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Thread: Sales pop a wheelie as motorcycles get naked

  1. #1
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    Riders go for sport bikes stripped of plastic fairings

    By Earle Eldridge | Mar 31, 2004 | 547 words, 0 images
    Motorcycles are getting undressed.

    The industry is buzzing about "naked bikes," high-performance sport motorcycles that are stripped of the large, colorful and curvy plastic moldings called fairings mounted around the engine, frame and underbody of most sport bikes.

    From 1998 to 2002, naked bike sales jumped 111%, making it the fastest-growing segment, according to Discover Today's Motorcycling , the media arm of the Motorcycle Industry Council. Traditional sport bike sales rose 88% during the same period.

    Overall, motorcycle sales were up 6.4% to 996,000 last year from 2002, the 11th consecutive yearly sales increase. U.S. motorcycle sales peaked at 1.5 million in 1973.

    "Virtually every major bikemaker has some form of a naked bike in their lineup," says David Edwards, editor-in-chief of Cycle World magazine. "You've got a lot of guys buying naked bikes because they want something with better performance than a standard bike but not as flashy as a sport bike."

    Sport bikes, mainly Japanese models from Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, mimic racing bikes that have plastic fairings, low handle bars and foot pegs designed so the rider can almost lie down over the gas tank as the bike speeds over 100 miles an hour. The fairings improve airflow around the bike and give it a solid, flashy, one-piece look.

    Sport bikers often buy colorful leather riding suits, helmets and boots to match their bike. And movies, such as the upcoming Torque , starring rapper/actor Ice Cube, have glamorized sport bikes.

    Naked-bike lovers don't like the colorful fairings because they cover the high-tech engine, frame and suspension hardware, which they want to highlight. And if a sport bike rider takes a spill, replacing the fairings costs at least $2,000.

    Greg Anderson of Elk River, Minn., says he had a Honda sport bike but may soon get a naked bike. "It's a machine. I like to see that it is a motorcycle and see the moving parts."

    Naked bikes offer nearly the same performance as sport bikes but cost less. Insurance is often cheaper, and the bike's riding position is more comfortable. This year, Honda unveiled its 599 model, a naked bike version of the CBR600RR sport bike. The 599 costs $7,099 compared with $8,599 for the CBR600RR, even though they have basically the same engine. Last year, Yamaha introduced the Z1, an $8,699 naked-bike version of the $10,699 R1 sport bike.

    Japanese makers have only recently joined the naked bike scene behind makers like Buell and Triumph.

    While sport bikes typically get the best technology from the racetrack, such as aluminum frames and quality brakes, naked bikes are getting some of the same technology.

    "We wanted to show off the technology," says Erik Buell, head of Buell Motorcycle, which has led the trend. "We wanted to show the very expensive suspension and brakes."

    "People are a little tired of the replica racers (sport bikes)," says Todd Andersen, vice president of Triumph Motorcycles (America). "The ergonomics of replica racers are great if you're on the racetrack but not so great on the street."

    Naked bikes "speak to a lot of motorcyclists not only because of the styling and technology but because of their riding comfort," says Ty van Hooydonk, spokesman for Discover Today's Motorcycling .

    Source - © Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

  2. #2
    This is a pretty interesting article. Buells are definitely "naked" bikes, but they are still the best of them. They show they were designed to be that way. Most other naked bikes look like they are missing their fairings.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, but a Firebolt doesn't look that bad with a set of race fairings on it :)

  4. #4
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    I've seen a few Lightnings with the Firebolt tail section. I kind of like the hybrid buell.

  5. #5
    Buells do like sweet with the full fairings. I am a sportbike guy so the naked thing is usually not by sort of thing. However, a buell was made to be naked, and covering it up, is just not right. (Unless you are racing)

  6. #6
    Naked motorcycles are the best.

  7. #7
    I have to agree, to an extent. Most sportbikes that are designed with fairing don't look right unless you work at it and get things tucked away. Buells are ready to go and look fabulous!

  8. #8
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    Thius is a great story. I also only agree to an extent.



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