10 Most Important Motorcycle Developments in 2013

Lists, News -

By

10 Most Important Motorcycle Developments in 2013

The Water-Cooled BMW Boxer
The Water-Cooled BMW Boxer

5: The Water-Cooled BMW Boxer

With ever-tighter emissions standards and ever-increasing demand for engine longevity, reliability, and performance, the march toward water-cooling is inexorable. Even the venerable boxer engine, that icon of air-cooled design, is starting to get water-cooling. The question is, how much longer will those cylinders need to stick out in the breeze?

Erik Buell Racing
Erik Buell Racing

4: Hero Buys 49.2% Stake in Erik Buell Racing

This is significant in two distinct ways. First, it is emblematic of the importance of the emergence of South Asia as a global motorcycle player (see more on this in #2 below) – not just as a new consumer market, but as manufacturers, designers, and, yes, investors. Second, it means that Erik Buell has major investment backing and stability, but still maintains majority control of EBR. So, that elusive American sportbike is becoming a reality. With the sub-$20K 1190RX, they are now offering something a mortal might buy.

The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibit
The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibit

3: The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibit

This exhibit at the Riverside Museum in Riverside, CA, features the photography of Lanakila MacNaughton who aims to, “document the new wave of modern female motorcyclists.”  In a subculture where women are still often seen as accessories, this is an important statement and recognition of the growing role of independent women in riding culture. It’s also an example of the growing trend of art, music, fashion, and motorcycle events coming together.

The Harley Street 500/750
The Harley Street 500/750

2: The Harley Street 500/750

The “more is more” mantra of the nineties is finally fading, and the Street 500/750 is an acknowledgement that we need more riders who are younger, more diverse, and not always rich. This is a bike that is lighter, less expensive, and easy to get started on, while still being a fully capable motorcycle.  It also happens to be well suited to that vital South Asian market.

The New Indians
The New Indians

1: The New Indians

No new motorcycle release in our lifetime has been met with such anticipation as the 2013 Indian Chiefs.  After so many failed attempts, this, the most romantic of motorcycle brands, is now in the hands of a highly capable American company with plenty of capital, who were able to create an entirely new machine in just over two years. These sumptuous, neo-deco-styled bikes did not disappoint the legions of Indian fans and are sure to sell. Given the expectations and their goals, Polaris Industries hit a homerun with this one. The important question is, what will they do next?  Is this going to be just another cruiser company (The Cadillac to Victory’s Buick), which we really don’t need, or are we going to see the evolution of a full line of motorcycle products bearing the Indian badge? If it’s the former, they’ll just take part of Harley’s lunch. If it’s the latter — and there are hints that it is — then this changes the whole game entirely.

  • 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.