What’s Hot And What’s Not For Motorcyclists In 2018

Surveying the motorcycle landscape

Biltwell Gringo
Will the visorless look work for you? The Biltwell Gringo is a popular choice if you give it a shot.Biltwell

Wondering what the moto landscape holds for 2018? Here are a few picks for what’s in and what’s out for the new year. Share your own picks in the comment section.

What's Hot

Full-Face Helmets And Sunglasses: I'm told full-face helmets without visors are really cool right now. Ditching the visor for a cool pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers seems to be particularly de rigueur. Funny, because I always thought a dark visor was as cool as it gets. So, if you're gonna do it, try before you buy.

Motoped Cruzer
Get a moped shipped to your door. Motoped’s Cruzer features billet and brass accents, a too-cool-for-school Brooks saddle, wood trim, and 49cc of moped goodness.Motoped

Mopeds: Never have I felt so cool as I did as a 14-year-old riding two-up on my best friend's moped through the suburbs of Cleveland. Watch out, ladies. Regrettably, we looked like total geeks and the ladies did not need to watch out because, naturally, they didn't even notice us. At least we enjoyed ourselves and had our fill of trips to the ice cream shop that summer.

Fortunately, mopeds look less desperate these days, and in light of frustrating financial realities, their appealing affordability may seem cool, especially to a certain crowd. While age and road-riding requirements differ from state to state, today's mopeds are a decidedly cooler gateway to motorcycling than ever. Better mo' ped than less ped, as they say.

Brother Moto
Brother Moto in Atlanta is a hip place to build mechanical know-how, hang with other bikers, and drink coffee.Brother Moto

DIY Repair Shops: From San Francisco to Atlanta, DIY motorcycle repair shops and moto co-ops are popping up in old warehouses, making it easier for city dwellers to own and work on their motorcycles. DIY repair shops not only provide space and tools for riders to work on their bikes, they also tend to be staffed by mechanics who are there to help out the mechanically dubious. Getting garage space is a great first step for learning how to maintain a motorcycle and an obvious place to meet new moto friends.

AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days
Dudes on little bikes at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio. The annual festival features vintage racing around one of America’s most famous tracks, a swap meet, and campsite tomfoolery involving two wheels.Lanakila Macnaughton

Bragging Rights Racing: Racing can be a serious business, but this is the opposite of that. Rather than sitting trackside, get a few friends together and go racing on the cheap and for the pure fun of it. Racing on second-hand minibikes, mopeds, or scooters is a laugh when you're racing your buddies for bragging rights. Loser buys the beer.

Beeza brass
Beeza brass at sunset.AMA

Old-School Dirt Bikes: From ratty dual-sports ridden to and from campus, to vintage sleds restored for racing at the local MX track, old-school dirt bikes seem to be everywhere these days. Steel-tanked stunners might populate Instagram feeds, but a little Craigslist digging can uncover some cool bikes from the '80s and '90s that are even better to bomb around on. Pentons and Bultacos are hard to come by, but if you're buying to ride, a 20-year-old Honda CR500 may be more fun anyway.

What's Not

This is definitely not what we’re talking about. This beautiful CB550 is anything but half-assed.Stoney’s Photography

Half-Assed Café Racers: Maybe a decade ago, any old CB with a pair of clip-ons and a bump-stop seat seemed cool, but those days are gone. Far too many café racers are devoid of any connection to the real deal, and their riders have no idea that those were modded for performance to ape racebikes of the day. Now, the typical café racer imitates itself, and dilutes the original purpose of the mod, which can result in a sham of a bike.

There’s nothing worse than knowing a bike will ride poorly just by looking at it. “Friend, you might be struggling with handling because your KZ1000 ‘CR’ has clip-ons and the original floorboards. Maybe not the best rider triangle.”

Sometimes I just want to rescue a sad old bike to spare it the indignity of having its rear subframe chopped and its tank painted with an ace of spades. There’s nothing wrong with liking café racers. Just be an aficionado; your motorcycle deserves it.

Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso, renowned MotoGP nice guy: definitely a waver.MotoGP

The No-Wave: The fraternity of motorcyclists is small, so let's not divide ourselves along denominational lines based on cylinder arrangement or a bike's country of origin. I like to think when I wave to another motorcyclist, it's an acknowledgment of fraternity and expresses the joy of being on a motorcycle. It says, "Hey, look how much fun we're having. We're both riding motorcycles."

As my wife reminds me, I can be a snob (though I don't see her complaining when she benefits from the finer bourbons and wines I've selected), but when it comes to bikes, I'm not an elitist. Whatever you ride, good for you. That's why I wave at every biker I pass. Who cares if I'm on a Ducati and you're on a Harley? We're both on two wheels. The no-wave is kind of a middle finger to friendliness and the pleasure of riding. So, if you ignore the wave of another biker, check your rearview mirror for a literal middle finger. Is that wrong?

Zack in helmet
Always a right-brain thinker, Zack ponders if half a helmet is up to the task if he plans to crash on his right side.Brian Mclean

Riding Without A Helmet: For some, the right to ride without a helmet is up there with the right to bear arms and the right to prohibit quartering of soldiers during peacetime. While I don't want to disparage people who ride without helmets, I think it's worth considering consequences beyond the obvious.

Perceived safety concerns are one of the major detriments to growing the industry. It always has been and always will be. Changing people’s minds about motorcycles, however, may begin with changing our own attitudes toward safety.

When you see a helmetless rider, do you see freedom of choice? Most people don’t. They see needless risk. If non-riders equate that image with motorcycling in general, it’s unlikely they’ll be putting a PW50 under the Christmas tree for their kid.

It doesn’t help that the AMA has made abolishing helmet laws one of its biggest goals. It’s an initiative that may hurt the industry and doesn’t represent the majority of riders. We want motorcycling to be and appear safer for the sake of bringing in new riders.

What are your picks for what’s hot/not in 2018?