AIMExpo Report: Thursday
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Posted by: Wes Fleming
First things first.
Yeah, it's the Surf Beemer! Based on an R nineT, it's possibly the coolest looking retro Beemer that's ever been Beemered. Up close it's even more incredible. The detail work that went into the arms that hold the surfboard are seriously impressive.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, BMW hasn't made its media presentation yet - that happens tomorrow (Friday), and you know I'll be covering (and live tweeting - @BMWMOA) it. Until then, however, we had to make do with Other Brands.
You know, it occurs to me that even though we're all BMW riders around here, many of us have ridden and still ride bikes made by other manufacturers. I owned a number of Honda CB750s in my youth, and a certain other member of the ON staff (who shall remain nameless) currently owns (and rides!) two - that's TWO - Ducati Monsters!
Let us, then, stop pretending that motorcycles made by other builders don't excite us as much as new models from the Mother Ship do. That S 1000 XR is a dead sexy bike, but so is this number debuted by Yamaha this morning.
It's called the DT-07, and it's a dirt track racing concept bike. Yamaha started with the engine from an FZ-07 and designed everything else from the inside outwards. Unconstrained by existing body work or frames, they were able to build a pure dirt track racing machine - note there's no front brake. The builder said the short wheelbase and linkage-type suspension gave him a real challenge, but that the Yammie crew was great to work with and they were able to bring to life the vision of a modern dirt track racer, in Yamaha's 60th anniversary colors, of course.
Yamaha announced several other bikes for the 2016 model year, including the rebirth of the Vmax ($17,990) and new colors for the Super Tenere ES (electronic suspension - $16,190) and standard version ($15,090, also available in 60th anniversary yellow for an extra $500).
It's clear that BMW Motorrad is putting pressure on the superbike world with its popular S 1000 RR, and Yamaha has answered with both barrels. Their new YZF-R1S is an M1-inspired superbike, and at $14,990, it's an affordable option for street riders that want a liter bike but don't need the track-focused features of the R1. While much of the R1S technology comes from the R1 - 6-axis IMU, traction/slide/lift/launch control, and ABS (but no quick shifter, which of course is available as an option), the price differential comes from parts. Instead of the fancy unobtanium connecting rods in the racier bikes, the R1S has steel con rods. It has aluminum wheels instead of magnesium, and the magnesium bits elsewhere on the bike (like the engine) have also been replaced by aluminum. The bottom line on the R1S is that its 12% less peak horsepower compared to the R1 doesn't come from detuning, but by parts changes - and seriously, how much time will you spend at high RPM wringing out every last horse? The R1S will be available starting in February.
Honda's big announcement was that they'll be rolling out the CBR500R for American riders. They are specifically targeting this bike at Gen Y riders, trying to attract that next generation of Gold Wing and ST1300 riders by giving them a great entry-level bike. The CBR500R's body work is all new and features an aggressive, angular style with sharp lines and LED lights. The white looks fantastic, too.
It remains to be seen if BMW will answer this salvo - middleweight or lighter sport bikes - with a projectile of their own.
Suzuki's new bike announcement was a sharp-looking standard. Sure, Big S is still focusing on adventure bikes, with the V-Strom 650's standard-model price point at a low $8,499, but their new GSX-S1000 is aimed squarely at those for whom the revamped Bandit 1250S (which is back for 2016) is just too staid looking.
The GSX-S1000 gets its engine from the GSX-R and includes plenty of high-end parts, but its price point - including Brembo brakes and a fully adjustable suspension - comes in under $10,000. Suzuki also has a wash of commemorative color schemes available for its sportbikes at the 600, 750 and 1000 cc levels.
While all of these bikes are sweet looking and I'm sure sweet riding, the new model announcements that drew my attention came from Zero Motorcycles. If you've never heard of them, Zero make electric motorcycles and they are an absolute blast to ride. Zero is constantly working on battery-related issues to improve performance and increase mileage, and they're making gains year after year. Scot Harden, Zero's VP of Global Marketing, said, "Twenty-sixteen is a great year to be in the motorcycle industry," and he's not just whistling Dixie.
Zero's new bikes are the DS-based DSR dual sport bike, which comes with aggressively-treaded on/off road tires made by Pirelli. The DSR has a longer travel suspension than the DS and its 660-amp motor controller gives it 25% more power than the DS. At a cost of $15,995, you can expect just under 70 horsepower and just over 100 foot-pounds of torque no matter where you're twisting the throttle. The glory of the electric motor is that there's no transmission and full power is available at all speeds.
The second new bike Zero debuted was the FXS supermoto, which Harden said "changes directions faster than a cheetah shopping for groceries." With 70 ft-lbs of torque propelling a bike that weighs under 300 lbs, you can expect a visceral riding experience no matter where you're going. The FXS features Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires, Bosch ABS and looks every bit what Harden called "a serious motorcycle that people can enjoy." Price will start at $10,990.
The last thing I want to tell you about from today's media presentations isn't a motorcycle, but it's something motorcyclists should be intimately interested in - a helmet.
6D Helmets are, without any doubt in my mind, the most innovative helmets being made with a specific eye towards reducing the possibility of head injury if a motorcyclist should crash. They've been making helmets for dirt bike riders for several years, but as I was promised last year by 6D's owner, Bob Weber, this year he had a street bike helmet to show.
The ATS-1 features 6D's proprietary (and patented!) omnidirectional suspension (ODS). There's a lot of physics and technical expertise behind this system, and I will be bringing you an article on the technical aspects of the 6D system in the future - it really is too much to get into right here, right now. Suffice it to say that the ODS is a kinetic energy management system that allows an inner EPS liner to displace in three dimensions, reducing the transfer of energy to the head and thus the brain, mitigating the forces that cause concussions in a collision.
The ATS-1 will be available starting in March for $895, in the black carbon fiber shown above and with a white finish as well. The helmet weighs under four pounds and features Pinlock compatibility, an emergency cheek pad removal system, and proprietary face shield design and DOT, ECE and Australian safety certifications.
It's an exciting time to be a motorcyclist, and just to prove that to you even further, here's another photo of the Surf Beemer.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's AIMExpo report, which will feature items from Shoei, Helite, Schuberth, BMW, Sena and MORE!