For­tune favours the brave (bike builders)

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment - Gareth Ash­man, 01733-468118

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.

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