wouldn’t buy a sport bike because I don’t ride on the track anymore, and there are far better options for street riding. I don’t think looks have anything to do with it.

  12. Buzz W says:

    I’m old enough to remember the intelligentsia INSISTING that H-D come up with a “proper sport bike” or it would be left in the dust because squids wanted sport bikes, not Harleys.

    Turns out, Harley guys mostly stuck with Harley (in smaller numbers) and the squids completely abandoned the scene.

    Of course, Harley did stupidly buy MV Agusta and sold it back for a dollar.

  13. Fred_M says:

    Sport bikes are waning in popularity because bikes with street-focused ergonomics are now being built with motors and suspension that are top-tier.

    The sport bike riding posture exists to promote aerodynamics, which is damned important if you’re racing. But that hunched over riding posture increases fatigue on the road where you don’t have a 150mph headwind taking pressure off your wrists. And the narrow bars, while wind-cheating, result in steering that is heavier than it need be for street use. There are plenty of rider who start out fast on a sport bike when they leave their house and return a few hours later tired and significantly slower.

    • Superlight says:

      I agree that the sport bike riding position makes little sense on public roads, but, then, neither does riding naked bikes at speed, getting windblown in the process. I’ll take a VFR, R1200RS or the SuperSport 939, thank you, which have the look of sportbikes, but not the discomfort.

      • Fred_M says:

        We’re in violent agreement. I want a thoroughly modern sport bike with street ergos and effective wind protection.

        • Ralph W. says:

          Suzuki GSX-S1000? I mentioned it because so many people here complained about its looks. IMO buying a bike is 90% about what it does and only 10% about looks.

          I like riding naked, although only one of my current bikes is.

          • Peter H says:

            The F version is on my list. You can pick up a 2018 for under 10 large, and used for 7. I just want to feel what that kind of power is like.

  14. southbound says:

    Valid points have been made about the modern entry costs into our lifestyle. My first bike was bought new in 1971. A 90cc Kawasaki for $349. The second was a year later, a Honda CB350 for $699. At sixteen I was working enough to get a loan from Household Finance and my payments were $37/mo. A lot has changed, hasn’t it?

    • paul says:

      Your payment in 1972 of $37 would today be a payment of $220 per month, so not much has changed really.

      The CB350 would be about $4150.00 today.

      • Anonymous says:

        That may well be true, but in the 60s I could make that $37 over a weekend or two of pushing my mower around the neighborhood and cutting people’s lawns.

        I did it with ease. You could get a Benelli minibike at your local Sears if there wasn’t a Kawasaki or Honda dealer nearby. Of course a lot of Honda shops were in family owned hardware stores back then. So yeah.

        Things have changed. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. It’s called life.

      • Dave says:

        While that number conversion is compelling as a stand-alone statistic, it doesn’t take into account the differing levels of inflation that have affected everything else.

        As Anonymous points out, $37 back then was a lot less to an individual than $220 is now, add that aspect onto the difference in overall cost of living, and the picture becomes more clear.

    • guu says:

      So how much is a 90cc bike at your local Sears now? Not much I would imagine.

  15. werks says:

    The motorcycle manufacturers are merely experiencing the pattern found by the car industry–big fat Americans don’t want coupes or sedans, they want big fat SUV’s. I’m 5′ 10″, 215 and this big fat American is surprised to hear how uncomfortable my ZX-14r apparently is. Without others telling me, I just don’t notice. Distributing my considerable mass between three points (butt, feet, and hands) is more comfortable than putting it all on my butt. Had cruisers/done that. And I’m told that I’m misusing my Kawa because I don’t ride it at 186 MPH. However, I don’t drive my SEDAN at it’s top speed either. I’m 70 years-old and I rarely (oh, now and then) go over my age in my car or on my bike, but getting to 70 in a few seconds in first gear is a rush like no other.

    Ride what you like. Leave judging to Judy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow. Deja Vu all over again. 😉

    • Bart says:

      Great post werks, couldn’t agree more.

      I still got a sportbike or two. Been riding sportbikes for over 40 years.
      Raced ’em, ran ’em all over, big fun. Owned GSXR’s since ’85. I am a lucky dog.

      But yeah, I look for the comfy fast ride on the street more now, done with low bar street bikes.

      But still, like you, I lived in the golden age of GSXRs and so on, no regrets.

      Will be looking for you to do some roll-ons with my C6 ‘vette. I don’t care if you beat me, been on both sides of that for 40+, still fun in the right place/time.

  16. Mapes says:

    If sport bikes are dead, then why are so many options available in the sub 600 class? These bikes are a hoot to ride with reasonable power output and insurance rates. I owned a fzr400 back in the early 90s and even then we had very few sub600 class sportbikes. I ride a Monster900 so agree with many of the comments above as it is plenty capable for me. Having said that, a sport bike will always look cooler, in my opinion, than a naked bike. Much like a GT3RS looks better than a Cayenne or Macan.

    • Ralph W. says:

      “If sport bikes are dead, then why are so many options available in the sub 600 class?”

      Look at the riding position of those bikes. They are actually small sports tourers and not super sports. But they get classified as sports bikes because some people think you can’t tour on a bike that size. Of course you can.

      • Sleeping Dog says:

        A few years ago, I met a guy from LA in New Hampshire who was coming down from Nova Scotia on a CBR250. He began his trip from LA in June and it was then November, he was headed for Key West and then would start back to LA. You can tour on a small bike.

  17. Chris says:

    Motorcycledom is merely following the pattern the car industry is experiencing–big fat Americans don’t want coupes or sedans, they want big fat SUV’s. I’m 5′ 10″, 215 and this big fat American is surprised to hear how uncomfortable my ZX-14r apparently is. Without others telling me, I just don’t notice. Distributing my considerable mass between three points (butt, feet, and hands) is more comfortable than putting it all on my butt. Had cruisers/done that. And I’m told that I’m misusing my Kawa because I don’t ride it at 186 MPH. However, I don’t drive my SEDAN at it’s top speed either. I’m 70 years-old and I rarely go over my age in my car or on my bike, but getting to 70 in a few seconds in first gear is a rush like no other.

    Ride what you like. Leave judging to Judy.

  18. Grumpc says:

    Does this raise the question – ‘Will support of the GP racing scene start to wane also – it’s gotta be a significant drag on the ‘bottom line’…

    Ian

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      GP racing seems like it has only grown in popularity these past several years. I can’t say that with any certainty, of course. That’s just my gut feeling based on casual observation. Maybe the fans have migrated over from WSBK which may idicate that while the GP series is doing well, the state of racing in general is not.

  19. Dennis Lacy says:

    The end of the sport bike era has not come too soon! I’ve owned over 45 bikes over the 47 years I’ve been riding (multiple bikes at a time, some years…) and ergonomics was always one of the first things I checked before considered buying a bike. As you can guess I’ve never bought a sport bike. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned some fast bikes. One of my first was a Kawasaki 500 triple two stroke!
    But, if I can’t get comfortable on it it was just a non-starter for me. Young people, as many of you have said, don’t want to take the risks or suffer the discomfort that is associated with being a “biker.” Demographics are the death knell of our sport… So, as a manufacturer of motorcycles why would you produce a product that can’t make you $?
    I have two bikes right now: 2016 Honda Africa Twin – decked out as my rally bike, and a 2017 Honda 500 Rebel. Both have Corbin seats and bar backs to adjust the ergonomics.

  20. Luis Gallur says:

    100 hp can give you all the thrills and spills you would ever want . The injury toll on 200 hp bikes used anywhere near their potential on the road without electronic aids would be be unacceptable to the ‘nanny state’

    Sit up slow down make skid marks inside your leathers are rare thing and smell the roses .

    • Sleeping Dog says:

      There are 3 bikes in my garage, none with more than 50-ish HP, Except for accelerating away from toll booths, on the street I have no problem keeping up with my friends riding bikes we 2x-3x the HP and we all are at a similar skill level.

  21. My2cents says:

    People are unpredictable market saturation is not. Harley Davidson is suffering from this and a aging buyer segment. Sport bikes had to decline at some point after many years of microscopic changes. The adventure touring market will sag shorty as even more manufacturers enter this segment and that rider demographic either ages out or transfers into a segment with lower seat heights and cgs. I feel the cruiser market will again find sales in these riders. What is a shame in the Suzuki GSXR 750 in 1985 set the standard in sport bike concept and appearance for many years to follow and now they are heading to the dusty corner.

  22. Mick says:

    For me it was all about a tipping point. I had a ’92 900SS Ducati. I hated the carbs, but I loved the whole rest of the bike. The thing about sport bike ergos was the feeling that the world was spinning under your side as you failed a corner. Dirt bike ergos don’t do that for you.

    But I trade the 900 in on a 916. Suddenly I had a bike that would tolerate street use, but it always wanted to go just a bit faster than you really should on the street. As such, I found it a bit less fun because I had to exercise too much restraint too often. I sold it, I ride supermotos made from off road bikes now.

    Now even a lowly bargain basement 600 makes more power than my old 916. I think if Yamaha, for instance, made an R7 based on the MT-07 engine in a nice light sport bike chassis, they would have a nice real world sport bike again. Something that doesn’t go 100 miles per hour in first gear.

    • Superlight says:

      That 900SS was one of the first “sport bikes” that had a modicum of real world comfort designed-in. That’s why bikes like its replacement, the SuperSport 939, make so much sense today. Bikes like the 916 were full-on sport bikes, just like Ferraris are full-on sports cars. Anyone purchasing such a machine should understand what they’re getting into. Pure sport bikes, like the new Panigale V4, are two-wheeled hyperbikes, useful in a very narrow range, but I’m glad they exist – they show us what’s possible in performance and highlight new technologies.

      • Mick says:

        As far as comfort goes. The 900 cramped my knees a bit after a couple of hours. The 916 had more leg room. But it was a bit harder on my wrists.

        The 900 would float your torso at about 90. The 916 didn’t do that until you were doing about 115, which is a silly cruise speed on the street.

        As far as fun goes. The 900 was more fun to ride on the street at reasonable speeds most of the time. The 916 always wanted to go too fast and it absolutely hated dirt roads.

      • Peter H says:

        Ferraris are mostly investments that rarely see the light of day.

        I think electronics have made otherwise impossible bikes far more useful on the street. The V4 is probably a pussycat if you want it to be. That’s the magic of the digital world, and the V4, and others, wouldn’t exist without it..

        • Mick says:

          Ferraris are mostly poor investments. With few exceptions, they age very poorly. I went to the mothership museum when I was in Milan. It totally ruined me for Ferraris forever. Yuck.

          Pussycat or not. The V4 Ducati is not on my radar. If it doesn’t have their air cooled two valver, it doesn’t exist in my universe anymore.

          The wife gave me the kitchen pass for an NCR. A really light two valver would appeal to me. But I just don’t value a street bike it’s worth. Maybe if I lived in Corsica or similarly awesome street riding area I would pull the trigger on an NCR.

  23. Grover says:

    Squids on sportbikes have given motorcyclists a bad name with their immature behavior on the road for a few years now. When I first started riding in the 1970’s most riders were polite and didn’t try to make a spectacle of themselves on two wheels. Sure, there were clubs like the Hell’s Angels, but they didn’t try to attract unnecessary attention either (except for their loud pipes). Sportbikes seem to attract the wreckless sorts and now that the number of $13,000 600’s has dwindled, so will the squid population. See…there’s an upside to everything.

    • Neil says:

      Absolutely. Squids have raised insurance costs thru the roof as have thieves. If you are caught stealing motorcycles you should have to pay an appropriate price. Not fines. Not jail. Maybe a two up ride with someone who will scare the crap out of even you to the point that you respect the machine. And then a class in what happens in bad wrecks, either injured or killed, by making the kid work in an emergency room taking care of trauma victims to the point where they respect that the machine can be fun without raising insurance thru the roof. We also don’t need all the bling electronics which raise the prices by thousands. You can’t ride like fool ever on public roads. Love the new Honda CB650R.

    • Sleeping Dog says:

      Grover, I believe you are suffering from selective memory. As a high school and college kid in the late 60’s early 70’s it was quite common for me and my friends to ditch the pipes on our yamaha, bultaco, husky, dual sports, mostly under 200cc and pop wheelies with abandon on public streets. Sorry, you were preternaturally old or full of @$^*

      • Grover says:

        Wow, you were the terror of the streets on your 200cc bikes! You really did represent the vast majority of motorcyclists back then, at least in your little circle of friends. Most of us just enjoyed the ride. Have fun with your memories of being a hooligan.

  24. paul says:

    Everything goes in cycles. Styles, climate change and motorcycles. Motorcycle even has the word cycle within it. There you go.

  25. Rapier says:

    Sport bikes got so popular because they were so incredibly fast. So fast that it takes some real natural talent, and disregard for ones safety, to really tap. While many people, mostly young men, dream of going really fast but the reality of the sport bikes was probably more than many bargained for. Lacking the talent,and it is a physical and mental, and athletic/perceptual talent, to confidently ride a motorcycle at triple digit speeds. Most motorcyclists have now concluded that fast is good enough, as opposed to insanely fast.
    Such bikes for the most part belongs on the track in any case. More power to those to go there but it is a small universe of people who can dedicate the time and investment to do that, on top of the cost of the bike.

    Now I await the blowback that is going to come on people getting hurt off roading on Adventure bikes and now scramblers. That takes some real talent as well, and strength.

  26. MikeG says:

    I saw this coming in the late 1980’s, but it became plainly obvious in the early 2000’s. When stock 600 supersport lap times fell below that of 1982 Formula One lap times, really, you had to ask yourself: how long would cars with Formula One performance be available to consumers if they had been offered to the driving public? In this light, it’s remarkable sport bikes as we know them today have been available this long. Even 1980’s bikes like the FZR1000 and first and second generation GSXR’s were mostly just being babysat on the street….race track was the only place to wring them out. That issue has now run its course, and the entire industry needs to adjust to the reality of the market. Also, millennials need to collectively GROW A PAIR.

  27. agostini says:

    Ive had motorcycle daily set as my home page for 18yrs

    But today another(?) post of mine was deleted/omitted… you see I often reside on the right/conservative side when judging things done passionately such as motorcycling…..and I’m not afraid to speak my mind…. particularly when overly liberal attitudes must sanitize posts for fear of truth…so be it Seems Dirck had digressed into totalitarianism

    • Dirck Edge says:

      No

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Don’t be ridiculous. If you’ve been coming to the site for that long, you would know that posts disappearing into the vapor has always been a sporadic problem.

    • TimC says:

      My libertarian, anthropogenic-global-warming-skeptic etc comments have strangely managed to survive….

    • Hot Dog says:

      You can tell a Conservative but you can’t tell them much. I must be blind cuz when riding, I can’t tell goose stepping Right wingers apart from tree hugging atheist Liberals.

    • Fred_M says:

      Stop trying to turn this motorcycle website into a political forum. No one comes here to read some conservative snowflake bemoaning how he’s being victimized by ‘totalitarian’ liberals.

    • regan says:

      I’ve never seen that (totalitarianism) on this site. I agree with Dirck -no. Although there are some Libtards hear that can’t control themselves and are annoying.

      • Fred_M says:

        “Although there are some Libtards hear that can’t control themselves and are annoying.”

        I’ve found the conservatards to be the real annoyance here. The liberals here, like most places, seem to be smarter.

        https://cdn.psychologytoday.com/files/u15/Political%20ideology.jpg

        • Regan says:

          Typical , your posting fake news and your opinions to prove your point. And you probably cried while responded to my post. We all know you liberals have counseling at times like this so your self esteem is not crushed.

          • HalfBaked says:

            Your argument would be much stronger if you employed more wildly simplistic over generalizations and trite, hackneyed blanket statements.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          As a political apathetic, I notice both types of tards have difficulty restraining themselves here from time to time. And while both types are annoying, at least the exchange of banter rarely devolves into much of anything. And frankly, political angles are thankfully pretty rare on this comment board.

          The only tards welcome here as far as I’m concered are motards.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fred_M… Pfffft!

          Ever notice how those that demand “equality” only do so from people they consider their better? They’re jealous and want what those folk have but without earning it. Take it from them! It’s not “fair”!

          Another thing about these folk is that they don’t really desire equal rights but rather, “equal outcomes”. You know…everyone gets a trophy? Somebody call the waaaaaambulance for these infants. Go curl into your fecal position in your safe space and wait for the cRapture to flush you to your personal Heaven.

          As to sportbikes, it isn’t so much a matter of it is what it is but instead, it’s what the market dictates. People are not buying them right now for whatever their reason(s). Hell, people aren’t buying as many Harleys either. They’re not buying as many motorcycles, period.

          Put a clear windshield on a standard motorcycle when you want to take it on tour. Put it on a Harley Softail if you own that and want to take it on tour. Or if it’s cold out and you still want to ride. It’s a fact that sportbikes are uncomfortable rides. I don’t want to be uncomfortable when I ride.

    • MGNorge says:

      You know that things in this country are a tad askew when some technical glitches on a motorcycling site are blamed on supposed political leanings! Does anyone remember normalcy? Use your critical thinking people!

    • Motoman says:

      Go ahead, show me some truth you think I fear. Putz

  28. Chris says:

    But there’s nothing like running a superbike to realize/experience/remember the epitome of motorcycling. Most/many partakers, professional publications included, note the same thing. They surely aren’t the most practical or comfortable daily mounts. But, man, are they just too sweet. “Awesome” comes to mind. Never give up at least one of ’em in the garage. If you can afford such things…

  29. VLJ says:

    The reasons are myriad, but these are the main ones…

    -Smartphones, electronic media, and video games. Sportbikes have always been part and parcel of urban life (as opposed to life on the farm in flat, rural areas), and good luck in prying away urban millennials from their relatively low-cost electronic entertainment.

    -The people who can afford to buy, insure, and maintain today’s high-tech sportbikes are too old to want them anymore. The remaining few young people who still would like to ride modern sportbikes simply can’t afford everything that goes into sportbike ownership.

    -Back when sportbikes dominated the riding scene among young people, the only other options were cruisers and giant touring rigs. During the late ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s what was a young rider going to choose, a GSX-R 750 or a…? A Shadow 750? A K75S? A Zephyr? Nearly all the emphasis from the Big Four and Ducati used to be on hardcore sportbikes. That’s where all the R&D and marketing dollars were going. The new-model-intro cycle was down to two years for 600 Supersports. These days, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to see a commercial for an R6 or a Panigale, and companies like Honda and Suzuki let their flagship sportbikes soldier on unchanged for upwards of a decade at a time.

    -Roadracing in America is dead. Period.

    -The EPA and CARB have taken much of the fun out of sportbike ownership for many prospective sportbike buyers. It used to be that a young guy or girl couldn’t wait to buy a new bike and slap on a new Yosh pipe and jet kit. These days, motorcycle shops in California can’t even sell aftermarket pipes, nor can they install them. Ditto, regarding the remapping of the ECU. Plus, even if they could, a good exhaust system now costs well north of a grand, and it’s only going to make your bike run like crap unless you get the ECU flashed to match the pipe, and there’s another few hundred bucks, not counting the tear-down/re-installation time, the shipping off of the ECU, and the labor involved in the exhaust swap, assuming these kids can even locate a place now that is still willing to do those things.

    -Insurance. The cost is insane. The monthly premium for twenty-somethings with a new M1 license for full-coverage insurance on an R1 can easily exceed their parents’ mortgage payment.

    -Ditto, regarding tires and upkeep for a modern sportbike. Want to do a season’s worth of track days, as many of us used to do? Let’s see here. A good set of tires plus labor at most any shop is going to run upwards of $500, and you’re either going to ride your bike to those track days or you’re going to need a truck, which is yet another large expense. Over the course of a spring/summer/fall riding season, let’s say you’re going to do only six track days, each of which is going to cost at least a couple hundred bucks, all told. You will also need a decent set of leathers, and a good helmet, boots, and gloves. Lots of premium gas, too, plus chains, brake pads, rearsets, maybe even race plastics, and this whole adventure had better be fully insured if you’re doing it on your brand new, very expensive sportbike.

    $6K, easy, not counting the purchase price and insurance, and god forbid you should stack yourself and your new toy into the wall at Sears Point.

    Or…you could just stop by the local mini-mart and pick up a six-pack on your way to your buddy’s place, where you and your erstwhile racing pals can play ‘MotoGP 2018’ on your buddy’s X-Box and ginormous TV, for free.

    -Meanwhile, every Old Guy you see out on the road these days is riding something you probably wouldn’t be caught dead on, style-wise, to the point that motorcycling in general ceases even to be a thing for you and your buddies. It’s totally lame, for starters, and strictly for rich, retired codgers anyway, as in old farts who have Harleys in their garages and RVs parked on the side of the house.

    “Screw that noise. Let’s grab Brianna and N’Quesha and go hit that new vape spot on 5th St. l8trz.”

    • todd says:

      When I was a kid, not so long ago, the same bikes that were available and desirable to me then are still available to kids now. I like the Honda S90, CB125, SR500, DT1, KZ550, RD350… I still see those on Craigslist and many more newer options. I’ve never bought anything new or had to pay much insurance or do much maintenance. I don’t see why kids don’t have the same opportunities.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        That may be true where you live, but I rarely ever see those kinds of bikes on Craigslist unless they come in several five gallon buckets. That, or they’ve been restored with an asking price As much or more than a new scoot.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          But honestly the opportunity kids really lack is a place to ride.

          • MGNorge says:

            I’ve always felt the hook that grabbed me toward a lifetime of motorcycling was just that. I grew up in a middle-class suburban bedroom community and we had vacant lots, powerline roads, fire service roads, fields, and some playground areas to ride in. Most everywhere was wide open. If they had not been available I may never have been hooked.

          • MGNorge says:

            🙂

      • mickey says:

        The last DT-1 I saw on Craigslist cost more than it did brand new by several hundred dollars. Same with RD-350’s.Never see an S-90 or CB125.

        My nephew picked up a low mile used CB 500X for less than the last RD 350 I saw.

        But used bikes are not what this article is about, it’s about how difficult it is for manufacturers trying to sell new sport bikes.I know when I talk to my local Honda Yamaha dealer he says he can’t sell them. He did sell an R3 last year but that isn’t much of a sport bike in the scheme of things. May look like a sport bike, sorta, but doesn’t perform much like one.

        • VLJ says:

          A lot of that has to do with where you live. Sportbikes are never going to be as popular in Ohio as they are where I live, in California. We have so many more sportbike roads here, and racetracks, and with our milder weather and easier proximity to many more great roads we can ride fast all year long. As a result, we are the epicenter of sportbike culture here in America.

          And with all that, it’s still dying.

    • HalfBaked says:

      700 + words why don’t you just submit an article and maybe Dirk will pay you for it. Full disclosure: I did not read a word.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I read his comment. I read yours. One comment had value, despite being a bit protracted. One comment had no value, despite it’s brevity.

      • VLJ says:

        You made the effort to count the words, but didn’t read any of them.

        Sounds like a personal issue.

  30. Burtg says:

    Kent Kunitsugu at Sport Rider published an editorial a few years back saying he didn’t think naked bikes would ever catch on because they didn’t have the same power as sport bikes. I sent in a counter point and he published my letter (my 8 seconds of fame, lol!).
    Basically I said that I love my naked sv650 and naked sv1000 because I can mount my Givi luggage and windscreen in a matter of minutes for a roadtrip across the country. When I get home, it only takes a few minutes to remove that stuff. Plus, anyone who has ever ridden one at track days knows they will leave you grinning ear to ear, as they have for me. They are great commuting bikes too. Best of all worlds!
    I’ve owned cbr600’s and cbr1000’s and got rid of sport bikes a long time ago for the reasons many of you listed. I’m too old to be bent over on a sport bike.
    Can’t wait to save up for the Superduke 1290 and Street Triple RS as additions to the stable when they come down in price used. And why not a used FZ-09 for under $4k?
    These are good times in the naked market!

    • guu says:

      Personally, I think that modern sport bikes are not popular because of the insane power levels. Fun is at 50-100 hp and great handling.

      There used to be true sport bikes with SV650-level of power in many engine configurations (I4 400, V2 250 2-stroke). Now some are getting to that level, but are not true sport bikes with great suspension and state-of-the art chassis.

  31. Jeremy in TX says:

    I’m not the least bit surprised to see the 750 go away. On the contrary, I can’t believe it stayed around for so long. It is a platform that is no longer relevant to the street or the racing classes.

    The buying public sure does seem to have rejected race replicas in general. I know when I lived in TX that the sales manager of a local mega-dealer said their was actually a lot of interest and desire for the liter bikes in particular among the younger crowds, but the bike plus insurance was too cost prohibitive for the vast majority.

  32. bmbktmracer says:

    Great comments on this article. My 2 cents probably echoes the author, in that standard and adventure bikes have progressed to the point that you can’t outride them on the street with a sportbike. So, what’s left? Aching wrists, a sore bum, and a pillion rider pounding your helmet? And one of the commenters was spot-on. 20+ years ago there were places to give the right wrist free reign, but no more…at least not in California. Couple that with the fact that sportbikes have gotten a lot faster and better in the past 20 years, and there’s simply no reward in them outside a track day. Read any test on a Grom or TnT 135 and you’ll see the true joy in motorcycling and the thrill of momentum preservation.

  33. Mike says:

    Another factor is the number of other vehicles on the roads today. 25 years ago there were far fewer vehicles on the main and back roads. Today we have the same number of roads and many times more vehicles. That makes riding a motorcycle more dangerous and less fun. I wouldn’t even try to ride they way I did in the mid-90s, I couldn’t because there are too many other vehicles. And then there is distracted driving (phones, etc.) that didn’t exist previously (at least at today’s levels).

    So, while demographics are changing and millennials don’t want to ride, it’s also become less fun and less safe at the same time.

    At one time I did ride a GSXR-750. It was a blast. Today, it’s totally unpractical and I couldn’t find a place to ride it. I’m also older and folding my taller frame onto a sport bike isn’t as pain-free as it used to be. Aging sucks.

  34. Anonymous says:

    The ergos on virtually all sportbikes and most nakeds don’t work for me. I like most of what’s out there, past and present, with some exceptions, but the riding position, even when I was younger, has been awful.

  35. JB says:

    We all know that millennials can’t afford the same luxuries as previous generations. The sky-high cost of living (high home and rental prices, high car prices, high insurance costs, high medical costs, high food prices, inflation, etc etc etc) combined with insane student loans and flat/decreasing pay means no more money left for motorcycles. Not to mention the cost of motorcycling in general (the bike itself which has gone way up, insurance again, all the gear and consumables, etc). And yes, even the sportbikes were much more comfortable 15 years ago than they are now. Also, when you can get an MT-09 with plenty of performance and more comfort for 20% less money and cheaper insurance, what’s the point?

    • Mike says:

      My favorite sportbike, the 2002- 2003 Kawi ZX-9R, though it still did well in the shootouts it was considered slow because its quarter mile time was down by a tenth of a second compared to some, not all, of the liter bikes. Track times were better than some also. But nooo, 900cc didn’t cut it any more. You HAD to have a liter bike.
      The reviewers of that time said its glory days were over but it would make a great light weight LD tourer. LOL.

    • Grover says:

      It’s no more expensive for a millennial than it was for past generations. Just ask my folks that lived through the depression. If they choose to quit buying technology junk they could EASILY afford a motorcycle. Their priorities are mixed up.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Their priorities likely lie in what gives them the most freedom and value in their lives. Right now, that is technology, which they are expected to have both socially and professionally.

        It was different when I was young and obsessing over motorcycles (1990s), but even then, only a very small minority of people ever got into bikes. Two guys I knew in a highshool of 3000 students rode street bikes. I knew a handful more that were into MX or trail. Things didn’t change much in college either in that regard.

      • JB says:

        Is it hard to breathe with your head so far in the sand?

  36. RonH says:

    Looks like I have to disagree with most of you. I’m 66 and love sportbikes. I own a Hayabusa and really enjoy what it can do. My son had a Yamaha R1 and that was even more fun… more flickable and linear power. Keep making them faster and better handling!
    Credit the knowledge learned engineering race and sport bikes for the abilities of all motorcycles today.

    • paul246 says:

      Right on. I’m 64 and don’t own a sport bike, but love riding my sport-tourer, a VFR 800. Its my fave of all my bikes through the last 45 years.

  37. Tamburello says:

    When choosing your bike…I think it all comes down to what genre of motorcyclist you wanted to be from the get-go…..sportbikes were huge sellers for many years and still are the cutting edge when you consider the money and development the major manufactures eagerly pour into their latest flagship MotoGP bike…just take a look at the lastest gizmos and electronics… seamless gearboxes…optimized roll centers with fuel tanks far under the seats….now including aerodynamics too….trust me sportbikes are not dead. The fact is fewer folks are interested in motorbikes period…its a fact. Kids are accustomed to electronic nothingness nowadays….and woodburing sets..chemistry sets..lawndarts..teetertotters etc.. have all been sanitized to just a faint memory now….risk management is no longer a human ability. We are on the other side of the bell curve now.. things with motors that men enjoy are thinning out…and the first place to suffer is the high end bonafide race replica sport bike…..but they are still there at the cutting edge

    Its not a hindrance whatsoever to me or any other rider reading this for that matter… that knows how wonderful it is to enjoy a true race bike the feel….its all I’ve ever ridden for over 25yrs and 400.000kms and I chuckle/laugh when I read of folks talking of lack comfort and other unsavory features as Ive always felt leaning forward was most comfortable…

  38. hh says:

    Dirck and company, thank you for another year, still enjoying the ride, keep on please. As for the end of sportbikes as we know them, watch the last 20 seconds of the movie Hondo (search you tube: Hondo too bad ) and when they say “Apache” think sportbike….

  39. Mike says:

    I’ve been riding naked bikes for the last 20 years. It’s not news to me that sport bikes are uncomfortable. And seriously, what can you do on the street with a 180 hp sport bike that you can’t do with a 115 hp naked? (Except look at my tail light).
    Cheers, ride well and Happy New Year.

  40. Jim says:

    Now if I could just convince the guy with the pristine RC51 that I’d be doing him a favor by taking it off his hands cheap…

  41. paul246 says:

    The good news is that there should be an ample supply of sport bikes around for those that appreciate them for a long while yet. Get ’em and ride ’em.

  42. Lawrence Kahn says:

    If Trump would just do away with speed limits for motorcycles…even I would vote for him. And then buy a turbo’Busa…

  43. Wilson says:

    I can only add this: none of the dozens of 20-30 y/o friends of my children and relatives are remotely interested in motorcycles. Odd in that all, all, of them grew up around motorcycles, but they say motorcycles are dangerous, uncomfortable, loud, require special clothes and equipment, are out of their price range (tuition, rent, kids), limited by the weather/seasons, no garage in downtown apartments, and they just plain don’t care about motorcycles. As I age, I am more inclined to agree, since most of my life, I’ve really had to reach a time or two in justifying my own, but I am glad to have lived when motorcycles had cachet.

    • southbound says:

      I have made the same observation about that age crowd. Not surprising, considering every single one I know complains about ANYTHING that is SLIGHTLY uncomfortable or imperfect. It’s Goldilocks without the “this one is just right”. A sniffle sends them to the hospital. Denim is too rough. A scratch causes “the last rights” to be read. That light is too dim, this food is too salty, the seat is too high. THAT LIGHTBULB IS NOT WORKING! WHAT SHOULD WE DO ?!?!?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I have made the same observations about the millennial crowd, and I can’t blame them one bit. A motorcycle just isn’t a good fit for today’s lifestyles.

      And they are expensive. Today, purchasing the bike is only the beginning. Then the MC community has to shame people into buying $1000+ in safety gear (and/or bling and “correct” clothing). Frequent and relatively expensive maintenance is still a motorcycle mainstay and is something that people who drive today’s autos just aren’t accustomed to and don’t understand.

      Cost of entry was much lower when I was learning to ride in the 90’s, and I didn’t have smart phone leases, data plans and streaming packages competing for my discretionary funds.

      • southbound says:

        My first bike was bought new in 1971. A 90cc Kawasaki for $349. The second was a year later, a Honda CB350 for $699. At sixteen I was working enough to get a loan from Household Finance and my payments were $37/mo. A lot has changed, hasn’t it?

  44. blitz11 says:

    My issue is that they’re tiny – way too small for me to find a comfortable position (6’5″ with long arms and legs.) For long rides, it’s my super tenere, and for fun in the twisties, it’s my 690 duke, and the duke works just because i can stand on the pegs and stretch out occasionally.

  45. ApriliaRST says:

    The closest I’ve ever gotten to owning a sport bike is now my screen name on this site. It has ergonomics that are far from true sport bike. The RST’s handle bars have a good 5″ rise above the upper clamp, while on a true SB, the bars mount below the clamp, so about 6″+ more upright in total. I’m no spring chicken, and it still seems a comfortable ride… but I don’t ride it much because I’d rather even higher bars and ride where it isn’t suitable. With a lot of my riding, I’m now more interested in exploring roads that turn dirt, then possibly back to pavement once getting nearer civilization again. Ultimately, I see more and more of my riding trending that direction. Right now, any manufacturer would be wise to develop an array of dual sports, since I’m just one of many who are trending that way. Meanwhile, traffic is getting more careless in it’s treatment of motorcycles and the supposed self-driving cars might actually end up driving motorcycles to lesser trafficked roads, especially dirt ones.

  46. Dave Sumner says:

    I’ve never cared for sport bikes, when I was young or old. I don’t care for the look of them, and I don’t care for the noise and antics of those that generally choose to ride them in the places I have lived. I’ve never understood why an aftermarket loud pipe is a mandatory purchase for a new bike. My first purchase was always a Givi bag mount for adventures, or maybe heated grips to extend the season. I like sitting comfortably upright on a light-weight bike, and have ridden mostly dual sport singles in the past. They seem to handle about as well as anything (and better than a lot) and can keep up just fine within 10-15 MPH of the speed limit. I would welcome a more relaxed rider community that does not focus on noise or hyper-extra-legal speeds and wheelies. One boring man’s opinion. You like what you like.

  47. Anonymous says:

    OEM’s really shot themselves in the foot by not pushing for looser production rules. Nobody wants to pay for a race ready stock bike, and anybody with a brain knows that Tony Elias is racing a very expensive GSXR.

  48. paul says:

    Insurance is a big factor, especially for young riders.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a friend that works at the local motorcycle shop and he tells me that young buyers who have already been approved back out when they find out how much the insurance is. Now he tells them to call the insurance company first.

  49. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Son of a gun. Article hits just about all. Since moving to the great northwest have seen a steady decline in sport bike use here. Have personally known a LOT of crashed peeps and some deaths by early mid aged males and females from showing off on the street. Too easy to watch experts on visual media and assume your special enough to emulate. Another factor in ths carnage is the overemphasis in peer group status, that is unique to the 1990s generation. It is always good to finish the loop at home.

  50. mickey says:

    Motorcyclists as a group are getting older, that’s news to no one. So it only makes sense that more comfortable ergonomics will sell better than not so comfortable ones (at this time).

    Here’s the rub for the industry as I see it though, young riders coming up, those that will be the future of the industry, don’t want to ride cruisers, and they don’t want to look like they are riding their dad’s bike either.

    If they do away with sport bikes, what’s left to sell them? and will not having something to buy turn them away from motorcycles altogether?

    • Fred says:

      Well said Mickey.
      Once the numbers of available second hand sport bikes declines, the new rider won’t see them as a standout choice as they will not be there much.
      All they will see, is all today’s ADV bikes and so on comfortable bikes.

      Have you seen a Sidecar combo in a Dealer lot?
      You won’t see many of those around today, except at a rare URAL shop.

    • Pacer says:

      I think the industry is doing a pretty good job coming out with a variety of options for the youngsters. Now if they would put down the phone and go outside.

    • Anonymous says:

      “what’s left to sell them?”- When I was young, we didn’t have sport bikes, we had 2 cycle bikes and we loved them.

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        Yes. If only could be 17 again and the only choice was between a Yamaha 250 Catalina or a Honda Super Hawk 305 both for about $600. The big dogs could cough up $1200 for a TR6, but the sound of a 250 wide open throttle was heaven from 4 blocks away. Don’t forget the smell.
        Yes.

        • Curly says:

          My ’66 Catalina wouldn’t do more than 90 but it was all I needed back then. My TDM850 won’t do 130 and it’s more than I need now so I sure don’t need a 180mph sport bike to ride around on. The end of the super sport bike era was a self fulfilling prophecy who’s time has come. Too much money for too much performance was not a sustainable business plan.

          I sure did love that 250 when the tach hit 4500rpm though.