2021 Husqvarna Svartpilen125
Husqvarna expanded its burgeoning Svartpilen lineup downward with the addition of the entry-level “125” model, the smallest in the family. A 125 cc thumper drives a rugged machine that has clear urban DNA with a dual-sport bent. The lightweight and narrow-waisted 125 both enables and encourages the use of body English so you can practice and get accustomed to shifting around on a bike. For our friends in areas with tiered learner’s permits, the 125 comes “A1” compliant right off the showroom floor to make it even more accessible for younger riders.
2019 - 2021 Kawasaki Z400
Kawasaki needed to plug a hole in its super-naked lineup between the Z300 and the Z650, so it cooked up the new Z400 ABS to do the job. Aggressive Kawi styling dominates the look, but not necessarily the attitude, to make the Z400 an excellent commuter/first upgrade from whatever you cut your teeth on. The ergonomics are friendly to shorter inseams and conducive to relaxed riding, so this is a bike that should cover a range of body types. Is it right for you? Let’s find out.
2022 Kawasaki KLR 650
Kawasaki leaps ahead to its 2022 model-year lineup with a new KLR 650 family. The base model comes with a number of improvements to the engine and electronics, all wrapped up under new bodywork. Fuel injection replaces the carburetor this year to modernize the powerplant along with a new instrument panel and updated lighting that does the same for the rest of the bike. If the base model isn’t exactly as adventure-tastic as you’d like, the factory put together an “Adventure” accessory pack and a touring “Traveler” trim package for a pair of bona fide adventure bikes that are good to go right off the showroom floor.
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.
2022 Honda Grom
Honda rolls out its 2022 Grom 125 with a handful of improvements to go along with a reworked, retro-styled body. It carries a new transmission ahead of a cleaner engine in terms of emissions, and sports a larger fuel tank to extend the good times. In spite of its new look, it’s still readily recognizable as a Grom ’cause the monkey-bike charm still shines through to make that crucial connection to Honda’s own rich history and the 1963 model that started it all.
2019 - 2021 Vespa GTS Super 300 HPE
Vespa rolled out its GTS Super 300 line last year with a new high-performance engine that makes the transition directly over into the 2021 model year. Modern safety and comfort features come stock on the entire GTS family to introduce an element of electronic rider support that’ll help you keep it rubber-side down. All of this runs with the classic, large-frame Vespa style that sets Piaggio products apart from the rest of the world.
2021 BMW G 310 GS
BMW gave its all-surface G 310 GS a soft body redesign ahead of MY2021 along with a handful of drivetrain upgrades to boot. The factory offers the G 310 GS in a pair of standard paint packages, but adds a two-tone 40th anniversary paint package with historical roots all its own. Comfort and safety also saw a buff with a number of new-for-2021 features on Beemer’s littlest GS.
2021 BMW G 310 R
BMW rolls into 2021 with what it calls a soft re-imagination of its plucky little roadster, the G 310 R. Not only did BMW tuneup the looks, but the new G 310 R sports a number of tech upgrades and safety equipment to boot. The engine is a carryover from last year, even though it, too, hits the showroom floor with buffed engine-control electronics and mechanical features. New paint packages finish out the details that make their model debut in MY2021.
2017 - 2020 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 - 2020 BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS
BMW’s G 310 R roadster got a brother as it entered the 2017 model year with the addition of the adventuresome G 310 GS. The “GS” builds on the success of the “R” with a few subtle changes that shift the design toward the adventure bike end of the spectrum. Sharing the same 313 cc engine, the G 310 pair head into the low-displacement market alongside some hot competition.
2020 - 2021 Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha expands its MT lineup with an all-new-in-2020, entry-level model, the MT-03. Previously available in other markets, it joins the MT-07, -09 and -10 within Yamaha’s hyper-naked range it touts as the “Dark Side of Japan.” The MT-03 toes the family line with minimalist appointments that waste not an ounce on superfluous details. Power delivery is both smooth and predictable to reinforce its rider-friendly nature. ABS protection provides an extra safety net to help make sure you keep it rubber-side down.
2015 - 2021 Yamaha XT250
It seems like when God said “Let there be light,” Yamaha was already making the XT250. Okay, maybe not that long ago, but it has been since 1980 and I’ll bet a lot of folks reading this weren’t born yet. In 1982, Rambo rode one inFirst Blood. If it was mean enough to carry Sylvester Stallone, you know it was pretty awesome. With a wide-ratio five-speed and an air-cooled 250 cc engine, the XT250 is a proper little dual-sport machine and with a little more attention to two-up riding than you might expect in an off-road-capable bike.
2018 - 2020 Yamaha MT-07
Yamaha finally dropped its FZ family designator in 2017 in favor of the MT brand seen by most other markets and the changes aren’t limited the moniker. The MT-07 came 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.
2016 - 2021 Yamaha TW200
The Yamaha TW200, brought forward for 2021 with its scrappy little 196 cc engine, is a nice learning bike, fully street legal but with that distinctive motocross-style swale seat that says you’re going off-road. On the move, the bike has nice low-end torque and you’ll feel the front end trying to come up when you get even a little twisty. Dual sport, yes, but so much about this bike just begs to be in the dirt.
2016 - 2020 Yamaha Zuma 125
Reintroduced in 2011, Yamaha’s Zuma 125 provides a viable alternative to the old-fashioned, ’60s-style scooter prevalent from the Italian manufacturers, and those who would try to garner a slice of that market. A modern shape and revised chassis carries the four-stroke fuel-injected engine in a spiffy little scooter that — with upwards of 100+ mpg — makes a capable commuter or errand-runner.
2018 - 2020 Suzuki GSX250R
All-new in 2018, the GSX250R from [Suzuki-mot291] is set to enter the race to the bottom. Not the bottom of the stack, but the bottom of the displacement range with its 248 cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. Suzuki jumps on the go-small-or-go-home bandwagon with a sportbike carrying all the genetic markers of the Katana family, and exactly what you would expect from one of the Big Four.
2015 - 2020 Suzuki DR200S
Suzuki brings dual-sport capabilities to the entry-level sector with its DR200S. A heavy emphasis on off-road performance defines the overall look; and a 199 cc engine drives it over hill and dale, as well as down the road with all the appropriate lighting for safety and legalities. The end result is a functional, if plain, bike that provides a stable ride and moderate power with a humble overall bearing. A carry-over for the last few years, it hasn’t changed much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
Pitting the fuel-injection fans against the carburetor fans, we score a point for the latter with the DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM from Suzuki. Fuel injection hasn’t yet made an appearance in Suzuki’s dual-sport lineup, which was a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. For 2020, the DR-Z siblings haven’t yet been touched by the FI update. Sharing the same engine as the 500EXC from KTM, the DR-Zs come on a different chassis with progressive-link rear suspension. The “SM” — the SuperMoto of the family — and the “S” feature a six-liter air box with quick-release fasteners trouble-free access to the air filter and special low profile mirrors that rotate hoping to avoid damage, both are pluses when you’re playing in the dirt.