Motorcycle reviews

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1973 Kawasaki Z1

1973 Kawasaki Z1

Japan’s first literbike brought thrilling performance to everyday riders

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. made an indelible mark on the world motorcycle scene back in 1972 with the unveiling of its 1973 Z1 model. The Z1 broke new ground as the first Japanese bike with a transverse-mount four-banger, and it’s widely recognized as the island nation’s first literbike with a 903 cc engine and thrilling performance for everyday riders.

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2020 Vespa Sprint 50 S

2020 Vespa Sprint 50 S

It has the new 4T3V engine, ABS, and a TFT display with connectivity through the Vespa Multimedia Platform.

Piaggio refreshed its Vespa Sprint 50 range for the 2018 model year and added an “S” version as its top-shelf offering within the family that carries over through 2020. This is Vespa’s sportiest line, and it’s made even more so by the new 4T3V powerplant and digital instrumentation package. Of course, that timeless Vespino look shines through all the modern touches to tie in with the factory’s long-running history and deliver an up-to-date riding experience.

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2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite

2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite

Indian’s new flagship tourer caters to the elite of the elite with hand-finished paint and their biggest production engine to date

Indian Motorcycle brings classic and contemporary together for its limited-edition Roadmaster Elite. Powered by the new, 116 cubic-inch Thunder Stroke plant and enhanced with top-shelf infotainment features as well as safety equipment, the Roadmaster Elite serves as Indian’s Flagship entry in the tourbike bracket and looks like it’s set to take on its domestic competition.

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2020 Zero SR/S

2020 Zero SR/S

Upgraded suspension, improved range, and full fairing separate the SR/S from the SR/F

EV bike builder Zero Motorcycles beefs up its street-centric offerings ahead of the 2020 model year with its new SR/S. This ride carries a bit more in the way of bodywork than usual to break new ground for the marque, but the grunt-tastic performance remains in line with its super-naked sibling, the SR/F. As with most of the rest of the on-road lineup, the factory has a full line of accessory goodies that let you mix and match for just the right combination of range and recharge times to suit your riding style.

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2015 - 2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS

2015 - 2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS

This is not the bike for the weak of heart

The Ninja ZX-14R ABS continues to serve as Kawasaki’s non-H2 Ninja flagship as we head into the 2020 model year. Essentially unchanged since this generation hit showroom floors back in ’12, the “14R” brings almost a liter and a half of four-cylinder supersport-goodness to the table along with the ride-quality and safety subsystems you’ll need to keep it under control. Make no mistake; this is a serious ride meant for experienced riders, and not another one of these racebike-looking commuters so popular with the masses right now.

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2020 Indian FTR Rally

2020 Indian FTR Rally

Finally, an off-road worthy FTR

Fresh off its European release, the 2020 Indian FTR Rally returns to home turf for a North American launch. The Rally comes set up more as a proper dual-surface scrambler than the street-centric, base-model FTR 1200 and souped-up 1200 S models. Power comes from the same 73 cubic-inch engine as the rest of the range with a set of stealth knobbies to make the connection to terra firma. To further the Rally’s multi-purpose mission, the factory offers a quartet of accessory bundles that add four more potential personalities.

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2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE

2019 - 2020 Vespa GTS 300 HPE

The GTS gets its second major update in ten years and it’s a doozy

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.

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2020 Cake Kalk INK

2020 Cake Kalk INK

The Swiss maker’s affordable lightweight off-roader with better wheels and suspension than its siblings

Blurring the lines between mountain bikes and motorcycles, the Kalk series of machines from the Swiss made “Cake” intends “to speed up the journey towards a zero-emission society while enhancing excitement and fun.” They are walking the path that will change the future of riding with the focus on off-road performance and innovation in terms of weight and simplicity of riding.

Their newest entry is the Kalk INK. It takes on the KALK OR with the same powerful drivetrain with slightly heavier and stable wheels and a simplified and sturdier suspension derived from motocross machines. This is a black rendition of the KALK OR as a casual offroader for a thrilling backcountry exploration.

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2019 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 150

2019 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 150

Agile and quick, the Sprint 150 is all about fresh style and youthful exuberance

Vespa’s Sprint line has always been distinguished by its modern design and youthful lines, and the newest versions of the colorful 150 cc Chrome Crest and decidedly-dark Notte models carry that appeal into 2020. Built for the younger buyer base with low-emission, high-mileage engine, and compact build, the small-frame Vespino are bestowed with modern electronics and technologies that increase rider safety. Those selling points should appeal both to the rider and the people who love them.

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2020 Vespa GTS SuperTech 300 HPE

2020 Vespa GTS SuperTech 300 HPE

More power, more torque, traction control, and ABS make the SuperTech one of Vespa’s best performing scooters

Vespa rolls into 2020 with the new GTS SuperTech 300 HPE as its top-shelf entry for the GTS Super line. The SuperTech carries the updated high-performance engine with a handful of electronic safety features to make your rides safe and comfortable. Special paint and trim sets this unit apart visually from the rest of the family and adds an air of exclusivity to the mix.

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2020 Vespa Primavera 50

2020 Vespa Primavera 50

It’s hard to beat a bona fide Italian scooter for classic looks and performance

Vespa’s Primavera line marked its gold anniversary in 2018 with, among other things, a range of refreshed models in its 50 cc range: the Chrome Crest (CC), Yacht Club, and Touring. Each sports its own choice of colors and brings something unique to the table in its design, but the overall panache and proven, 4T3V engine technology are a constant across the board. Also available through the Primavera 50 is the Limited Speed variant that restricts top speed to 30 mph, allowing you to ride with a driver’s license and no motorcycle endorsement.

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2017 - 2020 KYMCO Like 150i

2017 - 2020 KYMCO Like 150i

The Noodoe Smart system adds connectivity you don’t usually see at this price point

The Kwang Yang Motor Company (KYMCO) takes on some pretty heavy hitters in the low-displacement scooter market with its Like 150i. The Like carries itself with an overall modern look that borrows from classic influences with tasteful results. Power comes from a thumper that rocks electronic fuel injection to help the Like meet U.S. emission standards. At a glance, it looks like good basic transportation. Add the Noodoe Smart system for connectivity, and it becomes more than that.

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2020 Indian Scout Bobber Sixty

2020 Indian Scout Bobber Sixty

Indian expands the Scout lineup into the under-$10k category

Indian Motorcycle treats us to a mid-year release with its new, stripped-down Scout Bobber Sixty. Crisp and clean, the Scout Bobber Sixty rolls with the essentials plus some minimally-intrusive safety electronics, all powered by the proven, 78-horsepower “Sixty” plant. Blackout is the word of the day for the Scout Bobber Sixty as it expands the Scout lineup into the less-than-$10k territory.

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2020 Vespa GTS SuperSport 300 HPE

2020 Vespa GTS SuperSport 300 HPE

The new HPE engine makes a noticeable improvement in power and torque

Piaggio’sSport 300 HPE for the 2020 model year, the third such revision for the line over the last nine years, and it brings a new level of capability and tech to the market. Naturally, the old-school Italian charm comes stock with a number of visual improvements as well. Of course, the High-Performance Engine (300 HPE) serves as the almost-hidden crown jewel, and it sports a variety of improvements over the previous generation and comes complete with safety-related electronics to round out the package.

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2019 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 150 Sport

2019 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 150 Sport

It has upgraded lighting, better electronics, and infotainment options

Piaggio’s Vespa division beefed up its small-frame Vespino offerings with the MY2018 Sprint 150 Sport that serves as the top-shelf unit for the model family. The Sport line comes in its own distinctive color packages with a sticker package that further sets it apart from its siblings, but it’s the details that are less obvious at a glance that really makes the Sport special. Upgraded lighting and electronics boost safety and infotainment options as the icing on the cake.

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2019 Vespa 946(RED)

2019 Vespa 946(RED)

The purest and most modern expression of style

A collaborative effort between Piaggio Group and (RED) brings us the Vespa 946(RED). Previewed at a Global Fund event in 2016, the (Vespa 946) RED is available the U.S. with a 155 cc engine and an electronics suite not normally seen on a scooter. This most exclusive Vespa model is the only product in the automotive world to have been chosen by (RED) to contribute funds for the fight against AIDS.

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2018 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 50

2018 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 50

The new iGet engine has more power and smoother power delivery

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.

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2020 Vespa Primavera 150 Sport

2020 Vespa Primavera 150 Sport

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.

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2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

It’s a blank canvas for you to make it your own

Harley-Davidson makes some progress on its “100 new bikes” promise with the mid-year release of the new Softail Standard. The Standard presents a combination of old-school and custom features over a rather minimalist design, and that has the effect of keeping the price down to make this the least expensive Big Twin the MoCo has to offer. It also makes for a great starting point for you would-be bike customizers out there who are looking for a suitable platform.

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2020 Vespa Sei Giorni II Edition

2020 Vespa Sei Giorni II Edition

The new 300 HPE engine delivers 12 percent more power and 18 percent more torque

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.

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Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary

Only Harley-Davidson would have the courage to name a motorcycle “Fat Boy” and here’s celebrating 30 years of the iconic design

Harley-Davidson marks three decades of production for one of its most-iconic families with the release of the 2020 Fat Boy 114 30th Anniversary model. This machine proudly displays DNA from H-D’s immediate post-WWII era all the way down to the old-school frame geometry that mimics the rigid rear ends from way back in the day. Harley powers it with its largest production engine and wraps the whole project in a unique graphics package complete with a limited-edition serial number and 2,500-unit limited production run for an extra bit of exclusivity.

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