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Can Foreign Markets Make Mid-Displacement Bikes Cool Again? (Updated with information from Benelli U.S.)

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Benelli TRK 502

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It has been a while since U.S. riders first became obsessed with large displacement, high horsepower motorcycles. Huge displacement and horsepower aren’t necessary to enjoy the motorcycling experience, as most recently demonstrated by Troy Corser. With few exceptions, however, manufacturers are reluctant to experiment with lower displacement bikes here in the U.S.

Things are different in many overseas markets, such as India. Pictured are a couple of Benelli models targeting, in part, the Indian market and displacing 499cc. The parallel twin powered bikes make just under 50 hp, but are considered a step up from the more commonplace, lower displacement bikes typically found in that country. They are just an example of model developments taking place in foreign markets where lower displacement models are the norm, rather than the exception.

Do you think manufacturers should bring more mid-displacement models to the U.S. market?  Weigh in with your thoughts below.

Update:  Mel Harris of SSR Motorsports, the U.S. distributor for Benelli Motorcycles, emailed yesterday with the following information concerning the models shown –

“You showed photos of 2 future Benelli Models, The 502 TRK and The Leoncino.  Both Of these models go into production late 2016 or spring of 2017 and will be available for the US market.  At AIMExpo we will introduce another Benelli model which we should have available spring in 2017.”

Those interested in purchasing a Benelli in the U.S. can find information about dealers at the SSR Motorsports web site.

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Benelli Leoncino


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106 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    I’ve been hoping for a 500ish twin adventure bike for a while now.
    After nearly 50 years of 2 wheeling, I’m enjoying adventure riding these days.
    My 800GS is a little heavy. I still like to get off road a little.
    I avoid interstates (very boring), the back way is the best way there!
    I don’t need BIG horsepower. Big bore singles are buzzy on high mileage days.
    Let’s see if this bike comes in at a reasonable weight….
    Just Rambling, Thanks…..

  2. oldjohn1951 says:

    That Benelli Leoncino is a nifty-looking bike. I can’t wait to see it in person. My only concern with it would be parts and workshop service manual availability. It would be nice if it came with a standard 16-pin OBD connector.

    • xLaYN says:

      +1000 on the OBD2 connector.
      Some bikes have a “dealer mode” that could help but the OBD2 port allows you to get a lot of information from what’s going on.

  3. The Spaceman says:

    That Benelli TRK 502 is nicely designed. They’ve out-GSed BMW. Having said that, if I were to ride it here, it’d have to be able to run 85+ mph for hours, in 95+ heat, to be a viable choice. Anyone who’s cruised the Turnpike and major Interstates in FLorida knows this; if you go the speed limit on these roads you’re blocking traffic and asking for trouble.

    I really don’t know if a 50-hp bike will work for me. I rode a 50 hp Harley Low-Rider years ago, and it couldn’t do the high-speed stuff without rattling apart. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think a lot of it has to do with how much a bikes weighs as well. I have typically owned pretty powerful motorcycles, but I have no issues going everywhere on my 50hp dual sport. I can handle 85mph+ all day, day after day. 400-ish lbs or less, and 50 hp gets the job done just fine IMO. Acceleration won’t impress anyone on a 600 sport bike, but there is enough juice to squirt out of corners to the point that you can make just about any bike with a comparable rider work to hang with you on a twisty road.

      Physics being what they are, regardless of weight, 50hp isn’t going to get you much more than 115 mph, and the bike will stop accelerating with any authority by the 100 mph mark. So long as you can live with that, you should be golden.

  4. Kent says:

    “Just under 50 hp”, which will translate to 40-45 at the rear wheel.

    For my daily ride in the Bay Area, that’s not quite enough horsepower for me to feel safe. When I hit the throttle at 80, I want to accelerate *now*. If I lived in a rural area, I’d consider one – if there was a dealership…

    • WSHart says:

      “…not quite enough horsepower for me to feel safe.”

      Really?

      Reeeeeally? Surely you jest? This is but one reason such vehicles are not sold here. Silliness. No offence intended but that’s just silly.

      It’s more than enough except for our egos. Our egos. Not just yours. Ours. As in a collective. Like I stated, wants and needs…

      • esteban says:

        i dunno my 600 transalp has 45 or 50 hp and it can cruise at 65 without feeling strained, but it has no punch from there up so not the best for freeway commuting. I had various ktm twins which were better open road bikes but i ditched them as in the end i realized the lighter and better handling transalp was the keeper. That’s not a great example though as some of these mid displacement bikes now are fast as sin

    • todd says:

      I probably see you every day when I’m riding my Bay Area commute too. I’ve never felt the way you do about 50 hp, I think it’s perfectly fine for commuting – even a bit more than necessary. Have you ever commuted on anything with 50 horse or less? I see guys on 250s, 300s, Guzzi V7s, old BMWs, SR400s, DRZs, Honda XRs, Hawks, CB350s, KLRs, CB500s, and the occasional Harley – all of which would be scary to you yet, there they are.

  5. WSHart says:

    Nice bikes. Other than the tubes in the tires I wouldn’t mind owning one. In the 60s, Sears sold Benelli minibikes. They were pretty cool looking back then and these look just as sweet, especially so the red one.

    Make ’em affordable and reliable. Then give them a good sized tank with better than average mpg, run tubeless wheels, work hard to get a dealer network and these beauties could sell well enough to warrant more.

    If you build it they will come. If you make it affordable, they will not only show up, but buy them too.

    As for the spate of HUGE bikes? Bigger isn’t always better. It’s just bigger. Big deal. We don’t need bigger. There’s wants and needs. Toss aside the wants and you will find that it all boils down to you really want what you need. Motorcycling used to be fun.

    “It’s not a big motorcycle just a groovy little motorbike…”

    • Bob says:

      “It’s not a big motorcycle just a groovy little motorbike…”

      “It climbs the hills like a Matchless
      Cause my Honda’s built really light.”

      That “light” part — The older I get the more important that becomes.

  6. mike says:

    One of my long time, favorite motorcycles is my old 1978 Kawasaki KZ200 street bike. 18HP at the crank. For a two hour low speed tour around farmland and upstate NY scenery on an early Sunday morning it is great. Lower and mid displacement bikes are absolutely wonderful for those of us who are not a hulking 6’2″ tall.

  7. mickey says:

    One of the magazines just featured a 250cc full dressed adventure bike that looks just like the Beneli pictured above, that could be had for under $4000 brand new with a 2 year warranty , delivered right to your door.

  8. redbirds says:

    In 1973 I had a BMW R/75, about 45HP and reliable as a hammer. With the addition of a Windjammer I toured all over the country on that bike and never felt the need for any more power. Always averaged better than 50MPG and never needed anything other than routine maintenance. If such a bike is offered now it is hammered in the press and on sites like this for being “under powered”. I now have a CB1100 on which I have done many 400 mile plus days in comfort; a “modern” bike despised by many as “under powered”. Nothing sells in America like big displacement and power.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Considering how many cruisers I see on the road, I’d say under-powered bikes are the top selling variety here in the US.

  9. Artem says:

    I have to reprogram some things to html5 because of yakhnich

  10. todd says:

    Why do you think used bikes are so popular. Not everyone wants a gigantic bike and all the farkles. Try to find a mid-capacity touring bike nowadays. I ended up buying a super clean, low mileage K75S because you can’t get anything like it new these days. It’s a little big and heavy with more than ample performance for its intended use though. Maybe a Guzzi V7 Norge would target me. I think the 650 Deauville was on the mark but way over priced. Versys was close but I can’t stand the styling.

    There’s not any unlocked fire trails in the Bay Area to make a KLR enjoyable, I ended up turning my XR650L into a street motard because there was no place to ride off road so I’m not sure where I’d ride the Benelli TRK.

    • John says:

      I would also like a V7 Norge. And I’m also looking at the idea of a K75S for the same reasons.

      • todd says:

        I REALLY love my K75S. I can ride it comfortably all day long (and have on a number of occasions). The engine is the smoothest running engine I’ve ever experienced by far. 5th gear is pretty low so passing and acceleration to and beyond 80 is surprisingly strong. The narrow tires are inexpensive and last a long time even though I push them hard to the edges – still outpacing my buddies on their wide-tired sport bikes through the twisties. The rear shock could be a tad more firm though.

        Just make sure the K75 you get has had a well maintained drive shaft though. I had to have mine welded up with stronger splines after only 50,000 miles. My old R75/5 drive shaft lasted well over a hundred thousand ill maintained miles before I sold it.

        • mickey says:

          lol it’s a wonder anybody buys sport bikes seeing as how nearly everyone can embarrass their buddies on sport bikes through the twisties with everything from a grom to an old brick motor BMW on 45 year old suspension.

          Kinda makes you wonder why they build sport bikes in the first place.

        • billy says:

          I think some of you ate a bad batch of sauerkraut or something.

          If you’re “outpacing” anyone on that thing it’s because you are a much superior rider who’s also willing to push a little closer to your bikes performance edge. I’ve got a well setup RC51 that I’m very comfortable riding fast on the road or track. I wouldn’t even call that a modern sportbike and it would take Eddie Lawson on a K75s to outpace me.

  11. Butch says:

    The GS500 Suzuki Twin has been around for years.
    About 50hp and reliable as a stone ax.
    Suzuki could slap it into a steel tube frame add a long travel suspension (DR400).
    Spoon some DOT knobbies on spoked aluminum rims (DR650).
    High exhaust and a wide seat.
    Presto
    Suzuki Scrambler, Urban Assault, Grocery Getter, Vertical Twin.

    • Selecter says:

      The GS500 has been gone, in the North American market at least, since after the 2009 model year. Carburetors and a really old engine architecture guaranteed emissions non-compliance. Output is closer to 40HP at the wheel, and it would struggle to outrun any of the super-competitive 300-class bikes that started appearing.

      They’d definitely need to do a lot of work to that old beast (with its roots in the early 1980s…) to be able to sell it anywhere these days. Especially given the amount of work they just gave the reintroduced SV650 engine, I’d guess if they wanted to do anything like the above, a reworked (‘tuned for torque’?) SV engine would probably be a more realistic scenario.

      • DCE says:

        How about stripping off the fairing and plastic panels/fenders from a DL650 and adding styling similar to the XSR or Leoncino? Instant scrambler with a decent fuel tank range!

        • Selecter says:

          Not sure if the V-Strom platform itself would lend itself to that, but I’d like to see it done! There are lots of things about that bike to like. I’m not a “scrambler” styling guy (I’d actually prefer the plain old V-Strom!), but I’m sure lots of other folks would dig it.

    • xLaYN says:

      I have one… and it’s gutless… I has really bad suspension… paint is bad…
      Of course that’s compare to double RR specs and behavior… after some time you readjust expectations and enjoy it for being a cheap, nice low maintenance bike.

      As below link mention…. “Let’s be honest… is only as fast as a ninja 250”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaOBzTJB7yc

  12. Kitty says:

    I’ve been riding for 45 years, so far – all street and touring bikes. I started on a H-D Amerecchi 350, then I had a Honda 500-4, then a BMW R90/6 900, then a 125 Kymco, and now I ride a 250. I never ride 2-up. I’ve toured through 37 states so far, and for me personally a 250 Honda Rebel suits me just fine, and does everything I want my motorcycle to do. Simple, easy, low(er) cost – it works for me – but to each their own. I still do a lot of day rides with the regional BMW club. They used to groan when I showed up at ride starts, but once they realized I had no problem keeping up, they had no issues with me. I don’t care anymore what anyone rides – just so long as they DO ride. Earlier this summer I met a 30-ish year old man who was out touring on a Grom! Anything is possible.

  13. Huffster says:

    As I’ve mentioned before, The Big OEMS look at the US as the land that all bikes should have an MSRP of over $ 10K If it projects to sell under that, then they just won’t bring them in. Of course, a few exceptions to that rule exist.

    However, the problem is much deeper. US Dealers make a small margin on each bike (Contrary to what most “Riders” think.) The margin is about the same on a $ 15K bike as it is a $ 3k bike, so the dealers “Don’t think that is worth my time” Once again, forcing overpriced and overpowered bikes down our throat. I really hope Benelli and a few others can get a foothold. Maybe, the Big 5 would take notice ?

    • Don says:

      That doesn’t make any sense at all. If the margin was the same on a $3k bike as it was on a $15k bike, then they’d be trying to sell a whole bunch more $3k bikes, as it’s less inventory cost, and an easier sell, than $15k bikes. Of course the margin is higher on $15k bikes. It’s probably almost 30-40% margin on either. Their time to setup a bike, and cost to display a bike is the same though, so they’d rather stock the models that have the higher margin. Plus, that’s what a lot of people are buying. There’s a very large segment for whom the purchase of a motorcycle is a status symbol. Hence the success of Harley Davidson. Plenty of people just buy the bikes so they can be part of the club and go on group rides, and to bike nights. Which is fine. To each their own, though it had seemed to have a negative effect on the diversity of bikes offered for those who wanted anything other than cruiser. Thankfully that seems to be changing, this year especially, so many cool, practical, new models coming out.

      • Dave says:

        Margin refers to a percentage, not a flat dollar figure. 10% of $15k is much more than 10% of $3k.

        While I do not know the industry’s margins, I would bet my bikes that is nowhere near 30-40%. 10-15% tops.

        When the Pontiac Sunfire was Pontiac’s entry level car, dealers earned $600 on each sale at sticker price.

      • Scott says:

        I doubt they even make as much as 10% on new bike sales.

        Dealers make their money on service, accessories, and financing. Selling you a bike is just a way to get you in the door, and they often discount them heavily, reducing their margin even more. So the difference in actual dollar amount made between a $3K bike and a $15K bike is pretty minimal.

        The reason they would rather sell big bikes is that they know people who buy small bikes tend to be cheapskates who will never get their bikes serviced at the dealership, and will buy all of their cheap Chinese parts and accessories online.

        Dealers can’t stay in business selling a bunch of cheap bikes to people they’ll never see again.

    • KenHoward says:

      “Maybe, the Big 5 would take notice ?”

      Huh? They have all taken notice. From Yamaha’s inexpensive, high-value FZ-07 to Honda’s three 500s, Kawasaki’s Versys/Ninja/Vulcan-S 650s and Suzuki’s updated SV650. Not to mention, the new 300s from Honda, Yamaha, etc.

      • Selecter says:

        This is what I see.

        Options in the mid-displacement bike market are myriad. Everyone offers some sort of sub-750cc motorcycle, most offer several. Even Ducati sells a 400! Harley-Davidson has a 500. BMW still offers a 650. Triumph sells the Street Triple 675, though it’s a cut above these bikes in power and price. How many different 500-700 bikes does Honda have these days? And they’re cheap! If you buy at end-of-year, they’re shockingly so!

    • Huffster says:

      As I said, Don. Most riders think the margins are much greater they really are…You proved my point. Do you have 30 + years of Industry experience ? I’m not just throwing out numbers off the top of my head.

  14. Scott says:

    It would come down to price in the US, if it’s $1000 less than a liter bike, most people with the money for a new bike would probably spend the extra grand, if it’s 3 or 4 grand less, it would probably sell great. Otherwise I think most of our riding is either so road oriented the weight difference between this and a liter bike wouldn’t really matter to the rider, or so off-road oriented this would be too heavy anyways.

  15. Frank says:

    Both of those are beautiful bikes..different tires would make them great everyday street bikes.

  16. Vrooom says:

    I want one of those Benellis. A 500 cc parallel twin, hard bags, knobbies, don’t need anything more than that. Just finished the WABDR, that would have been perfect.

  17. Terry says:

    The Leoncino looks great. I’ve owned a 100, three different 250s, a 500, a 700 and a 920. I rode a DR650 for 14 years and only the vibration finally made me get a twin. I bought a V-Strom 650 (love it) but would have bought a 500 version if they made one. I recently made a mini ADV bike out of a DRZ-400 by lowering it (properly) 3.5 inches, this should be a factory option not a $1,300 expense.

    Not only are the adventure bikes way too big in engine size and weight but they are too tall for a lot of riders as well. The blame is not entirely the manufacturers, they just make what sells although they could certainly up the quality of suspension on the smaller bikes. The problem is motorcycles buyers trying to compensate for other issues in their lives and they think bigger bike in the garage gives them some sort of bragging rights.

    • Scott says:

      I suspect smaller engines just aren’t much less expensive to produce than larger ones, so manufacturers have to save money on suspension to give small bikes enough of a price advantage to sell.

  18. Kent says:

    After 4 decades on a Goldwing I bought an NC700 and love it. It delivered 83 mpg over the first 3,000 miles. Its handling is so nice and light, fits easily in a garage next to a car, has plenty of power, runs about 3000 rpm at 55, same as my Goldwing and I’ve seen on youtube guys running over 120 mph on an NC700. (120 isn’t necessary unless you are dumb and don’t care about your spinal cord) This NC700 is in a very sweet spot sizewise. The biggest drawback is wind noise with the short stock windshield. The only other upgrade I would really like to see is a single sided swingarm like Honda has had for decades. The chain has only required one adjustment in 3000 miles (at 1100 miles) and it is still in spec. I’m beginning to think that the huge 2 wheeled SUVs are just for show and need a lot of their extra power just to haul around their extra weight.

  19. Joe Bogie says:

    While light weight bikes are cool and fun, I don’t have any difficulty or feel any burden riding my Victory Vision around town and it weighs about 6 metric tons…..lol. It just doesn’t feel like it when it’s moving.

  20. mickey says:

    I am in a hotel in Marietta Ohio, on a motorcycle trip right now. There are 11 motorcycles in the motel parking lot. 4 GS1200 BMWs, a DL1000 Suzuki, a FJR 1300 Yamaha, 2 ST 1300 Hondas, a CB1100 Honda, a 1200 Triumph Bonneville and the baby of the bunch and the only bike under 1000cc, a FJ-09 900. Nobody is riding 650s or 500s or 250s that I see out here on the road. It may be possible to tour on a smaller bike, but given the choice most serious riders will buy bigger bikes

    • Don says:

      The problem being that you don’t have the choice. Does Honda make a CB750? No. If you want a classically styled Honda standard with decent suspension, the CB1100 is the only option. We both know a 750 would keep up just as well as the 1100 on your trip as well.

      • mickey says:

        Oh, and I forgot 1 Goldwing.

        Honda makes a CB650F, CB500F and X, NC 700 (several iterations,) VFR800, so there are smaller choices from Honda, but I’m not talking about me… I was looking at a parking lot full of bikes and with choices from BMW, KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, et al, there are no small ( or medium even ) motorcycles parked out there. I have seen 3 smaller bikes on this trip of 7 days and 1500 miles. 1 650 supersport of some sort I couldn’t identify and 2 BMW F800 sport tourers which looked to be a man and his wife, or female companion, and I have seen dozens and dozens of big cc bikes, Harleys, Hondas, Victories, Suzukis, BMWs.

        Manufacturers need people willing to buy them, before commiting to making them en mass, and I don’t see that happening any more than it already is.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I see lots of mid-displacement bikes around here, Mickey, depending on what mid-displacement means these days. A quick ride through the mountains the other day and I saw two 690 Dukes, a pack of SV650’s, several ninja 650’s, a Honda CBR300, CB500, one Monster 800 and a slew of dual sports and mid-range adventure bikes. And that’s just what I remember. I’m sure I passed more. No, most of these guys are not doing long distance touring, but they are riding.

          Oh, and I was on a 650 single and my riding partner on an FZ6.

        • mickey says:

          2 new bikes in the lot tonight…. Both VTX1800s.

    • Randy D. says:

      Then what will you think when you see my 400 MP3 parked among all the big bikes doing the same long distance trips? I’ve already ridden it from Arizona to northern Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, California, Oregon.

  21. thrus says:

    Generally speaking they cater to different people the liter plus bikes pack more features along with the larger engine the middle class bikes are built to be more bare bones, much of the fancy traction control and anti wheely and such are not needed but for long trips you generally have to go aftermarket for stuff that you can get standard on the larger bikes. A perk to with the bike equipment is those that are financing them can bundle that in and get it already installed, the smaller bikes while over all cheaper for the equipment has to be bought out of pocket and generally a self install.

  22. Tank says:

    I think the success of the Grom made manufacturers take notice of just how much fun a small bike could be. Many older riders like smaller, lighter bikes and most younger riders can’t afford the larger bikes (or the insurance).

  23. John Scott says:

    Dear Yamaha – please immediately copy the styling of both the Leoncino and the TRK 502, bolt in the most excellent FZ-07 twin, and get ready to cash my leave buy-out check when I retire. You have 9 months, make it happen…

    PS The goofy little fender ornament on the Leoncino should NOT be copied. Or at least make it a catalog item. Italians!

  24. Auphliam says:

    I wonder how much influence the ever tightening emissions restrictions have on any trend towards smaller displacement bikes. One would think it would take much less effort to get a 500-600cc machine to comply, than it would a 1000-1200cc mill. In manufacturing terms, less effort equates to less cost.

    Personally, I am supremely disappointed you can’t find the Leoncino available anywhere in the U.S. I’d buy one of those in a heartbeat.

  25. JoeyD says:

    Yes, definitly, 650 singles are all I ride. The market is wide open for modern dual sports here in the US. Are you listening Kawasaki? Time to totally revamp the KLR, or Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki ?

  26. PatrickD says:

    The increased displacement growth does seem kind of odd.
    It looked like Honda had made everyone sit up when the original fireblade was launched. But since WSB went to one litre, it seems like that’s the minimum that can be considered(!).

    Can we blame Ducati? Possibly, and even more so since they cnsider their 959cc psorksbike a middleweight.
    Way before my time, a 650cc bike (Bonneville) was considered a heavyweight. The new throuxton has grown to 1200cc! It does seem like the industry has provided big engines and then reigned them back in with electronics.
    I downsized to an SV650s from a Falco and R1200GS Adventure. I still tour & do trackdays, and genuinely haven’t regretted it for a moment.
    I’m only itching for a 250cc two stroke to add to the garage, as I’ve never experienced that and reckon it’ll be something really different. But small is the way, IMHO.

    • Mick says:

      I’m going to buy my first new bike in ten years when I go back to visit my homeland next month. It will be a 300cc two stroke.

      Be careful. A 250 two stroke, given that you have a fun venue to ride it in, will make you throw rocks at your street bikes.

      I rented an MT-07 in France and thought it was great. A friend of mine came a year later and he rented one. I had to convince him that it would be “big enough”. He loved it too.

      Take that 07 engine and either make a street legal version of the dirt track bike, a bucks up premium super light street fighter, or toss it in a YZF450 chassis and call it a supermoto. I’m down for any one of them and it doesn’t have to be cheap.

      I think that the main reason the mid-displacement street bike don’t do so well in America is because they are always bargain bikes. That and the American opinion that bigger is always better. The 07 is a nice engine. Put it in a really light chassis and it would seem even nicer. Sure it would cost more. So what?

  27. EZ Mark says:

    I’ve never had much use for bikes that weigh much over 500 pounds.
    Giant heavy bikes make riding too much like work.

  28. Peter says:

    Just sold my 2003 GTR 1000, very heavy, still have a DL1000 and MT09 Tracer. The Tracer does it for me, great motor plenty of torque and power and it is quite light. Handles the crappy roads where I live with ease. For the longer trips the DL is just that bit more comfortable, and it is not to heavy, that is compared to the GTR.

    On reflection the 2012 DL 650 was probably the most versatile bike I have owned over the last few years, enough get up and go and good fuel range. Often did 1000k days on it and I could front up again the next day for another long ride. Don,t really know why I sold it. The GTR was good to, but a bit viby and almost impossible to get up on the centrestand when fully loaded, especially after a long day in the saddle.

    I will stick with the Tracer for now and any replacement will be in the 650 – 900cc range for performance and weight.

  29. Ron Gordon says:

    Christmas 2014 my wife told me to buy a Triumph Bonnie. I wanted and bought a CB300F. Oh happy me. What fun to ride! I have a 2009 750 Shadow commuter and a light weight and short wheelbase 2009 Buell XB9SX with 44k mi.for my other fun bike. I like them agile, and am not concerned with power. 650s and 675 triples have all the power a one up rider needs, and any of the 300s and a kick in the pants IMHO.

  30. jim says:

    OMG, take my damn money!

  31. John says:

    Anything over 800cc is just more than I want, period. It’s not that I can’t ride a bigger bike, I just find it unnecessary, with unneeded weight and fuel consumption. There’s no reason for it with existing engine technology. Most middleweights were under geared with no overdrive and either weren’t terribly well engineered and so people wanted bigger engines. Who needs the extra 50-100lbs?

    The problem I see with the Benellis is that they aren’t that light for a 500cc bike. They weigh more like a 750. That’s unfortunate, but if the price is right, they’d still be very desirable to me. Both are very nearly ideal bikes in concept for their genres.

  32. Jeremy in TX says:

    “It has been a while since U.S. riders first became obsessed with large displacement, high horsepower motorcycles.”

    I’d say the problem is that U.S. riders are obsessed with large displacement, low horsepower motorcycles. But I digress.

    Honestly, I think more humble bikes are making a comeback. Whether that is actually true or not, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely seen more and more new, mid displacement bikes on the road lately. As a recovering powerholic, I also personally think that these smaller bikes are pretty refreshing change from the high buck, high tech options out there.

    Ultimately though, I think smaller displacement motorcycles would be shown a lot less love in other countries were it not for the tiered licensing programs or tax policies that favor them.

    I’d buy that Leoncino.

  33. MikeG says:

    I raced several middle weights and an FZR1000 in the late 1980’s, and today I own a 2001 SV650S. So much fun, so capable….probably won’t ever sell it!

  34. RNJ says:

    My 680cc Honda NC700x (with 46hp) was designed to tackle the riding conditions that we encounter 85% of the time. Very adequate for SoCal communting and weekend touring…and delivers 60-65mpg. While I would occasionally like to venture into the other 15% riding experience, Honda has a winner in the NC.

  35. Grumpc says:

    The age of ‘Bragging rights’ how damn redundant. The bragging rights I don’t have is the inseam to guarantee the comfortable suspension I crave. you certainly don’t need more than a litre displacement. 750cc is certainly likely the optimum. My 650 Burgman has the utility and comfort to do it all (but for 2″ of suspension travel..), its taken us from Ontario to the L.A. without complaint. It just weighs too damn much. If Suzuki can’t change that then at least give me another 100cc (dedicated to torque..), and I guess I can be satisfied with that.
    A ‘Blackbird’ pinning my eyes back – who needs it; especially hour after hour, day after day.
    Those that do ultimately leave our ranks, or..?!
    Ian

    • Trent says:

      I loved my Blackbird. The only reason I sold it and bought a ZX10R is because of its weight. But that CBR1100XX is an awesome bike. Hurts to hear it being insulted.

  36. oldridertom says:

    Oh Yeah! I have a MT-01 (1700cc) and a ZX10 parked in my backyard and though I love them both the bike I have had insured and ridden all year is a ’04 KLX400 with Bridgestone BT45 street tires on it. I have toured for a week on this bike from British Columbia down into Oregon and except from a rather severe case of numb bum (suffering is supposed to be good for the soul) I regret nothing. Bring on the mid-displacements!!!

  37. Tim C says:

    Already are and will be more such replies. My (’07) FZ6 is certainly fast enough – it’s easily enough bike for my needs and such, can’t see replacing it anytime soon. Brick solid reliability too.

    But the question is what will fly in America – and to most in the US it’s barely a motorcycle. Shame, but that’s how it is. It would be great to see this change; maybe more midsize bikes will engage new riders, but this just goes so counter to what is considered important – more/faster instead of simply “better.”

  38. Moto-Kafe says:

    How about the little Honda CB500X plus the Rally Raid 3 Kit………????? Price may be alittle high at $9000 for a brand new 2016 X + the Kit, but folks have ridden this bike in all kinds of terrain (comfortably).

  39. atlantarandy says:

    Giving away my age, my Honda SL350 was an absolute blast. My Kawasaki A7 Avenger (350cc) could loft the front wheel at 60mph. In the 80’s, my Kawasaki GPz550 could scare the crap out of me. Don’t anybody try to tell me that mid-displacement is boring. Oh, wait… mid displacement now means 900cc.

    • Stromfan says:

      Hey, I loved the SL350! I had a SL175 Candy Apple Red (’73) which I rode all through my freshman year of high school (’75) – even on snow/ice. At the time that was considered a big-enough-size bike. 350s were full size, CB750 was superbike stuff. My how times have changed ….. Cheers to all of the super-sized, super-duty riders and their 800+lb bikes. I tip my hat as you pass me on my 366lb Suz Dr650 – see you at the pub tonight!

  40. Mike Simmons says:

    I now have 70,000 miles on my ’10 Honda NT700 or as it is known across the pond as the Deauville. It is a wonderful touring bike that has taken me coast to coast several times on long excursions and serves as my daily commute bike. You don’t have to have mega cc’s to tour comfortably. My bike will cruise all day long at 85 mph+ if that’s what you want. I think the mid-size market is ripe for growth if approached right, ala Yamaha….. are you listening, Honda?

    Mike

  41. I’m still riding a standard type motor cycle , a 2004 BMW R1150R .The new Beemers look like a female dog in heat , butt in the air . I will not buy one. The new Triumphs look great and are comfortable. Now if Yamaha took the 700 twin and made it look similar to the Triumph ,with a comfortable seat,foot pegs, and a 4.5 gallon fuel tank as well as a 7″ round headlight I’d buy it. What they’ve got is pretty close.

  42. Lonerider says:

    In 2006, i owned a V-Strom 1000. In 2011, i replaced it for a WR250X. I now ride a FZ-07. I truly had a blast with the little one. Give me a 500 cc bike with high quality components. Light enoug, powerful enough.

    As some have already said, it would be great to have mid displacement bikes built with quality components. I’m still waiting for a light adventure bike. Something like a light version of the Transalp 650/ KLE 500.

  43. Grover says:

    Looks like something that Big Bird would ride. Next!

  44. dan says:

    I love and have owned all sizes of bikes. Depends on the kind of riding you do. Small/medium dispacement is fine for city riding and small country roads. But for high speed blasting in the wide open spaces and passing long lines of cars I kind of like having 100hp+

  45. Mongrel says:

    I have a Kawasaki Versys 650 LT and it is the best motorcycle I have ever owned in 44 years of riding. It truly is a “versatile system”. It is a great balance of great handling, plenty enough power for one up without being scary, not too heavy, and travel capable. Sure, there are another 15 or 20 motorcycles that I would love to add to the collection, but the Versys really hits the sweet spot.

  46. jcott says:

    If Americans didn’t all drive in the left lane, and used the right lane properly, smaller displacement bikes would be more feasible in the US. As it is, for riding in freeway traffic, having more power is necessary for passing maneuvers. I have an NT650 and a DL1000. The Hawk is a blast on backroads. The DL is much better in traffic because I can accelerate out of situations more easily.

  47. I Ride says:

    Currently riding DR650 set up for serious dual sport work. Sold my KTM950 Adventure due to my age and its size. I can’t use 100 HP offroad any more(never could?)Have an NC700X mostly converted to light dual sport. Can’t wait for the FJ700 from Yamaha(are they listening).Light weight, good power, and pocket book friendly-my kind of bike. Mid size bikes are cool!

  48. endoman38 says:

    Every bike brought to this country should have Suzuki’s 650cc v-twin. Of course, I may be a little biased.

  49. bmbktmracer says:

    I spent my formative years on a Suzuki GS450E. I still believe it was the funnest motorcycle I’ve ever had. That was after owning a 1980 CB750F, so can’t say I loved the Suzuki because it was my first. It just did everything well. I could get into 6th gear on a wheelie with that thing. But, now, like too many of us, I just can’t seem to accept owning a small displacement motorcycle. I don’t know why.

  50. Mgood3 says:

    Honda makes some great mid size motorcycles, Yamaha has the venerable FZ-6 and the new hit FZ-07. Kawasaki the 650 Ninja and Versys. And of course there’s the wee-strom and SV from Suzuki. Same goes for the European manufacturers. Loads of bikes to choose from. I went Italian this summer and bought a Guzzi 750′ Nevada. It’s absolutely a hoot to ride and I think I could go cross country no problem.

    So the choices are out there. You just need to have confidence that they can do the job of a great all around bike. Hear me now and believe me later – THEY CAN!

  51. kawzies says:

    I bought a used z750s a few years ago w/8000 miles on her. Still have it at 45,000 and it’s easily the best most reliable bike I’ve ever owned. The high beam indicator flickers some and one of the turn signal indicators sometimes doesn’t work. Those are the only problems I’ve ever had with it. It has 100hp to the rear wheel and hauls my fat 280lb ass past anything I want it to. It weighs 430 pounds. I paid $3500 for it used. No, it doesn’t have ABS, or “ludicrous mode” or whatnot…..but who really needs that crap? There needs to be more bikes on the market like this-so more people will get on the road with 2 wheels. The Yamaha FZ-07 is awesome-probably the best deal out there right now in motorcycling (don’t like the FZ-09 too much power on a scrawny little frame,forks etc.). More midsize please!!!!

    • Mongrel says:

      Man, I lusted after the Z750s when my dealer had one but never committed. I have always regretted not getting it.

    • Trent says:

      My Z750S is my favorite bike. It does have a bunch of customizations, including ZX6R forks, calipers and shock, and a corbin seat and Muzzy exhaust. Would sell my ZX10R before giving up the Z750S.

  52. Skybullet says:

    I had a Honda VFR800 with more than adequate power for one up touring. Even with Heli Bars and a Corbin Seat it was not quite comfortable enough for long distance touring. So… something like the VFR800 or FZ-07 with upgraded suspension, light weight and all day touring ergos would check all the boxes for me.

  53. MZ in Oz says:

    I and my wife have been riding for 45 years here in Oz. All our bikes have been low to mid size until 4 years ago when we bought a Triumph Sprint GT for 2 up touring. Our mid size bikes have been more than adequate for touring and commuting. Many riders seem to try to make up for lack of skill by insisting that more hp is going to make them better.

  54. MotoMaster39 says:

    I think bikes like the Husqvarna Vitpilen are the future of small displacement bikes, maybe motorcycles in general. Part standard bike, part dual sport without all the plastic like a dual sport, and a gearbox for the street.

  55. Don says:

    Nice to see a bike like the Leoncino where they’ve resisted the temptation to put plastic covers on the sides of the radiator and wings on the sides of the tank!

  56. Dave says:

    Yes. The format needs to be re-imagined. The current flavors aren’t really appealing to those who aren’t already “in”. The scrambler thing needs more function & practicality. ie., something that works as well as it’s appearance and features suggest it would. Think Dual Sport but actually comfortable to ride.

    Naked sport bikes have more potential than we’re seeing yet, too. The FZ-07 is closer.

    A viable automatic transmission would also go a long way.

  57. Gary says:

    I love mid-displacement bikes. The old saying “I’d rather ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow” is so true. I have to admit that I’ve owned my share of liter bikes, but in the last 10 years I haven’t owned anything larger than a 650. What the manufacturers need to discover is that people that purchase mid-displacement bikes don’t necessarily want a low spec bike. I’m always willing to pay for brakes and suspension components that improve performance. If I don’t get it from the OEM, I get it from the aftermarket.

    • Don says:

      Agreed. I shouldn’t have to buy a heavy, overpowered, 900cc+ bike to get top-notch suspension and brakes. We had the same problem with small cars in the US for a long time. No one wanted to buy small cars because all the ones sold were econo-box pieces of crap. Now there’s a burgeoning market for Mini’s, BMW 1 series, etc.

    • David Fisher says:

      Could not agree more. Have been riding a Honda 599 since ’06. Would like something fuel injected but a step down means heavier with inferior goodies so I will keep what I have.

  58. Provologna says:

    I owned, loved, and for years rode the snot out of a then-state of the art, early 80s liquid cooled 550cc DOHC 4-valve twin (13.00S @ 100mph, top speed >115mph). Yamaha’s XZ550 Vision comprised a more highly tuned V-Max four motor, vertically sliced in half. It had a marvelous torque curve, wide power band, made good peak power, and was smooth as silk from idle to past red line.

    Based on that experience, I am convinced mid displacement bikes are the sweet spot, offering more riding pleasure than their open class relatives.

    Suzuki’s Wee-Strom is obviously a great bike. I have no idea why they did not prefer a lighter, more off-road oriented version, especially one not cursed w/an ugly stick, a more function-oriented design. Quite obviously the motor is well suited to such bike. Something in the range of low-400 lbs would seem ideal.

  59. MGNorge says:

    As I’ve felt for many years, motorcycling is much different today than when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Many models then were seemingly more broad spectrum, first being purchased as what we call nakeds today and pressed into service for however the owner wanted. I don’t recall the fascination for cruisers in those days but most young boys were very much into the multitude of various displacement bikes that the Japanese, especially Honda, offered. They were everywhere. Our high school had a special parking area for the many bikes rode into school each day. Our motorcycles were our primary mode of transportation and we rode them everywhere, even on snowy roads if need be.
    I see motorcycles being predominately toys today, much like a Jet Ski (Personal Watercraft), powerboat, quad and/or any number of other garage candy people own today. If it’s there it had better bring some admiration or it won’t be in my garage for long! Different times, people view things differently. For that reason mid-size and smaller bikes just don’t get no respect. Too bad, I always thought that motorcycling’s greatest virtue was it diversity.

    • Scotty says:

      I don’t care at all if people respect my bike choice. The only one that counts is ME. Hence my slightly tatty, 12 year old, hard luggage 750 Guzzi that took me all around the Pyrenees last week without a complaint.

  60. mkv says:

    I have the weirdest boner right now. Surely that wouldnt pass emissions here in the US

  61. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Wont work in the US. Americans are just too fat for small displacement

    • Kent says:

      Not true. I remember an immensely overweight couple with fairing, saddlebags, trunk and a large cooler on top of the trunk traveling and camping across the U.S. on a CB350 four. No excuses. Some people are cut out for motorcycling and some are not.