Are all of the wild and crazy, no limits, do as you please bikers really a very conservative group of buyers? Does everyone buy what they always have bought or what all of their buddies buy? Does different technology sell if you can see it?
At least 2 of The Kneeslider’s regular readers are working on motorcycle projects with Hossack front suspensions, Hugo, with the Bottpower project and Andy, who is building a VFR based special. Both of these look really good and quite a few engineers and designers would say the Hossack design has a lot going for it but there has been only limited acceptance from major manufacturers. (Well, except for BMW now that I think about it.)
Hub center steering is another area where a few attempts have been made to bring it into the mainstream but it never goes very far. Limited production is about it.
The recent concept bikes from Honda, for instance, are great looking bikes probably close to production ready. The EVO6, especially, looks nice to my eye but though it looks different visually from current bikes, the technology looks very familiar, telescopic fork, flat six engine, and probably all of the same technology you already know. Suppose they swapped the front suspension for a nicely designed and styled Hossack setup. Would it look as good to you or me?
Motorcycle companies build what they can sell, they can build unconventional or radically different chassis and suspension as well as or far better than small builders can, but they tend not to. Maybe they know what their buyers will actually write a check for so we see essentially, more of the same. It may be a bit more swoopy and a lot more powerful, but, it’s still essentially the same. Harley Davidson probably knows this better than anyone but the supposedly super technically advanced Japanese manufacturers do it in their own way, too.
The recent arrival of scooters like the Piaggio MP3 with dual front wheels may be a break from convention and the Can Am Spyder is pushing things a bit, too. How much that will cross over to the more conventional motorcycle segment remains to be seen.
Although many of you probably like the different and unconventional technology and you might adopt it on a project of your own, how many of you would actually buy a radically different bike at your dealer? Would you risk being one of the few who adopt to the new way of thinking, riding outside the mainstream? Or would you be one of those who admires and compliments it and praises the manufacturer for being bold while you buy something close to your current ride? Companies have to make those decisions all the time. Maybe some things can’t change. What do you think?
UPDATE: One additional question – What are some of the best examples of a motorcycle manufacturer pushing the envelope with new technology in a production bike?