An Exciting Time to Be a Motorcyclist

I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about all the new bikes that have been released over the past few weeks. While taking in the sights at the EICMA show via Twitter yesterday I felt like a kid with a freshly delivered Sears Wishbook opened up in front of me. Even though I’m not willing to plank down the cash for a new bike anytime soon, I can’t help but be absolutely stoked at the direction the industry is headed in.

In no particular order, here are the bikes I’m most excited about. Everyone is talking about the Kawasaki H2R, but I won’t be. It’s crazily excessive and I haven’t much interest in bikes that I will never ever own in a million years. The following bikes are if not probable, then at least possible additions to my garage at some point in the future.

YAMAHA

I was really, really hoping for Yamaha to design a mid-size Tenere for North America based on the fabulous FZ-07. They didn’t. Instead, they built an adventure-sport-tourer based on the also fabulous (but not quite as fabulous as the FZ-07, in my opinion) FZ-09. Dubbed the FJ-09 (Taser in some markets), it’s practical, versatile, and has loads of performance. It fills in the niche somewhere on the continuum between the highway hauler FJR1300 and the lose-your-license-in-comfort FZ1.

FJ09

The 2015 FJ09. Photo credit: Yamaha Canada

The Tuning Fork Company also released another model that caught my attention, one they should have sold in North America at least three years ago: the beginner sportbike R3. Yamaha was missing out on the newbie market big time, but it looks like that will change. With very sharp R6-ish stying, the R3 is quite the looker. If I was in the market for a small, faired bike I’d look no further, especially in the red and white paint scheme.

R3

The 2015 Yamaha R3. Photo credit: Yamaha Canada

KAWASAKI

The Versys 650 was always a great bike, even though it suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Not quite a sportbike, but not fully ADV either…more or less a supermotard on steroids. It’s such a fun bike that it’s a bit of a shame that Kawi didn’t put more thought into its aesthetics; that cyclops-like headlight probably turned off many would-be buyers. The Versys was overdue for a redesign and it was done right. Besides turning this proverbial ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, Kawasaki bumped up the power from the parallel twin, made the rear shock remotely adjustable,and included ABS as an option.

versys

Only green will do. The 2015 Versys 650. Photo credit: Kawasaki Canada

Though I have a feeling that the Z300 won’t hit our shores, I have to mention it because I think it’s just awesome. Kawasaki calls it “the world’s first 300cc Supernaked”, and it has all the aggressive styling of the Z1000 in a smaller package. It may be marketed to novices, but I know this bike would be an absolute hoot.

z300

The Z300. Photo credit: motorbiketimes.com

SUZUKI

Though my primary ride is a 2009 Suzuki Vstrom 650, I’m not overly gone on what Suzuki has done with what it calls the Vstrom 650X. The addition of wire-spoked wheels and a beak was supposed to make the bike more “adventurous”. I agree that the wheels were a move in the right direction, especially since they are still tubeless making for easy roadside plug jobs. The beak throws me off though. I find it makes the bike look…”birdlike” or something. What most adventure-oriented folks would really like from this bike is the ability to turn off the ABS, which is still lacking on the 650X. I’m including it here for loyalty’s sake.

vstrom650x

2015 Suzuki Vstrom 650X. Photo credit: Suzuki Canada

There’s another bike in Suzuki’s lineup that interests me a lot more than the Vstrom 650X. It’s the GSX-S750, essentially a naked version of the venerable GSX-R750. Manufacturers are finally bringing naked bikes to Canada, a trend that I hope continues so that I never have to spend another beer-fueled night in the garage stripping plastic from a race-replica (as fun as that was).

GSX-S750

Not fussy on the colour scheme but otherwise a great looking bike. Photo credit: Suzuki Canada

BMW

I first rode BMW’s F800R in 2010, and it ignited my love for midsize naked bikes. The 2015 revamp has removed the quirkiness of the bike with a redesigned headlight, and upside down forks replace the telescopic set-up. The motor now pumps out a few more horsepower, ergo’s are refined slightly and the plastic bits are a little different. I think it looks great.

f800r

Blue and white must be a trendy colour this year. Photo credit: Motorcycle-USA.com

KTM

Since we finally have a KTM dealer in Newfoundland, I was interested to see what the Austrians have in store for us. The brand new 1050 Adventure struck me as a likely successor to my Vstrom. Not too big, not too powerful, and apparently “budget-priced”. The v-twin engine pumps out 95 horsepower, and the bike comes equipped with ABS and traction control. Everything is spot-on, except the fact that I’m hearing reports that it will not be sold in North America. Bummer.

KTM

Forbidden fruit. Photo credit: visordown.com

DUCATI

One of the biggest hits at the Intermot bike show was the Ducati Scrambler (I figured Triumph had the copyright on that name?!) in four lovely flavours: Classic, Icon, Urban Enduro and Full Throttle. Each model blends retro style with modern technology and features a 75 horsepower, 803cc v-twin engine. It’s hard to pick a favourite but I think I like the Urban Enduro best, with the military green paint, wire-spoke wheels and brown leather seat. This bike is a sure head-turner, and is so dissimilar from everything else in Ducati’s line-up that it will be quite the conversation starter for new owners this spring. But would you dare to ride something this beautiful off-road?

scrambler

Not like any Ducati you’ve ever seen. Photo credit: uncrate.com

So there’s my picks from the bike shows this fall. What new motorcycles are YOU most excited about?

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Posted on November 5, 2014, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great write-up Krista! Lotsa great new Bikes coming down the pipe for sure! While generally not a fan of BMW, the new retro-esque R Nine T is beautiful … as is the latest version of Yamahog’s XV950 Bolt, the Cafe flavoured C-Spec. Kawi’s new Cruiser, the Vulcan S, built around the tried & true 650cc parallel twin motor used in the Versys, Ninja, et al, is a cool new motorcycle too!

    • Thanks Perry! 🙂 I rode the R NineT at BMW’s demo day…absolutely loved it. So much character in that boxer engine! Still trying to find time to write a review of it. Retro-style bikes are becoming so popular, it’s fantastic. The Vulcan S is very interesting…I think it looks fantastic, but it remains to be seen how the market will react to a cruiser that doesn’t sport a v-twin. I’d love to test-ride one.

  2. Fred, Quebec City

    Hi Krista. I plan a road trip for my 50 and your blog makes me considering seriously to include Newfoundland. Keep sharing infos about riding The Rock.

    • Hi Fred, thanks so much for reading. I know I’m biased but I think Newfoundland should be on the radar for any motorcyclist in Eastern North America 🙂 I’ll be posting lots more pics and stories as soon as my schedule allows it!

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