Each year around this time the MO staff gathers to contemplate the new breed of tasty two-wheelers coming our way. This is also when each editor begins positioning himself for a particular press launch. Last year, Preemptive Editor, Troy Siahaan made it abundantly clear that only an act of God would keep him from the R1 launch. This year he’s communicated the same thing about the new Suzuki SV650, a bike that, democratically, didn’t even make this list (Ouch. -TS).
As good as last year was (R1, H2, Super Adventure, 1299 Panigale, Tuono 1100), 2016 is shaping up to be equally exciting. From a small-displacement beginner bike via a company unknown for producing such models, to a performance cruiser, a flagship superbike, a more comfortable version of our 2014 Bike of the Year, and a few concepts we’re betting will be rideable production versions before year’s end, the MO anticipation meter is topping out. So here, in alphabetical order, are the 2016 motorcycles we’re most erect to ride.
10. BMW G310R
From what was once largely a 250cc one-horse affair (Kawasaki Ninja 250), the beginner-ish sportbike category has grown in both the size of its engine displacement as well as the amount of available models. Joining the Ninja (now 300) is the Honda CB/CBR300, KTM RC390/390 Duke and Yamaha YZF-R3 (and for markets outside the U.S., the Kawasaki Z300 and Yamaha MT-03). Add to that mix the G310R, BMW’s first roadster under 500cc. The small-displacement sportbike category has never been this strong, and the vitality of the segment is certain to have positive impacts on the motorcycle industry in general.
Powered by a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, four-valve DOHC 313cc Single, producing a claimed 33.5 hp at 9500 rpm and 20.7 lb-ft. of torque at 7500 rpm, and wearing less than full-fairing coverage, the G310R looks to be a direct competitor for KTM’s 390 Duke and Honda’s CB300F. The G310R isn’t expected to reach dealerships until the third quarter of 2016, so any riding opportunity is most likely months away, with a direct comparison to the KTM and Honda after that. Rest assured, the BMW G310R will get ridden and held accountable to its competitors.
9. Ducati XDiavel
While we’ve already lapped the 2016 959 Panigale at Ricardo Tormo, Ducati is far from done with new models. In addition to the Panigale are the Multistrada 1200 Enduro, Scrambler Sixty2, and a family of 939 Hypermotards. What’s really piqued our interest is the new XDiavel, the world’s first belt-driven Duc.
The XDiavel is stem-to-stern new, now powered by a 1262cc Testastretta V-Twin with Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) and producing a claimed 156 hp at 9500 rpm and 95 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm – about 3000 rpm less than the previous model. Some concessions were made to being a better cruiser, such as a more feet-forward seating position, but Ducati says the XDiavel retains its cornering performance with 40-degree lean angles. The original Diavel and now the XDiavel are in a class of their own, and that makes any opportunity to ride one a special opportunity, indeed.
8. Kawasaki ZX-10R
You may have noticed a First Ride Review of the 2016 ZX-10R already posted on Motorcycle.com, but that particular review of Kawasaki’s new flagship superbike was conducted by our Australian correspondent, Jeff Ware, leaving no MO editor to have ridden the new 10R, hence its eligibility for this list. Honestly, as the only new superbike of 2016 (the 959 Panigale being described by Ducati as a super-mid) the ZX-10R would have made this list even if only one of MO’s editors had yet to ride the bike.
With two World Superbike championships in the last three years, Kawasaki is hot to capitalize on its racing success, taking what it’s learned at the track and repackaging the knowledge and technology into a street-legal motorcycle. Not only is the new 10R boasting a Balance Free Fork and Brembo brake front-end package, but also a litany of electronic rider aids: Kawasaki Launch Control (KLCS), Kawasaki Intelligent Braking (KIBS), Kawasaki Sport Traction Control (S-KTRC), Kawasaki Engine Braking Control (KEBC), Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS). We’re anxious to find out if it can add up to a new challenger for the potent class of street-going superbikes.
7. KTM Super Duke GT
The Super Duke R won our 2014 Bike of the Year award and remains a staff favorite. With the addition of saddlebags, more fairing protection and a comfier seat KTM’s created the 1290 Super Duke GT – a more streetable/touringish version of the original – and quite possibly the most capable road bike ever built.
Retaining all the good stuff we loved so much about the R model – 1301cc 75-degree 173-hp V-Twin – the GT also comes equipped with semi-active WP suspension, heated grips and cruise control (just to keep Burns happy). Lower footpegs and adjustable everything should help endear the GT to an even larger swath of riders. If the GT is as good as we’re anticipating it to be, KTM may be in store for another Best Of award in 2016.
6. Moto Guzzi V9s
Moto Guzzi’s new 850cc V-Twin powers two new models, the Bobber and Roamer. Given that the two models differ only by way of cosmetics, tire size and seat thickness, we’re not too concerned which one we get to ride, it’s all about the new engine and its ability to outperform the painfully tame V7. Guzzi is a favorite among the hipster crowd, and these two new models, if priced right, should help bring more bearded twenty-somethings into Guzzi dealerships.
We’re also looking forward to throwing a leg over the MGX-21 Flying Fortress (with a name like that, how could we not). First seen as a concept model at the 2014 EICMA show, this avant-garde bagger added the Flying Fortress moniker when it was seen at EICMA 2015 in its nearly finalized production form. It’s based on Guzzi’s California 1400 – our 2013 Cruiser of the Year winner – and will be seen in its final form this August in Sturgis.
5. MV Agusta Brutale 800
The outgoing Brutale 800 is gorgeous yet the fashion-conscious engineers from Varese somehow managed to make the 2016 model even sexier. Combine the bike’s new looks with an updated version of one of our favorite three-cylinder engines (MV’s engineers managed to deliver 116 hp at 11,500 rpm plus a 25% increase in torque to 61 lb-ft at 7,600 rpm while still meeting the Euro 4 emissions standards) and the new Brutale 800 seems to hit all the marks. See all the improvements on our 2015 EICMA coverage page.
“I. Don’t. Like. This. Bike,” said Siahaan in our 2013 Four-Thirds Shootout, referring to the bike’s unforgiving demand to be ridden at “9/10s or higher all the time.” Much of the Brutale’s harsh critiques were generated from its (at the time) unsophisticated fueling and throttle response. Our most recent outings aboard MVs have proven these shortcomings to have been rectified, but we might need to send Siahaan to the new B800’s launch to be certain the 2016 model is a definite improvement.
4. Triumph Thruxton/Bonneville
Like Ducati, there’s a surplus of new Triumph models for 2016: Five Bonnevilles (Street Twin, Bonneville T120 and T120 Black, Thruxton and Thruxton R), six Tiger Explorer variants, and two Speed Triples (S and R). Editor Grey Beard already rode and reviewed the 2016 Street Twin, and while there’s no shortage of excitement for riding the Explorers and Speed Triples, the new 1200cc Thruxton models are the most enticing for us.
Triumph massaged the 1200cc parallel-Twin powering the Thruxtons into what it calls a “high power” state of tune. The performance increase comes from the “low inertia” components, including a lighter crankshaft, higher compression head, high-flowing intake and exhaust, plus revised EFI tuning with sports mapping (in addition to the Rain, Road, and Sport ride modes). The resulting 82.6 lb-ft of torque at 4950 rpm is a whopping 62% more torque than on the previous Thruxton. Sounds yummy, and they sure look the business.
3. Suzuki GSX-R1000 Concept
While Siahaan is attending the low-rent press launch for the new SV650, riding the bike on some potholed, SoCal backroad and eating PB&J sandwiches prepared by Suzuki’s media liaison (That’s just cold, Tom. -TS), an actual lucky MO editor will be swept away to a foreign land to lap Suzuki’s revitalized GSX-R1000 around a MotoGP circuit, and feast on a buffet of champagne and caviar. Maybe a bit imaginative, but, seriously, which bike would you rather ride?
A concept in name now, the 2017 Gixxer seen last Fall at EICMA is too close to production finish not to be ready for a world press launch before the end of the year. “Know this: It is the most powerful, hardest-accelerating, cleanest-running GSX-R ever built,” read the statement within the Gixxer’s press release. With this kind of timidity it’s impossible not to be chomping the bit at a chance to ride Suzuki’s latest and greatest superbike. For more about the new Gixxer check out our EICMA coverage.
2. Victory Octane (?)
Unlike the certainty of the forthcoming Suzuki GSX-R1000 concept, the state of Victory’s new platform is a bit more fluid. We know for sure Victory is building a bike utilizing an engine based on the V-Twin from Indian’s Scout, and we’ve seen a veiled glimpse of what it might look like via the Ignition concept (seen above) shown at EICMA. Built by Switzerland-based customizer Urs Erbacher, the Ignition displays a Scout-based V-Twin, which is what will be used in the upcoming production machine, rumored to be called Octane, a name Polaris (Victory’s parent company) trademarked in 2012.
Another source of possible futures for the Octane is the Zach Ness-constructed Combustion concept displayed at the New York IMS. The Combustion uses the same liquid-cooled 1200cc 60-degree V-Twin engine and chassis of the Ignition concept. “This new engine offers the most versatility in American motorcycling,” says Gary Gray, motorcycle product director. “Both of the concepts, Ignition and Combustion, are intended to show what this motor is capable of in very distinct, visual forms. While the bikes are different, the powertrain is capable of delivering the performance in both cases.”
Yep, we’re excited. Bring it on … now … please!
1. Yamaha MT-10
Yamaha’s MT-10 looks like a Transformer that was cast in a Terminator movie. It’s aggressive, organic styling with minimalist plastic looks almost as if it could be a garage build if not for its fine finish detailing. Powered by the latest generation R1 inline-Four and tweaked to deliver stronger low- and mid-range torque, the MT-10 is the latest entry in a chock-full category of impressive naked literbikes. Wanting to ride the bike goes without saying, but our real interest is seeing how well it stacks up against the Aprilia V4 Tuono 1100, BMW S1000R and KTM Super Duke R.
The MT-10 is outfitted with three power modes, a three-mode (plus “off”) traction control system, an assist and slipper clutch, and cruise control, while a quick-shifter is available as an option. The aluminum Deltabox frame is based on the R1’s current chassis but revised for the MT-10 to be better suited for a daily commuter than a track-focused sportbike. The 2016 Yamaha MT-10 will be available in Europe in Tech Black, Race Blu or Night Fluo colors. The gray Night Fluo color scheme with yellow wheels will also be offered on other select MT models. No official word yet on U.S. availability, but, for sure it’s coming here.