Coolest Bike of the Show

Publish Date: 
Feb 19, 2006

I don't profess to have seen every new bike, ATV or scooter that's been unveiled at Expo, but of the units I have seen, the Unison X-Ray gets my vote as the coolest product so far and something I wouldn't mind parking in my garage. In a world where Chinese bikes have a tendency to merge together, Unison has managed to break the mold and create a bike that's totally original and definitely outside the "me-too" mindset that seems to dominate Chinese design.

Unison, part of Hota Industrial Mfg.Co., went to Spain for the design. What emerged is a small, 449cc, light (264-lb. dry), single cylinder sport bike, pumping out about 50 bhp. A six-speed transmission and final chain drive deliver power to the rear wheel. The engine is fed by a fuel injection system and managed by a Magneti Marelli black box.

The X-Ray stops on a dime, using Beringer radial-mount calipers gripping dual 320 mm discs in the front, and a single 240mm rear disc in the rear. Its compact dimensions include a 55.1-inch wheelbase, 11 inches of ground clearance and a 33.5-inch seat height. The styling is somewhere between supermoto and flat tracker.

The bike in my garage that's the most fun to ride in the canyons is a '67 Triumph Daytona, 500cc of push-rod power, that on a good day probably comes out somewhere in the 30 hp range and brakes that well . . . stopping is too precise a term to apply to them, but they do slow you down at a predictable, if not urgent rate. While I love the bike dearly, I think I see its replacement on the horizon. The X-Ray definitely fits into what my concept of a canyon bike should be. It's also is techno looking enough to generate a lot of interest at the local hangout, something you can't say about the average Chinese bike.

The bike on display is a prototype — the engine in the bike is a Serco built in Italy, but in final production may become a Japanese-supplied unit of similar displacement and spec. Corporate execs are enthusiastic about the bike and say they've had a good response from dealers who've seen it. Current thought is that it will go into production this summer and probably be introduced as an '08 model.

Unison has about 100 dealers around the nation. Most of their products are EPA/CARB certified. On another note, Cycle World, has an auction of motorcycle memorabilia at their annual client dinner every year at Expo, with the proceeds going to support the Joe Parkhurst scholarship fund for children who suffer from pediatric brain tumors. This year's auction included the drive sprocket from the BUB Streamliner. Apparently after it's run, the mechanic said the rear sprocket was toast. Owner Dennis Manning saved the historic sprocket from the dustbin, thinking ahead to the Cycle World auction. Chris Carr, the pilot of the record-breaking streamliner, contributed his helmet. CW was proud to auction the World's Fastest Sprocket and Helmet?thanks Dennis and Chris.

Today's the last day of Expo — make the most of it! There's lots to see and lots of halls. Make sure you hit all of them — sometimes some of the most interesting items are in the smallest booths. Have a safe journey home and we hope to see you next year!