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Sunday, March 7, 2010

What do men want?

The 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 is a naked bike for riders who don't feel the need to look like Ricky Rocket. Sure it still has that origami / Transformers look but it is not a dumbed-down chassis with a de-tuned, old generation engine like the best forgotten Honda 919.

Of course the head of the class belongs to the Triumph Speed Triple. It is the bike that resurrected this class and still sets the standard. The Ducati Monster is another bike that "gets it". Both bikes have sharp handling, big torque, and reasonable ergonomics. Now there is the Z1000 to add to the group. The Suzuki Bandit 1250S is nearly there and is a great bike for the money but misses the mark by just a bit.

So where is Honda? Still licking their wounds from all the 919's and 600F's that were laying unsold in the back corner of the warehouse? Over priced and under performing, the Honda name on the tank just wasn't enough to push them out the dealer's doors. However, now there is the CB1100F lurking in the Asian shadows. Released to Europe in two versions, it may be an answer. Watch this interview with the engineers who designed the bike. I promise that it's not dry and overly technical. There is some great photography of the bike in action. Still, I wonder, are there enough "mature" riders who are just dying for an air cooled big bike? If the target group is the over 40(50?)(60?) age group wouldn't the similar CB750F have more resonance? (and less weight?) After all, the original CB750F was the bike to own when Boomers were young.

Just for comparison here's a picture of the CB1100R prototype that is based on the street bike. Too radical? Or maybe just what they need to appeal to that mature market segment. Ducati is certainly doing well with their GT 1000 retro model. Comments or opinions?

Note: Many of these pages are in Japanese. If you use the Google Chrome browser (instead of Internet Explorer or Firefox) it will offer to translate each page so that you can see most of the words.