Top 10 Stories of 2011

Top 10 Motorcycles and motorcycle stories of 2011

Here's my Top 10 stories for 2011.  I hope all the readers of this blog had a great Christmas and that 2012 will be a great year on the two wheels.  

Lets Ride

Gerald Trees


10.  “Backstreet” Customs

Building unique and personal motorcycles on the cheep is nothing new and has been a continuous process since the first motorcycles were introduced.  The economy being what it was (is) has brought this form of art back to the forefront.  For me, this is the truest form of customization and was a fun part of 2011 for me.

9.  Kawasaki Ninja 400

Kawasaki has been the leader in the small displacement street bike category for years and the introduction of the Ninja 400 should keep them in forefront in usable, around town motorcycles.  With a peppy 399cci parallel twin engine, this motorcycle fills a needed gap between the 125 / 250 motorcycles and the “full sized” 650 street bikes.  The price is right too.

8.  Custom Motorcycles

Ok, Custom Motorcycles aren’t new, but 2011 took a whole new twist on what was a booming business in the early part of the century.  With the help of the Discovery Channel and Custom Motorcycles became mainstream in the early 2000’s and some builders took advantage of the good economic times and built bikes costing many thousands of dollars and drawing criticism of the “true” bikers.  The collapse of the economy in 2008 brought all of this to a screeching halt, with many of the big names in custom building going out of business.  This the economy slowly coming back online in 2011, companies like Harley Davidson and Honda were offering a “custom” motorcycle program where a customer could choose what they wanted on their motorcycle and then have the factory build it.  While these are “unique” motorcycles and built to the customers taste, the customer was not part of the build, which is a big part of the fun.

7.  Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra

Harley Davidson had been successful by keeping true to the classic Harley Davidson “look”, “feel” and “sound”, while at the same time incorporating modern motorcycle technology and handling into their bikes.  The Road Glide Ultra is a merging of the long-standing, unique look of the Road Glide and the touring capabilities of the Ultra Glide.  By combining the looks and handling of the frame mounted faring of the Road Glide, the luggage carrying capacity of the Ultra Glide and the modern Harley handling and power of the new 103 cubic inch engine into one, Harley Davidson built a winner for 2011.

6.  The Mid-Size Motorcycle

It wasn’t that long ago that anything over 650 cc’s was considered a heavy weight motorcycle.  Now that distinction falls to machines that are 1200 cc’s and larger.  Until recently the European market been the main consumers of motorcycles between 650 cc’s and 1000 cc’s, but that’s changing.  With the introduction of the Yamaha FZ 800 and the Triumph Tiger 800 and 800 XC motorcycles in 2011 to complement the recent introduction of the Ducati Monster and Hyper Motard 796, the mid-size motorcycle market in North America is poised to make a resurgence in the next couple of years.  These motorcycles perform, are reliable, simple and can be ridding in many different ways.

5.  Claudio Castiglioni

On August 17th, the motorcycling world lost Claudio Castiglioni who was responsible for likely saving Ducati in the late 1970’s and early 80’s to saving MV Agusta, twice.  Castiglioni had a passion for both the style and performance of a motorcycle and this was shown in the designs that came out of Ducati and more recently out of MV Agusta.  Even though both companies have seen good and bad times under Castiglioni’s direction, they are both alive and growing in brand awareness and sales. 

4.  Adventure Touring Motorcycles

Ok, Adventure Touring motorcycles aren’t new.  Years ago they were called dual purpose or enduro, and they were limited in comfort and range.  Then BMW and KTM upped the anti with their GS and Adventure series bikes that were better suited to the paved road less traveled or the dirt road well traveled.  In 2011 the field of motorcycles in this class got much bigger with the introduction of the Yamaha Super Tenere and the

Triumph Tiger 800 and 800 XC.  Now the motorcycling consumer as plenty of choices in this category, with the most advanced having all the power and agility of a sport bike in the motorcycling world’s version of the SUV that can be ridden for hours on end in great comfort.

3.  Marco Simoncelli

On October 23rd, Marco Simoncelli was killed while competing in a MotoGP event in Malaysia.  Simoncelli was aggressive on the track, while is personality off the track was that of someone who loved life.  The accident was tragic and brought out the hazards of motorcycle racing, even with all the safety features that are built into the modern motorcycle.

2.  Polaris purchases Indian Motorcycles

In April of 2011, Polaris Industries of Minnesota purchased Indian Motorcycle from Indian Motorcycle Inc.  Indian has been in and out of business for 110 years and this is the first time since it’s inception that it will be owned and operated by a company that is financially stable and has the distribution network to bring the historic and storied brand back to prominence.  Only time will tell what Polaris has in mind for Indian.  For 2012 they will produce and retail 3 models and their price is still in a range where only those with the means and desire to own an Indian can afford one.

1.  Ducati Diavel

The Diavel was one of the motorcycles that I felt would be a big mart of the 2011 motorcycle scene and it didn’t disappoint.  The hardest part for the motorcycling media was to figure out what category to put it into and in the end, it didn’t fit any one category.  Power Sport Cruiser is what I would call it and for now it’s the only one in it.

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