Thursday, June 11, 2015

Best-laid schemes

It's hard to decide which recent PR faux pas was worst, between Harley-Davidson's full court press at the X-Games (in which race leader Jared Mees' Harley expired on the last lap) or Honda's high-profile unveiling of the RC213V-S.

The reaction to the Honda's specs has been one of pretty much across the board disappointment, in the sense that they claim an underwhelming (by modern standards) 101 hp at an overwhelming price that's near enough $200k.

Seriously? And the curb weight is more than a stock CBR600.

Ironically, both those PR hiccups redounded to the benefit of Kawasaki. Bryan Smith inherited the X-Games gold medal, and then about the time the embargo was coming off the Honda story, Kawasaki scooped 'em when James Hillier hit a verified 206 miles per hour on public roads, riding the H2R on an Isle of Man parade lap.
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' menGang aft agley
I put the question to Facebook: If you could have one bike only, and had a $5k budget to buy it, what would it be? My purpose is mainly short trips in town and I need reasonable weather protection and cargo capacity. Bonus points for long-distance and/or sport-touring capability, bonus points for bad road capability.

Of course, the KLR and V-Strom supporters soon commented in numbers, and I suppose there's a good chance that I'll go that route. I'm not really in the market yet; I have to sell at least one more bike to fill up the cash hopper.

It's an interesting point to ponder, and I've imagined myself on everything from a Burgman to a mid-'90s VFR750, to any number of BMWs. My wildcard entries range from a Piaggio 3-wheeler (which do, surprisingly, show up on the KC Craiglist every now and then) to a first-gen Ducati Multistrada (which is a bike I love, but that never shows up on CL.)

Anyway, I will obviously write about it when I buy a new bike. In the meantime, my Dream and the Bonneville are both in new homes. My TLR200 is on CL, as is the Vino, but I've priced the Vino pretty high just because it's so useful to me.

Best-laid plans, redux

David Emmett recently wrote that Honda's MotoGP effort has been in a long, slow decline masked only by Marc Marquez' rare talent (and affinity for the "real" RC213's too-aggressive throttle response.) I suppose this proves that, as of yet, the rider's wrist still counts for something; it's not all down to computers.

But I can't help but remember the times we've been through this before. Only Stoner could ride the Ducati. Even Rossi was hopeless on it. And of course, only Wayne Rainey could make the Yamaha 500 two-stroke work in the early-to-mid '90s. After Rainey was paralyzed, a string of very talented guys were stymied by that bike.

When it comes to developing a race bike, it seems there is such a thing as too much talent—if it masks underlying problems or at the very least, takes pressure off the engineers.

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