When you add a Gran Turismo suffix to the name of a bike, it had better be more than just a streetbike with a set of bags, and it seems that KTM agrees. The new-in-2016 Super Duke GT sports the same 1,290 cc, 173-horsepower plant and much the same chassis as the rest of the family, but the factory boosted the tourability with a set of hard-side panniers and cruise control to go along with a host of comfort- and safety-related features, to include ABS, traction control and more. Best of all, the engineers managed to retain much of the sporty attitude and ability associated with the range to produce a true sport-tourer, so without further ado, let’s check out the details.
Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
The Electra Glide Ultra Classic serves as Harley Davidson’s entry-level model for its full-dresser lineup. Updated for 2017, it sports improved suspension while reducing the heat felt by rider and passenger for greater all-around comfort. Not only that, but the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine makes its way onto this ride for greater performance than ever before with 111.4 pound-feet of torque and six-speed transmission that comes geared for highway riding at a reasonable rpm. H-D’s Infotainment system makes an appearance as well, so the phrase “entry level” is obviously a relative statement. Let’s check out this updated classic to see where the balance was struck.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.
Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations department puts together what one could call showroom-custom bikes that include many of the features that buyers commonly add on post-sale and borrows much of the Infotainment system used on the big touring models. For 2017, this hot-rod bagger features a new-and-improved suspension system to the table with the all-new, 114 cubic-inch, Milwaukee-Eight engine. Power output falls well above the 100 pound-foot mark — not surprising with a CVO machine — so it falls into the power-cruiser/stoplight-burner category. Performance, good looks and barrels of that Harley mystique push the CVO Street Glide over the top in my book, so join me while I check out the details of this vanity-stoking sled.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.
Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
Harley-Davidson’s three-wheeled Tri Glide Ultra moves into the 2017 model year with a handful of improvements and a brand-spanking new engine. The factory powers it with its powerful and all-new, Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine that cranks out over 100 pounds o’ grunt to place it well into the power-cruiser category, even though H-D markets it as a tour bike. Exhaust components rerouting addresses heat problems from prior model-years, and the King of Paint adds a couple of new, two-tone paint schemes to the palette. Harley’s target market for this beast mainly consists of persons who are unwilling or unable to manage one of their admittedly top-heavy, two-wheeled tourers for one reason or another, and I’ve always considered it to be a very laudable thing to try and make sure that anyone who wants bugs in their teeth can have it.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra.
Yamaha Star Venture
Yamaha took a little hiatus from the full-dresser market to the tune of almost a half-decade, but the Tuning Fork Company has broken its fast with the release of the all-new Star Venture. This ride clearly comes geared to take on Harley-Davidson’s touring line in general, and the Road Glide Ultra specifically. Ambitious? You betcha, but Yamaha did its homework and put together a machine that brings torquey, big-inch, V-twin yummy goodness to the U.S. market in a rather tour-tastic package that boasts over 35 gallons of dry storage across the two hard bags and trunk box on the base model with additional storage available as part of the “Transcontinental Option Package.” The very name speaks volumes. Yammy even threw on an infotainment system to bring it into line with the other top touring models, but I want to see what else the factory has done to back it up.
Continue reading for my look at the Yamaha Star Venture.
2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide - Street Glide Special
Harley-Davidson updates its popular Street Glide family for MY17 with a few much-needed tweaks that make it as suitable for the superslab as it is for the boulevard. The earlier generation suffered from lack of power, uninspired suspension and a definite heat-to-rider transfer problem to boot. Harley addressed these problems to make the Street Glide into the bike it always should have been. Dual Bending Valve Forks and rear emulsion shocks take care of the suspension problems, while the Milwaukee-Eight engine brings 6.7 additional pounds of torque to help it push that front fairing into the wind comfortably at highway speeds and above. Adjustments made to manage the heat problem results in a whole new animal in the bagger stable. So, let’s check out the new models and try to act like we’re seeing the family for the first time, because in a way we are.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide and Street Glide Special.
In spite of recent gains by long-time rival Indian Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson remains the king of the American-style bagger/tourbikes. The brand and genre are inextricably linked with the American landscape, and the new Ultra Limited and Ultra Limited Low are perfect examples of why that is still true. This year sees the all-new, 107-inch, Milwaukee-Eight engine with nearly 114 pounds o’ grunt on tap along with improved suspension components and other, comfort-related improvements over the MY16 units. Naturally, this is in addition to all the tour-tastic yummy-goodness that made the Ultra Limited such a touring staple in the first place. Today I’m going to take a look at this pair to see what else is new and exciting, then we are going to see how it measures up against the Indian Roadmaster that I reckon will be its most direct competitor.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited and Ultra Limited Low.
Indian Expands Color Palette for Chieftain Limited
Indian Motorcycle introduced four beautiful new colorways for the Chieftain Limited, Indian’s hottest selling bagger ever in its history. Originally debuted in basic Thunder Black, the Chieftain Limited sees the addition of Silver Smoke, White Smoke, Star Silver over Thunder Black and Wildfire Red over Thunder Black for the 2017 lineup and should hit the dealers in the middle of June.
Continue reading for more on the Chieftain Limited announcement.
2017 Indian Chieftain Limited & Chieftain Elite
Indian Motorcycle, under the Polaris Industries umbrella, has been pushing hard to increase its footprint since its relaunch in 2013. The demise of Victory Motorcycles (also owned by Polaris) should lend new impetus to this effort as resources are freed up, but the dynamic duo I want to look at today began life long before this shakeup. I’m talking about the two new additions to the Chieftain lineup; the “Limited” and the “Elite.” Indian took its boulevard bruiser “Chieftain” and steered it even further toward the customized end of the spectrum with a number of aesthetic changes that change the attitude significantly. This is an important move for the factory as it expands its range of top-end rides to square off with its long-time foe Harley-Davidson. Let’s see how it all pans out, shall we?
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Chieftain Limited and Chieftain Elite.
The Vulcan 1700 series from Kawasaki launched in 2009 replacing the the existing 1600 series and carries forward the Vulcan family that started in 1984. The Vaquero and the Voyager — a bagger and full dresser, respectively — both come with ABS and, as the name suggests, the 1700 cc engine in the V-twin configuration with liquid cooling and a six-speed transmission. Ready for a cruise around town or hitting the open road, the Vulcan 1700s are well fitted and all-around solid.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero and Vulcan 1700 Voyager.
2015 - 2017 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally
Aprilia serves as the large-displacement sportbike/race branch for Piaggio, and as such, put out a lot in the way of supermoto and stoplight-burner bikes. The subject for today is not one of those, but rather an on-/off-road bike that carries that unmistakable Italian style with a veritable alphabet soup of fancy electronic subsystems. Aptly named the Caponord 1200 Rally, this ride straddles the line between race-tastic ability and real-world practicality with an eye to long-distance comfort. A 1200 cc mill pushes the thing with ride-by-wire throttle control, variable rider modes and cruise control, plus dynamic suspension and traction control to boot. As one of the few non-crotchrocket bikes made by the company, the Rally stands out as something of an anomaly, but I see no sign that Aprilia is in over its head with this design. Don’t believe it? Join me for my walk-through and I’ll show you what I mean.
Continue reading for my review of the Aprilia Caponord Rally.
2018 BMW K 1600 B
Beemer brings its six-banger expertise and sense for the luxurious together in the K 1600 GT. It packs a whopping 160 horsepower onto a sled that benefits from dynamic suspension and ABS to name but a few of the comfort- and safety-oriented features. This highly-anticipated machine has been widely touted by the factory as having been built specifically for touring American roads, and as we all know, touring here means something entirely different than it does in Europe. Today I want to put this new Beemer head-to-head with another major import that is already entrenched in the battle for a slice of the non-American American tourbikes — the Gold Wing F6B from Honda. How will they stack up once the smoke has cleared?
Continue reading for my look at the BMW K 1600 B.
Benelli TRK 502 Finally Sees The Light Of Day
Way back in 2015, the Milan show hosted the Benelli TRK 502 for our first peek at the all-new ride, and it has finally gone into production for public consumption. Critics of the ride call it a ripoff of the Ducati Multistrada, but to be fair, the adventure-bike genre is fairly well established, and most of the bikes in that family fall within three distinct styles. In that, the TRK is no more a copycat than everyone else with a dog in that fight. It sports a dramatic bird’s beak fairing with the typical windshield, but little else beyond a pair of handguards for rider protection. A mid-size mill pushes 33 pounds of grunt at 4,500 rpm backed up by 46 ponies at 8,500 rpm, but at 518 pounds soaking wet you can forget about turning in any kind of blistering trail times by any means. Whether you want to use it as an adventure-tourer or actually plan on going off-road, Benelli offers a suspension and front wheel package that will suit your purposes. For now, we have only the Italian price of around 6k Euros, but ya gotta start somewhere.
Continue reading for more on Benelli.
Cruisers and touring bikes go hand in hand for that relaxed, comfortable ride you get. The Boulevard C90T from Suzuki — absent for 2014, but back in 2015 - is the touring version of the C90 that was dropped after the 2013 model year, though the C90 B.O.S.S. is still going strong in 2017.
Leather-look — not real leather, just leather textured — hard saddlebags and an ample windscreen give the C90T that "I’m ready for the road" look. Is it ready for the road? I wanted to see if, in fact, the "T" in C90T really does mean "touring."
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C90T.
Indian Motorcycle Expands Lineup To An Even Dozen With New Chieftain Variants
Indian Motorcycle adds two new models to its Chieftain family for a total of four siblings that brings its overall number of bikes up to an even dozen. First, we have the Chieftain Limited that pares down the fat Chieftain front end a bit with a 19-inch hoop and less-than-full fender that does away with the typical skirt and headdress ornament for a clean, custom look. This gives us an unimpeded view of the front wheel which, unfortunately, is of the cast/mag variety. I say “unfortunately” because this bike would look bad-ass with some twisted or diamond-cut spokes to lace the rim to the hub. It ain’t just the front end that lost some mass, the seat comes with a bit of a taper so it doesn’t bite the thighs once your training wheels are deployed. At the top of the food chain we have the Chieftain Elite with all of the above plus a 100-Watt stereo, billet boards and a convertible windshield. Naturally, this is on top of all the stuff that already comes on the stacked Chieftain, so these machines are really carrying almost everything but the kitchen sink, by American cruiser standards anyway. The Limited rolls in any color you want as long as you want Thunder Black (thank you Mr. Ford) for $24,499, while the Elite commands a lofty $31,499 in a dead-sexy, Fireglow Red Candy color that sports marble accents for even more custom seasoning. Sounds like a lot you say? Compare to some of Harley-Davidson’s top baggers and get back to me.
Continue reading for my take on the new models.
2015 - 2018 Honda NM4
Honda has been in the game for a long time now, but so has its competitors, and theirs has become a competition of inches with minor shifts in momentum here and there, but nothing very dramatic. The NM4 — absent in 2017, but back for 2018 — represents Honda’s attempt to increase its footprint by creating a new market segment geared toward drawing in new riders that might otherwise never have bought into the two-wheel lifestyle. I suppose that’s one way to do it; if you can’t attract as many customers as you’d like, just grow new ones. The factory packed in features that make it new-rider friendly and provide relaxed, easy-mode cruising for experienced riders. Won’t you join me while I take a good look at this rather unusual looking ride and see what Honda is using to bait the table in its bid to convert cagers to more of a two-wheel persuasion.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda NM4.
Introduced in 2007, Star — now folded back under the Yamaha umbrella — has been offering essentially the same bike spec-wise since 2012, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The V Star 1300 Tourer is a mid-size touring bike — not a full dresser — but with plenty of storage. It’s not a small bike, but the V Star 1300 Tourer is small enough that you don’t have to wrestle with it. A low seat height and low center of gravity makes it easy to handle, and the 80-cubic-inch engine is big enough to be respectable but not so big it intimidates.
Continue reading for my review of the V Star 1300 Tourer.
The biggest sport-tourer in Yamaha’s lineup just got better. In 2016, the FJR1300A and its stablemate the FJR1300ES saw some evolutionary changes that brought just enough tweaks to make it a smoother, more comfortable ride. Probably the biggest change last year was in the transmission, giving it a smoother ride, as well as a sixth gear, and the addition of a slipper clutch to reduce hand fatigue at the clutch lever.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha FJR1300.