Oct 16, 2008

Motorcycle of the Year?

I think the whole Motorcycle of the Year concept is buggy. What does MOTY mean: the best value, the most expensive, the weirdest, the shiniest, the most innovative, the most/least popular, or the bike that the most folks will probably like/buy? The Kawasaki Versys is one of the few choices I’ve seen in this kind of competition that makes any kind of sense to me. Obviously, from the responses Motorcyclist got many agreed and many did not. The magazine summed up their rationale with "The Versys has an irrational appeal to anyone who's tired of coloring inside the same old lines."

Last year, Motorcyclist picked the KTM 990 Super Duke, which was a traditional, no-brainer kind of choice. KTM is everyone’s favorite Euro-trash manufacturer and a brand that practically no one is likely to put their own money on. The year before that, 3 BMWs got Motorcyclist’s award. A few years back, Motorcycle.com picked the Goldwing and got seriously hammered for the choice. Look through the years and you’ll find Ducati’s, MV’s, Triumphs, and lots of cruisers; all safe bets and all in-the-box choices. This year, webBikeWorld gave their MOTY award to the BMW K1200LT - R1200GS. Talk about coloring inside the same old lines. Rider picked the Kawasaki Concours C14 1400, not exactly an original thought, either. There is some talk on the web that Estonia picked the Yamaha FZ6 for their MOTY. Estonia? I thought that was a mythological country from Doonesbury or Dilbert. Do they have gasoline in Estonia?

As a creative “outside the box” choice, the Indian Motorcycle of the Year 2008 was the Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi, according to a collection of India’s gearhead magazines. That kind of choice would have really set the US motorcycle elites into flames.

While many in the industry have given up on motorcycling as an activity of the middle class, I’m not in that group. In fact, I’m totally disinterested in anything the rich and powerful do, unless they are running for cover when the working classes decides they’ve had enough from that inbred crowd. I’d buy a front row seat to watch that, but I don’t care about the cars they drive, the houses they live in, the politicians they own, or the motorcycles they ride. Any motorcycle that only the 0.01% who own most of the world can buy and ride is an example of a product that has nothing to interest me.

What makes a bike the MOTY? I’d be willing to agree that the bike ought to provide some engineering breakthrough like a new fuel source design. But Americans are working hard to be the slowest to adapt any new technology, so the chances that an electric, hydrogen, or diesel powered bike will make a dent in the market is next-to-zero. If “weird” is the driving force for the decision, there are plenty of stupid looking custom cruisers that have about as much chance of selling enough units to count as being “manufactured” as do some of the weird multi-zillion dollar MOTY choices.

So, back to the original Kawasaki Versys MOTY choice, the $6899 price tag puts it pretty solidly in the middle class price range. 59mpg is downright modern and makes the Versys a little bit practical. The look of the bike is far from conservative, especially with the off-set rear suspension and non-symmetrical swingarm. Some bits of the design are downright ergonomically brilliant, even the console qualifies on that count. Considering the conservative nature of their readership, I’d say Motorcyclist made a pretty bold choice with the Versys. Maybe that’s the real goal of selecting a MOTY? Not the motorcycle itself, but offering some kind of food for thought to the readers/riders to wrench them out of their mental boxes and into the real world?


  1. The same kind of problem faces R & T and Car & Drivel - shall we feed the buzz by putting a Ferrari on the cover, or shall we return to fundamentals with something that might be of some practical use to someone? And in the M/c biz, the problem is that bikes are $10,000 and giganto--scooters (Burgman, Helix) knock hell out of $5000. Hell, I can pick up a used Cobalt that uses almost as little fuel. And what if it rains?

    Especially when small mfrs are split on whether to sell a few score billet titanio Faberge eggs for hedge fund managers at $100,000 - $300,000, or face the music with a mass-production 250 at $2500.

    GM thought to split the diff with $50,000 suvs and the semi-appealing $15,000 Cobalt, plus promise of Volt and the 1.4 econo-turbo to come.

    Our next govt. seems to be pledging "No taxes at all - ever - and that's FINAL. From now on, we'll just PRINT money - money for everyone, showers, blizzards, avalanches of money."

    Talk about "pump priming". That's the great thing about living in a age of know-nothing-ism. Nothing has to make sense any more! Just do it.


  2. Somebody, sometime, said something like, "democracy fails when voters realize they can vote themselves rich." We're doing something else, I think. It seems to me that the average person believes in hard work, living a productive, responsible life, while the elites are buying themselves rich with borrowed money. I hope you are wrong about who the "next government" will be, but I fully expect another fraudulent election and McPalin to "win." Canada just looks better every day: http://dose.canada.com/news/story.html?id=c3a67e3b-1aef-4daf-a768-a54eedb80185.

    The whole Bike of the Year thing seems like a complete waste of print, to me. It's about as meaningful as religion of the year, basketball/baseball/football player of the year. At least in sports you could vote for someone on the winning team. In mechanical devices, what criteria matters?

    I'd pass on the Cobalt, though; no station wagon version. I'm turning into some kind of 99-2003 Escort station wagon "efficienato." I know that's a contradiction in terms, but I'm heading for 230k miles in my '99 and the only way I'd like this car more would be if it had a sunroof. It holds a whole band worth of equipment and still gets better than 35mpg. My bike has to at least get 20mpg more or it's not worth the effort.

  3. Hey Thomas,
    What a nice article you have shared here! Your using word is really fantastic. Yes, I agree with you that the Kawasaki Versys is truly one of the best choices. Thank you for your nice post.

  4. Hi,
    The bikes are awesome. This bikes are one of the beautiful bike I have ever seen. Thank you for the post. Before ride this high speed bikes must take care about safety.


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