2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro cafe’-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB1000R.
2015 - 2018 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
Triumph takes a shot at the U.S. power-cruiser market with its Rocket III Roadster. Essentially a carryover from the last several years apart from price, the Roadster still runs the largest production powerplant in the world with its now-famous, 2,294 cc triple set in a very cruise-tastic package. To call it a “roadster” is almost tongue-in-cheek considering the mass of this thing, but the “rocket” part of the name is spot-on.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Rocket II Roadster.
2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400
Kawasaki takes the next step in the struggle to find that perfect balance between displacement, performance and affordability with the new-for-2018 Ninja 400. This all-new ride delivers the aggressive styling that one expects from the Ninja family with a host of improvements over the previous generation. More power, less weight and a mature presentation should hold the new Ninja in good stead in the highly-competitive small-displacement sportbike market that serves as the main battlefield in the contest to instill some brand loyalty in the increasingly important Millennial buyer base. It appears that the Ninja 300 is going by the wayside as the factory tries to unload the 2017 300s with a discounted price tag, so it’s probably safe to say the 400 is the replacement ride; at least in the U.S. market. After a race to the bottom, it looks like Kawi has decided the sweet spot lies somewhere uphill for American riders.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 400.
2016 - 2018 Indian Springfield / Springfield Dark Horse
Though the new-in-2016 Indian Springfield is called a “bagger” by the Indian marketing folks, it is much closer to the truth to call it a tour bike. Before you start shaking your head, I would point out that big touring fairings are a relatively recent feature, and that back in the day, ’this’ is what American touring models looked like. Powered by the awesome Thunder Stroke® 111 engine, Indian worked in plenty of nostalgic touches here and there on the Springfield while it tackled the more pragmatic issues with an eye to modern performance. This ride is meant to serve as a tribute to the original Indian factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, and was joined by the Springfield Dark Horse, a black-out sinister version of itself.
Continue reading my review of the Indian Springfield.
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport
Ducati really made a splash when it reintroduced its Scrambler line back in 2014. The 800 cc model begat the 400 cc model, but the factory didn’t stop there, it also reached up into the higher displacements as well with the Scrambler 1100 series. For 2018, we have the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport that elevates the family line to a whole new level with some top-shelf suspension components and race-tastic livery meant to appeal primarily to the go-fast crowd. Much is shared with its big-bore siblings; chassis, engine and electronics, but the Sport endeavors to increase the line’s inclusivity by drawing in those fiery-eyed pegdraggers. Is it a bridge too far? That’s doubtful, because as far as I can tell, the factory has yet to hit any natural barriers to the potential of the new Scrambler line.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport.
2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Snake Eyes
Nothing brings to mind the down-and-dirty custom-bike days of the ’70s and ’80s quite like a UJM-based custom bobber, and SSR Motorsports piles on plenty of that old-school with its street-retro ’Snake Eyes’. Built for the entry-level customer, and anyone looking for a somewhat whimsical nod to the custom culture for that matter. An 18-horsepower, 249 cc thumper drives the thing — plenty for trips around town or campus, but the real story here is with the overall vibe that looks to be straight out of the garage right off the showroom floor. Join me while I take a closer look at this fun little ride that so clearly is looking to capture part of the U.S. market.
Continue reading for my review of the SSR Motorsports Snakes Eyes.
2018 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black
Triumph expands its record-setting Bonneville Bobber range this year with the new-for-2018 Bonneville Bobber Black. The “Black” builds on that success with more of the same stuff that made it a hit in the first place and some custom touches that give it more of a home-spun look right off the showroom floor. Already a thoroughly modern ride, the factory brushed it up with more tech even as it embraced even more retro-tastic features for an interesting duality of development, if you will. The Bonnie Twin mill delivers its 77 horsepower with the same characteristic ’tude we expect. What else does Trumpet have going on over there? Join me on my journey through this British wonderland and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black.
2015 - 2018 BMW S 1000 RR
BMW has always had a presence in the motorcycle racing world, in fact the word “Beemer” was coined specifically for BMW’s race bikes of old, and the factory continues its blitz into the 21st century. The S 1000 RR is already part of that history, and it is marketed as a race bike, though truth to tell, the official factory race bike gets some features you won’t see on the street, but that isn’t unusual. Moved by a 999 cc engine that delivers nearly 200 hp, the S 1000 RR is nothing to take lightly. Salient point is; this bike is very close to the official race bike, which makes sense considering that it started life as a race bike in ’09 that spilled over into production for the general public the following year.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW S 1000 RR.
2015 - 2018 Harley-Davidson SuperLow
The SuperLow line saw few changes into the 2017 model year, and carried that into 2018. Powered by the 883 cc Evolution engine, the XL 883L delivers modest performance and nimble handling. The slammed suspension puts the rider’s butt close to the ground where even the shortest inseams can feel confident and in control with both feet down flat. While this ride isn’t quite as entry level as the Street 500/750, it is the smallest of Harley-Davidson’s traditional designs and typically serves as a trainer bike for folks interested in air-cooled cruisers.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson SuperLow.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville T120 / T120 Black
Triumph carries the Bonneville name into a new generation with the Bonneville T120 and T120 “Black.” Such a classic name deserves to be treated with dignity with a certain amount of retro appeal, and the factory took extraordinary steps to keep this ride as old school as possible. The designers didn’t go too far though; a modern mill cranks out 80 ponies and over 77 pounds of grunt under a ride-by-wire throttle and traction control. A modern ride through and through, but with a very definite, and dated, curb appeal. Today I’m going to take a look at the pair to see what goodies Trumpet has in store for us, and what compromises were made in the process.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville T120 and T120 Black.
2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Royal Enfield hit the 2018 model year running with an all-new, 650 Twin engine that comes with a brand-new Interceptor wrapped around it. All new from the ground up, the Interceptor 650 has improved handling and agility that its single-cylinder predecessors just couldn’t match. It’s a hot-hot release in its homeland, but will the U.S. market receive it with as much enthusiasm?
Continue reading for my first look at the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
Harley-Davidson’s Fat Bob is one of only a few [Dyna1760] models that made the crossover into the all-new 2018 Softail lineup. Its popularity as an FXD played heavily into that decision, and it looks like the factory is doubling down on more of the same modern-custom/bobber vibe that endeared it to its fans. Heavily bobbed and blacked-out, the Fat Bob comes with a choice between the 107-inch Milwaukee-Eight and the 114-inch version along with a (relatively) sporty new suspension system, all of which gives the Fat Bob an aggressive bent that is meant to appeal to a younger generation of rider. Will it be enough? Time will tell, and with the overall decline of motorcycling, models that grab the Millennials’ attention may help prop up the MoCo until the next gen comes of age or, at least, until the pendulum swings back the other way.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki Hayabusa
It’s a Hayabusa. Is there really anything more to be said? It’s Suzuki’s Gixxer 1,340 cc monster speed machine back again for 2018. The ’Busa is one of the biggest sportbikes out there, so yeah, big and heavy; you don’t want to go slow very long. Once at speed, the bike is in its element. Stupidfast. Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of a Hayabusa.
(Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Hayabusa.}
2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX / H2 SX SE
Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 made a splash when it hit the market last year, and if you missed the window-of-opportunity to score one of the first-run models — or perhaps it was priced a tad out of your range — then I have some good news for you. Introducing the Ninja H2 SX and H2 SX “Special Edition.” Brand new for 2018, the H2 SX line presents itself as a sort of hypersport-next-door with large-ish windshield and relaxed rider’s triangle as part of the comfort-oriented features package. This new line adds a dose of “super” to the sport-touring genre with its supercharged four-banger that cranks out a generous 101 pounds o’ grunt with enough electronic fandanglery to help you tame the beast, or at least protect you from yourself somewhat. Commuter or ’really’ fast tourbike, the SX siblings cover a lot of everyday-riding ground for riders who are looking for more than run-of-the-mill performance. Is it too much? Let’s dig in and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki H2 SX and H2 SX SE.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Traffic-carving performance isn’t the first thing I think of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo is going about changing that perception with the new-from-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is, in fact, based on the current Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s most decisive push so far into the sport-standard market. A bold move to be sure, and as Harley enters territory traditionally dominated by the Asian and European manufacturers, it won’t enjoy the same name power that it does in the cruising and touring sector. With all that in mind I want to take a look at this ambitious ride today to see what’s new and how well it stacks up to its entrenched competition. I think it’s safe to take it as a given that the MoCo has its work cut out for it, to say the very least, so let’s get started.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville T100 - T100 Black
Triumph started the Bonneville legacy all the way back in 1959, and it is a name that the factory is still taking to the bank today. The newly-repowered “Bonnie” T-100 and T-100 Black boast a 900 cc mill set in what is more or less a T-120 chassis. At 59 horsepower, the T-100 plant makes for a newbie-friendly riding experience while the weight savings around the bike imparts a nimble nature that you don’t really feel with the big-brother T-120. Classic looks abound on the base model, while the “Black” takes a turn down memory lane to the heyday of garage custom standards with a large dose of blackout treatment for a more sinister look. So, not only do we have a bit of a spread on design, but we also have a balanced machine that can introduce folks to the joys of riding while remaining fun enough to keep experienced riders interested. If that sounds good to you, read on to see what else the T-100 family has to offer.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville T100 and T100 Black.
2015 - 2018 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring
Moto Guzzi presents its California 1400 Touring model as one of its ambassadors to the motorcycle world. This is not a statement to be taken lightly given the long-standing history — since 1921 — and unmistakable passion of the designers at the factory in Como, Italy. The handcrafted California possesses the same classic style and grace of previous California models, with modern, cutting-edge technology that would make the previous models positively die from envy. The factory touts this bike as the flagship of Gran Turismo, and backs it up with plenty of innovations and features that place it squarely in the luxury tour-bike category.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
Suzuki unveiled its Boulevard C50 back in 2005 after renaming its “Volusia” bike of prior model years. The C50 and C50Ts carry straight into 2018, with a mid-displacement engine to serve as Suzuki’s mid-size cruiser and weekend tour bike. Smooth acceleration and comfortable seating combine with laced wheels and classic styling to keep the C50s on the list of middleweight contenders in the two-wheeled market.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C50 and Boulevard C50T.
2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim
Harley-Davidson and the custom-bike culture have always gone hand-in-hand, and the new Softail Slim makes for a rolling tribute to both. The Slim rides on the same, newly-revamped frame as the rest of the fake-hardtail family for that unmistakeable geometry and dated look that you just can’t get from a traditional swingarm. Bobbed fenders and blackout paint tie right into the custom trends of yesteryear
quite nicely, but it’s the 107 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin and its 100-plus pounds of torque that drives the Slim past “historical-tribute” turf right into viable power-cruiser territory. Since the whole point of the original bobbers was to provide a more thrilling ride, I find this pairing of power and panache to be entirely fitting. This is a big year for the Softails as the MoCo phases out its Dyna cruisers and the ST family takes on the full weight of the cruiser market all by its onesies, and it’s interesting to see what the factory decided to hinge its mid-size hopes upon. That’s right folks; this ain’t last year’s Softail, so let’s check it out.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C90 B.O.S.S.
There can be no doubt that the American cruiser market is heating up, and Suzuki looks to capitalize on that class popularity with its Boulevard C90 Blacked-Out Special Suzuki (B.O.S.S.) model. Powered by a 1,462 cc V-twin engine, the C90 B.O.S.S. lives up to its name with black-out styling and agile handling for that sinister boulevard-bruiser look and feel. Let’s take a look at what Suzuki is doing to maintain a foothold with buyers in the U.S. cruiser market.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C90 B.O.S.S.
Yamaha has been busy shaking things up as of late. The FJ sport-tourer family went the way of the FZ lineup with a brand-new name and refurbished looks, and it will hit U.S. showrooms sometime in November as the Tracer 900 along with a slightly more tour-tastic version, the Tracer 900 GT. Fans of the FJ models — and indeed the FZ/MT-09 range — will recognize the 115-horsepower, 847 cc triple and adventuresome flavor of this new sport-touring lineup that will be replacing the FJs. The base model lands somewhere near the “sport” end of the sport-tour spectrum, but the GT model is a bit more balanced with a set of hard-side panniers that provides some secure dry storage and a host of features that long-distance riders will certainly appreciate. Join me while I take a first look at this new pair that gives us a glimpse into Yamaha’s 2019 lineup.
See my first look at the Yamaha Tracer 900 and the Tracer 900 GT.
2016 - 2018 Indian Chief Vintage
The word “vintage” gets tossed around a lot, but when a company with a history as long as Indian Motorcycles uses it, you can believe they mean it. Though the company has changed hands many times, the Chief model family, in one form or another, has been part of the Indian lineup since its inception in 1922. Indian Motorcycles, under Polaris Industries Inc., keeps that tradition alive with its 2018 Chief Vintage powered by the Thunder Stroke® 111 engine. The designers build upon 95 years of Chief tradition with this ride, and while all Indians show their historical roots in varying degrees, none is quite as overt as the aptly named ’Vintage’.
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Chief Vintage.
2017 BMW C Evolution
The Bayerische Motoren Werke introduced its original C Evolution electric scooter to the great proving ground that is the European scooter market all the way back in 2012 and it’s finally coming to the U.S. market. A boosted battery ampacity gives it the increased range needed to handle a long-distance commute, but it’s the electronics suite that really puts the C Evolution in a class of its own. Traction control, torque control and ABS all make an appearance along with the 35-horsepower motor that, according to the factory, has no problem running right up to the 80 mph governor. I had to remind myself more than once that this is still considered just a scooter though it could certainly embarrass many a low- to mid-range ride. Not just other scooters either, but proper motorcycles. Don’t believe it? Read on and I’ll make my case.
Continue reading to see my review of the BMW C Evolution.
2017 - 2018 SYM T2 250i
SYM brings affordability and practicality together in its streetbike trainer, the T2 250i. This ride represents the largest non-scooter-type model the factory makes, and the 250 cc mill is its second-largest engine currently in production thus raising the ceiling a bit for the company in the two-wheel vehicle department. Built to take on the “Big Four” for a slice of the low-displacement crotch rocket market, this ambitious little ride carries features and aesthetic touches that most riders will find familiar, but looks ain’t everything at the end of the day.
Continue reading for my review of the SYM T2 250i.
2018 Yamaha MT-10
After a fairly major update for the 2017 model year, the popular FZ-10 drops its American name and runs with the same MT-10 moniker as the rest of the world for 2018. Yamaha’s Hyper-Naked literbike sports a 998 cc plant that delivers 160.4 ponies for a brutally powerful ride. The factory tweaked its D-Mode engine mapping feature to help the rider manage said power and (hopefully) keep the power delivery synched with the rider’s skill level. Also new for 2018 is the Quick Shift System that helps you run through the gears even faster so you can get the most out of whichever mode you prefer. TC, RbW and ABS all make an appearance in the electronics suite, and the suspension comes with an array of adjustments to make this an all-around, top-shelf bike. New name, ’almost’ new bike; I give you the ’18 MT-10.
Continue reading for my look at the Yamaha MT-10.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
American riders have had a love affair with the Harley trike ever since the original Servi-Car hit the streets all the way back in 1932, and that’s a fling that Harley-Davidson is still trying to take to the bank with the 2018 Freewheeler. This newest iteration of their naked trike is a real hotrod running the all-new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine that cranks out 100-plus pound-feet of torque to push it well into the power-cruiser bracket. Last year saw some significant improvements as well as some fairly major structural differences with the tour-tastic Tri Glide Ultra, so let’s see what else Harley packed onto its stoplight-burning trike.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler.
2018 Indian Motorcycle Indian Chief
Indian Motorcycle has had a Chief in the lineup since 1922, so it makes sense for the factory to try to take some of that name recognition to the bank. Even more importantly, the new Chief has established itself as a cruiser that is worthy on its own merits with an unmistakable look and powerful 111 cubic-inch engine. Indian goes farther than most — even farther than Harley-Davidson recently — to bring high-fidelity historical design to the market, and the Chief is a good example of that. Indian has seen many false starts since the company folded in 1953, including a disastrous attempt to import and rebadge Royal Enfield’s Meteor, but it’s on an upward trajectory under the Polaris umbrella and models like the Chief prove it.
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Motorcycle Indian Chief.
Honda’s Triple-Threat Automatic Transmission Program
Auto, self-shifting hydraulic transmission. Wimpshift. Just plain “automatic.” No matter what you call them, they’re finding their way onto more and more two-wheel machines, and our friends over at Honda are definitely all about the exploration and exploitation of this resource. With a growing number of choices to chose from, riders can pick their poison in the twist-it-and-go market. Let’s see what Honda has on the table now.
Continue reading for more on Honda’s automatic transmissions.
2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT
India-based Royal Enfield has been busy expanding its footprint as of late. The newly-minted U.S. dealerships will be scampering for a piece of the action with a bike that is sure to appeal to the increasingly-important Millennial buyers— the cafe’-tastic Continental GT. Built with an unmistakeable retro flavor and powered by a 535 cc, 29.1-horsepower engine, the GT brings a relatively authentic cafe’ experience to the table. Maybe even a little too authentic in some ways, perhaps? We’ll find out. The factory established a foothold on U.S. soil just a few years ago and it has introduced its very first engine to be designed in-house, but the GT is more of a reflection of the company’s deep roots than a product of its more progressive agenda.
Continue reading for my review of the Royal Enfield Continental GT.
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
The Fat Boy has been around, at least as a concept, since 1988, but it really showed up on everyone’s radar and earned a place in American pop culture when old Arney rode one in Terminator 2. Since it’s such an iconic bike, it’s hardly surprising that it survived the Great Purge of 2017 that saw so many models eliminated from the Softail and Dyna lineups as the former absorbed the latter. The FLSTF joins the rest of the all-new-for-2018 Softail range with a completely reworked frame and a choice between the 107-inch and 114-inch Milwaukee-Eight powerplant. New design features add to the aesthetics and clearly mark these Fat Boys as members of the New Guard.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
Suzuki’s Boulevard M50 cruiser carries into 2018 with more of that custom American style that made it popular ever since it evolved from the old Intruder. Low-slung good looks join the 42-horsepower, 805 cc V-twin and faux-rigid frame for a package that’s meant to drive the imaginations of entry-level riders who might appreciate the style but be uninterested in worshiping at the Altar of Harley. Moderate power and a low seat height makes it appropriate for the young and/or inexperienced, and the lack of excessive electronic fandanglery makes it relatively easy to service and maintain, which is always a bonus for the uninitiated. Join me while I check out the rest of the details on Suzuki’s mid-size cruiser.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard M50.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 and Thruxton 1200 R.
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100
There can be little doubt that Ducati’s Scrambler line has been a success thus far, and after expanding the mid-displacement (803 cc) family downward last year with the 399 cc Sixty2, the factory decided to go the other direction with its Scrambler 1100 range. Larger, more powerful and arguably more mature, the 1100s bring to the table the same sassy style as their smaller siblings along with 86 grin-inducing ponies and an electronics suite (riding modes, TC, ABS) commensurate with its greater capabilities. In short, the Scrambler line is all growed up now and ready to swim in the deep end; or is it. Let’s investigate this new branch on the Scrambler family tree and judge for ourselves.
Continue reading for my look at the Ducati Scrambler 1100 and Scrambler 100 Special.
The Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering Kicks Off In May
GEICO Motorcycle celebrates the decennial of its Quail Motorcycle Gathering this year on May 5th at the beautiful Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California. This event is a must-see for anyone who is seriously passionate about motorcycles whether you’re into speed, custom bikes, antiques or some combination thereof. Fans of the show will likely recognize this as just one of the excellent Peninsula Hotels’ Signature Motoring Events that also includes The Quail Rally, The Quail Ride and The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering. See a pattern here? You should, ’cause these folks are all about ’vroom and zoom’ and they know how to put on a world-class motor show. Don’t believe it? Take a look at their site and get back to me. In addition to its usual fare (if you could call such machines ’usual’), the Quail Motorcycle Gathering adds three new categories this year, including one very special class.
Continue reading for more on the 2018 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.
Does Yamaha Have More Leaning Trikes On The Horizon?
The saga of the leaning backwards trikes continues into 2018. In an interesting turn of events, it seems that Yamaha has acquired some leaning front-end technology from the Norway-based Brudeli Tech Holding AS. Why so interesting, you ask? Well, let’s take a moment for some backstory for those of you who are not yet in the loop.
Continue reading for more on the patent acquisition.
2017 Yamaha SCR950
The retro war heats up as more manufacturers jump into the fray, and Yamaha finally took the plunge with its new-in-2017 SCR950 scrambler. Based on the Star Bolt, this bike runs the same proven 942 cc mill with a decidedly classic overall flavor dating back to the original scramblers of the ’60s and ’70s. I must confess that I have an affinity for scramblers, and I already know the Bolt is a heck of a bike, even if it is, shall we say, very ’flattering’ to a certain Sportster currently on the market, so it is with high expectations that I approach The Tuning Fork Company’s new foray into scrambler territory.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha SCR950.
Yamaha has come out with a boat to ease the heavy burden of surveyors that measure sediment below dams; the BREEZE10 unmanned boat. Designed to be conned by an onboard operator, by remote or left to work autonomously, the BREEZE10 carries a sophisticated sonar and electronics suite that maps the lake bed while an electric motor drives it silently across the surface. An onboard generator can replenish the ion-lithium batteries, which makes the boat a proper hybrid.
Continue reading for more information on the Yamaha BREEZE10.
2018 Can-Am Spyder RT
Can-Am, under the Bombardier Recreational Products banner, carries its premium touring trike into the 2018 model year with the Spyder RT and RT Limited models. It drops the RT-S from last year’s lineup, so it’s all up to the remaining two to cover all the long-distance bases. From what I can see so far, it looks like ’mission accomplie’ for the Canadian manufacturer. A 115-horsepower Rotax mill pushes the vehicle with room for rider, passenger and 41 gallons of storage split fore and aft. Weather protection and comfort-related features abound, and it’s plain to see that Can-Am looks to take on the two-wheeled touring ’status quo’ with the RT range. Can BRP pull out a win against traditional rides with its unusual configuration and sport-trike stigma? So far, so good; so what do you say we take a look at these two unusual creations that are creating their own niche. Market? We don’t need no stinkin’ market, we’ll make our own damn market. Right guys?
Continue reading for my review of the Can-Am Spyder RT and RT Limited.
2016 - 2017 Honda VFR1200X
Honda brought its VFR1200X — a.k.a. the ’CrossTourer’ in other markets — to the U.S. back in 2016, and it rolled as a direct carryover into the ’17 model year. Built as an adventure bike with a bias toward the blacktop, the “X” sports a powerful, 129-horsepower engine and a choice between a manual, six-speed gearbox and Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission that provides seamless automatic gear changes sans clutch or toe shifter. The factory also sought to boost its tour-ability with its proprietary Selectable Torque Control, adjustable suspension components and a robust accessories lineup that boasts all manner of gadgets meant to expand capabilities and comfort alike. Around the world, the adventure-bike market is expanding like mad, and Honda is even taking some wind out of the X’s sails with its own Africa Twin model, so today I want to see if it has what it takes to compete in this rapidly evolving and expanding market.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda VFR1200X.
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
The race to grab a slice of the burgeoning Millennial market is heating up, and Kawasaki enters the fray with its sizzlin’ hot, retro-style Z900RS. Built as a tribute of sorts to the legendary Z1 superbike, the new-for-2018 RS packs a punch that does its predecessor justice with 111 horsepower ready to go with a twist of the mechanical throttle control. Suspension components are thoroughly modern as well, and at a glance, it seems Kawi has nailed the balance between nostalgia and nouveau with this ride. Modern performance and classic design are a common marriage nowadays, and Kawi is entering this market against some well-established competition so its success is far from ensured. Today I’m going to take a look at this retro-tastic Z900 variant to see if it really holds up the family name and is a viable competitor in the new millennial/hipster market.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900RS.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster
Honestly, at first glance I was a little underwhelmed by this new-in-2016 offering from The Motor Company. I thought it was a little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement. It wasn’t until I started to familiarize myself with the bike that I realized this is the whole point of the design. Still, my disappointment persisted as I labored under the misconception that this bike was just a lightly modified version of existing Sportster models, but again I was off target since it actually uses a slightly different frame than the other Sporties, and comes with enhanced suspension as well. At this point, I abandoned all of my preconceptions and took a slightly more objective look at the Roadster, finally willing to give it an honest chance. This is what I found.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Roadster.
2018 Yamaha MT-09
Yamaha finally brought its U.S.-bound, mid-size hyper naked into line with the rest of the civilized riding world this year by renaming our FZ-09 as the MT-09. I’m sure we’ll all miss the “Fuzz,” but the “Master of Torque” is essentially the exact same bike. All the upgrades that were introduced in 2017 make the transition — traction control, ABS and improved throttle curves — along with the 115-horsepower engine that made last year’s model such a hit. When I covered the updated version, there was some question as to whether the range would live up to its potential. Well, having had around a year in which to prove itself, I’d say the 09 has acquitted itself admirably. Join me while I take a look at this ride from a fresh perspective.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha MT-09.
2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F
Back in 2012, Honda presented the CB500F to the world at the EICMA Motor Show to bolster its “standard” category for the 2013 model year. This compact streetfighter sported Honda’s then-new 471 cc in a rather naked layout with almost 50-horsepower on tap to push the 414-pound curb weight around, so it’s safe to say that it definitely punches above its weight. This is at least part of the reason for its success and market popularity, and the factory has made tweaks here and there in an attempt to keep it fresh all the way into 2018 in order to maintain that momentum. Now that the family has matured somewhat and settled into its groove if you like, I want to take a look at the range to try and divine the secrets to its success.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB500F.
2015 - 2018 Honda CBR500R
Honda started the CB500 twin line back in 1993 to plug a gap in the entry-level market and serve as a mid-size commuter bike – a mission statement that’s still valid today. You could consider the CBR500R as the supersport branch of the CB family tree, but with the same 471 cc engine as its closest kin, the CB500F and CB500X. In spite of its sporty exterior, the CBR500R seems to maintain the family tradition of entry-level and commuter service.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR500R.
2018 Yamaha MT-07
Yamaha finally saw fit to drop its FZ family designator in favor of the MT brand seen by most other markets. The changes aren’t limited the moniker; the MT-07 comes with a handful of tweaks to include better suspension and updated looks to reflect its aggressive nature. Fans of the”Fuzz” will rejoice to know that it retains its 689 cc, crossplane concept powerplant with its 50 pounds o’ grunt and steering geometry that makes the family so nimble. I understand and accept that there are some mighty smart people who decide what names/colors/whatever will sell in any given market, and I know that there are significant cultural differences involved, but I’ve never quite grasped why the MT had to be the FZ here. Looks like someone at Yamaha finally questioned it too.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha MT-07.
2017 - 2018 Suzuki SV650 ABS
Suzuki continued with the evolution of the SV650 line last year with the all-new-for-2017 SV650. Built on the success of the original SV650 that covered 1999 through 2008, and its offspring, the SFV650 “Gladius,” this new ride carries the SV DNA into a new generation. This new ride replaces the Gladius, so SFV fans, if you are looking for anything beyond a 2015 model, abandon hope. Join me while I take a look at what lessons Suzuki has learned over the last 17 years or so of working on this family.
Continue reading for my look at the Suzuki SV650.
2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports
Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure Sports makes the jump from concept to production to further expand the CRF1000L lineup. This newest model — dubbed the CRF1000L2 — brings a decidedly more rugged visage to the table along with the same 998 cc powerplant that drives its more street-centric adventure siblings. I submit to you that the importance of this model goes beyond a handful of special features and a clever name; in a way, it fulfills the promise of the capabilities implicit with the “Africa Twin” moniker. The updated engine churns out 94 ponies with street-knobbies to put the power to the pavement and an updated suspension system to keep the rough roads and trails from rattling the fillings out of your head. What else has Honda done to capitalize on the popularity of its original AT models? Plenty, not only on this specific model, but across the whole range.
Continue reading for my look at the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports.
2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
Touring bikes are big in the U.S., both literally and figuratively, and the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG looks to take our enthusiasm for touring to the bank, also literally. Beemer paid close attention to the custom culture surrounding such bikes as well as the popular factory features from the competition to come up with the K 1600 Grand America. Not only does the bike provide the look and functionality we tend to expect from our touring machines, but it pushes well into the power-tourer bracket with 160 ponies on tap. The factory wraps up the package with an enviable electronics suite that can be further improved upon with a whole host of factory options. Make no mistake; this is one high-caliber weapon of mass seduction, and it’s aimed straight at the Heartland, so let’s see if we can gauge how true Beemer’s aim is with its latest effort to score a slice of the American tour-bike market.
Continue reading for my look at the BMW K 1600 Grand America.
2014 - 2018 Honda CBR600RR
Honda’s latest generation of 600 cc, CBR supersports toes the family line with its race-winning blend of power and maneuverability all packed onto a MotoGP-inspired chassis. Much like the original CBR600RR that hit the streets back in ’03 and was built as a racebike replica, the current model features a strong engine along with a front suspension featuring Honda’s 41mm Big Piston Fork for superb handling and snappy action, plus MotoGP-inspired bodywork in a race-tested aerodynamic supersport design.
Continue reading for more my review of the Honda CBR600RR.
2016 - 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler
It is a well-known phenomenon that as people get to a certain stage in life, they crave things from their youth. Frequently, this coincides with a certain amount of disposable income to indulge in such nostalgia. Over time, entire industries have sprung from this demand, and even designers among established businesses capitalize on this market. The new-from-2016, R nineT Scrambler from the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW Motorrad) seems to fall into just this sort of category. Based on a general design popular from the ’50s all the way through the ’70s, the Scrambler embodies the form of the original scramblers, while borrowing from the 1951 Beemer R 68. The result is a ride that invokes nostalgia in those old enough to remember the originals and subsequent variants, but also appeals to a younger crowd who appreciates classic looks coupled with updated performance and more reliable technology than its antique predecessors. I say that with confidence since I fall into the latter group, and I am really digging this new-old ride, so join me for a dissection of this scrambler descendant as I try to determine how closely this apple fell to the tree.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R nineT Scrambler.
2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 RS
BMW launched its newest sport-tour model, the R 1200 RS in 2015, and the model is a carryover into the 2018 model year with some upgraded goodies last year and this year. Beemer combined the top-shelf Automatic Stability Control, optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Dynamic Traction Control and variable power-delivery modes with a rather sporty platform, both in form and performance. The 1,170 cc, twin-cylinder boxer engine delivers power numbers that would embarrass many pure sport bikes and drives the RS into the realm of high-speed, long-distance riders.
Continue reading for my review f the BMW R 1200 RS.
2018 BMW F 750 GS / F 850 GS
BMW presses on into adventure-bike territory with a new generation of F-GS models, the F 750 GS and F 850 GS. This adventuresome pair follows the same design as it predecessors with the 750 serving as a road tourer and the 850 set up for work in what you might call less-civilized areas be it fire trails, dirt roads or deserts. An all-new powerplant delivers 77 horsepower and 95 horsepower to the 750 and 850 respectively, and each enjoys other features specifically geared to its host’s purpose in life. The newly-redesigned frame and bodywork, in the words of the factory, give the range “a more dynamic and masculine design.” I’m not sure what to do with that since I tend to think of bikes like I think of boats, in the feminine, but I reckon someone at the factory decided to made the range ’identify’ as male this year. Wherever you land on the looks, form follows function on bikes like these (or at least it should) and so it’s the rest of the machine that should matter the most. Let’s dig in and check out the specialized gear and capabilities of these two all-new rides.
Continue reading for my look at the BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS.
2014 - 2018 BMW R 1200 RT
The BMW marque has long been associated with top-shelf engineering and luxury, and that reputation is justified once again with the updated-in-2014 R 1200 RT. A true sport-tourer, the RT brings 125 horsepower to the table along with an array of electronic gadets to help manage the power and provide a low-stress riding experience. As a base model, the RT stands head and shoulders above most of the competition, but the available accessories raise the bar even higher. Excited yet? I know I am. This newest iteration also received a facelift that brings the model aesthetics up to date, so even though form follows function (as it should), form was definitely not neglected. Let’s get to it and see what those crazy Bavarians are up to, and what they’ve done to bring the venerable RT up to date.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 RT.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Kawasaki entered the 2017 model year with an eye toward the small-displacement adventure-bike market, and the all-new Versys-X 300 was its weapon of choice for this new front. The “X” joined the rest of the Versys adventure-bike lineup with the characteristic family flylines atop unique features all its own. Most apparent was the 296 cc engine attractive to riders looking to enter the adventure world as well as the young adults emerging as the new generation of pragmatic buyers.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Versys X-300.
2016 - 2018 Moto Guzzi MGX-21
Moto Guzzi fans with tour-bike tastes looking for a ride to take them hither and yon on the open roads were more or less limited to the California 1400 — until 2016. After much buildup and fanfare, the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 “Flying Fortress” (FF) was finally released, and it brought long-distance touring capacity and comfort to the table with a decidedly dated look that targets fans of classic American car design from the ’60s. A big, 1,380 cc V-twin pushes the FF with torque to spare, and a highly stylized front fairing, windshield and saddlebags completes the tour-tastic package. Here in the U.S. of A., we have different ideas than the rest of the world about what makes a proper tour bike. I had to admit that I was looking forward to the release, and couldn’t wait to see how well ’Guzzi interpreted the classic American touring bagger. I wasn’t disappointed.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress.
2016 - 2018 KYMCO Super 8
The Super 8 in both the 50 cc and 150 cc models have been around for a bit, and while some folks discount KYMCO as a serious manufacturer, it’s worth a look. KYMCO maintains a prominent presence in the Grand National Cross Country Series, a grueling off-road racing circuit that hosts long courses over a variety of rugged terrains, and serves as a sort of trial-by-fire for both rider and machine. If that isn’t a testament to quality, I don’t know what is. We lost the Super 8 "R" siblings going into last year, but let’s take a look and see how well KYMCO’s race prowess transitions to the scooter sector with its 2018 Super 8 “X” model duo.
Continue reading for more information on the KYMCO Super 8.
2013 - 2018 Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT 8V
Moto Guzzi came up with its latest version of the 1200 GT back in ’11, and that design has withstood the test of time as it looks to be a direct carryover into at least the 2018 model year. The factory retains the service of the “four-valve” engine with its 100-plus horsepower and transverse V-twin layout. In keeping with its heritage, the latest Norge falls well within the sport-tour bracket with the protective features and cargo capacity the U.S. market expects of its long-distance bikes. How will it stack up against the American V-twins and the new Gold Wing? We’re going to find out, but first let’s take a deeper look at the current Norge GT.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R3
The Tuning Fork Company makes a solid effort for a slice of the entry-level sportbike market with its YZF-R3. Yamaha had its work cut out for it ’cause this all-important market is hotly contested by nearly every other streetbike manufacturer in the world and the pressure is on to get brand-loyalty instilled in the incoming riders. Engine displacement breaks the 300 cc mark with 40-plus horsepower and 20-plus pounds of torque, and at only 368 pounds wet, this is plenty of power for some cheap thrills on the road. The rest of the bike seems well put together at a glance, but today I am going to dig into the guts of the thing and see what all Yamaha has in store for us and how well it stacks up against similar models on the market right now.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R3.
2017 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R6
If you’ve ever wanted to own a bona fide racing machine but didn’t have the money or vanity to go for one of the $100K-plus literbikes on the market right now, I’ve got good news for you; Yamaha updated its mid-size [YZF->mot1937-R6 in MY17, and it can be had without selling a kidney or your firstborn. At just over the $12K mark, the R6 claims over 120 horsepower with a host of features to help riders manage the tremendous forces this thoroughbred generates. The 600 cc-ish bracket has been getting a little stale as of late between competition from the liter category and the burgeoning interest in the 300 cc bikes, so the updated version of a proven mid-size racetrack champ is exciting news indeed. I’ve been really looking forward to dissecting this blue rocket, so join me whilst I partake of what Yamaha has to offer.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R6.
2018 BMW C 400 X
BMW Motorrad turned us on to its newest mid-size scooter, the C 400 X, at the EICMA last week, and now it’s time to take a deeper look. Beemer blesses it with a 34-pony thumper that drives it up to 86 mph and turns in a 0-60 mph time of 9.5 seconds; not bad at all for a genre made up mainly of rides more appropriate for putting around campus or retirement communities. Scooters can be sources of good, economical transportation, and quite a bit of fun to boot. While for some people frightening themselves can also be a source of entertainment, the process of trying to compete with urban-artery and highway speeds can be downright terrifying on the majority of the scooters around the world. For that reason, the C 400 X looks to be a good fit for the American commuter since it seems like it can hold its own with the traffic and speeds we deal with over here.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW C 400 X.
2018 First Look: Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are in denial about your team getting completely owned by Indian Motorcycle’s flat-track racing team, the Wrecking Crew, chances are you’re aware of the recent leap from obscurity to the pinnacle of FT racing prowess under the Polaris umbrella. In honor of this recent success, and in an effort to ride the current wave of popularity and interest in this storied American brand, Indian has put together a street-legal ride fit for the masses; the Scout FTR1200 Custom. As the cleverly-ingenious name suggests, it’s based on the Scout platform, but any resemblance to the actual Scout seems to be solely in name and the general engine layout. In fact, let’s just shine on the whole Scout thing for the moment, and focus on what this bike actually is, shall we?
Continue reading for my look at the Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom.
2017 - 2018 Triumph Street Cup
Triumph expanded its Bonneville Street Twin family a bit to include the new-in-2017 Street Cup. The SC brings the cafe’-tastic vibe of the Thruxton to a smaller engine bracket with a 900 cc mill, thus opening up the club-racing world to entry-level riders and offering experienced riders the option of downsizing for convenience without giving up too much in the way of fun. Sporty and quick, this ride seems to be everything one would expect from a contemporary cafe’ racer.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Street Cup.
2018 Energica Eva EsseEsse9
EV superbike-builder Energica hit the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori in Milan this past weekend, and in addition to its existing models, the factory turned us on to its newest effort; the Eva EsseEsse9. Astute readers who are familiar with the brand will recognize the “Eva” moniker as belonging to one of the previously existing models, but this new variant goes in a slightly different temporal direction with its design. It brings 133 pound-feet of torque to the table as soon as you crack the “throttle” — or whatever we’re supposed to call the motor control — and 109 horsepower to move the all-electric ride. Naturally, that ain’t the end of the yummygoodness, so let’s check out what else Energica has done to try and further the EV cause with its latest opus.
Continue reading for my review of the Energica Eva EsseEsse9.
2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide
Not too long ago, Harley-Davidson vowed to release 100 new models over the next decade, and it seems the MoCo is working hard to keep that promise. So far, the “new” models have been variations on existing/past models or one of the new Softail models that absorbed some Dyna DNA as the successor to the FXR family was put out to pasture. Today’s feature is a combination thereof. Introducing the 2018 Sport Glide, an all-new Softail model that borrows from the past while looking to the future. The detachable panniers and mini-fairing give it some (very) light touring capabilities, but it’s the 108 pounds of grunt from the Milwaukee-Eight engine that reveals its true nature as a power cruiser. Is it enough to help revitalize flagging sales? Time will tell, but in the meanwhile let’s take a look at this latest Frankenstein creation from the mad scientists of Milwaukee.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide.
Arch Motorcycle Goes Big Time At 2017 EICMA
What do you do when you want a certain kind of motorcycle that isn’t available from any of the current manufacturers? Why, you build it or have it built, of course. That’s exactly what Keanu Reeves did about a decade ago. What do you do when the result is pure awesome-sauce? You build a company around it. What’s next? Well according to Arch Motorcycle, you head to the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori — more commonly known as the EICMA or simply the "Milan show" — to display your wares, and that’s exactly what the company did. Ambitious? Maybe so, but if I built rides like that I’d be pretty full of myself too.
Continue reading for more on Arch Motorcycle at EICMA.
2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
BMW’s R 1200 R roadster has been around since 2006, and the Motorrad looks to extend that run with a repowered and updated version for MY15 and beyond. The new “R” gets the same boxer mill as the R 1200 GS/GS Adventure/RT/RS, so it packs 100-plus ponies and 90-plus pounds of grunt into the narrow, minimally appointed roadster frame. Electronic gadgetry comes in the form of ABS and ASC, as well as variable power-delivery modes and traction control, for most of the top-shelf safety features folks tend to expect nowadays. There’s more of course, so it’s safe to say that there is much more here than meets the eye if you’ll forgive the shameless Transformers reference, so let’s dive right in and see what else the Bayerische Motoren Werke has in store for us with this newest incarnation of its popular roadster.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 R.
2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider
The blade with which Harley-Davidson streamlined its cruiser lineup cut deep and wide with an entire branch (Dyna) finding itself pruned from the family tree. That’s right, we lost the successor to the FXR family, and have only the Softail lineup for cruiser work. Though we’ve lost an iconic family (that I never cared for, I should probably add), my target for today picks up the torch from a particluar Dyna model that held a special place in the hearts of many, the Low Rider. Powered by the new-to-cruisers Milwaukee-Eight engine with a total of 110 pound-feet of torque, the new agile Softail frame brings heretofore unseen performance to the family. Good thing too, since the MoCo is pinning its hopes for success in the cruiser market on models like the new Low Rider. What else has Harley packed onto the ride? Read on to find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Low Rider.
BMW Hits A Hot Lick At 2017 EICMA
The Milan show is in full swing, and there is so much yummy-goodness to go around I can hardly decide what to check out next. OK, that’s not entirely true, because Beemer is always near the top of my list and they have a trio of new products up for grabs. Rolling out first, BMW has a new scooter, the C 400 X. Next, there’s a hot pair of adventure bikes, and then we have a new touring model in the K 1600 family so let’s go check out the ’Werke’s’ works, shall we?
Continue reading for more on BMW’s new models.
2017 - 2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer
Moto Guzzi marks the 50th anniversary of its V7 model family and its racing roots with the race-tastic, limited-run V7 III “Racer.” This third-generation model brings a distinct cafe’ racer vibe to the table along with modern comfort and performance for what the factory hopes is a bike that is “more pleasure to own and ride.” Did they succeed? Well, the jury is still out on that, but the 52-horsepower engine, fully-adjustable rear shocks and pillion pad hidden under the tail fairing certainly bode well for the Racer. ’Guzzi boosted the power this year, and it also updated the visuals and slimmed the bodywork down for more appeal. Traction control provides some contact-patch protection, but that seems to be the fanciest gadget the Racer has to offer. Join me while I dive in to ’Guzzi’s new tribute piece to see what makes it tick.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer.
Husqvarna Reveals The Pilen 701 Pair At EICMA
A while back, Husqvarna teased us with a couple of concept bikes that moves the Swedish manufacturer onto decidedly-firmer ground; the blacktop. Well, at this year’s Milan show, Husky revealed the final, production-ready version of its Vitpilen 701 streetbike and brought its concept for a 701 Svartpilen. In the Pilen 701 pair, the Vit is a bit of a cafe’ and the Svart looks like a cool little flat tracker or scrambler-esque fun bike, a big brother to the existing 401.
Continue reading for more on the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and Svartpilen 701 at Milan.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard S40
Suzuki pushes the venerable Boulevard S40 line into the 2018 model year with naught but a few extra touches to the paint. In fact, little has really changed with this ride since it came out in 1988 under the LS650 “Savage” moniker, and that honest simplicity is one of the main draws for this compact sled. Unfortunately, therein lies one of its biggest flaws as well. Air-cooled and carbureted, I imagine its low 652 cc displacement is the only reason it is able to meet emissions, and I fully expect tightening regulations to eventually strangle this line. At the very least, said laws may force it into the 21st century with fuel injection and a water jacket and radiator, but that’s speculation. Today, I’m going to delve into what we know to be true and take a look at the brushed-up S40 as it sits for MY18.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard S40.
2019 Yamaha Niken
Yamaha looks to redefine what we think of when we hear the word “trike.” We had a taste with Piaggio’s MP3 scooter that used a clever parallelogram to articulate the front end so it can lean into the turns like a two-wheeler. Now we have the all-new Niken (literally: two sword) that brings the leaning trike concept into the realm of full-size bikes. Based on the popular FZ/MT-09, the Niken LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) doubles the size (and number) of the front contact patch(es) for greater safety and traction with the proven 847 cc Crossplane Concept engine to drive the thing. With over 100 ponies on tap and its fancy front end with gobs of traction, the Niken seems set to deliver a ride that is limited only by your own skills and testicular fortitude. The Tuning Fork Company has teased us with hints and nuggets over the last year and more, and finally we get to take a good long look at this new way to build a trike. Hopefully the liars, er, lawyers will stay out of it this time.
Continue reading for my first look at the Yamaha Niken.
TJ’s Top Picks Out Of The 2017 EICMA Sneak Peek
That’s right sports fans, it’s November again and the show season is once again in full swing with the Milan show opening to the public in a few short days. Can’t contain yourself till then? Well, I got good news. The press days for this year’s show are today and tomorrow, but we got a sneak peek already from a handful of manufacturers, and the doors open to the public on Thursday, November 9th. I took a look around and found some goodies that made my top picks for things to watch as the show launches.
Continue reading for my first look at the 2017 EICMA show.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
The Electra Glide Ultra Classic serves as Harley Davidson’s entry-level model for its full-dresser lineup. Updated in 2017, it sports improved suspension while reducing the heat felt by rider and passenger for greater all-around comfort. Not only that, but the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine made its way onto this ride for greater performance than ever before with 111.4 pound-feet of torque and six-speed transmission that comes geared for highway riding at a reasonable rpm. H-D’s Infotainment system made an appearance as well, so the phrase “entry level” is obviously a relative statement. Let’s check out this updated classic to see where the balance was struck.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.
How To Keep Your Bike From Dying This Winter
Labor Day has come and gone, and for many, this will be the last hurrah before the end of the riding season. I’ve seen lots of folks put their bikes into winter storage only to find that in the spring, the first thing they need to do before they can ride is bring it to the shop because it won’t start or starts and runs poorly. I’ve seen it year after year, springtime is the busiest time in the shop. To avoid this happening to you, take my advice and follow this a short list of things that new riders will probably be unaware of, and even experienced riders willfully neglect though they should know better.
Continue reading for my list of must-do winter-storage maintenance items.
The Dust Has Settled At The 2017 TMS; What Does It Mean?
This year’s show was interesting in more than the usual, mundane ways, to say the least. First off, Yamaha than Valentino Rossi. Ambitious? You could say that. You could also say outmatched, at least for the time being. Second, the self-balancing technology exhibited in the MOTOROID is worthy of attention and put me in mind of some Nightrider stuff as it responded to commands and physical contact and all that. Then, we have some new electrics on......well, let’s just look at some of the yummy-goodness in the after-show glow.
Continue reading for my look back at TMS.
2018 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
Honda is well into its fourth decade of Gold Wing production now, and needless to say, it’s now a much different world than the one for which its most recent vintages were designed. A younger buyer is clearly in the factory’s sights with this updated version of its venerable GL line. Reduced bulk and updated looks are just the bait; the hook lies in the renewed focus on performance. Sure, the ’Wing has always cornered less like a dresser and more like something from one of the sportier categories, but the Red Riders managed to improve further on that point by shedding nearly 100 pounds off the overall weight with the same low center-of-gravity. The all-new engine comes in the typical flat-six configuration and 1,833 cc displacement with 124.6 ponies just waiting to be called upon. What else has Honda done to try to make the ’Wing something other than “my grandfather’s bike” to the younger buyers? Read on and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda Gold Wing and Honda Gold Wing Tour.
Win A Call-Of-Duty-Inspired Limited Edition Indian Scout
Ambrose Bierce once wrote; “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” To that I would add that video gaming seems to be Activision’s way of teaching the world the history of motorcycles in warfare. It certainly put significant effort into building a detailed and seemingly pretty accurate representation of the Indian Scout 741B used by American forces and their allies in both theatres of World War II, all in the name of an authentic experience and loads of ’mersion while playing the new Call Of Duty:WWII. That’s right folks, the new installation of CoD released today, and it thrusts the player into action alongside the Scout 741B that comes weathered and battleworn for that all-important suspension of disbelief.
As cool as that is, Activision/CoD takes it to a whole new level by going from screen to street with a limited-number run of 2018 Indian Scouts that come designed to mimic the WWII version as closely as the modern design will allow. While not weathered, the tribute Scout runs the same Olive Drab paint as the original, and carries all the accouterments to include leather saddlebags, a sprung leather solo seat, a bedroll, and my personal favorite, the ammo-can storage boxes mounted on the fork sliders. Sure, there are limits to what they can do with such a modern machine, but the vibe is definitely there, oh yes.
Continue reading for more on the Call of Duty Indian Scout.
2016 - 2017 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1
Arch Motorcycle’s flagship bike brings innovative design, crushing performance and artistic flair together for buyers looking for something, shall we say, a little more exclusive. Proprietary engine management components and an S&S twin-cam V-twin drive the bike with over 120 pound-feet of torque to work with, so it’s far from being just a showy curb ornament. A monster 2,032 cc engine drives this lovely beast for a bike that is as much art as it is transportation.
Continue reading for my review of the Arch Motorcycles KRGT-1.
2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special
Harley-Davidson brings its Road Glide and Road Glide Special into the 2018 model year in a much more humble manner than it did with the Softail lineup. The base-model Glide is more or less a direct carryover in everything but color selection, however the “Special” rocks a host of improvements, especially if you group blackout treatment in as an improvement. A new, more sinister look and new paint schemes across the board differentiate these rides from last year’s models, and as far as hardware improvements go we have improved suspension from Showa cushioning the ride, and the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine makes its sophomore appearance in the touring lineup having proven itself in the market last year with its 111 pound-foot output. Ripe for customization, this duo gives prospective bike builders a blank canvas to work with, and the Special’s dark touches start it well down the custom road right off the showroom floor. It looks like this is the “new normal” for H-D tourbikes, so let’s dig in and make friends with the new RG line.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Road Glide and Road Glide Special.
TJ’s Top Five Picks Out Of The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show
So after the Tokyo Motor Show opened its doors for what it called “preview day,” with the general public, I hoped you checked out the motorcycle section, specifically, the Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki displays. Much to everyone’s delight, Honda had a pair of offerings with a Gold Wing that looks like it just got back from fat camp, and an all-new cafe’-tastic standard that brings a modern interpretation of the popular, and newly repopular, cafe’ racer design. Yamaha unveiled its Niken (literally; “two swords”) that basically turns its FZ-09 into a trike. Not just any old trike either, but a Delta-config trike with dual leaning front wheels that deliver a motorcycle-like ride with twice the traction up front. Kawasaki tops it off with a new Ninja 400 that represents a new era in emissions compliance while pressing for an advantage in the fight to curry favor with the increasingly-important Millennial buyers. Excited yet? You should be. Let’s take a deeper look at these machines and you’ll see why.
Continue reading for more on my picks from the show.
Imaginative Teases With Concept Hybrid Medic-Drone-Bike
The proof is in the pudding when it comes to imagination and concept-to-reality. So many Star Wars and Star Trek gadgets and gizmos have become our reality and it all starts with one man’s vision. Today we still have these visionaries and they’re dreaming up what tomorrow’s reality will look like. How about a completely autonomous ambulance motorcycle? Strap and patient into the capsule and away he goes to get medical treatment. Far-fetched? So were unmanned drones just a few decades ago. The lesson here is dream big or go home.
Continue reading for more on the medic-drone motorcycle.
2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 / GSX-S750Z
Suzuki buffs its GSX-S750 for the 2018 model year with a new style, 110-plus horsepower plant and revamped brakes. Its darker sibling, the “Z” variant, adds ABS to the stock equipment package along with its blackout panache. Electronic fandanglery abounds with traction control and an Idle-Speed Control along with a Low-RPM Assist feature to help deliver safe, controllable power even at low speeds. How does it all stack up? Well, I’m going to take a look at these two rides today, and my perspective is that these are important models in a market-significant displacement bracket, and they have some pretty big shoes to fill. Let’s see how they measure up.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki GSX-S750 and GSX-S750Z.
Thunderbike Customs Unveils First MY18 Breakout
Thunderbike Customs of Hamminkeln, Germany, has long been a favorite among the European artists whose medium of choice is American iron, so imagine my delight when I discovered that it has released a brand-new model based on Harley-Davidson’s revamped Softail platform. Not just any Softail either, but the drag-tastic Breakout no less. My previous favorite was the “Fresh Out,” a kind of trippy paisley cruiser that was also built on the Breakout, but I’ve only just glanced at the newest effort and already I see some really cool stuff. Is it enough to win me over? That remains to be seen, so let’s dive right in and check out what those crazy Germans have been cooking up over there.
Continue reading for more on the Thunderbike custom Breakout.
MOTOBOT Versus Rossi: Who Will Win?
So, what does you do when you invent and build a motocycle-riding robot? Apparently, you challenge Valentino Rossi, one of the greatest living motorcycle racers, as it turns out. Yamaha teased the world back at the ’15 Tokyo Motor Show with its MOTOBOT autonomous bike pilot. As epic as that sounds, it’s been a journey of baby steps thus far. First, all the BOT had to do was to do 60 mph in a straight line, negotiate a slalom and learn to take some corners. The engineers have been hard at work in the interim, and while it’s unclear if the BOT has become self-aware yet (Skynet anyone?), it clearly has become self-confident with its whole “I am MOTOBOT. I was created to surpass you” monologue. Yeah, there are plenty of autonomous bikes/boats/cars/et cetera out there right now, but therein lies a major difference; while others are modifying vehicles with robotics, the MOTOBOT seeks to interface with an unmodified R1M using the same controls a human would. OK sure, the actual bike has crash bars and training wheels so it isn’t absolutely unmodified, but it’s close enough.
Continue reading for more on the MOTBOT and the MOTOBOT/Rossi race.
Kawasaki Tantalizes Us With Hints Of A Tourer With A Blower
The supercharger technology with which Kawasaki experimented in its H2 line is trickling down to some of its other genres, much to our delight. Not only have we been given to understand that the retro-tastic Z900RS will be getting a blower at some point in the foreseeable future, but now the factory has announced that it is getting ready to reveal a supercharged sport-tour model at the upcoming Milan show next month. A supercharger on a tourbike? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. While it is true that superchargers can boost top-end performance, they can also prop up fuel economy while helping a potentially heavy touring bike come out of the hole and accelerate out of corners as we expect to be the case with this mysterious new ride.
Continue reading for more on the new Kawasaki tourer.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The Kawasaki Ninja is one of the most recognized models in the world, right up there with the likes of Honda’s CBR and Suzuki’s GSX-R families. The 2018 650 models can trace their roots back to the original 650R that rolled out 12 years ago. In order to stay competitive in this market; there necessarily have been a number of changes through the years, and the ’17 models benefited from a number of updates and revisions. The ’17 MY lineup saw the new-and-improved Ninja 650 in both the ABS and non-ABS versions as well as the black and green, Kawasaki Racing Team livery. A very capable sportbike, the Ninja is powered by a 649 cc, water-cooled engine and all the wizardry needed to earn it a place in the iconic Ninja lineup.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
I’m not sure exactly at what point we can call a bike a “new model,” but I suppose if it has the same frame and engine as the previous year then it isn’t really ’new’-new. Such is the case with the Ninja 1000 ABS that saw an extensive rework in 2017 and carries over straight into the 2018 model year. The electronics suite is indeed sweet with Bosch’s Inertial Measurement Unit on board along with Kawasaki’s Cornering Management Function, Traction Control and ABS. Long-distance capabilities got a boost as well with better ergos, a lower saddle and a larger zone of protection due to the revamped fairing and windshield design. The delightfulness continues into the instrumentation with a new LCD screen display in an equally-new instrument panel. All this comes bundled with the proven 1,043 cc, 81.7 pound-foot engine to propel the Ninja 1000 into what Kawi hopes is a hybrid sport-touring niche that is a bit sportier than its tour-tastic Concours line, and more tour-capable than its other straight-up sportbikes and supersports.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z900
Kawasaki steps up its bid to grab a slice of the growing naked-bike market with the Z900 ABS. As demand for the genre increased, so have expectations of performance along with polished looks. Kawi built this ride to replace both the Z800 and Z1000 moving forward into the 2017 model year, so buyers should expect to find plenty of both of those qualities. Aside from the 948 cc engine, what did the factory throw on this all-new bike to make it competitive in a minimalist, sportster/roadster market? How will it compare to the other “Big-Four” naked 750s? Let’s check it out and see.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900.
2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
With the Softail Deluxe, Harley-Davidson brings a strong dose of nostalgia and antique design to a market that is rapidly shifting to cater to the youngest buyer demographic, who much to their credit, seem to have more of an appreciation for the craftsmanship of bygone eras than did the Gen Xers. With it comes H-D’s newest Big-Twin powerplant — the 107-inch Milwaukee-Eight — and its 109 pound-feet of stump-pulling torque that turns in a stronger top-gear roll-on than any previous engine family with the same 45-degree V-Twin while keeping the charm and engine lope that even the oldest fans of the brand would recognize. ABS, security and oodles of laid-back, classic vibes are included in the standard equipment package, so this is truly a melding of two technologically-distinct eras.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight
Stripped-down Sportsters have progressed beyond the days of the “$4,995 Sporty,” into what has become a blank canvas for designers at Harley-Davidson. Each new model seems to gravitate toward a specific design edict be it historical, custom or some combination thereof. The Sportster Forty-Eight is no exception as it reaches back to the 1970s-and-beyond for inspiration. The 1200 cc Evo engine comes blacked out with chrome blings, fed by a ’peanut tank’ that appeared on Sporty’s throughout its history. Low, low seat height and Dark Custom attitude give the Forty-Eight that low-slung, lean, mean look.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.
2014 - 2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 / 1200 S
Ducati’s multi-use Multistrada 1200/1200 S continues the family’s Jack-of-All tradition with a host of features both electronic and mechanical to further its adventuresome pursuits. Traction control, rider modes and ABS come bundled with the standard equipment package, but in truth are actually the more mundane of the available gadgetry. The Ducati Wheelie Control and the inertial-measurement device that feeds data to the lean-angle sensitive Bosch ABS are the stars of that show, but Duc packed even more onto its proven chassis to carry it through the ’17 model year. A Testastretta mill with Ducati’s Variable Timing provides up to 125 horsepower with plenty of bottom end to help you come out of the hole for that all-important lead position on the pack of cars clogging the road behind you.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 and 1200 S.
2018 Honda CRF450R
Back in ’17, Honda rebuilt the CRF450R pretty much from the ground up, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of new stuff and expected to see a straight-up carryover. Boy, was I mistaken. A new, lightweight lithium-ion battery drops enough weight that the factory decided to keep the electric leg and rely on it alone, having offered push-button start as an option last year as a market test. May as well, most of the other big-name MX producers have already done so and it will be expected from now on. Besides, it only adds five pounds to the bike, and that’s only likely to get lighter on subsequent models. Updated suspension settings and a lower center-of-gravity deliver a superior ride as compared to the ’17 model. Plus, tweaks to the engine result in quicker holeshots to help you establish and maintain your lead right out of the gate. All-in-all, a more capable machine meant for competition on the MX course, at least according to the factory prose. Let’s take a look for ourselves, shall we?
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CRF450R.
TJ’s Top Five Bike Picks for the Zombie Apocalypse
No matter where you fall on zombie fandom, there can be no doubt that apocalypse prepping has become a “thing,” to the point that even the U.S. Army has held World War Zed-themed exercises. Even if said apocalypse is unlikely to ever happen, there are plenty of other scenarios such as SHTF/WROL, natural disasters, et cetera, that can bring about the same sorts of problems and needs. I have a particularly morbid fascination with such scenarios.
Having been at ground-zero for Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath, I have seen firsthand just exactly how fast civil behavior goes out the window when people get hungry, thirsty or have need of ice to preserve food, medicine, baby formula and the like. Times like those, you may feel the need to separate yourself away from the slavering mob and live an existence apart. It will take a special type of vehicle to serve such a lifestyle, and I have picked out a handful of rides that I think would serve famously.
Continue reading for my zombie apocalypse bike picks.
2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster
Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber was a calculated risk that paid off big-time. Springboarding off that success, the factory doubled down with a blackout/custom version of the popular Bobber, and it added to the lineup with the all-new Bonneville Speedmaster. The Speedmaster still serves as the custom-cruiser of the Bonnevilles, but it drops the old swingarm frame in favor of the faux-hardtail Bobber bones. Riding modes, ABS, traction control, cruise control and two-up seating join the 1,200 cc Bonnie engine to make the Speedmaster a much more capable machine for longer trips and interstate work. Yeah, let’s face it shall we? The Bobber is a great little barhopper, but little else, and this new setup expands the lineup into more practical territory.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster.
2016 - 2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XR
It’s really tough to make an adventure bike that will truly do it all and the folks down at Triumph Motorcycles don’t even waste any time trying. While Triumph has the dirt-tastic XC sibling to cover the off-road work, the streetwise Tiger Explorer XR comes set up for more urban/civilized adventures with adjustable WP suspension components and Brembo brakes with ABS protection. A 1,215 cc three-banger mill drives it all with 139 horsepower on tap, enough to push it well into power-tourer territory. There are a number of variants built on the base XR, all of which come with more top-shelf bits, but don’t be fooled into thinking the base model is all that lacking in any department ’cause it seems to have everything one needs to go traipsing hither and yon.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Tiger Explorer XR.
2018 Yamaha WR250F
Yamaha hits the trails with the new-and-improved WR250F. Touted as competition-ready right out of the box, the MY18 ’Wide Ratio’ brings a newly-reworked engine in a new frame with other delightful nuggets like the advanced suspension and optional engine-tuning app that uses your smartphone as an interface for quick and easy ignition/injection mapping. Titanium poppets and electronic fuel injection add even more yummy-goodness to the mix as part of the standard equipment package. Will it be enough for the current market? We’ll see soon enough, but meanwhile we can dissect the thing to see what all makes it tick.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha WR250F.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
"Supernaked.” No, it’s not a state of undress or a new movie starring Ron Jeremy. It’s Kawasaki’s description of its the mid-size streetfighter introduced last year, made to compete against rides such as the FZ-07 from Yamaha and Suzuki’s SV650 for a slice of the stripped-down pie. Much of the Z650 is new, but there are also plenty of carryover details that show some continuity of evolution alongside the Ninja lineup, specifically the Ninja 650. To some, the differences may seem a bit subtle, but naked streetfighters draw a different type of buyer than do the fully faired, race-style superbikes, and said subtleties make all the difference in the world to those kinds of buyers. This is an area where Kawi has been conspicuously absent, and the release of this ride signals a move by the factory into previously uncharted waters against established makes and models, so let’s see what all makes the Z650 tick and how it stacks up against the current market.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z650 ABS.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
When the folks at Harley-Davidson introduced the K-model (direct ancestor of the XL, or Sportster line) back in 1952, I doubt they could have known they were birthing a genre that would still be thriving over half a century later. Yet, here we are with a 2018 Sporty that pays tribute not so much to the factory, but to the custom touches added by owners over the ages. The factory stayed faithful to at least one important aspect – performance. While XL models have never been known as ’fast’ bikes, they certainly have a well-deserved reputation as ’quick’ bikes. Nothing in the Harley world comes out of the hole like a Sporty, or handles the corners like one, and the Iron 883 maintains that tradition with aplomb. Bikes like this show how the XL line has not only survived, but also thrived in the entry-level and sport-minded American markets.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883.
2018 Yamaha YZ450F
Yamaha’s once-popular YZ450F has been slipping in the polls of late, a situation the factory seems bound to rectify with this newest version that should propel it back into the top tier in the motocross world along with Honda, KTM, and Husqvarna. The 2018 YZ450F sports updated looks to go with its updated features such as the new engine, wireless engine tuning and improved suspension just to name a few. A teeny-tiny battery and lightweight starter system eliminates the old kicker (and the peasants rejoice!) with a new push-button cold-start feature that helps with starts and warmups. For all intents and purposes, this should be considered an all-new machine, so let’s check out what Yammy has going on over there and see how it stacks up against the other big boys.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZ450F.