2020 Will be a good year for motorcycles

The third weekend of November is my favorite weekend of the year. Every year on November 22nd Progressive kicks of the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in Long Beach, California. Or as I like to call it “Motorcycle Christmas”. This event is a chance for riders to get together and not only check out the latest and greatest bikes, but also explore other aspects of the motorcycle community.

On top of the booths displaying the hottest bikes of the coming year the convention hall is packed with aftermarket suppliers, gear vendors, educational demos and riding organizations. Outside food trucks, stunt shows, and demo rides give attendees a chance to escape the jam-packed show floor.

The Heavy Hitters


Honda came out swinging for the 2020 model year with the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. Honda’s big claim for the new CBR is that it embodies the spirit of, “Born to Race”. To this end, the brand new ‘blade will roll out of showrooms with 215 horsepower and 85 peak torques with a wet weight of 443 pounds.

This should give the Fireblade class-leading power to weight. Design changes to the chassis should help with flex under braking and cornering. Honda claims that this will give riders a better front-end feel at pace.

The new six-axis IMU supports a full suite of rider aides from standard ABS to electronic Ohlins suspension.  The redesigned ‘blade is coming to the US market as a top-of-the-line model. While the current model will continue to sell for those less focused with on-track performance.

Although the new CBR was the hot item for the day Honda was also proud of its entry-level bikes. The Rebel 300 and 500 accounted for an increase of 7 percent with 29 percent of those purchases being new riders.  Given the constant talk about needing to grow the new rider segment, these figures are rather promising.

The Rebel twins aren’t getting a major overhaul for 2020, but Honda has given the bikes a few tweaks based on rider feedback. Stiffer springs, a new gauge cluster, and a fresh host of accessories give the Rebel(s) a new feel for 2020.

Regardless of trim, the new AT is gorgeous

A pair of new Africa Twins (AT) adorned the back of Honda’s booth. The AT is pretty much all-new for 2020. With a major change being the distinction between the offroad-focused base AT and the long haul oriented Adventure Sports trim. The base AT now has a slimmer profile, a five-gallon tank, and a more focused suspension. While the Adventure Sports has a taller windscreen, larger fuel tank, armor, and luggage racks equipped by the factory.


The madmen at Yamaha actually did it. Finally did it, I should say. Yamaha has announced that the Teneré will be hitting showroom floors in 2020 as a 2021 model. They have even been so bold as to give us a price: $9,999. A sub-10k adventure bike is a very attractive proposition for riders.

Riders will have a chance to bomb around backroads courtesy of 8.3 inches of travel up front and 7.8 inches of travel in the rear. The front and rear suspension will both be fully adjustable to help customize the ride for each rider. Propelling the Teneré is a revised version of Yamaha’s 700cc parallel-twin, putting out 75hp and 50lb-ft, which should give the bike a decent range with 4.2 gallons. Yamaha hasn’t released the final weight just yet.

However, the Teneré eschews a fancy TFT display and electronic rider aids in exchange for simplicity and reliability. Yamaha claims the choice was made in the name of ruggedness, however, ABS will come standard.

    Yamaha was quick to show off a “kitted out” Teneré

A representative of Yamaha was confident that this would be one of the very first 2021 bikes to be available to the public. Which would be nice considering the length of time Yamaha has tempted us with this bike.


The Noale brand came out in full swing for 2020 looking to change the face of the middleweight market as we know it. The new RS 660 seeks to become the new track day or back road weapon for interested riders.

The parallel-twin has a claimed power output of 100 hp and at a dry weight of 372 pounds means the new RS is going to be a real handler.  Aprilia didn’t just stop with a firecracker engine and a tight chassis; as the 660 will also be packing their impressive APRC electronics suite.

This electronics package powers IMU-based traction control, wheelie control, cornering ABS, switchable rider modes, an up and down quick-shifter, and cruise control. It also has a 5″ TFT dash, Brembo brakes, and LED lighting.

The only question left to answer is, “what is this little twin going to cost”?

The Trends

Adventure bikes aren’t going anywhere

These days almost every manufacturer has an adventure bike in their line-up.  There was even a whole section of the convention hall dubbed the “Adventure Out!” area. Where individuals could check out off-road gear, listen to speakers from the ADV-sector, even interact with the folks Backroad Discovery Route (BDR).

The manufacturers are diversifying what they consider an “adventure” bike as well. With BMW expanding its adventure sports lineup with the F900 XR. Suzuki introducing the new VStrom 1050 with a road-focused base model, and a series of exciting concepts from varied manufacturers.

Adventure bikes have overtaken large sections of the motorcycle industry already with no signs of slowing down. In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Suzuki promoted the new VStrom 1050 as a motorcycle leatherman, a “tool for all jobs”.


TFT (Thin-film-transistor) dashes have been around for a few years now, but they are no longer just for expensive, top of the range bikes. The screens on bikes have been getting better and better for years and with the advancements in electronics on bikes, they are more useful than ever.

These days nicer screens can be found on anything from Ducatis to KTMs to Hondas and throughout the line-ups of the respective manufacturers. This aids to give bikes of all price points and styles an upscale feeling.

TFT dashes have gotten larger, easier to read, and more useful in their dissemination through the motorcycle industry. With manufacturers like Honda adopting Apple Car Play on some of their models, they seem to be the next level

The Community

Small displacement bikes aren’t the only thing for new riders on display at the IMS. For instance, the “New Rider Zone”, “Discover the Ride: Next Steps”, and “New to 2” areas give people new to motorcycles the chance to interact with bikes in a more meaningful way. Given the focus on gaining ridership across the motorcycle industry to see such a focus put on by the show is encouraging.

Every manufacturer has an entry-level bike, most have quite a few to select from, but the barrier into motorcycling can be quite steep for the uninitiated. Events like the IMS provide a good opportunity to take your friend who has been asking about riding,

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14 responses to “2020 Will be a good year for motorcycles”

  1. Matt Formica Avatar
    Matt Formica

    It really is an amazing time in motorcycling.

  2. fede Avatar

    any Royal Enfield presence? I really like them, they seem to resist the urge to chase numbers and just make enjoyable and affordable products… at least according to the reviews I read.

    1. fede Avatar

      hadn’t seen it before, it looks great!
      the RE twins are making me want to get a motorcycle license (sadly, for the first two years you’re restricted to 200cc or less)

      1. Number_Six Avatar

        Graduated licencing might seem tragic but it’ll make you a better rider because you’ll be forced to ride the nuts off a nice little “boring” bike, and that’ll teach you about vision and planning and self-preservation. It also makes you better at just managing the day to day crap, like parking and u-turns and stuff because you’re learning on a bike that’s not going to intimidate you. When you’re finished, the first wave of RE twins will be nicely depreciated on the used market 😉

      2. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Try and do some offroad work with a trail bike. The experience of riding on low friction surfaces is extremely useful, specially knowing what a low traction front wheel is like. You’ll crash, but at low speed and on a bike designed to shrug it off.

    2. Matt Formica Avatar
      Matt Formica

      They had a small booth with the range of bikes they offer. I’m really hoping to spend some time with a Himilayan this year.

    3. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      That is a really neat looking wheel design and I like that color combo.

  3. neight428 Avatar


    I look back at my old risk tolerance as a fondly remembered relationship that just didn’t work out.

    Cool stuff out there these days. Perhaps someday before I lose the ability to swing a leg over a bike, they will develop driver aids that make it impossible to hit riders.

    1. Matt Formica Avatar
      Matt Formica

      I’m dreaming of that day same as you, but that doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      I think I can relate. I put 40,000 miles on my KLR650 from my mid-20’s to age ~30, riding back roads by myself in the vast open-ness of eastern North Dakota’s farm country and northwestern Minnesota’s forests; now closing in on 40 I kinda miss adventure-bike riding, but I’m unsure I’d be able to get back up after a mistake as well as I could 10 years ago.

  4. ptschett Avatar

    Are Honda *sure* they’ve got enough R’s in the “CBR1000RR-R” designation?

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Should change it from Fireblade to “Me Hearties”

    2. Matt Formica Avatar
      Matt Formica

      It’s got so many R’s it should have been launched on National Talk Like A Pirate Day