Best Comparisons of 2019

John Burns
by John Burns
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Shall I compare thee to a Ural?

Hah, I’ve drawn an easy holiday assignment here, since we really barely did any multi-bike comparisons in 2019. Not sure why? Probably because the traditional “shootout” takes up a lot of manpower and man-hours (read, $$$) – things we have less of in the current era than in days gone by. Also, is it just me, or are there a lot more new motorcycles coming out lately than in years’ past? It seems like the whole MO crew is so busy spanning the globe to bring you new model introductions, there’s barely time to gather a bunch of like models to compare back home before the new-model cycle starts all over again.

I think the #1 reason we do fewer comparos, though, is that now there always needs to be a video as well as a print story – and that makes what used to be a mad sprint race across the countryside much more of an endurance slog. Setting up cameras and having to form complete sentences extemporaneously in the hot sun is more like work, less like fun.

best comparisons of 2019

There’s no finer example than our midsummer escape to Laguna Seca for World Superbikes and a track day, in which we performed a sort of pseudo-comparison among dissimilar motorcycles that was pretty fun in retrospect but wound up being a 16-hour day in the saddle on the return leg.

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It was all worth it in the end, though, when we threw it open to the MO public to determine the winner: You all picked the saddlebag-less, 31-mpg Aprilia Tuono 1100 Factory as the best “sport-tourer”. So why bother?

best comparisons of 2019

Maybe it’s best when we keep it simple like we did in May comparing Kawasaki’s excellent new Z400 to our perennial favorite KTM Duke 390.

Lightweight Rippers: 2019 KTM 390 Duke Vs. 2019 Kawasaki Z400

The KTM smacked the Kawi down, but that doesn’t mean the Z isn’t a fantastic new motorcycle for $4,799. And if the 526,000 Youtube views that video has drawn so far is any indication, we know what kind of motorcycles people (Youtubers anyway) were most interested in in 2019: Simple, inexpensive ones. In spite of starring yours truly and Trizzle, that vid was our blockbuster hit of the year. Wonder if it translates to sales?

best comparisons of 2019

In fact, we did do a big seven-Superbike shootout in 2019 – but it didn’t take any of the MO staff away from our home offices or cost us a single listicle. When Pirelli and our friends at Italian site offered us the chance to fly to Sicily and tag along on their Superbike flogathon last June, we were too lame to go. But, we did something even better: We got an actual ex-professional Isle of Man champion roadracer to go and bring back an epic 8,000-word report. Long-time friend of MO Mark Miller wrote an entire Iliad about his odyssey, and only charged us our entire freelance budget for June.

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And, since he would’ve had to charge us extra for the video (something about having a SAG card I think he said), MM didn’t even do a video. Smart man.

best comparisons of 2019

We did sneak in one little two-bike comparo here at the end of the year that’s trending pretty well, with over 100k Youtube views in its first week and 1500 Facebook shares. When in doubt, throw in a Harley! Indian’s all-new Challenger challenged the H-D Road Glide Special in this case, in a no-expenses-spared Route 66 dash to Oatman, Arizona, and back, for coolest American bagger title.

Bagger Battle: Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Vs. Indian Challenger Limited

There you have it, the comparative highlights from 2019. Let’s hope the `20s will be even more roaring than last time. Somebody already suggested VMax v Rocket 3 v XDiavel. Could be good.

John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 20 comments
  • Alaskan18724 Alaskan18724 on Jan 02, 2020

    Could be good.

  • Larry W Larry W on Jan 02, 2020

    Thanks for the explanation on the missing comparison tests. Unlike years past, I didn't see a single comparison test anywhere of the new 2019 bikes I'm interested in. I'd gladly give up the video versions for more of the great writing the MO crew churns out. I learn a lot more about the bikes from a written review than the videos, just like the book is almost always better than the movie. The comparisons really help with a purchase decision, not the rankings, but the details. Now that Boner Corp. has trashed what were the two best print motorcycle mags we rely on MO more than ever. Hope to see the new Africa Twins, Tiger 900GT, and BMW F900XR up against last year's missing: TT85, Triumph 1200 Scrambler, and Multistrada 950S. Pretty much a whole new class that has gone uncompared.