2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
The value of indoctrination is not lost on KTM, evidenced by the fact that they updated and generally spruced up their entry-level unit, the 390 Duke in 2017, and those improvements carry straight over into the 2020 season. New upside-down stems float the front end along with larger, more powerful brakes to help manage the energy from the 44-horsepower engine and 328-pound dry weight. Ride-by-wire makes an appearance for a bit of tech you normally don’t see at this price point. Add to this a fresh new look and you have a recipe for success.
2020 Vespa Elettrica 70 KM/H
Piaggio is committed to the progression of EV scooters, and the Group proved it yet again at 2019 EICMA with its Vespa Elettrica 70 KM/H model. As the devilishly clever name suggests, the top speed has been raised to a more useful max for increased utility as an around-town commuter/grocery-getter. The range increase pairs well with the beefed-up output and higher speed to complete the improved drive package, and of course, it comes clad in that timeless Vespa body style that evokes images of the machines that once mobilized a post-war Italy.
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
KTM builds on the success of its 790 Adventure with the new 2020 390 Adventure model. The 390 Adventure borrows elements from its larger-displacement siblings for much of its design DNA. It’s built with a definite off-road bias, but with the promise of good road manners. A torquey thumper provides the power with the bare minimum in the way of safety or ride-quality features to deliver an essential riding experience.
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
“Cheap thrills” takes on a whole new meaning — or maybe just a revitalization of the old meaning — when it comes to the Z125 PRO from Kawasaki. It’s small and relatively fast for the thrills, good fuel economy, and a bargain-basement price. Sure, as a fun bike, it has that hands down. It’s also a commuter if you have to navigate congested thoroughfares because it’s small, lightweight, and narrow so filtering through traffic is a breeze. As a first bike for someone new to two wheels, this is a completely approachable bike, not intimidating at all and without the electronics that frequently get used as a crutch. On this bike, you learn how to ride.
2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE
The Vespa division of the Piaggio Group expanded its footprint in 2019 with a brand-new powerplant for the GTS scooter line with the GTS 300 HPE. Fans of the brand rejoiced at the news of the most powerful engine to make it onto a Vespone descendant, and for many, this is the engine they’ve been waiting for. Safety comes standard with a few traction-protection subsystems as part of the stock package, plus it features LED forward lighting to help you see and be seen. Best of all, it remains faithful to the design progression that began right after WWII, so it has that classic look that really seals the deal.
2018 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 50
Piaggio’s Vespa division renewed its classic Vespino design ahead of MY2018 with a new Sprint 50 Chrome Crest (CC) model and an accompanying blackout model, the Notte. The factory touts this smallest Vespa as a “green” model due to its stellar fuel economy, and a compact build makes its physical footprint as small as its carbon footprint. Timeless Italian style and a modern engine make these Vespinos ideal for students or commuters who are looking for a ride with class and taste with an eye toward environmental health.
Vespa’s Primavera 150 Sport builds on the Primavera CC (chrome crest) with a handful of unique paint packages and an upgraded instrumentation package. It sports the usual Italian good looks paying appropriate homage to the marque’s rich history but maintains a contemporary flavor that is confidence inspiring. Since the fuel consumption is just a few points shy of 100 mpg, the Sport delivers a very economic ride/commute.
2020 Vespa Sei Giorni II Edition
Vespa expands its mid-range models with the new Sei Giorni II Edition that pays homage to the marque’s past racing success. Following the success of the first Sei Giorni, the “Second Edition” pairs classic looks and specific racing references along with modern performance and safety electronics. Perhaps best of all, it boasts the most powerful engine ever to run under the Vespa badging, the 23.8-horsepower 300 HPE powerplant. If you like your tribute pieces both authentic and capable, this Vespa needs to be on your short list.
2018 - 2020 Vespa Primavera 150
After a fairly major update in 2015, Vespa’s Primavera 150 scooter was brushed up yet again ahead of the 2018 model year. This newest iteration brings a number of improvements to the table to include larger hoops, all-around LED technology with some aesthetic improvements to boot. In addition to the 150 cc base model, the factory also released a cargo-friendly Touring model and now there’s a Yacht Club variant for a nautical spin. It must be quite the undertaking to keep a model family relevant as long in the tooth as the Primavera, but Vespa doggedly stays the course and treats us to yet another handful of successors here half-a-century after the release of the original.
2016 - 2020 Yamaha TW200
The Yamaha TW200, brought forward for 2020 with its scrappy little 196 cc engine, is a nice learning bike, fully street legal but with that distinctive motocross-style swale seat that says you’re going off-road. On the move, the bike has nice low-end torque and you’ll feel the front end trying to come up when you get even a little twisty. Dual sport, yes, but so much about this bike just begs to be in the dirt.
2017 - 2020 Suzuki SV650
Suzuki continued with the evolution of the SV650 line with the all-new-in-2017 SV650. Built on the success of the original SV650 that covered 1999 through 2008, and its offspring, the SFV650 “Gladius,” the new ride carries the SV DNA into a new generation. With a revamped 645 cc engine, it has more horsepower than ever before.
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
Kawasaki makes inroads into the naked streetfighter market with the new-in 2017 Z650 and adds some brush-up changes for 2020. Drawing from the popular Ninja line, the factory gave the Z650 that 649 cc parallel twin and put it in a new, lighter weight frame for improved handling and a exponentially greater fun factor.
2017 - 2019 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.
2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Adventure
If you’re looking for a mid-displacement adventure bike that will actually handle some off-road work or a solid commuter for the urban jungle, then Suzuki’s 2020 V-Strom 650XT Adventure should be on your short list. This model builds on the 650 platform and it boasts extra protection for both bike and rider along with stock dry-storage and a proven V-twin powerplant. As usual, Suzuki rounds out the package with a bevy of proprietary ride-quality electronics to back up the various variables built into the mechanics of the bike to deliver a customizable riding experience.
2020 Triumph Tiger 900
Triumph up-sized its outgoing Tiger 800 adventure model ahead of MY2020 to create the all-new Tiger 900. This machine serves as a platform for a number of upscale stablemates, but today I want to focus on the base model. The factory balances capabilities and cost to deliver a bike that can both tour and serve as a daily commuter. The safety electronics covers the basics and come bundled with a handful of ride-quality controls for push-button personality changes to round out the package and give the 900 a bit of versatility.