Hot Wheels

By Chelle Cordero

April 3, 2017 5 min read

2016 saw a big upsurge in motorcycle ownership. In 2017, the desire to ride a bike continues, but the emphasis this year is power, economy and retro styling. Triumph is leading the way with 1970s retro designed bikes and combining style with new technology like fuel injection, engines with increased displacement, ABS brakes, heated grips and traction control.

According to Popular Mechanics, the year's motorcycle best buys include: the Yamaha SCR 950; the Suzuki Vanvan 200; the Triumph Street Cup; the Honda CBR500R; the Kawasaki Z125 Pro; the Victory Octane; the Ducati SuperSport; the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone II; the Harley-Davidson Road Glide; and the BMW G310R. The main features that make these bikes so appealing include vintage lace wheels, lightweight comfort, throatier exhaust and great suspension, lower cost and an introduction to sport-bike culture.

Manufacturers also paid attention to aesthetics. Indian Motorcycles has produced one of last year's favorites, the Scout Sixty, on sale in a two-tone color scheme for the first time; the new look skin is Star Silver/Thunder Black with gold piping on the fuel tank. Indian Motorcycle was founded in 1901 making it America's oldest motorcycle company and has helped to set the standard for motorcycles worldwide.

The brand-new 2017 Victory Octane shares its mechanical makeup with the Indian Scout Sixty, a 1200 liquid-cooled V-Twin is a modified version of the Scout's power drive. The Octane's look packs more muscle than the classically styled Scout Sixty and appeals to younger riders. The Harley-Davidson Roadster and the Victory Octane both shout performance and speed. The Octane and the Roadster both hit maximum torque of 76 foot-pounds, but the Roadster reaches it faster -- at 3,750 rpm, compared with 6,000 rpm for the Octane.

The Ducati SuperSport offers riders comfort and a chance to ride in an upright position with less bodyweight pressure on the wrists. The Supersport comes standard with a system that dials in specific riding and power modes and includes traction and ABS. The high performance Supersport S model adds enhanced suspension and clutchless shifting.

The Moto Guzzi V7 Stone II offers a roomier ride with a half-inch lower seat and an engine pushed forward in the chassis. A five-speed transmission was replaced with a six and a new 750 cc, air-cooled V-Twin sport-bike powertrain. The upgraded V7 features more tech, ABS and traction control. The V7 II Stone comes in three new color schemes: "Nero Ruvido" (black), "Rosso Impetuouso" (red), and "Grigio Intenso" (gray), all satin finishes inspired by color schemes of the '70s and feature lightweight alloy rims.

The Harley-Davison Road Glide is the company's biggest bike and has a redesigned massive, all-new 107 cubic-inch (1753cc) Milwaukie Eight V-Twin engine. The Glide is calculated to meet stricter emissions and noise regulations with a motor that delivers 10 percent more torque, thanks to the four valve heads and a bump in compression. Harley also restructured the suspension of the Glide to ride and handle better while improving the range and ease of adjustability.

The low priced and sporty 2017 BMW G310R uses a 313-cubic-centimeter liquid-cooled single cylinder that cranks out 34 horsepower up at 9,500 rotations per minute and weighs just 350 pounds. The bike is colored with the classic old-school BMW white with red and blue stripes paint scheme. The G310R provides an affordable entry-level platform highlighting clean welds on the tubular-steel frame, quality castings, precise fit of an all plastic body panel, extensive use of Allen head fasteners and a full-feature LCD dash.

A few other non-motorcycle trends in the motorcycle industry include an increase in female riders and the heightened popularity of safety classes. While there is continued activity in road and flat-track racing, there is far less media interest (non-paid television) and less opportunity to watch races without being there in person. There are more accessories available, such as custom designed jackets that includes a women's line.

The "motorcycle generation" is now older, and the demand for newer, expensive bikes has grown less. Manufacturers are trying to keep their current riders interested while reaching out to attract a more youthful crowd. Several motorsports companies are joining the quest for newer millennials; cost, fuel efficiency and the availability of DIY maintenance instruction are catching the eye of the younger market.

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