Had an interesting comment yesterday on my post about the Honda DN-01 automatic sports cruiser. Tom mentioned a motorcycle built in China, the CFMoto V5. (That’s version 5, not a V5 engine, don’t get excited) I had never heard of it, so I took a look. If you jump over to their (very slow) site, you’ll see a small displacement (244cc) motorcycle with a CVT trannsmission. You’ll also notice, it looks like a motorcycle, not a scooter. Reading the tech specs shows they’re aiming at a non motorcycle crowd, like front and rear brakes operated by hand levers. Why not? No clutch.
Now that you know what the CFMoto V5 is, let me quote Tom’s DN-01 comment here:
I think if it were meant for the American market, it would be a cruiser. I think this is going to be a Japanese market model, in response to the new Japanese “automatic transmission motorcycle” license category. Most of those prospective owners would come from the ranks of scooter riders and the control layout will be natural for them.
Things have changed since the 1977 CB750 Hondamatic: demographics of riders, technology, etc. I really feel that the first major that introduces a modern middleweight cruiser (cruisers are by far the biggest slice of pie in America) with an automatic transmission will have a best seller on their hands. Will it be Honda with a version of this bike, or a Suzuki Volusia with a Burgman-tech tranny, or a Yamaha Star with FJR1300 transmission electronics? Or will they hang back and let the Chinese CFMoto V5 pave the way?
Interesting points. I’m not sure I agree with the need for an automatic motorcycle to be a cruiser, though, and Yamaha’s new FJR1300 AE may prove to be a good test of market potential for large displacement automatics. I do think there is an untapped market for an automatic that looks like a motorcycle, lots of non riders might be less intimidated trying a motorcycle if they didn’t have to learn how to use a clutch and gearshift, just think about how many drivers can’t drive a manual in a car anymore. It’s a skill that’s going away and with high quality automatics, there’s less need for it.
I think a Goldwing would be a natural for an automatic but I think Yamaha might be smart in putting it in a high performance sport touring machine, showing automatics can handle the shifting chores all across the motorcycle spectrum. I think the Honda DN-01 might very well show up here but the Yamaha will for sure so either way, we’ll see automatics begin their entry into the market. Maybe little automatics like the CFMoto will take over the low end if the big guys fall asleep. Keep your eyes on this development, I have a feeling it’s going to happen pretty quickly. Thoughts?