Motorcycle Styling: The Beak

Nov 16, 2014 View Comments by

Motorcycle Styling: The BeakCertain categories of motorcycles can be identified at a glance by genre-specific styling attributes. Ultra low seat heights and forward-mounted foot pegs generally won’t be found outside of the cruiser lineup, and the faux “beak” located under a bike’s headlight pegs the motorcycle as an adventure bike.

Although most associate the avian styling touch with BMW’s popular GS line of bikes, Suzuki first introduced the beak in the late 80s on a Dakar competition machine. Suzuki’s new 2014 V-Strom 1000 has joined the growing flock of adventure bikes sporting the plastic proboscis, and I was so impressed with the latest Strom offering that one now resides in my garage.

I’ve always viewed the beak as somewhat of a curiosity, and I can’t honestly say that I either like or dislike it. They don’t seem to serve any purpose other than help classify the bike, but they don’t cause any problems either, so the styling touch seems pretty benign when all is considered. I suspect that the goal is to make the bike look hawkish and aggressive as well as visually hint at a true dirt bike’s front fender perched a foot over the front tire.

In the case of my new V-Strom, I find that the beak, when coupled with the bulbous headlight lens, makes the bike look more pigeon-esque than predatory when viewed from some angles. Until the bike starts darting around park benches looking for popcorn scraps, I’ve got no problem with it, however, and will dutifully give the nosepiece an occasional coat of wax along with the gas tank.

I reserve the right to straddle the fence on this one, how does everyone else feel about Big Bird’s beak? Is it a worthy, long-lasting styling feature that is widely accepted, or a passing fad that will soon go the way of the leisure suit and peg bikes to a certain time period of manufacture?


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