We already mentioned what we believe to be two declining trends in motorcycles, one is the racer replica motorcycle designed to be road race ready and pretty darned close to being so, and two is the category killer, the one motorcycle that is so in demand that everyone will want one because of universal appeal. Let’s look at the flip side, a rising trend, something that’s growing and in fact, already has a pretty sizable following.
Rising Trend 1 – Stunt bikes and Drag bikes on the street
At the same time that repli-racers are less in demand, the custom streetbike crowd, the guys and often girls, too, who radically alter and customize all manner of motorcycles for either stunts or straight line speed is growing. It has certainly been around for quite a while but it’s getting bigger fast. These riders don’t plan to do any road racing and when you really think about it, unless you happen to live close to a road course, how many track days have you signed up for? Most riders simply never set tire to track but everyone rides on the street.
The Hayabusa and the new ZX-14, are not road racers by any stretch of the imagination and their top speed is far beyond legal but they are surprisingly comfortable long distance rides and at the same time, straight line monsters. The latest info on the new Kawasaki puts it in the low nines in the right hands and with a few mods and excellent riding, high eight second quarter miles are possible. Although road racing tracks are not everywhere, drag strips are numerous, and, yes, so are long straight stretches of highway.
Just because someone isn’t planning to be a road racer doesn’t mean they have no competitive urge it simply means they exercise the urge in ways that are accessible to them and drag racing a street bike is far more accessible to most guys who like high performance. The extended swingarms, fat tires and lowered bikes have that drag racing look and you can still ride the bike on the street. Wild paint and chrome finish it off if you need the full custom look.
Stunt bikes are the street equivalent to road racing in a way, most riders don’t drag their knees in the turns and don’t have the opportunity to practice but anyone that wants to can try wheelies and stoppies and anything else the stunt guys do. It’s a way to develop and display skills most riders don’t have. You can get good at stunts without any access to a track, a big parking lot will work. Even if you have no desire to stunt, you have to appreciate the skill some of these guys display.
The apparel manufacturers like Icon target this trend directly and a lot of other companies are joining in. The custom shops like Roaring Toyz and Custom Sportbike Concepts, build bikes for this crowd. It would be interesting to see if any manufacturers start looking at their bikes and go after this group directly instead of letting the aftermarket do all of the work. Kawasaki gave a couple of preproduction ZX14s to Roaring Toyz for the full custom treatment so they would be out there immediately when the bike was introduced, so Kawasaki seems to be looking in that direction. Will any other companies join in?
One big question is, how long will this trend last? The tuner craze with import cars exploded but has been declining for a while now. Will this follow a similar trajectory or is the drag bike and stunt bike trend a longer lasting phenomenon? What do you think?