2017 - 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT
Adventure bikes are definitely a ’thing;’ they aren’t showing any sign of going away anytime soon, and Suzuki’s V-Strom is definitely one of the major players advancing the cause, as it were. A few 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 made in the 2017 model year that will likely endear these rides to their fans even more. Now we have more power, plus a traction control system to help manage said power as well as some nifty aesthetic tweaks and more.
2019 Energica Ego
Italian EV-bike builder Energica buffed up its Ego superbike for MY2019 with a number of comfort- and control-centric features intended to increase its appeal and viability as an alternative to internal combustion bikes. Not only does the factory show due concern for performance, but it goes farther than most to retain the smoker-bike look that lets the Ego blend right in with a crowd of the usual super/street suspects. Electric bikes are still fighting to expand the toehold it has in the market, and it’s bikes like this that the still-burgeoning genre needs to continue to grow. Think I’m overselling it? Just wait till you see what all the Ego has going on under the hood before you make that call.
2019 Kawasaki Z400
Kawasaki needed to plug a hole in its super-naked lineup between the Z300 and the Z650, so it cooked up the new Z400 ABS to do the job. Aggressive Kawi styling dominates the look, but not necessarily the attitude, to make the Z400 an excellent commuter/first upgrade from whatever you cut your teeth on. The ergonomics are friendly to shorter inseams and conducive to relaxed riding, so this is a bike that should cover a range of body types. Is it right for you? Let’s find out.
2019 Ducati Diavel 1260 / 1260 S
Italian powerhouse Ducati hits MY2019 with an all-new pair of Diavel models for the sport-naked sector: the Diavel 1260 and 1260 S. Both toe the family line as far as aesthetics are concerned, and they even run the same exact Testastretta powerplant so the differences between the two essentially come down to the trim package and chassis features. Performance and safety go hand-in-hand with a number of top-shelf electronic goodies to help you keep all that power under control. This bike is truly a rolling tribute to Ducati’s ingenuity, and the best is under the hood hidden away from plain sight, so today I want to delve into this pair and see how it stacks up against some of the likely competition from Japan or maybe elsewhere in Europe.
2019 Triumph Speed Twin
Triumph expanded its “Modern Classics” lineup ahead of MY2019 with the new-for-’19 Speed Twin as a tribute piece that pays visual homage with all the modern yummy-goodness you’d expect tucked away under the hood and out of sight. The result; a clean-looking classic with gobs of retro appeal, and that’s an important detail because the newest generation of riders has shown themselves to have an interest in the old-school looks, much to their credit. So let’s take a closer look at Trumpet’s newest Speed Twin; not the first of its name.
2019 Triumph Bonneville T120 ACE
Triumph enjoys some of the deepest roots around, and it takes advantage of them with the new Bonneville T120 ACE. The “Ace” comes loaded with retro styling and old-school custom flavor for a double-whammy of dated British style. Under the hood, the Ace is a thoroughly modern ride with a robust electronics suite and powerful engine to go with contemporary comforts and convenience.
2019 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
For years now, Zero Motorcycles has pushed the EV-bike envelope in an attempt to show how viable/flexible battery-bikes can actually be, and the factory just took another important developmental step with a fresh set of updates for its DS and DSR. These dual-sport rides toe the genre line with their overall design, but of course, the real magic is under the hood with an all-electric drivetrain the factory graced with both a power boost and a range increase in an effort to expand the factory’s footprint within this rapidly burgeoning market segment. Street-electrics generally stay in relatively civilized areas, but dual-sport rides are just as happy off the beaten path and that brings its own set of variables and issues to be resolved, so today I want to take a look at this pair to see what all the factory has done to address those concerns.
2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700
Yamaha’s Ténéré line expands down into the mid-range with the all-new Ténéré 700 (XTZ700). The “700” brings solid dual-sport capability to the adventure-touring range with an off-road bent that definitely favors soft terrain. Yammy’s CP2 engine delivers the goods with a transmission and chassis tuned specifically for trips off the beaten path, much more so than its bigger brothers in the Super Ténéré family. After a race to the top, this model marks a new front in the battle for market supremacy as the factory seeks to fill in under the 1,200 cc units, so let’s see where the balance between price and value lies on this newest and smallest Ténéré.
2018 - 2019 Yamaha XMAX
Yamaha brought the XMAX to the U.S. market last year after testing it in Europe for a bit. It’s a shame that it took this long ’cause the 300 cc class makes a lot of sense on our side of the Pacific Rim/Pond. A 27.6-horsepower mill promises enough speed to be safe, even comfortable, at highway velocities, and that’s ’muy importante’ in the American market. This performance comes bundled with a decidedly modern and mature look that just screams metro-commuter to me, and not necessarily for the younger set, either.
2019 Ural M70
Ural offers the M70 for the rider base who lacks the adventuresome spirit to ride on the old-school IMZ front end prevalent throughout the rest of the range. It hits all the other major Ural high points with a look that’s straight out of Germany circa 1930s-ish with the classic boxer engine, and of course, a sidecar. This ride is definitely the most modern machine Ural brings to the table, in spite of its looks and this is the last year it is offered, so let’s dive into this rolling paradox to see what else our crazy Russian buddies have going on over there.
2015 - 2019 Honda Ruckus
Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. Even though it does have a 50 cc engine, no one is going to say, “Awww, isn’t that cute?” when you ride by on a Ruckus. Granted, you won’t be going very fast, so on-lookers will get a good, long look.
2019 KYMCO SuperNEX
The electric vehicle arms race has expanded into the two-wheel sector with some predictable big-name players clamoring for their share, but KYMCO — better known for scooters and small-displacement internal-combustion-engine (ICE) bikes — enters the fray with its SuperNEX. This thing seems aptly named with superbike-like body panels and performance to back up the claims implied by such a name. Safe to say that this is new territory on two fronts for the Taiwanese manufacturer; it’s the first truly full-size bike and the first serious foray into the world of electric bikes. Gotta’ say, this thing wasn’t even on my radar until it popped up at the Milan show, so join me and we’ll discover this stunning ride together.