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2017 - 2018 KTM 125 Duke

2017 - 2018 KTM 125 Duke

Small-Displacement Ride With A Big-Bike Attitude

The battle of the flyweights rages on as KTM stays in the fray with its race-tastic 125 Duke. KTM takes much the same tack as the competition and builds its entry-level ride to resemble the machines it has to offer further up the licensing chain. The angular Duke bodywork and exposed Trellis frame set the stage for the key player, the 11 kW powerplant that keeps the 125 Duke within the A1 performance envelope and turns it into a weapon in the fight for the zenith of the nadir, ie, the entry-level masses yearning to breathe free. KTM has established quite a name for itself as the King of Thumpers with a proven off-road record, but today I’m going to take a look and see how the littlest Duke stacks up against the rest of the 125 cc streetbike field.

Continue reading for my review of the KTM 125 Duke.

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2018 Honda CB125R

2018 Honda CB125R

Honda’s New Mini Neo-Sports Café

Honda looks to cash in on the resurgent interest in café racers with its all-new “Neo-Sports Café” design family that includes the entry-level CB125R at the very bottom of the totem pole. The CB125R packs big-bike features into a decidedly small-bike package with many of the same details as its slightly bigger brother, the CB300R. It comes with its performance restricted to 9.8 kW (13 hp) in order to meet licensing requirements across the European Union and serve to bait the table to draw in and indoctrinate new riders at the earliest opportunity. Did they hit the mark? Let’s dig in and find out.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda CB125R.

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2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke

2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke

Coming Off An Update Last Year, It Is Better Than Ever

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 for 2017, and those improvements carry straight over into the 2018 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.

Continue reading for my review of the KTM 390 Duke.

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2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Carbon Dark

2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Carbon Dark

Lustful carbon-fiber parts and red accents

Paying tribute to their past, Moto Guzzi headed to a major revival plan and launched the new range of V9 platform and the third iteration of their most celebrated roadster model, the V7 back in 2017.

The V7 is also the first model created by MG and celebrating the 50th year of the first, the brand launched the V7 III with four editions in 2017: Stone, Special, Racer and a celebratory entrant Anniversario. Expanding this footprint for 2018, MG launched the ‘Rough’, ‘Milano’, ‘Stornello’and finally the ‘Carbon Dark’ edition.

All of the ‘V7s have been prepped up for the consciousness of the new generation of motorcycling. The V7 models will be the same breed of bikes that differ slightly to imprint different characters carrying the same soul, and my favorite of them all is the limited-edition ‘Carbon Dark’, which as the name suggests, gets quite a bit of carbon-fiber on it.

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2019 Honda CB300R

2019 Honda CB300R

Really More Of A ’Sport-Roadster’ Than A Cafè Racer

Honda expands its Neo-Sports Cafè lineup with the new-for-2019 CB300R that brings more of the same cafè-tastic vibe that we got with the CB1000R, just in an entry level-size package. This naked little pocket crotch-rocket — or “Sport Naked” as the factory has dubbed the style — looks to pull in younger riders with a user-friendly, 286 cc powerplant and lightweight design. After a race to the bottom of the usable displacement range for the sport and naked genres, Honda is refining its bottom-tier rides, so join me while I take my first look at this all-new machine from the Red Riders and see how it stacks up against some of the other current pocket-rockets.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda CB300R.

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2018 Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 S.E.

2018 Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 S.E.

For Rider That Doesn’t Need To Impress Anyone

Moto Guzzi carries its Griso 1200 8V Special Edition into 2018 with the new “Black Devil” livery over the same custom/blackout treatment as the previous gen, and the customary naked look long associated with the range. Much of that look is centered around the exposed, 110-horsepower V-twin powerplant that comes set transversely in the frame for that instantly recognizable ’Guzzi vibe. A sleek shape and nimble frame provide the agility, but the rider will need to provide all the skill since it runs sans any sort of electronic aids or fandanglery such as traction control or anti-wheelie/slip protection. This is one ride that you can take at face value as a raw, honest streetfighter.

Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 S.E.

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2018 Ducati Monster 821

2018 Ducati Monster 821

The Epitome Of What A Naked Sportbike Should Be

Ducati’s iconic Monster line gets an upgrade with the updated Monster 821. Newly revised for 2018, the Monster 821 benefits from some trickle-down engineering from its big brother, the Monster 1200, and a host of new design touches all its own. A new tank, tail section, headlight and muffler gives it an all-new variation on the classic Monster look with due consideration for the original Monster 900. Duc’s Testastretta L-twin powerplant serves up streetfighter performance with 109 horsepower tucked away in the stable and a host of safety systems to aid the rider in keeping it all under control. Not an entry-level ride by any stretch of the imagination, the Monster 821 does offer an experienced rider a mercurial platform that can shift personalities at the touch of a button for a wide range of conditions and skill levels.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Monster 821.

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2018 Triumph Street Triple R

2018 Triumph Street Triple R

It Was A Long Foreplay But Satisfaction Has Arrived

Triumph raises the bar with a mid-level upgrade to its base Street Triple model with the Street Triple R and Street Triple R Low. These two siblings take the family to a more sport-tastic level with a number of upgrades to go with its aggressive good looks, starting with TFT instrumentation and extra electronic engine-control features that see riding modes added alongside the TC system, and an on-board ride computer that monitors and displays fuel burn rates, ambient temps and more. A souped-up engine powers the pair with 116 ponies in the paddock that are just waiting to be turned loose and let run. Upgraded suspension components improve handling with beefier brakes to haul it down, but that’s just the broad strokes. Join me whilst I delve into the details.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Street Triple R and R Low.

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2013 - 2018 KYMCO K-PIPE 125

2013 - 2018 KYMCO K-PIPE 125

Entry level? Yes. Commuter? Sure. Fun? Definitely.

The mini-streetbike market heats up with new competition to go head-to-head with the long-standing K-Pipe 125 from Kwang Yang Motor Co, Ltd — better known to us as the Taiwanese manufacturer, KYMCO — introduced not long ago to the U.S. market. Intended to be lightweight and fuel-efficient, the K-Pipe gives the pocket bike class — long dominated by Honda with the Grom and now with the Z125 PRO from Kawasaki — a viable, less expensive option. Entry level? Yes. Commuter? Sure. Fun? Definitely.

Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO K-Pipe 125.

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2017 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Razkull 125

2017 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Razkull 125

An Affordable Fun-Sized Ankle Biter

“Pit bike,” “monkey bike,” and even “ankle-biter” has been used to describe the Razkull 125 from SSR Motorsports. I suppose arguments could be made for and against any and all of these monikers, but no matter what you call it, the Razkull is a fun little ride that is inexpensive, and easy to own and operate. Compact and powered by a 125 cc thumper, the Razkull demonstrates why going fast on a slow bike is a whole lot more fun than going slow on a fast bike.

Continue reading for my review of the SSR Motorsports Razkull 125.

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2017 - 2018 Benelli TNT300

2017 - 2018 Benelli TNT300

First Ride, Fun, or Commuter, This Could Be Your Huckleberry

Benelli put together the TNT300 “Tornado” with both the entry-level market and the frugal commuter segment in mind. This sporty little ride brings an unintimidating powerplant to the table tucked away in a naked sportbike assembly that fits in with current styling standards and carries more than a little Italian DNA. Sophisticated enough to pass muster with the emissions folks, this ride nevertheless presents a relatively simple alternative to some of the available options on the market today. Competition is stiff in the bottom-tier streetbikes from some very well established names, and while Benelli enjoys some 100-year-plus roots itself, the name now belongs to the Qjian Jiang Group (QJ) based in China. Today I’m going to take a look and see how well the transition is working out for this storied Italian company.

Continue reading for my review of the Benelli TNT300.

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2017 - 2018 Benelli TNT 600

2017 - 2018 Benelli TNT 600

They Got The ’Naked’ Part Right In This Middleweight Contender

Benelli’s TNT600 – their biggest sportbike available in the U.S. market – hits the streets for 2018. Powered with a 600 cc engine and upgraded brakes from the previous gen, the TNT 600 is touted as the hottest-selling middleweight naked sportbike in India, though it encounters stiff competition and less-than-enthusiastic response here in North America. Though its roots are Italian, Benelli now comes to us from China. So is it an Italian bike? Or a Chinese bike?

Continue reading for my review of the Benelli TNT 600.

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2018 Yamaha MT-10

2018 Yamaha MT-10

New Name, Same Bad Attitude

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.

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2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

A Modern Classic Tribute To The Original Z1

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.

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2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster

Maybe Not Fast, But Certainly Quick

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.

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2018 Yamaha MT-09

2018 Yamaha MT-09

It Gives You Everything It’s Got And Begs You To Unleash It

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.

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2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F

2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F

An Honest, Uncomplicated Ride For The Money

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.

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