You know it's a different year in motorcycling when the most dramatic new models are from BMW. While other manufacturers are cutting back development on new sportbikes, the German manufacturer, previously known for fast cars and sleepy motorcycles, has unveiled what is possibly the fastest superbike on the planet.
BMW: At 193 horsepower, BMW's new S1000RR is the most powerful production 1,000-cubic-centimetre superbike. It may also be the easiest to ride thanks to its sophisticated Dynamic Traction Control system that prevents wheelspin while cornering. It's a complex compilation of sensors and actuators that measures, among other things, lean angle and the speed of both wheels. Three of the four available modes -- sport, race andslick-- offer the full 193-hp experience with differing levels of electronic reticence through the electronic throttle. BMW Canada also includes its race ABS in the S1000RR's $17,300 asking price.
BMW says the first new production in-line six since the CBX, the Concept 6 1,600-cc powerhouse, will be produced in the near future, first as a sport tourer. Using canted cylinders similar to the K1300 fours, incorporating a narrow bore/long-stroke configuration and having its alternator mounted behind the crankshaft, the 6's engine is narrower than previous across-the-beam sixes. Imagine how wicked it will sound in a full-blown sportbike.
BMW's R1200RT and GS will get variants of the DOHC boxer twin first debuted in the ultra-sporty HP2. In RT guise, maximum torque improves to 88 pound-feet, while maximum power stays at 110 hp. The same numbers for the GS represent an increase in both horsepower and torque.
HONDA: Honda's VFR1200 sport tourer has an all-new 1,237-cc, 76-degree V4 boasting 173 hp. Unlike previous VFRs, the 1200 is shaft driven with a novel offset pivot arrangement that is claimed to reduce the torque effect common to shaft-driven motorcycles. The VFR is also the first motorcycle to sport one of the new dual-clutch, automatic-shifting, six-speed manual transmissions popular in sports cars. ABS is standard.
Honda's other major introduction is a new line of VTX1300 cruisers based on the Fury. Using the same 1,312-cc, fuel-injected engine as the Fury, the Sabre, Stateline and Interstate offer more straightforward intentions than the chopper-styled Fury. The resurrected Sabre name reflects the long, low look of a performance cruiser, while the Stateline is more traditional with a 17-inch front mag wheel replacing the Sabre's skinny 90/90-21 item. The Interstate's touring focus sees the addition of floorboards, leather-covered saddlebags and a windscreen for long-distance comfort.
SUZUKI: In yet another twist on the sport touring theme, Suzuki has designed an all-new fairing, saddlebags and top case for its classic Bandit. Still displacing 1,255 cc of fuel-injected torque, the GSX1250SEA packs all that plus anti-lock brakes into a $13,299 package. Think of it as a less expensive but equally sophisticated alternative to Honda's ST1300 and Yamaha's FJR1300. Those with a sportier bent can opt for the $11,799 FA model, which features the same powerful engine and ABS system but eschews the luggage and touring windscreen.