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Tokyo Motor Show: Two-Wheel Thunderdome

Honda EVO6
Honda EVO6 (Photo by Jerry Garrett)

TOKYO — Although most of the media focus at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show is on the three convention halls stuffed with the latest four-wheel dream machines, Tokyo is the only major auto show that also showcases motorcycles. They’re over in a pulsating big top tent officially called the North Hall, but for bikers, it should be called Fantasyland — something on the order of “Blade Runner” meets the mechanical bull scene in “Urban Cowboy.”
Besides the eyeball-assaulting light show, music loud enough to make your ears bleed and models in go-go boots and vinyl minidresses, there is a full spectrum of new rides, from futuristic to retro.
Let’s start at the Honda booth, where on one side, it’s back to the future, and on the other, Jimmy Carter is president again: the CB1100F, to me, evokes great old Hondas like the CBX, albeit with fewer exhaust pipes. Others will see what they want to see, but either way, it’s a beaut. The CB1100R (R for race) is about as ’70s as shag carpet, monaural LPs and polyester pants. Great retro themes overall though, and certainly buildable.
Muscle Bike Party: the Honda EVO6 has some really outer-galaxy styling and it’s coupled with a smart use of Honda’s underutilized six-cylinder engine from the Gold Wing. Output in this format would be more than the Gold Wing’s 118 horsepower. It looks like the styling department, however, ran out of time before they got to the rear of the bike.
The Suzukis are wild. Silent runner: the Crosscage is a fuel cell bike that really works; no gas engine at all. The powerplant is made by Intelligent Energy of the U.K., the same group that made the ENV fuel cell bike I tested — and thought was viable even if it sounded like a U.F.O., not a bike. The Biplane supposedly has a V-4, but the show bike is most likely a make-believe mockup. Looks to be straight out of a video game. When will either Suzuki be produced? Right after the 12th of Never.

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