Harley, Honda Target Younger Riders

Motorcycle makers are trying to reignite sales with new bikes that offer high performance and fuel efficiency.
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Motorcycle makers

Harley-Davidson

(HOG) - Get Report

,

Triumph

and

Honda

(HMC) - Get Report

are trying to reignite sales with new bikes designed for both die-hard enthusiasts and first-time buyers.

Sales of

motorcycles

fell 7.7% in 2008. While that decline is a fraction of the revenue lost by the auto industry,

motorcycle companies

are trying to win back customers with bikes that are sportier and fuel-efficient. Here are some of the most exciting motorcycles coming out.

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883:

Harley-Davidson's clientele is famously loyal, but they're also aging. The Milwaukee, Wis.-based company's average customer is 49, up from 42 five years ago. It's trying to appeal to younger generations with its new

Sportster Iron 883

.

At $7,899, the Iron 883 is the cheapest bike in Harley-Davidson's stripped-down Dark Custom series. It's designed to attract riders younger than 35, who favor sportier bikes over classic hogs. With its drag-style handlebar and front-fork gaiters, the Iron 883 targets rebels who want the rugged feel and high performance of a Harley without the flash and steep prices of its traditional bikes.

Triumph Bonneville T100:

The sleek Bonneville debuted 50 years ago and became the bike of choice for James Dean, Bob Dylan and Marlon Brando. Production of the bike ended in 1988 after U.K-based Triumph went out of business, but the company reestablished itself several years ago. To mark the bike's anniversary, the company is issuing a special edition of the

motorcycle

.

The 50th Anniversary Bonneville T100 is designed with a retro orange-and-blue color scheme similar to the 1959 model. Only 650 models of the 50th edition will be produced. They're slated to sell for 6,499 British pounds, or about $9,480.

Honda DN-01:

This

bike

was made for riders who like the ease and efficiency of a scooter, but prefer the image of a motorcycle. The DN-01 was released in Japan and Europe a year ago but is making its U.S. debut in 2009 for $14,599.

The DN-01 has the look and power of a sport bike, but offers a more comfortable upright seat and easy-to-use automatic transmission. The bike has the 17-inch wheels of a motorcycle but the low seat height of a scooter.

Ducati Desmosedici RR:

Riders craving speed should look no further than Ducati's

Desmosedici RR

. This sport bike is a replica of Ducati's GP6 MotoGP, which professional racers have been known to ride at speeds in excess of 215 miles per hour. Unlike its forerunner, the Desmosedici RR can be driven on public streets.

The price may seem steep at $72,500, but it's said to be the most powerful and technologically advanced bike ever sold to the public. Only 1,500 Demosedici RRs will be produced, and they're expected to sell fast.

Zero S:

Electric cars haven't taken off with the public, but a California start-up called Zero is staking its future on the notion that electric motorcycles will have a different fate. Zero, which released an off-road motorcycle last year, will introduce an

electric street bike

, the Zero S, this spring.

The bike has a top speed of 70 mph and is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, which allows it to travel 60 miles on a single charge. The Zero S will sell for about $10,000, but the company estimates that it will cost 1 cent per mile to operate.

Zack Anchors is a freelance writer from Portland, Maine.