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Harley Creates Chief Digital Officer Role, Hires Former Bose Exec

By | General Posts

by Dustin Wheelen from https://www.rideapart.com

Hawking Hogs in the digital age.

Many see a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the symbol of a mid-life crisis, but for the past five years, the Motor Company has been going through its own identity crisis. From releasing the LiveWire to introducing the Pan America and the Bronx to the recent Rewire scale back plan, messaging from the brand has been mixed to say the least. Despite refocusing on cruisers and baggers, the company recently created a Chief Digital Officer position to beef up its online presence.

Harley hired former Bose Corp. executive Jagdish Krishnan to helm the initiative. Drawing from his 20 years of digital leadership at Bose, Deloitte & Touche, and Patni Computer Systems, Krishnan will prioritize building relationships with existing and new customers through the company’s digital platforms. The brand is also focused on developing its e-commerce and direct-to-consumer capabilities by further digitizing dealers. Krishnan’s digital strategy will heavily lean into customer experience not only online but also in-store.

“Harley-Davidson is all about experiences, and an enhanced digital experience is absolutely critical for us to make our GIS and digital capabilities more customer-centric,” said Krishnan’s new boss, Harley-Davidson president and CEO Jochen Zeitz. “We will take a completely different approach to applying digital technology across the company to fundamentally change how we operate and create value.”

While retro-styled cruisers and advanced technology seem antithetical, COVID-19 is only accelerating worldwide digitization. With the company recording reduced sales figures in Q2 and preparing for layoffs at the end of the calendar year, harnessing the internet as a retail tool will become more and more important.

“We need to be a high-performing team with cutting edge leadership to move us forward,” noted Zeitz. “Jagdish is exactly the right leader, and he will ensure we connect with our customers at all touch-points.”

Covid-19 puts low-cost 350cc Harley-Davidson bike plans in danger

By | General Posts

by Pradeep Shah from https://www.financialexpress.com

The proposal by Zeitz suggests scrapping 30 percent of the current models in the favour of a more sorted lineup. So far, the models that would be axed have not been revealed but expect a lot of bikes to retire especially from the Softail family that includes as many as 14 models. Here is why the upcoming India-bound 350cc Harley might be in danger.

The year 2020 is no less than a nightmare for multiple sectors and the automotive space is no different! Not only the production of the vehicles is getting affected but the sales have taken a severe hit too. America has been one of the worst affected nations by Covid-19 and hence, for obvious reasons, the industries and companies there are seeing some of the worst days. One such manufacturer is Harley-Davidson that has reported a loss of USD 92 million. Now, in order to offset the losses a bit, the company has came up with a new ‘Hardwire’ plan that includes aborting some of the models that the brand was planning to bring in the coming months. Now the worst piece of news is that the company’s strategy might include a 350cc low-cost motorcycle that was meant for Indian and some of the Asian markets.

Previously, the brand had announced the introduction of as many as 50 new models over the next five years. As a part to rejig strategies, the proposal of Jochen Zeitz, President, CEO and Chairman, Harley-Davidson suggests scrapping 30 percent of the current models in the favour of a more sorted lineup. So far, the models that would be axed have not been revealed but expect a lot of bikes to retire especially from the Softail family that includes as many as 14 models. Now here comes the worrying part. During one of the conversations, Zeitz said that complexity needed to be dramatically reduced and goals set needed to be achievable and realistic. He adds that the company is streamlining its motorcycle models by approximately 30 percent with plans to further refine its product portfolio.

This will enable the brand to invest in the products and platforms that matter the most while better balancing the company’s investment in new, high-potential segments. The reason why we think that India-bound 350cc Harley might not be a part of the plans now is because Zeitz further stated that “the brand is not willing to sacrifice the strength of its legacy in a quest for pure volume growth going forward”.

The Year Is 2025 and Yamaha Just Released Its New XT 500 “H20” Edition

By | General Posts

by Cristian Curmei from https://www.autoevolution.com

2025 is not so far off. But if things work out as they should, it’s possible we could see something like this XT 500 H2O on our streets. Fingers crossed for this concept.

Yamaha’s XT 500 is an iconic two-wheeler. Manufactured between 1976-1989 with a four-stroke single cylinder engine, this enduro motorcycle pushed out a top speed of 82 mph (132km/h) and 28.03 lb-ft (38 Nm) of torque.

One of the main features of the XT was that the front tire was a whole three inches larger than the rear one. This allowed for it to be equally versatile on the road and off it. It’s to this motorcycle that Maxime Lefebvre, the author of this rendering, pays tribute. But I frankly can’t see much of a resemblance. Just look at this beast of imagination.

The initial design started with a spin on the retro body style, keeping true to the shape, but giving it a more modern appeal. From there, that design was taken and modified for specific purposes, resulting in three different models. The first concept was a smart bike, the second concept a lightweight version, and a third was dubbed the “Inexhaustible.”

But that wasn’t the end. Lefebvre took a shot and got together with the Yamaha design team and after the meeting was over, decided to go nuts and truly free up his creativity.

I wish I had a meme right now with Morpheus saying, “What if I told you that this motorcycle is designed to function only on water?” Nothing else. That’s right. The design includes an engine made to run solely on water. Composed of many smaller sections, each with its own specific function to keep you moving, but all of it centered around H2O as the fuel.

It should work like this. The main water tank holds the water and from there a pump feeds it into a pressure system where it can be used to power the engine at the rear of the bike. We have absolutely no details about the way the engine functions, and I’m sure this is no coincidence. If I designed a motor to function on water, only a select few would know about it.

But we have some info as to the components within the system. We can guess that the engine builds pressure and then shoots this pressurized water at the motor, basically the same way a water-wheel works.To do so the flow of water passes through an injector to make sure no pressure is lost.

The result of this type of engine should be a lack in noise. And because it runs on water, it’s considered environmentally sustainable.

The body has the classic enduro look with a few accents to make it more futuristic. After all, it is 2025. We can see a use of white, blue and black to highlight and designate components.

Let’s talk a little about the body and accents for the bike. The front fork breaks away from the classic tube design we’re used to. Large disk brakes and Yamaha calipers on both sides of the front wheel let you know this thing means business. Something I found neat was the steering mechanism for the bike. It doesn’t seem to be steered by conventional means. The handlebars and fork are not attached in any direct way. This leads me to believe that when you turn the handlebars a motor within the frame should take care of steering.

The rear swingarm houses the injection components of the motor that I mentioned earlier, but also the return system to pull unused water back into your tank. This same water is just to be used again, creating an endless flow of power. To take care of suspension, a heavy duty springless shock absorber gives you a smooth ride no matter your terrain.

The blue wheels have no specific purpose, they’re just for show, to accent the overall use of water in the bike. Another color variation exists too, dubbed the collector edition, it includes yellows instead of whites, and purples instead of blues.

If this thing ever makes out of the concept stages and into production, it will be marketed as inexpensive, lightweight, and within everyone’s reach.

BMW Reveals New F Series Models, Changes Limited to Visual and Equipment Upgrade

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Since a little over a decade now, the motorcycle family over at BMW Motorrad included the so-called F Series. The models in this family are some of the most preferred choices of riders looking for bikes equally good for everyday use, but also packing touring capabilities.

This week, the German bike maker announced a series of upgrades for three of the F Series bikes. As such, the F 750 GS, F 850 GS and F 850 GS Adventure get updated with new color schemes, new standard equipment, and more choices when it comes to optional equipment.

From this point onward, all three models come equipped as standard with visual upgrades like LED flashing turn indicators, a USB charging device at the front right of the cockpit, but also mechanical ones, including ABS Pro and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC).

The engine remains unchanged. The same powerplant breathes life in all three models, namely a 853cc liquid-cooled 4-valve, 2-cylinder, tied to a six-speed gearbox. Despite being the same on all bikes, the engine has different outputs depending on the model it is used for: 77 hp on the F 750 GS, and 95 on the two variants of the F 850 GS.

Visually, there are new colors on the table as well. The 750 can now be wrapped in Light White with tank center cover painted in vehicle color, and black matt painted rims, black handlebars and seat bench in red/black.

The 850 gets Racing Red with the tank centre cover painted in the vehicle color, and black-coated fixed fork tubes, black rims and seat bench in black/grey. For the Adventure, BMW introduces Ice Grey.

You can have a detailed look at all the changes BMW has in mind for the F Series in the press release section below. At the time of this writing, pricing and availability for the models are not known.

A Look at the New Electric Motorcycles from Soriano

By | General Posts

by Andrew Wheeler from https://www.engineering.com

The Giaguaro motorcycles come with a three-speed manual gearbox and 15 or 20kWh battery packs.

Most electric vehicles (EVs) propel themselves with electric motors that use energy from battery-stored electricity collected from a charging station.

And electric automobiles are steadily gaining in popularity among mainstream automotive manufacturers and automobile customers. In 2020, you can buy the Chrysler Fiat 500e, which has an all-electric powertrain, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Hyundai Kona, the Honda Clarity Electric, the Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model X and so on.

But what about electric motorcycles?

There are more than a few to choose from, and that list now includes the V1-R, V1-S and V1-Gara series motorcycle from Soriano Motori Corp. The company was founded in 2020 and was spun off from its parent company Soriano Motori Factory SpA, which was founded in Madrid in 1939.

The Giaguaro (Italian for Jaguar) V1 Gara goes from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and runs from a 75kW electric motor with 100 horsepower. Propulsion engineers from the United States and the European Union worked together to create the series. With a 72kW motor and 96 horsepower, the Giaguaro V1S is still powerful, but accelerates a bit more slowly than the V1 Gara. With 96 horsepower, the V1S accelerates from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, as does the third new model, the Giaguaro V1R, though it has a less powerful motor (60kW) with less horsepower (80).

Bottom Line

Each Soriano Giaguaro comes with a manual three-speed gearbox. They range in price from $28,000-$34,000, which is expensive for motorcycles. Part of the increased cost is due to the limited number of units available. The current plan, according to Soriano, is for a production run of 100 units. The company is currently taking preorders.

BMW Vision Next 100

By | General Posts

by Cristian Curmei from https://www.autoevolution.com

BMW has done it again. Offering us yet another concept vehicle that surpasses all previous bounds and expectations.

When I first saw it, a small lump of happiness stuck in my throat, nearly made mew cry. And for good reason. Just look at this wonderfully geometric symphony. You wouldn’t even know what it is if it wasn’t for the wheels and engine screaming “Batman’s motorcycle!!”. In this case, since it’s German, it’s probably a better fit for Fledermaus Mann!

In case you missed the in your face design, the BMW emblem should give you an idea of what it is you’re about to touch. It’s called the Vision Next 100, and it is a motorcycle like no other. Just the design itself is one only seen in movies or on concept projects. Thanks to BMW, however, this motorcycle is now a reality.

“When we develop a motorcycle,” adds Edgar Heinrich, “we are usually thinking around five to ten years in the future. So taking a look further into the future was especially exciting for us and highly appealing.”

With that in mind, BMW worked toward a cycle that is ready to integrate into the future cities our world seems to be developing. Just to give you an idea of what BMW Motorrad has done, please understand that in the photo gallery, the only product that isn’t part of the bike is the rider. But even then, it has to be a naked rider, as even the apparel is specifically designed for the motorcycle and works in tune with it to offer a more pleasing ride.

So, to explain this to you I’m gonna start from the top down. In the gallery I’m sure you’ve noticed that the rider has a pair of gigantic but chic glass-o-goggles. Those goggles are the only bit of protection that the rider needs. I’ll explain in a minute as to why. The goggles function as a windscreen for the rider’s eyes but also as the instrument panel. On them, all information any rider may need is projected, from speed and road tilt, to hazards and even a map showing selected routes. All of it accessed by positioning the rider’s head at different vertical angles. Looking straight up activates a rear-view function. All information seems to be displayed in a manner similar to aviation controls. Or crime-fighting, masked vigilantes.

Next up is the clothing line. BMW moved away from the classic leather apparel that seems to dominate the motor market, focusing rather on lightweight and flexible fabrics. The suit, because that what it basically is, molds to the rider’s body during cruising and offers support to areas on the body that would normally be put under stress during certain riding positions. For example, at higher speeds the neck region of the suit fills with air in order to relieve pressure on the spine to offer a more comfortable ride.

A diverse number of sensory located throughout the suit activate to respond to diverse changes during the ride. Some sensors activate to inform you of turn direction while others when reaching the maximum tilt during a turn. Now, the suit itself doesn’t do much protecting against road-rash, but then again, it doesn’t need to. Uhh, right. No protection?

The Vision Next 100 has an ace up its sleeve. Excuse me, not an ace, but a royal flush. She’s able to do a tight wire walk with some very neat self-balancing technology. Yes, sir! She can stand on a dime. No kickstand needed. No rider. No support. She features an assistance function that allows her to basically stay upright no matter the rider’s capabilities. How? Nobody knows. Does it even matter, really? Just think about it.

She’s able to control the angle at which you take a turn. She’s able to stay upright at a red light while keeping the driver in riding position. No more legs down or legs up. This means she’s perfect for riders of any level. But don’t think that because she can be controlled by a noob, she won’t give a pro the ride of their life. On the contrary, the self-balancing mechanism and software, are specifically designed to actually enhance your ride, and not diminish it.

Now the engine. The engine is just, wow! Those who know motorcycles also know that the engine compartment is a huge influence on the vehicle’s aerodynamics. That being said, you may think that this engine serves no aerodynamic functions, and you’d be wrong, just as I was. The Vision Next 100 hides a feature that made my jaw drop. When at rest, aside from remaining upright on its own, the Vision Next’ 100’s engine is seemingly compact. but the moment you hop on the bike, the engine compartment begins to stretch to the sides like the gills on a shark.

Then you start to ride, faster and faster, and continue to notice that your engine is growing along with your speed. It does this in order to offer the optimal aerodynamics needed for the speed and weather conditions, but also to offer the much-needed protection against any eventual mishaps the Vision Next 100 couldn’t foresee.

The body shape for this baby is set-up to keep the rider in a roadster position. Using carbon and aluminum as the base materials for design and construction, she’s able to offer a wonderful blend of color, ergonomics, design and functionality. The frame, however, with its wild design, includes a functionality feature that allows it to flex depending on the direction the handlebars are turned toward. Meaning if you want to turn right, you won’t have a pivot point for your fork, hell, there isn’t even a fork to begin with, instead the frame will bend or contract where needed to offer the turning capability.

And depending on how fast you’re going the frame will either tense up or relax to offer much needed protection to the rider in case of accidents. A matte-black finish to the carbon ‘Flexframe’ and the polished aluminum engine block offer it a visual balance only rivaled by its self-balancing technology.

As we can see, even the tires look like they’ve got to do some sort of something. Heck, everything else on this thing does, why would the tires be of any exception? The tires do offer some extra functionality aside from just rolling. They feature a dampening function, which offers a smooth ride and adapts to the terrain you are riding on to keep that comfort going

Got any words? Or do you just want one too?

 

Harley-Davidson Launches Training Program with Personal Coaches for Beginners

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

In September of 2019, Harley-Davidson announced an ambitious plan to have 1 million more riders on the road by the year 2027. That would be 4 million people riding Harley motorcycles, up from the 3 million recorded three years ago, in 2017.

To do that, the company announced a range of new bikes being prepared for the future, including the now obviously not that successful electric LiveWire. But having new bikes that can be ridden means of course nothing if people do not know how to ride them.

The company already has a training program it calls Riding Academy New Rider Course, but that doesn’t allow for personalized sessions. That’s why a new program was announced on June 30, dedicated to beginners who need a personal trainer.

Called Learn to Ride, the program is now open and availble to access at Harley dealers and allows for personal coaching sessions with trainers, either individually or as a group of up to four people. Each session lasts 90 minutes, and free rides are being given on a Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle, specially equipped for beginners, on a practice course.

“For riders that always wanted to learn but couldn’t fit a multi-day course into their schedule or prefer to learn in private session, this program is what they have been waiting for,” the Milwaukee bike maker said in a statement when announcing the program.

“Sessions can be scheduled 1-on-1 or as a private party with up to 4 participants. This program is a great option for spouses, friends, and individuals to finally learn and fulfill their dreams of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”

If you plan to become a Harley rider, or just plan on using these guys as tools into learning the tricks of the trade and then move on to something else, you can head over to this link and get more info.

The World Is Not Ready for a Suzuki Electric Motorcycle, Suzuki Says

By | General Posts

by Elena Gorgan from https://www.autoevolution.com

For the past couple of years, at the very least, we’ve been hearing the phrase “the electric revolution is coming” a lot. Suzuki Motorcycle has been hearing it too, but it’s yet to see actual signs of the arrival.

As of right now, electric motorcycle offers are scarce and leave a lot to be desired: those with prices in the same range as ICE counterparts underwhelm in terms of performance, and those that do deliver on the performance come with astronomical price tags. The market is not yet ready for an electric motorcycle, Suzuki has decided.

Speaking with the Financial Express, Suzuki VP of Marketing and Sales for India Devashish Handa says that the focus is not on an electric motorcycle right now. It’s not on new models, either, as the ongoing health crisis is forcing the maker to adapt to the new way of sales.

That doesn’t mean that Suzuki Motorcycle is not preparing for the electric, noiseless and pollution-free future we’ve been hearing so much about. It is; it’s just not ready to show us what it’s been working on.

“We are watching the space very carefully, but the journey of electric two-wheelers has not been consistent,” Handa says in the interview, which mostly focuses on Suzuki sales in the new, no-direct-personal-contact stage of our life. Video of the interview is available at the bottom of the page.

“The cost of acquisition in comparison to ICE vehicles continues to be a concern. As and when the buyer is ready, Suzuki will be present in the market as it already has the technology,” Handa adds.

In other words, e-bikes are too expensive right now and people aren’t buying them, so Suzuki won’t be making one. At least for the time being.

Harley-Davidson is perhaps the best example of a big bike manufacturer going down the electric route and stumbling across the premium price obstacle. A LiveWire is priced around $30,000, which has proved a major turn-off even for diehard H-D supporters. Clearly, Suzuki is not willing to take this chance, not in the current context of already low sales.

Aston Martin teamed up with a motorcycle maker to create one of the only turbo bikes in the world

By | General Posts

by klee@businessinsider.com (Kristen Lee) from https://news.yahoo.com

Aston Martin

  • The AMB 001 is an upcoming bike created by Aston Martin and Brough Superior.
  • It has a turbocharged motor, which is very unusual for a production motorcycle.
  • Only 100 will be made and the starting MSRP is 108,000 Euros, or approximately $121,000.

The words “cheap” and “Aston Martin” don’t typically go together, so it’s of no surprise that the upcoming Aston Martin motorcycle is ludicrously expensive.

Aston Martin teamed up with the motorcycle company Brough Superior to create the upcoming AMB 001. It’s a sleek, futuristic-looking thing that seems way more appropriate for the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game than our lowly reality.

The two companies are currently in the testing stages for their new bike. The specifications aren’t yet final, but a Wednesday press release says that the bike will produce a claimed 180 horsepower from a turbocharged, 88-degree V-twin engine.

The turbocharged aspect of the AMB001 is especially interesting, as the majority of production motorcycles — save for a few attempts by Japanese companies in the 1980s — are not turbocharged. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, as The Drive reports, packaging a turbocharger into a motorcycle is a difficult job. They add extra power and weight the bikes weren’t originally designed for. Turbos and all their related parts are bulky things and it’s not easy to fit them nicely on a bike.

Second, a turbocharged engine tends to produce very sudden torque. Cars, with four wide tires, are more suited to handle this. Bikes are not, so a sudden burst of power is more likely to spook the back tire and cause it to break loose uncontrollably, explains Cycle World.

Aston Martin, in response, says that the “modern turbine with low inertia is avoiding the turbo lag that was damageable on the Turbo motorcycle attempts from the ’80s.”

Aston Martin and Brough Superior will make just 100 examples of the AMG 001. They will start at 108,000 Euros, which is approximately $121,000.

Keep scrolling to see more.

The AMB 001 is the result of a partnership between Aston Martin and motorcycle company Brough Superior.

A key design feature is the aluminum “fin” that runs along the carbon-fiber gas tank, under the saddle, and onto the rear.

The rest of the bike is largely made from light-weight carbon fiber.

It’s unclear if the rider will be able to see the full gauge cluster with the fin appearing to block some of it. Also, it sort of seems like the gauge cluster is an iPhone. Business Insider has reached out to Aston Martin for clarification.

Aston Martin says the AMB 001 will produce a claimed 180 horsepower from a turbocharged engine.

Production motorcycles are not typically turbocharged. This makes the bike extra special.

Here, you can see it wearing the traditional Aston Martin camouflage livery.

And being tested at a track in Pau-Arnos, France.

The leather seats are as well-crafted as any car interior.

High quality leather and stitching were used.

No official weight figures are available yet, but Automobile Magazine says the AMB 001 will probably weigh “less than 600 pounds in final form.”

And that’s with all the turbocharger bits. Impressive.

Only 100 examples will be made.

Each will have a starting price of 108,000 Euros, or approximately $121,000.

Review: 2020 Kawasaki W800

By | General Posts

by Sabrina Giacomini from https://www.rideapart.com

A legend brought back to life.

The 2019 show season was a good one for Kawasaki. Not only did Team Green unveil the Z H2 as well as the updated Ninja 1000 SE SX+ and 650, but it also teamed up with Bimota to create the polarizing Tesi H2 prototype. As though that wasn’t enough, the manufacturer also introduced the W800, a stripped down, entry-level version of the W800 Cafe.

I remember vividly the collective gasp we had when the model was first unveiled. The clean and simple lines were a hit among the RideApart team. I even remember being just a little upset about the U.S. and Canada getting the bike in red rather than in the gorgeous shade of green we saw in Tokyo. My disappointment didn’t last long, however, and by the time I picked one up from the Kawasaki HQ, it was completely crushed by how charming the bike actually looked. More on that later, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

The year was 1965. While Americans and Russians were continuously outshining one another on the aerospace innovation front, Japanese and European motorcycle manufacturers had an ongoing Space Race of their own. Instead of reaching for the stars, however, the Big Four were competing for the title as the maker of the most powerful motorcycle on the market.

The early- to mid-60s were also formative years for newly-formed Kawasaki Motorcycle Co—a new competitor on the motorcycle scene born from the fusion of Kawasaki Aircraft Industry and Meguro Manufacturing Company in 1964. Thanks to the solid foundations provided by Meguro’s 30-year experience with motorcycles, it wasn’t long before Kawasaki introduced its first big displacement bike, the W1, in 1965. The 624cc parallel-twin is credited for putting Kawasaki on the map as a big bike maker and a serious competitor to Honda and Yamaha. The W1 was followed by the W2, then the W3 before the badge was ultimately dropped in 1975.

Fast-forward 24 years and Kawasaki revived the nametag just in time for the new millennium. In 1999, the W650 became Team Green’s attempt to take its share of the retro-revival cake, going up against an old-school heavyweight, the Triumph Bonneville. The model sold in North America for a meager two years before lame sales caused Kawasaki to pull the bike from the States and focus on the European and Japanese markets instead.

The reality of emissions standards soon caught up to Kawasaki and, by 2007, the manufacturer had to bid the W goodbye once again. Thankfully, the company didn’t wait another quarter of a century to revive the venerable badge. In 2011, it introduced the new and improved W800. The parallel-twin was fully overhauled a met the then current regulations. The fun lasted for another five years before the European Union came knocking once more with new regulations on emissions. This time, the turn-around was much faster and after a short year off the market, the W800 made a triumphant comeback in 2018.

Interestingly, instead of introducing an entry-level model first and following up with more elaborate version, Kawasaki did the opposite got the W ball rolling once again with the W800 Café. The entry-level W800 came the following year as a 2020 model-year. 55 years later, the W continues to roll out of the same plant that first produced the W1—talk about looping the loop.

2020 Kawasaki W800
Engine: 773cc, four-stroke, parallel-twin
Transmission: five-speed
Performance: 52 hp/46 lb-ft
Brakes: 1 x 320 mm disc with two-piston caliper front, 270 mm disc with two-piston caliper back
Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork front, preload adjustable twin-shocks back
Wheels: 100/90-19” front, 130/80-18” rear
Wheelbase: 57.6 inches
Seat Height: 31.1 inches
Weight: 496 pounds
Price: $9,199

If you like the look of the Kawasaki W800 in pictures, wait until you see it in person—I have yet to find a photo that does it justice. The W800 is a handsome bike. The proportions are elegant and Kawasaki found the right balance of chrome and black so that the bike doesn’t look like a disco ball. The manufacturer has been particularly attentive to the small details that give the model its tasteful but not tacky vintage look. Features such as the peashooter exhausts, the round turn signals, the braced fenders, and the exposed bevel-drive camshaft were borrowed from the original W, the one that started it all.

There’s no fluff or luxuries involved here—the W800 has standard ABS and that’s about as fancy as it gets. The two big dials at the center of the headstock are your analog speedometer and rpm gauge. There is a small digital display that shows mileage, trips, time, and such in the left-hand side dial and the usual panel of warning lights in the right-hand side one. There isn’t even a fuel gauge to let you monitor your progress. Just like on an older bike, you either have to do a bit of guessing or wait for the fuel warning to turn on.

As a standard, the W800 is your run of the mill, easy-to-get and to ride-on type of bike. The ergonomics are relaxed; for my 5’8” stature, the knees were at a comfortable, almost-90-degree bend and the straight handlebar is easy to reach without having to stretch the arms completely. This is as standard—and as comfortable—as this type of bike gets.

The Ride

If you’re looking for a bike that stands out with a particularly spicy or spunky personality, then chances are the W800 will feel a little underwhelming. Keep in mind that this isn’t a bike meant to be flashy—it plays the understated card and it plays it well. There’s beauty in simplicity, and while the W doesn’t have the spark of, say, a Z, it does have a few good things going for it.

The engine note is my favorite part. As the Kawasaki representative put it when I picked up the bike and did the walkaround, the bike has a really rich note at low rpm. Then, around the 5,000rpm mark, the grunting engine evens out and becomes as smooth as silk. Sure enough, I started the engine and a nice, musical rumble echoed out of the peashooters. Having to hear that aria in parallel-twin at every take-off definitely made city commuting a delight.

In the city, the W behaves impeccably—not even the addition of an occasional passenger fazes it. It’s nimble and easy to whirl around in an environment where obstacles and traffic lights abound. The stopping power provided by the single discs front and back was efficient without being too mushy or aggressive—a good middle ground for a standard bike that won’t try to buck you off the saddle.

Despite weighing a healthy 496 pounds, the bike is easy to maneuver at low speed, or even to walk out of a tight spot. The steering is breezy and light in the hand, you don’t have to wrestle it into submission or convince it to make a turn.

Once you get on the highway, you get acquainted with the bike’s only real flaw. At a certain speed, I could feel the front wheel buffet, a feeling exacerbated by speed. If you wish to put a few hundred miles on the factory tires (hey: they’re “free” tires!) then adjusting your speed accordingly, below the 70-mph mark will help for a while. If you’re willing to spend the extra money, a good set of radials can make the bike virtually perfect.

The engine itself is irreproachable at any speed. Even cruising at highway speeds felt effortless and I barely even touched the fifth gear—the mill happily purred away in fourth around the 6,000rpm mark. Power is easy to manage, the gears are long (you only get five instead of the now-standard six) and the throttle output is nice and gradual. The clutch is light under the fingers and the gears are smooth as butter—just make sure you give the lever a good kick shifting from first to second, the travel between the two seems a tad long which means I often ended up in Neutral. User error, probably.

The Conclusion

A small part of me thought the W800 would have a little more personality. Just a little something-something to give it more oomph, like with the other Kawasakis. However, I was wrong to expect that of the W because that’s not what the bike is for. It’s the celebration of a legacy rather than something revolutionary. Did I smile while riding it? I did, so in that regards, it fulfilled its mission.

The W800 is designed to be simple, straightforward, and mostly to play nice. In fact, it’s so well-mannered that I could easily recommend it as a starter bike. Think about it: it’s easy to maneuver and easy to control which also makes it easy to learn on without being overwhelmed.

Personality-wise, it might not be the right fit for me. That being said, if I could justify owning more than one bike, I would own a W for its looks alone. If you decide to buy one, be ready to have people come and ask you about it because they will. It seriously is that pretty.