In recent years, many motorcycle manufacturers have tried to bring character back in to bike development. This feature is something that has been lost somewhere in the late 90s. As the consumer age began, there was an increase of function over form and some motorcycles have lost that ,, je ne se quoi’’ that made motorcycle riding so unique and powerful.
If today we can see a lot of machines that were built in the 70s and 80s that are still up and running with hundred of thousands of miles aboard, we are not sure if today’s motorcycles will still be around over 30 or 40 years.
Of course, in the past we did not had today’s technology but back then, motorcycles were simple, reliable and could easily put a smile on your face. Nowadays a motorcycle that develop 200bhp can easily be ridden by a rookie due to the large amount of electronics and systems that prevent the bike from going nuts.
With Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Riding Modes, Electronic suspension and other systems, many riders complain that bikes have lost their character. Other low end models are simply dull , boring and have nothing exiting to offer despite the fact that they have two wheels and a headlight. Also as cost reduction is a top guiding line when developing a new model, many new comers suffer from quality control issues or are simply not built with top north materials.
If seeing a 91 Africa Twin with 150.000 miles aboard with no engine rebuilt is something common, we can easily see modern motorcycles with problems that should simply not be there after 20.000 miles. Most common issues start with cam chain failures and go along with electronic system crashes. Also, back then, you could easily repair your cb750 with a copper wire, a screwdriver and some good luck on the side of the road. You sure can’t do this with a K1600GT.
Also, the introduction of so many safety features simply eliminated the pleasure of riding. Luckily, many manufacturers give you the option to turn them of. From a design point of view, things are not so easy. Some people simply love how new bikes look. Others are very nostalgic about classic shapes and materials. In the past everything that could be metal, was made of metal. Today for example, in the cruiser market, everything that could be metal is plastic most of the times. And speaking of plastic parts, not once we have found that new materials are simply thinner and have a lower quality in comparison with older models.
Luckily, models like the new Yamaha XJR1300, the BMW R9T or the Kawasaki H2R bring back the thrill that many bikes miss. Not counting Harley Davidson, Ural or Royal Enfield here because these manufacturers simply forced them selves against the changing transition more or less.
As the market looks today we can see that manufacturers put more and more accent on motorcycle character. This is a big plus for diversity and passion and if we are sure that the consumer age is nowhere near its end, we hope that at least that these two aspects would go along together in the future.