2019 Honda CBR650R
Honda dropped an “F” and added an “R” to its lineup this year with its new CBR650R. The factory gave it a look that’s all its own with new fairings and a trim rear end, and it adds to the R’s race-tastic tendencies with an aggressive rider’s triangle. New Showa stems and powerful brakes add value while the souped-up engine adds compression and power to make the R a thrill to ride, along with new electronic safety features to help you keep it dirty-side down.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
Kawasaki’s Ninja lineup made a well-deserved impression on the sportbike sector, and the factory elevates its game yet again with the 2019 ZX-6R. This newest mid-size Ninja “636” carries a host of improvements that range from vanity-to-vroom with spruced-up looks, LED lighting and new instrumentation, just to name a few. The electronics were upgraded as well, and the new features stack with the incumbent power modes, traction control, and on the ABS-equipped model, Kawasaki’s own Intelligent Brake System. Them’s (sic) the high points, but there’s a lot more to know about this middle Ninja, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
2017 - 2018 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.
2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700
Yamaha’s Ténéré line expands down into the mid-range with the all-new Ténéré 700 (XTZ700). The “700” brings solid dual-sport capability to the adventure-touring range with an off-road bent that definitely favors soft terrain. Yammy’s CP2 engine delivers the goods with a transmission and chassis tuned specifically for trips off the beaten path, much more so than its bigger brothers in the Super Ténéré family. After a race to the top, this model marks a new front in the battle for market supremacy as the factory seeks to fill in under the 1,200 cc units, so let’s see where the balance between price and value lies on this newest and smallest Ténéré.
2019 Ural M70
Ural offers the M70 for the rider base who lacks the adventuresome spirit to ride on the old-school IMZ front end prevalent throughout the rest of the range. It hits all the other major Ural high points with a look that’s straight out of Germany circa 1930s-ish with the classic boxer engine, and of course, a sidecar. This ride is definitely the most modern machine Ural brings to the table, in spite of its looks and this is the last year it is offered, so let’s dive into this rolling paradox to see what else our crazy Russian buddies have going on over there.
2019 Ural CT
Ural revised its lineup ahead of MY2019 with a host of improvements to the drivetrain, and the CT is one of the units buffed to carry the marque into the 21st century. As with all of Ural’s products, the CT mounts an old-fashioned sidecar that, in turn, acts as a platform for a number of stock accessories. This is a more urban-centric of Ural’s products and not the terrain-tackling Gear Up model meant for use off the beaten path, so its best for folks who plan on staying on relatively civilized roads. It’s also the cleanest base model that Ural has to offer, so let’s check out this “entry-level” sidecar and see how it stacks up against some of the others in the three-wheeled field.
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.
2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
Kawasaki makes inroads into the naked streetfighter market with the new-in 2017 Z650. 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.
2019 Ural Gear Up
Ural Motorcycle — the Russian company built around a captured German machine from WWII — hits 2019 with some fairly major updates that bring the Gear Up into the 21st century. Most of the improvements are “under the hood” as it were, but the factory brushed up the looks and specific equipment for three submodels to make the “GU,” potentially, four rides out of one. Cross-country safety is increased with these models as they’ve been on the receiving end of a universal spare tire that will work in any of the three possible positions. This is the most thorough engine update in quite a while, so let’s check out what those clever Russians have in store for us.
Continue reading for my review of the Ural Gear Up.
2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650
Coming off an update in MY2017, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 remains a very capable sportbike as we move into 2019. The Ninja is powered by a 649 cc, water-cooled engine with all the wizardry needed to earn it a place in the iconic Ninja lineup.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650.
2019 Suzuki GSX-S750 / GSX-S750Z
Suzuki shuffled its “standard” selections ahead of MY2019 with a new powerplant based on the proven Gixxer mill. The GSX-S750 lineup includes an ABS model and a custom-flavored, “Z” blackout package that the factory hopes will cover all the bases in the mid-size naked-sport sector. Additionally, it rocks a robust electronics suite with engine-control features as well as safety-related goodies. Power and agility (read: fun) come together with Spartan looks and a modicum of comfort on these bikes, so let’s dive right into the details to see what else Suzuki has in store for us.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki GSX-S750 ABS and GSX-S750Z.
2018 - 2019 Suzuki SV650X
Suzuki expands its SV650 roadster lineup for the 2019 model year with its café-tastic SV650X ABS. The “X” sports some subtle changes to the bodywork, plus a not-so-subtle bullet fairing to make that crucial historical connection to the target era sometime back in the seventies. The suspension system was updated for the whole SV650 family across the board, and it brings a spring-preload feature to the front end that will be difficult to match at this price point and genre. Power comes from the same 645 cc twin that pushes the rest of the family with 75 ponies ready to go and a handful of electronic fandangelries to help manage them. What else has Suzuki got in store for us? Let’s dig into this tasty mid-size ride and see.
Continue reading for our review of the Suzuki SV650X.
2016 - 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
As the lightest bike in the Kawasaki cruiser lineup, the Vulcan S appeals to a variety of riders with adjustable footpegs and options for seat height and handlebar position. Carrying the same low and lean profile of the bigger Vulcan cruisers, the S stable combines Ninja-derived power and handling with the comfort and personalization capabilities of Kawasaki’s Ergo-Fit components
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S Café and Vulcan S SE.
Top 10 Scramblers of 2018
Reinforced for off-road duty, Scramblers of today hark back at the South-West California and the Mexico’s Baja scenes in the ’60s and ’70s. They were fitted with engines displacing upwards of 500cc and stripped off anything that is nonsensical to run on roads or no roads. Featured on these were off-road tires, wheels, and spokes and were given modified suspension systems and engine skid plates; a trademark indispensable in shielding the bike from rocks, stones, and the unforgiving desert terrain.
Here is our list of Scrambleresque motorcycles of 2018 that promise to churn out rugged, stripped down, vintage fun resurrected from its heyday during the 1960’s and earlier. Aiding it will be a torquey motor with high mounted exhaust pipes and knobby tires to take it on terrains otherwise not possible.
Top 10 Sports-Tourers of 2018
Call them bikes that perfectly fill the gap between thrilling sportsbike and the gigantic touring machines, sports-tourers are simply long haul motorcycles with sportbike expectations built to get the best out of that long way home. Here is our list of 2018’s top ten machines offering the same capabilities as touring bikes but without sacrificing any of the sporty performance.
They tend to be a bit lighter and corner well but aren’t the most comfortable. The riding position tends to be a bit more relaxed compared to sports machines, there’s better wind protection, much better pillion comforts, transmission with lower gearing and usually a whole quick release pannier system designed in.