2016 - 2018 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.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2.
2017 Yamaha SCR950
The retro war heats up as more manufacturers jump into the fray, and Yamaha finally took the plunge with its new-in-2017 SCR950 scrambler. Based on the Star Bolt, this bike runs the same proven 942 cc mill with a decidedly classic overall flavor dating back to the original scramblers of the ’60s and ’70s. I must confess that I have an affinity for scramblers, and I already know the Bolt is a heck of a bike, even if it is, shall we say, very ’flattering’ to a certain Sportster currently on the market, so it is with high expectations that I approach The Tuning Fork Company’s new foray into scrambler territory.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha SCR950.
2016 - 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler
It is a well-known phenomenon that as people get to a certain stage in life, they crave things from their youth. Frequently, this coincides with a certain amount of disposable income to indulge in such nostalgia. Over time, entire industries have sprung from this demand, and even designers among established businesses capitalize on this market. The new-from-2016, R nineT Scrambler from the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW Motorrad) seems to fall into just this sort of category. Based on a general design popular from the ’50s all the way through the ’70s, the Scrambler embodies the form of the original scramblers, while borrowing from the 1951 Beemer R 68. The result is a ride that invokes nostalgia in those old enough to remember the originals and subsequent variants, but also appeals to a younger crowd who appreciates classic looks coupled with updated performance and more reliable technology than its antique predecessors. I say that with confidence since I fall into the latter group, and I am really digging this new-old ride, so join me for a dissection of this scrambler descendant as I try to determine how closely this apple fell to the tree.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R nineT Scrambler.
2018 First Look: Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are in denial about your team getting completely owned by Indian Motorcycle’s flat-track racing team, the Wrecking Crew, chances are you’re aware of the recent leap from obscurity to the pinnacle of FT racing prowess under the Polaris umbrella. In honor of this recent success, and in an effort to ride the current wave of popularity and interest in this storied American brand, Indian has put together a street-legal ride fit for the masses; the Scout FTR1200 Custom. As the cleverly-ingenious name suggests, it’s based on the Scout platform, but any resemblance to the actual Scout seems to be solely in name and the general engine layout. In fact, let’s just shine on the whole Scout thing for the moment, and focus on what this bike actually is, shall we?
Continue reading for my look at the Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom.
2015 - 2017 Yamaha WR250F
First introduced in 2001, the WR250F has seen some changes through the years up to and including 2014 — most notably the alloy frame introduced in 2007, improved suspension and some ergonomic tweaks — but for the most part, it had gradually fallen from being a hot ticket to same-old, same-old mediocrity. That changed in 2015. With updates in technology, including the revolutionary rearward slanted engine, an added sixth gear and wide-ratio transmission, twin-chamber fork and fuel injection, the WR250F is a hot ticket once again in the Enduro world, where Yamaha hopes to revive interest in the 250 cc market that has been waning since they essentially quit updating the WR250F in 2007.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha WR250F.
2015 - 2018 Ural Gear-Up
You know that sad feeling you get when the first chill arrives in the air and it’s time to start thinking about putting your bike into storage for the winter months? What if you didn’t have to do that? The folks at Ural don’t want you to quit riding just because winter arrives. Back in the day, you needed a one-horse open sleigh to go dashing through the snow. Today, you need a Gear-Up — a street legal, four-season adventure bike from Ural. The off-road beast of its brother, the Patrol, the Gear-Up comes standard with on-demand two-wheel drive, a high-intensity spotlight, spare tire, luggage rack and sidecar bumper to carry you through the snow, over rough terrain or anywhere your adventures take you once the pavement ends.
Continue reading for my review of the Ural Gear-Up.
2018 Honda CRF450R
Back in ’17, Honda rebuilt the CRF450R pretty much from the ground up, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of new stuff and expected to see a straight-up carryover. Boy, was I mistaken. A new, lightweight lithium-ion battery drops enough weight that the factory decided to keep the electric leg and rely on it alone, having offered push-button start as an option last year as a market test. May as well, most of the other big-name MX producers have already done so and it will be expected from now on. Besides, it only adds five pounds to the bike, and that’s only likely to get lighter on subsequent models. Updated suspension settings and a lower center-of-gravity deliver a superior ride as compared to the ’17 model. Plus, tweaks to the engine result in quicker holeshots to help you establish and maintain your lead right out of the gate. All-in-all, a more capable machine meant for competition on the MX course, at least according to the factory prose. Let’s take a look for ourselves, shall we?
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CRF450R.
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650
Equipped with a 651 cc thumper and what looks like a beefy front end, the KLR 650 from Kawasaki is a capable middleweight dual-purpose ride. Big enough to be an adventure bike, but not really intended as such, the KLR 650 has an ample-size fuel tank, frame, rims and suspension that show true off-road roots, yet has enough straight-line stability to handle the pavement. If not-quite-adventure, but more than dirtbike is what you need, the KLR 650 might be your Huckleberry.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki KLR 650.
2018 Yamaha WR250F
Yamaha hits the trails with the new-and-improved WR250F. Touted as competition-ready right out of the box, the MY18 ’Wide Ratio’ brings a newly-reworked engine in a new frame with other delightful nuggets like the advanced suspension and optional engine-tuning app that uses your smartphone as an interface for quick and easy ignition/injection mapping. Titanium poppets and electronic fuel injection add even more yummy-goodness to the mix as part of the standard equipment package. Will it be enough for the current market? We’ll see soon enough, but meanwhile we can dissect the thing to see what all makes it tick.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha WR250F.
2018 Yamaha YZ450F
Yamaha’s once-popular YZ450F has been slipping in the polls of late, a situation the factory seems bound to rectify with this newest version that should propel it back into the top tier in the motocross world along with Honda, KTM, and Husqvarna. The 2018 YZ450F sports updated looks to go with its updated features such as the new engine, wireless engine tuning and improved suspension just to name a few. A teeny-tiny battery and lightweight starter system eliminates the old kicker (and the peasants rejoice!) with a new push-button cold-start feature that helps with starts and warmups. For all intents and purposes, this should be considered an all-new machine, so let’s check out what Yammy has going on over there and see how it stacks up against the other big boys.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZ450F.
2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F
When Yamaha redesigned the YZ450F engine back in 2010, it really struck a balance between power and control. The 2015 version carried top-shelf racers such as Weston Peick and Justin Barcia to podium finishes, so there is no denying that the largest of the YZ family is already an accomplished model. Not content to rest on its laurels, the factory introduced a number of improvements for the 2016 model year that carried over into 2017. How does one improve upon success? Let’s take a look and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZ450F.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha WR250R
Essentially a carry-over from 2008 when the WR250R added a street-legal stablemate to the Yamaha WR lineup, the 2018 model carries-on carrying-on dual-sport fun. It’s not really a street-legal version of the WR250F, though the model designation tends to make it seem so. “WR” indicates it’s a wide-ratio gear box, and beyond that, the sky’s the limit. The wide-ratio gives an acceptable balance of highway capability and off-road responsiveness, desirable in the dual-sport market.
Continue reading for more information on the Yamaha WR250R.
2015 - 2018 Honda XR650L
Honda carries its venerable XR650L line into 2018, but to be honest, it’s almost completely unchanged from the original version unleashed on the world back in 1993. Before you scoff, I would point out that sharks haven’t changed in millions of years, having evolved long ago into creatures perfectly suited to their environments, and apparently, so it is with the XR650L. The Red Riders got it right out of the gate with this one, and popular support keeps the bike on Honda’s showroom floors even after nearly a quarter-century. I want to see what Honda has going on over there that gives this bike such longevity.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda XR650L.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
Pitting the fuel-injection fans against the carburetor fans, we score a point for the latter with the DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM from Suzuki. Fuel injection hadn’t yet made an appearance in any of Suzuki’s 2017 dual-sport lineup, which was a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. For 2018, the DR-Z siblings haven’t yet been touched by the FI update. Sharing the same engine as the 500EXC from KTM, the DR-Zs come on a different chassis with progressive-link rear suspension. The “SM” — the SuperMoto of the family — and the “S” feature a six-liter air box with quick-release fasteners trouble-free access to the air filter and special low profile mirrors that rotate hoping to avoid damage, both are pluses when you’re playing in the dirt.
Continue reading for more information on the Suzuki DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki DR650S
With a glance at the DR650S from Suzuki and you might just dismiss it as an enduro bike. That would be doing it an injustice. It’s really a basic adventure bike that will get you off the pavement and into the woods with perhaps more gumption than a real adventure bike. It’s not the most attractive bike in the stable, though it’s small and scrappy with its 644 cc engine and so much fun to ride. Priced affordably, it isn’t a tragic to drop it as it would be otherwise and it is lightweight enough that you can pick it up and keep going.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR650S.
2018 AJP Motorcycles PR7
Portugese off-road heavyweight AJP is looking to expand its influence in the U.S. market with a street-legal version of its popular PR7 adventure bike for 2018. The factory is keeping power figures close to the vest for the time being, but it’s fairly forthcoming with all the other metrics, and I know the 600 cc SWM engine that powers it puts out something in the neighborhood of 50 horsepower. That said, I’d like to take a look at this latest and final version of the PR7, but first I’d like to take a look at the builder.
Continue reading for my first look at the AJP Motorcycles PR7.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki DR200S
Suzuki brings dual-sport capabilities to the entry-level sector with its DR200S. A heavy emphasis on off-road performance defines the overall look of the thing, and a 199 cc engine drives it over hill and dale as well as down the road with all the appropriate lighting for safety and legalities. The end result seems to be a functional, if plain, bike that provides a stable ride and moderate power with a humble overall bearing. A carry-over for the last few years, it hasn’t changed much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR200S.
2017 CSC Motorcycles TT250
CSC Motorcycles — a west-coast importer for Chongqing Zongshen — brings us a dandy dual-sport bike in the TT250. With a 230 cc engine that offers manageable torque and horsepower, the TT250 gives us Enduro styling in a street-legal dual sport for off-road fun or economical commutes at an amazingly affordable price. It’s a gutsy little Chinese bike that is easy to start and runs quite well, so if your preconceived notion of Chinese bikes is that they’re crap, you might want to take another look.
Continue reading for my review of the CSC Motorcycles TT250.
2017 Rokon Mototractor
Rokon, maker of some of the most unique, utilitarian motorcycles in the world , adds to its lineup this year with the Mototractor model. This newest contraption — and I mean that in the best possible way — focuses specifically on capabilities useful in an agricultural environment. Granted, you could transform a Trail-Breaker with loads of an accessories catalog, but the factory saves you the trouble. Mighty thoughtful, don’t you think? The Mototractor mill only puts out around 7-horsepower, but don’t let that fool you; it punches far above its weight and brings capabilities that go far beyond what you would normally expect, or even think to ask from a bike. I previously named a Rokon product as one of my favorites if I had to survive a zombie apocalypse, and digging into this model I am reminded of exactly why.
Continue reading for my review of the Rokon Mototractor.
Honda’s CRF series has been around since MY13, and 2017 sees the first major update for the family. Among the changes, the factory added another 1.6 horsepower over the previous generation, and it added the “Rally” to the lineup for even more capacity for fun when the blacktop turns to brown. These rides are built for people who take their fun seriously, according to the factory, but just how serious you can get with one depends on your definition of the word. Is it a machine that will suit your purposes? Let’s take a look and find out.
Continue reading for my look at the Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally.
2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S
Success was not a problem with BMW, especially for their R NineT. It has absolutely been a hit story for the German ever since it launched the R Nine T in 2013. It was so good that BMW struggled initially to keep up with the demand and they released one version after the other in succession to the world stage that includes the Pure (roadster) and Racer (café/endurance-style), as well as the Scrambler. It is a no brainer that BMW Motorrad will see it fitting to extend their range even further.
The GS motorcycles refer to either Gelände/Straße (German: off-road/road) and are distinguished by their long travel suspension, upright riding position and larger front wheels. Taking up the same moniker is the Urban G/S which is a purpose built street-oriented motorcycle that has a charm bound to resonate with onlookers. Based on the ‘Lac Rose’ concept seen at Wheels and Waves earlier last year, the German finally took the wraps off their new 2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S at the previous EICMA in Milan.
Paying homage to the original 1980 BMW R80G/S, this urban combines the classic motorcycle with modern technology and sophisticated craftsmanship that can transport anyone back to the days when the GS abbreviation meant a sense of freedom and the passion for adventure on two wheels, both on-road and off-road. But this time they’re for looks and not for bashing your way across unpaved expanses of Africa.
2016 - 2018 Yamaha TW200
Fuel-injection haters rejoice. There are still some carbureted options out there for off-road. Spec-wise, the TW200 is the same bike Yamaha has offered for over a decade, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a look. The TW200 — brought forward for 2018 — with its scrappy little 196 cc engine is a nice learning bike, fully street legal but with that distinctive motocross-style swale seat that says you’re going off-road. On the move, the bike has nice low-end torque and you’ll feel the front end trying to come up when you get even a little twisty. Dual sport, yes, but so much about this bike just begs to be in the dirt.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha TW200.
I can’t say enough good things about these Rokons, and quite frankly, neither can their owners. They have a frame that can withstand the punishment of wilderness riding and an enormous ground clearance. They’re lightweight, have hydraulic brakes; and they have an engine you can’t kill. They pull, they tow and they climb like a mountain goat. If you have business out in the woods, these babies are your huckleberry.
New in 2016, Rokon introduced the Ranger to add to the stable alongside the Scout and its siblings, the Trail-Breaker and the Rokon for Hunters.
Continue reading for my review of the Rokon Scout and Ranger.