2018 Yamaha MT-10
After a fairly major update for the 2017 model year, the popular FZ-10 drops its American name and runs with the same MT-10 moniker as the rest of the world for 2018. Yamaha’s Hyper-Naked literbike sports a 998 cc plant that delivers 160.4 ponies for a brutally powerful ride. The factory tweaked its D-Mode engine mapping feature to help the rider manage said power and (hopefully) keep the power delivery synched with the rider’s skill level. Also new for 2018 is the Quick Shift System that helps you run through the gears even faster so you can get the most out of whichever mode you prefer. TC, RbW and ABS all make an appearance in the electronics suite, and the suspension comes with an array of adjustments to make this an all-around, top-shelf bike. New name, ’almost’ new bike; I give you the ’18 MT-10.
Continue reading for my look at the Yamaha MT-10.
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
The race to grab a slice of the burgeoning Millennial market is heating up, and Kawasaki enters the fray with its sizzlin’ hot, retro-style Z900RS. Built as a tribute of sorts to the legendary Z1 superbike, the new-for-2018 RS packs a punch that does its predecessor justice with 111 horsepower ready to go with a twist of the mechanical throttle control. Suspension components are thoroughly modern as well, and at a glance, it seems Kawi has nailed the balance between nostalgia and nouveau with this ride. Modern performance and classic design are a common marriage nowadays, and Kawi is entering this market against some well-established competition so its success is far from ensured. Today I’m going to take a look at this retro-tastic Z900 variant to see if it really holds up the family name and is a viable competitor in the new millennial/hipster market.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900RS.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster
Honestly, at first glance I was a little underwhelmed by this new-in-2016 offering from The Motor Company. I thought it was a little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement. It wasn’t until I started to familiarize myself with the bike that I realized this is the whole point of the design. Still, my disappointment persisted as I labored under the misconception that this bike was just a lightly modified version of existing Sportster models, but again I was off target since it actually uses a slightly different frame than the other Sporties, and comes with enhanced suspension as well. At this point, I abandoned all of my preconceptions and took a slightly more objective look at the Roadster, finally willing to give it an honest chance. This is what I found.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Roadster.
2018 Yamaha MT-09
Yamaha finally brought its U.S.-bound, mid-size hyper naked into line with the rest of the civilized riding world this year by renaming our FZ-09 as the MT-09. I’m sure we’ll all miss the “Fuzz,” but the “Master of Torque” is essentially the exact same bike. All the upgrades that were introduced in 2017 make the transition — traction control, ABS and improved throttle curves — along with the 115-horsepower engine that made last year’s model such a hit. When I covered the updated version, there was some question as to whether the range would live up to its potential. Well, having had around a year in which to prove itself, I’d say the 09 has acquitted itself admirably. Join me while I take a look at this ride from a fresh perspective.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha MT-09.
2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F
Back in 2012, Honda presented the CB500F to the world at the EICMA Motor Show to bolster its “standard” category for the 2013 model year. This compact streetfighter sported Honda’s then-new 471 cc in a rather naked layout with almost 50-horsepower on tap to push the 414-pound curb weight around, so it’s safe to say that it definitely punches above its weight. This is at least part of the reason for its success and market popularity, and the factory has made tweaks here and there in an attempt to keep it fresh all the way into 2018 in order to maintain that momentum. Now that the family has matured somewhat and settled into its groove if you like, I want to take a look at the range to try and divine the secrets to its success.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB500F.
2018 Yamaha MT-07
Yamaha finally saw fit to drop its FZ family designator in favor of the MT brand seen by most other markets. The changes aren’t limited the moniker; the MT-07 comes with a handful of tweaks to include better suspension and updated looks to reflect its aggressive nature. Fans of the”Fuzz” will rejoice to know that it retains its 689 cc, crossplane concept powerplant with its 50 pounds o’ grunt and steering geometry that makes the family so nimble. I understand and accept that there are some mighty smart people who decide what names/colors/whatever will sell in any given market, and I know that there are significant cultural differences involved, but I’ve never quite grasped why the MT had to be the FZ here. Looks like someone at Yamaha finally questioned it too.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha MT-07.
2017 - 2018 Suzuki SV650 ABS
Suzuki continued with the evolution of the SV650 line last year with the all-new-for-2017 SV650. Built on the success of the original SV650 that covered 1999 through 2008, and its offspring, the SFV650 “Gladius,” this new ride carries the SV DNA into a new generation. This new ride replaces the Gladius, so SFV fans, if you are looking for anything beyond a 2015 model, abandon hope. Join me while I take a look at what lessons Suzuki has learned over the last 17 years or so of working on this family.
Continue reading for my look at the Suzuki SV650.
2017 - 2018 BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS
BMW’s G 310 R roadster got a brother as it moved into the 2017 model year with the addition of the adventuresome G 310 GS. The “GS” builds on the success of the “R” with a few subtle changes that shift the design toward the adventure bike end of the spectrum. Sharing the same 313 cc engine, the G 310 pair head into the low-displacement market alongside some hot competition.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW G 310 R and G 310 GS.
2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
Do you want to ride a scooter for the ease of operation and the extraordinary fuel economy but don’t want to look like a sissy? While not all 50 cc scooters are sissified, a lot of them are. They come in pretty pastel colors and cute designs, something that just isn’t your style. How do I know? Because you’re reading this. Enter the Ruckus (NPS50 ) from Honda, known in other markets as the Zoomer. Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. 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.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda Ruckus.
2018 Energica Eva EsseEsse9
EV superbike-builder Energica hit the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori in Milan this past weekend, and in addition to its existing models, the factory turned us on to its newest effort; the Eva EsseEsse9. Astute readers who are familiar with the brand will recognize the “Eva” moniker as belonging to one of the previously existing models, but this new variant goes in a slightly different temporal direction with its design. It brings 133 pound-feet of torque to the table as soon as you crack the “throttle” — or whatever we’re supposed to call the motor control — and 109 horsepower to move the all-electric ride. Naturally, that ain’t the end of the yummygoodness, so let’s check out what else Energica has done to try and further the EV cause with its latest opus.
Continue reading for my review of the Energica Eva EsseEsse9.
2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 R
BMW’s R 1200 R roadster has been around since 2006, and the Motorrad looks to extend that run with a repowered and updated version for MY15 and beyond. The new “R” gets the same boxer mill as the R 1200 GS/GS Adventure/RT/RS, so it packs 100-plus ponies and 90-plus pounds of grunt into the narrow, minimally appointed roadster frame. Electronic gadgetry comes in the form of ABS and ASC, as well as variable power-delivery modes and traction control, for most of the top-shelf safety features folks tend to expect nowadays. There’s more of course, so it’s safe to say that there is much more here than meets the eye if you’ll forgive the shameless Transformers reference, so let’s dive right in and see what else the Bayerische Motoren Werke has in store for us with this newest incarnation of its popular roadster.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 R.
2016 - 2017 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1
Arch Motorcycle’s flagship bike brings innovative design, crushing performance and artistic flair together for buyers looking for something, shall we say, a little more exclusive. Proprietary engine management components and an S&S twin-cam V-twin drive the bike with over 120 pound-feet of torque to work with, so it’s far from being just a showy curb ornament. A monster 2,032 cc engine drives this lovely beast for a bike that is as much art as it is transportation.
Continue reading for my review of the Arch Motorcycles KRGT-1.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha XSR900
New-from-2016 in Yamaha’s sport heritage stable, we have the XSR900. Influenced by the classic “XS” series from the ’70s and ’80s, the XSR shows its roots with retro styling and stepped seating combined with just enough modern tech that you know you’re in the 21st century. At first glance, it looks like a nice little bike: compact and sporty. On second glance...and third...it looks like a whole lot of bike for an affordable price. I wasn’t expecting dual 298 mm front disks, beefy inverted forks and respectable power-to-weight ratio for less than 10 grand.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha XSR900.
2017 - 2018 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? How will it compare to the other “Big-Four” naked 750s? Let’s check it out and see.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900.
2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
"Supernaked.” No, it’s not a state of undress or a new movie starring Ron Jeremy. It’s Kawasaki’s description of its the mid-size streetfighter introduced last year, made to compete against rides such as the FZ-07 from Yamaha and Suzuki’s SV650 for a slice of the stripped-down pie. Much of the Z650 is new, but there are also plenty of carryover details that show some continuity of evolution alongside the Ninja lineup, specifically the Ninja 650. To some, the differences may seem a bit subtle, but naked streetfighters draw a different type of buyer than do the fully faired, race-style superbikes, and said subtleties make all the difference in the world to those kinds of buyers. This is an area where Kawi has been conspicuously absent, and the release of this ride signals a move by the factory into previously uncharted waters against established makes and models, so let’s see what all makes the Z650 tick and how it stacks up against the current market.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z650 ABS.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec and Bolt C-Spec.
2014 - 2016 Kawasaki Z1000
Much like their fanbase, naked bikes are kind of a breed apart— some more than others. Kawasaki’s Z1000 is just such a bike with an almost cult-like following that has propped up the family since ’03 with their enthusiasm for the streetfighter flavor the Z1000 brings to the table. Minimal bodywork (by the factory’s estimation, anyway) and relaxed ergos come bundled with the 126-pony, 1,043 cc mill. The factory saved both weight and money on the electronic fandanglery by leaving it on the shelf for a rather raw ride that many of us still appreciate. Relatively simple and built for performance, the Z1000 served as Kawasaki’s flagship naked standard until it was replaced by the Z900 for MY17.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z1000.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt
As Yamaha’s "Made in the U.S." cruiser line, Star shows its stuff with the 2018 lineup. The Bolt continues with that classic "bobber" style — high tank and short wheelbase — folks here expect to see in old-school styling. Powered by an air-cooled V-twin engine, but with a plenty of technology on board, the Bolt is a good in-between size — not too small that you’ll outgrow it soon and not so big that it is intimidating for new riders. The bobber-style solo seat, easy cruisin’ rider triangle and naked-bike look make the Bolt a choice little bar hopper or commuter ride.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Bolt.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
The VMAX has been around a while, either under Yamaha directly, or under Yamaha’s made-in-the-U.S. cruiser line, Star Motorcycles. The 1,679 cc engine houses mad performance with more than adequate power and torque to give the VMAX plenty of ’go’ and the big, dual six-piston calipers up front give it plenty of ’stop.’ The 2018 VMAX comes dressed to impress, so let’s take a look at what the Tuning-Fork company has in store for us this year.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha VMAX.
2017 - 2018 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. For 2018, the Monster 797 Plus replaces the base model with some extra goodies added in. Join me while I delve into the details to see what Duc has in store for us.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Monster 797 and 797 Plus.
2016 - 2018 Ducati Hypermotard 939
Ducati updated its Hypermotard for the 2016 model year and carried that forward to 2018. Fairly fresh off a revamp in ’13, the new Hypermotard variant brings Ducati’s EURO 4-emissions compliant Testastretta to the range along with its increased, 937 cc displacement and 113-pony output. The factory also padded the range with a MotoGP-liveried, 939 SP that sports top-shelf racing suspension and is generally skewed toward track work, or riders who wish they were doing track work. Both rides benefit from Ducati’s rider-safety technology with onboard traction control, ABS and the like. Good thing too, since this is exactly the kind of bike that will allow you to get in trouble all three ways: quick, fast, and in-a-hurry.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Hypermotard 939 and 939 SP.
Aprilia’s Dorsoduro line gets a major addition 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.” Let’s dive right in and see what all Aprilia packed in to back up that nickname.
Continue reading for my review of the Aprilia Dorsoduro 900.