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Common Tread

HS/LS: Best and worst motorcycling advancements of the last 20 years

Jan 23, 2021

Imagine the average motorcycle sold in 2001. How would it stack up against the bikes of today? Such a bike may have been carbureted, or it might have featured early fuel injection. It probably had analog gauges, basic brakes, no rider aids, plus tires and suspension that pale to what’s available today.

We’ve seen enormous leaps in motorcycle technology and design over the last two decades. And just as you might love or hate the way today’s motorcycles look, changes that affect the ride polarize us the most. 

Spurgeon, Zack, and Ari host the latest episode of Highside/Lowside, where they offer their perspectives on the best and worst changes of the last 20 years. From helmet safety to TFT displays, Bluetooth to ABS, the guys duke it out over what they can’t stand or can’t ride without.

The ABS discussion is one of the hotter topics in this discussion, further complicated by the fact that ABS is more than 20 years old at this point. The first production motorcycle to offer ABS, BMW’s 1988 K100, found controversy with its Bosch ABS setup that was far more primitive than today’s commonplace systems. It’s also far heavier and bulkier, as you can see from the module above the swingarm on this K75. And as Zack points out in the episode, early ABS wasn’t nearly as refined as what’s available on most bikes today. Even the changes to motorcycling change over time.

This K75S has the optional first-gen ABS package. (Notice the cylinder with the red decals by the rear wheel.) Who else but BMW would bring this tech to market first? Photo by Mr. Choppers via WikiMedia Commons.

So which changes have revolutionized (or ruined) your ride? The HS/LS crew covers many of the biggest disruptors in this hour-plus episode.

How to listen to Highside/Lowside

As usual, the podcast version of Spurgeon and Zack's discussion is available via SpotifyApple PodcastsStitcher, and LibSyn for those with accounts.