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 cafe’-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.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB1000R.
2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400
Kawasaki takes the next step in the struggle to find that perfect balance between displacement, performance and affordability with the new-for-2018 Ninja 400. This all-new ride delivers the aggressive styling that one expects from the Ninja family with a host of improvements over the previous generation. More power, less weight and a mature presentation should hold the new Ninja in good stead in the highly-competitive small-displacement sportbike market that serves as the main battlefield in the contest to instill some brand loyalty in the increasingly important Millennial buyer base. It appears that the Ninja 300 is going by the wayside as the factory tries to unload the 2017 300s with a discounted price tag, so it’s probably safe to say the 400 is the replacement ride; at least in the U.S. market. After a race to the bottom, it looks like Kawi has decided the sweet spot lies somewhere uphill for American riders.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 400.
2015 - 2018 BMW S 1000 RR
BMW has always had a presence in the motorcycle racing world, in fact the word “Beemer” was coined specifically for BMW’s race bikes of old, and the factory continues its blitz into the 21st century. The S 1000 RR is already part of that history, and it is marketed as a race bike, though truth to tell, the official factory race bike gets some features you won’t see on the street, but that isn’t unusual. Moved by a 999 cc engine that delivers nearly 200 hp, the S 1000 RR is nothing to take lightly. Salient point is; this bike is very close to the official race bike, which makes sense considering that it started life as a race bike in ’09 that spilled over into production for the general public the following year.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW S 1000 RR.
2016 - 2018 Suzuki Hayabusa
It’s a Hayabusa. Is there really anything more to be said? It’s Suzuki’s Gixxer 1,340 cc monster speed machine back again for 2018. The ’Busa is one of the biggest sportbikes out there, so yeah, big and heavy; you don’t want to go slow very long. Once at speed, the bike is in its element. Stupidfast. Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of a Hayabusa.
(Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Hayabusa.}
Yamaha has been busy shaking things up as of late. The FJ sport-tourer family went the way of the FZ lineup with a brand-new name and refurbished looks, and it will hit U.S. showrooms sometime in November as the Tracer 900 along with a slightly more tour-tastic version, the Tracer 900 GT. Fans of the FJ models — and indeed the FZ/MT-09 range — will recognize the 115-horsepower, 847 cc triple and adventuresome flavor of this new sport-touring lineup that will be replacing the FJs. The base model lands somewhere near the “sport” end of the sport-tour spectrum, but the GT model is a bit more balanced with a set of hard-side panniers that provides some secure dry storage and a host of features that long-distance riders will certainly appreciate. Join me while I take a first look at this new pair that gives us a glimpse into Yamaha’s 2019 lineup.
See my first look at the Yamaha Tracer 900 and the Tracer 900 GT.
2017 - 2018 SYM T2 250i
SYM brings affordability and practicality together in its streetbike trainer, the T2 250i. This ride represents the largest non-scooter-type model the factory makes, and the 250 cc mill is its second-largest engine currently in production thus raising the ceiling a bit for the company in the two-wheel vehicle department. Built to take on the “Big Four” for a slice of the low-displacement crotch rocket market, this ambitious little ride carries features and aesthetic touches that most riders will find familiar, but looks ain’t everything at the end of the day.
Continue reading for my review of the SYM T2 250i.
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 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.
2015 - 2018 Honda CBR500R
Honda started the CB500 twin line back in 1993 to plug a gap in the entry-level market and serve as a mid-size commuter bike – a mission statement that’s still valid today. You could consider the CBR500R as the supersport branch of the CB family tree, but with the same 471 cc engine as its closest kin, the CB500F and CB500X. In spite of its sporty exterior, the CBR500R seems to maintain the family tradition of entry-level and commuter service.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR500R.
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.
2014 - 2018 Honda CBR600RR
Honda’s latest generation of 600 cc, CBR supersports toes the family line with its race-winning blend of power and maneuverability all packed onto a MotoGP-inspired chassis. Much like the original CBR600RR that hit the streets back in ’03 and was built as a racebike replica, the current model features a strong engine along with a front suspension featuring Honda’s 41mm Big Piston Fork for superb handling and snappy action, plus MotoGP-inspired bodywork in a race-tested aerodynamic supersport design.
Continue reading for more my review of the Honda CBR600RR.
TVS Apache RR 310
TVS Motor Company is the third largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India, and the Apache has been the company’s flagship brand since its launch in 2006. The nameplate, which started with the unveiling of a 150cc motorcycle, has spawned into a variety of streetfighters, which somewhat have managed to create new benchmarks when it comes to delivering raw power in a relatively affordable package.
Now, a brand new fully-faired 310 cc sports bike has arrived for the big party and will replace the flagship Apache RTR200 4V. It’s called the Apache RR 310 and has been co-developed with BMW Motorrad.
Based on the G310 platform, the Apache RR 310 carries over the powertrain, suspension unit, chassis, brakes, radials and the exhaust from the entry-level naked German. Wearing a full fairing silhouette, first ever at TVS, it might as well make it off as the next BMW G310 RR.
Expect BMW to get it to our shores since TVS has no plans to cater other than the huge Indian market for now.
2015 - 2018 BMW R 1200 RS
BMW launched its newest sport-tour model, the R 1200 RS in 2015, and the model is a carryover into the 2018 model year with some upgraded goodies last year and this year. Beemer combined the top-shelf Automatic Stability Control, optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Dynamic Traction Control and variable power-delivery modes with a rather sporty platform, both in form and performance. The 1,170 cc, twin-cylinder boxer engine delivers power numbers that would embarrass many pure sport bikes and drives the RS into the realm of high-speed, long-distance riders.
Continue reading for my review f the BMW R 1200 RS.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R3
The Tuning Fork Company makes a solid effort for a slice of the entry-level sportbike market with its YZF-R3. Yamaha had its work cut out for it ’cause this all-important market is hotly contested by nearly every other streetbike manufacturer in the world and the pressure is on to get brand-loyalty instilled in the incoming riders. Engine displacement breaks the 300 cc mark with 40-plus horsepower and 20-plus pounds of torque, and at only 368 pounds wet, this is plenty of power for some cheap thrills on the road. The rest of the bike seems well put together at a glance, but today I am going to dig into the guts of the thing and see what all Yamaha has in store for us and how well it stacks up against similar models on the market right now.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R3.
2017 - 2018 Yamaha YZF-R6
If you’ve ever wanted to own a bona fide racing machine but didn’t have the money or vanity to go for one of the $100K-plus literbikes on the market right now, I’ve got good news for you; Yamaha updated its mid-size [YZF->mot1937-R6 in MY17, and it can be had without selling a kidney or your firstborn. At just over the $12K mark, the R6 claims over 120 horsepower with a host of features to help riders manage the tremendous forces this thoroughbred generates. The 600 cc-ish bracket has been getting a little stale as of late between competition from the liter category and the burgeoning interest in the 300 cc bikes, so the updated version of a proven mid-size racetrack champ is exciting news indeed. I’ve been really looking forward to dissecting this blue rocket, so join me whilst I partake of what Yamaha has to offer.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R6.
2019 Yamaha Niken
Yamaha looks to redefine what we think of when we hear the word “trike.” We had a taste with Piaggio’s MP3 scooter that used a clever parallelogram to articulate the front end so it can lean into the turns like a two-wheeler. Now we have the all-new Niken (literally: two sword) that brings the leaning trike concept into the realm of full-size bikes. Based on the popular FZ/MT-09, the Niken LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) doubles the size (and number) of the front contact patch(es) for greater safety and traction with the proven 847 cc Crossplane Concept engine to drive the thing. With over 100 ponies on tap and its fancy front end with gobs of traction, the Niken seems set to deliver a ride that is limited only by your own skills and testicular fortitude. The Tuning Fork Company has teased us with hints and nuggets over the last year and more, and finally we get to take a good long look at this new way to build a trike. Hopefully the liars, er, lawyers will stay out of it this time.
Continue reading for my first look at the Yamaha Niken.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha FJR1300
The biggest sport-tourer in Yamaha’s’s lineup just got better. In 2016, the FJR1300A and its stablemate the FJR1300ES saw some evolutionary changes that brought just enough tweaks to make it a smoother, more comfortable ride. Probably the biggest change in that update was in the transmission, giving it a smoother ride, as well as a sixth gear, and the addition of a slipper clutch to reduce hand fatigue at the clutch lever. Both of these tourers run a 1,298cc liquid-cooled four-banger and come on a sportbike frame for a bit more thrill than just a tourbike.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha FJR1300.
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.