This week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy, is one of the biggest annual events for vehicles debuts, with manufacturers from Europe, Asia and elsewhere unveiling new and updated models. Unfortunately, the US scooter market is a drop in the worldwide bucket, and we may not see many of the most desirable offerings in this country next year — or any year. These are a few of the new scooters we’d like to see hit our shores… someday…
1. KAWASAKI J300
Of the four major Japanese motorcycle marks, Kawasaki is the only one that’s never produced a scooter — until now. The J300 is an impressive first effort, a tall-wheeled sport maxi with aggressive styling, a 300cc motor, dual disc brakes with optional ABS and a spacious a 3.4 gal. gas tank.
Why we’d like to see it here: The 250cc-350cc size is great for a freeway-capable scooter and for touring but not as big, heavy or pricey as 500cc or larger scoots. The J300 would be an interesting head-to-head competitor for Honda’s 279cc Forza.
Odds of US sales: Low. The big 2014 launch will be for Europe. If the model succeeds, distribution may expand.
2. PEUGEOT DJANGO
One of the oldest vehicle manufacturers on the planet, France’s Peugeot, leaps onto the retro-modern bandwagon with the Django. The streamlined model (which begs for a custom steampunk treatment) will be available in sport and touring trims in 50cc, 125cc and 150cc displacements. While it doesn’t out-bevel or out-louvre the Vespa 946, it makes a good showing. The illuminated legshield badge is a very nice touch.
Why we’d like to see it here: Fun, (arguably) good-looking scooters in the 50cc-150cc range are gateway scooters for many new riders. Peugeot builds good product and something like the Django could be a high seller at the right price point. Anything but another Joker clone.
Odds of US sales: Almost none. Peugeot scoots haven’t been imported here in many years and there’s no sign of this changing.
3. Honda Integra 750
Perhaps the sportiest of the sport maxis, in 2014 the Honda Integra gets a styling update and a 50cc displacement bump up to 750cc. It’s also got a new aluminum swingarm that makes no bones about its motorcycle roots. Even Aprilia’s SRV850 doesn’t look quite as sportbike-y as the Integra, particularly when it’s wrapped in the red white and blue scheme seen above.
Why we’d like to see it here: To see the faces on sportbikers when one of these blasts by them on the road, leaving them in the dust. While this may be too similar to Honda’s the CTX700 and NC700X automatic motorcycles for them to import it, better than expected sales of BMW’s C-series scooters is proving that there’s a market hungry for high-end sport models.
Odds of US sales: Possible for 2015 but betting on Honda’s future scooter offerings is a sucker’s bet. You never know what they might add to — or drop from — their lineup.
4. Yamaha Tricity
Yamaha brings the concept formerly known as the LMW to Europe in 2014 as the 125cc Tricity. It’s possible Yamaha may be holding back another, higher-displacement version for unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show in a few weeks. (The $10,000 price tag reported earlier would make this a very expensive 125cc.) This tilting three-wheeler rides on the familiar two-front-wheel/one-rear-wheel setup made popular by Piaggio’s MP3. Unfortunately, Piaggio stopped importing the MP3s a couple years ago due to drooping sales and has yet to announce if they’ll revive it with their newer Yourban models.
Why we’d like to see it here: The three-wheel concept is sound; Yamaha, Piaggio and Peugeot all have similar offerings now. The MP3 may not have been the right scooter for the US market, possibly due to their high price tag and cost of ownership. Yamaha could fill the niche with a lower-priced model if the as-yet-unannounced specs look good.
Odds of US sales: Don’t hold your breath. Europe is proving (at least in the eyes of scooter companies) to be more adventurous than America in trying unconventional solutions to urban transport issues.