I feel compelled to write this. Compelled by a burning passion for sportsbikes, compelled by misguided, sometimes deluded people who have jumped on the meaty bandwagon of propaganda. And, having spent my whole life as a sportsbike fanatic, I’m trying hard not to be an opinionated twat but it’s proving tricky.
There’s a vicious rumour surrounding sportsbikes in the UK. Apparently the breed is dying. Dying? Simply walking, driving, riding or breathing unearths a minefield of sportsbikes clogging up British roads.
2015’s fresh meat was unveiled in Cologne and Milan towards the end of last year, and unless my eyes have been miraculously replaced by GS fog lights or bovine testicles, the focus was on sportsbikes. Pretty much every major manufacturer, save for Suzuki, unwrapped a tasty top-end sporting number. Even the previously reticent Japanese brands have gone barmy and unleashed a barrage of astonishing technology.
The A-Z goes something like this:
A – Aprilia: a heavily revised RSV4 was released in Milan
B – BMW: all-new S 1000 RR. And it’s über good.
C – C is for caterpillar
D – Ducati: bored out 1299 Panigale is going to be bonkers
E – E is for electric. Getting bloody expensive these days…
F – F is for free. Free paddock stands and tyre warmers with the Kawasaki H2R
G – G is for Guinters
H – Honda: although not 100% real, the RCV213V-S was debuted in Milan
I – IMU: Inertial Measurement Units – essentially gyros to aid electronics. It’s all about IMUs in 2015
J – J is for Jaffa Cakes
K – KTM: purveyors of fine sportsbikes for teenyboppers. We’re hearing of an RC8R replacement…
L – L is for larynx
M – MV Agusta: the brand is constantly evolving, as is the F4 series
N – N is for Norris McWhirter – Margate rhyming slang for ‘squirter’…
O – Öhlins: fresh semi-active suspension now adorns the Panigale S and Yamaha’s R1M
P – Phone: you can now adjust the RSV4’s rider aids via your smartphone. How smart.
Q – Quickshifter: Kawasaki fitted a q/s for the first time ever
R – R is for Roger. Anyone for a Roger?
S – Suzuki: Er, oh look, an eagle…
T – Triumph: one of only a few brands pushing the 600s class
U – U is for United Kingdom
V – V4: Aprilia’s new WSB-friendly motor now kicks out 201bhp
W – WSB: thanks to new rules, the litre class bikes will be more powerful
X – X is for X-ray
Y – Yamaha: brand-new R1 brimming with tech and sexy gadgets. And power.
Z – Z is for zebra
The crux of the argument is based on publicised new bikes sales. Yes, the sportsbike trade has taken a hit over the past 10 years, but so has the entire market. We’ve spoken to several dealers in recent weeks, and the untold used sportsbike sales are keeping many dealers afloat. With marginal gains in showroom models for these dealers, the part exchange deals and inflated ‘dealer’ prices on 1-5 year old stock are saving the day. Until 2015, most of the major manufacturers’ bikes have changed little in recent years. And, in today’s financial shittery, why wouldn’t you save a few grand on buying used, when it’s essentially the same model?
There was a recent spate of torrential adventure bike falacio, based on a well-known British website publishing its ‘most viewed’ bike reviews. Respected journos and minor celebs, who really should know better, shared and retweeted in over-excitement, using this as armour for their arsenal. The results of this ‘most viewed’ factoid aren’t a true representation of the state of motorcycling, but do say more about the readership of said website.
Do these adventure bike riders contribute to the motorcycle industry via tuning and modification? No, of course they don’t. Aside from filling up their 25-litre fuel tank and riding (comfortably) into the sun, plus the occasional luggage accessory, these mile-munching warriors have little on the frivolous sportsbike fraternity. Big bucks are spent every year on tuning goodies and bolt-ons, in turn feeding the industry, relining the pockets of companies ready to splurge more on R&D and juicy products.
With extortionate price tags, this impending crop of 2015 sportsbikes may well be out-priced for the majority of us, and the used market will once again be a hotspot for buyers. But are sportsbikes dead? Jog on…
Happy New Year