Each year it’s impossible to miss the fanfare over new models as manufacturers vie to get attention for their latest wares. But fame is a fickle mistress and those machines that bask in the limelight as the latest and greatest will often last just a few years before they’re unceremoniously ushered out of the back door.
And in 2017 in particular we’re seeing a particularly large cull. Pressures to make bikes meet the latest European construction and use rules – including the much-talked-about Euro4 emissions rules and other tech changes like the introduction of on-board diagnosis and mandatory ABS – mean that models that might otherwise have remained on sale are being given the bullet.
As a bit of background, the new European regulations finally come into force on the 1st January, 2017. And unless they’ve been given special dispensation, bikes that don’t meet the rules at that point can no longer be sold as new models. There is an avenue to clear old stock, using ‘end-of-series’ rules that allow manufacturers to sell small numbers of non-compliant, Euro3-spec machines, but only for a maximum of two years and on the basis that they account for no more than 10% of that manufacturer's sales over the previous two years.
We’re focussing in particular on bikes that have no direct replacement rather than models that have been upgraded or usurped for 2017 – and you might be surprised at some of the machines included on the list, which is so big, we're having to spread it out over two parts. Here's what's happening at Honda, Suzuki and Triumph.
This is one casualty of the new Euro4 rules that has already had a lot of column-inches spent on it. The demise of the CBR600RR (pictured above) has been the leading news in a story that basically sees the supersport 600 category annihilated in Europe in 2017. Most of its former rivals are also getting axed, with the notable exception of Yamaha’s newly-revamped R6, which looks set to have the field largely to itself next year.
On a worldwide scale, the CBR600RR isn’t entirely dead, though. While poor sales mean it’s not viable to develop a Euro4 compliant version for Europe, the bike has been given a new set of 2017-spec paint jobs for the American market, where it will remain on sale for a while longer. Any hopes of an all-new, high-spec 600cc supersports bike from Honda look to be non-existent at the moment, although the firm doesn’t rule out a return to the market if one day it makes economic sense.
What? The VFR1200F, Honda’s great hope just a handful of years ago, is being killed? It turns out that it is. The white knight that came riding in to restore Honda’s ‘ownership’ of the V4 engine format and establish technological supremacy over its rivals seems to have become a white elephant instead.
Sales started strongly in 2010 when over 900 were registered in the UK, but the VFR1200F hasn’t achieved even half that number in any subsequent year. Between January and September this year, only 82 new VFR1200Fs hit the road according to government figures.
For a model that was so eagerly anticipated and which ushered in such high-end ideas as a dual-clutch transmission, it’s an ignominious end that comes in part to a migration of riders away from the traditional sports-tourer category. It’s not even as though the Euro4 emissions rules can be squarely blamed for the bike’s demise, since the similarly-engined VFR1200X Crosstourer is remaining in the range, having fared better in sales terms over the past few years.
The Pan is something of a legend, with a strong following among its fans, but it’s long in the tooth and clearly not hitting the sales numbers needed to make Euro4 updates worth the cost and effort. In fact, while UK figures show that 52 of them were registered in the first three-quarters of 2017, Honda hasn’t actually been bringing them in to the country for a couple of years now. There’s been a steady decline in sales and you have to go back to 2012 to find the last time more than 100 of them were sold in a 12 month period.
While that might well be down to the lack of updates – owners aren’t going to trade up to a new one when it’s no different to their existing bike. But the fact that adventure-style bikes are also gobbling up much of the more traditional tourer market must also be factored in.
One thing is for sure, and that’s with the VFR1200F and the ST1300 gone, Honda’s touring range for 2017 is looking thin. But if there are no buyers out there for such bikes, perhaps it doesn’t matter.
Since it shares the ST1300’s engine it’s no surprise that the CTX is also getting taken out of Honda’s European range in 2017. And it’s even less surprising when the sales figures are taken into account.
Given that it was a new model for 2014, the CTX didn’t make many waves. Only 34 hit the road in the UK that year, with a slight rise to 47 in 2015. This year’s number? Up to September it totalled just seven registrations.
Cheerio, CTX1300. At least you know that if you bought one you’re in a very exclusive club.
Now this is a stumper. Last year Honda sold nearly 1300 units of the CBR125R (pictured above) in the UK. That makes it a top-10 best seller. Between January and September this year it’s done over 900 registrations, so the numbers are holding up, too.
And yet for 2017 it’s a goner. That’s got to be Euro4 doing its worst. However, the numbers also suggest that Honda isn’t likely to permanently vacate this section of the market. It’s worth noting that earlier in 2016 Honda launched an all-new CBR150R in Asia and India, with styling and technology very much in line with the new CBR250RR’s.
Can we expect a sleeved-down version of that machine over here? If it can be made Euro4-legal, it might make a lot of sense.
The CBR300R only went on sale late in 2014, and here we are two years later talking of its demise. The numbers show that it never really took off in the UK, and a combination of competition from its CBR500R sibling and rivals like Yamaha’s newer, twin-cylinder R3 mean sales have been on a downward arc.
So, making it Euro4-complient probably never made much sense.
On the plus side, there’s still a good chance that Honda will eventually create a Euro-spec, 300cc-plus version of the CBR250RR twin that was launched this year in Asia.
Another bit of a shocker, this one. The CB1000R (pictured) might not be the latest or sexiest of the superbike-based naked bikes out there but it’s in a class that’s still doing relatively well in sales terms. The Blade-derived naked is another bike that’s not pensionable in age terms, first arriving in 2008, but it hasn’t kept up with its rivals when it comes to performance or gadgetry. While close to 800 were sold back in 2009, only just over 200 have been registered in the first three-quarters of 2016.
Given the relative popularity of superbike-derived naked roadsters at the moment, and the newly-revamped Fireblade that’s just appeared and contains much of the technology that Honda has been lacking until now, don’t be surprised if a new model emerges in the not-to-distant future to fill the void that the CB1000R leaves.
Another bike with a Blade-related engine, this one an older generation, the CBF1000 has been around for eons so it’s no surprise that it would need to be revamped to meet Euro4. Again, sales just aren’t high enough to justify such a rework.
One of the last of the old-school all-rounders, the CBF is another of those machines that’s probably had its market share nibbled away by a combination of newer alternatives and the more fashionable adventure-style machines that can do its touring-and-commuting job just as well while looking a bit more exciting.
UK sales for the model, which were in four-figures less than a decade ago, have struggled to reach 200 for the last few years. But along with the ST1300 and VFR1200 it’s another large, tourable Honda that’s biting the dust in 2017. Does Honda have something big planned in that part of the market to replace all these bikes?
Let’s not even go into these too much. Honda hasn’t been offering the VT750 and VT1300 cruisers in the UK for a while now – the 1300 was only here for three years, 2010-2012 and imports of the 750 ended a couple of years ago. Now they’re gone in the rest of Europe as well. Tears will not be shed, although it does mean Honda has basically vacated the cruiser market, with the exception of the weird Vultus (is that even a cruiser?) and the new-for-2017 Rebel 500.
There are not so many models dropping out of the Suzuki range, as they take advantage of the 'derogation' rule, but we know that it's curtains for these models...
The GSX1250 might be old enough to have witnessed the construction of Stonehenge but it represented a crazy bargain in its autumn years. Honestly, £7999 (list, before you work on a discount) for a 1250 sports-tourer? It’s hard to argue with that.
But for 2017, it’s gone.
A decade old, the GSX650F was even more aged under its sporty-looking skin, where Bandit 650 mechanical parts hid. And while it was still a good little budget bike, sales have tailed off markedly over the last few years so it’s unsurprising to see the axe fall.
Mechanically the same as the GSX1250F, the Bandit 1250 (pictured above) suffers the same fate. With it, the Bandit name disappears from UK Suzuki showrooms for the second time – it had already been absent before being reintroduced for 2015.
What was once something of a budget hooligan bike, the Bandit has been rather neglected and with more modern alternatives like the GSX1000S in the range it’s easy to see why it’s gone.
Unquestionably the ugliest bike Suzuki has sold in years, the Inazuma won’t be mourned by many. The new GSX250R, sharing many of its underpinnings, should do rather better.
We’re not going to split these. By putting its cruiser range up against a wall and shooting the lot of them (M1800R aside, since it continues for a while under derogation), Suzuki is performing an act of mercy. Sales have been minuscule for years.
Suzuki is among the firms that using ‘end-of-series’ (or ‘derogation’) rules to allow it to sell-off a limited number of Euro3-spec bikes during 2017. It's business sensitive information, so the firm is understandably cagey about exactly which of them will end up being dropped for good and which will be replaced with new or updated Euro4-spec models for 2018 or 2019, so these are Suzuki’s derogated bikes that will remain on sale in 2017, but which have an unknown future beyond that.
The lack of an immediate replacement for the GSX-R600 isn’t a huge surprise. It’s in a class that’s been struggling to reach decent sales figures for several years now and to achieve Euro4 emissions compliance on a high performance, small-capacity, four-cylinder engine is known to be particularly challenging. Tie that in with relatively small profit margins for 600s – they aren’t a lot cheaper to build than 1000cc superbikes but have to be priced far lower – and the case for ending production looks increasingly strong.
However, under derogation Suzuki could still sell the existing GSX-R600 (pictured) for up to two years provided it doesn’t go over its very limited quota (the total number of Euro3 bikes that the firm can sell over the next two years can only be up to 10% of the combined number of Euro3 models they sold in 2015 and 16, and Suzuki has several derogated models sharing that quota.)
Given the tight relationship between the GSX-R750 and the GSX-R600 – they’re mechanically almost identical bar the cylinder capacity – it’s no surprise that the 750 is in the same boat.
In the longer term, the 750 has a brighter future. Suzuki is much more likely to develop a replacement model for the 750 than for the 600. In the UK, Suzuki sells far more GSX-R750s than 600s – approaching twice as many in 2016 – and its higher price should lend itself to a fatter profit margin.
The GSX-R750 name is also hugely valuable. It’s regarded as the father of the modern superbike by many, and as such it’s not something Suzuki will let go of lightly. Our money is on a new GSX-R750 – perhaps derived from the latest GSX-R1000 – within the next two years.
Here’s another one that Suzuki surely isn’t going to allow to die. The firm has already dropped big hints at the next-generation Hayabusa’s styling with 2015’s Concept GSX ‘sculpture’ – which is probably a fairly accurate representation of the look of the bike that will replace the existing Busa.
However, the current model – which is really still largely the same design as the original 1999 ’Busa despite facelifts and technical tweaks – is reaching the end of the line and won’t be made Euro4-legal. Instead it will be sold in small numbers using derogation rules in 2017, tiding the firm over until a new bike is ready.
As we’ve seen in other Japanese firm’s ranges, cruisers are facing decimation as Euro4 rules make their engines (often older designs) non-compliant.
Cruiser sales in the UK, and most of Europe for that matter, simply aren’t very high. And most riders entering that part of the market inevitably levitate towards a certain American brand.
The M1800R has a stay of execution under derogation rules, but we wouldn’t bank on a Euro4-legal replacement being a high priority for Suzuki.
While the VanVan is a funky little thing that actually sits quite well with the current retro scrambler fad, it’s not Euro4-complient. It’s sticking around under derogation rules, so could yet be replaced or updated to meet the regulations.
Triumph isn’t letting on as to exactly which models in its range are being discontinued in 2017. The firm says it has applied for derogation on all its Euro3-compliant bikes in stock, allowing up to two years for them to be sold – albeit in very limited numbers.
The firm says that the derogated stock adds up to less than two thirds of the overall number it could have applied for, though, suggesting it’s not expected to make up many of the firm’s 2017 sales.
Bikes in the range that currently don’t meet Euro4 standards and will be sold under derogation include:
- Street Triple
- Daytona 675
- Rocket III (pictured below)
- Sprint GT SE (pictured above)
- Trophy SE
Triumph is understandably reticent to reveal which of these models will be replaced in due course, although the company has announced a live launch event on January 10th, accompanied by a trailer and the promise of a 'street bike that will completely tear up the rule book'.
Looks suspiciously like a next-gen Street Triple then?
Part two of this article, with details of the changes to BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha's ranges can be found here.