2019 Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle
Ducati’s Scrambler Full Throttle was among the Scrambler models Ducati brushed up for the 2019 model year, and the revised version brings even more flat-track attitude to the table. The paint was spruced up a bit, along with the saddle to give the “FT” a year-specific finish. It ain’t all about the looks though; new electronics and safety equipment further increases its value right along with its curb appeal.
2019 Honda CB500X
Honda brushed up its CB500X ahead of MY2019 with a number of improvements that come hot on the heels of the buffs it got just last year. There’s a number of engine tweaks that net a small gain in torque with a larger front wheel to better tackle road bumps and light terrain. The ’stop’ was boosted right along with the ’go’ in the form of a few refinements in the electronics department, as well as the hardware. Improvements in the suspension and rider’s triangle do their bit to increase rideability and comfort too, so without further ado, let’s dig into Honda’s new smallish-displacement adventure bike to see what else the Red Riders have going on over there.
2019 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled saw its first major update ahead of MY2019 after only two years on the market, and the new version has a handful of things to offer over and above the previous gen. It starts with the bones reinforced to better withstand the rigors of off-road riding and rally-style tires that are designed for same. Rideability and comfort was buffed along with the security system, and the electronics suite features an off-road-specific upgrade as well. Those are the broad strokes, but as ever, the devil is in the details, so let’s dive right in and start chasing them down.
2019 Honda CBR650R
Honda dropped an “F” and added an “R” to its lineup this year with its new CBR650R. The factory gave it a look that’s all its own with new fairings and a trim rear end, and it adds to the R’s race-tastic tendencies with an aggressive rider’s triangle. New Showa stems and powerful brakes add value while the souped-up engine adds compression and power to make the R a thrill to ride, along with new electronic safety features to help you keep it dirty-side down.
2019 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
Ducati refined its Scrambler lineup ahead of MY2019, and the Café Racer was on the receiving end of a number of improvements. Curb appeal was buffed with new graphics, a new seat and old-school laced wheels, but it ain’t all about the vanity. The factory upgraded rideability and safety as well. In other words, Duc took one of its best mid-size rides and made it even better.
2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 / 950 SP
Ducati revamped its Hypermotard range ahead of MY2019 with the 950 and 950 SP to replace its outgoing Hypermotard 939 models. The new 950 borrows from the supermotard world for general design and rocks sharper angles for a more aggressive look. The 950 dropped some weight compared to its predecessor and replaced it with ponies for greater performance across the board, and the “SP” comes with top-shelf suspension and wheels, plus an expanded electronics suite and carbon fiber components to sweeten the deal. The hooligan-bike sector isn’t what you’d call the most populated by any means, but I’ve already got some potential competitors in mind so let’s go ahead and dive right into Ducati’s newest jackass bikes.
2019 Honda CB500F
Honda gives its CB500F the ’BNL-plus’ treatment ahead of MY2019 with a number of aesthetic improvements and a four-percent boost in power over the previous gen. Naked as ever, the “F” brings its usual sense of style and practicality to the table to serve as a lower-midrange “all-rounder,” as the factory succinctly puts it. Today I’d like to take a deeper look at this model and see how it stacks up against an equally-raw domestic competitor.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Kawasaki’s Ninja family has been a household name for over three decades now, and the factory aims to keep it that way with a couple of new models in the liter-bike range; the ZX-10R base model and its KRT variant. Toward that end, Kawi boosted power through a number of individual improvements throughout the engine. The engineers also added a few items that will certainly endear these siblings to the hearts of the race fans and wannabe knee-draggers out there, and they set up the head with those folks in mind as well. It doesn’t stop there; the electronics were upgraded with even more fandanglery on the menu, so without further ado, let’s dive into these new Ninjas and see what’s up.
2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
The value of indoctrination is not lost on KTM, evidenced by the fact that they’ve updated and generally spruced up their entry-level unit, the 390 Duke in 2017, and those improvements carry straight over into the 2019 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 tech 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, or so KTM hopes. Let’s dive in and see what else the Austrian bike maker has in store for us.
2016 - 2019 Ducati XDiavel / XDiavel S
It’s safe to say that “cruiser” isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ducati, or even the third, yet here we are with the XDiavel and its slightly dressier, “S” trim package that carries the brand into uncharted waters. The “X” is meant to signify the cross and blending of the two worlds — cruiser and sport — and the end result is what the factory calls a “Techno-cruiser” due to its melding of Italian performance DNA and a more cruise-tastic rider triangle than you normally see from this brand. Powered by a 1,262 cc Testastretta engine, the XDiavel duo put the “sport” in “sport-cruiser” and opens the performance field to folks that ordinarily wouldn’t have such an option.
2019 Zero Motorcycles FX
Range and performance are hot-button topics in the electric bike sector, to be sure, but so is variety, and Zero Motorcycles looks to address that last point with its newly improved, enduro-tastic FX model. Zero combines its powerful drive system with a terrain-loving chassis that lets you take your EV adventures just about anywhere you want. This is no soccer-mom’s SUV either. It brings genuine capability to the table with enough torque to gobble up hills for breakfast, be they paved or not. If that sounds like a lot, I assure you the FX can back up all my talk, so let’s dig into the details on this exciting genre-expanding ride to see what the future looks like, because this is it.
2018 - 2019 Triumph Speed Triple S / RS
Triumph refurbished its Speed Triple family ahead of MY2018, and the British giant carries its new-for-’18 Speed Triple S and Speed Triple RS straight over into the 2019 lineup. These two rides epitomize the “performance naked” subgenre with a stripped-down look. They come with an updated powerplant alongside a robust electronics suite on the base model that gets even better on the “RS” variant. Power, poise and control, the new Speed Triples seem to have it all, so today I want to see how well they hold up to closer scrutiny and pit one of ’em against a likely competitor from Japan, or maybe Italy. Let’s get to it.
2019 KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R
KTM hits 2019 with a new platform for adventure fans; the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R. The factory credits its own customer base with the design of this new adventuresome duo, as they’re both based on direct feedback from same. As a result, they come off the showroom floor with a definite head start in the comfort and rideability departments; or at least they will after the Spring ’19 U.S. launch, that is. Today I aim to discover what all KTM has in store for us, and to build the anticipation for this long-awaited pair that will cover both the on- and off-road subgenres.
2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Electric-powered bikes are at the cutting edge of technology as the world grapples with its fossil-fuel dependency and seeks viable alternatives, and the LiveWire represents the MoCo’s contribution to that effort. Harley-Davidson teased us back in ’14 with the Project Livewire prototype, but at the 2018 EICMA “Milan Show” the production version finally saw the light of day. This machine brings a slew of features to the table that shows that Milwaukee is not as mired in the past as its detractors would like to have you believe with safety and comfort amenities that qualify as top-shelf by anyone’s standards. This is a thoroughly modern ride with up-to-date equipment, and even though it’s operating within a still-niche genre, there’s no problem at all in finding a suitable competitor, so let’s get to it.
2019 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.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
Kawasaki’s Ninja lineup made a well-deserved impression on the sportbike sector, and the factory elevates its game yet again with the 2019 ZX-6R. This newest mid-size Ninja “636” carries a host of improvements that range from vanity-to-vroom with spruced-up looks, LED lighting and new instrumentation, just to name a few. The electronics were upgraded as well, and the new features stack with the incumbent power modes, traction control, and on the ABS-equipped model, Kawasaki’s own Intelligent Brake System. Them’s (sic) the high points, but there’s a lot more to know about this middle Ninja, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
2017 - 2018 BMW R nineT Racer
BMW expanded its Heritage lineup for MY2017 with the R nineT “Racer” variant that it carries over right on into 2019. The Racer takes Beemer’s popular roadster and gives it a café-tastic bent that, in spite of the fact that it adds more body components, seems to accentuate the essential nature of the model. Power comes from a classic boxer engine, and of course, the factory threw on a handful of extra safety items to help you keep it all under control.
2018 - 2019 BMW K 1600 B
The bagger genre is a uniquely American phenomenon, and as such, it can be difficult to compete against the established domestic brands, but BMW does exactly that with its K 1600 B. At a glance, the “B” hits all the pertinent design high points, and under the hood, the thing is chock full of comfort and safety features to make the “B” capable of pulling double duty as a tour bike. If you’re into inches (no giggity), Beemer accommodates you with over a liter-and-a-half in its six-banger mill to make it capable of standing up to Honda’s Gold Wing — probably. So let’s dig into this Boulevard Bruiser and see how it actually compares to the hard data from Honda’s GW bagger.
2018 - 2019 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.
2018 - 2019 Kawasaki KLX250
Kawasaki pulled the KLX250 out of the mothballs, updated it and released back into the domestic market in 2018. That came 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.
2018 - 2019 Triumph Tiger 800XCx
Triumph released a brand-new Tiger 800 XC lineup ahead of MY2018 with over 200 improvements across the board, and the British giant carries it straight over into the 2019 season. Not only does the littlest Tiger come with fresh bodywork, but the engine and electronics were upgraded, as well. Additionally, the factory beefed up the XCx’s off-road chops with some very specific tuning to give this model even more capability when the blacktop turns to brown.
2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Z900
Kawasaki steps up its bid to grab a slice of the growing naked-bike market with the Z900 ABS. As demand for the genre increased, so have expectations of performance along with polished looks. Kawi built this ride to replace both the Z800 and Z1000 moving forward into the 2017 model year, so buyers should expect to find plenty of both of those qualities. Aside from the 948 cc engine, what did the factory throw on this all-new bike to make it competitive in a minimalist, sportster/roadster market? Let’s check it out and see.
2017 - 2019 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
Aprilia’s Dorsoduro line added to its stable for MY17 with the all-new Dorsoduro 900. This supermoto-inspired ride serves as the successor to the popular Dorsoduro 750. It brings over 95-horsepower to the table with a ride-by-wire throttle, variable power delivery, traction control and ABS to help riders cope with the extra power. Not only does this show a certain amount of model-maturity, but it promises some security and safety for those who would use it in their day-to-day riding. Officially billed as a sportbike-supermotard hybrid, the factory also refers to it as “the fun bike.”