2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Snake Eyes
Nothing brings to mind the down-and-dirty custom-bike days of the ’70s and ’80s quite like a UJM-based custom bobber, and SSR Motorsports piles on plenty of that old-school with its street-retro ’Snake Eyes’. Built for the entry-level customer, and anyone looking for a somewhat whimsical nod to the custom culture for that matter. An 18-horsepower, 249 cc thumper drives the thing — plenty for trips around town or campus, but the real story here is with the overall vibe that looks to be straight out of the garage right off the showroom floor. Join me while I take a closer look at this fun little ride that so clearly is looking to capture part of the U.S. market.
Continue reading for my review of the SSR Motorsports Snakes Eyes.
2015 - 2018 Harley-Davidson SuperLow
The SuperLow line saw few changes into the 2017 model year, and carried that into 2018. Powered by the 883 cc Evolution engine, the XL 883L delivers modest performance and nimble handling. The slammed suspension puts the rider’s butt close to the ground where even the shortest inseams can feel confident and in control with both feet down flat. While this ride isn’t quite as entry level as the Street 500/750, it is the smallest of Harley-Davidson’s traditional designs and typically serves as a trainer bike for folks interested in air-cooled cruisers.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson SuperLow.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville T120 / T120 Black
Triumph carries the Bonneville name into a new generation with the Bonneville T120 and T120 “Black.” Such a classic name deserves to be treated with dignity with a certain amount of retro appeal, and the factory took extraordinary steps to keep this ride as old school as possible. The designers didn’t go too far though; a modern mill cranks out 80 ponies and over 77 pounds of grunt under a ride-by-wire throttle and traction control. A modern ride through and through, but with a very definite, and dated, curb appeal. Today I’m going to take a look at the pair to see what goodies Trumpet has in store for us, and what compromises were made in the process.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville T120 and T120 Black.
2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Royal Enfield hit the 2018 model year running with an all-new, 650 Twin engine that comes with a brand-new Interceptor wrapped around it. All new from the ground up, the Interceptor 650 has improved handling and agility that its single-cylinder predecessors just couldn’t match. It’s a hot-hot release in its homeland, but will the U.S. market receive it with as much enthusiasm?
Continue reading for my first look at the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Traffic-carving performance isn’t the first thing I think of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo is going about changing that perception with the new-from-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is, in fact, based on the current Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s most decisive push so far into the sport-standard market. A bold move to be sure, and as Harley enters territory traditionally dominated by the Asian and European manufacturers, it won’t enjoy the same name power that it does in the cruising and touring sector. With all that in mind I want to take a look at this ambitious ride today to see what’s new and how well it stacks up to its entrenched competition. I think it’s safe to take it as a given that the MoCo has its work cut out for it, to say the very least, so let’s get started.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
2016 - 2018 Triumph Bonneville T100 - T100 Black
Triumph started the Bonneville legacy all the way back in 1959, and it is a name that the factory is still taking to the bank today. The newly-repowered “Bonnie” T-100 and T-100 Black boast a 900 cc mill set in what is more or less a T-120 chassis. At 59 horsepower, the T-100 plant makes for a newbie-friendly riding experience while the weight savings around the bike imparts a nimble nature that you don’t really feel with the big-brother T-120. Classic looks abound on the base model, while the “Black” takes a turn down memory lane to the heyday of garage custom standards with a large dose of blackout treatment for a more sinister look. So, not only do we have a bit of a spread on design, but we also have a balanced machine that can introduce folks to the joys of riding while remaining fun enough to keep experienced riders interested. If that sounds good to you, read on to see what else the T-100 family has to offer.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Bonneville T100 and T100 Black.
2016 - 2018 SYM Wolf Classic 150
We usually think of the Sanyang Motor Co., Ltd — better known to us as SYM — as a scooter company, so when looking at their little Wolf Classic 150, I expected ...well, I expected less than what I saw. Unlike the Wolf 125 and 250 released in Asian markets that had a definite sport-bike look, the Wolf Classic has a UJM styling reminiscent of the imports back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Does it look like the old Hondas? It should. SYM made the Honda 125s for a few decades back so they are well acquainted with the style.
Continue reading for my review of the SYM Wolf Classic 150.
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100
There can be little doubt that Ducati’s Scrambler line has been a success thus far, and after expanding the mid-displacement (803 cc) family downward last year with the 399 cc Sixty2, the factory decided to go the other direction with its Scrambler 1100 range. Larger, more powerful and arguably more mature, the 1100s bring to the table the same sassy style as their smaller siblings along with 86 grin-inducing ponies and an electronics suite (riding modes, TC, ABS) commensurate with its greater capabilities. In short, the Scrambler line is all growed up now and ready to swim in the deep end; or is it. Let’s investigate this new branch on the Scrambler family tree and judge for ourselves.
Continue reading for my look at the Ducati Scrambler 1100 and Scrambler 100 Special.
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 - 2017 Honda VFR1200X
Honda brought its VFR1200X — a.k.a. the ’CrossTourer’ in other markets — to the U.S. back in 2016, and it rolled as a direct carryover into the ’17 model year. Built as an adventure bike with a bias toward the blacktop, the “X” sports a powerful, 129-horsepower engine and a choice between a manual, six-speed gearbox and Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission that provides seamless automatic gear changes sans clutch or toe shifter. The factory also sought to boost its tour-ability with its proprietary Selectable Torque Control, adjustable suspension components and a robust accessories lineup that boasts all manner of gadgets meant to expand capabilities and comfort alike. Around the world, the adventure-bike market is expanding like mad, and Honda is even taking some wind out of the X’s sails with its own Africa Twin model, so today I want to see if it has what it takes to compete in this rapidly evolving and expanding market.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda VFR1200X.
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
The race to grab a slice of the burgeoning Millennial market is heating up, and Kawasaki enters the fray with its sizzlin’ hot, retro-style Z900RS. Built as a tribute of sorts to the legendary Z1 superbike, the new-for-2018 RS packs a punch that does its predecessor justice with 111 horsepower ready to go with a twist of the mechanical throttle control. Suspension components are thoroughly modern as well, and at a glance, it seems Kawi has nailed the balance between nostalgia and nouveau with this ride. Modern performance and classic design are a common marriage nowadays, and Kawi is entering this market against some well-established competition so its success is far from ensured. Today I’m going to take a look at this retro-tastic Z900 variant to see if it really holds up the family name and is a viable competitor in the new millennial/hipster market.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900RS.
2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster
Honestly, at first glance I was a little underwhelmed by this new-in-2016 offering from The Motor Company. I thought it was a little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement. It wasn’t until I started to familiarize myself with the bike that I realized this is the whole point of the design. Still, my disappointment persisted as I labored under the misconception that this bike was just a lightly modified version of existing Sportster models, but again I was off target since it actually uses a slightly different frame than the other Sporties, and comes with enhanced suspension as well. At this point, I abandoned all of my preconceptions and took a slightly more objective look at the Roadster, finally willing to give it an honest chance. This is what I found.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Roadster.
2015 - 2018 Honda CB500X
Honda’s CB500X pushes the adventure-bike envelope well into entry-level territory with a mid-displacement engine and low-impact price tag meant to bring more riders into the genre. Let’s face it; the one-liter Africa Twin and larger VFR1200X are a lot of bike for new riders who are not — I repeat: NOT — liable to ever see a trek down the Ivory Coast. Could it be used as a trainer for the larger bikes? Certainly, but its main lot in life will be as an urban commuter with the capacity to handle some poorly-maintained roads and the occasional pothole. If it sounds like I’m downplaying the bike a bit, I would submit that the urban adventure ride is about all most of us manage in a lifetime, thus making it good enough for its designed purpose.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB500X.
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.
2018 Yamaha MT-07
Yamaha finally saw fit to drop its FZ family designator in favor of the MT brand seen by most other markets. The changes aren’t limited the moniker; the MT-07 comes with a handful of tweaks to include better suspension and updated looks to reflect its aggressive nature. Fans of the”Fuzz” will rejoice to know that it retains its 689 cc, crossplane concept powerplant with its 50 pounds o’ grunt and steering geometry that makes the family so nimble. I understand and accept that there are some mighty smart people who decide what names/colors/whatever will sell in any given market, and I know that there are significant cultural differences involved, but I’ve never quite grasped why the MT had to be the FZ here. Looks like someone at Yamaha finally questioned it too.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha MT-07.
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.
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.
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.