There was a time when you were able to go to a bike shop and see a few specific purpose bikes but most where good all around, do all bikes. We called them Standards. These days there are sport bikes, super-sport bikes, touring, sport touring, cruisers, dual-sport, Adventure, and more that I’m sure I missed. I can’t hardly find a standard bike anymore.
There are a few manufacturers out there still making standards but these bikes really have become the exception and not the norm. I’ve seen this lack of options push new riders into a “rider group” right from the start. That can really have a huge impact on their enjoyment of riding or sticking with riding. Think about it, if you are new to riding and what a comfortable, inexpensive, moderately powered bike that won’t either bore you in 3 months or scare the pants off you, there just are not many available.
Trust me, if I had been able to choose a more standard bike when i started riding I might still have that bike. As it is I bought a cruiser, then another one and another one. They were the closest thing that I could find to a do it all bike that was also easy to learn on and ride after only taking the MSF course. It wasn’t until I rode a Ninja 1000 for a few months that I understood what fun a standard could be. Not that a Ninja 1k is a standard, it is not. But imagine if that engine were put into a bike with a flat comfortable seat, neutral siting position and some storage. That would be one hell of an around town, light duty touring bike.
Unfortunately, it seems that bike makers are focused on pushing a category to it’s outermost limits and not on making usable, everyday bikes that are good on gas but also fun to ride. I hope that Kawasaki rethinks bringing the W800 to the states. Honda has recently introduced the NC700 and NC700X. These fit the bill or me, but I think there’s a lot more that the bike makers can and should do to introduce more reasonable priced, 650cc – 800cc bikes with decent storage. Either that or we need to really start looking at the URAL’s a little harder.