Last year, we took a look at what motorcycle trends we expected to see in 2022. In anticipation of the AIMExpo show in Las Vegas this February, we wanted to take this opportunity to look at what we expect to see this coming year in the motorcycling world in this two-part article.
New Models and Surprises in the 2023 Lineups
Let’s start with Triumph, who announced a revamped Street Triple 765 family for 2023. This is the most powerful and poised iteration of the Street Triple, further cementing it as the new definitive streetfighter. The Street Triple 765 R boasts an updated, more commanding riding position, aggressive styling and enhanced rider electronics. The Street Triple 765 RS adds Brembo Stylema brakes, revised geometry for improved agility and an increase in power, making it a category leader with 130 pferdstärke (PS). The Street Triple Moto2 Edition is a limited production special edition bike with two race-inspired color themes as well as Öhlins suspension goodies.
Ducati is finding continued success with its Scrambler lineup. 2023 brings a new generation of Scrambler bikes with full LED lighting, a 4.3-inch color TFT display with smartphone connectivity, and an all-new chassis and frame for maximum agility. The Scrambler is safer and more fun to ride thanks to the introduction of the Ride by Wire throttle. This system allows for quick engine response as well as the integration of Ducati Traction Control (DTC) with two riding modes: Road and Wet. Look for the Ducati Scrambler Icon, Full Throttle and Nightshift in 2023 on Ducati showrooms.
Now let’s talk American bikes. Indian recently announced two new bikes for 2023: the Challenger Elite and the FTR Sport. The Challenger Elite is the definition of exclusive with only 150 being made available for the worldwide market. This machine is dripping with class and will certainly make a bold statement out on the road for those lucky 150 riders who manage to scoop one up.
On the other hand, the FTR Sport is far more attainable, with pricing starting around $14,000 and four distinct trim models for riders to choose from. This bike looks to me like the lovechild of a Harley V-Rod and a Ducati Diavel, and I love everything about it. This is a machine which is designed to let riders “cut loose” and just enjoy the simple pleasure of riding. It’s a totally unique take on the V-twin sport cruiser segment and is an American original through and through. Noteworthy features include RIDE COMMAND with turn-by-turn navigation, selectable ride modes for varying preferences or surface conditions and lean-sensitive stability control with anti-lock brakes (ABS).
The updates to the FTR lineup are mostly focused on rider comfort and usability. The seat height was lowered by 1.4 inches thanks to a revised suspension setup and new wheel and tire packages. This subtle change will give more riders the ability to “throw a leg” over the FTR, making it accessible to more people than ever before. Each trim level will now offer fully adjustable front and rear suspension, which is a new feature added to the FTR base trim.
Harley-Davidson (H-D) has been rather quiet of late, likely due to its restructuring plan. The company recently announced the end of the Evo-powered Sportster after more than three decades. This announcement was met with mixed reactions, to say the least. Some felt that the bike should have been refreshed years ago, while others lamented the end of one of the most accessible Harley-Davidson bikes. The Sportster has been a staple of the H-D lineup and has always had strong aftermarket support. This made the Sportster a perfect vessel for riders to customize and make their own. In my opinion, H-D must have a plan to replace the Sportster with something newer, but we’ll come back to that in a little bit.
The Honda Goldwing is back after a brief hiatus and looks to continue its legacy of long distance touring comfort thanks to its low center of gravity, minimal vibration and quiet running. New additions include a throttle-by-wire system that allows for multiple riding modes and rider aid systems. Hill Start Assist makes starting out from a stop easier on an ascent; the smart key allows for keyless ignition and bag access, and a tire pressure monitoring system provides real-time data for peace of mind.
Let’s wrap up this list with Yamaha news. The MT-07 has been updated for 2023 with a new 5-inch full-color TFT display with selectable display modes and simple smartphone connectivity with Yamaha Motorcycle Connect. The bike will also be pre-wired and ready for the addition of a quickshifter should the rider want to add one. The MT-07 has become one of the most successful Yamaha models of all time, and the updated bike looks to continue that success in the coming years.
As we look ahead into 2023, I have a few predictions — or, at least, educated guesses — as to what we might expect to see coming down the pipeline. This includes a few trends in the market as well as some big moves coming from bike manufacturers. Let’s dig in!
Overall, it seems to me that the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were playing it pretty safe in 2022. The past few years have been challenging for a lot of us, and the OEMs felt it too. The sudden disruption really challenged their stability and hampered the growth they were expecting to see. It makes sense that they’re making the safe plays and trying to reduce their risks; businesses need to do this from time to time to ensure long-term success. But let’s not forget that they’ve been working diligently behind the scenes to develop zero-emissions bikes for the future. This is probably the segment where we’ll see the OEMs taking risks and making their biggest investments over the next few years.
As for my predictions, I have a few.
I expect to see Harley-Davidson announce some sort of Sportster replacement by Q2 2023. The company needs to have an affordable bike in its lineup to help bring new customers to the brand.
I expect to see Ducati move to more V4 engines in its lineup. With the success of the Panigale V4 R and the Diavel V4, it stands to reason that it’ll look to fit this new style of engine into other models. I also expect to see the company update its Monster lineup to further the success of that family of bikes. The bottom line is that the success Ducati saw in MotoGP last season should mean more exciting changes and updates to its street lineup this year.
Finally, I expect to see the market continue to grow in the middleweight bike category. Bikes like the Honda CL500, Ducati Scrambler and Yamaha MT-07 are all terrific options for riders who have outgrown their first bikes and are looking to step up into something a bit bigger. Every brand needs to have bikes in that $8,000 to $12,000 range for this demographic of rider.
Earlier, I mentioned that the OEMs are likely to invest heavily in electric bikes. Next week, I’ll delve more into detail about this trend as well as the new technology we’re seeing. Stay tuned!