Another Racer X staff meeting goes off the rails.
Honda isn’t a brand known for over-the-top outrageousness, and has thus far focused on the worker/hunter/utility side of the market. But a month ago, Honda announced it would launch a sport (performance) side-by-side, and they debuted the Talon 1000R and Talon 1000X last week in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show.
They’ve decided to switch genres, this time to the world of mountain biking.
The Indian "Wrecking Crew" factory team that has totally ruled the American Flat Track Twins class since it returned to racing in 2017. The 2019 team lineup has been announced today, and there are some changes, although Jared Mees, who has won the last two titles, returns. Not returning to the factory team is Brian Smith, who won the 2016 championship on a Kawasaki before switching to Indian. There are rumors Smith might be racing a different brand in 2019, and there are also new rules that could help his performance if he chooses to do so. Indian is not happy about one of those new rules in particular.
Check out these awesome Honda concepts from the EICMA show. They look cool! The CB125M runs the supermoto look, while the adventure-bike or rally-style machine is called the CB125X. These concepts are based on a Honda CB125 street bike that's not available in the U.S. (at least not yet) because in our market the bigger 300cc version makes more sense. But there is no denying these little 125s look awesome and would probably be super fun to ring out. I really, really don't want to get negative on them here, but I'z gotz tooz. Here goes.
Ah, how appropriate that KTM and Husky became the first mass-market dirt bike brands to announce electric powered bikes for kids... at the same time the U.S. was holding an election. Electric motorcycles are dovetailing into a political love/hate deal even though the makers of them never really tout these machines as being better for the environment, or lessening a dependence on fossil fuels. on fossil fuels. Saving the world is not the point of electric motorcycles. Saving the sport is. So while I've already seen some divisive talk on this topic, we need to can all of that noise, fast, and get on board with these bikes, now. We needs kids to get on dirt bikes. And they're more likely to jump on one of these than a gas-powered bike. That's all this is about, full stop, period, end of sentence.
Good sign of health for the industry? Honda keeps investing in new dirt bikes, from the heavily expanded motocross and off-road racing CRF-R line, to the cool CRF450L dual sport. Now the trail bikes get a reboot, with electronic fuel injection, new frames and suspension for the CRF110F, CRF125F and CRF250F, which replaces the old CRF230F. That's cool, but we do believe these bikes are a preview of what the trail bike market will face in the near future--more stringent emissions requirements, which lead to fuel injection. It's a tough call in a price-sensitive segment of the market. These Hondas look like they'd be really fun in a backyard pit bike bash, that's for sure. Read on for more.
As we mentioned yesterday, the mid-sized adventure market is set to explode, and KTM plans to be right in the middle of that action with its 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R, which were shown in production form today at the EICMA show in Europe, as well as a redesigned 690 Enduro R.
I saw another comment on Racerxonline.com today suggesting manufacturers seed the sport with price-point machines, perhaps using 2010-ish technology to sell a $6,000 motocross bike, alongside a $9,000+ machine all-in on 2019 tech. We get this sort of comment all the time. Cascading price points aren't new. Mountain bike brands usually offer $1000 and $7000 models, with probably two dozen price/technology points in all. Street bikes run the gamut. Dirt bikes only grab the poles. You've got play/pit bikes for cheap, and motocrossers at the top. Where's the bike in between? Well, in a machine marketed for racing, no one wants that.
It's easy to tell when a market segment is about to burst—manufacturer's start either A) slapping together models with parts-bin engineering to fill the gap or B) get awesome new products on the drawing board, and then tease and tease when the real production model will come out. Sometimes the tease goes on for two or three years, which can seem like an enormous wait, but that's actually fairly quick for bike development. But when a segment is blowing up, you've got to let the world know you're gonna get your hat in that ring. So this is how we know the mid-sized Adventure market is about to burst. Yamaha is teasing a 2020 model for the U.S. right now. Today's Yamaha PR says the "Ténéré 700 is scheduled to arrive at U.S. dealerships in the second half of 2020." So that's like two years away. Oh, they're not alone with this upcoming delay. KTM already has a strong adventure line but the mid-sized market is a must-do, so they've been teasing a 790 model for awhile now, but it's still not out.
Is this Steve Matthes' dream machine? We know side-by-side vehicles keep getting larger and more powerful, but no one was expecting a concept vehicle based on an actual street-legal pickup truck. But Honda unveiled such a machine at the SEMA show today. Dubbed the Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle, this is a Ridgeline pickup... deep down inside, but the body has been stripped and replaced with panels and a roll cage to mimick the look of the Pioneer 1000 side-by-side off-road machine.
Then we turned off onto a fire road with packed dirt over which was slathered a layer of gravel about the size of walnuts. With every twist of the throttle on this salad of slip the rear tire lurched out sideways alarmingly. The moto men all thought this was another blast, and they ripped through it all with glee. It took me a while to realize that you use the sliding back tire to aim the less-sliding front, that the rocks machine-gunning from the back tire acted like retro rockets pointing the nose around the corners. It was terrifying, yes, but fun-terrifying. I kept up. Then we turned off onto a fire road with packed dirt over which was slathered a layer of gravel about the size of walnuts. With every twist of the throttle on this salad of slip the rear tire lurched out sideways alarmingly. The moto men all thought this was another blast, and they ripped through it all with glee. It took me a while to realize that you use the sliding back tire to aim the less-sliding front, that the rocks machine-gunning from the back tire acted like retro rockets pointing the nose around the corners. It was terrifying, yes, but fun-terrifying. I kept up.