Top 10 Hottest Bikes of 2012

These 10 motorcycles are sure to make waves in 2012

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Kawasaki ZX-14R

The hyperbike category lacks many players, so a new R-spec version of the ZX-14 might not seem so relevant. But here’s what is relevant:

This is the quickest-accelerating production vehicle in the world! In its pure stock form at a slippery dragstrip, it posted uncorrected 9.7-second runs. For some perspective, consider that the $2.7 million Bugatti Veyron SuperSport can’t keep up in a quarter-mile with this $14,699 Kawasaki! We’re expecting 9.4-second runs when corrected for temperature and altitude.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R green drag

And, surprisingly for a land-bound missile, the 14R is a very comfortable sportbike and amazingly docile for a bike that can get from zero to 150 mph in less than 10 seconds. Distinctive and intimidating looks gives it street cred, and switchable traction control helps keep the tires under you. The Suzuki Hayabusa has had nearly a decade-long reign in the open-class sportbike category, but the new 14R has stolen that crown.

2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R blue

Related Reading
2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R Review [Video]

KTM Freeride E

The notion that electric motorcycles are merely a passing fad no longer holds water. The Zero brand of electric motorcycles is only a few years old, but the company continues to build and expand its lineup, which now includes a total of five models. And if you need more proof that e-bikes are here to stay, then consider the two separate international roadracing series (TTXGP and FIM e-Power) dedicated entirely to electric race bikes.

This niche in the moto world is growing quickly, giving consumers more options each year. However, most of the electric motorcycles currently available are street bikes. While Zero does offer two models it classifies as dirt bikes, major OEMs stayed out of the market to provide an off-road-specific electric motorcycle.

2012 KTM Freeride E studio

But off-road giant KTM unveiled the Freeride E as a production-level dirt bike during EICMA 2011. A lithium-ion battery supplies power to a 300-watt motor that KTM says produces 10 hp, with a maximum of up to 30 hp. While battery life ranges from 20 to 45 minutes depending on use, KTM also says that total recharge time for the li-ion battery is only 90 minutes.

The battery and motor are carried in a perimeter-type frame made of aluminum and steel. A 43mm WP fork and a WP PDS shock provide approximately 10 inches of suspension travel front and rear. And the simplicity of an electric motor powertrain pays dividends in the form of keeping the bike’s weight down: KTM claims the Freeride E weighs 95kg (209 lbs).

In the right hands the Freeride E can sail through the air and tackle tough terrain with the best of dirt bikes, as witnessed by a KTM video of the Freeride E romping through industrial areas in and around Barcelona, Spain.

2012 KTM Freeride E jump

Part of what makes this electric dirt bike so appealing is that it’s likely well-built and designed since it comes from a major player like KTM, a brand that has a rich history of making off-road motorcycles. Furthermore, this new electric bike (as well as potential customers) will benefit from KTM’s established dealer network – a challenge that other e-bike makers have struggled with.

About 100 Europeans will get to take advantage of this emissions-less motocrosser sometime in 2012. Depending on how well those 100 units move, KTM says it will then decide whether to increase production or hold back and rethink its electric motorcycle plans. KTM hasn’t officially announced pricing or plans to import the Freeride E to the U.S., but we’re expecting to see SX and EXC versions before 2013.

KTM Freeride E Concept

Related Reading
EICMA 2011: KTM Freeride E Unveiled
Top 10 Videos of New Motorcycles from EICMA 2011

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