2018 - 2021 Indian Scout Bobber
Indian Motorcycle has certainly called some attention to its mid-size bikes through its success on the flat track, and the Scout Bobber looks to capitalize on that by garnering some of the factory-custom business. The “Bobber” brings modern performance to the table along with the overall look of the iconic bobber style, yet fits in well with the rest of the made-for-the-US market, foreign and domestic built. An 1,133 cc plant delivers the power, and last year, the Bobber rocked improved electronics plus a USB charging port, regardless of which color you choose.
2018 Maserati GranCabrio by Pogea Racing
German tuning company Pogea Racing crafted an all-new tuning kit for the Maserati GranCabrio, and consequently, for the Gran Turismo. The dated Italian sports car from Maserati is on its last legs on the market. We can expect discontinuation as early as next year, but that did not stop Pogea Racing from creating a one of a kind tuning kit for what is, probably, one of the most beautiful designs in the history of the automobile. Based around the GranCabrio, the Pogea Racing kit includes suspension tweaks, an engine upgrade, and interior modifications. External body kit? None of that I am afraid; however, the Maserati GranCabrio and the GranTurismo are already astoundingly beautiful.
2019 - 2021 Indian Springfield
Indian Motorcycle cashes in on its deep design roots with the Springfield model that hit the market in ’16 and has been carried over into the 2021 model year with nary but a few adjustments to the color palette. Power comes from what was Indian’s largest production engine prior to 2020, along with ABS and keyless ignition on board, but it’s the classic, old-school bagger looks that drive sales of this particular unit. Best of all, it’s among the least expensive of the available baggers, and that positions it well within the boulevard-bruiser/light-tour categories.
2017 - 2020 Suzuki GSX-S1000F
Suzuki rolls its GSX-S1000F into MY2020 with a new Glass Sparkle Black colorway that is sure to turn heads, day or night. A GSX-R-based engine design delivers the goods with advanced rider-aid technology along with adjustable suspension and ABS protection to finish the package. This model makes an “all-new” return in 2020 after a hiatus last year.
2018 - 2020 Husqvarna Vitpilen 701
The Vitpilen 701 joined its diminutive 401 sibling to double the number of Black Arrows on offer last year from Husqvarna. Like its little brother, the 701 packs all of its cubeage into a single cylinder to the tune of 692.7 cc with a respectable 75 horsepower on tap and ready to go. Contemporary style and a race-tastic vibe give the 701 even more of what makes the 401 so popular, and it’s clearly targeting mature/experienced buyers while simultaneously trying to appeal to the Millennial buyers who, thus far, have largely shunned the two-wheeled lifestyle but seem to be crazy about the ’Pilen range.
Power, as they say, is nothing without control, and it is that control as well as the enjoyment derived from having it that is the criteria for this list. Having fun in a car with lots of horsepower is far easier than doing it with, say, no more than 200 ponies; engineers have their work cut out for them when making these cars fast since they don’t have the luxury of neck-snapping horsepower and acceleration as wow factor.
But such fun, low-horsepower cars do exist. The kind of cars which may not be super impressive in a straight line, but make up for that by being superbly rounded in the handling department. Where the drive from the wheels goes is also not important here, as the list posted after the jump contains cars whose power goes to the front, the rear, and to all four wheels as well.
These cars will put a smile on your face; they’ve got character, and they also allow you to drive them close to their limit and revel in the entire breadth of their performance. And, even if you exceed their limits and plant them in a ditch, the repair costs will also be noticeably lower than those associated with really serious performance machines.
2017 - 2020 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
Nobody blurs the line between scooter and ’proper’ motorcycle better than the engineers at BMW, and the C 650 range is no exception. The C 650 “Sport” and “GT” models have very few changes, but that’s not surprising given how difficult it would be to improve upon the bundle of features already built in. I mean, it’s a scooter with traction control and ABS on board, plus a relatively large and powerful engine with a sophisticated engine management system, so this is ’not’ your grandfather’s scooter. I have a great appreciation for German engineering, so I’m looking to see what all Beemer has tucked away on its not-so-little maxi-scooter.
2017 - 2020 Ducati Monster 797 / 797 Plus
Ducati added to its “Monster” family in 2017 with the accessible and relatively rider-friendly “797” version of its popular naked bike. This ride uses the same 803 cc mill that drives the full-size Scramblers, so while it isn’t a net-new engine, it is a proven one. Dual front brakes with ABS, Pirelli tires and fat Kayaba forks are but some of the features included in what looks to be the closest to an “entry level” ride that the Monster family has managed to date. I was eager to take a look at this new ride ever since it was revealed at the Milan show, and what I see so far does not disappoint. In 2018, the Monster 797+ replaced the base model with some extra goodies added in.
2018 - 2020 Suzuki GSX-S1000
Engine upgrades joined other improvements in the 2018 model year as Suzuki pushed to keep its sport-standard-sector momentum going with the GSX-S1000. The family tree branched yet again with the new-in-2018, blackout GSX-S1000Z and Suzuki dropped the “F” in favor of the “FZ” for 2019, but the “F” returns for 2020. The family now has even more of what it takes to dominate the street with a Gixxer engine in a naked bike chassis.
2018 - 2020 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.
2016 - 2019 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
The scrambler market is booming, and so far, Ducati is ahead of the curve with a full range of purpose-built Scrambler models. It added to the lineup in 2016 with its Scrambler Sixty2, a model that reflects what the factory calls modern pop culture, with a liberal dose of sixties, mid-size standard cruiser flavor blended in. Powered with a 399 cc L-twin, the Sixty2 isn’t a poser in a scrambler costume; it’s ready to rock and roll.
2018 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
After a revamp for the 2018 model year, Softail underpinnings are all radically different than the originals, but the overall classic look of the Heritage Classic remains largely unchanged for the requisite historical tie-in. Harley-Davidson put a new emphasis on the Softail lineup with plenty of performance-driven custom designs for the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there, but for someone looking for an old-school cruiser and tour bike, the Heritage Classic is your Huckleberry.