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?
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.
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.
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.
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.