This discussion is not really about sportbikes vs. cruisers, it's about what advancements are important to which customer. To some guys, manufacturers adapting unobtanium parts onto this year's mega-horsepower sportbike is the best improvement since sliced bread. To the average touring rider, making things like adjustable ergonomics, a more comfortable seat, and better wind protection are the priority. It all depends on what is important to YOU, as the customer. These manufacturers will make what YOU as the consumer are willing to spend money on. They will make what we want them to if we vote with our dollars. So let's do that.
I installed an electronic cruise control on my 1997 Blackbird. I love it and I use it all the time. Its easy to use, Helps me drive at the posted speed, and shuts off the moment I touch the brakes. I wish more bikes had them.
I really dont understand what you people are whining about. There are so many different types of bikes on the market right now, for every rider, theres a ride. If you want to make adjustments and changes to that ride, thats what the aftermarket is there for. As for emphisis on racing and race replicas are concerned, how far do you think bikes would have come along if it werent for racing? Or would you rather have this technology tested on production bikes first? Quit whining about sportbikes, if you want a cruzer, buy one. If you want a touring bike, buy one. If you want a sportbike, buy one. If you want climate control, gps, traction control, voice command, cruze control, ect, you dont want a bike, so dont buy one.
The GoldWing had a feeble attempt at the warm/cold air thing. It didn't work all that well, but it did exist. You are right that most people only ride when warm and sunny and probably less than 100 miles.
Hold it right there--do NOT compare runner00 to us girl riders. That's a totally uncalled-for insult. No way would I ever expect cruise control, climate control (for heaven's sake) or any other exorbitantly excessive creature comforts on a bike. And I'm no way near as tough a rider as many of the girls in the women cruisers group here.
I agree with those that posted that it's an experience when you ride. If someone can't handle it--or is of a frame of mind that is too weak to handle that experience--definitely opt for the car on that day. I live in Nebraska, so my riding season is only a few months each year because I know how much cold I can and cannot take. But I don't whine that my bike needs more creature comforts so I can ride longer. I simply know that I better enjoy the rides while I can.
Don't even put runner00 in the same category as female riders. He's in his own "wittle" world.
No offense caveman but you dont speak for " those of us who ride every day" either.
I must admit when I read the article I thought the same thing as blalor. Climate control??? Give me a break! If you want climate control take the cage.
Recently we had morning temps as low as 3 deg. F and I rode to work. Had there not been ice on the streets I would have ridden today. It was 9 degrees F when we left the house this morning. The only cage in the garage is my wife's. I took her to work then drove myself to work. Ice on the road is the only thing that keeps me from riding the 20 mi. to work each day. It's not just because I "like" to ride every day. It's required by choice and convenience.
How much innovation is needed to add heated grips to a bike that doesnt have them? How much engineering is necessary to find that a larger windshield or added wind deflectors contribute to the comfort of riding in all weather conditions?
I agree, for the most part. I no longer ride my Aprilia Mille R on the street, and that is a bike that was consistently lauded as a great bike to ride on the street. Sure, it is 'comfortable,' I even managed a 10,000 mile, 8 week tour on it, but that was hardly its design brief. I also managed, by virtue of being single and well paid in the high tech industry, to do about 20 track days last year, and by the end of that season, there was little doubt that the Mille has no place on the street. Since I just couldn't bring myself to ride it like it needs to be ridden on the street after spending so much time knee-down at the track, I retired the bike to track only use, which kills me, as I have invested a ton of time and money in making that bike ride the way I want it to. The acquisition of a fiancee really hastened the process, as we clearly needed a motorcycle that we can both ride together COMFORTABLY, since we try not to use the truck (a total beater, I might add) for anything but hauling the bike to track days.
I bought a BMW K1200RS, which, while not the fastest, or best handling sport touring bike out there, does come with ABS brakes, standard cruise control, climate control (adjustable windshield), great luggage, and comfy pillion accomodations. With some work, I can keep up with the knee draggers on the local moto-roads, and the bike is perfect for 2-up weekends out of town. The ABS brakes have already saved our bacon, when an old lady turned left across 3 lanes of traffic into a driveway without looking or signalling. We hit her, but just barely, and I was able to slither the bike around the front of her car while under hard braking, doing minor cosmetic damage but nothing severe and both myself and my fiancee were effectively untouched (but a little shaken).
BMW seems to be the only manufacturer really pushing the limits of street rideability, with the other sport touring models from other manufacturers merely following their lead, occasionally making minor improvements of their own along the way. BMW is not a perfect company, and you certainly pay a premium for the bikes (resale isn't great, however, check out the used market. Most Beamer owners are fanatical about maintenance and the bikes are nearly bulletproof over the long haul), but I think you get a supremely ridable motorcycle.
They aren't for everyone, though. If I could only afford a single bike, I doubt it would be a BMW. Many of the 'ridable' japanese models have a more compromised touring capability in favour or more sporting personality, and if I didn't have the dedicated track bike, I am sure I would riding one of them. Then there are the pricey, but very effective Italian sport tourers. Those would be great occasional track bikes if you don't spend a lot of time with a pillion on the back.
However, many (most?) riders are greatly affected by what they read in the moto-press. As long as the magazines (this one included) continue to denigrate everything but the latest race reps as 2nd class, 'old man' bikes, the 18-30 crowd just aren't going to buy them in the quantity that they should, and we will continue to see large numbers of accidents, injuries, and fatalities as people attempt to ride those bikes somewhere close to the level for which they were designed on public roads.
Either that, or we need a chain of motorsport parks around the country which provide track access without the expense of a full track day. Something along the lines of the Nurburgring's pay per session model, which would allow an economically disadvantaged rider to show up for 2 or 3 20 minute sessions after work on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, or such. I don't know how you could do such a thing from a liability and profitability standpoint, however. Maybe run car and motorcycle track schools on weekdays, with open track sessions after 4pm every afternoon, alternating car and motorcycle days. I'd be so broke if I lived within an hour or two of such a place. Especially if they had mechanics on site and tire changing facilities. That's my dream.
A lot of the comments so far have come to the consensus that most people, as in 51% or more, ride when the weather is reasonable good, and for less than 100 miles at a time. So why should anyone expect manufacturers to make most bikes to fit in the category. Plus there are bikes that fit pretty much every general genre of riding styles, with aftermarket left for the fine tuning to individual preferences.
Sportbikes are not for cross country rides in the cold rain. The weekend racers don't want the extra weight and complication, hence no frills. The Tourer's generally have the need so they get factory options..
A stock sportbike, UJM or cruiser is a blank slate. Add luggage, windshield, wire up heated grips and vest, or not, as you the owner see fit to suit your purposes and climate. Offering factory options that only a few people want raises the base price for no good reason.
Hey, this is almost my exact story. I owned nothing but sport bikes and spent a lot of track days at Willow Springs. I too bought a BMW K12RS, which I have far more fun with on the street with than any of the pure sport bikes I've had. It not as fast/light, but its surprisingly good on twisty roads. Its main selling point for me was ABS and the ability to actually ride more than 50-100 miles with out pain.
Extra points to Enrique for having the first sensible answer on the issue. Racing improves the breed. Even car makers like Cadillac and Jaguar know that.
To counter the original poster's argument: Racing technology is precisely what makes today's GoldWing accelerate, brake and handle like the previous decade's super bikes. If the GoldWing isn't an example of motorcycling development aimed at comfort and versatility, then I don't know what is.
For every middle aged guy who wants a comfy sport tourer, there's twenty five who want a chopper.
I think that the evolutuon of sportbikes has made them so completely hard-edged that in many cases these bikes have become downright dangerous to ride anywhere else but the track. The radical seating position reduces visibility and creates the most dangerous of riding problems... fatigue. The abrupt powerbands, the worthless mirrors and other factors make the things virtually useless for day to day use.
I never thought the day would come when I would lose interest in reading about sportbikes, but it's finally arrived. I've tested as many as I can and they simply are completely unsuited to my needs. Yeah, they get better every year. So what? Not 1 in 100 riders could get the full performance out of a 1987 GPZ 750, much less anything since then. And I could ride a GPZ750 all day with ease. Today even the flagship bigbores like the Hayabusa are simply too radical in seating for me.
The irony is that so many of the sportbikers like to denigrate cruiser owners as fair weather riders and for sure there are plenty that fit that bill. Yet, the nearest place to go race sportbikes is 450 miles from where I live. Most guys on 600s I see wear ballcaps. Poser posers posers.... come in all colors.
The free market is the free market and the manufacturers are simply responding to the market demand as best they can. It's just too bad that such bikes as the FJ1200 have disappeared.
And as far as cruisers go they're just as bad in the opposite way. Who the heck decided to put the controls way out by the front wheel? I'd seriously consider a Warrior if it weren't for those stupid forward controls. Who likes to ride around locked into a position that looks like you are getting ready to hump a camel? Sheesh.
Today the best offerings for a sporty yet reasonable ride seem to be Suzuki's V-Strom or SV1000. Tubular bars you can actually replace!! What an innovation!!