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Old 07-09-2010, 01:04 PM   #1
seruzawa
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Default So, Where Are We Going.

Where is the sport headed? We seem to pretty much achieved a level of technology that is going to be difficult to improve on. Bikes are available now with so much power that special sensors are required to keep users from killing themselves. Powerwise there are stronger bikes coming like the 6cylinder BMW. But in the end it won't be much faster than what's available now. Bikes that would have been considered fantastic a few years back are considered middle-of-the-pack now. Motorcycles did change drastically during the 60s, 70s and 80s. I remember the fantastic improvements in bikes from the 50s clunkers to the 90s. Suspensions especially improved in the 90s. Since the mid-90s bikes don't seem to have changed much comparatively. Just small incremental changes. Today you can get better handling packages from the companies but those sorts of components are available in the aftermarket and the manufacturers are really playing catchup. A sportbike today isn't really much better than one of a decade ago. Tires play a big part in improved handling as well.

And as for power there becomes a point where seeking more is just stupid. What use is there for a bike that goes over 100 mph in first gear. Yeah sure the minority of idiots will always want bragging rights, but there's little point in seeking more power when 180 is available and the bikes need special sensors to keep the riders from killing themselves.

There's big growth in the AT market now, however I think once again improvements will move more towards either more fancy gadgetry or towards lighter weight when people actually try to ride these things off road. 500lb bikes suck on dirt and no level of special sensors or fancy suspension components will change that.

I figure that with new bikes in all departments being really little better each year we'll be seeing even more wild hype and overblown advertising each model year as the manufacturers and their lackies in the press frantically try to sell "new and improved". And I'm sure they will be improved. Just not by much. Not enough to replace bikes every couple years.
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:18 PM   #2
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I think we'll start seeing all the "extras" like what happened with cars. ABS will become standard fare, as will traction control and eventually stability control as well. Hopefully suspension will also continue to improve with more controllable and configurable systems like Ducati's new Multi becoming available on mid-level machine.

Engines can be improved as well, through better efficiency, weight, and size. Wouldn't it be nice if you could get the size and efficiency of a small twin with the power characteristics of a large 4 (or large twin, or triple...)?

Power transmission could also be greatly improved. Personally I like a manual transmission, but DCT and the like can actually be faster, as we've seen in cars. Also, chain, shaft, and belt final drives all have advantages and drawbacks. I'm sure there are gains to be had there.

And then there's ergos and aero... People like to say we've made all the progress there is to make - until the Next Big Thing shows up.
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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I'm not saying there's no room for improvement at all. Just that considering how little things have changed in a decade I'm wondering where it will go. I'm hoping it'll move away from seeking power to reducing weights.
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:12 PM   #4
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Quote: Where is the sport headed? We seem to pretty much achieved a level of technology that is going to be difficult to improve on.
Unquote

Didn't somebody say this about the CB750?
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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I'm hoping for lighter, smaller bikes. I'll admit I'm looking at an 09 C-14, but I'd rather be looking at a C-7.
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:20 PM   #6
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Seru, you're probably pretty dead on. I would say from an insurance agent perspective that trying to charge higher rates based on type of vehicle in this industry has failed in a sense. At first, insurers tried to base major rating systems on CC size. Well, when sportbikes hit the scene they tried to rate based of repairs. Then the HD boom happened and they changed again. All based on claims and bean counters.
This is all changing again because bikes are made better than 10yrs ago making them slightly more damage resistant reducing claims monies. Technology is making them easier to repair. I'm sure the same can be said about production, as well. Eventually, manufacturers will settle on a kind of standard for power to weight based on class of bike. Ultimately, the reduction of weight will allow for a reduction in overall hp. The maximum top speed (per segment) will be part of the package. Just like Yamaha has done for the Vmax. Coming to a bike you like soon. In the end it will help control insurance cost, too. Not that most of these guys would agree with being electronically limited in top speed. But it's gonna happen within 5 yrs.
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:15 PM   #7
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My focus has narrowed down to comfort, smoothness and reliability. Outright performance just isn't that important to me anymore. Not to say that I'll ride a slug, a bike needs to be able to accelerate and stay out of it's own way. However a bike that makes 180 horsepower is about a 100 more than I'll ever use, as a selling point it's lost on me. Things like ABS, adjustable seat and peg heights, heated grips, standard luggage are more important to me because the bike is my main transportation, the more I can do with it the more value it has for me.

I suppose from a technology stand point we'll see Cat's standard as well as watercooling, I don't see engines getting past stoichiometric AFR's even with watercooling but advanced ceramics may allow for a little leaner mixtures or some sort of EGR.

I think the aftermarket pipe industry is basically dead. The loud pipe crackdown is in full swing in a lot of places, once watercooled and super clean burning engines are the norm I think emissions will be the next sticking point. Lighter frames, more electronics and gee whiz features will probably become more prevalent, Note what is basically an idrive screen on the K1600....Fine if it all works, you're screwed if it don't, nothing but a bunch of little black boxes for the computer armed tech to replace...
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pushrod View Post
Quote: Where is the sport headed? We seem to pretty much achieved a level of technology that is going to be difficult to improve on.
Unquote

Didn't somebody say this about the CB750?
Yes. But I've thought about this for a long while now and I've got 46 years of riding experience behind it. The bikes simply haven't improved nearly as much in the last ten years as in any previous 10 year period. I, of course, would be happy to be wrong. Where do you think the next quantum leap will be?

I read a test of the '66 Bonnie where the tester said that no one would ever need more power. I'm not saying anything like things can't get better. I just think it'd be interesting to discuss where we're headed. Take the K1600. Yeah it'll be a technical marvel but will it be a better bike in the real world? There are already bikes that can smoke the tires at speeds over 100mph. My nearby Honda dealer has had a new VFR on the floor gathering dust for a few months now. Doesn't seem like all that tech has people beating at the door. Meanwhile there's a stream of Farmer Giles types riding the GSes off. Not to mention the F650s are all gone at both SLC area BMW dealers.
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Old 07-10-2010, 11:26 AM   #9
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I agree with a lot in the OP, in particular that there is so much power available now that it can only be made useful with electronics.

There is a lot being done with traction control and braking, I think there will be a new area that could be called "attitude control." Not the rider's attitude, but the bike's. Some sort of interial system that can manage the bike's pitch, yaw, and roll angles.

Like it or not, E-Bikes are an obvious growth area. Any builder getting in on the ground floor of that industry has a tremendous growth potential.

I'd love to see some other new engine technologies:
Diesel ADV bikes with 100+ mpg ratings seem like a good possibility. There are some niche examples, somebody ought to do a mainstream version.

Suzuki's rotary bike didn't pan out, but it seems to me that the rotor layout is a good fit for bikes. Tremendous power to weight ratios are possible. Now that the seal issue is resolved, maybe somebody should re-look at that.

There's a clip on Youtoob of an enclosed bike that just blows my mind. It looks like a spaceship...has training wheels that deploy at stops, then go up to let you run a "streamliner" on the street. That setup could make a bike usable in bad weather.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarnali2 View Post
Note what is basically an idrive screen on the K1600....Fine if it all works, you're screwed if it don't, nothing but a bunch of little black boxes for the computer armed tech to replace...
It used to be not too long ago that someone with an average mechanical aptitude could buy a new car with the expectation that he would never have to see a dealer again. Today that is an impossibility. I'm wondering how much of that idea is driving the push for more electronics on bikes. The heavy electronics will tie the owners to the dealers.
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