KTM Reveals Track-Only RC 8C
There are many KTM fans out there who lament the disappearance of the RC8 superbike from KTM’s catalogue. Now, KTM has revealed the track-only RC 8C model, using a chassis based on the Moto2 chassis from 2019 and the LC8 parallel twin engine from the 890 Duke R. 140bhp and 308lbs, suspended by WP APEX PRO suspension will give sparkling performance and razor-sharp handling, reigned in by race-spec brembo brake calipers. Does it signal a return to road-legal superbikes for the Austrian firm?
2018 - 2022 Kawasaki Z900RS CAFE
Kawasaki maintains the momentum it garnered in 2018 by rolling its popular Z900RS CAFE straight over into MY2022. And, why not? It’s hard to argue with success, and the retro-tastic looks and modern performance make excellent bedfellows, especially with the Seventies-fabulous graphics as the icing on the proverbial cake. The “CAFE” falls at the southern edge of liter-bike territory, which could potentially be dangerous for a new rider, but it carries all the requisite safety equipment needed to keep it dirty-side down.
2016 - 2021 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase, and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, so it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.
2020 - 2021 BMW S 1000 RR
The Bayerische Motoren Werke led off its 2020 lineup with a new version of its race-tastic S 1000 RR. As usual for BMW, items that were optional equipment previously are now part of the standard equipment package. I’m talking about such features as all-around LED lighting, lean-sensitive ABS, and an adjustable clutch lever, just to name a few. The 999 cc powerplant shed some weight and took on the ShiftCam technology to deepen the torque well a bit and pick up a few ponies in the process. In short, Beemer’s new street-legal racebike comes to the table with more of the goods that made the previous generations such a hit.
2021 Honda CB1000R Black
Honda goes a bit beyond the cursory “Bold New Graphics” package that frequently heralds a new model-year with new bodywork and a blackout paint package on the Honda CB1000R that sets it well apart from the previous version to make it the “Black Edition.” Improved electronics join with the new looks for some under-the-hood improvements increasing its utility as a commuter, and a fun one at that. The punchy four-banger reprises its role as the beating heart with throttle-by-wire and riding modes on board to help with engine management.
2020 Triumph Street Triple R
Triumph revised its Street Triple R ahead of MY2020 with a number of improvements across the board. A more extreme nose-down look adds to its racing credentials, and it all comes powered by a new three-banger that generates 11.3-percent more oomph than the superseded model. It’s also available in a “Low” configuration that drops the seat almost two inches closer to the deck.
2021 BMW F900XR Road Test
BMW has extended the XR range with the new F900XR joining the S1000XR in the adventure-sports category. It’s an impressive bike but is there a problem lurking underneath the bodywork? The engine, built by Loncin in China, has no glaring flaws but BMW might have a problem on its hands due to buyer’s perceptions of the engine. Will it harm sales? Will the engine prove to be as bulletproof as previous BMW engine designs? Only time will tell and, if sales are harmed, that will be a pity as the F900XR has a lot going for it.
2021 Kawi Ninja ZX-10R
Kawasaki takes its Superbike racing program to the bank with its made-for-public Ninja ZX-10R platform that brings an uncommon level of performance to the streets. A newly-updated engine carries improved cooling features and exhaust components with a new bundle of ride-control and ride-safety electronics to keep it all under control. Next-gen bodywork wraps up the package with windtunnel-tested efficiency and some interesting paint choices.
2021 - 2022 Triumph Bonneville T100
Triumph tuned up its Bonneville 900 High Torque plant that powers the modern-classic T100 ahead of MY2021. The new version is both cleaner and stronger with snappier throttle responses than ever before along with a higher red line. New forks float the lighter chassis with new top-shelf Brembo brake components to make the T100 more fun to ride and safer to boot.
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
Kawasaki’s H2 Special Edition comes built around the Z-family flagship model with all of the supercharged yummygoodness of the previous version plus a handful of improvements for MY2021. New for this year, the electronic suspension control now comes with the stock equipment package and a beefed up brake system for even more stopping power. Sugomi styling remains a constant along with an electronics suite that rivals the best in the world to make this “SE” a solid competitor within the Hypersport sector specifically and among barely street-legal stoplight burners in general.
2021 Triumph Bonneville Street Twin
Triumph generally spruced up its Bonneville-powered models ahead of MY2021 with special attention paid to the Street Twin model. This year, the 900 cc twin is cleaner so it qualifies for the Euro-5 emissions rating, and the seat was padded with deeper foam for better long-distance comfort. New bodywork and detailing sets this bike apart from its forebears, but under the hood, the Street Twin carries ride-quality and safety electronics to rival that of many larger machines currently on the market.
2016 - 2021 Indian Motorcycle Scout / Scout Sixty
2021 Ducati Desert Sled
Ducati rolls into 2021 with some fresh paint for its returning Desert Sled model, and for you connoisseurs out there, a limited-edition Fasthouse variant rolls with unique coloring and an even more aggressive mien. Both come set up with an off-road bias while maintaining some street capabilities in keeping with its Scrambler roots. Power delivery remains the same with the 803 cc L-Twin powerplant that reprises its role alongside cornering ABS to help you keep the thing dirty-side down.
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.
2019 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth
The Ducati Monster can trace its heritage back to the ’93 Monster 900, and the new “Stealth” variant serves as what you might call a highly-functional tribute piece for that venerated machine. It totes the usual suite of electronic gadgets with Ducati’s Quick Shift feature added to the stock package, and it boasts 100-plus horsepower in a design that is, paradoxically, both sexy and stocky at the same time.
2019 - 2020 Triumph Street Scrambler
Triumph’s Street Scrambler made a splash when it hit the market a couple of years ago, and the factory rolled out a fresh, new generation for the 2019 model year. That’s right; the “SS” brings more yummy-goodness to the table with an updated look to go with a whole passel of improved electronic features that turn this classic into a thoroughly modern ride. It isn’t all about the visuals and hang-on gear either, the powerplant generates 18% more fun (or power, if you insist) for your riding enjoyment. Really, it would almost be easier to tell you what isn’t new, but that’s not why they feed me, so let’s dig into this new Triumph and see if we can find a suitable competitor for it.
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.
2020 - 2021 Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
Indian Motorcycle treats us to a mid-year release with its new, stripped-down Scout Bobber Sixty. Crisp and clean, the Scout Bobber Sixty rolls with the essentials plus some minimally-intrusive safety electronics, all powered by the proven, 78-horsepower “Sixty” plant. Blackout is the word of the day for the Scout Bobber Sixty as it expands the Scout lineup into the less-than-$10k territory.
2020 - 2021 Ducati Panigale V2
Ducati headed into MY2020 with a revamped, low-displacement Panigale that the factory rebranded from the Panigale 959 to the Panigale V2. It’s a mixture of old and new with new body fairings over a modified monocoque frame, upgraded suspension components, and six-axis ride-quality controls to deliver extra safety on the road. Power comes from the Superquadro V-twin plant with over 150 ponies on tap to serve as the icing on the cake.
2019 - 2021 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE+
Kawasaki beefed up its Ninja lineup ahead of MY2019 with the upgraded H2 SX SE+. Competition is fierce at the top of the liter-bike range, but Kawi has a not-so-secret weapon in its fight for street dominance in the form of a supercharger (compressor) that significantly boosts performance. The electronic suite received a buff as well with electronic suspension control bundled with new riding modes and the ability to network with your smartphone. Plus, it rocks a “self-repairing” finish that resists dings and scratches to help it keep its curb value.