We ran a couple of stories last week - both, coincidentally, about new Kawasakis.
One was the first peek of the new ZX10R – hot stuff you’d imagine – the other, the new W800 retro parallel twin.
I suppose it shouldn’t have shocked us, which story was most popular in terms of hits but it really does mark a seismic shifts in British biking attitudes that the W800 story doubled the hits of the ZX10 piece.
I reckon for some time now, manufacturers have been building bikes that are becoming less and less relevant to today’s society. Our economy is well and truly rodgered but it’s not just ours. The US, the whole of Europe and even (shock) Japan aren’t in the best of fiscal fitness at the moment. So what use is a 180mph, £15k superbike that’s 10kgs lighter and 10bhp more powerful than the previous year’s?
We need more bums on two-wheeled seats and it seems seventeen year-olds are ripe for a two-wheeled conversion at the moment, if my son’s first car insurance quote was anything to go by. Honda’s CB125 and Yamaha’s sexy YZF125 at the top of the August sales charts might just support this theory. When it’s going to cost you (as a parent) £3,000 a year to insure your beloved offspring in a rubbish car why not buy a bike that comes with free insurance for the same sort of money? A brand new bike, at that. Some 125cc scooters cost less than £1800 and come with either seriously discounted or free insurance. Bit cheaper to run than a car, too.
But where do the kids go from there? Where’s the next budget conscious (but sexy) stepping stone? Kawasaki’s 250 Ninja is close but something cheaper would be nearer the mark. How about a 250cc single that’ll do 90mph and 110mpg?
If a lack of money is a world-wide pandemic, shouldn’t there be a whole raft of bikes on today’s market that save people money. Serious money. Whinging about a showroom full of unsold superbikes is going to achieve very little.
It seems the Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers are well positioned to capitalise on this austerity era. So too are Japanese manufacturers with a foothold (manufacturing base) in these emergent countries.
But will they and can they?