Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The end of the proper Japanese motorcycle in America
I was looking through the new motorcycle offerings this week which are being brought to America for 2012 by the Big Four®, and I think I can now safely say that the availability of a proper Japanese motorcycle is largely a thing of the past here in the USA. That's right, standards and big street naked are nowhere to be found. Unless your idea of traditional design is a cruiserbike, your only choice now is a sea of passionless, computer-designed, cartoonishly angular, fully fared sport and sport-touring scalpels with less collective soul than a gaggle of Ed Wood zombies.
Gone from the American lineup are virtually all the traditional hooligan bikes. The naked Suzuki Bandit, for example, has been fully clothed for 2012 and revamped once again into a machine barely separable in general appearance and style from its repli-racer counterparts. The ZRX1200R, several years gone now from Kawasaki's lineup in America, has no 2012 counterpart or grandchild. In fact, it's latest incarnation, the ZRX1200DAEG, is -- sadly -- available only in Japan. Save for Yamaha's barely naked 2012 FZR1000, which has lost most of its original design cues at this point, everything else Japan is offering looks like it came right out of a late-night Anime marathon on Adult Swim.
And if you think a big naked Japanese streetfighter is hard to find these days, you can forget about buying anything new even remotely resembling an old-school UJM. Even more racy naked bikes based on the UJM idea like Yamaha's XJR1300, Honda's CB1300, and Suzuki's GSX1400 are nowhere to be found.
These are sad times. I never thought I'd see the day when I could go into a Japanese motorcycle dealership at the beginning of a model year to kick tires, and lay eyes upon absolutely nothing I wanted. I mean nothing. Shame on you, Japan, for giving us nothing but a generic sea of plastic bodywork. And shame on you, America, for not supplying enough demand for anything else.
On the bright side, there is yet hope for those of us interested in riding something that actually resembles a motorcycle. Triumph, God love 'em (as just one example), are still offering modern incarnations of ravishing beauties such as the Bonneville, Thruxton, and Scrambler. These bikes are better performing than ever, prettier than ever, and more reliable than ever by all accounts. Triumph, much like Harley-Davidson, know when they have a winning, timeless design, and are preserving it for those with a keen enough eye to seek it out.
So maybe I'm looking at the wrong dealerships these days. Perhaps it's time to start seriously looking, for the first time ever, at what Europe has to offer. After all, at an average price of nine to ten grand for a new Japanese bike this year, the Euroscene of offerings doesn't seem as expensive as it used to.
Perhaps I'll consider this possibility a bit more over high tea.
We're discussing this article at Two Wheeled Texans.