TJ’s Top Five Picks Out Of The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show
Tokyo Motor Show Gave Tantalizing Looks At Things To Comeby TJ Hinton, on
So after the Tokyo Motor Show opened its doors for what it called “preview day,” with the general public, I hoped you checked out the motorcycle section, specifically, the Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki displays. Much to everyone’s delight, Honda had a pair of offerings with a Gold Wing that looks like it just got back from fat camp, and an all-new cafe’-tastic standard that brings a modern interpretation of the popular, and newly repopular, cafe’ racer design. Yamaha unveiled its Niken (literally; “two swords”) that basically turns its FZ-09 into a trike. Not just any old trike either, but a Delta-config trike with dual leaning front wheels that deliver a motorcycle-like ride with twice the traction up front. Kawasaki tops it off with a new Ninja 400 that represents a new era in emissions compliance while pressing for an advantage in the fight to curry favor with the increasingly-important Millennial buyers. Excited yet? You should be. Let’s take a deeper look at these machines and you’ll see why.
Continue reading for more on my picks from the show.
Honda Neo Sport Cafe’ and An All-Electric Teaser
Reimagined and modernized design elements of the classic cafe' racer.
I’ll admit, of the four, I’m most jazzed about the Neo Sport Cafe’ concept from Honda. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a cafe’ racer, even ones such as this that reimagine and modernize the classic design elements. It’s uncanny how, without bothering with a bullet fairing or even a flyscreen up front or a tail fairing out back, the Red Rider designers still manage to capture enough of the original essence of the genre that when I first saw it, I said to myself “what a cute little cafe’!” I’m not even sure how to qualify the connection beyond the suggestion of the old knee-pocket tanks, the near-drag bars and an upswept exhaust. Jockey-mount footpegs complete the rider’s triangle for a rather aggressive riding position with an “in the air, up there” subframe that rises and tapers to nothing for a clean-as-a-whistle rear end. Blackout treatment here and there gives the NSC a dark edge while the angular tank and super-cool headlight gives it a post-modern look that compliments the classic points rather than clashing with them. All very cool stuff, and I look forward to seeing how it performs in the market.
Honda also revealed its all-electric, self-balancing motorcycle that brings post-modern looks to the table along with robotic technology similar to its self-balancing scooter for a machine unlike any other. The factory figured out how to make machines balance themselves at low speeds without using heavy, power-consuming gyros, and once you slow down past 3 mph the system kicks in to hold the bike upright. I’ll be covering that more in-depth soon, but meanwhile, we still have the slimmed down GL 1800 to consider.
Honda Gold Wing
Updated tech and updated design of a long-time favorite.
More power, slimmer build and lighter weight are the big points here, but the transmission is noteworthy as well with a choice between a standard 6-speed gearbox and cam-assist clutch, or a seven-speed version of Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission to help you manage the ratios. A Hill Start Assist feature helps hold you for easy and safe uphill takeoffs while the traction control and rider modes bestow both safety and flexibility unto the new Gold Wing. How much power, you ask? Well, according to the factory, it clocks in with 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, plenty to move that 804-pound (wet) bulk.
Kawasaki Ninja 400
The looks are typical -- typically aggressive, that is -- and it has the performance chops to back them up.
Kawasaki’s big unveil was its new-for-MY18 Ninja 400. The aging 300 was in need of major work because of ever-more stringent emissions requirements, and since the bottom-end displacements are once again gaining in popularity, Kawi needed an entry-level Ninja with a little more beef than its 250R to keep people interested beyond the initial learning phase. Behold, the 400. The looks are typical — typically aggressive, that is — and it has the performance chops to back them up. A total of 44 ponies and 28 pound-feet of torque are on tap with a mere 370-pound wet weight for a sporty ride to match the eager handling.
Form follows function and the requirements of the steering system are far beyond the norm.
The Tuning Fork Company’s most interesting entry has to be the Niken. What it means to ride a trike has changed significantly over the years, and Yamaha looks to change it further with this sportbike-based Delta trike. For the most part, it’s an FZ/MT-09, but the articulated suspension up front allows the bike to lean and the front wheels to carve much like the two-wheeled version. As an added bonus, counter-steering works with this system, so the learning curve will be relatively flat for riders transitioning from two wheels to three. Each side runs a pair of fork tubes in tandem for a total of four up front, so the front end is definitely strong, if a bit ugly. Yeah, I know, form follows function, and the requirements of the steering system are far beyond the norm, but head-on this bike makes me thing of an oysterfish with legs. Oh well, at least if you’re riding it you don’t have to look at it, right?
I’ll be covering all of these in greater depth in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, go check out what the show had to offer to see what your top picks are.
Source: Tokyo Motor Show 2017