Fortune favours the brave (bike builders)
The bike looms large in my mirror. The slanted twin lights and cheeky little screen are a giveaway. “Triumph Speed Triple,” I announce to the completely disinterested passengers in the car.
On a two-hour journey, I’d expect my hit rate to be about 90 per cent. It used to better but the dizzying array of machines means the odd one escapes me.
Try doing it with cars, ignoring the logo on the bonnet, and it’s nigh-in impossible as so many look the same or horribly similar. This has not been helped by massive car companies eating up slightly less massive ones and then sharing production platforms.
This hasn’t really happened in bikes and it makes for an interesting and exciting market. Maybe that wasn’t always the case but European manufacturers have brought a sense of urgency and innovation that has seen some incredible bikes appear over the past decade. And with the bike market being so diverse, you never quite know what amazing piece of two- wheeled wonderful-ness you’re going to see next!
Triumph changed the game with its Street and Speed Triples and Yamaha have led the Japanese fightback with the MT and Tracer ranges (see group test, p18). But Ducati are probably top of the pile when it comes to revealing something that sets pulses racing and tongues wagging.
They started with the Monster some 23 years ago and it’s still going strong (see p30). But more recently they’ve shaken things up with the Diavel, Xdiavel, Multistrada and the Scrambler. These are bikes that have not only performed and sold well, but defined or created a whole new part of the market. Ducati may be most famous for cuttingedge sportsbikes, but they have proved capable of much, much more than that.
And soon we’ll see the new Supersport 939 – a bike that’s reinvented sports touring. This creativity keeps the market vibrant and makes for brilliant choice and bargains. Long may it continue – expect some eyepopping new bikes in MCN over the coming weeks as we near the major European bike shows this Autumn.