32nd Tokyo Motorcycle Show

Or: Cool Stuff You Can't Buy in America

Back in October of '97, while the world's motorsport press was converging on the charming, quaint hamlet of Tokyo (formerly Edo), Japan, your intrepid digital correspondents at MO were sleeping off a hangover and missed the flight. No, that's not right, it was because we couldn't get a visa. Maybe that was the week we had to complete our community-service work as part of our plea bargain. Whatever our lame excuse, the bottom line is that we missed it. But not to be put off by our flakiness, some of the manufacturers sent their press literature to us via the slow boat, and we now have it in our grubby little hands. By now we've either run technical features or tested most of this stuff, so the only thing left to write about is to taunt Americans with the things they can't get.

Some are models available in Europe and/or Japan, but others are prototypes not available anywhere. Americans will notice a number of cool small-displacement bikes missing in their size-really-does-matter motorcycle market. Also included are a slew of naked bikes, as well as a few racers. Enjoy.

 Stuff You Can't Get From Kawasaki
The big news from Kawasaki Japan was this model-- The Eliminator 250. It's a tiny cruiser, styled to run with the big boys. Labeled a "lightweight sports-cruiser, with long and low dragger styling" by Kawasaki, its target market is the growing female rider population. Unlike the Eliminators found in the U.S., this one is a v-twin.
The only thing unobtainable on the new ZX-9R is the color, a striking deep blue. Americans' choices are limited to red or green.
Kawasaki's D-Tracker is their entry into a class growing out of control in Japan -- urban dirt bikes. Called Super-Motard in Europe, it's simply a dual-sport with street tires (similar to KTM's Duke) with a little suspension re-valving. The D-Tracker is based on the KLX250 enduro bike.
Some green standard thing in Eddie Lawson colors.
The Estrella is a popular, inexpensive, retro-styled standard. It's powered by a 249cc single-piston powerplant.
The Balius is a 249cc inline four, billed as an affordable, yet sporty machine.
The Zephyr lives! Although no longer available in the States, the bargain standard still thrives in Japan. Pictured here is a 400cc version known as the Zephyr X. It may also be found with a 750cc powerplant.

 Stuff You Can't Get From Honda
 With the Zodia Concept Bike, Honda takes us forward to a time when cruisers don't all look the same. The proposed Zodia has a 1500cc V-twin engine, automatic transmission and linked braking. Among it's high-tech goodies are trailing-link front suspension, rim-mounted brakes and a single-sided swingarm.
 This VTR is a Monster-inspired 250cc twin. It's engine acts a fully-stressed member of the chassis, similar to the VTR1000. At only 139kg (306 lbs), it's light, even for a 250.
 With the CL400RS prototype, Honda asks, "Classical beauty is still alive in motorcycles, isn't it?" The single cylinder, 400cc thumper recalls Honda's heritage, when they made the bikes that brought hordes of people into motorcycling.
 The Deauville is a 650cc V-twin tourer/commuter powered with the revered Hawk motor. This cool bike will probably never be available in the U.S. because it has a little motor. Instead, Honda offers America the exciting Pacific Coast. If only the Deauville had a trunk...
 The FN-1 Concept Bike features a fully-stressed, longitudinally-mounted 1500cc V-four engine. The front suspension appears to be housed inside the steering column, while the rear is graced with a single-sided swingarm. Rim-mounted brakes finish out the front end, with a gigantic 4:2 up-swept exhaust accenting the rear.
 The FB-S Prototype: One more link in Honda's practicality series. Might as well call it the Helix Coast. It features a 400cc boxer twin engine mounted at the front. An automatic transmission delivers power to the rear, providing a ride that is theoretically more like a motorcycle than a scooter.
 The Hornet is a new high-performance standard released this year in Japan and Europe. The engine is based on the CBR600F3. Looks like fun.
 The Big One gets bigger. The CB1300 is the next step in the evolution begun by the CB1000. The CB13 features dual pro-link suspension, dual six-piston calipers, and a smaller 17" front wheel for greater tire choice.
 The Renoa Prototype is a throwback to early European motorcycles. Twenty-one inch wheels front and rear and a "saddle" style seat complete its retro image.
 Hey, a bike you actually can buy, but not if you want to ride it on the street. Honda's RS250 Grand Prix racer returns for '98, and if you have $25,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can have one too.
 Honda's Dream Kids prototype (shown left and below) is actually one kit that can be rearranged into different configurations. It's powered by a 50cc four-stroke powerplant found in the blue triangle section.
 Managing Editor Mark Hammond expressed doubts that this product would ever be available in the U.S. due to potential liability problems with having a gasoline engined toy marketed to little kids.
 H-D may have discontinued the Bad Boy, but if you live in Japan you can get the Steed. Notice the Springer front end and the flange-less gas tank. With a bigger engine (the Steed is only 400cc) it might sell well here.
 The XL250T is a commuter/dirt/touring bike, loosely based on the XR250. The tucked-in exhaust allows saddlebags to be mounted. Liberal use of chrome and attention to detail make this an attractive mount.
 X4 is a model obviously built to compete with Yamaha's V-Max. The engine is shared with the mega-standard CB1300.
 Possibly the model that Kawasaki's new Eliminator 250 was built to compete with, the Magna 250 is a street-dragger styled cruiser. It has a V-twin engine, unlike the larger Magna 750.
 While retro-styled (or just not-updated) small displacement models are not unusual in Asia, one with clip-ons and a racing saddle is. Looks like a good bike for teens to learn on.

 Stuff You Can't Get From Yamaha
 Funny enough, the Drag Star Classic Special was designed in America. Basically, it's the Classic with custom side covers, lights, studded seats, and other touches.
 The Vino is Yamaha's entry into the popular retro-Italian scooter market. The 50cc two-stroke has a six liter fuel tank and a 20 liter trunk.
 This ain't your big sister's Jog. The new generation Jog features an integrated headlight, seven liter fuel tank, and an anti-theft system.
 Still bemoaning the loss of the RZ350? Here's the RZ50. Yamaha's entry-level two-stroke sport machine sports retro-racer looks, a six speed tranny, and a tachometer.
 YB-1 is a rotary-valve two-stroke 50cc single, built to look like something right out of the sixties. The green and black sunburst paint scheme is complete with glitter for that tacky sixties authenticity.
 Another cool muscle-standard we can't buy in America, the XJR1300 is a new model to replace Yamaha's XJR1200. The big fella has Ohlins shocks and a fat 180 rear tire.
 Yamaha is using their acquisition of Ohlins to the fullest, equipping their new V-Max special with a set of Sweden's finest. Other enhancements over the standard Max include Brembo calipers.
 We're not sure if this is a race-bike or a street-bike. The FZ600 is billed as a "naked street-fighter that's ready to rock 'n' roll," but is shown with slicks and no headlight. One thing's for sure, with Nissin six-pots, inverted forks, and an Ohlins shock, this beauty is bad-ass.
 Look out Duke! The type under the seat says, "Street Attacker." Inverted forks, a 224cc two-stroke engine, and distinctive styling from the folks that brought you the YZF-R1.
 The Serow has been available in this country for years as the XT225, but never like this. The Serow GPS has a cool Global Positioning Satellite unit on-board for the serious off-road explorer. Hook up your PC to download and edit the data collected on a favorite ride.
 Meet the XJR400, the big ZJR1300's red-painted stepchild. A standard workhorse for basic all-around riding. It'll never catch on here.


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