New Motorcycles Coming Soon

Rumors--And A Few Actual Reports--About What We May Be Riding Next Year

By Ben Purvis, Photography by Suzuki, Honda, Aprilia

Aprilia
Aprilia's next generation will expand its new RSV4 superbike platform into the naked realm with a long-awaited Tuono replacement. Expected to sell in even bigger numbers than the superbike, the V4-powered naked bike has already been confirmed for 2010 by Aprilia insiders, with a debut scheduled for the Paris Show later this year. No teaser shots have been revealed, but don't be surprised if it resembles the FV2 concept machine shown in '07--minus the carbon-fiber frame and Hossack front end.

BMW
Anticipation is the watch word for the high-tech S1000RR superbike, which like the Aprilia RSV4 won't go on sale here until (much) later this year as a 2010 model. The G450X enduro will also be street-legal in all 50 states next year, making it a true dual-sport bike for serious off-road riders. Other rumors suggest facelifts on the best-selling R1200GS adventure-touring twin and its road-biased R1200RT stablemate. Expect them to look more modern, and to incorporate details of the superbike's "asymmetric" styling.

We might be in the grip of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but that isn't stopping the world's motorcycle manufacturers from preparing an onslaught of all-new machines. And while some are switching focus from expensive, top-end models toward real-world transport, the overall scope of new bikes looks wider than it's been in years--including everything from smarter superbikes to penny-pinching, plug-in electrics. Here's the latest intelligence on what will fill you local dealer's showroom in 2010 and beyond...

Ducati
The replacement for Ducati's Multistrada, already named the Strada Aperta ("Open Road"), will offer significantly improved performance thanks to fitment of a retuned version of the liquid-cooled 1198 Superbike motor. The only glimpses of the bike so far have been heavily disguised with duct tape and padding, but it's certain the new machine features sharper styling than the Multistrada, with a clear resemblance to the Superbike and Streetfighter.

Honda
There's one new Honda on everyone's mind for 2010: the forthcoming V4. Previewed in "sculpture" form at last year's Cologne Show, leaked details suggest it will be something special, displacing 1200cc and using the firm's patented Unicam rocker system on the front cylinder bank (for more compact dimensions), with two camshafts on the rear bank for a conventional, four-valve layout. Also possible are a version of Honda's Variable Cylinder Management system (used on its automobiles to disable some cylinders when less power is needed), and a "double-clutch" semi-automatic gearbox that will allow instant gear changes via a bar-mounted rocker switch. On the retro front, Honda's CB1100F naked bike is already confirmed for 2010, with an innovative air-cooled engine said to match the performance and efficiency of a water-cooled mill.

Kawasaki
Inspired by the success of Yamaha's "long-bang" YZF-R1, Kawasaki is rumored to have a true "big-bang" superbike motor (with pistons firing together in pairs) already on the drawing board. This ZX-10R will almost certainly get the nod, but whether the firm will invest enough to get it to production by next year is the million-dollar question. More likely is a mildly revamped version, with upgraded engine and suspension, followed by a new-from-the-ground-up, big-bang Ninja another two years away.

Triumph
Triumph is at work on at least one all-new machine: a shaft-driven, large-capacity touring bike (reviving the Trophy nameplate) to go head-to-head with Kawasaki's Concours 14 and Honda's ST1300. Also spotted outside the Triumph factory was a strangely altered Sprint ST mule, believed to be a test bed for a new-generation engine to replace the aging 1050cc triple now powering the Tiger, Sprint ST and Speed Triple. The new motor's development has also raised speculation that Triumph could reintroduce the large-capacity Daytona, giving it a superbike to take on the Japanese and Italian competition.

MV Agusta
Now wholly owned by Harley-Davidson, MV Agusta finally has some resources available to invest in new models. The already-designed 675 triple sportbike will likely be the first to launch, with an expected unveiling later this year. With nearly 130 horsepower and styling by now-departed design boss Massimo Tamburini, the stunning individuality of a true MV Agusta is virtually guaranteed. An F4 replacement, also drafted by Tamburini, is expected to follow in 2011. Anticipate an evolution of the F4 shape and massive power from a revised version of the current engine, mounted in a composite steel and aluminum chassis.

Yamaha
Yamaha says a Crossplane-engined YZF-R6 is unlikely--the acceleration-enhancing benefits aren't as apparent on a 600 as a liter-bike--but that doesn't mean the R6 won't benefit from some exciting new technology. Yamaha is keen to pursue a sportbike application for its semi-automatic gearbox (as seen on the FJR1300 sport-tourer), and several designs have already been patented that would be suitable for the R6. A relatively simple, automated version of a conventional gearbox has already been tried and tested, and would be very easy to adapt to the existing 600cc powerplant.

Suzuki
Suzuki is serious about eco-bikes, and looks locked in a race with Honda to be the first major OEM to bring a zero-emissions motorcycle to market. Suzuki's plans revolve around a machine based on its Crosscage concept, powered by hydrogen fuel cells rather than batteries. Having struck an exclusive deal with British firm Intelligent Energy--one of the few companies in the world to have a real, running fuel-cell bike on the road--Suzuki has an instant head start in the technological race. While its fuel-cell machine won't be ready for 2010, the delay is due more to the lack of viable hydrogen filling stations than an inability to make the bike. When will it be ready? Around 2012 seems right, with the sales focus starting in America, which has the world's most developed network of hydrogen stations.

By Ben Purvis
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