As the latest crop of 2016 bikes are set to be announced, is now the best time to snap up a great deal on an outgoing model? MCN tests some of the bikes that are being updated to see if they need their faults fixing or are best left alone. Are there a few outgoing machines worth snapping up before they disappear?
his time of year creates mixed emotions in the motorcycle world. Our excitement is piqued as tantalising glimpses of new models are released. The tension then builds until the first of the major motorcycle shows sees the covers pulled off and the full details of our desires are revealed. But for dealers it’s a double-edged sword. Next year’s bikes are thrilling to them too, but this year’s bikes still need to find a home.
Yes, an influx of new models can mean a stampede through their doors. But by the same token, any model that has been superseded instantly looks old hat and could linger in the corner of their showroom steadily losing value. A motorcycle standing unsold represents a lot of money and space being tied up that would be better used by a new model that could deliver instant cash flow. But it isn’t always good news for buyers, because manufacturers don’t necessarily get it right with their new models.
Updating a popular machine is always a gamble as buyers often question why it needed changing at all, and whether the upgrades justify the increase in price. An unpopular update, such as when Kawasaki added underseat pipes to the ZX-10R for 2006, can kill a bike’s sales – while Suzuki proved this year with the Bandit 1250S that popular bikes are missed when they cease production (so they’ve brought it back). A major change, such as when BMW added water-cooling to the GS, needs to be handled with care, while often a bike is so overlooked that it happily fades from the line-up unnoticed.
With this in mind, MCN gathered together three bikes that are set to be updated for 2016 to see if they really do need a change, or if they would be better left alone.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Double WSB winner is the maddest, baddest, litre bike from Japan.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a genuine contradiction of a bike. In 2011 it was the only Japanese litre bike to take it to BMW and attempt to match them when it came to power, track prowess and electronic assists. Then in WSB, the traditional proving ground of sportsbikes, the Ninja destroyed the S1000RR and in five years has secured two world titles and two runner-up spots, while BMW embarrassingly retired from the competition. Yet its track success hasn’t equated to showroom success, despite the bulging trophy cabinet. Why?
For me the ZX-10R has always suffered as a road bike due to its track focus. Kawasaki like to give their bikes a bit of attitude, but I find the Ninja is too dedicated to a life on track, at the expense of practicality on the road, whereas the S1000RR manages to blend its two personas far better. The ZX-10R is basically a bit of a yob.
Nothing about the ZX-10R is subtle, from its brash green paint to its throaty exhaust note, it’s a bike that demands attention. The riding position isn’t actually that cramped, but there is a feeling of compactness due to the squat nose that gives the impression everything is squeezed into place. The engine, which boasts an obscene top-end rush, needs to have its revs kept up to get the most from it and for road riders that isn’t ideal, as keeping it on the boil basically equates to setting fire to your licence. And the suspension, which is pinpoint sharp and precise on a track, is a little harsh and unforgiving on the UK’s less-than-smooth roads. So what does Kawasaki need to do to secure a larger proportion of sportsbike sales? Refine the Ninja without losing its attitude and add some competition-matching electronics.
Despite the ZX-10R’s current traction control system being excellent on the road and track, with the R1, S1000RR and Panigale all using gyroscopic electronic assists, Kawasaki needs to follow suit. It’s purely a fashion-led decision, but it should help the Ninja tempt a few tech-conscious riders. Give the motor a bit more low-end grunt and then upgrade the suspension to give a less harsh ride, and the Ninja will be back in the fight back for road bike honours.
Will we miss it?
Kawasaki have admitted the 2016 ZX-10R is more of an update than a totally new model and as such plenty of the old bike’s attitude should remain. The electronic upgrades will tame this wild Ninja slightly, while the new suspension and brakes will mainly benefit track addicts. With two WSB, two BSB and plenty of superstock national titles under its belt, there is very little wrong with the current ZX-10R, so if you’re after a bad-ass litre bike, it’s still a brilliant buy.
Any deals to be had?
This year is the Ninja’s 30th anniversary and as such the 2015 ZX-10R is a special edition with unique paint, a bit of anodizing and a green shock spring marking the occasion. Pre-reg bikes can be had for £11,000 and a few dealers are sweetening the deal with ‘performance kits which include an Akrapovic exhaust and taller screen.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Engine 998cc, l/c, dohc, 16v inline four. Six gears. Fuel injection | Electronic rider aids Traction control, power modes, optional ABS | Power 197bhp @ 13,000rpm | Torque 82.6ftlb @ 11,500rpm | Chassis Aluminium twin spar, double sided swingarm | Front suspension 43mm inverted Showa BPF, fully adjustable | Rear suspension Monoshock, fully adjustable with high and low-speed rebound | Wet weight 198kg (201kg with ABS) | Front brake 2 x 310mm petal discs with four-piston radial calipers. ABS optional | Rear brake 220mm petal disc with one-piston caliper. ABS optional | Fuel capacity 17 litres | Seat height 813mm | Price £12,199 (£13,199 with ABS)
Ducati 899 Panigale
Entry-level exotic sportsbikes don’t come any better than this.
It is very easy for a manufacturer to give a sportsbike power. And by the same token, it is also pretty simple to create a sporty chassis. But to match the two and ensure one doesn’t overwhelm the other is a considerably trickier task. In the 899 Panigale, Ducati have achieved a near perfect balance, and it’s been selling like the proverbial baked deserts – so why risk upsetting the apple cart by updating the 899?
According to the rumour mill, a new 899 Panigale is expected for 2016, and it will bring with it more power. To anyone who has ridden the 899 Panigale, this could be a worrying statement, as it’s hardly lacking in drive as it is. It’s one of the most beautifully balanced bikes you can buy, and an absolute joy to ride.
Ducatis used to be described as ‘lazy’ in their power delivery, but the 1199 Panigale with its near 200bhp power figures, changed all that. With its far subtler 146bhp, the 899 harks back to the old sensation of seamlessly flat drive. When you consider it’s only 18cc off the original 916, that makes a lot of sense.
When you get going on the Panigale you can’t help but enjoy every aspect of the riding experience. The engine thuds along with a lovely spread of power and torque, neither of which ever threaten to get out of hand, while the chassis is equally sublime. Corners are there to be attacked or enjoyed, either way the Panigale is happy to oblige, and when you want a bit of a thrill, revving the engine releases a healthy top end. All of which is played out to a stunning exhaust note. And, amazingly for a Ducati, the Panigale is comfortable, too – all-day comfortable. Add to this the excellent Brembo brakes, an advanced electronics package and compliant suspension and you wonder why Ducati feels any need to upgrade the bike at all. Clearly the factory know something we don’t.
When Ducati launched the 1299 Panigale this year it also boasted more power and torque when compared to the outgoing 1199 model. But rather than overstepping the mark and becoming more extreme, the complete opposite happened. Ducati harnessed the Panigale’s extra power through advanced electronics and instead delivered the best road-going sportsbike to ever wheelie out of the Bologna factory’s gates. Here’s hoping they repeat this trick on the new 899 Panigale.
Will we miss it?
If Ducati overstep the mark, the first generation of Panigale will certainly be missed, and worryingly they have form for doing this. The first 848 was a beautiful blend of power and agility in much the same vein as the 899
Panigale, but subsequent 848 Evos upped the power and lost this feeling of balance. If Ducati do the same with the 899 Panigale, riders may well look on the older model more favourably than the newer one in summer 2016. However, if it repeats the 1299’s magic, the new 899 will be out of this world.
Any deals to be had?
There are very few new 899 Panigales left in the UK, but those that are still in dealers can be had for around £700 less than the RRP. As the year ends, ex-demos are now starting to crop up for around £1000 less than RRP and with minimal miles on their clocks. Even at full price, you would never be disappointed.
Ducati 899 Panigale
Engine 898cc, liquid-cooled, dohc, desmo V-twin. Six gears. Fuel injection | Electronic rider aids Riding modes, power modes, ABS, traction control, quick shifter, datalogger, engine braking control | Power 146bhp @ 10,750rpm | Torque 73ftlb @ 9000rpm | Chassis Aluminium monocoque, single sided swingarm | Front suspension 43mm BPF inverted forks, fully adjustable | Rear suspension Monoshock, fully adjustable | Wet weight 254kg | Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. ABS | Rear brake 245mm disc with two-piston caliper. ABS | Fuel capacity 17 litres | Seat height 830mm
Nothing oozes retro charm like a Bonnie.
It is with a great deal of sadness that I find myself writing about the demise of the old air-cooled 865cc
Bonneville. If, as the evidence suggests, it is to make way for a larger 1100cc water-cooled machine, it will be the end of one of the most delightful two-wheeled families ever to carry the Triumph name on its tank. Why will we miss them so much? Because they represent effortless motorcycling at its very best.
You don’t really ride a Bonnie, you relax into it and let the unflustered parallel-twin take you on a lovely adventure. It’s a return to the basics of motorcycling. And that’s why it is a brave move by Triumph to not only up its power but also water cool it. The liquid-cooling has been pretty much forced upon Triumph by impending emissions regulations.
There is no denying the Bonnie’s chassis feels like it is from a different era as the bike wobbles and pitches through the bends on its soft suspension. And the brakes are more than a little lacking in their power when pushed. A bit more security would be a welcome addition to the chassis, but not too much, just enough to sharpen the whole ride up and make it feel more secure. Is this what
Triumph are planning?
When all is said and done, the new Bonneville is certain to be a far more accomplished machine than the long-serving current model. But in many ways this feeling of authenticity only added to the Bonnie’s charm. Soft suspension, poor brakes and a motor with enough, but not too much, grunt is at the heart of the Bonnie. The major issue for the new bike is price. You can currently buy a new 865cc Bonneville for under £7000, which is a very attractive prospect for all ages of rider. How much will the new 1100cc water-cooled one retail for? You can be sure it won’t be anything like this competitive.
Will we miss it?
Of course we will, the current Bonnie has been a constant in Triumph’s range for 14 years and as such has built up a massive fan base. Do they want more power? Probably not. Do they want better suspension and brakes? Again, performance isn’t really an issue for most Bonnie owners but ABS and a better ride would probably be appreciated. The 865cc Bonnie is an ideal machine for sunny summer runs, relaxed commuting and generally just being enjoyed. Unlike the machine it is named after, the modern Bonnie isn’t about rushing around, it is a bike for enjoying and that’s why it will be missed. Hopefully Triumph won’t alienate all the current Bonnie’s fans for the sake of fashion. Will we see the air-cooled 865cc engine find a new home? Fingers crossed.
Any deals to be had?
How do you know there is a new Triumph on the way? Simple, the firm has released a plethora of ‘special editions’. Dealers often have these as demo bikes and they are now for sale, chopping around £1000 off their RRP or £500 for a pre-registered bike. Deals on free accessories are common and stock Bonnie models can be had for £800 less than RRP.
Engine 865cc, a/c, dohc, 8v parallel twin. Six gears. Fuel injection. | Electronic rider aids None | Power 68bhp @ 7500rpm | Torque 50ftlb @ 5800rpm | Chassis Tubular steel chassis, double sided swingarm | Front suspension Conventional 41mm forks, non-adjustable | Rear suspension Twin shocks, adjustable spring preload | Wet weight 225kg | Front brake 1 x 310mm discs with two-piston caliper. | Rear brake 255mm disc with two-piston caliper. | Fuel capacity 16 litres | Seat height 740mm | Price: £6999 (£7199)
‘Now’s the time to buy new’
Keeping up with fashion is the curse of the motorcycle manufacturer and it acts like a ball rolling down a hill, once one does it the rest have to keep up for fear of dropping behind. Will road riders really benefit from the 2016 ZX-10R’s upgraded electronics or spot the boost in power? Probably not. The Panigale could become an even more impressive package, but that extra power might ruin its balance. And as for the Bonneville, more weight and a boost in power could well rob this friendly middleweight of its charm. But that’s the risk Triumph has to take to meet demands.
But one thing is for certain – now the cat is out of the bag that a new bike is on the way, dealers will be more than keen to shift old stock. Take advantage of the situation, this is the perfect time to snap up a bargain brand new 2015 bike.
Words: Jon Urry Photos: Chippy Wood