Here we are with another year coming to an end. It was another great year in motorcycling for 2017. Yes, even with all the doom and gloom from “industry insiders” tirelessly trying to understand why don’t millennials like motorcycles, and low sales numbers from some of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, it was still a great time to be a motorcyclist.
Privateer Superbike/Superstock 1000 racer Hayden Gillim suffered a horrifying crash last August at MotoAmerica’s race event at the new Pittsburgh International Race Complex, culminating in Gillim ragdoll-tumbling into a tire barrier at high speed while his GSX-R1000 cartwheeled and bounced all the way over the fence. The race was immediately red-flagged, as Gillim surely would be requiring prompt medical attention.
The final installment of this year’s diatribe should, one thinks, start with an examination of the season preview from back in February. Heading into Qatar, the conventional thinking was that Maverick Viñales, newly and firmly ensconced on the factory Yamaha, the best bike on earth of late, would challenge triple world champion Marc Marquez and his Repsol Honda – you remember, the one with the acceleration issues – for the world championship.
The all-new 2017 GSX-R1000 is “a huge impact model for us,” Takeshi Hayasaki, president of Suzuki Motor of America, told us at the Gixxer’s launch earlier this year. As such, part of the new GSX-R’s media launch included tours of Suzuki’s three main facilities in Japan where we could witness the care and precision that goes into each bike’s development and its production.
Have I died and gone to motorcycle heaven? Pretty much. EICMA is the world’s biggest motorcycle trade show; anyone and everyone who has anything to do with motorcycling is there. From all the OEMs, to aftermarket performance parts manufacturers to riding gear and apparel companies – it’s all there in unimaginable abundance. I was tasked to sniff out the top five coolest things at EICMA this year and thought – well, that ought to be easy! Boy was I mistaken…
Electric motorcycles may be the future, but right now they are far from being price-competitive with their gasoline-powered cousins. But don’t worry! Even though having an electric motorcycle can cost you many thousands of more dollars, you may be able to even out the price difference.
Say, did we miss the Suzuki GSX-R’s 30th birthday party? Sorry about that – but you know how it is when you have so many children running around the house. You lose track. The GSX-R grew so ubiquitous over the years – if you weren’t tripping over one in the garage, you were backing over one in a parking lot or crashing one at Willow Springs. Lately, however, there seems to be a lot of interest in the motorcycle that led Suzuki directly to the GSX-R. That would be the GS1000R, better known now as XR69.
For the second time this season, Factory Ducati #1 Andrea Dovizioso and Repsol Honda prodigy Marc Marquez gave us a late-race knives-in-a-phonebooth duel, a ten-point spread in the standings at the top of the heap at stake. And for the second time this season, Dovizioso prevailed in what was almost a carbon copy of the first win, a last lap exchange of fortunes in Austria. Now it’s Two for the Road, as the two “blessed” riders in this year’s championship, separated by 11 points, seem destined to square off in Valencia.
Now that AIMExpo 2017 is complete, we’ve compiled our choices for the coolest stuff we saw while perusing the show. While the number of new 2018 model-year motorcycles was limited because of the show’s early date, that didn’t prevent the show from reflecting a vital motorcycle industry. So, as we reflect on last week’s show, here’s a list – in no particular order – of the top 10 products that we saw at the 2017 AIMExpo in Columbus, Ohio.
Suzuki will present a SV650X next month at the Tokyo Motor Show, showcasing a “neo-retro” version of its naked V-Twin. Though it looks to be production ready, Suzuki says the SV650X is only a concept, and the company says it hopes to gauge consumer reaction before deciding whether to put it into production (which seems like a familiar theme for Suzuki this year.)
A few weeks ago Suzuki invited us to the launch of its GSX250R. During the event we were briefed on Suzuki’s plans for bringing new and returning riders back into the sport with this new motorcycle. Many critics, upon hearing news that Suzuki was coming to market with a 250, were asking why not a 300 like most of the other bikes in its class. Whatever Suzuki’s reasoning may have been for the decision, it should be notedthat the 2018 GSX250R is a great bike. It may not be the lightest or fastest but it does an adequate job of being a practical sportbike that looks good.