We continue our look back through the past 12 months and reminisce about some of our favorite bike comparisons of 2017.
Our five most memorable comparos from the year cross a gamut of motorcycle categories and sizes. This year, we had our usual favorites, like the always-popular multi-part superbike shootout, but we also mixed things up with a couple of comparisons featuring bikes from the same manufacturer, with small but fundamentally distinct differences between them.
Everything old is new again, and that holds true with motorcycles with the recent trend of brand new models that harken back to the classics of yesteryear.
In the end, the three bikes were fairly evenly matched, with just a single percentage point separating the three on our scorecard. Judging the winner of this trio is dependent largely upon individual tastes
One surprising trend from 2017 was the sudden influx of small-displacement adventure bikes on the market. While we’re still waiting for the likes of the BMW G310GS and Suzuki V-Strom 250 to reach our shores (and while we’re at it, when will KTM get around to building a 390 Adventure?), we managed to wrangle together a Honda CRF250L Rally and a Kawasaki Versys-X 300 along with the 250cc CSC RXR.
For this shootout, we sent grizzled veteran moto-journalist John Burns and significantly less-grizzled newcomers Ryan Adams and Brent Jaswinski out to Big Bear, Calif., to not just show which mini-ADV bike comes out on top, but also to prove you don’t need a 550-pound 1200cc two-wheeled SUV to go adventure riding.
For most of our shootouts, we try to compare bikes in the same category with similar price points from different manufacturers. We mixed things up this year, with one memorable comparison featuring Harley-Davidson’s Electra Glide and Road Glide to see how much of a difference there is between a fork-mounted fairing and a frame-mounted fairing.
And to make things particularly interesting, Evans Brasfield and Tom Roderick really put the Harleys’ touring capabilities to the test, taking them on an Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000 challenge, tackling 1,000 miles in 24 hours.
Our intrepid heroes successfully completed the challenge, which included multiple fill-ups of both gas and caffeine and one surprisingly pleasant 3 a.m. encounter with law-enforcement officers.
Like we did with the Harleys, we put a pair of Honda Africa Twins up against one another, one equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission and one with the automatic dual-clutch transmission.
Dirtbikes.com editor Scott Rousseau and guest tester Scott Shaffstall took the twin Twins out on the annual AltRider Taste of Dakar Adventure Ride, testing them on rugged off-road environments to see if Honda’s DCT technology could match up against the tried-and-true manual clutch.
With just a transmission type, accessory centerstand and a taller windscreen making the difference between these two Africa Twins, it’s probably no surprise that they were evenly matched, with our two testers disagreeing on which version they liked best.
Okay, to be fair, these are technically three separate shootout articles, but when featuring seven of the top literbikes competing together on the street and on the racetrack, we had to combine them into one for this list, just to make it fair to the others.
Notably, four of the bikes had either been revised or completely redone since our previous superbike shootout in 2015 (catch the articles here, if you missed them: track and street), making this the first time we were able to match them up against their rivals.
After the dust settled and the scores were tallied, one bike came out the clear winner, while the battle for the other two spots on our superbike shootout podium came down to a difference of just 0.06%.
Perhaps the only thing that could have made this comparison even better was if we could have included a couple of Italian studs like the Ducati Panigale and the MV Agusta F4. We’ll add that to our New Year’s resolutions.
Finally, for those of you paying attention, we have MO’s holiday surprise delivery of the brand new Supernaked Streetfighters Shootout which didn’t go live until December 23rd. It’s too early to tell, but it will quite possibly challenge the above list for the most read item in any given six month period.
MO comparison tests and shootouts take a lot of work and cost a lot of money but in the end they are our favorite stories to produce and our reader’s favorite stories to read. We hope 2018 can live up to the lofty shootout standards of 2017…. and it’ll sure be fun trying!