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  #1  
Old 30 Dec 2009
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Moved: what do you think?

One of the most compelling aspects of motorcycles as a travelling vehicle after the viseral experience and ease of manual repair was always the frugal fuel economy. Seeing today's diesel cars that can do 50-60mpg, in silence, meet the latest Euro emissions standards and carry 5 people makes me think that we bikers are our own worst enemies. We are governed by the older Euro standard for motorcycles (let's save the argument of the standard's validity for another thread) and are wasting the current exemption by chasing more power at the expense of economy and usability (especially the sportier ones).

Reviews constantly focus on trendy statistics like power/torque/wheel sizes/engine configuration without focusing realworld factors that make bikes easy to live with, and (like it or not) viable in the future, like mpg/fuel capacity/autogearboxes/safety/lights etc. Motorcycles have been part-hobby/part-real-world for a while now but I worry that in future they may become hobby/museum. When 4star went to unleaded many vehicles became expensive follies overnight and if vehicle emissions were normalised across the western world (via punative taxes/catagorisation) then many of the bikes we know and love just would not be feasible to tax and run any longer. It's time we got our camp in order and focused on fun/practical/economic 2-wheeled transport before 'someone' in government makes that decision for us. With a red pen probably.
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  #2  
Old 30 Dec 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
...

Reviews constantly focus on trendy statistics like power/torque/wheel sizes/engine configuration without focusing realworld factors that make bikes easy to live with, and (like it or not) viable in the future, like mpg/fuel capacity/autogearboxes/safety/lights etc. Motorcycles have been part-hobby/part-real-world for a while now but I worry that in future they may become hobby/museum.

...

It's time we got our camp in order and focused on fun/practical/economic 2-wheeled transport before 'someone' in government makes that decision for us. With a red pen probably.

I agree.

Apart from two cars that I owned as a job requirement, I have only ever had bikes as my main means of transport.
As a young man in London just starting out in the job market or even back in Uni' I soon found out that after the bike itself, the insurance the tyres and repairs, precious little money is left, and so things like economy have always been a concern for me mostly due to their practical impact on my living standards : do I buy some more food or fill up the bike??

I discovered a long time ago that specsheets and real world virtues were often poles apart, but, as always specs sheets sell and they will continue to do so because, unfortunately, motorcycling is already predominantly a hobby, certainly in the UK: after all the avaerage annual mileage of UK bikes I think was about 3-4000 miles!!

With that sort of usage, petrol is not a major expense: it is just not a priority for the guy that has just decided to buy a Gixer 1000 for Sunday blasts and track days.

What will need to happen, IMO, is that cars will need to become less of an attractive option and bikes more so.

At the moment in the UK, apart from lower road tax, fuel economy (in some cases) and the initial purchase (sometimes), everything about bikes is more expensive, incuding the lengthy means of acquring a licence. People are going to mopeds and super-scoots before they are looking at motorcycles.

Only when the above happens and the market changes will the manufacturers start looking at the specs you mentioned in your post above those of power and torque....
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  #3  
Old 31 Dec 2009
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I have noticed the journos coming round to this way of thinking over the last year or so. I agree, it has to be done. It is embarassing to think that my car which will convey 5 people at 100mph can return almost 40mpg at that speed and up to 60mpg if driven economically when the most economical of my 4 bikes (XTZ660) does about the same.
I find it hard to comprehend that a major manufacturer has not come up with a bike that can cruise cmfortably at 90mph whilst still returning circa 80mpg.
I can understand sports bikes being `focussed` but the other bikes are not much better mpg wise.
Let`s face it, when do you ever red line your bike? Top end power is wasted on the road.
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  #4  
Old 31 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by MarkShelley View Post
Let`s face it, when do you ever red line your bike? Top end power is wasted on the road.
Absolutely!

But that is the problem! Matey hears all the performance figures from the salesman and how it'll impress/get one over on his biking buddies down the pub, and he signs away the best part of £10K!!

When the public decide to change their priorities so will the salesman and, then, so will the manufacturers: same with big, city bound 4X4s...

The downside for me is that a lot of custmers are looking at bikes, not for a purpose, but for an image. If the bike fits that image, they are happy. Unfortunately, the image sought is rarely: "my bike is a picture of efficiency!"

Good that some journo's are starting to change the focus: the most prominant of these for me, a UK based rider at the time, was RiDE magazine: had always had more of a practical edge to their articles, rather than the Top Gear style of PB or SB...

So what car is it that you drive?
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  #5  
Old 2 Jan 2010
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The emissions requirement as far as the MoT is concerned is on it's way. However, that and getting another 5mpg is kind of pointless given the huge number of imports from countries that are knocking out 125's and 50cc scoots as cheaply as possibly with total disregard for the environment.

Not sure sure about automatic gearboxes. If you don't know what gear you need to be in, you don't belong on a bike.

Totally agree on the useability of power. Try riding a late model Yamaha R6. It's all top end and you need to be dancing on the shift lever to the get the best out of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
The downside for me is that a lot of custmers are looking at bikes, not for a purpose, but for an image. If the bike fits that image, they are happy. Unfortunately, the image sought is rarely: "my bike is a picture of efficiency!
Exactly.

I sold an early R1 recently. Speaking to the customer, it was quite clear what he really wanted was the VFR800 he tried but the pose value of the R1 made the choice for him. Sad thing is, across a typical sunday bikers route, he would probably be quicker on the VFR.

However, you could say the same about BMW GS buyers. There's loads of low milers around in immaculate condition. How many of them are bought as a pose and will never go further off road than a field on a campsite in which case, an R1200RT, Pan-European or even a Fazer would be a better choice.

Just thought I'd chuck that in before everyone starts pointing the finger at sportsbikers.
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  #6  
Old 2 Jan 2010
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So what car is it that you drive?[/quote]

My company car is a Prius which my wife uses most of time as I use the bike whenever possible all year round. Please don`t think I am some kind of tree hugger. I would never buy one with my own money as they are overpriced and not as economical as Toyota claim. It does save me a massive amount in tax though, the savings from which pretty much pay for the running of my 4 bikes.
There are only 2 reasons I can think of which would make non bike owning car drivers take to two wheels for commuting/work use.
1) Frustration with traffic delays.
2) To save a `reasonable` amount of money.
The first is already in hand, but the second is not. Running a bike probably a bit cheaper than running a car, but not enough by any means.
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  #7  
Old 2 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig76 View Post
However, you could say the same about BMW GS buyers. There's loads of low milers around in immaculate condition. How many of them are bought as a pose and will never go further off road than a field on a campsite
My GS got us across South America!! Flagrant blowing of one's trumpet, but I couldn't resist!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkShelley View Post
Please don`t think I am some kind of tree hugger.
Nowt wrong with hugging trees. A bit like when running up and hugging a girl in the park: try the same with a tree and you don't a slap!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkShelley View Post
The first is already in hand, but the second is not. Running a bike probably a bit cheaper than running a car, but not enough by any means.
The second is acheivable but mainly with scooters and mopeds. There are some economical bikes out there. The CB500 was one, the CB250 also. even my dad's TA700 managed 75mpg!! But this was on open A and B roads; it's a different story.

There are some attempts at economy, but as we said above: it's a niche market. I just don't see how a petrol car can manage 50mpg from a 1.1, yet a 0.6 shifting a 6th of the weight can barely exceed 55mpg. Very strange!! Is it simply the revs that bikes reach?

I also remember that FZR1000s etc in the 90s were able to get 45mpg on full chat, but a modern gixer that is lighter is doing something like 30 mpg if you nail it!! Isn't technology supposed to make things work better?
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  #8  
Old 3 Jan 2010
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Agreeing to disagree

Quote:
Originally Posted by craig76 View Post
The emissions requirement as far as the MoT is concerned is on it's way. However, that and getting another 5mpg is kind of pointless given the huge number of imports from countries that are knocking out 125's and 50cc scoots as cheaply as possibly with total disregard for the environment.

Not sure sure about automatic gearboxes. If you don't know what gear you need to be in, you don't belong on a bike.

Totally agree on the useability of power. Try riding a late model Yamaha R6. It's all top end and you need to be dancing on the shift lever to the get the best out of it.

Exactly.

I sold an early R1 recently. Speaking to the customer, it was quite clear what he really wanted was the VFR800 he tried but the pose value of the R1 made the choice for him. Sad thing is, across a typical sunday bikers route, he would probably be quicker on the VFR.

However, you could say the same about BMW GS buyers. There's loads of low milers around in immaculate condition. How many of them are bought as a pose and will never go further off road than a field on a campsite in which case, an R1200RT, Pan-European or even a Fazer would be a better choice.

Just thought I'd chuck that in before everyone starts pointing the finger at sportsbikers.
First off, sportbikers shouldn't feel uncomfortable or that anyone is pointing the finger at them. It could be argued that without them there might not be a motorcycle industry in the UK worth talking about.

The "extra 5mpg" quote is missing the point - these cheap imports will also be covered by the increased emissions regulations. As for emissions from the developing world - this will take longer but they can incorporate the current emissions technologies and take steps in the right direction. Those consumers will eventually demand it too.

"Autogearboxes", "know what gear you're in" - I thought we were grown-ups here. Sounds like a bit of biker-chauvanism here - real bikers use gears! Is this the tactic you use to sell your bikes? No wonder the motorcycle industry feel stagnant! I included that as an example of how innovation can improve accessibility for people new to biking. Without this change/innovation and others like it, motorcycling will cease to be relevant in the modern world and will die.

You are spot on about the bike-buying public's habits but rather than settle on sportsbikes being the zenith of motocycling and continuing to sell people the same irrelevant over-powered plastic crap 'lifestyle' we need to start talking about the future and enthusing the public with a cleaner, more-inclusive vision of biking. The car on my driveway bears no resemblance to an F1 car in the same way that I stopped believing the MotoGP/WSB are reliable/relevant enough to entrust the future of biking with.
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  #9  
Old 3 Jan 2010
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It's worth bearing in mind that a 29mpg sportsbike pollutes less than a 55mpg mid-size commuter if the latter does 20000 miles a year and the former does only 3000.

The point is that manufacturers are not giving us much of a choice and we, as consumers, need to remember that we should be able to dictate those choices, not the other way around.

I don't feel that labelling bikers is the answer either: I like sports bikes but owning one is not a priority. If I had enought ot keep 3 bikes a sportsbike would probably be one of them. If buyers got demanding, then you would start to see sportsbikes that give good economy as well as good performance. Ditto for tourers and Dual Sports bikes with even better economy....
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Old 3 Jan 2010
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"It's worth bearing in mind that a 29mpg sportsbike pollutes less than a 55mpg mid-size commuter if the latter does 20000 miles a year and the former does only 3000."
- apples and bananas comparison. The worrying subtext to a statement like this is that motorcycles have ceased to be a viable mode of mass-transport for the developed world so it doesn't matter what mpg they achieve?

Besides, it isn't always about sportsbikes. I love the feeling of speed too. It's about bikes and biking. I want my children and I to enjoy motorbikes and not just as a dangerous, polluting novelty that reasonable people already suspect they are. I accept we're still in a recession but I just get this growing sense that motorcycling is long overdue another bout of scrutiny over our attitudes to safety, anti-social behaviour and emissions.
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  #11  
Old 3 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
- apples and bananas comparison. The worrying subtext to a statement like this is that motorcycles have ceased to be a viable mode of mass-transport for the developed world so it doesn't matter what mpg they achieve?
Well, in my experience, it has already ceased to be an alternative mode of transport. IIRR, the average motorcycle mileage in the UK is in the region of 3-5000 miles per annum. That was my point a few posts ago. When a bike is used that little, I expect the consumption is not a major concern for the rider. In the UK few bikes commuted compared to cars, and the biggest increase in two wheeled traffic was scooters on my old commute route into WC2. Certainly over here in Estonia it is a hobby/weekend pursuit.

Motorcycling has priced itself out of the day to day transport market, I fear...
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  #12  
Old 4 Jan 2010
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Warthog, you've hit the nail on the "point" but I think you have it the wrong way around. 'Motorbikes' haven't ceased to be viable modes of mass-transport because people are doing less miles on them, they're less viable because they stopped being relevant as a solution to people's transport needs (but are still sufficiently dangerous and thrilling to fit other purposes for now).

Scooters offer cheap reliable transport, easy to buy and insure for the young, easy to ride for the less 'able', economical and "fairly" easy/cheap to fix. They're more practical but often too noisy, smokey(old ones) and poorly ridden to gain acceptance from the rest of society.

Motorbikes have lost the battle of ideas against cyclists in our cities (quiet&clean) and are squandering any advantages they had over cars in and out of the cities (polluting and congesting). Do you want to cycle 10miles to work? Me neither and for most of the year a motorbike could fill that gap. Where do I store my kit? Why do I have to be cold? Why is the fuel economy so poor? The manufacturers' responses to questions like these has been sketchy but it is our inability to get past the pre-historic desire that motorbikes be noisy, smelly and impractical. We buy the magazines, we buy the bikes, we buy into the lies (you'll look good, the birds will love you, real men ride 'real' bikes etc.).

I'll get to the point - what worries me is that if motorbikes aren't seen in future as a good or worthwhile thing they will not continue to be considered in road schemes, will be penalised for their emissions/performance (i.e. waste of energy) and eventually be legislated against/priced off the road. Simples.
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  #13  
Old 4 Jan 2010
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I'll get to the point - what worries me is that if motorbikes aren't seen in future as a good or worthwhile thing they will not continue to be considered in road schemes, will be penalised for their emissions/performance (i.e. waste of energy) and eventually be legislated against/priced off the road. Simples.[/quote]

I agree with your sentiments and I think the industry has missed the boat somewhat on an opportunity to continue the good publicity that the likes of Ewan and Charley have brought to biking. I know that the pair often get a bad press (unjustified in my opinion) amongst bikers, but few can argue that their effect has been positive for us. Many bikers, myself included, have noticed that car drivers are pulling over to allow us to pass more often now. I have a suspicion that mainstream programmes like Long Way Down have a lot to do with this as they have shown the public in general that bikers are not all speed crazed grease monkeys but we get immense enjoyment just by being on the bike, taking in the scenery etc and our journeys become an enjoyable experience rather than a stressful necessity.
In the last few years it seems that every other celebrity is announcing themselves to be a biker. It is a shame that the manufacturers have not managed to use some of them to appeal to new bikers of all ages. It seems to work for pretty much every other product!
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  #14  
Old 4 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
First off, sportbikers shouldn't feel uncomfortable or that anyone is pointing the finger at them. It could be argued that without them there might not be a motorcycle industry in the UK worth talking about.
You're probably right. However, Yamaha in France sell more Fazers than the top 5 UK (125cc+) best sellers combined (4 being sportsbikes). The new reg statistics suggest we may follow that trend towards bikes with more allround abilities. The comment I made about "pointing the finger" was made in jest so don't take it too seriously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
The "extra 5mpg" quote is missing the point - these cheap imports will also be covered by the increased emissions regulations. As for emissions from the developing world - this will take longer but they can incorporate the current emissions technologies and take steps in the right direction. Those consumers will eventually demand it too.
Legislation, not consumers will make that happen and will hopefully kill off all the £600 new scoots you can find on eBay. There are many reasons why they cost far less than the equivalent Piaggio, Aprilia, Yamaha, etc. Some manufacturers are improving in terms of quality of finish but the only reason they can compete is on price, not cutting edge technology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
"Autogearboxes", "know what gear you're in" - I thought we were grown-ups here. Sounds like a bit of biker-chauvanism here - real bikers use gears! Is this the tactic you use to sell your bikes? No wonder the motorcycle industry feel stagnant! I included that as an example of how innovation can improve accessibility for people new to biking. Without this change/innovation and others like it, motorcycling will cease to be relevant in the modern world and will die.
Not "biker-chauvanism" at all. Autoboxes have hardly made an impact on 125cc+ motorcycles, other than maxi-scoots. You can buy a semi-automatic Yamaha FJR1300 which is very innovative and an interesting engineering exercise but do you know anyone who has stumped up the cash for one? I know of 3 FJR owners who bought new and could have gone for that option but didn't. Consumers decide what the market wants and right now, autoboxes aren't on many peoples lists. We'd all be riding Burgmans, T-Max's, etc if that were not the case. By the way, what do you ride?

Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
You are spot on about the bike-buying public's habits but rather than settle on sportsbikes being the zenith of motocycling and continuing to sell people the same irrelevant over-powered plastic crap 'lifestyle' we need to start talking about the future and enthusing the public with a cleaner, more-inclusive vision of biking.
I don't decide what people buy. I honestly wish I had that much influence. A naked SV1000 is a cracking bike but you try telling that to someone who has set their heart on an R6.

Unfortunately, people buying such "lifestyle" accessories, that includes sportsbikes and potential RTW bikes, are funding the development of what you and I will be riding in 20 years time. A necessary evil I'm afraid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edteamslr View Post
The car on my driveway bears no resemblance to an F1 car in the same way that I stopped believing the MotoGP/WSB are reliable/relevant enough to entrust the future of biking with.
If you drive a car from the last 10 years, it will without exception have technology that has filtered down from F1. Highly efficient multi-valve cylinder heads are just one example, otherwise we'd all be driving Triumph Heralds and struggling to hit 30mpg.

The difference between WSB and MotoGP is WSB are bikes you can buy (near enough anyway) and MotoGP is a showcase for technology that you WILL see on future road bikes so it is very relevant. Advanced ABS systems and traction control are where manufacturers are putting their efforts and those technologies are now filtering down to the showroom.

I'm not totally sportsbike or racing biased. I honestly think that the best bike for UK roads is a Yamaha Fazer 1000. They're based on what is now very conventional technology but you can tour, scratch, commute, take a pillion and is quick enough for most riders.

But, like I said and regardless of what you, I, the magazines or anyone else thinks, consumers will always dictate what the market offers.
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Old 4 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by craig76 View Post
.... consumers will always dictate what the market offers.

Will they?

I am no marketeer, but I expect we are "told" what to like: films, TV, role-models etc: take the example of Ewan and Charley that was cited earlier: Dual sport adventure tourers were nowhere near as popular before that.

Perhaps, we just don't realise we what we are being "told".
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