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.
February 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm
The way I see it, there are people who still make sensible,practical, all-round all-purpose motorcycles. Nowadays they call it Retro-styling. (Triumph, for example)
February 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm
Stevie – I agree, or they are called Adventure bikes and have a bunch of farkles on them that aren’t needed for every day use. At least there are still companies like BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi who see that there’s value in producing these types of bikes. I think the race to make all bikes bigger has contributed to the perception that the U.S. buyer will not buy anything smaller than 1000cc’s and that needs to change.
February 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm
Would you constitute a Triumph Bonneville as Standard Bike? On that note, how about the Triumph Bonneville Steve Mcqueen Edition? Wow, I want that bike so bad.
I guess it could be classified a Cruiser but the Honda Shadow Phantom is a great bike with many Standard Types of Characteristics. Heck there are so many types of bikes out there, I cannot tell one genre from the next.
With all the choices, I guess one must look around to fine what works for them. For me it was all about comfort and the ability to store stuff on the fly. This year I actually seriously considered trading in my Harley for a Honda 700 b/c of the Gas Mileage and lockable storage, It should never be about “segment” it should be about fit.
My prediction is that motorcycles in America will become more about being a TOOL and less about being a TOY when gas reaches 5-7 dollars a gallon this year and the popular motorcycles will not be the Litter Bikes. The 700 CC Engine with the Great Gas Mileage will become the Standard as the masses revert to doing what ever possible to save a few bucks at the pump.
Either way, having a choice is nice. For me I have decided to save my money for a small bike with monster gas mileage for a good price. The NINJA 250 comes to mind, no one said that good gas mileage doesn’t mean you cant have some fun!
March 1, 2012 at 2:10 am
These are tough times for everyone, but the one thing in life I won’t change because of money is the bike I ride. Everything else I do in life would go,before I would compromise my ride.
Besides, my old Evo does 45/50 to the gallon which is better than most bikes worth riding.
Oh by the way,count your blessings, gas over here is over 10$ already
March 1, 2012 at 2:14 am
And yes, Triumph Bonnie, many BMW’s. I think over here we just call them Tourers and lets face it, if you’re gonna be sat on it for several hours at a stretch, you don’t want your ass stuck up in the air.