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What bikes were almost good?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by ibast, May 21, 2008.

  1. Sometimes we get bikes that don’t sell that well but weren’t too far from the mark. The manufactures miss the mark slightly and just can the bike instead of just fixing the problem. It always makes me think what a waste it is and makes me wonder what could have been.

    So what bikes or parts of bikes almost worked but didn’t? I’ll start.

    Kawasaki WR650; a good bike from all accounts by all who rode/ride them, but they didn’t sell that well. I believe there were a few reasons for this. Firstly they were a 650. When released that capacity was neither here nor there. A 750 or 850 would have sold much more strongly. Secondly it wasn’t tuned high enough. It needed to rev harder to give it more character and more power. Thirdly it was too much of a copy of a Bonneville. Who would buy that? Certainly not old Triumph riders. I personally believe they should have picked aspects of the old Brit twins for inspiration but not just copied one. Angled cylinders, like the commando, would have been nice, for example.

    The irony is that if you brought it in to the country now it probably would be much more successful. Suzuki has re-awakened the 650 market and LAMS now covers most of the population.

    What are your near hit bikes?

    [note to mods: if you think 'bike reviews . . . " is a more appropriate area, then please move it]
  2. The ZZR600:

    A great bike, but not being a sharp sports styled bike competing in the marketplace with likes of ZX6, CBR600RR, R6 etc it was always overlooked at sale time, and the fact it's big brother the ZZR1100 was a fantastic tourer with reliability, and much more power it was always going to be second best.
  3. RF900:
    From most accounts a very good bike for the real world, just didn't have the "on paper" figures of other 1000cc bikes considered so important by many buyers. Also not helped by the styling which was criticised when new, but with time has proven to date a lot less rapidly than other bikes of the era. Had they persisted with it and fixed the few minor issues it might have proved a strong rival for the VFR800.

    Edit: Also add
    Sachs 650 Roadster:
    A small, affordable, lightweight single with plenty of torque which would have been ideal for learners, particularly shorter riders thanks to the extremely low seat. If only the importers had actually bothered getting it put on the LAMs list. :roll:
  4. I'd agree with that. It had the best incarnation of the gsx-r1100 engine in it (why they didn't put this engine is a bandit is beyond me). Just when people were getting used to the styling they bunged tacky stickers all over it, then stopped making it not long after that. It had a really nicely design chassis too.
  5. Modern Royal Enfields. Wonderful bikes in terms of feel, but would you buy something that might just as easily as not disintegrate its piston at 10,000km? Or have the bottom end go? I don't care about their low power - it suits them and they are the most character-filled fun and beautiful bike I've ever ridden, but the quality control is not up to scratch to make them a serious contender, especially if it's your only transport and you've not got money to play with.

    Regarding the Electra - one of two main models available here, the one with a bit more hp and a disc up front - you cannot get an over-sized piston, and yet I've heard of several that have shat their top-end this year! No piston available any where, and the company don't produce them...they won't themselves need them! :roll:

    This is not completely in the category of the OP - they do sell - but they would sell a *whole lot* better if these things had the quality of a Jap bike, and I think this fault hinders an interesting 'contemporary' bike from being a real long-term classic and serious option for more of us. I do about 12,000km a year and I expect any such bike I buy - including my SR which is 30yrs old this month - to last me for decades to come, especially if it's a big single.

  6. Suzuki TL1000S. One of the great motors of all time. Stunning styling (IMHO). One of the worst rear suspension ideas in modern history.

    Yes, they can be fiddled with and made to work passably, but really, taking the pre-war lever-arm damper design and re-naming it a 'rotary damper' was never going to work was it? No amount of detail redesign is going to overcome a flawed principle, and the great tragedy was that the whole structure was built around this piece of foolishness, so it couldn't be simply replaced.

    And don't tell me they fixed it with the SV. Ride the two back to back and you cannot say they are the same motor, or the same bike.

    A great tragedy.[/b]
  7. The Cagiva V-Raptor 1000 (and to a lesser extent the 650).

    Wonderful innovative styling, great motor (lifted from the TL1000S) and fun, responsive sports/touring type handling.

    Spoiled by the worst spare parts back up possible and erratic build quality leading to poor sales and orphan status.
  8. Honda VF750F - apparently had wonderful handling and performance, until it exploded. Ugly duck turned into the VFR750 swan.

    Triumph TT600 - reports all said it had sublime handling when released, but the engine scored a C- when compared with the competition. Also not helped by looking like a 90s CBR600.

    Yamaha FZ750 - high tech 5-valve-per-cylinder sportster than looked like...like.....*yawn*.......*zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*

    Bimota V-Due - awesome droolworthy bike that, well, blew up.

    Ducati 999 - better in every way than a 916, except for the fact that it looked like something from a retarded Lego catalogue.
  9. Suzuki RE-5:
    They took something as revolutionary and different as a rotary engine - then stuck it in a bike that was about as boring and conservative as you could possibly get. Had they put it into a sportsbike with unique styling instead the fuel-economy problems may have been less of a deterrent to buyers, and it could have created it's own little niche much like Mazda created with rotary powered sportscars.
  10. Most late Brit twins. Seriously, ride a well sorted one and it's an absolute blast. Good (well, sort of), if dated designs, let down by lack of development and the worst quality control this side of China.

    Suzuki GSX1100G. Fantastic GSXR derived motor and low maintenance shaft drive, giving those of us with a penchant for late 70s/early 80s naked muscle a modern alternative, let down by incredibly lazy steering geometry. Didn't matter 'cos nobody bought one :( .

    Suzuki VX800. Again, nice cruiser derived motor in a sensible, practical chassis with no real vices. Why no buyers?

    Agree entirely about the WR650. I was enthusiastic about it until I had a test ride on one and found it appallingly flaccid and bland. Having ridden a few of the real thing, and enjoyed the "hard edged" feel, it just didn't cut it. It was very expensive for what it offered initially too. Nicely engineered though and the styling was lovely. I'd still like to try one with big carbs, 11:1 pistons, vicious cams, a pair of Goldie mufflers and stiffer suspension though :grin: .

    Can we extend this to bikes which should have been built? If so, my vote goes to a mildly tweaked XV535 lump in a Featherbed style chassis (sort of a big SRV(?)250 for folk who've passed their test or who want a classic looking LAMS alternative to an SR400).
  11. Interestingly enough, the RF makes for a very tough streetfighter platform. I reckon this one's a beauty:


  12. I agree and I want another one.
    Paint it a solid colour like my old British Racing Green one and they look good. Saw a 95 mod on eBay last week. Managed to dodge and avoided the black eye :LOL:
  13. Which also had the misfortune to be launched alongside the GPZ900R and the GSXR750 and so was somewhat overshadowed by those two epoch making machines.

    Having test ridden a very tired FZ a few years ago, even after 15 years of serious abuse, it was still a brilliant bike. It would have been stunning in 1984 :grin: .
  14. Because people seem to prefer ridiculous, impractical bikes with numerous problems.
    Why else would HD, Buell, Ducati and others still be in business.
  15. Agreed! I've thought this frequently, and others have said it too! Why don't / haven't they done it?! Not that I'd limit it to a LAMS category, just as the SR400 should not be - great flick-able serviceable bike with good enough power that keeps your license while making you feel like a ton up boy! It could be narrow like the SRV and SR and just look like a bigger-dimensioned SRV, but for graffic effect here's a slightly more weighty example of this possibility in a Harley:


  16. Mmm. A German friend mentioned that they have a saying; "'Nice' is the greatest insult one can give", or words to that effect.
  17. But the Germans have always been such nice people!
  18. On bikes that should be made I'd suggest a modern TRX900. Never understood why they choose to keep the Tedium in production but scrap the Rex, especially since the old 850s are still very popular (and still fetch very respectable prices 2nd hand).
  19. It was done for the European market as the BT1100 Bulldog. It consistently received reviews as one of the blandest bikes ever made.

    Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the up and coming XV Sakura (currently a concept bike).