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The Biggest Anticipations in Motorcycling for 2016, Part 1
As 2015 is through, we must all grab a glass of sparkling water and shake off the New Year’s Eve hangovers and look boldly ahead. The world of motorcycling is expecting new models, from the beginner ones to the top-tier superbikes. Even more, certain changes are also expected to leave their mark on road racing, so here we go.

The Biggest Anticipations in Motorcycling for 2016, Part 1

Now, for starters, this is not a top. The order is as random as it gets, with no particular mention on the list being more important than the others, at least, not in the big picture. As each rider or group of riders have their expectations, don't be shy to add your own remarks if your fav machine is not listed below.1. New superbike generations
Some liter-class sport bikes are expected to be renewed, but in a more radical way than a mere facelift. Three names come to mind in the first place, Suzuki, Honda and MV Agusta. All three are old, judging by the industry standards, and the public is waiting for a solid change.

From the big manufacturers, Yamaha has been the boldest, with the introduction of the all-new R1, seconded by the track-only R1M machine. The bikes were quick to show their potential, even though it looks like the 2015 model year has a major transmission flaw.

The Suzuki GSX-R1000 is definitely one of the long-standing superbikes that remained unchanged since 2009. Still performing well, the liter-class Gixxer is, however, not going to hold on for too long. Regardless of how much the Gixxer riders love their machines, a new bike must arrive.

How much the new GSX-R1000 will differ from the current superbike is hard to tell. We saw the Suzuki Concept at EICMA, and we also saw it on the race track, but we are eager to see it riding abreast the competition's machines.

With Suzuki laying the hammer down in MotoGP once more, if Hamamatsu doesn’t shy away from implementing racing discoveries in the road-going bike, we might see a new star rising.

Honda CBR1000RR is even older, with the last major update having been made back in 2008. Various tweaks have been on the menu since then, but the bike remains an old one, and I mean no offense.

At the same time, the CBR is probably the least powerful machine of the lot. It delivers 171 hp, and this figure is hard to compare with the rest of the bikes, most of which go north of 200 horsepower effortlessly.

Far from being a horsepower warmonger, I'd add that it is still amazing to see Honda still doing decently well on the street and track, even with the power handicap. The CBR1000RR is no serious match for the new ZX-10R or the S1000RR, but it looks like Honda is not that eager to deliver a 200hp machine.

The MotoGP-derived RC213V-S is almost funny in stock trim with its 159 hp peak power. Some might say that a bike can be fast on the road without packing 200+ hp. Well, this may be true, but the other manufacturers seem to disagree, and the customers, too.

All in all, a new CBR1000RR generation looks like a must for Honda, and I guess nobody will complain if the street bike borrows from the MotoGP one visually. Whether Honda will deliver a new in-line four or a V4 engine for their superbike remains to be seen. Something tells us we might see a new liter-class CBR in Q4...

MV Agusta
was, in fact, expected to show their all-new superbikes at Milan in November 2015, but it wasn't meant to be. Schiranna officials confirmed that an all-new 1000cc platform was in the works, but this was all we know so far.

A classic superbike capable of delivering more than 200 horsepower is certainly in the making as we speak, and speculations about a crossover machine using the same platform seem to be credible enough. BMW showed the world that a travel bike can be born from a sport motorcycle, without eliminating too much of the fun sport riders are looking for.

Whether the third model rumored will be a naked roadster like Aprilia's Tuono or a track-oriented R1M-ish bike remains to be seen. Given MV Agusta's inclination for naked bikes, I'd rather put my money on the roadster.2. Anyone into new Supersport machinery?
It's already been two years since the decline of the 600cc segment can no longer be ignored. The market is dwindling at an alarming rate for all manufacturers, and it looks like the solutions to stop this trend are nowhere to be found.

The reasons why the 600cc segment is not faring too well, at least in Europe, are clear as daylight. As BMW's Ola Stenegard told me in an exclusive interview, there is not that much of a difference between manufacturing a Supersport and a Superbike machine.

First of all, the 600cc is almost the same (give or take) with the 1000cc in terms of basic technology and costs, but it retails for a significantly lower price that translates into a much smaller margin. In time, the lucrative factor of selling superbikes becomes almost negligible.

On the other hand, as fun as a lightweight, 100+hp 600cc bike feels, there is a big problem when it comes to WHO will ride it. If the engine develops 100 horsepower, installing a reduction kit will not make it A2-compliant.

If a rider gets fully licensed and knows his or her way around sport bikes, it is hard to believe they will pick a new 600cc machine knowing they might want a 1000cc bike really soon. They'd spend money on a pre-owned motorcycle, ride the hell out of it a couple of years, and then jump to the higher tier.

The entire 600cc sport bike segment is waiting for a change, but it's hard to tell who will make the first move, and how massive the changes will be. The "recipe" says we should expect all-new 600cc bikes, but the prospects are not exactly happy.3. Electric motorcycles from everyone
Some say that the industry is still a loooong way from replacing gas-powered motorcycles with electric ones, and I second that. The batteries being used these days are still far from being able to deliver the same range and ease of "refill" as their ICE counterparts.

Still, someone has to do it and battle it out instead of waiting for others to provide solutions. The last three decades proved even more that fate favors the bold, and nice rewards come to the pioneers who are not afraid to take risks.

The same goes for the electric mobility industry, but here things are a bit different. We most likely won't see BMW or Harley creating and funding their own battery research centers, and the rest of the traditional manufacturers are no different.

Instead, they could team up with battery developers and fund their research, waiting to implement the results. My guess is that pretty much all the bike manufacturers are well-aware of what the future will bring, at least in terms of macro changes.

Even though, with a few exceptions, everybody is silent as to what their electric plans are, I dare say that e-bikes are at least being discussed very seriously already. As for the battery technology, it looks like nobody is counting on a major breakthrough in 2016.4. More sport-adventure/crossover motorcycles
Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro was unveiled at EICMA 2015 and it looks like the next natural step from the original Multistrada. It introduces real-world enduro capabilities to a bike that was eagerly waiting for such a change, but even before this move, there was another thing that was set in motion.

Not a sport bike, neither an adventure one, the BMW S1000XR is one of the best examples that the two worlds can be mixed into a successful product. In 2014, KTM showed the 1050 Adventure; not a crossover, but an affordable entry point in the segment, with a street/travel-natured character. It put even more pressure on the segment, and posted very good sales, proving the customers appreciate the direction.

The new sport-adventure segment is growing, and MV Agusta is also joining the game, together with Yamaha, even though these two are not offering machines derived from their flagship superbikes. After all, nobody said that the sport-adventure segment is a 1000cc-only class, right?

Having a sporty, nimble machine with long-range comfort and some touring amenities seems to be the new fad, and we can expect to see more manufacturers trying their hand at this.5. The forced induction wave
Things are a bit strange in the supercharged/turbocharged niche, as these bikes are still regarded as being some sort of aliens. Even so, the forced induction technology allows manufacturers to retain the middleweight class displacement of the bikes, but to put them much closer to the superbike figures in terms of power.

A 600-800cc machine that can deliver 160+ horsepower with the same fuel economy of a middleweight bike is appealing, not to mention the chirp of the turbo...

Engineering a forced induction engine for motorcycles is, however, a tough job because of size and weight restraints, but Kawasaki pulled through, and it looks like Suzuki is close to showing a production version of their Recursion machine.

I am even tempted to say that forced induction bikes may represent for the motorcycle industry what hybrid cars are for the automotive one. Not at all a compromise, but a transition phase towards the future.

"Hybridisation" for motorcycles still looks like a no-no because of battery weight and size, but using electric power for "pulse acceleration" may not be a far-fetched idea. But "pulse throttles" and more are the subject of the second and final part of this coverstory.

 
 
 
 
 

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