2021 Honda CB1000R Black
Honda goes a bit beyond the cursory “Bold New Graphics” package that frequently heralds a new model-year with new bodywork and a blackout paint package on the Honda CB1000R that sets it well apart from the previous version to make it the “Black Edition.” Improved electronics join with the new looks for some under-the-hood improvements increasing its utility as a commuter, and a fun one at that. The punchy four-banger reprises its role as the beating heart with throttle-by-wire and riding modes on board to help with engine management.
2021 Ducati Desert Sled
Ducati rolls into 2021 with some fresh paint for its returning Desert Sled model, and for you connoisseurs out there, a limited-edition Fasthouse variant rolls with unique coloring and an even more aggressive mien. Both come set up with an off-road bias while maintaining some street capabilities in keeping with its Scrambler roots. Power delivery remains the same with the 803 cc L-Twin powerplant that reprises its role alongside cornering ABS to help you keep the thing dirty-side down.
2021 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Dark PRO
If you like your two-wheeled goodness served up with a side of darkness, then Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 Dark PRO is definitely on the menu just for you. New for 2021, the “Dark PRO” brings the usual youthful attitude to the table along with its “Dark Stealth” livery that shows a gritty streak for a unique look. It relies on the same 1,079 cc plant as the rest of the 1100 PRO family and sports cornering ABS along with other top-shelf electronics. A fairly-bare bike, the Dark PRO makes for a good blank canvas for custom-bike enthusiasts, and like the rest of its kameraden, is a suitable machine for a new rider.
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.
2019 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth
The Ducati Monster can trace its heritage back to the ’93 Monster 900, and the new “Stealth” variant serves as what you might call a highly-functional tribute piece for that venerated machine. It totes the usual suite of electronic gadgets with Ducati’s Quick Shift feature added to the stock package, and it boasts 100-plus horsepower in a design that is, paradoxically, both sexy and stocky at the same time.
2021 Ducati Panigale V4
Another model-year is upon us, and constant as the North Star, the bikebuilder in Bologna has a fresh update package for its Panigale family with the new-for-2021 Panigale V4. Aesthetically, the body is unchanged, but there are enough tweaks under the hood to qualify the Panigale V4 as a “new” model, at least according to the bikebuilders in Bologna. The V4 powerplant is cleaner this year, so it comports to the EU-5 emissions requirements and rolls with more race-tuned electronic wizardry than ever before.
2019 - 2020 Triumph Street Scrambler
Triumph’s Street Scrambler made a splash when it hit the market a couple of years ago, and the factory rolled out a fresh, new generation for the 2019 model year. That’s right; the “SS” brings more yummy-goodness to the table with an updated look to go with a whole passel of improved electronic features that turn this classic into a thoroughly modern ride. It isn’t all about the visuals and hang-on gear either, the powerplant generates 18% more fun (or power, if you insist) for your riding enjoyment. Really, it would almost be easier to tell you what isn’t new, but that’s not why they feed me, so let’s dig into this new Triumph and see if we can find a suitable competitor for it.
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.
2018 - 2020 BMW R nineT Urban GS
BMW expanded its R nineT lineup ahead of the 2017 model year with the Urban G/S that brings old school adventure bike looks to the table along with the same modern performance as the rest of the line. Power comes from an 1,170 cc flat-twin engine that adds character and historical panache at the same time to make the “GS” something of a rolling tribute piece. Although the “GS” sports some special gear that sets it apart from the rest of the range, it’s still just a platform that can be shifted between the stock road-running setup and a more off-road friendly build for what is, essentially, two bikes in one. Rider safety is also available in varying levels, so I would argue that this ride is probably appropriate for riders that land near the bottom of the experience scale along with riders who are looking to cross between the black and the brown.
2020 - 2021 Ducati Panigale V2
Ducati headed into MY2020 with a revamped, low-displacement Panigale that the factory rebranded from the Panigale 959 to the Panigale V2. It’s a mixture of old and new with new body fairings over a modified monocoque frame, upgraded suspension components, and six-axis ride-quality controls to deliver extra safety on the road. Power comes from the Superquadro V-twin plant with over 150 ponies on tap to serve as the icing on the cake.
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.
2016 - 2019 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
The scrambler market is booming, and so far, Ducati is ahead of the curve with a full range of purpose-built Scrambler models. It added to the lineup in 2016 with its Scrambler Sixty2, a model that reflects what the factory calls modern pop culture, with a liberal dose of sixties, mid-size standard cruiser flavor blended in. Powered with a 399 cc L-twin, the Sixty2 isn’t a poser in a scrambler costume; it’s ready to rock and roll.
2022 Suzuki Hayabusa
Suzuki rolls into 2021 with its newly-improved-for-MY2022 ambassador model for the sportbike world; the inimitable [Hayabusa->mot. Windtunnel-tested fairing tweaks seek to further improve penetration and reduce drag so you can get the most out of the next-generation in-line four. A beefed-up, model-unique electronics suite helps improve rider safety and control with a new ride-by-wire throttle system that supports a number of the new engine-control features.