2014: Year Of The…?

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2014: Year Of The…?

In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, but to us riders, wherever we are, every year is the year of the horse, whether it’s a V-twin horse, a four-cylinder liter horse, or a special old war-horse you only ride on Sundays.  So if this is the year of the horse, the question is: what breed?

Background photo by Tsutomu Takasu

Motorcycle culture and industry, which were static for so long, have become increasingly complex, fragmented, and interesting in recent years.  This makes it fun to speculate on which will be the salient trends for this year, or even the defining trend.  Here are some suggestions:

Tomos Sprint
Tomos Sprint

Year Of The Scooter? 

“Moped” and “scooter” used to be a dirty words. They were something that sucked all the cool out of anyone even standing near one.  But like so many once-uncool things, scooters are re-hip.  People are rediscovering the joy of putting around the neighborhood and hanging out on the sidewalk, and some people are investing serious effort into making sweet custom scooters.  Who thought those three words would ever go together?  We foresee more scooters in 2014.

2014 Honda CB500F
2014 Honda CB500F

Year Of The Affordable Bike? 

The Honda 500s, the Harley Street, new small-displacement Triumphs, and of course Cleveland Cyclewerks, are a few with this aim.  As we see more of these on the roads, the hurdle to getting started riding won’t seem so high.  Influenced by both emerging markets overseas and trying to attract new riders here in the U.S., this laudable trend should only increase.

2014 Zero SR
2014 Zero SR

Year Of The Electric Bike? 

They seem to be coming ever closer to carving out some flesh in the industry.  Maybe this will be the year that Brammo, Zero, and Mission start to change what people imagine when they hear “motorcycle.”  With all the apparently eager potential riders, it’s just a question of when the matrix of price, availability, and people ready to spend the money will all come together.

Garage Built Motorcycle
Garage Built Motorcycle

Photo by ATOMIC

Year Of The Home-Build? 

Doing it for yourself has never been more popular.  Of course, not everyone has the time or skills to piece together a unique machine, but a garage-job built for $2,000 is unquestionably cooler than a $50,000 chopper.  Everybody loves homemade cookies.  Even relatively minor modifications to an old, used, stock standard bike can be a legitimate source of pride.

There is something in these and other trends that we think (hope) will be the real defining label for 2014. This could be the year of the Young Rider.

Young Motorcyclists
Young Motorcyclists

Photo by Smudge 9000

Year Of The Young Rider

It is easier to get started riding now than probably any time in the last 30 years, and there is an unprecedented range of options.  Whether you’re into nostalgia, new technology, sustainability, or just basic transportation, riding should be more attractive today than ever.  Add to this the trend of young people moving back into cities and delaying buying cars.  Meanwhile, the old stereotypes of bikers (either sportbike squids or beard-and-beer-belly grandpas) are fading away, and with them some of the stigma.  On top of all this, riding is being demystified by all the information about bikes, riding, and how to get started that is easily available on many online forums and websites just like this one.

We’re already starting to see more young people on two wheels, and there is every reason to be optimistic that this is not just a blip but a real change in riding culture.

What do you think?  What will be the defining trend for 2014?  What about your personal 2014 – what will your riding year be like?

  • runnermatt

    Hopefully it will be the year I get my second bike, probably something from the dual-sport or ADV categories. Top choices on the list are CB500X, NC700X, Vstrom 650, Versys, & KLR650. The KLR will give me something to learn to work on, but all will provide more touring ability than my CBR250R.

    Which leads to my second part of 2014… a moto vacation, maybe camping.

    • Adam

      I started on a 2000 Honda Shadow 600, had it for close to a year then got a 2009 KLR650. I’ve had that for four years now. It is a fine bike but slow and boring. Unless you a skilled off road rider it is difficult to handle on anything more trail than a fire access road. Maintenance (by others) has turned out to be more expensive than I expected for a single cylinder. Allstate insurance is crazy cheap though (“Off road vehicle” classification). Also you can get a good used one in the new body style for under $4,000. (I’ve got mine up for sale for $3,700 in LA). So unless you are doing a lot of dirt roads or touring to South America I would go with any of your other options. A new one would be a total waste of money. ($6k+?)

      I’m thinking of replacing it with a 2009+ BMW F800ST or a CB500X. Even buying it used I think the depreciation on the BMW will be worse than the Honda but I dont foresee getting the Honda for less than MSRP for at least a year, which is kind of a bummer.

    • katesy

      I just got a 1998 KLR about three months ago. So far I have been able to do everything on it myself, or with a little assistance to help me learn how and it’s great. I rode it on a 400 mile trip Thanksgiving weekend and can’t wait to take it out on an even longer trip once it gets a little warmer.

    • SteveNextDoor

      You’re making me scared that I have a secret identity that I don’t even know about, and it posts when I’m drunk or asleep. I started riding last year on a CRF250L and have ideas similar to yours for an upgrade path this year. I’ve narrowed it down to the CB500X and the V-Strom 650; come spring time, I will be buffing the chrome hosing off the matte black plastic bits of one of these bad boys. I will definitely be taking at least one long trip this year with the hope of doing numerous weekend jaunts.

      • CaptainPlatypus

        Make that three of us. I started riding last year on a Ninja 250 and would love to move up to a CB500X or V-Strom 650 if I had the cash to. Finances being what they are, that’s probably a 2015 goal at the earliest. But I already have a number of longer rides planned for myself for this year, including one up Pacific Coast Highway from LA to SF.

        • kent_skinner

          I went from a KLR to a 650 VStrom after a few years.
          The KLR was a great bike, but it’s just no damn fun if you commute on the freeway. I had the idea that I’d do all sort of adventure touring, and really needed a simple, single cylinder bike. Switching to the VStrom was like magic, because it was so much better than the KLR while getting me to those out of the way places. I’m not going to bash the KLR, but *really* think about your riding before you get a big (crude) single.

          Good thing about both bikes is that they are super cheap used – and they don’t change that often. I picked up my Wee for $3,200 with all sorts of goodies and only 21,000 on the odometer, as well as some scratches on the plastic. They are good for at least 60,000 to 70,000 before they need any work, so don’t be scared of a used one.

        • Robert Santos

          Suzuki always has great deals. I got my 2012 v-strom adventure in spring 2013 reduced price + $500 off and 0% financing. Suzuki is almost always offering 0% financing so your looking at about $120-$160 a month depending on year and extras. Just check the dealers between now and mid april they’ll be trying to make room for 2014′s.

          • CaptainPlatypus

            I really appreciate the information and endorsement! That said, I am literally flat broke, and can’t afford a new bike under any circumstances. But damn, 300k? That’s EXACTLY what I’m looking for. Wee-Strom here we come. In a year or two.

        • NextTurn

          Ah ha!!! I have finally found a posting from all 3 of my other personalities… Glad to know we are on the same page, boys. Now whichever one of you is bruising my right foot in the middle of the night – cut it out.

          Oh, and I think our wife has already made the decision for us – it will be the NC500X. Budgetary concerns and all.

  • TheUst

    Hopefully my 2014 will be the year of getting my CB500X. Maybe it will be the year of getting my girlfriend more into my 2 wheeled hobby. We will see!

  • katesy

    The examples for mopeds are scooters. Mopeds have pedals! Though both are fun.

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      You are totally right. It’s been revised. Look up.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    2014′s the year everybody wages a holy war on squidding. Last year we saw a TON of attractive looking apparel that was also more protective, at better price points that were within reach for a lot of people. Same thing with low displacement bikes, ABS, etc.

    Last year we thought of all this gear as just an abundance of cool options. This year we’re going to see these no longer as options, but as requirements. It will be socially unacceptable not to be ATGATT, or be in your first few years of riding without a low displacement bike. I’m already seeing growing outrage against ‘squidding,’ either in the form of being unprotected, riding a literbike, or

  • mms

    Here’s hoping that 2014 will be the year of well-designed heated gear that doesn’t suck. That said… The mopeds/scooters are pretty rampant here in VA, as no license is required to ride one (provided it meets restrictions of size and speed). The moped riders outnumber bicycles by quite a wide margin (is it just the weather? I’ve only been here for 2 months) and they are very unfriendly to motorcyclists. A long way off from the friendly “mods n rockers” group dichotomy back in So Cal. Year of the Moped is certainly believable, at least in VA.

  • Kingsix87

    With rising fuel costs and concerns about global warming, 2014 will be an year of the small displacement bike (below 600cc). More options will bring new riders who were hesitant before because of the high prices or intimidating power output of almost everything above 125cc.

    Hopefully, for me 2014 will bring improvement of my skills and lots of riding on my ’96 CB500 that I’ve bought last spring. There are no plans for new bike on the horizon.

  • katesy

    Can’t speak for everyone, but my scooters are definitely not mopeds and we scooterists can get kind of butt hurt about it. Plus the pics they had before showed bikes that definitely went over 45. Now it shows a moped and talks about scooters, haha. Two wheels, pedals or no, step through frame or not; it’s all good and fun.

    • Guy Simmonds

      Oh man, historically, you’re totally right. But the language and words have been twisted and distorted in such a way that governments refer to things as “mopeds” that should never have been called that.
      But then there are strange fringe cases; I’ve got an old Peugeot 50cc scooter knocking about in the garage – the 103 – that was originally designed as a pedal-started moped, but the pedal starter was replaced with a kickstarter by my model (and I’m pretty sure the modern one has an electric starter) and therefore only has footpegs, not pedals… so is that saying that some 103s are mopeds and others aren’t?

  • zedro

    Mo-ped= motorized pedal(bike). I guess electric bikes should be considered the same.

  • Justin McClintock

    For me, 2014 will probably be a year of “more of the same”…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as I can get a couple of trips in. 2015 however….that’s the year my oldest son my be getting his 1st motorcycle AND I might be picking up a sidecar.

  • KeithB

    After going to the bike show in Toronto, it looks like this will be the year of more affordable bike options.
    There are some really nice, low displacement choices out there.
    That being said, my wife saw the Honda F6B and really wants one.
    I was very surprised as she is very happy with her 1100 Virago.
    Affordable?…..At $20,000+….not gonna be anytime soon!

  • Khali

    Year of the Pit Bike!

  • ThinkingInImages

    I think we’re seeing the resurrection of the practical, do-it-all, motorcycle – the daily ride. We’ve had too many years of exaggerated categories, especially in the U.S. Your choices were either exaggerated cruisers, supersports, off-road, or tourers. While almost all of them could be daily rides it was always a series of compromises.

  • Slacker

    If this is the year of the young rider I may have missed it… I did bring a few people into the fold, but really I feel that there is still such a small number of young riders that it’s a bit sad. And the thing that kills me is when I go into a class and sit down with my riding gear, someone will invariably walk up to me and say, “Oh cool! You ride a motorcycle! Do you watch Sons of Anarchy!?” (Now I don’t know if this is gonna get me any hate or not) but I’ll always say something along the lines of, “No… I never really had the interest in a show about a riding lifestyle that hardly exists anymore”

  • zedro

    There is a limit in speed on the electrics tho. A shop in Midland told me how e-bikes were getting popular with DUI license losers who would tweek the limiters to get a higher top speed (I.e. they were limited to the legal threshold) and the cops would routinely radar electric bikes in the area to catch them. And moving faster than that limit meant you were essentially operating without a motor license. I forget the exact limit but I think it was around the 30 kph mark.

  • notfishing

    Year of the Old Horse getting a newer horse, something Italian that still feels old and agricultural. (Horses have always liked agriculture more than getting dolled up or racing about)

  • A P

    Up here in the Great White North, there are considerable disincentives to this (or any other) year being the Year of the Young (or just new) Rider. In Onterrible, insurance for new riders is insanely expensive. A newbie with a less than pristine driving record can expect to pay nearly as much per year in premiums as the cost of a reasonable low-distance used 250. Bigger displacement means a steep multiplier kicks in. Even after 30+ years/no bike claims, a basic/no-collision/fire/theft-coverage policy for a 250 costs me about $250/yr, but my 600RR is around $700/yr. My Nissan Sentra costs me about $500/yr, full coverage, 2 drivers.

    Also the graduated motorcycle licensing scheme has increased penalties for driving infractions which also affect the other endorsements (car, truck) on your license. Toss in a nasty, broadly-worded Stunt Driving law which allows cops at the road side to suspend your license and impound your bike “because I said you were Stunt Driving”, and many potential new riders simply don’t start.

    I’ve been riding for 30+ years, started because it was cheap, fun summer transportation and the motorcycle license was just a simple written and one road test. In 1980, my 3rd year licensed I could insure an 1100cc UJM, full coverage for under $300.

    Given similar financial/job conditions to where I was then, today, I wouldn’t be able to afford to start until much more financially secure. Which is about the time wives, houses and babies tend to happen. Besides, everyone KNOWS “motorcycles are dangerous”.