2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
Kawasaki had already brought back the ethos of the famed Z1 of 1972 at the Tokyo International Motor Show with the Z900RS retro motorcycle. With almost every brand entering the neo-classic craze, Kawasaki brought one of its own classics back. Although it has the W800, the Z900RS depicts a much more modern take with thoroughly done modish mechanical features, fit and finish.
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 2017 EICMA show, the wardrobe change has made the standard RS the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. And Kawasaki has decided that we deserve to drive them on our roads and are bringing it to the North American showroom floors as the 2018 model.
2018 Suzuki SV650X
Suzuki expands its SV650 roadster lineup for the 2018 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 saw an update this year 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.
2017 - 2018 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled
Ducati’s Scrambler line grew yet again in the 2017 model year with the addition of the Café Racer and Desert Sled. The Scrambler range has proven to be a veritable mine of possibilities as Ducati capable model in the entire range, and the Café Racer, well, it comes set up to look cool in an urban environment. Both rides get the same 803 cc mill that powers the rest of the Scrambler variants along with much the same chassis, but the differences, however minor, make all the difference in the world.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled.
2016 - 2018 Norton Dominator
The Dominator from Norton captures the look and feel of the limited-edition Domiracer, but with a more production-friendly and street-legal layout. Norton may have been a bit surprised at the pace at which the Domiracers got snapped up and at the high rate of conversion to street-legal status, but its response was right on target. Powered by an in-house-developed 961 cc parallel twin, the Dominator is quite expensive, but do you get a lot of bike for that dough?
Continue reading for my review of the Norton Dominator.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2016 - 2018 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, 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.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec and Bolt C-Spec.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
If you remember back in the 1990s, Harley-Davidson offered the "49-95" Sportster. It was a no-frills entry-level bike priced affordably at $4,995 — hence the clever in-house nickname — and it let a lot of folks stick a toe in the water, as it were, into the motorcycle scene. The Street 500 and Street 750 are the new generation of that concept. The cost is little more than $4,995, though in today’s market, $6,899 is still considered affordably priced. The Streets have that same no-frills, no-nonsense approach to an entry-level bar-hopping café racer. Powered by a Revolution V-twin engine, the bikes are premium Harley. Just because the price is low doesn’t mean they skimped on quality. The Street siblings come with a steel teardrop tank and fenders covered in the deep, rich color and flawless finish that long ago made Harley-Davidson the benchmark for premium paint on a motorcycle. The cherry on top is the chrome tank badge — not a decal, as you might expect in a budget-minded bike, but a three-dimensional tank medallion — as Harley’s pledge to you that you are riding a premium quality machine.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Street 750.
2017 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Buccaneer
SSR Motorsports brings some classic Italian style to the small-displacement U.S. market with its Buccaneer Classic and Cafe’ Racer models. Powered by 250 cc air-cooled V-twins — yes, I said V-twin — in a range usually dominated by thumpers, the Buccaneer siblings bring a little European flair to the table to show that small displacement doesn’t have to be boring and having a bike with a small carbon-footprint doesn’t have to come without style.
Continue reading for my review of the SSR Motorsports Buccaneer Classic and the Buccaneer Cafe.