Kott Motorcycles cafe racer based upon a 1973 Honda CB750. Photos by author unless otherwise noted.
Since the plunge in motorcycle sales that occurred from 2008 to 2009, the powersports industry has been building momentum year on year, with sales showing an annual increase, albeit a gradual one, from 2010 to 2014. This year, 2015, stands to show even more sales growth across the board, with some manufacturers (BMW, for example) posting record numbers. One factor potentially driving the trend is a renewed emphasis on customization at the manufacturer level, something that was clearly evident at last weekend’s New York International Motorcycle Show.
Triumph’s revamped Bonneville lineup includes the 2016 Street Twin.
Harley-Davidson has long understood that there’s more profit to be made in accessories than in motorcycles themselves, but other manufacturers have been slow to embrace this concept. For 2015, however, numerous brands, in a variety of price ranges, are offering motorcycles as blank canvases, along with a wide variety of parts for owner customization, ranging from handlebars, to exhausts, to mirrors and trim. Take Triumph, for example: While the brand was duly proud of its revamped Bonneville range, it was equally proud of the number of accessories that dealers will offer for owner personalization.
2015 Ducati Scrambler, with an aftermarket Termignoni “high pipe” exhaust.
Retro is once again hot, and several manufacturers (Triumph, Ducati and, soon, BMW) once again have scrambler models in their lineups. Though scramblers were once intended to serve their owners on road and off, dual-sport motorcycles, among the industry’s hottest segments, now fill that niche. Modern scramblers, then, are more about a custom look (generally at a more affordable bare-bones price point) than true off-road capability.
2016 Yamaha XSR900, in 60th anniversary livery.
Perhaps the most interesting introduction at the show, for the author anyway, was the 2016 Yamaha XSR900, which potentially breathes new life into the under-represented “UJM,” or Universal Japanese Motorcycle, segment.
Best custom award went to this Yamaha cafe racer, built by Keino Sasaki. Photo by Jim O’Clair.
Also on display in New York was a huge array of customs, covering the gamut from American V-Twin choppers through vintage Japanese and British café racers. More eclectic selections included a Triumph bobber with a hardtail frame and a carbon-fiber tank, seat pan and rear fender; a Moto Guzzi hybrid that demonstrated what the offspring of a Le Mans and a California might look like; a scrambler based on a Harley-Davison Sportster; and Widow Jane, a Vincent café racer that looked sinister even standing still.
“Widow Jane,” a Vincent cafe racer.
Here’s a look at a few more of the bikes on display during last Friday’s press day.