2018 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.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M.
2018 Yamaha R1S
Yamaha’s YZF-R1S expands the R1 range down into a slightly younger demographic with the “S” variant that sheds some of its fancy metallurgy in favor of slightly less-noble metals with a concurrent decrease in the sticker shock. The “S” delivers the same thrilling performance as the rest of the line as well, so this isn’t just a detuned or repowered look-a-like, its a bona fide R1 that drops a few race-day features to make a bike that is not only less expensive, but more pragmatic for a daily rider. Now you can get that same feel and performance even if the parking lot is the closest it will ever get to a track. Today, I’m going to see what all the buzz surrounding this bike is about, and see how it compares to other lower-top-shelf models currently on the market.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZF-R1S.
2014 - 2018 MV Agusta F3 800
MV Agusta launched the F3 800 way back in ’13 for the ’14 model year, and apparently is happy with the result since it carries over straight into MY2018. The F3 800 stands with a foot in two worlds — literbikes and mid-displacement sportbikes— and at a glance it seems safe to say “mission accomplie.” A powerful triple delivers the goods with power figures that land near the top of the range for what is appropriate for “civilized” road use. The electronics suite is even more impressive than its hardware, and the whole package comes together to deliver the goods in a manageable manner with plenty to offer riders looking for a thrill but not wanting a full-on race machine or the leather-bound payment book that comes with one.
Continue reading for my review of the MV Agusta F3 800.
2017 BMW HP4 Race
Public demand for race-ready road bikes has never been higher, and the folks down at the Bayerische Motoren Werke are trying to take that momentum to the bank with its HP4 Race. Like many of its track-day competitors have recently done, BMW set about the business of mini-mass producing a bike that carries as much of its factory-team race gear as they are comfortable sharing with the world. However, the factory isn’t risking much in this bid for a slice of the hardcore race-fan market with a limited-edition run of 750 hand-built superbike units, so in addition to the obvious attraction of the technology and power we can add ’rarity’ to the curb appeal. Here we have a 215 horsepower engine pushing the world’s first all carbon-fiber frame with a veritable alphabet soup of features that are surely indispensable for racers looking for an edge.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW HP4 Race.
2017 - 2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000R
Coming off a fresh update in 2017, Suzuki carries its GSX-R1000R into MY18 with a new color palette, but little else in the way of changes. The next-gen “Gixxer” 1000 brings an all-new 999.8 cc powerplant to the table with a claimed 199 horsepower at the shaft and a whole passel of electronic goodies to help manage all those ponies. Traction control, lean-sensitive ABS, launch control and more, Suzuki’s flagship literbike delivers a taste of track-day fun with overlapping safety nets to help keep us mortal, non-professional riders dirty-side down as we explore our electronically augmented performance envelope. MotoGP tech influences the design to give the rider a little taste of track-day performance, or at the very least, ’performance light.’
Continue reading for my review of the GSX-R1000R.
2018 Ducati 939 SuperSport
Ducati always has had this insanity in them to time and again bring up machines that push the boundaries of two-wheeled glory, a boundary that will make every other manufacturer look like a speck of dust. For this alone, we must hand it to the Italian with all pomp and flair that they can literally pull off a true bloody special edition.
When it comes to sports bikes with full fairings, there are not many chaps in the world who make them better than these Italians. The Panigale, for instance, is the most coveted superbike for the way it looks, handles and rides. It is one of those Italian Exotics that can sweep you off your feet every time you get yourself near it. And if you do ride one, you know what a fearless machine it is, always wanting to break your spine due to the insanity, unless you tame it.
The current generations of Panigale is a bit intimidating and out-of-reach for a majority of buyers, due to its big and powerful engine and large denominations, in particular for riders who are new to the big bike world. It seems that Ducati has understood this fact, which is why it has come up with the all-new Supersport series, the re-entry of the brand into the family of Ducati. It takes in the 937 Testastretta motor and gets bolted on a relaxed sports bike trellis frame and gets the power lower in the rev range.
2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
Honda carries its CBR1000RR superbike, a.k.a. ’Fireblade’, into 2018 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’. Today I’m going to take a gander at the new-since-2017 Fireblade and see how it stacks up against something of a more European persuasion.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR1000RR.
2018 Ducati Panigale V4
Ducati adds to its Panigale legacy with the 2018 V4 base model and its variants, the V4 S and the V4 Speciale. Dramatic as it may sound, the V4 family may well be the finest streetbikes at their price points, and that’s not just clever sales prose, it’s the troofus roofus. It ain’t just about the raw power — 214 horsepower from the base model V4/V4 S and 226 horsepower from the Special — because the electronics suite is nearly beyond compare with an absolute alphabet soup of acronyms for all the engine/brake/chassis-control features. That performance comes bundled with a sexy superbike visage that looks fast even when sitting still, and all for $21,195 for the base model, so this is a weapon of mass seduction that is drawing down on the general riding public rather than an elite (read: rich) few. There’s plenty more to love, so join me while I dive into this Italian trio to see what else Ducati has going on over there.
Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Panigale V4, V4 S, and V4 Speciale.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki GSX-R600
The Suzuki GSX-R made a splash all the way back in 1985, and quickly became a motorcycle-household name, complete with a smooth nickname that just rolls right off the tongue. Since then, the Gixxer has been in continuous production over a wide range of engine sizes, and has even been supplemented by the similar, but more street-friendly, GSX-S range. The GSX-R600 continues the family legacy into the 2018 model year powered with a 599 cc engine and sporty handling that is expected in this prestigious line. Today I want to take a look at what Suzuki has done to keep this long-running family viable and competitive against its many adversaries on both track and street.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki GSX-R600.
2017 - 2018 Norton V4 RR
British heavyweight Norton Motorcycles aimed to bring Isle of Man TT performance to the public, and it seems as though it has managed to do just that with the V4 RR. Superbike performance and dead-sexy curves are the hallmarks of this ride, and while that’s nothing new for Norton, there are plenty of details that set this ride apart from its usual fare. Carbon and Kevlar make an appearance with a 200-plus horsepower, V4 engine thrown into the mix for good measure, so yeah, this ain’t your run-of-the-mill race-tribute piece — it has bona fide competitive DNA in its design — but neither is it a racebike made street legal, but something in between.
Continue reading for my review of the Norton V4 RR.
Technology abounds with a plethora of alphabet-soup acronyms that boil down to a lot of electronic controls that bridle the scary power of the F4 RR from MV Agusta. (You may not be scared, but someone who loves you will be terrified.) Among them are eight-level traction control, electronically-assisted shift and ABS along with ride-by-wire and four engine maps that control throttle sensitivity, torque, braking, the rev limiter and engine response so you can dial in the controls specifically to suit you and your riding conditions.
Continue reading for my review of the MV Agusta F4 RR.
2016 - 2017 Triumph Daytona 675 / Daytona 675 R
Back in the early 2000s, Triumph’s four-cylinder, middleweight sportbikes were taking a beating by the 600 cc bikes from the Big Four in Japan. The solution? Drop a cylinder, boost the cubes and start a nearly complete, ground-up rebuild based off the old Daytona 600 chassis. The result? A decidedly nimble and powerful supersport packed away in a deceptively small package. After a number of changes, and the addition of the Daytona 675 R in 2011 that went on to win the Daytona 200 in ’14, the Daytona family moved into the ’2017 model year with many of the features that made the range a success, and a few new ones too. Join me while I dissect this British Rose and try to discover why its fanbase is so rabid, far beyond the usual national/brand loyalty we see all the time.
Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Daytona 675 and Daytona 675 R.
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.}
2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX / H2 SX SE
Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 made a splash when it hit the market last year, and if you missed the window-of-opportunity to score one of the first-run models — or perhaps it was priced a tad out of your range — then I have some good news for you. Introducing the Ninja H2 SX and H2 SX “Special Edition.” Brand new for 2018, the H2 SX line presents itself as a sort of hypersport-next-door with large-ish windshield and relaxed rider’s triangle as part of the comfort-oriented features package. This new line adds a dose of “super” to the sport-touring genre with its supercharged four-banger that cranks out a generous 101 pounds o’ grunt with enough electronic fandanglery to help you tame the beast, or at least protect you from yourself somewhat. Commuter or ’really’ fast tourbike, the SX siblings cover a lot of everyday-riding ground for riders who are looking for more than run-of-the-mill performance. Is it too much? Let’s dig in and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki H2 SX and H2 SX SE.