There’s only one reigning Miss Universe. She’s a beauty, but make no mistake, during the competition any woman on that stage will get a man’s mojo working. And so it is with our annual selection of Motorcycle.com’s Best Of 2014 awards (MOBOs). A winner and honorable mention in 12 categories leaves only 24 spots to fill. Occasionally, a particular motorcycle is so good it might win or be honorably mentioned more than once, leaving even fewer spots available.
We love them all. Motorcycles, that is. But, try as we might, there’s always a few deserving bikes left standing on stage, holding back a deluge of tears with practiced smiles. No crown, no sash, no bouquet. Just the scornful hatred of those who were obviously bribed to choose another. Followed by the vocal discord of supporters.
For example, you may soon be hearing from John Burns, in his Whatever! column, about how the rest of the editors ganged-up against him, overruling his BMW S1000R choice for Best Scooter, Best Tourer, Best Cruiser and just about every other category in the awards.
It pained me to vote against the S1000R. Not just in our MOBO awards but also in our 2014 Super Naked Street Brawl. In that shootout I oscillated between the Beemer and KTM Super Duke R – the idea of the SDR being a superior bike even though it costs more and lacks cruise control, electronic suspension, etc., was, and still is, hard to capitulate.
And then we have the Yamaha FZ-09. Were it not for its poor fuel-mapping and soft suspension, it probably would have won our Four-Thirds Shootout, instead of coming in second place, as well as being a contender for a MOBO award. From what we’ve heard, the fueling issue is easily correctable by way of a Flash-Tune, or some other ECU tuning interface, but only stock bikes are eligible for MOBO awards. At $7990, plus the cost of stiffening the suspension and flashing the ECU, the FZ-09 remains a Best Value motorcycle in my mind.
There’s no Gold Wing in this year’s MOBOs. Somehow, we collectively agreed to withhold one of the greatest touring bikes ever devised from even receiving an Honorable Mention in the Touring category. I wasn’t totally on-board with the bike chosen in lieu of the GL, but sticking to my guns would have led to a Mexican standoff (and me whining like Burns about the S1000R). At this point we had already spent a few torturous hours debating other category winners, and I was in no mental state to escalate the conversation. Besides, the Gold Wing’s trophy case is laden with accolades from MO and other publications, handed out during its illustrious 39-year existence.
Eleven manufacturers made this year’s cut, with a few glaring OEM omissions including Aprilia and Suzuki.
Our beloved Tuono V4R – Streetfighter/Standard category winner since its introduction – didn’t make muster against the growing field of hooligan bikes. Even with EiC, Kevin Duke, banging his fists and threatening to wheelie over our faces, we four other editors held firm and chose two other models. The Caponord? Well, like the FZ-09, its fuel-injection tuning needs improvement, so it was never even in the running. Maybe next year.
The new V-Strom 1000, a commendable bike in its own right, was relaunched this year into a field of heavy hitters, such as BMW’s revised-last-year R1200GS, KTM’s brand-new 1190 Adventure, Yamaha’s improved Tenere, Ducati’s Multistrada, Triumph’s Tigers, etc.
And poor Kawasaki. Team Green’s Ninja 1000 just won our Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout, and in 2012 the newly launched ZX-14R was our Motorcycle of the Year! For 2014… nada.
But these three manufacturers aren’t the only ones hearing the roar of the applause for their competitors, knowing the only folks clapping for them are family friends back home watching the show on television. Add to the list of OEMs going home empty handed: Brammo, Can-Am, Hyosung, Royal Enfield, Husaberg, Piaggio, Star, Vespa, Victory, etcetera, etcetera.
So, forgive us if you feel our choices inaccurate or exclusionary. Like being a Miss Universe judge, the life of a moto-journalist in the throes of a Best Of competition is often thankless work. Just ask John Burns.