2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro cafe’-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB1000R.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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.
If Vespa made more than just scooters, this is how they might look
The Vespa today takes the best of fine Italian dressing and packs it in a niche retro silhouette. It became a cornucopia of sorts for people wanting a machine that could take them back in time and re-live the classic age. People love Vespa or simply hate their classic vintage looks.
How would you react seeing a Vespa chopper? Or a Vespa Enduro motorcycle? It is tough to imagine one right? Thanks to the chaps at Jennings Harley-Davidson, a dealership with shops in both Leeds and Gateshead in the UK, you don’t have to break your head much for it.
They’ve designed six absolutely bonkers Vespa concepts that distill visual cues and character of what the Italian retro maker could actually push outside their factories down the lane. Or probably not. But why not have some fun imagining yeah?
What if these car companies made motorcycles?
I know what you are thinking. Companies like Honda, BMW, Suzuki, and Peugeot are already making both cars and motorcycles. They have successfully managed both the shows and show no signs of aging or trouble to either one because of the other. Yamaha is also trying to get a piece of the four-wheeled world with ‘The Sports Ride’ concept.
But what if exotic car makers like McLaren, Mustang, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce made motorcycles? It would be awesome, of course, but how would they look like? Well, we might have an answer to that. Thanks to the chaps at Jennings Harley-Davidson, a dealership with shops in both Leeds and Gateshead in the UK.
They’ve designed six absolutely bonkers motorcycle concepts that distill visual cues and character of what the company actually makes.
This is the voguish OSSA Monocasco
If you find that name weird, don’t coax yourself. Even I needed a while to familiarize myself with the Spanish brand.
Active for a very brief period from 1924 to 1982, OSSA (Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anónima) first made movie projectors and then shifted to being a motorcycle manufacturer only in 1949 that was best known for producing lightweight, two-stroke-engined bikes used in observed trials, motocross, and enduro.
Paying tribute to the brand and the OSSA 250 Monocasc GP motorcycle, the folks at a Barcelona design company concocted an electric concept bike that according to my tastes is the most soothing looking thing ever made on two wheels. It is almost as if your eyes can just flow over those curves. It’s called the Monocasco.
2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT
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.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 and Thruxton 1200 R.
Levis is resurrecting with a V6 Cafe-Racer
Levis (Le-Viss not Lee-Vize) was a pre-WWII motorcycle maker (1911–1940) producing both two-stroke and four-stroke machines. With the craze of the British designs and brands taking mainstage in the industry currently, Levis is having a grand comeback in the most modern fashion and will join the likes of Ariel, BSA, Brough, Hesketh, Matchless, and Norton.
Set to be launched in 2018, the Birmingham company is bringing out its new creation, the Levis V6 Cafe Racer. As you might have already guessed, it will run a V6 configuration with an incredibly narrow 22-degree V-angle, producing a decent 130bhp and 140ftlb of torque.
How about an E-Cafe Racer for you?
"The future is electric. Why not make it stylish?" might as well be the tagline for this custom designed motorcycle from China..err.. also from Spain, that has been heavily influenced by Honda’s 125cc classic motorcycles.
Designed by Barcelona-based Pablo Baranoff, this e-bike has been built with the help of a Chinese electric vehicle company East Gem, aka Denzel. The whole idea was to create a functional good-looking motorcycle, and with what we get to see, I think they have done just that.
2016 - 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler
It is a well-known phenomenon that as people get to a certain stage in life, they crave things from their youth. Frequently, this coincides with a certain amount of disposable income to indulge in such nostalgia. Over time, entire industries have sprung from this demand, and even designers among established businesses capitalize on this market. The new-from-2016, R nineT Scrambler from the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW Motorrad) seems to fall into just this sort of category. Based on a general design popular from the ’50s all the way through the ’70s, the Scrambler embodies the form of the original scramblers, while borrowing from the 1951 Beemer R 68. The result is a ride that invokes nostalgia in those old enough to remember the originals and subsequent variants, but also appeals to a younger crowd who appreciates classic looks coupled with updated performance and more reliable technology than its antique predecessors. I say that with confidence since I fall into the latter group, and I am really digging this new-old ride, so join me for a dissection of this scrambler descendant as I try to determine how closely this apple fell to the tree.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R nineT Scrambler.
Kawasaki’s top dogs are US bound
The 2017 EICMA gave us a glimpse of what we can expect on our roads the next decade, and it sure looks exciting. Crazy looking concepts and technologically advanced machines filled the floor spaces in Milan, and the Japanese makers stole the show with Yamaha’s three-wheeled Niken and Honda’s tech-powerhouse, the Gold Wing traveler.
Kawasaki was not far behind. The Green Team put up a spectacular show with their gut-wrenching supercharged sports-tourer, the H2 SX, a fancy new superbike with a semi-active electronic suspension, the ZX-10R SE and the retro-classic Z900 RS.
Luckily for us, Kawasaki has decided that we deserve to drive them on our roads and are bringing all of them to the North American showroom floors.
The Royal Enfield 650 gets a ClubRacer rendering
In a bid to create a niche market for themselves, the Bullet maker decided to step up their game both in the number of cylinders and capacity. Enter the 650cc twins, the cafe-racer Continental GT 650 and the classic-retro Interceptor which were launched at the 2017 EICMA.
The bikes are yet to reach showroom floors and people have already started imagining them in a different genre. An Italian artist who goes by the name Oberdan Bezzi, also famously called as OBIBOI, has sketched an impressive looking concept which might be expected from the Royal Enfield stable in the future.
Buying a Thruxton R? You can now get a $2500 worth Cafe-Racer kit for free
We all love the very beautiful Triumph Thruxton, don’t we? Over the last many years, the Triumph Thruxton has been giving us the unadulterated essence of motorcycling with its simplistic café racer stance and smooth power delivery.
Making the timeless design further enchanting is the ‘Track Racer Kit’, a genuine accessory kit provided by Triumph worth $2500. And now, until December 31 this year, Triumph is giving away this kit to every new owner of the Thruxton 1200 R for free of charge.
Benelli’s stand at EICMA was actually Ducati’s
Benelli was finding it difficult to locate its identity amidst the modern and competitive world, even more after it was acquired by a Chinese firm. But now, it seems like a thing of the past, more of a ‘myth’ one could say.
Benelli is trying to revive its fortunes by showcasing products designed by CentroStile Benelli and slowly helping their reputation get back to their original charm. But that is the problem.
They are not trying to build their own reputation, instead, they seem to take on cues from another Italian maker, Ducati.
2017 - 2018 Triumph Street Cup
Triumph expanded its Bonneville Street Twin family a bit to include the new-in-2017 Street Cup. The SC brings the cafe’-tastic vibe of the Thruxton to a smaller engine bracket with a 900 cc mill, thus opening up the club-racing world to entry-level riders and offering experienced riders the option of downsizing for convenience without giving up too much in the way of fun. Sporty and quick, this ride seems to be everything one would expect from a contemporary cafe’ racer.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Street Cup.
Royal Enfield’s new Continental GT 650 and Interceptor have twice the number of cylinders than usual
After a million speculations, spy-shots, hue and cry, the Indian company have finally taken the wraps off their newly developed machines running on 650cc parallel twin engines at the ongoing EICMA.
Christened as the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor, they herald a new chapter for Royal Enfield, a company that until now made only 350cc-535cc single barrel machines.
Images: 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe - in the details
Unwrapped at the ongoing EICMA show, Kawasaki had a wardrobe makeover for the Z900RS retro motorcycle to give us the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe.
The Cafe is not much different. Its underpinned by the same mechanicals as the standard RS but gets the obvious headlamp cowl, scalloped lower seat that is ribbed and lowered bars to give it a sportier progress and feel.
And that beautiful looking lairy green and white paintjob, a reminiscent of the KR250/500 of the late ’70s. It compliments the blacked out frame, forks, footpegs wheels and engine to give out a bold appearance. Enough for it to stand out amidst the rest of the Cafe-Racers flooded in the market.
Kawasaki gives the Z900RS a café racer treatment
Kawasaki had already brought back the ethos of the famed Z1 of 1972 at the Tokyo International Motor Show with the Z900RS retro motorcycle. Now, the same guys have gone ahead and given it a headlamp cowl and dropped bars to get it running on the cafe-racer beeline.
Unwrapped at the ongoing EICMA show, the wardrobe change has made the standard RS the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe.
Suzuki makes a cafe-racer out of the standard SV650 with an ’X’
After enthralling us at last year’s EICMA with some cracking new motorcycles like the GSX-R1000R and the V-Strom, Suzuki has rested the fire for this year. It has released just one new motorcycle flaunting the café-racer style treatment to take a dig at the heritage theme that has off-late taken the motorcycle industry by storm.
Called the SV650X, it may not be breathtakingly beautiful but makes its presence felt with the retro-themed bikini fairings and the round face. Blame the time Suzuki took to bring it into the market which is already filled with lustful retro machines for us to drool over.
If the new CB1000R is the present, this CB4 ’Interceptor’ is Honda’s future
If you have a crazy sharp memory (won’t blame you if you don’t), Honda had showcased an interesting concept called the ’CB4 Concept’ at the 2015 EICMA. The concept showed us Honda’s capabilities in making a futuristic motorcycle that still gave it a retro appeal.
Fast forward to 2017 and Honda has gone ahead and done just that on a production model, the CB1000R that was launched at the ongoing EICMA. Along with that, Honda has taken the CB4 nameplate and stuck it on another new concept that is futuristic for sure, but also has an evocative ‘Sport Endurance’ tone added to the Cafe-Racer silhouette.
2016 - 2018 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. New from 2016, Kawasaki introduced the Vulcan S Café and the Vulcan S SE to round out its cruiser stable. Carrying the same low and lean profile of the bigger Vulcan cruisers, the S and its siblings combine 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.
2017 - 2018 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 to the table 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 this year, 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. Join me while I dive in to ’Guzzi’s new tribute piece to see what makes it tick.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer.