If you have ever wondered where the current trend of ADV bikes proudly sporting “beaks” originated, Suzuki claims that the first stylistic probobiscus appeared on the legendary DR-BIG 750, a monster of a machine that arrived in 1988 with serious dualsport credentials including a massive single cylinder engine, extensive bodywork and that now famous protruding beak. The DR-BIG was a striking machine and was ADV before ADV was cool. The Suzuki proved that big is sometimes better. In a nod to good breeding, Suzuki has added that same beakish nose to the V-Strom 650 in a move that gave the 2017 medium sized Strom a family resemblance to the V-Strom 1000 (as we all “knows” a good nose runs in a family). Even the new V-Strom 250 will sport a beak of its own should that smaller offering be made available in Canada somewhere down the road.
Rumours have surfaced in the last several months of a new and improved DR-BIG – and not just 750 or 800cc big but up over the 1000cc mark. The V-Strom is arguably Suzuki’s most popular offering but a machine in the company’s line-up with a nod to more serious off-road ability in the vein of say the Africa Twin would be appreciated by some.
In a tribute to beaks and noses here are just a couple more contemporary examples to evaluate your bird spotting skills.
It may serve as an unfortunate indicator of what we may be seeing often in the years to come. The American Motorcyclist Association has announced that the organization is fighting a 100% tariff on motorcycles that will effectively double the price of European motorcycles with displacements between 51cc and 500cc sold in the United States. There are many manufacturers that would be affected by these tariffs including Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Husqvarna, KTM, Piaggio and Vespa among others. What is the cause of this sudden potential impediment to riding? Beef. Or more specifically hormones in beef. Europe doesn’t like the hormones that go into building bigger, stronger, faster cattle and have placed sanctions on imported US beef. Looking around for something on which to retaliate the Office of the United States Trade Representative chose – of all things – motorcycles. In what might be one of the larger understatements of the year, AMA vice-president Wayne Allard stated “there is no logical link between motorcycles and beef”. Beyond a tasty steak after a long ride Mr. Allard has that right. This confounding tact of a tariff on motorcycles has been taken by the USTR before. In 2008 they tried the same thing but eventually backed down due to opposition and instead placed tariffs on European food stuffs which to many would seen more appropriate.
How you make ask does this affect us in Canada? Often times models brought to Canada are dependent on the same model being brought to the US. If some or all of those models become too expensive to sell in the US, we may not see them here either. With luck and effort this new assault on motorcycling will be defeated but in the long term it may be a fight repeated. An active tariff on motorcycles has been seen before in the United States as in the 1980’s when Japanese bikes over 750 cc were subject to them. Unlike the current issue, that tariff was an effort to protect a domestic industry .
So that would be the end of our favourite Victory model, the Hammer, as Polaris announced that as of now the company will be winding down the brand and will focus “motorcycle” efforts on the Indian and Slingshot labels. The company pledges to supply parts for 10 years and honour warranty coverage. Of the move, Polaris CEO Scott Wine states “Our focus is on profitable growth, and in an environment of finite resources, this move allows us to optimize and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands. Ultimately this decision will propel the industry-leading product innovation that is core to our strategy while fostering long-term growth and increased shareholder value.” It seems that’s the way business goes.
Ducati announced that 2016 was their best year ever with a small gain in total deliveries over 2015. The total number of bikes delivered was 55,451 with the biggest share at 8,787 going to the United States followed by Italy and Germany as the next largest markets. The hipster oriented, “Land of Happiness”, less expensive Scrambler line accounted for 28% of Ducati sales while it looks as though as a single model (as opposed to a family), the XDiavel might be one of the most popular models in Ducati’s stable accounting for almost 10% of total sales – not bad for a cruiser that doesn’t want to be a cruiser or is it a sport bike that doesn’t want to be a cruiser? Whatever… but with those kind of numbers, these two ought to be smiling!
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the world’s gathering place for the latest in whiz bang new gadgetry, Honda unveiled a self balancing motorcycle that uses technology from Honda’s long-running robotic program that brought forth our favourite robot, ASIMO. The bike is intended to not fall over …. obviously. The odd part is that it is intended to not fall over at a stop. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to just so that those who forget to put their feet down at a traffic light won’t suffer the embarrassment of being labeled a doofus. But wait, there’s more. Not only do you not have to put your foot down, the rider can also take his hands off the bars! To be fair there is likely future useful applications of the technology – perhaps in the trials bike arena. Imagine a trials bike that wouldn’t fall over. It would be a major game changer.
Yamaha is introducing a new scooter in Asia with the intent of creating – although some would claim adding to – a new category of sport scooters. With a visual flair reminiscent of the R6, the new GDR155 certainly has the looks if not the displacement or manual transmission of its larger wheel diameter counterparts. The knee dragging, stoppie loving, wheelie wanting, step through crowd will find a 155cc liquid cooled motor and a lightweight 116kg chassis in their new scooter. Yamaha is hoping that this model will be a stepping stone to larger, more powerful sport scooters. The GDR155 is being offered in Asia only with no word that there will be a North American model. The likelihood of that is about the same as that of a long and extended burnout. But hey, you never know.
In a not unusual move in recent years, Victory charged its dealer network to come up with a customized Octane. It’s a good exercise for a manufacturer as suddenly the dealers are showcasing the potential of a platform and able to think much further outside the box than would the manufacturer themselves dare. Not to appeared biased towards the other Victory dealers from around the world and despite what the voting may have suggested, we have to go with our favourite which is a Canadian effort from Mathias Marine Sport in St. Mathias, QC. As was proven with Harley-Davidson Street Challenge, you just can’t go wrong with a simple board tracker/ scrambler look. Suddenly the Octane which looks bulky in its natural form sheds the pounds to become an agile retro machine. Nice work guys. Images of the other bikes can be found on Victory’s website.
It is always interesting to see what companies we usually associate with motorcycles and powersports are also spending their time and money building. Case in point – Yamaha. The tuning fork company manufacturers a huge variety of products including musical instruments, car engines, outboards, boats, snowmobiles, electric bikes, electric bike bolt on motors, robotics and water cleaning systems. That just scratches the surface. Another product the company builds is remote control helicopters. These aren’t little play around toy helicopters but 3.6 metre long payload carrying helicopters featuring 390cc motors. As you can imagine a large remote controlled helicopter is not a toy and you can not actually buy one to mount with a GoPro and capture that epic ride. Available for hire in the US from Yamaha and flown by Yamaha pilots the helicopters are used mostly for agricultural purposes.
Honda and Yamaha have announced that they will be cooperating on model development. Don’t jump to conclusions and stare woefully at your R1, this union is for scooters and in particular scooters less than 50cc and applies to the Japanese market. It seems that small scooters are getting a lot of competition from things like electric bicycles so in an attempt to create a resurgence of the segment in Japan the two competitors are coming together to tackle the problem for both gas and electric based platforms. So far your Fury vs Warrior rivalry will not be affected.
Powered by a 660cc Honda motor, the Honda Streamliner S-Dream set anew FIA world record of 261.875 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats for a vehicle in its class and became the world’s fasted Honda vehicle ever beating a mark that was set in 2006. The new effort by the Honda team began in 2015 and culminated in one attempt at Bonneville Speed Week which did not result in a record but the team returned shortly after and had runs at speeds up to 266mph before setting the official new record. The S-Dream was piloted by former Japan motorcycle champion Hikaru Miyagi.
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