2016 - 2018 KYMCO Super 8
The Super 8 in both the 50 cc and 150 cc models have been around for a bit, and while some folks discount KYMCO as a serious manufacturer, it’s worth a look. KYMCO maintains a prominent presence in the Grand National Cross Country Series, a grueling off-road racing circuit that hosts long courses over a variety of rugged terrains, and serves as a sort of trial-by-fire for both rider and machine. If that isn’t a testament to quality, I don’t know what is. We lost the Super 8 "R" siblings going into last year, but let’s take a look and see how well KYMCO’s race prowess transitions to the scooter sector with its 2018 Super 8 “X” model duo.
Continue reading for more information on the KYMCO Super 8.
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650
Equipped with a 651 cc thumper and what looks like a beefy front end, the KLR 650 from Kawasaki is a capable middleweight dual-purpose ride. Big enough to be an adventure bike, but not really intended as such, the KLR 650 has an ample-size fuel tank, frame, rims and suspension that show true off-road roots, yet has enough straight-line stability to handle the pavement. If not-quite-adventure, but more than dirtbike is what you need, the KLR 650 might be your Huckleberry.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki KLR 650.
2018 Kawasaki KLX250S
Kawasaki pulled the KLX250 out of the mothballs, updated it and released back into the domestic market for 2018. This comes on the heels of a three-year break, over which the KLX250 became kind of like the Loch Ness Monster, much discussed but rarely seen. Among the improvements are updated looks, revised suspension components and electronic fuel-injection that replaces the old Keihin carb from the previous generation. So, better looks, better ride and better performance in a market that hasn’t been glutted with KLX250 models for a few years. It looks like it could be a grand slam for Kawi here, but we won’t know for sure until the Spring sales numbers roll in, so meanwhile, I’m going to take a good first look at the new KLX250s and see how it stacks up against the now-entrenched competition.
Continue reading for my look at the Kawasaki KLX250S.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha WR250R
Essentially a carry-over from 2008 when the WR250R added a street-legal stablemate to the Yamaha WR lineup, the 2018 model carries-on carrying-on dual-sport fun. It’s not really a street-legal version of the WR250F, though the model designation tends to make it seem so. “WR” indicates it’s a wide-ratio gear box, and beyond that, the sky’s the limit. The wide-ratio gives an acceptable balance of highway capability and off-road responsiveness, desirable in the dual-sport market.
Continue reading for more information on the Yamaha WR250R.
2015 - 2018 Honda XR650L
Honda carries its venerable XR650L line into 2018, but to be honest, it’s almost completely unchanged from the original version unleashed on the world back in 1993. Before you scoff, I would point out that sharks haven’t changed in millions of years, having evolved long ago into creatures perfectly suited to their environments, and apparently, so it is with the XR650L. The Red Riders got it right out of the gate with this one, and popular support keeps the bike on Honda’s showroom floors even after nearly a quarter-century. I want to see what Honda has going on over there that gives this bike such longevity.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda XR650L.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
Pitting the fuel-injection fans against the carburetor fans, we score a point for the latter with the DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM from Suzuki. Fuel injection hadn’t yet made an appearance in any of Suzuki’s 2017 dual-sport lineup, which was a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. For 2018, the DR-Z siblings haven’t yet been touched by the FI update. Sharing the same engine as the 500EXC from KTM, the DR-Zs come on a different chassis with progressive-link rear suspension. The “SM” — the SuperMoto of the family — and the “S” feature a six-liter air box with quick-release fasteners trouble-free access to the air filter and special low profile mirrors that rotate hoping to avoid damage, both are pluses when you’re playing in the dirt.
Continue reading for more information on the Suzuki DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki DR650S
With a glance at the DR650S from Suzuki and you might just dismiss it as an enduro bike. That would be doing it an injustice. It’s really a basic adventure bike that will get you off the pavement and into the woods with perhaps more gumption than a real adventure bike. It’s not the most attractive bike in the stable, though it’s small and scrappy with its 644 cc engine and so much fun to ride. Priced affordably, it isn’t a tragic to drop it as it would be otherwise and it is lightweight enough that you can pick it up and keep going.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR650S.
2018 AJP Motorcycles PR7
Portugese off-road heavyweight AJP is looking to expand its influence in the U.S. market with a street-legal version of its popular PR7 adventure bike for 2018. The factory is keeping power figures close to the vest for the time being, but it’s fairly forthcoming with all the other metrics, and I know the 600 cc SWM engine that powers it puts out something in the neighborhood of 50 horsepower. That said, I’d like to take a look at this latest and final version of the PR7, but first I’d like to take a look at the builder.
Continue reading for my first look at the AJP Motorcycles PR7.
2015 - 2018 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.
Honda’s CRF series has been around since MY13, and 2017 sees the first major update for the family. Among the changes, the factory added another 1.6 horsepower over the previous generation, and it added the “Rally” to the lineup for even more capacity for fun when the blacktop turns to brown. These rides are built for people who take their fun seriously, according to the factory, but just how serious you can get with one depends on your definition of the word. Is it a machine that will suit your purposes? Let’s take a look and find out.
Continue reading for my look at the Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha TW200
Fuel-injection haters rejoice. There are still some carbureted options out there for off-road. Spec-wise, the TW200 is the same bike Yamaha has offered for over a decade, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a look. The TW200 — brought forward for 2018 — 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.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha TW200.
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.
I can’t say enough good things about these Rokons, and quite frankly, neither can their owners. They have a frame that can withstand the punishment of wilderness riding and an enormous ground clearance. They’re lightweight, have hydraulic brakes; and they have an engine you can’t kill. They pull, they tow and they climb like a mountain goat. If you have business out in the woods, these babies are your huckleberry.
New in 2016, Rokon introduced the Ranger to add to the stable alongside the Scout and its siblings, the Trail-Breaker and the Rokon for Hunters.
Continue reading for my review of the Rokon Scout and Ranger.
Add the Street Legal package to Christini’s AWD 450 Military Edition bike and you have the AWD 450 Explorer. Based in Philadelphia, Christini has been pursuing AWD for two wheels since 1995. What started as AWD mountain bikes turned to AWD motorcycles in 2002.
It was in 2008 when a Christini-upgraded KTM bike took second place in the inaugural Extreme Enduro Race that AWD was established as competitively viable technology. Considering that folks have raced Christini AWD bikes in every EnduroCross event since 2006 speaks to their capability as competition rides. In fact, Christini bikes are race-tested and proved reliable in World Enduro, GNCC, Endurocross, Red Bull Last Man Standing, and Hare scrambles.
Continue reading for my review of the Christini AWD 450 Explorer.
Ducati’s Scrambler line grows yet again in the ’17 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 mixes and matches equipment to fit specific purposes. For instance; the features on the Desert Sled make it arguably the most off-road 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. I’ve been eager to take a look at these bikes, and I look at this as a chance to gauge what all Ducati has learned from a few years of customer feedback and factory testing, so let’s check it out.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled.
Moto Guzzi looks to grab a slice of the adventure-tour market with its Stelvio 1200 NTX. The factory aimed high on this model, with a 1,151 cc, 100-plus horsepower V-twin driving the ride. It followed up with adjustable suspension and electronic,engine-management gadgetry that is comparable to some of the top adventure-tour bikes available on the market today, making this ’Guzzi a serious contender for its share of the market.
Right now, it seems that nearly every major player in the EU and Asia has something for the dual-sport/adventure market, and even the once-niche, adventure-tour genre is starting to get crowded, so the designers had their work cut out for them. They compounded the pressure by naming the thing after a stretch of road in the Stelvio Pass, Italian Alps, long used as a proving ground and known by driving enthusiasts around the world. Presumptuous? Maybe, but we’re fixin’ to find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX.
Adventure bikes are definitely a thing, and aren’t showing any sign of going away anytime soon, and Suzuki’s V-Strom (Deutsch for stream) is definitely one of the major players advancing the cause, as it were. A couple of years ago, Suzuki made the decision to drop the V-Strom 650 Adventure, and focus its energies on the base model 650 and 650XT. The result is palpable with a number of improvements for the 2017 model year that will likely endear these rides to their fans even more. This year we have more power, plus a traction control system to help manage said power as well as some nifty aesthetic tweaks and more, so join me while I take a look at what the factory has in store for us.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 650XT.
Triumph has been getting some mileage out of its new 900 cc engine, and this mill drives yet another mid-size ride for the “Street Twin” family; the Street Scrambler. As the name implies, this bike is built mainly for urban use but comes with an off-road capability one simply does not get from a straight-up streetbike. The Street Scrambler brings rider-friendly performance and stable handling to the table, but in a market glutted with scrambler models from all over the globe, one has to wonder if that is enough to stay competitive. Let’s delve into this new Triumph and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Street Scrambler.
The EV sector is booming, and as it’s grown it has expanded into more and more genres. Zero Motorcycles is all about the electrics, and has pushed beyond the straight-up street and adventure categories into dual-sport and supermoto territory. The off-road capable FX enters the ’17 MY alongside its urban-jungle sibling, the FXS, for a dynamic duo of EV fun with more torque and more horsepower than previous model years, plus other upgrades to the drivetrain to include a wider final-drive belt and improvements to the power packs.
Electric bikes are still a new technology, and as such is struggling to find mainstream acceptance. By moving into numerous categories on a proven drive and power-storage system, Zero is expanding its footprint while progressing the electrics market to the benefit of all. No other EV manufacturer has such a diverse lineup, and I always love checking out green tech, so without further ado I’m going to take an in-depth look at this pair of electric crusaders.
Continue reading for my review of the Zero FX and FXS.
KTM continues to expand and refine its adventure bike line with its 2017 1090 Adventure R and the 1290 duo, the Super Adventure R and Super Adventure T. Revealed to the world at the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany, these bikes benefit from KTM’s not-inconsiderable experience with off-road bikes and its more recent foray into the world of naked street/superbikes. The engines punch above their weight, and the electronic magic really shows the genius of Austrian engineering, which is a lot like German engineering. (...just with a sense of humor?).
Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1090 Adventure R, 1290 Super Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure T.
Rokon expands a little bit out of its pure off-road niche with the Ranger model that brings the traditional look and function associated with the Rokon brand to the street-legal, dual-sport sector. As with the rest of the Rokon inventory, a small Kohler engine powers a hydraulic system that enables the full time, front- and rear-wheel drive. Yeah, these bikes don’t exactly fit anyone else’s mold, but they aren’t meant to be, and they are very good at what they are built for. Today I’m going to check out the lineup, and see what Rokon has done with its newest addition to the family, the Mototractor.
Continue reading my review for the Rokon Ranger, Trail-Breaker, and Rokon for Hunters.