2017 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.
2015 - 2017 Suzuki DR200S
Suzuki brings dual-sport capabilities to the entry-level sector with its DR200S. A heavy emphasis on off-road performance defines the overall look of the thing, and a 199 cc engine drives it over hill and dale as well as down the road with all the appropriate lighting for safety and legalities. The end result seems to be a functional, if plain, bike that provides a stable ride and moderate power with a humble overall bearing. A carry-over for the last few years, it hasn’t changed much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR200S.
2017 CSC Motorcycles TT250
CSC Motorcycles — a west-coast importer for Chongqing Zongshen — brings us a dandy dual-sport bike in the TT250. With a 230 cc engine that offers manageable torque and horsepower, the TT250 gives us Enduro styling in a street-legal dual sport for off-road fun or economical commutes at an amazingly affordable price. It’s a gutsy little Chinese bike that is easy to start and runs quite well, so if your preconceived notion of Chinese bikes is that they’re crap, you might want to take another look.
Continue reading for my review of the CSC Motorcycles TT250.
2016 - 2017 Yamaha SR400
Yamaha’s motto for the SR400 is “everything old is new again," and nothing speaks more to that than a kickstarter and tubed tires. Re-introduced to the American market after a long absence, the SR400 still shows the remnants of the old British bike style it was originally meant to emulate in the 1970s. The SR400 is a meld of old and new bringing fuel injection and electronic ignition into the retro styling that’s essentially unchanged since 1978. Easily customized into a café racer, bobber or street tracker, the SR 400 is a blank canvas for you to make it yours. Excellent as a commuter or an entry-level bike, the SR400 is worth a look.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha SR 400.
Back in 2012, Honda presented the CB500F to the world at the EICMA Motor Show to bolster its “standard” category for the 2013 model year. This compact streetfighter sported Honda’s then-new 471 cc in a rather naked layout with almost 50-horsepower on tap to push the 414-pound curb weight around, so it’s safe to say that it definitely punches above its weight. This is at least part of the reason for its success and market popularity, and the factory has made tweaks here and there in an attempt to keep it fresh all the way into MY17 in order to maintain that momentum. Now that the family has matured somewhat and settled into its groove if you like, I want to take a look at the range to try and divine the secrets to its success.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB500F.
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 EFI
Royal Enfield brings old-school, British charm to the American market like no other builder in the world, and the Bullet 500 EFI is no exception. A genuinely dated design, not just another retro/tribute machine, it packs a 27-horsepower thumper in with all that antique appeal. The 87 mph top speed means it is capable of keeping up with any and all legal traffic, but not without a few issues (more on that later). Classic charm and a 499 cc fuel-injected engine make the Bullet a modern blast-from-the-past in the best possible way.
Continue reading for my review of the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 EFI.
Taiwanese motorcycle giant KYMCO (Kwang Yang Motor Co) adds to its MY18 motorcycle lineup with the pocket-size Spade 150. This bumps the total number of motorcycle products available in the U.S. up to five, and brings a decidedly ’70s flavor to the lineup. The funky little Spade packs a 12-horsepower thumper into a sporty and agile little frame with two-up capability for some cheap thrills and fuel-efficient transportation. I like to cover KYMCO’s products; the factory has really made some inroads into defeating the stigma attached to the “Made in China” label. Don’t believe it? I would make mention of the fact that Kawasaki and BMW both have partnerships with KYMCO, and if that isn’t an endorsement, I swear I don’t know what is.
Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Spade 150.
First out in the 1970s, the VanVan from Suzuki has that charming retro look that screams UJM. Recently reintroduced here in the U.S., the VanVan gets a 200 cc engine, an upgrade from the old 125 cc model that is still available in other markets. In typical scrambler fashion, the VanVan 200 is the dirt-road/gravel-road/loose-dirt ride that qualifies it as a “sandbike” because of the fat rear tire that keeps you going. Better than an ATV in some situations, the Vanvan is lightweight and capable, perfect for a jaunt around the ranch, a quick run up the trapline or an excursion down the beach — anywhere the ground is loose and four wheels just won’t do.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Vanvan 200.
Suzuki launched the TU250 in 1994 to replace the GN250. The bike was lightweight with a standard riding posture meant to emulate the UJM — Universal Japanese Motorcycle — popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The second generation of the TU250 — dubbed the TU250X — was introduced in the U.S. market in 2009, though it did take a brief hiatus in 2010 and 2014. Available for 2018, the TU250X its with classic styling and spunky 250 cc engine makes a spiffy little commuter and economical transportation around town.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki TU250X.
BMW’s R 1200 R roadster has been around since 2006, and the Motorrad looks to extend that run with a repowered and updated vesion for MY15 and beyond. The new “R” gets the same boxer mill as the R 1200 GS/GS Adventure/RT/RS, so it packs 100-plus ponies and 90-plus pounds of grunt into the narrow, minimally appointed roadster frame. Electronic gadgetry comes in the form of ABS and ASC, as well as variable power-delivery modes and traction control, for most of the top-shelf safety features folks tend to expect nowadays. There’s more of course, so it’s safe to say that there is much more here than meets the eye if you’ll forgive the shameless Transformers reference, so let’s dive right in and see what else the Bayerische Motoren Werke has in store for us with this newest incarnation of its popular roadster.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 R.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha V Star 250
If you’re a carburetor fan, you’re still in luck for a 250 cc commuter bike with the 2018 V Star 250 from Yamaha. Introduced in 2008, the V Star 250 replaced the Virago 250, but was essentially the same bike spec-wise. The V Star 250 is a good entry-level bike and with a 250 cc engine that has fuel economy rated at 78 mpg, it is a contender for your choice of an economically sound cruiser.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha V Star 250.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha XT250
It seems like when God said “Let there be light,” Yamaha was already making the XT250. Okay, maybe not that long ago, but it has been since 1980 and I’ll bet a lot of folks reading this weren’t born yet. In 1982, Rambo rode one inFirst Blood. If it was mean enough to carry Sylvester Stallone, you know it was pretty awesome. With a wide-ratio five-speed and an air-cooled 250 cc engine, the XT250 is a proper little dual-sport machine and with a little more attention to two-up riding than you might expect in an off-road-capable bike.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha XT250.
2017 Lifan KPR 200
Lifan, or Great Sail, is one of the heavy hitters of Chinese motorcycle manufacturing, and it’s looking to expand its footprint into the U.S. market with the 17-horsepower, King Power Racing 200. The bike brings with it an impressive racing pedigree that includes 17 CRCC championships since 2012, and you just can’t buy better press than what podium appearances provide. With so many manufacturers racing to the bottom of the displacement scale with the Big Four, European makers and even Harley-Davidson getting in on the action, the time has never been better to bring an entry-level 200 cc sportbike with racetrack handling into the domestic market. Public demand is high, so all manufacturers have to do is bring a quality product. Does Lifan deliver? We are going to dig in and see what Lifan has to offer, but the real proof will be in the first quarterly earnings statement after the KPR 200 hits U.S. showrooms.
Continue reading for my look at the Lifan KPR 200.
2017 Yamaha FZ-09
Up until now, the FZ-09 has been widely regarded as having fallen short of its potential. The suspension was insufficient, throttle too abrupt and a lack of electronic goodies made it a little too simple for the price and current competition. Yamaha saw the error of its ways and set about the business of correcting past mistakes with a significant re-design for 2017 that improves in all the most-criticized areas on its predecessor. The MY17 FZ-09 sports improved throttle-response mapping along with traction control and ABS, so improvement was definitely made in the electronic gadgetry department. But, does this newest version meet popular demand and expectation? I wanted to explore that and I’ll share my findings with you.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha FZ-09.
2017 CSC Motorcycles RZ3
CSC Motorcycles, in cooperation with the Zongshen Industrial Group, is looking to expand its lineup of imported rides with the addition of the RZ3. Similar to last year’s RC3, the RZ3 is all street/sport, but this all-new model adopts more of a naked look to carry the same, 24-horsepower mill. How will it compete in a market already dominated by the Big Four? We’ll just have to wait and see; according to Mr. Steve Seidner down at CSC, the first units should hit the floor sometime around the end of June. Even though it’s only available for pre-order at this time, I’m somewhat familiar with the brand and the RC3, so I thought I’d give the new model a preview based on the preponderance of evidence.
Continue reading for my first look at the CSC RZ3.
2017 SYM T2 250i
SYM brings affordability and practicality together in its streetbike trainer, the T2 250i. This ride represents the largest non-scooter-type model the factory makes, and the 250 cc mill is its second-largest engine currently in production thus raising the ceiling a bit for the company in the two-wheel vehicle department. Built to take on the “Big Four” for a slice of the low-displacement crotch rocket market, this ambitious little ride carries features and aesthetic touches that most riders will find familiar, but looks ain’t everything at the end of the day.
Continue reading for my review of the SYM T2 250i.