2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Versys 650 / 650 LT
Street-oriented adventure bikes are rapidly establishing themselves as capable commuters as well as tour bikes, and Kawasaki’s Versys 650 line is no exception. The 650 and the 650 LT deliver 68 horsepower and 47 pound-feet of torque to establish them as capable competitors in the mid-range adventure market.
2017 - 2019 BMW R nineT Pure
The Bayerische Motoren Werke has been busy expanding its R nineT family, and MY2017 saw the addition of the “Pure” model. At a glance, the Pure is exactly that; a roadster-style model reduced to its absolute essential form with nothing in the way of what you might call superfluous contaminants. BMW’s Boxer-Twin provides the power with both standard and optional safety equipment that’ll help you keep it dirty-side down. The factory brushed up the aesthetics as well with two new finishes from Beemer’s Spezial division that really make the sparse sheet metal pop visually.
2017 - 2019 BMW R nineT Racer
BMW expanded its Heritage lineup for MY2017 with the R nineT “Racer” variant that it carries over right on into 2019. The Racer takes Beemer’s popular roadster and gives it a café-tastic bent that, in spite of the fact that it adds more body components, seems to accentuate the essential nature of the model. Power comes from a classic boxer engine, and of course, the factory threw on a handful of extra safety items to help you keep it all under control.
2017 - 2019 Honda CBR1000RR
Honda carries its CBR1000RR superbike, a.k.a. ’Fireblade’, into 2019 with little in the way of changes from last year. That’s hardly surprising given the scope and scale of the revisions done prior to MY17 that brought us the newest gen of Honda’s Total Control initiative with a host of electronic goodies to help keep the 189-horsepower engine (10 more ponies than the previous gen) under control. It’s Honda’s first inline four-banger to run a throttle-by-wire induction control, and the factory piled on with Riding Modes, Wheelie Control and more to make the ’Blade serve as a model flagship for the affordable-supersport sector with plenty of influence from the racing department for the ’everyrider’.
2017 - 2019 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-R6 in MY2017, 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.
2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
The Ninja ZX-14R ABS continues to serve as Kawasaki’s non-H2 Ninja flagship as we head into the 2019 model year. Essentially unchanged since this generation hit showroom floors back in ’12, the “14R” brings almost a liter and a half of four-cylinder supersport-goodness to the table along with the ride-quality and safety subsystems you’ll need to keep it under control. Make no mistake; this is a serious ride meant for experienced riders, and not another one of these racebike-looking commuters so popular with the masses right now.
2017 - 2019 BMW K 1600 GT
BMW’s K 1600 GT moved into its seventh year of production in 2017 with a fresh rebuild that the Bayerische carries right on into MY2019. A six-cylinder engine puts it in the power-tourer category in both the torque and horsepower columns for solid performance even in spite of its not-inconsiderable heft. Built for touring, it strikes a balance between storage and aesthetics for a sort of “Euro-bagger” look that compares well with Honda’s new bagger-tastic Goldwing since both leave off the top case for their fully dressed, top-shelf models. This Bavarian bruiser brings a dark-and-swanky attitude to the table with the performance to back it up.
2017 - 2019 Ducati SuperSport / SuperSport S
It was four years in the making, but Ducati finally released the revamped SuperSport family for the 2017 model year. This range brings sportbike handling and performance to the table with its race-inspired “Monster” frame and over 100 ponies on tap, but in a package meant to be less intimidating to prospective ’Ducatisti’ than some of their, shall we say, spicier models. The factory touts the new line as “versatile and accessible,” and while the base SuperSport is meant to appeal to riders who want a sportbike that’s a little light on the “sportier aspects,” the “S” model takes on some of the trappings of a proper racebike for a decidedly more sport-tastic nature
2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
The value of indoctrination is not lost on KTM, evidenced by the fact that they’ve updated and generally spruced up their entry-level unit, the 390 Duke in 2017, and those improvements carry straight over into the 2019 season. New upside-down stems float the front end along with larger, more powerful brakes to help manage the energy from the 44-horsepower engine and 328-pound dry weight. Ride-by-wire tech makes an appearance for a bit of tech you normally don’t see at this price point. Add to this a fresh new look and you have a recipe for success, or so KTM hopes. Let’s dive in and see what else the Austrian bike maker has in store for us.
2016 - 2019 Ducati XDiavel / XDiavel S
It’s safe to say that “cruiser” isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ducati, or even the third, yet here we are with the XDiavel and its slightly dressier, “S” trim package that carries the brand into uncharted waters. The “X” is meant to signify the cross and blending of the two worlds — cruiser and sport — and the end result is what the factory calls a “Techno-cruiser” due to its melding of Italian performance DNA and a more cruise-tastic rider triangle than you normally see from this brand. Powered by a 1,262 cc Testastretta engine, the XDiavel duo put the “sport” in “sport-cruiser” and opens the performance field to folks that ordinarily wouldn’t have such an option.
2018 - 2019 BMW R nineT Urban GS
BMW expanded its R nineT lineup ahead of the 2017 model year with the Urban G/S that brings old school adventure bike looks to the table along with the same modern performance as the rest of the line. Power comes from an 1,170 cc flat-twin engine that adds character and historical panache at the same time to make the “GS” something of a rolling tribute piece. Although the “GS” sports some special gear that sets it apart from the rest of the range, it’s still just a platform that can be shifted between the stock road-running setup and a more off-road friendly build for what is, essentially, two bikes in one. Rider safety is also available in varying levels, so I would argue that this ride is probably appropriate for riders that land near the bottom of the experience scale along with riders who are looking to cross between the black and the brown.
2017 - 2019 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? Let’s check it out and see.
2017 - 2019 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
Aprilia’s Dorsoduro line added to its stable for MY17 with the all-new Dorsoduro 900. This supermoto-inspired ride serves as the successor to the popular Dorsoduro 750. It brings over 95-horsepower to the table with a ride-by-wire throttle, variable power delivery, traction control and ABS to help riders cope with the extra power. Not only does this show a certain amount of model-maturity, but it promises some security and safety for those who would use it in their day-to-day riding. Officially billed as a sportbike-supermotard hybrid, the factory also refers to it as “the fun bike.”
2017 - 2019 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.
2017 - 2019 Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT
Adventure bikes are definitely a ’thing;’ they aren’t showing any sign of going away anytime soon, and Suzuki’s V-Strom is definitely one of the major players advancing the cause, as it were. A few years ago, Suzuki made the decision to drop the V-Strom 650 Adventure, and focus its energies on the base model 650 and 650XT. The result is palpable with a number of improvements made in the 2017 model year that will likely endear these rides to their fans even more. Now we have more power, plus a traction control system to help manage said power as well as some nifty aesthetic tweaks and more.
2015 - 2019 Honda Ruckus
Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. Even though it does have a 50 cc engine, no one is going to say, “Awww, isn’t that cute?” when you ride by on a Ruckus. Granted, you won’t be going very fast, so on-lookers will get a good, long look.
2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Roadster
A little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement describes the new-in-2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster, at least in appearance. Performance-wise, it’s agile with a greater lean angle than the Sportster stable is used to having. Not just a cut-down Sportster, the Roadster features a different frame and enhanced suspension along with the tried-and-true air-cooled Evolution engine.
2009 - 2019 Suzuki TU250X
2016 - 2019 Yamaha SMAX
Yamaha’s new-in-2016 SMAX scooter features a 155 cc engine, which knocks it off the usual tier-license tables, but brings us a minimal-displacement highway commuter option for the U.S. market. The unusual engine size puts the displacement just over the line making it legal to hit the interstate and second now in size to the XMAX in the Yamaha scooter stable for 2019.
2016 - 2019 Suzuki Boulevard S40
Suzuki pushes the venerable Boulevard S40 line into the 2019 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 MY19.