2019 - 2020 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.
2017 - 2020 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. In 2018, the Monster 797+ replaced the base model with some extra goodies added in.
2018 - 2020 Suzuki GSX-S1000
Engine upgrades joined other improvements in the 2018 model year as Suzuki pushed to keep its sport-standard-sector momentum going with the GSX-S1000. The family tree branched yet again with the new-in-2018, blackout GSX-S1000Z and Suzuki dropped the “F” in favor of the “FZ” for 2019, but the “F” returns for 2020. The family now has even more of what it takes to dominate the street with a Gixxer engine in a naked bike chassis.
2020 - 2021 Ducati Panigale V2
Ducati headed into MY2020 with a revamped, low-displacement Panigale that the factory rebranded from the Panigale 959 to the Panigale V2. It’s a mixture of old and new with new body fairings over a modified monocoque frame, upgraded suspension components, and six-axis ride-quality controls to deliver extra safety on the road. Power comes from the Superquadro V-twin plant with over 150 ponies on tap to serve as the icing on the cake.
2022 Suzuki Hayabusa
Suzuki rolls into 2021 with its newly-improved-for-MY2022 ambassador model for the sportbike world; the inimitable [Hayabusa->mot. Windtunnel-tested fairing tweaks seek to further improve penetration and reduce drag so you can get the most out of the next-generation in-line four. A beefed-up, model-unique electronics suite helps improve rider safety and control with a new ride-by-wire throttle system that supports a number of the new engine-control features.
2017 - 2021 Honda CBR1000RR
Honda carries its CBR1000RR superbike, a.k.a. ’Fireblade’, into 2021 with little in the way of changes. That’s hardly surprising given the scope and scale of the revisions done prior to MY17 that brought us the newest gen of Honda’s Total Control initiative with a host of electronic goodies to help keep the 189-horsepower engine (10 more ponies than the previous gen) under control. It’s Honda’s first inline four-banger to run a throttle-by-wire induction control, and the factory piled on with Riding Modes, Wheelie Control, and more to make the ’Blade serve as a model flagship for the affordable-supersport sector with plenty of influence from the racing department for the ’everyrider’.
2021 BMW S 1000 R
BMW rolls into MY2021 with a revised version of its street-legal sportbike, the S 1000 R. It borrows heavily from its race-tastic stablemate, the S 1000 RR. The new model hits the street both leaner and meaner this year to deliver an absolutely essential roadster platform, even though the electronics suite is rather robust within the standard features. Optional electronics and gear can turn this bike into a bona fide race machine.
2021 Ducati Monster
Ducati rolls into 2021 with a pair of new additions to its famous Monster family. Built to be light, easy to control, and above all fun, the chassis is compact and sporty with ample Monster DNA on display; but its the twin-cylinder Testastretta that really steals the show. In spite of its low overall weight, this is decidedly not a machine for the uninitiated.
2018 - 2020 Yamaha MT-09
A lot of words come to mind when someone mentions the Yamaha MT-09: powerful, sporty, agile, and aggressive are a few of them. Packed with the 847 cc CP3® engine, the MT-09 combines aggressive styling and impressive performance with a host of electronics – including traction control, ABS, and improved throttle curves – to make it a contender in the naked sportbike arena.
2018 - 2021 Yamaha MT-10
Yamaha’s Hyper-Naked literbike features a 998 cc plant that delivers 160 ponies for a brutally powerful ride. The factory tweaked its D-Mode engine mapping feature to help you manage said power and (hopefully) keep the power delivery synched with pilot skill level. Also new from 2018 is the Quick Shift System that lets you run through the gears even faster to 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.
2016 - 2021 Yamaha XSR900
Influenced by the classic “XS” series from the ’70s and ’80s, the XSR900 from Yamaha 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.