A Perspective on Big Nakeds in Europe.

Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff
I was just reading Yossef's piece on the new Honda CBF1000. He's quite right about Europeans not buying big nakeds. He didn't mention the reasons, though. There are three in particular that come to mind.

1) Here in Switzerland (which is representative in this case), motorcycle riders don't just get an "M" on the back of their license when they pass the test. Instead, there are different classes of motorcycle licenses. Moving up the levels is very time consuming and quite expensive. So the question is, why move up to a new category when there are plenty of 600/650cc bikes that are suitable?

2) The second matter is price. The bikes themselves don't necessarily cost much more, but the state taxes bikes on the size of the displacement. This goes for cars as well. I bought a 2.0 liter car rather than the more fun 3.0 liter because the annual cost (and the price of gas) was simply a deterrent.

3) Third and finally is the "social geography" of Europe. Most Europeans live and work in the city, or very close by. Outside many cities is rural farmland rather than American-style suburbs. This is not universally true, but is common enough to effect large sales figures. Consequently, "commuting" doesn't factor as much. Proof of this is found in the low mileage of used cars and bikes compared to those of Americans. So while a 600cc can't pull you up from 50-80mph as fast as a 1000, but most people don't need it to. Throw in the traditionally narrow streets, limited parking, and gas prices that are three times higher than the US (yes, still) and suddenly what seems a matter of taste becomes seen better as a matter of logic.

Why don't Americans buy big nakeds? Beats me. There it really is taste, tradition, and -- ironically, because most Americans, especially bikers would balk at the idea -- conformity. We do "rice burners" and "cruisers". Sad, because the new Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport is gorgeous, and the new Ducati GT1000 is on my short list . . .

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Motorcycle.com Staff
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