Evolution of Motorcycles – Bigger, Heavier, Better?

Okay, okay, okay… Everybody knows that I ride a reasonably old Harley. A few of you know that a couple episodes ago, I talked about the new Harleys that Ma Davidson is putting out there, and last time, I talked about getting some new blood out there on the road.

I’m going to keep branching out and talk about the rumors on the new Honda Goldwing. Simply put, the word around the campfire is that Honda is redesigning their big touring bike, and again, they are pushing the limits on what a motorcycle is. Now, by the time you get a Goldwing all decked out, you are somewhere north of $25 large, and there is no dismissing the fact that it is a heck of a touring platform and has been for years. But the Honda folks are supposedly stretching the suspension and indications are that the next-generation Wing will ditch its conventional forks in favor of a leading-link suspension design intended to cope better with the bike’s massive weight – the Goldwing tips the scales about 125 pounds heavier than a Road King before you add the overweight old guy.

The suspension design is unlike anything I’ve seen before, combining elements of the sort of leading-link layout seen on some scooters with a single, wishbone-operated shock positioned like that on a BMW Telelever fork. BMW? What!

Sounds terrifying.

I’m guessing that by the time you add a 250 pound biker, his or her seat warmer, and 1,000 pounds of bike, this is going to be some really complicated linkage that Honda is putting out there, and the ride isn’t going to be exponentially smoother. And you sure as Hell aren’t going to do anything to it in the driveway.

And that brings me to my real point… Why?

We are riding bikes here.

We are in the weather. No A/C. No heat. No windshield wiper. For all intents and purposes, if you wreck, you die. How smooth of a ride can you really get and does it matter?

Not that I’m saying I want a hardtail, not at all, but geez, we’re trying to make a motorcycle do stuff that half of the cars out there can’t do! And when has following BMW ever been a good idea? The only place you can consistently find a BMW motorcycle running well is at the service center or the dealership.

The real bone I have to pick – and it is with every bike manufacturer out there, and us- because we’re the dummies who keep buying this stuff – is what is the real improvement? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the need for a lot of this junk on a bike.

Take the Evo motors – we finally figured out that they can run well, they just need a few driveway tweaks. You could stab that into nearly any modern chassis Harley built and, if you ungraded the electrical system, you had a bulletproof bike that was ready to chrome out and actually run for awhile with limited maintenance. You had Japanese reliability with an American made V-twin.

Somehow, and I don’t know where, we got convinced that it wasn’t enough. Time to trade it in and take back paper on a bike you didn’t own – and as they got technologically challenging – you can’t work on them now. Forget about the 1970’s era tool roll, brother, you’d better pack a laptop and hope you have Google.

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