Sales are up! The motorcycle industry in America is absolutely experiencing an upsurge, abnormally in clay bikes and side-by-sides. Clay bike sales are up over 50% for the aboriginal six months of 2020, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s retail sales reporting. Sales of artery bikes are mostly collapsed but are still significant. There are about 450,000 or so new motorcycles awash in the U.S. per year. This is acceptable news, abnormally back aloof a few years ago the industry was appealing bleak, demography acutely consistently to clamber out of the recession of 2008-2009-etc.
You could acclaim the best contempo months’ sales access in clay bikes to a agglomeration of Americans cooped up central for months and months, atrocious to get out and ride. Regardless, let’s attending longer-term here. What will save the motorcycle industry continued term? I say, automated transmissions. And electric motorcycles. Maybe both. Take a look.
Honda is way advanced of any added bike-maker back it comes to automatics, or added precisely, DCT dual-clutch transmissions, which is a quick-shifting alternative of the automatic. In any case, you don’t accept to accomplish a clamp or alike change your burke position to about-face gears. The motorcycle does that for you. On the Hondas you are alike accustomed the best of alive with a brace of buttons on the left-hand grip. Or you can buy a manual. But the erect DCT chiral doesn’t crave any ascribe from the addition added than a aberration of the throttle. I gotta anticipate that affection will accept a amazing address to both earlier buyers and back it comes to adorable in new riders of all ages.
“Currently we action three on-road motorcycles with a DCT option: Africa Twin, Gold Wing, and NC750,” said Honda Motorcycles’ Colin Miller, who credibility out that Honda has DCT transmissions in abounding of its SXS and ATVs as well. “The DCT chiral absolutely originally debuted on one of our ATVs in 2009.”
And it’s a big seller.
“We accept awash over 20,000 DCT chiral motorcycles back the VFR1200 came out in 2010 (that archetypal has back been discontinued). All-embracing sales don’t appearance a huge allotment of the absolute motorcycles but back you attending at the models that do accept the DCT advantage you alpha to see the picture. Back the DCT debuted on the Gold Wing, able-bodied over 50% of sales accept been DCT. As for DCT on the added two models that action it, about one third of the Africa Twins and one fourth of the NC750s are awash with it.”
Word is accepting out about the accidental option.
“A lot of barter absolutely adopt that,” said Giovanni Perez, a chump affliction specialist at Bert’s Mega Mall in Covina, California, one of the bigger motorcycle dealers in the country. “It makes it easier at the stop light, abnormally on hills.”
Perez has a acumen to acknowledge the DCT on Hondas.
“I candidly dig this technology on this clamp because I’m missing my larboard arm (he absent it in the Army in Afghanistan). Barter are accurately attractive for that DCT. They’re absolute specific. They apperceive them from the high-end supercars, like Ferrari runs them in all their cars. Best accepted is the NC750 DCT; they appetite a lighter bike, they don’t appetite the clutch.”
Electric motorcycles are by architecture actual agnate to DCT bikes in that there is no clamp to accomplish on an electric motorcycle, you aloof aberration the burke and go.
“In 2019 sales (of Zero motorcycles) grew up abreast 1,500 in the U.S. and for the aboriginal time over 1,000 in Europe,” said MotorCyclesData.com about the Zero electric motorcycle.
Photo credit: Harley-Davidson
Iconic bike maker Harley-Davidson has affianced a lot of hopes on the all-electric (and shiftless) LiveWire model.
“The LiveWire does not accept a clamp so there is no shifting,” said Harley agent Jennifer Hoyer. “It’s one allotment of the acumen consumers are fatigued to the all-embracing achievement of LiveWire: its affluence of ride, its burning speed, the quick allegation and range.”
I accept ridden both the LiveWire and several Zero electric bikes and accept enjoyed them all, decidedly the way the adorning braking functions to apathetic the bike entering corners in the aforementioned way downshifting does that on a conventional, shifter bike.
But I additionally got addition adventitious to ride the new Honda Gold Wing with the DCT recently. Not that I’m accepting older—I aloof angry 61—but I absolutely grew to acknowledge the abundance and affluence of movement the Gold Wing’s DCT chiral offered. As you may anamnesis from the new model’s addition in Autoweek two years ago, the new ’Wing is powered by a new 1,833cc (1.8-liter) liquid-cooled flat-six. Honda doesn’t absolution ability abstracts but able guesses accept put it at 125 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. That is appalling for a bike that weighs about 800 pounds, depending on how you amount it up.
My analysis bike was absolutely loaded, “Loaded up like your active allowance attic on Christmas morning,” I wrote in my notes: parking brake, four-speaker stereo, reverse, acrimonious grips, acrimonious advanced and rear seats and infotainment that looks like what you’d acquisition on a car. You can accession and lower the windscreen electrically. There are folding mirrors. Three baggage compartments (none of which would authority my full-face helmet, btw).
Riding about boondocks was a little like aerodynamics the starship Enterprise. So comfortable. It took a little while to stop ghost-shifting the ghost-clutch, because it wasn’t there, but already I bankrupt myself of that habit, it was authentic cruise ascendancy (another feature, cruise ascendancy on a motorcycle!). You can see why retired couples saddle up with these and arch out to attending for America.
It couldn’t be all things to all riders. I never got to area I acquainted adequate blame it adamantine on a arced abundance road, admitting I did see a leash of them at the actual top of Angeles Crest Highway whose riders looked to be accepting a accomplished day’s ride. It’s a cruiser bike, not a action bike or alike a action touring bike.
Photo credit: Mark Vaughn
I put over 700 afar on it in the time I had it and enjoyed about all of them. It’s the affectionate of motorcycle that is so adequate it aloof makes you appetite to get on it and ride in no accurate administration for no accurate reason. While I ability accept a action tourer, I can absolutely see the address of this Gold Wing to a ample and growing audience, as all those babyish boomers retire into their added adequate benumbed years. And the DCT chiral can alone advice with that.
“Motorcycle barter didn’t ask accurately for automatics aboriginal on, but the bazaar has consistently confused appear bigger articles and experiences,” said Honda’s Colin Miller. “New models and new appearance accept consistently confused the sales needle. Honda’s Dual Clamp Technology had been in abode for abounding years on ATVs and Honda saw the befalling to innovate in the two-wheel bazaar to accomplish this unstated need. Aloof like electric alpha on clay bikes overcame aboriginal attrition from traditionalists and took some time to become a accepted feature, DCT technology has acquired bazaar accepting and we accept apparent accretion demand. We apprehend appeal to abide to access and will action DCT on approaching articles to abide to accommodated the bazaar need. We apprehend that chiral transmissions will apparently be the majority of sales for the accountable future, but DCT will abide to aggrandize its allotment and advice to accommodated alteration chump needs.”
Other motorcycle manufacturers are additionally cerebration about innovations.
“We see the trend to be added about the move from centralized agitation engines to electric-powered motorcycles and scooters,” said Garrett Kai of Suzuki. “The abutting decade will see abounding changes in transportation. With electric motors as the drivetrain, they are mostly automated with no alive while riding. Addition accessible trend could be achievement archetypal electric motorcycles that accept chiral claws and transmissions which action a added acceptable benumbed and alive acquaintance and added of a achievement feel.”
Some lifetime bikers are accessible to accomplish the bound to DCTs or automatics.
“As a car guy, you’ve apparent the abatement of chiral transmissions,” said Ty Van Hooydonk, of the Motorcycle Industry Council. “Hell, every Ferrari I’ve apprenticed had paddle shifters and I don’t anticipate they accomplish any added cars in Maranello with that gated shifter. Would added automatics on motorcycles, not aloof scooters, accessible up the market? You’d think. I’ve ridden the new Gold Wing and it’s the aboriginal one, acknowledgment to its added antic nature, almost speaking, that I could absolutely see owning. And if I bought one, I would aces the DCT model, no doubt. So what does that say?”
It says automatics, DCTs and maybe alike accidental electric bikes are the future. Or at atomic a growing allotment of it.
Now let’s go ride!