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2018 Fiat 500

2018 Fiat 500

The little Italian hatch gets mild updates for 2018

One of Fiat’s most iconic nameplates, the 500 was originally introduced in 1957 and kept in production for almost two decades, until 1975. The nameplate was revived in 2007 as a neo-retro design based on the first mini car. It was Fiat’s answer to the modern Volkswagen Beetle and Mini Cooper, introduced in 1997 and 2000, respectively. The new 500 was received with great enthusiasm, and the addition of convertible and Abarth models made it that much more popular. However, unlike the Mini Cooper, the 500 soldiered on unchanged for years, with its first update launched in 2015. Three years have passed, and Fiat is again updating the small hatchback.

Unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show alongside the rest of Fiat’s North American lineup, the update is far from spectacular, but it does add a few new features to the 500’s cute exterior. The interior carries over unchanged, which is somewhat disappointing, but the drivetrain department has a new engine to brag about. It’s not as new as it is rehashed from an old model, but it’s significantly more powerful than the outgoing unit. More about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 500.

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2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

The New Big Small-Displacement Ninja

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.

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2014 - 2018 Piaggio Fly 50 / Fly 150

2014 - 2018 Piaggio Fly 50 / Fly 150

Economical Small-Displacement Transportation

On the campus, in the gated community or in an urban area, it’s hard to go wrong with a small-displacement scooter for running errands or generally getting around. Piaggio is happy to accommodate you with its Fly duo. On 12-inch wheels with all the usual storage a scooter can boast, the Fly 50 and Fly 150 carry a petite 1.8-ish gallon fuel tank; but with 100+ mpg in fuel economy, that little tank takes you far.

Continue reading for my review of the Piaggio Fly 50 and Fly 150.

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2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Snake Eyes

2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Snake Eyes

An Old-School Bobber On a Budget

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.

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2015 - 2018 Harley-Davidson SuperLow

2015 - 2018 Harley-Davidson SuperLow

Unintimidating For New Folks, Yet Fun For Experienced Riders

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.

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If The US-Spec Fiat 500 Received an Updated Styling, Why Does it Still Look the Same?

If The US-Spec Fiat 500 Received an Updated Styling, Why Does it Still Look the Same?

I guess new fog lamps count as "upgrades" now?

The updated Fiat 500 has been revealed at the Chicago Auto Show, and as far as revelations go, it didn’t really reveal anything of importance other than the hatch getting a standard 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. The new 500 also received what Fiat described as a “sportier appearance.” That would’ve been great, except that, by and large, the 500 still looks the same.

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The Chicago-Bound Fiat 500 Is Really Old, Including the "New" Turbo Engine

The Chicago-Bound Fiat 500 Is Really Old, Including the "New" Turbo Engine

Get a Mini Cooper instead!

The Fiat 500 may have received a turbocharged engine at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, but it’s not something you should get excited about. The force-fed 1.4-liter four-cylinder is actually at least five years old and its introduction is more of a return to the market. The engine was first offered in the 500 Turbo model in North America in 2013 and remained into production until 2016. It was rated at 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, only two pound-feet short of the "new" engine. A similar unit, but with the full 152 pound-feet, was previously offered on Euro-spec Abarth models.

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2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Harley’s Hot Little Urban Commuter

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.

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2018 Wolf Jet Classic II

2018 Wolf Jet Classic II

An Alternative To The Ubiquitous Italian And Asian Styles

Wolf Brand Scooters brings its Jet Classic II forward into the 2018 model year as the big brother to the 50 cc Wolf Jet Classic. It sports the same retro-tastic look as its smaller-displacement sibling, but packs away a 150 cc plant that drives it to speeds up to 56 mph. Unique looks and generous chrome touches give the Jet II an attitude that you just don’t see very often on rides of the scooter persuasion, but one that I find appealing all the same. Let’s take a look at this little import and see how it stacks up against the competition.

See my review of the Wolf Jet Classic II.

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2017 - 2018 SYM T2 250i

2017 - 2018 SYM T2 250i

Entry-Level or Commuter, It’s A Snappy Ride

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.

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2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150

2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150

The Budget-Minded Classic UJM

We usually think of the Sanyang Motor Co., Ltd — better known to us as SYM — as a scooter company, so when looking at their little Wolf Classic 150, I expected ...well, I expected less than what I saw. Unlike the Wolf 125 and 250 released in Asian markets that had a definite sport-bike look, the Wolf Classic has a UJM styling reminiscent of the imports back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Does it look like the old Hondas? It should. SYM made the Honda 125s for a few decades back so they are well acquainted with the style.

Continue reading for my review of the SYM Wolf Classic 150.

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2017 - 2018 Lance Havana Classic

2017 - 2018 Lance Havana Classic

The Epitome Of The Retro-Styled Scooter

When it comes to building a retro-looking scooter, it’s hard to beat the classic Italian design, a fact not lost on Lance evidenced by its Havana Classic scooter family. The range covers the 50 cc, 125 cc, and the new-in-2017 200 cc brackets, which is a huge footprint in terms of price ranges and possible uses. There’s everything here from a campus runabout to a highway-capable commuter if you have the nerves for it, and all of it bears that timeless design that seems to have reached perfection in, oh, about 1959. I always love rides with this look and this little import sports plenty of that retro vibe that seems to appeal to the hipster crowd especially.

Continue reading for my review of the Lance Havana Classic 50, 125, and 200i.

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2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT

2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT

Styling Straight Out Of The Sixties

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.

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2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50

A Muscle-Bike Look With A Tame Attitude

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.

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2017 Yamaha SCR950

2017 Yamaha SCR950

An Authentic Scrambler In The Purist Sense

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.

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