November Floodgates Open: 2016 Motorcycles First Look
November is shaping up to be an exciting month, and I feel like a kid with a Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog. We have the Milan Motorcycle Show (EICMA 2015) with concept and production models from the European and Japanese heavies, some of which may make it to U.S. shores, and the roving International Motor Show hitting Long Beach, California as I write this.
In addition, the designs heretofore held in reserve get unveiled this time of year, and this confluence of factors has left me awash in a flood new information. My wife and fellow writer Allyn Hinton had to come check on me — I was over here flipping through my press releases and giggling like a schoolgirl.
You will forgive me if I am brief, there is a lot to cover and there will be plenty of time later to belabor the minutia in full reviews.
Continue reading for my look at some of the new 2016 motorcycles.
Before I launch into the new bikes, I want to lead off with some newsy-news that made my inner tree-hugger positively giddy. On November 19, 2015, ROEV revealed itself to the light of day, and electric vehicle manufacturers rejoiced! This is an association peopled by EV-makers BMW of North America and Nissan, along with NRG EVgo, CarCharging/Blink and ChargePoint — some of the biggest U.S. charge facility operators. The objective is to homogenize and expand the public charging system, and they even mention some sort of swipeable membership card for hassle-free transactions.
While this is mainly aimed at electric cagemobiles, it will certainly be a boon to the motorcycle sector as well. Bikes like the Zeros, Victory Empulse, Energicas and, eventually, Harley’s Livewire (among others) should benefit from this expanded infrastructure, and it may entice some of the holdouts to cross over to the green side.
I consider this to be a crucial next step, and a brave initiative, that addresses the main issue underpinning the overall slow acceptance of electric transportation; the lack of convenience due to poor infrastructure. Bravo, ROEV. Bravo!
On to the new stuff. Indian looks to be dipping its toe deeper into the entry-level cruiser market with its latest release. While Indian doesn’t have a direct competitor to Harley’s Sportster, their Scout model has ever served as a good first bike for cruiser- and classic-minded folks. The 11k-plus price tag, though not outrageous, still represented something of a barrier to the less-moneyed prospects out there.
All that changes with the Scout Sixty. It comes built on the exact same chassis as the Scout, but runs a new, 61 cubic-inch engine instead of the 69-cube mill, a move that knocked a couple grand off the ticket and that will allow cruiser larvae a chance to get a full-size bike under them for the same money as a Sporty. I knew Indian was making a good product under Polaris, but I didn’t reckon on such market savvy, so apparently someone needs to reconsider his short-term outlook on projected Indian sales. (ahem)
Meanwhile in Milan, Honda entered the scrambler fray with the unveiling of its CB Six50 concept bike. The Six50 displays a distinctly-Honda interpretation of the classic scrambler lines with an almost military adherence to function over form.
I don’t ride off-road, but this bike rather makes me wish I did. Honda has a more street-centric version as well, the CB4 concept bike. This ride sheds the dirtbike trappings and dons proper street tires along with a more elegant panache. Imagine a cafe’ racer/scrambler hybrid with a bobber’s, naked bike bent and you may start to get the picture. The CB4 just exudes agility and power, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the specs.
Ducati wasn’t about to be outdone, and it unveiled its own campaign into the burgeoning and resurgent scrambler market with the Scrambler Sixty2, a sharp-looking pocket dual-sport.
Unlike many manufacturers trying to wrangle their share of the market, Ducati is able to draw on its own very-deep roots for the design. The factory used its premier scrambler from all the way back in 1962 for inspiration, and this cute little ride definitely shows its DNA.
Duc followed up with the new XDiavel — a very sexy Italian power cruiser if I do say so myself — and a handful of updates to other existing models.
Allow me to reiterate; the scrambler market and its streetwise sibling the cafe’ racer are enjoying a boom, and more manufacturers are flocking to the feast daily, it seems. Bimota treated us to a glimpse of its Tesi 3D RaceCafe, a radical-looking number with a front swingarm and hub-steering in lieu of the traditional fork steering. Husqvarna showed me a side I didn’t know they had in them with the Vitpilen 701 concept bike, a spartan bare bike with the bobbed tail (read: lopped off) prevalent in the current market. The Mondial Hipster follows the general mold with scoop-like lower fairing and straight-back pipes that give it a certain old-school racer appeal. Triumph and Moto Guzzi added their own troops to the fray , and suddenly the field is quite crowded. Yamaha rounded out the “cafe’ day” with its XSR900, and they released a concept drawing for another cafe’ with a more-futuristic bent.
Check back for reviews and further updates as this exciting month unfolds and the information fleshes out.