We covered the new Adventure models released last week at Intermot so now let’s take a gander at the sport and touring new offerings.
THE SPORT & TOUR DEMONS
I was fortunate enough to be a journalist when sportbikes were top of the OEM’s list of products to out do their competitors and was amazed at the development work that went into them with new models released every two years boasting grams in weight reduction and one or two more horsepower over the previous year’s model.
Frankly it was madness, but from a mechanical engineer’s perspective, it was amazing to see how cutting edge engineering could be put into practice to constantly shave weight and boost power. In a way it was sad to see that phase burn itself out but after a few years of sanity, Kawasaki seem to think that it’s a good time to go mental again with their all new H2R.
I find it a little odd that they would base the name around their infamous H2 750 cc two-stroke triple from the seventies. Infamous because of its wild power delivery but it would also handle like a drunken kitten, which I’m guessing is not a trait to be carried over to the modern version.
As is right for such an unusual and interesting bike like the H2R, a bit of teasing of its second coming makes good marketing sense. Unfortunately they chose to take the teaser train to new heights with a seemingly never-ending release of videos that didn’t quite tell you anything and (as an editor) made you question every update as to whether you were publishing actual news or just slipping into line as part of Kawasaki’s marketing machine.
Thankfully Intermot put an end to the silliness and we finally got to see if the hype lived up to the product. And I’d say it does. When’s the last time we saw a supercharger on a production bike? And I don’t think the turbo charged bikes of the 80s count as a supercharger takes its drive from the motor, rather than the exhaust, but even if they do, this is not normal and that is what makes it special.
It’s a little bit silly and totally mad and sure to reignite the argument that last came out with the launch of the Hayabusa; “who needs this much power?”. Oh yes, the H2R claims 300 hp BTW and frankly that’s more than anyone really does need. There’s also claims of a top speed of over 340 km/h by Kawasaki test riders which is well above the limit of 300 km/h as part of a “gentleman’s agreement’ back in 2000 when the Hayabusa hullabaloo went so far as to get the attention of lawmakers.
But then since the H2R is a track only machine, gentlemen’s agreements be dammed. The question is, what will Kawasaki do with the non ‘R’, H2 road version that will be released at the EICMA show in October? A recent video from Kawasaki shows the H2R and H2 side by side and the road version looks strikingly similar save for the obligatory road legalizing add ons. Let the fun and games recommence… at least until the lawmakers threaten to step back in to restore the sanity.
Almost at the other end of the sensible/madness scale is Suzuki’s new GSX-S 1000 and 1000F which use a ‘05-’08 generation long stroke GSX-R 1000 motor (but with a new frame) and comes with ABS and traction control. The standard version is naked and the F gets enough plastic to make it a sports tourer.
The big issue here is what Suzuki intend to sell them for. Unfortunately at time of posting we had not heard back as to whether the bikes will be coming to Canada but Suzuki have already announced the smaller GSX-S 750 for the US markets at a mere $8k, which puts them $5k less than the X monikered version (assuming that they don’t whack up the price too much for Canada of course). It would seem that the bike industry has decided that cheap and simple is what will sell. No argument here.
There were a few updates announced at Intermot too, with BMW revamping their S1000RR (more power, less weight, improved handling), Suzuki adding ABS to their GSX-R1000,
And finally, Intermot being the home ground of BMW, saw the release of their updated R1200RS. As is the style of BMW, whenever they update a motor, it gradually sweeps its way through the range, enabling a revamp of the rest of the bike in the process. A couple of years ago the boxer opposed twin went liquid-cooled (easily identifiable with the intake going in to the top of the cylinder and the exhaust coming out the bottom) and has now made it into the R1200RS but with a retuning for more low down torque.
Perhaps the biggest news is not the motor but the front suspension which sees BMW moving away from their much-promoted-over-the-years Telelever front to a more conventional USD fork. Albeit an admission of defeat, I find this a little sad as BMW has always tried to be a little different be it the horizontally opposed twin layout, flat fours and triples (gone now) and their Telelever and Duolever front suspensions.
Naked as Godiva
While we’re on BMW, along with the new R1200RS, we saw the 2015 naked R1200R get the new 1200 motor and (IMHO) a much-needed styling update. It also dumps the Telelever front suspension for USD forks, which leaves the Telelever now limited to just the R1200GS and RT.
Triumph had been widely expected to announce their new 250 project but that got surprisingly kyboshed and they came to Intermot with a collection of tweaked machines but nothing new. The Street Triple RX is a variant of the R but with a tail section lifted from the Daytona, a belly pan, a flyscreen and a quickshifter. Then there’s three Bonnies that despite some well paid marketing work boil down to a whole lot of black paint and some touches of blue and white.
And let’s finish with Yamaha. Nothing totally new but they did come up with a variant of the FZ-07 called the Moto Cage that took a leaf out of Triumph’s book by adding some funky paint and minimal bolt ons to make a ‘new’ model. Oddly it reminds me of the Street Triple RX as a result.
And finally, the XJR1300 which has been available in Europe for a while now and has yet to come to the Americas. Intermot saw the standard bike get an update and birth a spin off – the XJR1300 Racer, with bikini fairing and drop bars. The XJR is a blast from the seventies with a 1300 cc air-cooled inline four and naked chassis. With the rise of the hipster this may be enough for Yamaha to take the plunge and bring it over, which surely would be a good thing.