Biking maniacs are a special breed, and it’s time for them to get their judging pads out. The shortlist for the 2014 Pirelli Bike of the Year has just been announced. By LANCE ROTHSCHILD.
The Pirelli Bike of the Year is closely contested by all manufacturers and vendors in the motorcycling sector, and the announcement of the winner at last years AMID (Association of Motorcycle Importers and Distributors) show in August drew a fair amount of excitement and attention.
Now, the list of bikes from which the winner of the 2014 Pirelli Bike of the Year title will be determined has been announced. From an initial list of 27 bikes, the sixteen judges were tasked with selecting eight bikes to contest the two-day shootout, which will take place at the end of July.
The bikes are: (in alphabetical order)
Spotted nine, you say? Quite right. Due to a dead heat in the selection process, an extra bike was included.
In order to qualify for consideration for this competition, the bikes have to be “all-new for 2014” models, either comprising of brand new design, or significantly re-engineered and upgraded versions of existing models. A change in colour scheme and/or some minor “tweaks” just don’t cut it for inclusion into this competition.
The two-day judging event will take place in the Sabie/Hazyview area, where all the finalists will be ridden over a variety of road (and where appropriate off-road) courses. En route to the area, the bikes will cover some considerable highway distance, giving the panel of 15 judges substantial “saddle-time” on each bike and ensuring that every aspect of the bikes’ character can be assessed.
BMW’s R1200 GS won the title last year and the new Adventure model which features the Liquid Cooled motor should prove popular at this year’s event. The Suzuki V-Strom, whilst being more hard-road oriented than the BMW Adventure, should provide an interesting comparison to the BMW.
The BMW S1000R is an aggressive “naked” roadster bike and offers a high-performance package in a more road-friendly package. It will be an interesting comparison between this and the Kawasaki Z1000, with both bikes directly appealing to the same rider mindset.
Ducati’s 899 Panigale, the only fully-faired Superbike amongst this group, is likely to tantalise with its exotic looks and unmistakably Italian pedigree. It has already impressed many motoring journalists, particularly with its race-bred handling and performance; however, it may be a little too aggressive for the longer riding distances.
The South African biking market seems a little resistant towards naked bikes; however, this will not detract from the way in which the Ducati Monster 1200, the KTM 1290 Super Duke, and the two Yamahas will feature in the test. Naked bikes are a lot of fun to ride, are excellent in the traffic, and this bunch have oodles of character and performance to enable them to be used as regular commuters, whilst giving excellent performance on the track.
And don’t be swayed by the fact that the Yamaha MT-07 has the smallest engine capacity of all the bikes in this shootout. SA Superbike editor and publisher, Clinton Pienaar, has this down as one of his favourites for the bike of the year title.
The winner will be announced at a special breakfast for industry, media and dignitaries on the first day of the AMID Motorcycle Expo, and presented to the public each day of the three day Motorcycle Expo, where all the finalists will be on display. DM
Photo: BMW R1200GS Adventure (Luweh.com)
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