Lotus makes motorcycles now. Sort of.

Most people think of Lotus as the British manufacturer of light sports cars with great handling. But now, Lotus has announced they’re making motorcycles. Well, a single motorcycle. And Lotus isn’t actually making them. And they’re not making only 100 units. Huh. That could not be more confusing.

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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.

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Erik Buell Racing 1190RX Unveiled

Finally, a Buell motorcycle regular people can buy—though at $19,000, it’s still pretty pricey. But, maybe it’s worth it. Coming in at a claimed 419 lbs. the Buell guys have gotten a solid 185 HP and a monstrous 101.6 lb-ft of torque from the Rotax Helicon V-Twin motor.  Other Buell-y things, like the fuel in frame design and perimeter front brake rotor are still there. All that power doesn’t seem to have made it very thirsty, though, as EBR is claiming an average 40 MPG. That’s 4 MPG better than I’m getting from my VFR1200F. It’s got a pretty cool instrument panel, too, that I really like, consisting of a color TFT display. It’s like riding a motorcycle from the future! Except that it uses gasoline, instead of fusion, or unicorn tears, or whatever power source they use in the Star Trek era.

1190RX Dash

It’s also the first EBR production bike to incorporate traction control—21 levels of it, in fact. The headlights are an LED setup that puts out the legally allowed maximum 2,000 lumens. EBR also says it’ll be competing in World Superbike racing in 2014.

There’s a clickable wallpaper gallery below. The full specs of the 1190RX can be found here.

Erik Buell Racing 1190RX

Erik Buell Racing 1190RX

Erik Buell Racing 1190RX

The Beast

So, the folks at KTM appear to have gone a bit loony. Today, they announced they will be producing a new naked bike, the 1290 SuperDuke R, which will have 180 HP. They call it “The Beast”.  There will be no fairing. No wind protection. Nothing, in fact, to prevent the force of air from pushing you off the rear of the bike if you open the throttle all the way, other than the death-like grip you’ll need on the handlebars to stay seated.

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A Buell Sportbike for the Rest of Us?

Erik Buell left—or, more properly—was kicked out of Harley-Davidson in 2009. A non-compete agreement kept out of making streetbikes for several months, but he came back with the 1190RS when he was able. But, since he only made 100 of them, and they cost forty grand, you didn’t get one and I didn’t either. But, based on an announcement today—and securing some financing from GE capital and a partnership with Indian motorcycle giant Hero MotoCorp, that may be changing.

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A cylinder for each wheel

Can-Am gives the 2014 Spyder a triple

I have a soft spot for the Can-Am Spyder. Back when the original Spyder was announced, I was able to get a ride on one—even before they were publically available—after years of not having ridden a motorcycle. I didn’t even have a motorcycle license then, but, fortunately, California doesn’t require one to ride trikes. After my ride, I was so pleased with the experience, I got my motorcycle license back, and bought a motorcycle—though not a Spyder. But it was the vehicle that got me back into motorcycling, so I’ve always loved it.

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2013 Triumph Trophy pricing announced…in Canada

CMG is reporting that the pricing for the 2013 Triumph Trophy has been announced for the Canadian market at CDN$19,999.

That’s worse news than I thought, considering the Canadian dollar is about on par with the US dollar now. Still, we’re only getting the full-on SE version in North America, so that’s still more than a grand less than a comparably equipped R1200RT. But it’s still a pricey bike.

New BMW GS unveiled on October 2

BMW has announced that the newest RXXXXGS will be unveiled at the INTERMOT show on 2 October. The reason for all the X’s in the bike’s name is…we don’t know what the engine will be. 1200? 1250? 1300? Air-cooled (Probably not)? Rumors have been of a 1250cc water-cooled boxer.

But whatever it is, when we first see it, we will also know what the future of the R1200RT, and the rest of the R-models will be. The GS is the iconic bike in the BMW line-up and the Boxer engine is the heart of BMW’s motorcycle. So, in about a month, BMW will not only be unveiling a new GS model, but also the future of BMW’s motorcycles.

It may be that we will see the end of nearly a century of air-cooled boxers.

Coming to America?

2010_Honda_CB1100_Wallpaper 3

If You were around in the 1970s, this bike might look familiar to you. It’s the return of the classic Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM), in the shape of the Honda CB1100, a bike previously only available in Japan. It looks like nothing other than a slightly modernized version of the venerable 750 Four, right down to the chrome fenders, and it brings back lots of childhood memories. Now a new generation will get to admire the UJM outside of Japan, as the French and italian motor press has revealed that the Bike will be available in Europe next year, where its already been sited in testing. If Europe gets it, can the US be far behind? Stay tuned.

2011-Norton-Commando-961-SE-Right-Angle

And speaking of motorcycles from my childhood, Norton is back with the Commando, now in a modern 961cc version, and the lads in Donnington have announced that the Commando 961 will, in fact, be coming to the US. Norton has announced that the three Commando variants have all completed both EPA and CARB durability testing, the first step in getting 50-state approval to import the modern resurrection of this iconic motorcycle.

Assault of the Ninjas!

2012-Kawasaki-Ninja400RcAccording to EPA certification documents, Kawasaki is preparing to drop a whole new set of Ninja models into the US market, as well as the big 1000cc version of the Versys.  Nothing has been announced by Kawasaki, but the US government isn’t subject to company secrecy rules, so this cat is out of the bag.

Kawasaki now has approval to sell the new Ninja 300R, the Ninja 400R that has been available only in Canada until now (the 2012 model of which is shown at left), a brand new version of the ZX-6R that is powered by a 636cc powerplant, and the new Versys 1000 that is currently a European-only model.

Now, the fact that that the EPA has approved all of these models doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be sold here. I’m not sure at all what purpose the the Ninja 400R would serve, for example, as it’s essentially the current Ninja 650R with smaller cylinders, meaning it has the same weight and size of the 650 with substantially less power, but not a substantially lower price. The Ninja 300R, however, pumps out 7HP more than the 250R.

The Versys 1000, on the other hand, should be a no-brainer for the US market, as the Versys platform is arguably one of the best all-rounders out there, and the increase to 116.4HP on the 100cc version should make it just about perfect for…well…just about any kind of street or highway riding you might do.

Finally, the ZX-6R is interesting in that the 636cc engine now makes it—officially, at least—ineligible for the AMA’s Daytrona SportBike racing class, which limits 4-cylinder bikes to 600cc displacement. The extra 36ccs displacement also add horsepower, brining the new model up to a claimed 129.4 HP.

There is a bit of a down note to all this, sadly, as both the Ninja 400R and Versys 1000 are NOT cleared for California emissions approval, so they cannot be sold there. I suspect Big Green will move quickly for CARB certification, however, if the big Versys sells well in the other 49 states, which it should, as it is, by all accounts, a great motorcycle.

Best Motorcycles of 2012

Motorcycle.Com has announced their picks for the Best Motorcycles of 2012. I note that the Honda NC700X I wrote about previously won a spot on the list as the Best Value in a motorcycle. The Other thing I notice is that BMW pulls away with some of the top honors this year. Best Touring Bike, Best Sportbike, best Sport-Tourer, and an Honorable Mention for Best Scooter. Their motorcycle of the year, however, is the quickest-accelerating production vehicle ever produced: The Kawasaki ZX-14.