10 Most Important Motorcycle Developments in 2013

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10 Most Important Motorcycle Developments in 2013

There were a few big stories that you couldn’t miss this year, stories which portend new directions for the industry. There were others that slipped by almost unnoticed, but which nevertheless indicate important trends or tell us something significant about what it mean to be a rider today and tomorrow. Here are the ten most important motorcycle developments for 2013.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

10: The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

Charity rides are nothing new, but we love the connection between a social riding event and men’s health, and the hook of the classy dress is delightful. It’s also progressive that it’s not just cruisers, or rockers, mods, or whatever, but all types of bikes and all types of guys, including a big contingent of young men.  Most of all, the fact that The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride popped up and had participation in 38 countries and exceeded its fundraising goal in the first year is remarkable.

CHP Lane-Splitting Guidelines / AMA Endorses Lane-Splitting
CHP Lane-Splitting Guidelines / AMA Endorses Lane-Splitting

9: CHP Lane-Splitting Guidelines / AMA Endorses Lane-Splitting

Lane-splitting is legal in California, and it can be done in a “safe and prudent” manner, but it still needs to be legitimized in the minds of many drivers (and riders). The CHP’s guidelines for safe lane-splitting helped establish that legitimacy, as well as just providing some solid advice for filtering in a way that won’t get you killed or anger drivers.  The AMA (the motorcyclists, not the doctors) endorsed lane-splitting too, so maybe this is something we will see in more states in the future.

AIMExpo
AIMExpo

8: AIMExpo Begins

Why did it take this long for there to be a comprehensive American motorcycle industry expo?  I think there’s still a sense here that the motorcycle industry isn’t really a serious entity. Well, it’s approaching $100 billion worldwide, and the rest of the world takes it pretty seriously. The AIMExpo is an important step in the right direction, let’s hope it gets even bigger next year.

The Honda Grom
The Honda Grom

7: The Honda Grom

Small is beautiful.  Sometimes ugly is beautiful, too.  Riding is supposed to make you smile, but sometimes we take ourselves way too seriously. The Grom brings back that sheer delight in an accessible, affordable, reliable package. Plus, you’re guaranteed to get more positive attention from the opposite sex on a Grom than on a $20,000 FatGlide.

The Mission RS
The Mission RS

6: The Mission RS

Young potential riders are often very interested in electric bikes, mainly because they are eco-conscious and interested in tech.  Now there is a new reason: ungodly performance.  What may be the best-performing sportbike in the world is now an electric bike – the Mission RS.  Yes, it has the price tag of a super-exotic, but this is the milestone that sneers at all the doubters.  And, oh yeah, it’s designed and built in the U.S.

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  • Guy Simmonds

    I’d also add the introduction of the A2 license category in Europe, forcing more manufacturers to develop “true” middle-power bikes, between the supersport 600s and the bikes that are conventionally seen as beginner bikes, like the 250s…

    • Reid

      I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the good insight!

    • Piglet2010

      The Honda CB500F/CBR500R/CB500X triplets were designed to be just under the the A2 limits.

  • Guest

    No mention of Bosch’s stability control on the KTM 1190 Adventure? It is a quantum leap forward in safety / motorcycle dynamics management.

  • Richard Gozinya

    From what I’ve seen, the Panigale and the RNineT were met with more excitement than the new Indian. Perhaps that’s just my perspective, but I just don’t see the importance in reviving a long dead brand. There are very few people who are still alive and riding who were riding back before Indian went bust. It’s sort of like reviving Packard or Studebaker.

    • Aaron

      I feel the same way. At this point, Indian is in a line of HD copies. I’d rather buy a Japanese cruiser myself.

    • tobykeller

      Yep. It’ll be exciting if and when they do build these rumored “other product lines” AND those products are innovative AND those products don’t suck AND those products hit the right price point to succeed in the market. That’s a lot of hypotheticals before the new Indian is exciting.

      • Piglet2010

        If reports are to be believed, the new Indians are not bad bikes when the inherent limitations of the traditional cruiser layout are taken into consideration. They hardly “suck” in the ways certain products from The Motor Company do in the comfort and handling departments.

    • Flying Couch

      My interest will be piqued when they bring us a modern take on the Indian Four.

      • Reid

        Hopefully it will be a gnarly (but classy) balls-out big performance bike and NOT a Goldwing/Vision-style long-haul touring bike.

        In my naive opinion, the ideal product line for Indian would be something like

        1. Chief – big cruiser
        2. Scout – smaller cruiser (750cc-1000cc range)
        3. Four – bigger performance bike kind of like a Diavel in terms of “attitude”
        4. A new model altogether that I’ll call a “Brave,” which would be something like “America’s Monster.” The idea being a light, smallish, performance-oriented naked bike with medium-to large displacement engines.

        • Flying Couch

          I kind of envision a modern Indian Four as something between a Rocket III and a V-Max competitor – still a cruiser, but a mean one. I hadn’t really imagined an “American Monster,” but if they could keep the price low enough that’d be awesome.

          • Reid

            I would definitely endorse a V Max-like mean cruiser. When I said Diavel I meant I’d like to see an Indian Four convey that same “spirit” of non-traditionalism, which would itself be an awesome thing from a company many feel exists solely as a “heritage brand.” I have the sincere belief that in the years to come Indian will show us what a comprehensive and modern American motorcycle company with historic roots looks like. Respect for the past and an appreciation for the future need not be mutually exclusive.

        • Piglet2010

          The bike I would like to see from Polaris, whether Indian or Victory branded is a better G650GS/KLR650. A company building bikes in Iowa should sell something that can handle the full range of public roads in that state, from graded dirt to rural freeway (yeah, I know about the guy doing single-track on a Victory Vision, but that is more the exception that proves the rule).

          • IRS4

            I would enjoy something with the performance of a Husqvarna with the durability of a Kawi.

        • runnermatt

          I would like to see Indian expand the product line into other segments. Scout would make a great name for a off-road capable ADV bike, such as a modern take on the KLR650 or an American version of the KTM 990 Adventure R. With Indian’s racing history a line of sport bikes makes sense too but probably not in the current market conditions.

  • kevin

    Here’s really, really hoping we see a full line of Indian products in the coming years. As awesome as the new Buell sportbike is, I’d love to see another American Vtiwn sportbike on the road. Competition improves the breed.

    • Piglet2010

      Well, the new EBR 1190RX may be a great motorcycle, but only great to those skilled enough to ride a super-bike properly on the track. A competitor from Indian would only make sense if they planned to support it in a racing series.

  • Piglet2010

    “…it’s not just cruisers, or rockers, mods, or whatever,…”

    Rockers, mods – is this a course in ancient British history?

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    I can see the gentleman ride “look” catching on after this. Motorcycle formal wear is definitely a missing market.

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    The AMAs endorsement of lane splitting is still overshadowed by their continued stupidity. The federal helmet law debate provided an opportunity for the AMA to endorse the helmet law in exchange for lane splitting laws or better driver education for motorcyclist safety. For once they had a bargaining chip in federal congress, and they instead condemned the helmet law and will likely lose any leverage in the issue, making motorcyclists look like fools along the way.

    • John

      Sure, bargaining away your freedom is always a stunningly great idea.

      • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

        Haha. The right not to wear a helmet is ‘freedom’. That’s novel.

        • John

          Why is it novel? By the same standard, government could fine people for not wearing a condom. Or for not wearing non-slip shoes when you shower.

          • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

            No, those are entirely different circumstances. Roadways are a public good. When you use public highways you have to give up some of your freedoms. Mandating helmet use on private land would be an infringement of your personal freedom, but requiring you to maintain equipment and safety standards to use land shared with other individuals isn’t denying your freedom.

            • John

              My head is not a public good. Also, if I’m paying for the public highways, why should I have to give up my freedoms to use my share of it? How am I risking others by not wearing a helmet?

              • IRS4

                Chain Mail? Forward this response to 60 people or misfortune will follow you.

              • Peter

                Do you feel speed limits are stifling your freedom as well? What about dedicated lanes and one way streets? I mean you do pay for the public roadways so…

                • John

                  Yes because i am a better judge of speed but accept the idea of high limits because some will risk my life while risking their own. But the big issur here is that it is none of the Fedd business if i wear a helmet or drive fast on local public highways.

                • John

                  I also think that these should be guidelines and culpability based on who followed them and who didnt.