2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
Kawasaki makes inroads into the naked streetfighter market with the new-in 2017 Z650 and adds some brush-up changes for 2020. Drawing from the popular Ninja line, the factory gave the Z650 that 649 cc parallel twin and put it in a new, lighter weight frame for improved handling and a exponentially greater fun factor.
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 650
Kawasaki gave its Ninja 650 supersport a facelift ahead of MY2020 with aggressive new lines. Safety and visibility were increased through LED technology, and instrumentation moves into the 21st century with a TFT display to deliver the metrics. New tires and new networking technology round out the package along with engine performance and handling that made the last generation a hit.
2015 - 2020 Honda XR650L
Honda carries its venerable XR650L line into 2020, but to be honest, it’s almost completely unchanged from the original version unleashed on the world back in 1993. Before you scoff, I would point out that sharks haven’t changed in millions of years, having evolved long ago into creatures perfectly suited to their environments, and apparently, so it is with the XR650L. The Red Riders got it right out of the gate with this one, and popular support keeps the bike on Honda’s showroom floors even after nearly a quarter-century.
2016 KTM 690 Duke / Duke R
KTM’s engineers punched out the 690 engine ahead of MY2016 and shortened the stroke for more power. They apparently did well enough that the “new” engine is, so far, a direct carryover all the way into MY2019. In spite of its dirtbike origins, the Duke family has abandoned all but the vestigial details in favor of a naked-sportbike build that brings top-shelf performance to the supersport size bracket. A modern electronics suite rounds out the “R” variant. The base 690 Duke comes without most of the suite in its stock configuration, but comes with said electronics as part of its optional “Track Pack” equipment package.
2017 - 2020 Suzuki SV650
Suzuki continued with the evolution of the SV650 line with the all-new-in-2017 SV650. Built on the success of the original SV650 that covered 1999 through 2008, and its offspring, the SFV650 “Gladius,” the new ride carries the SV DNA into a new generation. With a revamped 645 cc engine, it has more horsepower than ever before.
2019 Norton Superlight
Norton Motorcycles put together its Superlight for riders who are looking for a mid-size, street-legal ride that still qualifies as a racebike. Looking at this ride, it’s safe to say “mission accomplished.” The factory built the 650-twin engine in-house and borrowed heavily from its V4 powerplant for some real racetrack DNA to drive this aptly-named bike. Why aptly named? Mainly because the liberal use of carbon fiber and aluminum keeps the tally low at only 348 pounds (dry), so the 105-horsepower mill has less mass and inertia to deal with. I guess you could also call it the Superquick as well. Lest you doubt its racing chops, know that the factory plans on tackling the Isle of Man TT with this model, so if you’re looking for a bona fide British street racer, you need look no further.
2019 Norton Atlas Nomad
Norton’s Atlas line hit the European markets last year, and it makes it way across the pond in time for MY2019 in the U.S. market. While the Atlas pair are both built as dual-surface machines, the Nomad serves as the more street-tastic ride of the two. It rocks the same all-new and purpose-built, 650 cc powerplant in an equally-new frame with a sort-of nouveau-café vibe that is rather essential and doesn’t rely on a bloated electronics suite or expensive gadgets to make it rideable.
2019 First Look: Aprilia Concept RS 660
As a general rule, Aprilia’s sportbike line falls in the superbike displacement range, but the factory ventures into new territory with its Concept RS 660 supersport. That’s right; Piaggio’s racebike subsidiary has designed an all-new ride around an equally-new, mid-size, twin-cylinder engine. The new engine borrows from the 1,100 cc V4 that powers the Tuono V4 and RSV4 1100 Factory for both its design and its electronics to make this a very well-rounded road machine. Add some comfort-related features and you’ve got yourself a fun-bike with some real potential. Details are still a bit sparse, but here’s what we know as of now.
2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Carbon
Moto Guzzi expands its third-generation V7 family with the new-in-2018 V7 III Carbon Dark and now adds the V7 III Carbon Shine. The Carbon straddles two worlds with design aspects that hail back to the original V7s while touching on the custom culture as well for an interesting blend of the nostalgic and the new. For power, the factory stuck with “the seven-fifty from Mandello” to drive the Carbon with 44 pounds of grunt on tap with a traction-control system and ABS brakes to aid the rider in maintaining control, just the kind of stuff you want for an entry-level ride. Manageable power with a solid pedigree and good looks to boot, the V7 III Carbon, in both its Dark and Shine versions, seems to have a lot to offer for under 10 grand.
2017 - 2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Special
Moto Guzzi carries its “Special” into the next year after the introduction of the V7 III family in 2017 that brought in a new engine and all-new frame. This is the third generation of ’Guzzi’s venerable V7 line, and the Special sports DNA that goes all the way back to the V750 S3 of ’75 in a conspicuous display of its deep roots but keeps things purely modern where it counts. A new V-twin delivers ample ponies with that distinctive rumble and transverse orientation you’d expect along with a traction control feature to help you keep it under control while accelerating. ABS overwatch for safe braking makes the Special suitable for entry-level riders and fun for experienced ones.
2018 - 2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Rough
Moto Guzzi expanded its V7 III footprint off the black and onto the brown with the new-in-2018 “Rough” variant. As its cleverly-ingenious name implies, this model comes set up to have some definite scramble-tastic tendencies with street-knobbies that perform as well on soft terrain as they do on the pavement. Like the rest of the family, power comes from a 744 cc V-twin that delivers 44 pound-feet of torque for solid holeshots and plenty of hill-conquering grunt. There’s plenty of that characteristic MG style to go around as well, courtesy of the sideways engine mount and fuel tank design. Best of all, the Rough beefs up its entry-level bike claim with ABS and traction control that can be turned off for a raw ride, or enabled for maximum stability.
2017 - 2019 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 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, 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.
2018 - 2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Milano
Moto Guzzi expanded its V7 III footprint last year with a trio of new models that doubled the number of units in the range with the Milano as a sort of classic-custom tribute. The Milano bears some of the same seventies-tastic touches as the V7 III Special, but in a more understated way that clearly has no qualms about adopting modern tech, as evidenced by the cast rims instead of laced. Twin clocks and a faux tuck-and-roll saddle help the Milano visually hit the target era, but the ABS and traction control feature makes the bike perform like a modern ride. Of course, the 744 cc, 52-horsepower engine certainly helps on that front as well.
2018 Honda NC750X
Honda introduced the NC750X to the U.S. market last year in a bid to solidify its position in the adventure-commuter sector. Like its predecessor, the NC700X, the new sled is built for comfortable riding with a capacity for touring. The new engine lends it a sportier attitude with 54 horsepower on tap and a two-level torque control to help you keep it under control.
2018 - 2019 Yamaha XSR700
Part of Yamaha’s700 is based largely on the proven MT-07 platform. It is a reinterpretation of a vintage design for a modern-retro look, clearly meant to draw in the hipster/Millennial crowd, as well as those with an appreciation for classic design elements. Not all about the looks, though, the mill churns out a claimed 73.8 horsepower and 50.2 pound-feet of torque to push the 410-pound wet weight, so there’s no shortage of thrills to be had on Yamaha’s mid-size roadster.