Sportsbikes reviews

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2017 - 2020 KTM RC 390

2017 - 2020 KTM RC 390

This is the “race” beginner bike

KTM’s RC 390 saw a major revamp ahead of MY2017, and the Austrian giant carries that revised model through into 2020 as the smallest starter-super to be offered in the U.S. market. Don’t be fooled by the small displacement; this is a proper racebike trainer with all the handling performance you’d expect from larger machines.

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2018 - 2020 KTM 790 Duke

2018 - 2020 KTM 790 Duke

KTM’s first parallel twin: race-ready and rearing to go

KTM launched a fresh assault on the mid-displacement, naked-bike market with the 2018 790 Duke, first of its name. The Austrian bike builders nicknamed it “The Scalpel” for its precise control over power delivery and lean angle with a race-tastic chassis and new, 100-plus horsepower mill. A robust electronics suite brings an alphabet soup of goodies to the table, and ABS, traction control, and variable power-delivery ride modes are just a few of the features on the menu. Even with the dearth of body panels, it’s easy to see the Duke DNA in the details that leave no doubts about its heritage. A bold move in such a competitive market, so let’s see what else KTM throws in to sweeten the deal and be competitive in a crowded field.

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2020 KTM 890 Duke R

2020 KTM 890 Duke R

KTM unleashes its "Super Scapel" on North America

KTM added to its mid-range naked-sportbike bracket with the 890 Duke R, now available in North America. Essentially, the factory took its proven 790 Duke and buffed it with fully-adjustable suspension, racier ergos, and better anchors. An all-new powerplant gives a boost in power and torque along with a handful of rider aids to add an element of control over the ride characteristics.

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2020 Zero SR/S

2020 Zero SR/S

Upgraded suspension, improved range, and full fairing separate the SR/S from the SR/F

EV bike builder Zero Motorcycles beefs up its street-centric offerings ahead of the 2020 model year with its new SR/S. This ride carries a bit more in the way of bodywork than usual to break new ground for the marque, but the grunt-tastic performance remains in line with its super-naked sibling, the SR/F. As with most of the rest of the on-road lineup, the factory has a full line of accessory goodies that let you mix and match for just the right combination of range and recharge times to suit your riding style.

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2020 Zero Motorcycle SR/S

2020 Zero Motorcycle SR/S

Made over the SR/F street fighter, it is a sports-tourer with fairings, taller handlebar, lower footpegs, and a windscreen

Showing the world how to do it right all this while, the folks upped their game for 2020 when they unveiled a brand new streetfighter, the SR/F. The bike features a new “Cypher III” operating system that brings in Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control and a multitude of data onto the TFT dash. USB charging ports, LED lighting, storage space, a fly screen, heated grips, and aluminum bar ends adds to the oomph factor.

Now, the same guys have taken that and slapped aerodynamic fairings, taller handlebar, lower footpegs, and a windscreen to create their exciting new entry into the sports-touring territory. This is the Zero Motorcycles SR/S, unveiled at an event in New York. And honestly, I love how it carries a hint of retro on it.

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2020 Ducati Panigale Superleggera V4

2020 Ducati Panigale Superleggera V4

The most advanced machine to roll out of the Borgo Panigale factory

Ducati unleashed to the world their most extreme version of their famed V4 R superbike: the V4 Superleggera. This limited-edition fantasy will come with multi-wings, 234 hp, carbon-fiber chassis and body, and an eye-watering price tag.

And guess what? This maniac will be a street-legal carbon-fiber rocket, ready to rip on the track and the streets around your million dollar mansion upstate. The story inside is an all-new thriller that is bound to scare the daylights off of anyone trying to come close to this beast.

No other machine on two-wheels can give you what this Superleggera does. This is a legit no-compromise hyperbike for the streets.

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2019 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth

2019 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth

It’s a highly functional tribute to the ’93 Monster 900

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.

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2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z650 ABS

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z650 ABS

Kawasaki’s hot contender in the middleweight streetfighter market

Kawasaki makes inroads into the naked streetfighter market with the new-in 2017 Z650 and adds some brush-up changes for 2020. Drawing from the popular Ninja line, the factory gave the Z650 that 649 cc parallel twin and put it in a new, lighter weight frame for improved handling and a exponentially greater fun factor.

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2018 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821

2018 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821

It’s the epitome of what a naked sportbike should be

Newly revised in 2018, the Monster 821 from Ducati 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.

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2017 - 2019 Ducati Monster 797 / 797 Plus

2017 - 2019 Ducati Monster 797 / 797 Plus

An Approachable Naked Monster

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.

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2020 Energica Eva Ribelle

2020 Energica Eva Ribelle

New For 2020 With Amazing Range And Recharge Rates

Italian EV bike builder Energica rolls into the 2020 model year with something a little different; the new Eva Ribelle. This newest offering rocks a naked-sportbike look in a bid to expand its footprint while it acts as an ambassador for the electric sector in general – a genre that’s still scrabbling for mainstream acceptance. The Eva Ribelle relies on a new 21.5 kWh powerpack to deliver an impressive range, and it comes complete with a full ride-quality electronics suite and surprisingly fast recharge capacity along with safety equipment that should make it competitive against the current smoker bikes.

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2020 Suzuki Katana

2020 Suzuki Katana

The Reinterpreted “Samurai Sword” Heats Up The GSX-S Stable

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.

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2016 - 2020 Ducati XDiavel / XDiavel S

2016 - 2020 Ducati XDiavel / XDiavel S

The Sport-Cruiser That Really Is A Cruiser Sportbike

It’s safe to say that “cruiser” isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ducati, or even the third, yet here we are with the XDiavel and its slightly dressier “S” stablemate carrying the brand into uncharted waters. The “X” signifies the cross and blending of the two worlds — cruiser and sport — and the end result is what the factory calls a “Techno-cruiser” due to its melding of Italian performance DNA and a more cruise-tastic rider triangle than you normally see from this brand. Powered by a 1,262 cc Testastretta engine, the XDiavel duo put the “sport” in “sport-cruiser” and opens the performance field to folks that ordinarily wouldn’t have such an option.

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2018 - 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 400

2018 - 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 400

The New Big Small-Displacement Ninja

Kawasaki took the next step in the struggle to find that perfect balance between displacement, performance, and affordability with the new-in-2018 Ninja 400. This ride delivers the aggressive styling that you expect 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 new buyer base.

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