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Lower Prices, Lower Fuel Use

Manufacturers bringing cheaper, more fuel stingy vehicles to Progressive shows

The CanAn Maverick comes out with more power. (Bill Baker photo) The CanAn Maverick comes out with more power. (Bill Baker photo)

By: Bill Baker, OutdoorChannel.com

The Progressive Insurance 12-city motorcycle and power sports show circuit is under way with some interesting developments. The combined effect of a slow economy and ever-increasing competition has caused the big manufacturers to bring out vehicles that are stingier on fuel while at the same time are priced lower.

The side-by-side, fully caged ATVs are multiplying like rabbits. The Can-Am Maverick has gotten a horsepower boost to 101hp along with an increase in wheelbase to 113.8 inches, nearly 30 inches longer than last year’s model. That means a better ride and a lot more cargo capacity.

This is actually classified as a Recreational Off-road Vehicle as opposed to an All-Terrain Vehicle which is steered by handlebars. A ROV is steered by a steering wheel and has a full roll gage. They can’t be licensed for on-road driving which is kind of a shame since if you don’t  live where you’re going to use one, you have to have a truck or trailer to get it where you’re going to play. The price:  $15,999. 

You could pick-up a used Jeep for that money and then you’d be able to drive home. Then again, if you break down, there goes your ride.

Several manufacturers now offer 4-seat ROVs. Check out www.rohva.org for more information.

If Batman were to have an ATV it would be a sport model and very fast. Take a look at the Yamaha Raptor with its batwing-like rear fenders. Priced just over $8,000, the 700cc Raptor has a long travel suspension, five speeds and a frisky nature that has made it a favorite on the Sport ATV circuit. Of course Batman would paint his black.

Two-Wheel News

 “Value for money” is the Honda strategy this year. For years now the Hondas have always been priced a bit higher than other Japanese products. That’s because of Honda quality and reliability.

Now, a long time favorite dual purpose motorcycle, the CRF 250L has been reprised at $4,499. It’s a great choice for those who want to trail ride and then hit the pavement on the way home. The 250cc engine has plenty of punch to reach 80+ mph while the suspension can take as much pounding as the rider can tolerate. The one thing a buyer needs to bear in mind when considering a CRF250L is the seat height. At 37.5 inches the CRF 250L isn’t for those who are height-challenged.

On the pure street side, Honda’s NC700x has been gaining favor as a 70-MPG weekday commuter and a fun weekend ride on twisty back roads. Its long stroke 700 cc engine can be mated to a 6-speed manual or Dual Clutch (automatic) transmission.

But for Outdoor Channel readers, we were amazed by the way the folks at Twisted Throttle motorcycle accessories have outfitted a NC700x as a true adventure-tourer. Lights, bags, crash bars, GPS units, grip heaters, hand guards and more give the Honda a great look and a long-distance practicality for less than $1000. By the way hats off to Honda designers for the helmet box that takes the place of a traditional gas tank which can now be found under the seat.

The adventure touring theme can be found for just under $8,000 at Kawasaki where the 2013 model of the Versys drew admiring nods. Available in white, blue or black, the 649cc parallel twin has all the power you might need and returns 48 mpg. While the Versys is designed primarily for street use, some trail riding on unpaved roads looks to be right up its alley.

But if you want the full touring look with the same engine size, but lighter weight, check out the $6,499 KLR 650. With its tall clearance, straight handlebars and easy-on, easy-off accessory bags the KLR hits the adventure theme on the nose for fewer bucks out of pocket.

Safety first

Never ride without a helmet no matter how many wheels are under you. That said, there are gazillion choices out there. If you ride in the dirt you’ll want a helmet with a long nose and no face shield. Up to now, that has meant you have to wear goggles which can be sight-limiting and hot, requiring you to use goggles. Not much fun on the street.

Arai has now brought out the XD4 which marries street and dirt design elements in a helmet that works equally well on and off the road. There’s a flip down face shield on this model which is well-ventilated. The visor is detachable for optimum visibility; but late in the day when riding into the sun it can keep glare out of your eyes.

Odds and Ends

If you saw the movie The World’s Fastest Indian you know about New Zealander Burt Munro who in the 50s and 60s built a streamliner out of an old Indian motorcycle. Against almost insurmountable odds in 1967 Burt made his way to the Bonneville Salt Flats and proceeded to set the world land speed record for bikes of less than 1000ccs -- at one point hitting 205mph!

And like any good motor show there has to be some girl-type eye candy on display. These ladies are actually waitresses at a local restaurant, but they seemed to enjoy their day showing the Russian-built Ural motorcycle and sidecar combination.

To learn when and where the next Progress International Motorcycle Show will be logon to www.motorcycleshows.com

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