I used to think 10 Big Ones was a lot of dough ’till I started pricing new pickup trucks. Now, I realize it’s chicken feed. Let me eat cake. Sure, yes, I know there are great used bargains for half that much, but a private seller’s not going to give you a 1% APR for three years like Suzuki does, you’re not going to ride off on the shiniest, newest bike on the block, and you won’t have the inner warmth of knowing you’ve done your part to stimulate the moto-economy. Here’re my picks!
I loved this new Triumph at first sit, when it was introduced as a new 2016 model. Then we all got a chance to love it as a group, when it jumped in to win our Retro Roadster Gaiternational Shootout by a huge margin. Don’t be deceived by it’s 52.6 horsepower; direct your attention instead to the 57.8 pound-feet of torque at just 3200 rpm – and don’t overlook its superb fuel mileage numbers, either. It might be Triumph’s cheapest “new Bonneville,” but there’s really nothing cheap about the way the Street Twin looks or performs.
We haven’t quite got our hands on a new and improved 2018 GSX-S1000, with a bit more power and a slipper clutch. But the 2017 base model holds the line at $9,999. Some complain its suspension isn’t the most sophisticated, the same people think it’s too buzzy and has a glitchy throttle – but none of that kept it from finishing fourth in our Naked Sports Six-Way Shootout a couple years ago, behind one $13k bike and two $16k ones – and ahead of two $12k ones. It also spat out 143 rear-wheel horsepower in that little comparison, second only to the Aprilia Tuono we took along as a ringer. Look past her slight rough edges to see the best performance bang for the buck on the current market. From a major manufacturer.
None of my lists would be complete without an NC, one of my all-time faves. And since we have a $10K limit, why not go for the deluxe model with Dual Clutch Transmission and ABS, and still have $1700 left for things to stuff in the big built-in storage compartment. I’m tired of telling people how much I love this bike; read my long-term love ode from last year.
This one pushes past $10K a bit, but does anybody pay list for a Moto Guzzi? It’s the poor man’s Griso, or maybe the short man’s. No, it didn’t win our Urban Sport Cruiser Comparison last year, but reading between the lines leads me to believe it almost did. Guzzi’s new 853cc 90-degree V-Twin doesn’t make nearly as much power as bigger V-Twins, but it also weighs like 75 pounds less than the next lightest one in that comparo – the now defunct Victory Octane. “I love the Guzzi for what it’s not,” says King Clown (a.k.a. Duke). “It’s a cruiser, but one that exists on its own terms. It’s a V-Twin, but a uniquely arranged one. It’s not stretched out to look bigger and badder than it is, but rather it feels like a roadster with a slightly more relaxed stance. The Bobber is cool in ways the others are not.”
I suppose the Scramblers are the big money makers for Ducati, but the latest incarnation of the iconic Monster puts most of them to shame. There’s something to be said for constant refinement of a model for over two decades, and a lot more about adhering to the purity of Miguel Galluzzi’s original in the form of an exposed trellis frame, a pair of air-cooled cylinders, and not much else. The attention to detail of what’s there, though, is first class, and the fact that it runs and handles like a serious Ducati is just gelato on the cake.
A nice overhaul for 2017 makes what was already a cult classic into a less homely, faster, and all-around more functional all-surface flyer. Engine bits lifted directly from the new SV650 should make it a true 70-horsepower machine. Traction control and styling cues lifted from big brother V-Strom 1000 bring it into the modern era – and swell new tubeless type wire-spoke wheels (19- and 17-inch) make it even more adventurous than before. Especially since Suzuki says it weighs a relatively wispy 470 pounds.
Where else are you going to get a lightweight ADV bike with key-matching luggage and ABS for less than $9k? Nowhere. The versatile system Versys has long been one of our faves, and when Kawasaki gave it rubberized front engine mounts a couple years ago to quell its slight buzziness, we pledged our undying love. We’d go anywhere with this thing, and have clean undies when we got there. Possibly the greatest Kawasaki since the H1. Discuss…
Three years ago the new Indian Scout thrashed all six comers in our big Shootout at the MO Corral cruise-off; one year later, Indian introduced the Scout Sixty, a sleeved-down five-speed version of the Scout we decided didn’t give up much at all in its quest to take the fight to the 883 Sportster via an $8,999 sticker price. Its 999cc 60-degree 8-valve V-Twin makes plenty of torque but is also happy to rev past 8000 rpm, and the rest of the Scout is perfectly willing to play along. If I were in the market for a bargain on a traditional American cruiser, this is the one I would throw in my basket.
Look for a comparison test starring Kawasaki’s new Z900 on MO soon. I only got to ride the bike for a short while, but I’m already pretty certain the little green men have created a winner with this one. The green steel trellis frame and shiny cool paint grace it with Italy meets Sugomi good looks, the handlebar vibes that cause so many complaints in these kinds of bikes seem almost non-existent in the Z’s grips… it’s comfortable, its suspension seems in the ballpark… and it’s only $8,799.
Related: 2017 Kawasaki Z900 First Ride Review
Yes I’m going to keep beating this dead horse. No there is no EBR Credit Department, but I’m sure if you explained the situation to your bank they’d sign on immediately: Before the demise of EBR, these sold for the same $17k as a KTM Super Duke R. Okay, technically they didn’t sell, which is why EBR is no longer in business. But our independent testing revealed that the 1190 SX is about 96.9% as good a bike as the KTM, not to mention more powerful and 20 pounds lighter. At 41% off, or about $10k, this thing is a steal. I’ll kick myself in 20 years for not buying one, if I’m still able to kick.
Related: Yet Another Streetfighter Shootout