Is This The Most Significant Motorcycle of All Time?
2016 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
Powered by a Revolution V-twin engine, the Street 500 and 750 are premium Harley-Davidson even though they’re geared toward the budget-minded, entry-level crowd. 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 an economy-priced bike, but a three-dimensional tank medallion — as Harley’s pledge to you that you are riding a premium quality machine.
2021 Triumph Trident 660
With the release of the Trident 660, Triumph has hit the jackpot right out of the box and matched, if not beaten, all the competition in in one fell swoop. With a brilliant engine and chassis, stunning build quality and great looks, it may be small and compact and carry a competitive price tag, but has so much character and ability that you have to wonder how Triumph has done it.
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.
2022 Yamaha Zuma 125
Yamaha tweaks its Zuma 125 scooter platform ahead of MY2022 with a handful of improvements across the board. Fuel-efficient power comes from a new “Blue Core” engine sporting some pretty fancy fandanglery in the valvetrain. Rugged new bodywork and a re-imagined headlight area seal the deal to further separate this newest-generation adventure scooter from its predecessors and peers.
2019 - 2021 Yamaha YZF-R125
Yamaha takes early indoctrination to a whole new level with its YZF-R125 meant to scoop up riders who live in areas that use the tiered-license system. That’s right, it’s an R-series model specifically built for A-1 license holders in Europe and the U.K. The trackside DNA is evident in the overall look that borrows heavily from its larger-displacement siblings in keeping with it intended use as an entry-level trainer. Supersport looks and handling meet license restrictions to make this a proper first-timer’s bike.
2015 - 2021 Yamaha V Star 250
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 Aprilia Tuono 660
Aprilia rolls into 2021 with an all-new addition to its stable of race-capable street-legal machines, the Tuono 660. Billed as a cross between the Tuono V4 and the RS 660, this bike carries a mid-size parallel-twin with all the appropriate ride-control and safety electronics, all under a windtunnel-tested bodywork style inspired by its larger race-tastic stablemates. Perhaps best of all is the sticker that barely breaks the $10k mark to put this magnificent model within reach for a significant portion of the would-be sport-riding public. This is one of those rare machines that will cover a wide range of riders from beginner to pro.
2020 - 2021 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
With its recent success on the Flat Track circuit and burgeoning footprint in the worldwide market, it’s easy to forget that Indian Motorcycle is actually America’s oldest bike manufacturer, and the marque reminds us of its deep roots with the new Scout Bobber Twenty model. This bike takes us right back to the custom bikes of the early 1900s with bobbed sheet metal, blackout treatment, and laced wheels on a modern chassis that mimics the geometry of the old-school hardtail bikes. A modern V-twin delivers 100 ponies for your riding pleasure, and ABS protection is available on all the colorways to deliver some modern safety as well.
2021 Husqvarna Svartpilen125
Husqvarna expanded its burgeoning Svartpilen lineup downward with the addition of the entry-level “125” model, the smallest in the family. A 125 cc thumper drives a rugged machine that has clear urban DNA with a dual-sport bent. The lightweight and narrow-waisted 125 both enables and encourages the use of body English so you can practice and get accustomed to shifting around on a bike. For our friends in areas with tiered learner’s permits, the 125 comes “A1” compliant right off the showroom floor to make it even more accessible for younger riders.
2022 BMW C 400 GT
The bigwigs over at the Bayerische Motoren Werke pared down its scooter exports to the U.S. to a single model ahead of MY2022, the new 2022 BMW C 400 GT. No, it’s not net-new, but it does carry a number of improvements in both the mechanics and the electronics to make it new enough. Generous under-seat storage and a vented windshield contribute to its utility as a commuter and/or grocery-getter. Perhaps best of all, the drivetrain has long-enough legs to make it suitable for interstate/highway travel and sure to find fun wherever it goes.
2021 BMW R 1250 RT
BMW heads into MY2021 with a significant facelift and upgrade package for its bagger-tastic R 1250 RT. A nip here and tuck there presents a new face to the world with equally-new instrumentation and a revised windscreen to complete the package. As a showroom bagger, it rolls with rider comfort as a front-burner item and comes stock with panniers for immediate utility as a tour bike, commuter, or grocery-getter. The cherry on top is the Active Cruise Control feature that uses radar technology to bring a level of safety to the motorcycle market that has mainly been restricted to use on vehicles with four wheels or more.
2022 Kawasaki KLR 650
Kawasaki leaps ahead to its 2022 model-year lineup with a new KLR 650 family. The base model comes with a number of improvements to the engine and electronics, all wrapped up under new bodywork. Fuel injection replaces the carburetor this year to modernize the powerplant along with a new instrument panel and updated lighting that does the same for the rest of the bike. If the base model isn’t exactly as adventure-tastic as you’d like, the factory put together an “Adventure” accessory pack and a touring “Traveler” trim package for a pair of bona fide adventure bikes that are good to go right off the showroom floor.
2017 - 2020 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
Nobody blurs the line between scooter and ’proper’ motorcycle better than the engineers at BMW, and the C 650 range is no exception. The C 650 “Sport” and “GT” models have very few changes, but that’s not surprising given how difficult it would be to improve upon the bundle of features already built in. I mean, it’s a scooter with traction control and ABS on board, plus a relatively large and powerful engine with a sophisticated engine management system, so this is ’not’ your grandfather’s scooter. I have a great appreciation for German engineering, so I’m looking to see what all Beemer has tucked away on its not-so-little maxi-scooter.
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.
2021 Honda NC750X
Honda’s adventuresome NC750X got a facelift ahead of the 2021 model-year that includes refined front fairings for improved penetration and an enlarged cargo space to contribute to its utility as both an adventure bike and a commuter cycle. The engine also enjoyed a few mechanical tweaks along with an improved electronic-control system, and the lump lost some weight so even more of that power is converted into acceleration. A new slipper-type clutch and re-calibrated transmission completes the MY2021 package with a concurrent gain in safety. Shorter gear-ratios for the first three gears let you come out of the hole like a champ while remaining in the usable powerband.