January 2, 2024

New year, New.... bike?

New year, New.... bike?

Recently I have been thinking I might need a new bike in the garage. Need? Yeah, I've always had a problem with the difference between want and need... so I'm sticking with need. This new bike is not something to replace the Tenere 700, as it’s such a great bike, and I really enjoy riding it. But I'm thinking maybe something sportier for a sunny day ride on sealed roads.

It's no secret that my blood bleeds blue. I've been a Yamah fanboy for a number of years. I've owned 2 first-gen MT07s, and a WR250, as we all my current Tenere 700. I’ve been looking around and it occurs to me, apart from possibly the gen 2 Tracer 900, everything from Yamaha to me seems old, out of date, lacking in tech and modern “nice to haves”. I'm aware that looks are subjective, but most if not all of the current lineup is... well... ugly.

What is it with the designers at Yamaha? Have they forgotten how to design a good-looking motorcycle? Take the current MT range. It looks like a sport bike with the fairings removed. Sure that’s kind of what they are, but other manufacturers seem to be able to make their naked sports bikes look like they were designed like that. Everything fits.

A headlight, apart from being a functional necessity, gives a bike so much personality. The MT-range headlights are horrendous. The MT07 started off ok, with its mostly round headlight. The second generation was an improvement, moving to a slightly more aggressive headlight reminiscent of the MT09.

The 3rd generation MT07 went to a single LED projector, giving the bike a pin-head-like cyborg style that some in the industry have labelled as “robot vomit”

This could have been designed so much better. But because of this I-robot vibe, the bike looks sterile and fails to invoke any passion. At least the MT09 has LED DRL with styling cues from the R1, but in my opinion, it’s in the same boat. The first few generations were brilliant, until the current gen… where it’s just… ugh.

Elsewhere in Yamaha’s current motorcycle offerings, the story is no better, the R1, used to be a thing of beauty and desire. Now it just seems like Igor’s long-lost cousin. Possibly the best-looking bike in the fleet is the R7, but that’s nothing to write home about. Even my beloved T7 failed to escape a wack with the ugly stick.

How does one of the big Japanese manufacturers go from designing bikes like the 2007 R1, to...this?
It's easy for me to sit here and write this. I don't know the first thing about designing a motorcycle. But, as a consumer... what am I to do?

So, with a space in my garage and my blue blood rapidly bleaching like the Great Barrier Reef, where am I to go? I have found myself looking at the current model Triumph Speed and Street Triple RS models. Now there is a couple of bikes with exquisite lines, beautiful headlight styling and clear direction.

I feel some test rides coming on... Watch this space.