Big News from the Big Shows
This week is a treat for car and motorcycle enthusiasts both, as both the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) car show in the US and Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) motorcycle show in Italy are taking place this week. Lots of stuff has happened, so let’s hit the high points, starting with EICMA.
The big news is that Harley-Davidson has launched the first truly new motorcycle since the V-Rod. The bigger news is that the bike is a water-cooled bike make in India. Coming in 2 flavors, the Street 750 and Street 500 will be much smaller, lighter bikes. That’s a good thing, because the current lightweight Harley is a Sportster model that weighs nearly 600 lbs. Both the new bikes will be in the 430-ish lb. range. They’re powered by a brand new engine, as well, which Harley calls the Revolution engine. This is a big stride by Harley to capture some younger riders who need a smaller, lighter bike.
BMW has redesigned the venerable R1200RT touring bike, with a new, larger, water-cooled motor that ups the horsepower from the old air-cooled boxer’s 110 HP to 125 HP. Naturally, it comes with every electronic rider’s aid known to man, including Hill Start Assist. A new TFT color display is added to the cockpit, too. The RT, always one of my favorite bikes, is getting even better, it seems.
Also, BMW introduced a naked-bike version of the S1000RR race bike, detuned to 160 HP, but with more midrange torque. They’re calling it the S1000R.
It’s baaaack! Honda unveiled the all new VFR800F. Just like the old VFR—that the VFR1200F never replaced in the minds of the faithful—it’ll be a chain-driven, 800cc urban sport bike. Viffer-heads everywhere are no doubt rejoicing.
Honda’s also put some more muscle into the new CTX line of bikes with the CTX1300, powered by a big V-4 like the ST1300. It’s looks a little weird, though observers say it looks better in person than in pictures. It’s certainly a break from traditional styling.
A complete line-up of EICMA news can be found here.
Racing driver Jeff Gordon showed up at SEMA with a customized version of the new Chevrolet SS Sedan—or, as it’s known elsewhere, the Holden VF Commodore. It looks noticeably nicer than the stock Commodore—excuse me, SS—that Chevy will be selling starting next month, as soon as they start getting them in from Holden’s production facility in Australia. Not a lot nicer, but noticeably so. GM plans to start making it in the US next year. I hope GM’s accountants don’t ruin the Holden interior, like they do with every other Chevrolet interior. Assuming they don’t, this may be relevant to my interests, a 4,000 lb., rear-wheel drive sedan with 425 HP. It’s the same engine as the Z7 Corvette has, so I’m betting that getting substantially more HP out of it won’t be a big problem, considering that both the ‘Vette and the Cadillac CTS-V get 558 HP from it.
VW showed off some custom Jettas, but more importantly, the 2015 Golf—the new 7th generation version. The 2015 Golf will be lighter, with smaller, but more powerful motors in both regular and GTI guises. The new motors will come as 1.8L and 2.0L turbocharged I4 motors. The Golf R will be using that motor to inch towards 286 HP, so that’ll be fun, assuming that VW turns the traction control down from 11 to something more reasonable.
In other news, Mitsubishi promises to stay in the US in a big, big way by partnering with Renault to produce a new sedan for the US market. Because when you have perceived reliability problems, the go-to guy to fix that is always a French auto manufacturer. French auto reliability is, of course legendary. But not in a good way.