In case you missed it, the Intermot show in Cologne, Germany, kicked off today, and it was a busy one.
Two things dominated headlines today: Upcoming Euro4 emissions regulations, and the growing spread of electronic rider aids.
First off, Euro4. Basically, European Union regulations are clamping down on vehicle emissions, meaning many motorcycle models need to be updated in order to pass testing. Whether the models were all-new or returning with upgrades, every manufacturer was touting their bike’s improved emissions output today.
It’s a sign of the times. The reality of modern motorcycling is, performance upgrades are useless in many jurisdictions if the bike is unable to legally ride the streets, or be sold in dealerships. This means we’re going to see fewer and fewer air-cooled machines, particularly single-cylinders or big twins. Every motorcycle we wrote about today had oil cooling or liquid cooling, and that’s the way of the future.
Secondly, the electronics. The widespread prevalence of smartphones means accelerometer technology is getting cheaper all the time. In turn, that means things like traction control and ABS are more affordable. For proof, see the V-Strom 650. The Wee Strom has always been a fine bike, but if you’d suggested 10 years ago that it needed traction control, you would have been laughed at. That technology was practically science fiction, unobtanium on even superbikes.
Now, Suzuki has included it on their budget-friendly adventure bike.
Traction control also appeared on Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000, the Triumph T100 line, the Ducati SuperSport, Honda’s CBR1000RR SP and SP2, Suzuki’s GSX-S750, GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R, and BMW’s R NineT Pure, R NineT Racer, S1000R and S1000RR. Other models that already had traction control (say, the V-Strom 1000 or KTM 1290 Super Adventure) got other electronic upgrades. Low rpm assist modes, quickshifters, advanced dashboards with smartphone integration — Inspector Gadget would have had a heyday at this year’s show.
In closing: This had to be one of the strongest show season openings we’ve seen in a while. Beginner bikes were nowhere to be seen. Instead we got two new Japanese superbike lines, upgraded and new Euro superbikes, ripping new adventure bikes from several manufacturers, some new sport tourers — all legitimate motorcycles, capable of thrilling the pants off their buyers for years to come. That’s a good sign of health. Hopefully we see more of the same at Intermot, and jaded motorcyclists can once again fall in love with show season, instead of loudly proclaiming their disappointment over a lack of exciting new models.