2016 - 2018 Indian Springfield / Springfield Dark Horse
Though the new-in-2016 Indian Springfield is called a “bagger” by the Indian marketing folks, it is much closer to the truth to call it a tour bike. Before you start shaking your head, I would point out that big touring fairings are a relatively recent feature, and that back in the day, ’this’ is what American touring models looked like. Powered by the awesome Thunder Stroke® 111 engine, Indian worked in plenty of nostalgic touches here and there on the Springfield while it tackled the more pragmatic issues with an eye to modern performance. This ride is meant to serve as a tribute to the original Indian factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, and was joined by the Springfield Dark Horse, a black-out sinister version of itself.
Continue reading my review of the Indian Springfield.
2016 - 2018 Indian Roadmaster
The base-model luxury tourer in Indian Motorcycle’s lineup, the Roadmaster comes equipped with the awesome Thunder Stroke® 111 engine for stellar performance and gobs of torque early on in the powerband. With standard features such as a premium 200W stereo, cruise control, ABS, power windshield, keyless ignition, remote locking storage, tire pressure monitoring, Pathfinder LED lights, heated seats and grips, and that gorgeous desert tan leather, the Roadmaster puts the "LT" in “luxury tourer.”
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Roadmaster.
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.
2015 - 2018 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring
Moto Guzzi presents its California 1400 Touring model as one of its ambassadors to the motorcycle world. This is not a statement to be taken lightly given the long-standing history — since 1921 — and unmistakable passion of the designers at the factory in Como, Italy. The handcrafted California possesses the same classic style and grace of previous California models, with modern, cutting-edge technology that would make the previous models positively die from envy. The factory touts this bike as the flagship of Gran Turismo, and backs it up with plenty of innovations and features that place it squarely in the luxury tour-bike category.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
Suzuki unveiled its Boulevard C50 back in 2005 after renaming its “Volusia” bike of prior model years. The C50 and C50Ts carry straight into 2018, with a mid-displacement engine to serve as Suzuki’s mid-size cruiser and weekend tour bike. Smooth acceleration and comfortable seating combine with laced wheels and classic styling to keep the C50s on the list of middleweight contenders in the two-wheeled market.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C50 and Boulevard C50T.
2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom
Kawasaki created its Vulcan line back in 1984 in an attempt to capture a slice of the American cruiser market, and it is still alive and kicking in 2018. The family includes a trio of models from the boulevard bruiser “900 Classic” to the heritage-style “900 Classic LT” and the home-cooked “900 Custom.” A 900 cc, V-twin mill and 600-plus pound curb weight put the range firmly in the mid-size cruiser category and give it the mass one expects to find an American cruiser.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, Vulcan 900 Classic LT and Vulcan 900 Custom.
2015 - 2018 Indian Chief Classic
The base model cruiser in the Indian Motorcycle lineup, the Chief Classic carries the vintage badging and iconic lighted War Bonnet that is still the hallmark of the brand even through the fits, starts and financial turmoil of various owners during the post-WWII years, right up to the turn of the century. Since Polaris acquired it in 2011, Indian has become its top-selling motorcycle brand. Carried forward for 2018 and powered by the Thunder Stroke® 111 engine, the Chief Classic has the styling and valenced fenders that identify it as classic Indian with rider amenities and features such as ABS, cruise control, keyless starting, electronic fuel injection and a manually-adjustable single-shock swingarm.
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Chief Classic.
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.
2016 - 2018 Indian Chief Vintage
The word “vintage” gets tossed around a lot, but when a company with a history as long as Indian Motorcycles uses it, you can believe they mean it. Though the company has changed hands many times, the Chief model family, in one form or another, has been part of the Indian lineup since its inception in 1922. Indian Motorcycles, under Polaris Industries Inc., keeps that tradition alive with its 2018 Chief Vintage powered by the Thunder Stroke® 111 engine. The designers build upon 95 years of Chief tradition with this ride, and while all Indians show their historical roots in varying degrees, none is quite as overt as the aptly named ’Vintage’.
Continue reading for my review of the Indian Chief Vintage.
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
Harley-Davidson’s three-wheeled Tri Glide Ultra moved into the 2017 model year with a handful of improvements and a brand-spanking new engine. The factory powers it with its powerful Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine introduced last year that cranks out over 100 pounds o’ grunt to place it well into the power-cruiser category, even though H-D markets it as a tour bike. Exhaust components rerouting addressed heat problems from prior model-years, and the King of Paint added a couple of new, two-tone paint schemes to the palette for 2017, as well as a 115th Anniversary model for 2018. Harley’s target market for this beast mainly consists of persons who are unwilling or unable to manage one of their admittedly top-heavy, two-wheeled tourers for one reason or another, and I’ve always considered it to be a very laudable thing to try and make sure that anyone who wants bugs in their teeth can have it.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra.
2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C90T
Cruisers and touring bikes go hand in hand for that relaxed, comfortable ride you get. The Boulevard C90T from Suzuki — absent for 2014, but back in 2015 - is the touring version of the C90 that was dropped after the 2013 model year, though the C90 B.O.S.S. is still going strong in 2018. Leather-look — not real leather, just leather textured — hard saddlebags and an ample windscreen give the C90T that "I’m ready for the road" look along with a 1,462 cc engine and five-speed transmixer. Is it ready for the road? I wanted to see if, in fact, the "T" in C90T really does mean "touring."
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C90T.
2018 Can-Am Spyder RT
Can-Am, under the Bombardier Recreational Products banner, carries its premium touring trike into the 2018 model year with the Spyder RT and RT Limited models. It drops the RT-S from last year’s lineup, so it’s all up to the remaining two to cover all the long-distance bases. From what I can see so far, it looks like ’mission accomplie’ for the Canadian manufacturer. A 115-horsepower Rotax mill pushes the vehicle with room for rider, passenger and 41 gallons of storage split fore and aft. Weather protection and comfort-related features abound, and it’s plain to see that Can-Am looks to take on the two-wheeled touring ’status quo’ with the RT range. Can BRP pull out a win against traditional rides with its unusual configuration and sport-trike stigma? So far, so good; so what do you say we take a look at these two unusual creations that are creating their own niche. Market? We don’t need no stinkin’ market, we’ll make our own damn market. Right guys?
Continue reading for my review of the Can-Am Spyder RT and RT Limited.
2018 BMW K 1600 Grand America
Touring bikes are big in the U.S., both literally and figuratively, and the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG looks to take our enthusiasm for touring to the bank, also literally. Beemer paid close attention to the custom culture surrounding such bikes as well as the popular factory features from the competition to come up with the K 1600 Grand America. Not only does the bike provide the look and functionality we tend to expect from our touring machines, but it pushes well into the power-tourer bracket with 160 ponies on tap. The factory wraps up the package with an enviable electronics suite that can be further improved upon with a whole host of factory options. Make no mistake; this is one high-caliber weapon of mass seduction, and it’s aimed straight at the Heartland, so let’s see if we can gauge how true Beemer’s aim is with its latest effort to score a slice of the American tour-bike market.
Continue reading for my look at the BMW K 1600 Grand America.
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.
2014 - 2018 BMW R 1200 RT
The BMW marque has long been associated with top-shelf engineering and luxury, and that reputation is justified once again with the updated-in-2014 R 1200 RT. A true sport-tourer, the RT brings 125 horsepower to the table along with an array of electronic gadets to help manage the power and provide a low-stress riding experience. As a base model, the RT stands head and shoulders above most of the competition, but the available accessories raise the bar even higher. Excited yet? I know I am. This newest iteration also received a facelift that brings the model aesthetics up to date, so even though form follows function (as it should), form was definitely not neglected. Let’s get to it and see what those crazy Bavarians are up to, and what they’ve done to bring the venerable RT up to date.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 RT.
2017 - 2018 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
Nobody blurs the line between scooter and ’proper’ motorcycle better than the engineers at BMW, and the C 650 range is no exception. The 2018 C 650 “Sport” and “GT” models are a direct carryover from the ’16 model year, but that’s not surprising given how difficult it would be to improve upon the bundle of features already built in. I mean, it’s a scooter with traction control and ABS on board, plus a relatively large and powerful engine with a sophisticated engine management system, so this is ’not’ your grandfather’s scooter. I have a great appreciation for German engineering, so I’m looking to see what all Beemer has tucked away on its not-so-little maxi-scooter.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW C 650 GT and C 650 Sport.
2016 - 2018 Moto Guzzi MGX-21
Moto Guzzi fans with tour-bike tastes looking for a ride to take them hither and yon on the open roads were more or less limited to the California 1400 — until 2016. After much buildup and fanfare, the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 “Flying Fortress” (FF) was finally released, and it brought long-distance touring capacity and comfort to the table with a decidedly dated look that targets fans of classic American car design from the ’60s. A big, 1,380 cc V-twin pushes the FF with torque to spare, and a highly stylized front fairing, windshield and saddlebags completes the tour-tastic package. Here in the U.S. of A., we have different ideas than the rest of the world about what makes a proper tour bike. I had to admit that I was looking forward to the release, and couldn’t wait to see how well ’Guzzi interpreted the classic American touring bagger. I wasn’t disappointed.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress.
2013 - 2018 Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT 8V
Moto Guzzi came up with its latest version of the 1200 GT back in ’11, and that design has withstood the test of time as it looks to be a direct carryover into at least the 2018 model year. The factory retains the service of the “four-valve” engine with its 100-plus horsepower and transverse V-twin layout. In keeping with its heritage, the latest Norge falls well within the sport-tour bracket with the protective features and cargo capacity the U.S. market expects of its long-distance bikes. How will it stack up against the American V-twins and the new Gold Wing? We’re going to find out, but first let’s take a deeper look at the current Norge GT.
Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT.
2015 - 2018 Ural cT
The Ural cT, a stripped down version of its Ural brothers, is a base model on which you can build your own sidecar bike. Rolling with a 749 cc engine and not a lot else, it is designed to have easier handling for new sidecar enthusiasts. The cT comes without accessories such as a spare tire, passenger grab handles, rear fender rack, tool bag, air pump, rubber trunk floor mat or knee grips. Keep it clean or customize it with a whole slew of accessories from your Ural dealer.
Continue reading my review of the Ural cT
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
The Electra Glide Ultra Classic serves as Harley Davidson’s entry-level model for its full-dresser lineup. Updated in 2017, it sports improved suspension while reducing the heat felt by rider and passenger for greater all-around comfort. Not only that, but the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine made its way onto this ride for greater performance than ever before with 111.4 pound-feet of torque and six-speed transmission that comes geared for highway riding at a reasonable rpm. H-D’s Infotainment system made an appearance as well, so the phrase “entry level” is obviously a relative statement. Let’s check out this updated classic to see where the balance was struck.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.
2018 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
Honda is well into its fourth decade of Gold Wing production now, and needless to say, it’s now a much different world than the one for which its most recent vintages were designed. A younger buyer is clearly in the factory’s sights with this updated version of its venerable GL line. Reduced bulk and updated looks are just the bait; the hook lies in the renewed focus on performance. Sure, the ’Wing has always cornered less like a dresser and more like something from one of the sportier categories, but the Red Riders managed to improve further on that point by shedding nearly 100 pounds off the overall weight with the same low center-of-gravity. The all-new engine comes in the typical flat-six configuration and 1,833 cc displacement with 124.6 ponies just waiting to be called upon. What else has Honda done to try to make the ’Wing something other than “my grandfather’s bike” to the younger buyers? Read on and find out.
Continue reading for my review of the Honda Gold Wing and Honda Gold Wing Tour.
2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special
Harley-Davidson brings its Road Glide and Road Glide Special into the 2018 model year in a much more humble manner than it did with the Softail lineup. The base-model Glide is more or less a direct carryover in everything but color selection, however the “Special” rocks a host of improvements, especially if you group blackout treatment in as an improvement. A new, more sinister look and new paint schemes across the board differentiate these rides from last year’s models, and as far as hardware improvements go we have improved suspension from Showa cushioning the ride, and the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine makes its sophomore appearance in the touring lineup having proven itself in the market last year with its 111 pound-foot output. Ripe for customization, this duo gives prospective bike builders a blank canvas to work with, and the Special’s dark touches start it well down the custom road right off the showroom floor. It looks like this is the “new normal” for H-D tourbikes, so let’s dig in and make friends with the new RG line.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Road Glide and Road Glide Special.