From the Desk of The Road Hawgs Newsletter –

Each January you’re filled with a renewed sense of possibility. A new year, a new you. You boast to your friends and co-workers that you’re going to be shaving 20lbs, quit smoking and open that savings account. As January becomes February you can’t stand to face yourself in the mirror each morning as you’ve gained 5lbs, smoke a pack a day and you’ve just received a past-due notice for an unpaid credit card bill. Have no fear, you aren’t alone.

Around this same time of year the motorcycle show circuit has been across Canada and all over the United States. 2013 is packed with new entry-level rides, fancy new scooters, shiny new dual purpose motorcycles and so much more. But you’ll probably notice that there are a few bikes that you’ve seen before and might be looking a little tired. Or you might have noticed one or two bikes that you scratch your head about thinking “What? Who is going to buy that?”

Broken down by motorcycle category, like a list of unfulfilled resolutions, I have compiled my opinion of the worst motorcycles available this year. Feel free to disagree, in fact, I encourage it.

Worst Sport Bike: Suzuki Hayabusa

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Yes, it’s still one of the fastest production motorcycles ever built. Yes, is has a cult-like following. And yes, it’s extremely ugly.

Developed over 10 years ago the Hayabusa was, and still is, the flagship bike for the brand. Someone looking to buy this bike new has two color options for 2013 and one OEM accessory option. That’s just sad. The Hayabusa’s most direct competition is the Kawasaki ZX-14R which was all-new over a year ago and in this competitive motorcycle industry that is more than enough time to have your multi-million dollar Research and Development team in high-gear, building something new with which to fire back. According to the manufacturer’s website this tired beast has been refreshed for 2013 by including Brembo Monobloc high-performance calipers and nothing else. Why does it need more stopping power if it’s clearly going nowhere fast?

Worst Cruiser: Honda VT1300CXA Fury

Remember the Honda Fury? It’s that awesome chopper-thing. Bet you didn’t know Honda still makes it, and I bet you have only seen at best a handful of them on the road. Remember 10 years ago when the OCC came out with a TV show? Well, when that came out the Fury wasn’t even an idea to Honda’s R&D team. 

 

Since then the Orange Country Choppers crew have become commercialized, allowing cafe racers and crotch rockets to take the place of long, low and sleek chopper-fashion.  And, since choppers have fallen out of favor, the good folks over at Honda decided to build and sell chopper-like bikes. It’s moderately expensive, handles poorly and can’t comfortably seat two. Plus, it has a shaft final-drive. Everyone has a preference and an opinion when it comes to final-drives, but can we all agree that the bold American cruiser should be fitted with a belt or chain!

For 2013 the only difference is that with both color options the motor comes blacked-out (whereas last year’s two-tone option was the only one for which a black motor was available). Based on the Fury’s continuous drab out-dated history I’m sure the 2014 version will be just as exhilarating.

Worst Touring Bike: Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition

Not familiar with Victory’s line of motorcycles? Or maybe you haven’t even heard of the standard Victory Cross Country? Well here is a quick rundown of the standard version; 1,731cc, 50 degree V-twin, 2-passenger touring mounts equipped with floor boards, hard bags and a top box. Here is what you get; red and black paint (that doesn’t look too spectacular, especially compared to any Harley-Davidson paint), special wheels, tacky top box and side bag racks, an improved audio system and a Garmin GPS which seems to be an afterthought as it isn’t built into the bike. But, what you’re really paying for is the exclusivity as Victory will only be producing 150 units. All this for a mere $30,000.00 plus or minus.

 

Overall this isn’t a bad touring bike but I believe that because of its exclusivity people won’t want to actually ride it but, since it is celebrating such an insignificant milestone, this bike won’t actually have the potential to be a collector’s piece. I appreciate that Polaris (Victory’s parent company) has stepped up to the plate and challenged the giant that is H-D. I have always preached that competition is good, and ultimately the consumer always wins as product quality is improved, costs are reduced or both. However this year marks H-D’s 110th anniversary, which is a serious achievement when you think what the world has seen in that length of time.

 Worst Adventure Bike: Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Okay I’ll be honest this bike really isn’t that bad but, compared to its competition; it takes the cake for this category.

 

The V-Strom is blessed with a great motor, and for the price, this 1,000cc version is a great buy. As you may know the V-Strom is offered as a 650cc mount or this bigger brother. Both engines are tried and true as they share roots with the highly-successful SV1000, SV650 and SFV650 Gladius. However, the Gladius is relatively new, the SV1000 has been discontinued, the SV650 now comes with ABS as standard and even the V-Strom 650 was completely redesigned back in 2011. Meanwhile the V-Strom 1000 has been left in the dust.

Thanks to the book/show Long Way Round the adventure motorcycle segment has rocketed, and almost every major motorcycle manufacturer has a 1,000cc+ model to compete for a slice of the pie. Suzuki has sold plenty of both versions of the V-Strom and with Triumph, KTM and BMW offering new or dramatically redesigned big adventure bikes this year Suzuki’s V-Strom just looks pitiful in comparison.

Side Note: In North America this is still the 2013 model, but rumors have been circulating for an all-new version of this L-Twin. A quick Google search will pull up some of the speculated designs.

Worst Dual-Sport: Honda XR650L

Even the model code ‘XR’ has moved on as they were all superseded by the CRF line found today. Originally released in late 1992 as a 1993 model, this drab Honda has gone unchanged – well, virtually unchanged. This ol’ brute has a nasty looking speedometer, metal gas tank and big awkward hand guards to separate itself from the competition. Virtually the only thing that has changed is the moderately-revised graphics on the gas tank.

Sure it’s air-cooled which improves its ability to survive a fall, but that decrepit RFVC single-cylinder is held aloft by a heavy steel frame and breathes through a carburetor rather than a fuel injector. Don’t forget, this is by the same manufacturer who also released the newest 250cc dual sport on the market today, that happens to be liquid cooled and fuel injected – yet this XR is nearly double the price.

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