Looking ahead in 2022, I can’t help but get excited about what new motorcycles might be just around the corner. Now that AIMExpo is behind us, let’s see what we can expect to see from the motorcycling world in 2022.
New Models and Engines
The best thing about starting a new year, at least in my mind, is going to the local motorcycle show. This is the first chance I usually get to look at the new models, engines and technology which are coming out that model year. But, since the pandemic has caused so many of these shows to be cancelled or postponed, how about we take a tour around the industry to see what we can expect this year?
First stop, Kawasaki. This year marks the 50th anniversary of its iconic Z brand. The story of the Z brand starts back in 1972 with the Kawasaki 900 super4, also known as the Z1. This bike was designed with one goal: to have the best power-to-weight ratio of any motorcycle in the world. This design criteria led to decades of motorcycles, each striving to be “the ultimate motorcycle.” To celebrate this anniversary, Kawasaki is releasing limited-edition models of the Z900 and Z650 supernakeds as well as the Z900RS and Z650RS retro-sports.
Yamaha has facelifted its XSR900 sport heritage bike with enhanced styling and a number of new features. The new CP3 triple cylinder engine is now larger at 890cc, boasting a more linear torque curve and lightened internals for added engine character. But the real advancement for 2022 is the addition of Yamaha’s Six-Axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to the bike. This control units support a full suite of rider aids, including a lean sensitive Traction Control System (TCS), Slide Control System (SCS), front Wheel Lift Control System (LIF) and Brake Control (BC) System with lean-sensitive automatic braking system (ABS).
In the U.S., Harley-Davidson has revealed eight new models, each powered by the iconic Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine. New models include the Street Glide ST and Road Glide ST in the Grand American Touring line, the more powerful Low Rider S and the new Low Rider ST Cruiser models, and four super-premium models from Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO).
But I think that the real news this year from Harley-Davidson is the introduction of the new Revolution Max 1250T engine in the new 2022 Sportster S and the Pan America 1250 Adventure Bike. This new liquid-cooled engine boasts dual overhead cams with variable valve timing. The engine is now a structural component of the bike, reducing the overall weight of the motorcycle by eliminating the need for a traditional frame and keeping the center of gravity low and the chassis tight and rigid. This is a very exciting recipe for a modern motorcycle, and I for one hope that this is a sign of where the company is headed in the future.
These are just some of the highlights; there are even more bikes coming out in 2022. Stay tuned for more.
Retro Bikes Surge in Popularity
If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m a fan of retro and naked bikes. I had posters of the classics as a kid — everything from the Triumph Bonneville to the 1982 Kawasaki Z1000R. I’ve also got a soft spot for café racer versions of classic V-twin bikes like the Yamaha XV920. There’s just something special about these bikes and the modern bikes that remind us of these classics.
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more of these modern classic bikes coming to the market, and they’ve met with high demand and sales success across all demographics of riders. Yamaha has the XSR700 and XSR900, and Triumph has the Bonneville, Thruxton, Street Twin and Speed Twin, just to name a few. Ducati continues to update its iconic naked bike, the Monster, as well as the Scrambler line of bikes. Kawasaki has its Z lineup. And let’s not forget the be-all and end-all of retro bikes: the Indian. Now owned by Victory Motorcycles, Indian offers a stout lineup of modern motorcycles with classic styling and gobs and gobs of character.
What do all of these bikes have in common other than their classic styling? Modern technology. New features like ABS and traction control can’t easily be fitted to a classic motorcycle, but they come standard on many new bikes today. With a modern classic bike, you can own something with all of today’s technology but styled like it was built decades ago. In my eyes, it can’t get much cooler than that.
Things We’d Like to See This Year
Bring on the convenience. I had the opportunity to ride a 2016 Ducati Diavel a few years back, and aside from how unbelievably fast the bike was, there was one feature that really stood out to me: the key fob. The key was wireless, so I didn’t have to try and fumble it into the ignition with my riding gloves on. I’d just zip it into a jacket pocket, swing my leg over the bike, hit the start button and go. It’s such a silly feature, but it was so convenient.
Bring on the safety. Advanced safety features like ABS, traction control and adjustable rider modes all work to keep riders safe. Any technology that helps to keep the tires beneath you is a good thing in my book. Now, if we could just design a system that would help to eliminate distracted drivers from putting us in danger out on the roads….
Bring on the small bikes. Now, I’m not just talking about tiny bikes like the Honda Grom; I’m talking about the entry-level bikes that this industry relies on so much to draw in new riders. My wife rode a 1987 Honda Rebel 250; without a bike like that, I don’t know if she ever would have ridden a bike at all. Without this sort of entry-level motorcycle, any manufacturer could jeopardize its future. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of these types of bikes.