Open Road

MV Agusta's stunning F4Z

Might this launch a new design direction for bikes?

As a former "biker," I'm not at all happy as to how the motorcycle industry has evolved over the last few decades, at least when it comes to road bikes. You either have cruiser bikes that are fat, old-school, style-over-substance bikes aimed at owners who also fit that very same description; or you have hyper-bikes, which are often thinly disguised race bikes aimed at the crazies out there. Aside from a few (very few) euro-style sport tourers like BMW, those are the two primary schools of design make up the bulk of the road-going motorcycle market today.

Yes, there are other groups too, but they play a much lesser role in the motor-powered bike market: casual 2-wheelers, mostly scooter-like bikes; a few oddball entries; and one other rather important category, "naked" bikes. These are sport bikes — but not hardcore sport — minus all the aero bodywork found on crotch rockets, hence the name; and harken back to the 1970-era of so-called "super bikes." Think Honda CB750-like wannabe bikes, but brought more or less up to date. Unlike the original '70s-era bikes, they are not state-of-the-art, but rather merely styled to fit another nostalgia market segment, older riders who never liked Harleys. Yes, they are better than the "originals," but hey, nearly a half-century has passed; so they better be "better" than those old bikes.

Now MV Agusta, the Ferrari of the 2-wheeling, has shown a dramatic new bike designed by Zagato, the famous automotive design house; and it is a stunning new concept to my eye, I might add. Originally this was thought to be a "concept," but we have now learned that a wealthy motorcycle enthusiast commissioned it.

While it does have aero styling, it doesn't appear to be wind tunnel-tested for winning races, but I'm no aerodynamic expert. Not sure if this will ever see production, but it's a direction I'd like to see; sort of a new class that falls in between hyper-bikes and naked bikes.

Might this usher in a new bike segment?
Unlike naked bikes, this is not a nostalgic approach, but instead a new and modern direction that could bring people Iike me back to the sport.

I have zero interest in cruisers. I admire super-sport bikes, but any serious interest in that class of bike left me decades ago. I love the idea of a shaft-drive pure sports-tourer, much like the Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours, and GS- and K-series BMWs. Naked bikes have a certain honest purity to them, but they have become down-market bikes in that a lot of state-of-the art engineering is bypassed in favor of "nostalgia." Me thinks this MV Augusta may be on to something here in terms of styling with the F4Z. Now if only it had shaft drive...

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