In part one of this article, we took a look at the trends in the 2023 motorcycle lineups. What I didn’t talk about were electric motorcycles — and the electric vehicle (EV) and technology trends in general. Let’s take a look!
EVs: Are They Close Yet?
If you follow the news, you probably know that EVs are coming, but how close are they really? As emissions regulations continue to tighten, the days are numbered for internal combustion engines. While some may lament the coming of EVs and alternative fuels, I welcome it! I look at it as a challenge for the industry, let alone the entire world. And looking back at history, when mankind has been faced with adversity or challenge, we’ve pioneered and leapt forward. So, how close are we to seeing electric motorcycles out on the road? They may be closer than you think.
BRP started construction of its first EV manufacturing plant in Querétaro, Mexico, and it plans to start production of its e-bikes in Q3 of 2024. So that’s an interesting bit of news but still more than a year away. However, it shows how serious BRP has become about producing EVs in the future.
In more recent news, Livewire announced that it is accepting deposits on its upcoming S2 Del Mar electric bike. Livewire, a Harley-Davidson company, is known for its innovative Livewire One electric bike. The S2 Del Mar is a bit smaller than the One, but it is a sleek, fun-looking machine that I’d very much like to throw my leg over someday!
Zero motorcycles is another power player in the EV space with a lineup of street and dual-sport bikes that can fit the needs of a wide range of riders. The company’s SR/S and SR/F bikes boast a Bosch powertrain, a range of up to 187 miles and a top speed of 124 mph; they can also charge 95% in as little as 60 minutes. These are some serious specs for an EV and should be quite competitive in the market.
Finally, Kawasaki has been generating some buzz with its Z and Ninja BEV, which are expected to be available sometime in 2023. During the 2022 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, President Hiroshi Ito of Kawasaki Motors Corp. unveiled a range of pre-production and prototype Kawasaki models and announced Kawasaki’s company-wide vision focused on carbon neutrality. While underlining Kawasaki’s commitment to internal combustion engines and research into future fuel types, Ito also unveiled a new symbol headlining the new “Go with Green Power” initiative with its goal of achieving carbon neutrality for Kawasaki within a strategic timeframe. I expect to see more big news coming from Kawasaki this year as the company continues to work on EVs, hybrids and hydrogen-powered machines.
Safety Systems Continue to Surge
I’ve spoken before about the industry-wide trend of integrating more and more safety systems into new motorcycles. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. It seems like almost every new bike these days is being equipped with some form of advanced rider aid. This might be lean-sensitive anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, wheel lift control or more — the list goes on and on.
Let’s look at the Ninja H2 SX and Ninja H2 SX SE as an example of this technology. These bikes are offered with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Vehicle Hold Assist, tire pressure management system (TPMS) and more. FCW and BSD are warning systems only: They do not offer any sort of intervention in the event of an emergency. But in a world of distracted drivers and other road hazards, they might just save you from a nasty collision.
I believe that as we see this technology trickle down into the less expensive bikes, we could see a future where riders are safer, especially during their first year or two of riding. Those first years of riding are when a rider is statistically most likely to experience a crash, and this could turn him or her off of riding altogether. The motorcycling world needs to attract new riders to our ranks if we want to survive, and keeping new riders safer is a good path to achieving that goal.
In my eyes, LED lighting also falls into the safety category. Once you’ve driven a car or ridden a bike with LED lighting, you’ll never want to go back to halogens! I expect to see LED lighting continue to grow in popularity, and we should all welcome this change.
Ready, Set, AIME!
Here at MPN, we’re very much looking forward to the upcoming AIMExpo, which is headed to Las Vegas Convention Center Feb. 15-17. AIMExpo is an exciting show that allows industry professionals the opportunity to connect, learn about and discuss the important issues facing the industry, as well as explore the exciting new technology emerging in the powersports world.
We expect 2023 to be a very exciting year for the motorcycle world, and we will be at the AIMExpo providing coverage every day. Expect to see new products from gear and accessory companies as well as some new on- and off-road machines. We also expect to see a lot of information on electric vehicles of all types, especially as the big manufacturers continue to work on EVs behind the scenes. We might not see a whole lot of EVs on the road and out on the trails this year, but they’re closer than you might think!
Look for the spacious E-Bike Demo area in Booth 1088. While these are electric bicycles and not electric motorcycles, their growing presence underscores how much they’ll factor in the industry in years to come.
KTM, Honda, Suzuki, Triumph, Kawasaki and more will be on hand with their latest and greatest. We expect to see the first ever electric Honda CRF youth bike as well as the all-new 776cc dual-overhead camshaft (DOHC) parallel-twin engine in the Suzuki GSX-8S. This is the same powerplant that we’ve seen in the new V-STROM 800, and we expect the GSX-8S to be a really fun machine!
Seriously, the showroom floor is going to be packed. You can see the floorplan here. New bikes, gear, accessories and more: You’ll find it all on the AIMExpo floor. We hope to see you there!