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30 November 2017
Welcome back to our modest guide to the best of the fresh metal which graced Motorcycle Live 2017.
In this instalment we take a look at what Honda, Husqvarna, Indian and Kawasaki had to whet bikers’ appetites for 2018.
It will come as no surprise that the world’s biggest bike manufacturer turned up mob-handed to Motorcycle Live 2017.
Aside from that cool retro paint job, other tweaks include a flatter seat which should make for a comfier ride. That’s pertinent given the refresh has also seen introduction of a bigger tank to extend range to over 300+ miles.
Already a winner following its launch in 2015, those additional road miles can only help more firmly establish the Twin in the sector.
Whilst the CB1000R and CB4 Interceptor also caught more than the odd admiring glance, of the newly available bikes it was the all new Gold Wing which most caught the eye.
Honda haven’t messed about here. This is no cosmetic job, but a complete redesign.
Headline changes include a new 124hp , 1833cc engine offers more power than its predecessor, with horsepower boosted from 118 to 126 and peak torque up from 167 to 169Nm.
The new machine has also shed some significant weight, hitting the scales a good 44kg lighter at 379kg. It’s smaller too which, with seven speed, semi automatic Dual Clutch transmission and electronic suspension, means it will be more agile.
By increasing fuel efficiency by a claimed 20%, through design cunning such as free-flow air ducts in the fairing, Honda says its been able to reduce the tank size without impacting range.
So, an altogether lighter, more compact, more powerful and more responsive machine.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.
New Cub? Be prepared.
As well as showroom-ready models, Honda also teased us with a couple of concepts.
The stand out was the Super Cub, a new take on the most popular motorcycle ever.
Only a few weeks ago Honda announced that over 100 millions Cubs had rolled off production lines since the model was first launched in the Fifties.
Interestingly, the new look machine features either a 49cc or 109cc engine. Why two motor options on otherwise identical looking concepts? This suggests to us that the road to mass assembly could be short.
The Cub’s timeless aesthetic has been caught well by the new design which blends classic with modern. Well, you don’t want to mess about to much with an icon do you?
There are, naturally though, a good few modern touches, including LED lights and new instruments.
It’s a similar story with the Monkey Concept, where the familiar shape has been retained whilst a new 125cc single cylinder engine, USD front forks and disc brakes have been introduced.
The motorcycle arm of Swedish conglomerate Husqvarna unveiled its much anticipated 701 Vitpilen at Motorcycle Live.
There was much salivation when this machine was first brought to the biking public’s attention as a concept back in 2014. Now fully realised, it didn’t disappoint visitors to Motorcycle Live 2017.
Sharing the 693cc engine already deployed on the Enduro and Supermoto 701s, the roadster offers up nearly 74bhp at 8,500 revs, and 72Nm of torque, managed with Adler Power Torque Control and slipper clutch.
A laser-cut trellis steel frame harnesses a WP suspension incorporating a 43mm USD fork and monoshock.
Stopping tackle comprises a four-piston Brembo radial mounted caliper, married to a 320mm disc up front with a 24omm disc on the back aided by a Brembo single-piston floater. Switchable ABS is standard.
We’ll keep this brief as we’ve already covered the new Scout Sixty. That’s because the latest update of Indian’s mighty middleweight cruiser was one of the stars of our very own Motorcycle Live 2017 stand.
You can read more about it and the other very tasty metal we brought to Birmingham by clicking here. The line-up included some ultra-rare and heart-stoppingly beautiful bikes, including a Ducati Desmosedici RR and Kenny Roberts replica Yamaha RD350 LC YPVS. If you’ve not seen it, click it!
The Japanese manufacturer had plenty to show off, including the already awesome H2 and all-new compact sports contender, the Ninja 400.
A new chassis and five spoke wheels have also helped keep the weight off, with the new machine hitting 168kg wet on the scales – significantly lighter than the Ninja 300 that preceded it
At 41mm the front, non-adjustable fork is also heftier, stiffer and harnessed to Nissin ABS which tames a 310mm semi-floating disc. The rear suspension is taken care of by a Unitrak gas-charged shock.
Hitting dealers next February, the new Ninja also comes with a relatively bank balance pleasing opening price tag of £5,249.
But the star of the Kawasaki stand was undoubtedly the Z900 RS. It not only looks the part, but it is the part according to MCN’s chief road tester Michael Neeves. Having been lucky enough to take it out early doors, he gleefully reported that this raucous retro “goes like stink”.
That stand we guess sums up how the bike seeks to catch the zeitgeist, echoing the trend for the warmer, lossless vitality of vinyl over digital. It’s a thoroughly modern machine which nonetheless doffs its visor to the past, in particular the Z1s of the Seventies. The best of both old and new.
The bike’s 948cc inline four is supported with a wet clutch on hand to navigate through its six gears, Whilst lifted from the Z900, that motor has also been but tweaked so that both power and torque are a little more restrained and peak at lower revs. Add a shortened first gear and you have a machine which can properly take off from the lights.
Naturally, Kawasaki also recognised that stopping the thing was going to be quite important, hence upgrading the Z900’s brakes. The new machine comes armed at the front with four-piston radial monobloc calipers with two 300mm disc and at the rear a 250mm disc with single-piston caliper.
Make no mistake, the Z900RS is going to be one hell of a contender. Fantastic styling, a superb spec and sub £10,000 price tag will see to that.
We’ll close this chapter of our A-Z of the 2017 NEC bike show simply by reminding you to keep an eye out for the next instalment. Next time around we’ll be working our way through the latest from Moto Guzzi, Norton and Piaggio.
Photography by Ant Parr
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