2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R
If you’re into street-legal machines that would be equally comfortable on a closed-circuit track, Ducati has some good news for you in 2019 in the form of its top-drawer Panigale V4 R. The “V4 R” builds on the “V4 S” with a host of tweaks and improvements that were requested by none other than Ducati Corse, the factory’s own racing team. Additionally, steps were taken to conform to WSBK requirements with a new powerplant, among other things, so you could actually use the V4 R as a proper race bike. Even the electronics were on the receiving end of a tuneup to bring them more in line with the demands of professional riders to make this a truly special machine
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’.
2017 - 2019 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-R6 in MY2017, 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.
2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R ABS
The Ninja ZX-14R ABS continues to serve as Kawasaki’s non-H2 Ninja flagship as we head into the 2019 model year. Essentially unchanged since this generation hit showroom floors back in ’12, the “14R” brings almost a liter and a half of four-cylinder supersport-goodness to the table along with the ride-quality and safety subsystems you’ll need to keep it under control. Make no mistake; this is a serious ride meant for experienced riders, and not another one of these racebike-looking commuters so popular with the masses right now.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2 Carbon
Kawasaki gave the 2019 Ninja H2 and H2 Carbon a fairly major update ahead of MY2019 that goes far beyond any kind of token trim package treatment. The “new” category is well populated with items as minor as a new model-specific emblem up through a brand-new powerplant and electronic augmentation. Oh yeah, the supercharger that made this supersport line famous reprises its role with an efficient new design ramping up compression while it minimizes heat generation. As a result, this new pair comes with more of everything that made the previous gen a hit.
2018 - 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
Yamaha’s R1 family brings genuine racebike fun to the unwashed masses for a price that belies their capabilities. The base-model R1 and its even more race-tastic “M” variant come with MotoGP-level performance, and indeed are actually set up to be quickly converted for track use, so these are no poser bikes, not by a long shot. A powerful liter-sized mill pushes the R1 family well into the stupidfast category with updated electronic subsystems to help you keep it all under control, and of course, the synergy between the components makes the R1 family much greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s dig in and see what else the Tuning Fork Company has going on with this pair.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Kawasaki’s Ninja family has been a household name for over three decades now, and the factory aims to keep it that way with a couple of new models in the liter-bike range; the ZX-10R base model and its KRT variant. Toward that end, Kawi boosted power through a number of individual improvements throughout the engine. The engineers also added a few items that will certainly endear these siblings to the hearts of the race fans and wannabe knee-draggers out there, and they set up the head with those folks in mind as well. It doesn’t stop there; the electronics were upgraded with even more fandanglery on the menu, so without further ado, let’s dive into these new Ninjas and see what’s up.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
Kawasaki’s Ninja lineup made a well-deserved impression on the sportbike sector, and the factory elevates its game yet again with the 2019 ZX-6R. This newest mid-size Ninja “636” carries a host of improvements that range from vanity-to-vroom with spruced-up looks, LED lighting and new instrumentation, just to name a few. The electronics were upgraded as well, and the new features stack with the incumbent power modes, traction control, and on the ABS-equipped model, Kawasaki’s own Intelligent Brake System. Them’s (sic) the high points, but there’s a lot more to know about this middle Ninja, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
2019 Energica Ego
Italian EV-bike builder Energica buffed up its Ego superbike for MY2019 with a number of comfort- and control-centric features intended to increase its appeal and viability as an alternative to internal combustion bikes. Not only does the factory show due concern for performance, but it goes farther than most to retain the smoker-bike look that lets the Ego blend right in with a crowd of the usual super/street suspects. Electric bikes are still fighting to expand the toehold it has in the market, and it’s bikes like this that the still-burgeoning genre needs to continue to grow. Think I’m overselling it? Just wait till you see what all the Ego has going on under the hood before you make that call.
2019 MV Augusta F4 Claudio
Tribute pieces frequently pay homage to a particular year-model or perhaps a certain race, but MV Agusta’s F4 “Claudio” is a piece of art that doubles as a mobile shrine to its designer; Claudio Castiglioni. The factory used the F4 as a platform for a whole host of ’luxe aesthetics that brush up the looks; no mean feat for a bike called “the world’s best-looking bike” back in ’97. This machine is far from all-show/no-go. It comes with track-capable power and the electronics you’ll need to keep it all under control. It’s truly a spectacular specimen, but don’t take my word for it, read on and let me convince you.
Continue reading for my review of the MV Agusta F4 Claudio.
2016 - 2019 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 2019. 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. Look up ’Stupidfast’ in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of a Hayabusa.
(Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Hayabusa.}
2019 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
KTM has proven itself capable of producing competitive dirtbikes and popular streetbikes, and 2019 sees a next-gen Gran Turismo that targets the sport-tour genre for domination. Sure, the previous model set a pretty high standard, especially if you like your sport-tour machines heavy on the sport, but our Austrian friends managed to raise the bar even more with a handful of improvements this year in the 1290 Super Duke GT. Comfort and convenience were buffed along with the instrumentation, all with even more race-tacular tendencies due to the revised V-Twin powerplant and improved electronic aids. It’s a hotly-contested market that the “GT” looks to compete within, so today, I’m going to dissect this “spawn-of-Beast” and see how it stacks up.
Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
2015 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R ABS
The Ninja ZX-6R bolsters Kawasaki’s mid-range sportbike presence with much the same race-tastic tendencies as its larger-displacement siblings, just in a smaller package. It goes far beyond the looks; the factory stuffed a four-cylinder plant inside the windtunnel-tested body panels with a full electronics suite to help keep it all under control. However, this doesn’t necessarily make the “6R” suitable for beginners, but rather an appropriate first or second upgrade, or perhaps as a funbike for weekend warriors. Today I want to take an in-depth look at this Ninja and see how it fares against a comparable model from another of the Big Four.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.
2016 - 2018 Ducati Panigale 959
Back in ’16, Ducati pushed the supersport envelope with its super-middleweight Panigale 959, and since you can’t argue with success, the Italian marque carries that original model straight over into MY2018. The engine clocks in at nearly a liter with all the performance you’d expect, plus some electronic safety equipment to help you keep it under control and make riding the “959” a user-friendly affair. Race fans find plenty to be excited about, as well, since the Panigale rocks some track-tastic features to go with its already-sporty mien for a look that says “serious business” to all who behold it. It seems the Panigale has the look with the appropriate under-the-hood gear, but how does it stack up against the well-populated market segment in which it falls? That’s what I aim to find out today.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Panigale 959.