December 17, 2015: what's wrong with new motorcycles, Part I

I have subscribed to (Rider,Motorcyclist) magazines for a long time -- 20 or more years, if the amount of shelf space with back issues is any indication. During that time, I've been happy to read about new bikes, retro bikes, gear reviews, the occasional odd-ball feature, even the advertising.

I have let my subscription lapse, and I thought you should know why. There are several reasons, and all are beyond your control.

One reason is that I've retired, and now find myself busier than ever, doing all the things I never had time for when I was working. I'm doing way more riding (16,000+ miles this year), plus participating more in local clubs (president of one, webmaster for another, etc).

The main reason I let my subscription lapse is that I find myself skipping over large portions of the magazine. I just don't care about new bikes anymore. At the risk of sounding like "you kids get off my lawn", I find most new bikes to be horrifically ugly. I'm not sure why all designers find the need to operate in lock-step, but when one manufacturer adopts a design aesthetic, all the rest quickly follow.

(I know why they're in lock-step. A new design idea sells, and everybody else copies it, hoping they'll sell, too.)

(My comments are about non-cruisers. There isn't anything I like about cruisers, so I've always ignored them.)

The current design aesthetic, which for a better name I call "many pointy facets", makes all of the current crop of bikes look like robots from Japanese anime. The bikes have lots of spiky projections, to the point that I cannot look at a bike and see its *shape*. It's too "busy" for me to find the outline of the bike.

See the images below for an example.

I realize that retro bikes (and genuine vintage bikes) are my "market". The Royal Enfield, Triumph Bonneville family, etc etc are just fine. But the announcement of yet another small tweak to the Enfield isn't much of a story, so most of the content is about new bikes, and rightly so. I just don't want to read about them anymore.

Thanks for 25 years of good reading.

Bill Dudley
New Jersey

Update 2016 02 03

Oh, irony of ironies. This letter to the editor of Motorcyclist was chosen as their "letter of the month" for the April 2016 issue. Pity I don't get the magazine any more. I guess I'll have to find a "news-stand", if such a thing exists anymore.

More of my thoughts on the subject of "what's wrong with new bikes" here.



2015 BMW GS



Japanese Anime Robot




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