The sound of distant guns signals the approaching battle, it’s not fully upon us just yet, but it soon will be. Two combatants in the high end luxury motorcycle market carry opposing flags, the reborn Brough Superior enters the fray armed with V-Twin rumble while the rebel entrant, Curtiss, packs electric power. While this particular battle between high priced, low volume producers might not mean much to you or me, it will be repeated again and again by lower cost and higher volume forces that will define the future of motorcycles everywhere.
Brough Superior clearly intends to carry tradition forward into the 21st century with designs that put the big V-Twin on display and they do a superb job. The appearance pushes every button, your brain understands exactly what this is and you get that feeling brought on by the sight of beautifully engineered mechanical art combined with raw power. You’re seeing an old friend, the internal combustion engine, displayed in a package where there’s little you’d want to improve, … and that may be, just may be, a weakness.
Curtiss Motorcycles comes at you with a radical design bearing the unmistakable mark of designer JT Nesbitt. It’s much more refined compared to our first look almost two years ago. It has the appearance of being a serious answer to the question of what a 21st century motorcycle should be (with a hint of steampunk thrown in). The company takes great pains on their website to explain their direction and why they believe it is the only logical focus for motorcycles going forward. The low maintenance, modular, upgradeable nature of this design, along with easily adjustable ergonomics, present a strong case. You may not be fully convinced, but it’s not easily dismissed.
It’s entirely possible these two companies don’t even consider the other as a competitor, maybe it’s all in my mind, but I don’t think so. This confrontation may be unintentional, but it’s an early indicator of what’s coming to the motorcycle market as a whole and we’ll be seeing similar match ups in the near future.
Change is coming to the motorcycle business and it will appear gradually, then suddenly and it’s going to be fascinating.