2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
Kawasaki beefs up its street-legal racebike game for MY2019 with the improved Ninja ZX-10RR superbike. This hotly-contested sector caters directly to the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there, and should be considered a continuation of the closed-circuit competition between the pros, just in a different venue. A new engine drives the windtunnel-tested chassis with a number of internal improvements along with a handful of suspension tweaks to handle all that extra power. Best of all, it comes with the necessary gear to make it street legal but can be quickly stripped for track days.
2015 - 2019 Honda CBR300R
Honda shows us that big isn’t always better with its CBR300R. As the small-displacement sportbike bracket fills in from every quarter, the CBR300R with its 286 cc engine has the aggressive look and feel of the bigger bikes – like a Fireblade you left in the dryer too long — but in a commuter-friendly version that could be a stepping stone on your way up the displacement ladder.
2019 Suzuki GSX-S1000FZ
Suzuki’s GSX-S family has always been about bringing sportbike performance to the commuter and touring market, and the 2019 GSX-S1000FZ looks to be Suzuki’s new flagship model in that particular stable. The “FZ” combines the beating heart from a Gixxer with top-end suspension and brakes in a slightly more relaxed package to put the “sport” back in sport-tourer. Suzuki finishes up with the two most common ride-quality/safety subsystems – TC and ABS – to make the FZ competitive on the world stage all the way around.
2017 - 2019 Ducati Monster 1200 R
All the major sportbike players have an entry in the street-legal, racebike subgenre, and for Ducati, that distinction falls to the Monster 1200 R. The “R” brings liter-plus power to the table in combination with top-shelf suspension and ride-quality electronics that let you dial it right in, and of course, the Monster DNA is plain to see in the sparse sheet metal and exposed frame members. This machine is the ultimate iteration (so far) of an already aggressive family line with all the sex appeal you’d expect from this marque.
2020 Suzuki Katana
Suzuki reaches back all the way to the early ’80s for the design inspiration behind the new 2020 Katana GSX-S1000SM. The reinterpreted “samurai sword” serves as a sportier alternative to Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 platform for those who are looking for an everyday ride with roots. Modernized looks pair with a modernized drivetrain in an attempt to revive the line, and of course, it rocks the expected ride-quality adjustments that are nearly ubiquitous at this point even if they aren’t quite guaranteed in this genre.
2017 - 2019 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S
Ducati spruced up its Monster 1200 and 1200 S ahead of MY2017, and it looks as though the Italian giant is carrying over those new models at least through 2019. Both bikes sport new fuel tanks on top of updates to the subframe and swingarm that shorten the wheelbase and change the overall look, however slightly; but in the bigger picture, it adds to agility. The electronics suite delivers all the safety and ride-quality control features you can reasonably expect; it’s especially true now that items that were considered top-shelf have become ubiquitous enough to be part of the expected gear package.
2018 - 2019 Suzuki GSX-S1000
Engine upgrades joined other improvements in the 2018 model year as Suzuki pushes to keep its sport-standard-sector momentum going with the GSX-S1000. Last year, the family tree branched yet again with the new-for-2018, blackout GSX-S1000Z and Suzuki dropped the “F” in favor of the “FZ” for 2019. The family now has even more of what it takes to dominate the street with a Gixxer engine in a naked bike chassis.
2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000
Suzuki gave its iconic sportbike GSX-R1000 an overhaul in 2017 with a new liquid-cooled engine, a new frame, new ECM, new ride-by-wire throttle bodies and a host of other goodies to keep this ride current and relevant in its sixth generation. The engineers at the factory show their love for the GSX-R1000 by making it the most powerful and hardest accelerating Gixxer-with-a-single-R to date with a boost in horsepower that pushes the claimed figure up to 199 ponies at the shaft. Simultaneously, the engineers made the foundation both lighter and stronger so even more of the available power makes it to pavement. End result: more of what we expect from the Gixxer family.
2018 Suzuki GSX250R
All-new in 2018, the GSX250R from Suzuki is set to enter the race to the bottom. Not the bottom of the stack, but the bottom of the displacement range with its 248 cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine. Suzuki jumps on the go-small-or-go-home bandwagon with a sportbike carrying all the genetic markers of the Katana family, and exactly what one would expect from one of the Big Four.
2019 BMW S 1000 RR
If you like your streetbike served with a side of track-day performance, BMW has good news for you in the form of its S 1000 RR. The “RR” marks one of those happy mediums between run-of-the-mill, supersport wannabes and the six-figure “proper” race machines, and it represents a significant return on its relatively low MSRP. Solid performance is supported by safety and stability systems, and that acts as a skill-multiplier to help you keep it dirty-side down.
2019 Honda CBR500R
Honda spruced up its CBR500R ahead of MY2018, and in an unusual move, buffed it up yet again for MY2019. The new model dips further into race-tastic territory with aerodynamics and ergonomics as the main front-burner considerations for an effort far beyond the BNL treatment, and the factory also tweaked the drivetrain to give it a bit more go to match the sporty new show.
2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro café-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.
2017 - 2019 Honda CBR1000RR
Honda carries its CBR1000RR superbike, a.k.a. ’Fireblade’, into 2019 with little in the way of changes from last year. 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’.