While we’ve seen the fluctuation of “entry-level” displacements swell over the past few years in the U.S., a difference in opinion still remains among riders and manufacturers alike regarding the perfect entry-level machine. Disregarding current trends, the Austrians have decided to bring the KTM 200 Duke – a model that has existed in other markets for some time now – stateside for 2020. When asked why they felt this machine would fit the U.S. market, KTM explained the decision was to give riders a more approachable entry point to the KTM family, specifically, into the Duke product range. Now interested parties have a clear path up through the Duke lineup should they choose.
Tractoring up the single-track ascent, switchback after switchback with relative ease, a few thoughts ran through my head. One, this thing’s street-legal. Two, it’s kicking ass on this trail. Three, two-strokes aren’t the only machines that can be comfortable doing technical trail work. Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat smitten with my own two-stroke dirtbike, so much so that I had forgotten just how well a four-stroke can handle similar terrain, despite having begun my off-road riding career on a four-stroke 250.
On the heels of its uber exclusive RSV4 X winged wonder, Aprilia announced a naked version with the Tuono V4 X. As with the RSV4 X, the Tuono version is designed only for track use and will be produced in very limited numbers. Only 10 units of the RSV4 X were made, and all were scooped up in a few hours after online orders were opened, but Aprilia hasn’t announced how many Tuono V4 X models will be made. We do have a price: 34,000 euros, or about US$40,473.
Triumph is bringing back another name from the brand’s past, announcing a new Trident for 2021. The new Triumph Trident will slot in as an entry-level model below the Street Triple and Speed Triple, with a contemporary take on classic roadster styling. Triumph revealed a prototype offering a hint of the Trident’s design, promising the arrival of the finished product at dealers next spring.
Following last Friday’s critically acclaimed 2020 BMW F900R vs Kawasaki Z900 video comparison review, one disgruntled Youtuber commented: Never understood comparison videos. Why not just review the bikes individually? You will always annoy people and everyone disagrees. Both bikes are good but are different, some like Kawasaki some like BMW and… well, it digressed from there.
After teasing us earlier this month, Honda officially introduced its updated 2021 CBR600RR for the Japanese market. That’s right, the updated CBR600RR has only been confirmed for Japan, with just 1,000 units being produced, while Honda’s U.S. and European arms say there are no plans to introduce it in their respective markets.
Zero Motorcycles has filed trademark applications for the names “Zero DSR/X” and “Zero FXE“. As usual, trademark filings don’t provide too many clues about their potential use, but we suspect the names will be for more off-road focused versions of the DSR and FX.
There are a million ways to skin a cat, as they say, and the field that is the 900cc-ish middleweight naked bike segment is a perfect example. Just take these two cats. After we put the KTM 890 Duke R and Triumph Street Triple R head-to-head, Burns gave us flack for not throwing the Kawasaki Z900 in the mix. I still don’t think it quite has enough to top its Austrian or British counterparts, but it’s peppy enough and should be thrown up against something – if for nothing else than to shut John up.
A couple of weeks ago, Harley-Davidson provided an update on its Rewire strategy, including a commitment to releasing the Pan America 1250 adventure tourer in 2021. Harley-Davidson did not, however, provide the same vote of confidence to the Harley-Davidson Bronx, leaving the fate of the streetfighter unclear.
As V-Twin is to Harley-Davidson, Ducati is to sportbikes, and tissue paper is to Kleenex, the word scooter is synonymous with Vespa. The signature Vespa shape is what the masses have come to know as a scooter. With a rich history dating back to 1946, Vespa almost immediately won over the hearts and mind of people all over the world. The evolution of that first Vespa 98 to what I’ve been riding around for the past couple of weeks is what I enjoy about old motorcycles. It’s interesting to see where we’re going, but it’s really cool to see where we’ve been. The Sei Giorni trim mixes a little bit of both in this model.
There’s really not that much to wrap, frankly. It’s been mostly drama-free. The Suzuki Burgman 400 entered my fleet in mid-March with just 70 miles on the clock, and now sits at 731. That’s not many miles, but you have to understand that Burgman trips mostly happen 4 or 5 miles at a time, the nature of the suburban scooter’s life. Unlike many scooters, though, the Burgman’s size and firepower mean you can take it on extended journeys when you feel like it, which we did at least once, and would’ve done more if the garage didn’t also contain a revolving fleet of bigger bikes that also needed “testing.” With a top speed over 90 mph and an excellent seat for rider and passenger, you really can go places on the Burgman. The linkage-type rear suspension is preload-adjustable, and helps the Burgie ride more like a motorcycle than a scooter.
Picking out underrated Harleys is tough, sort of the moto equivalent of writing up the five least-attractive Playboy centerfold moles, the five least-cute puppy breeds, the five least-popular iced beverages at the Death Valley Golf Club in August. Even the most ignored Harleys have their own loyal and possibly violent contingents. But fearlessly tackling this type of project is why they pay me the big money. And thanks to the miracle of social media crowdsourcing, it actually winds up being kind of fun. I learned some stuff. Sadly, none of my FB friends are much older than I am, so we’re not going all the way back to 1903 to pick five. We are going back to 1974 to kick things off.
Adventure riding and adventure motorcycles are all the rage right now worldwide. While the idea of blending some of the off-road styling into scooters isn’t an entirely new idea, Honda has taken this approach to an entirely new level with the X-ADV, a 750cc Parallel Twin scooter with a dual-clutch transmission. Sadly, we won’t be seeing that model stateside any time soon thanks to US regulation of what constitutes a scooter versus a motorcycle (Honda says the X-ADV can’t be considered a scooter and without foot controls, it cannot be considered a motorcycle).
When we last left the Ninja 1000 in 2017, all we could complain about was a bit of engine buzziness around 6000 rpm, a too-firm seat, and a lack of modern features, i.e., to wit, cruise control. Here it is another three years under the bridge, and for 2020, Kawasaki has blessed the latest iteration of its excellent sport-tourer with: upgraded electronics including cruise control, a smoother-running 1043 cc Inline-Four, and an improved seat that’s still just slightly on the wooden side. Suspension tweaks give the bike a more refined ride than ever – and all for only $200 more.
Trials is an incredible sport. What those competitors manage to do on two-wheels seems to disregard the laws of physics. I have to admit though, while I find the feats of trials riders’ gravity-defying moto acrobatics mind-boggling, I’ve maintained only a passing interest in trials that has rarely strayed further than spending more time than I should watching videos of Toni Bou, HRC’s 26-time world trials champion, on Instagram. That said, when the invite came through the MO inbox from GasGas to attend its inaugural California Trial Invitational in Murrieta, CA, I was more than willing to accept the assignment.
As the world is flying past at a rapid pace, it’s all I can do to mentally process the rate of acceleration and the sheer speed of the Ducati Superleggera V4. When all 234 horses are unleashed from the mighty Desmosedici Stradale R, forget turn one – all of these thoroughbreds are hell-bent on launching me to the future, completely bending my perceptions of time, speed, and reality. I’m Captain Picard to the Superleggera’s Starship Enterprise, warp drive has just been engaged, and we’re about to leave behind streaks of starlight as we blast off. Doing it again and again is intoxicating, it’s breathtaking, and it’s simply incredible. This is what it’s like when Ducati engineers are allowed to let their imaginations run free and build the baddest machine they can. God bless ’em.
Harley-Davidson has filed a patent for a new engine design that uses variable valve timing. Officially, the patent is not specifically for a VVT system but rather for a modular engine balancer that mounts on either side of a crankshaft. The patent does however describe how the VVT phase timing is incorporated into the balancer module.
We’ll admit this is an unusual ADV test. There are any number of competitors we could have lined up against the new-and-improved 2020 Honda Africa Twin. Honda’s dirt-focused ADV bike has received a host of changes to make it even better both on-road and off, but it has always felt most at home when the paved path turns to the loose stuff.
Frankly I was a little intimidated when I saw the all-new 2020 BMW S1000 XR sitting there in the warehouse. It’s large, and the seat’s not low, and the battleship gray and sharp prow reminded me of touring the USS Iowa. It fired up with a raspy bark when I climbed into the stiffish saddle. You barely even need to let things idle anymore before you take off, but I usually do anyway (the computer on this one will only let you past certain rpm points as it warms up). Still, its 6%-lighter engine and 7%-lighter drivetrain doesn’t like it when I try to ease away with minimal rpm; it snatches and jerks and I almost kill it a couple of times before I remember what I’m dealing with here (I’ve been riding a lot of Rebel 500s and Burgman scooters lately).
And in those days ten years ago, King Gelandestrasse of Bavaria was just 30 years old and feeling his hafer, a yuuge success throughout the world upon which everyone with encroaching male-pattern baldness wanted to ride to Zimbabwe. On the other side of the Alps, the Romans could not help noticing King GS’s success. It was time, then, to upgrade their simple air-cooled playbike with a bewildering array of technological finery also, along with a bunch more of the King’s horses. Why not, as all roads lead to Rome. Placing the turn signals in the handguards was a stroke of genius that declared the battle was on – but no touching of the hair or face. A reading from the book of Pete, and the apostle T-Rod. Amen.
Behold, a people shall come from the north, And a great nation and many kings Shall be raised up from the ends of the earth. Also Costa Mouzouris, who I did not know ever wrote anything for MO, riding upon a steaming Honda CBF1000 chariot I had never seen before this morning. Blessed are the blissfully unaware. All rise and praise the Google. Now is the time to kiss Canadian bacon, just in case. We love the poutine. Amen.
A head-to-head comparison this is not, but rather a showcase of two unique models that blur the lines of what adventure-capable motorcycles can look like. Triumph and Moto Guzzi, motorcycle manufacturers from two very different regions of Europe, both have long storied histories with plenty of ups and downs. The British brand dates back to 1902, two decades before Moto Guzzi began manufacturing in 1921.
Polarization is all over the news lately; there seems to be plenty of hate in many of the good people on both sides for the people on the other side, as the Black Lives Matter discussion – among other hot-button topics – continues to swirl. And there’s never been any better topic on MO, if the goal is to stir the pot, than Harley-Davidson. Saaay, why not combine the two?
If you were expecting a warmed-over Brutale 1000 RR for 2020, you expected wrong. If the first Brutale of 1997 was a bit, ahhh, brutal, then you’ll be reassured to learn the latest bike is all about rideability. Confidence-inspiring performance was one of the main priorities. To that end, the new bike embraces all the latest state-of-art electronics (yes, cruise control), which is a good thing since MV says its new hyper-naked is the most powerful of its type in the world: 208 prancing horsepower at 13,450 rpm, and 86.5 foot-pounds torque (116.5 Nm) at 11,000. That’s in a 411-pound package (before you add fluids and 4.23 gallons of high-test).
BMW released details about its new Active Cruise Control system, its version of Bosch’s Adaptive Cruise Control technology. Whatever the name, the system uses radar sensors to detect objects ahead of a motorcycle and adjusts the cruising speed to maintain a safe distance.
An Italian and a German walk into a bar… wait, Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ten years ago, two serious new players from Europe appeared on our shores, intent on upsetting the 1000 cc Japanese applecart. “Inhaling slower bikes like the way an ’84 Seville’s radiator grill consumes flies,” these intoxicatingly fabulous sportbikes – especially the winner of this epic contest – reset the course to where we find ourselves today, which is to say, without a Literbike Shootout. So far anyway. But remember: Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. Amen. Wait, what?
Our pal Chrissy Rogers was excited and jumped at the chance to get her riding permit last year at Honda’s rider training center, but slightly bummed to learn that she’d been assigned a PCX150 scooter when the fateful training weekend came. It only made sense, as that’s what we were “testing” at the time. She was jealous of all the other students, mostly all on Rebel 300s. A large dog could learn to ride the full-auto PCX in about a minute, if it had thumbs, and Chrissy had really wanted to learn to use a clutch and shift gears.
Any motorcycle reviewer will tell you it takes a long ride and several miles to really understand how good – or bad – a motorcycle is. This is especially true when the motorcycle in question is a model refresh and not an entirely new machine. But this might be the first time I can remember where just riding from my house to the stop sign at the end of my street left an impression that would last my entire time with the bike. The updated, 2020 Honda Africa Twin is good. Really good.
By now, my ongoing relationship with my 2019 KTM 790 Duke is possibly one of the most documented motorcycle love affairs of recent history. That’s okay. I can live with the ribbing from my coworkers. If that’s all they can think of to tease me about, I’m coming out way ahead in the game. Still, they have a point. I bought my 790 fully expecting that there would be a Duke R in the upcoming model year or two. I just didn’t expect it to have an 890 in front of it.
On a slow boat from Austria, it took KTM’s open-class sportbike two years to arriveth in the New World, and when it did, the Duke of Westminster didst ride it, along with the Apostles Pete and Tom. That first RC was not without fault, but the stones they did cast were really small pebbles, and later models were fine and even comfortable sportbikes indeed. KTM, however, had read the writing on the wall as the angel of death passed over, and after 2015 the RC8 was no more. Wash your hands, amen.
Yeah, well, maybe it is kind of a ridiculous comparison, but who went on a nice day-long adventure ride while you were locked down? Ryan Adams and I did, that’s who. Really it’s not even that ridiculous. The KTM 790 Adventure R sells for around $13,500; the 390 Adventure’s less than half that at $6,200. Ryan came back from the 790’s launch in Morocco last year calling it the best adventure bike in the world. Then it won a three-bike comparo starring Eric Bostrom…
UPDATE (June 12, 2020): An Indian Motorcycle PR representative reached out to comment on this story, explaining that the EFTR will NOT be an electric version of the FTR, but rather a “youth-oriented product” that will be announced later this year. Here’s the full statement from the Indian Motorcycle PR team:
We can hardly believe it. The long…no, interminably long wait is over. The 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 is finally on American soil. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The motorcycle that fans of middleweight adventure touring motorcycles have been waiting for since 2016 is here. In case you doubt the sincerity of our excitement, we’ve written about the Ténéré 700 no less than 8 times here on MO. Back in May 2019, Ryan penned a thorough piece on his experiences riding the European model. Because of that, we’re not going to reinvent the wheel here. So, for the deep dive into the specifications and what it is that makes up the Ténéré, go to that story. Instead, the focus here will be on riding impressions and information not available at the time of the previous first ride.
As of 2015, the sport of boxing has a total of 17 different weight classes. For a while before that there were only eight, and during the sport’s early days there was only one – heavyweight. These two machines certainly aren’t heavyweights, and as I looked down the weight categories, cruiserweight sounded more apt for a future test of American iron, and light heavyweight is an oxymoron. After that, there’s super middleweight, a class slightly heavier than your regular middleweights. Perfect.
Whatteth the heck was going on in 2010 anyway? Not much, really, relatively speaking. The World Health Organization was in trouble for overestimating the swine flu pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon had a small leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and the US was busy finishing up Operation Iraqi Freedom. Small things. Of much greater import, Honda launched its first big VFR. It really wasn’t what anybody was expecting, but you don’t go riding the motorcycle you want, you go riding on the motorcycle you have. Let that be a lesson, and always strive to know the unknowns as well as the known. Amen. Over and out. Good luck.
I’ve ridden touring bikes all across the American continent. From a transcontinental dash on a touring cruiser to multi-day jaunts on Gold Wings to a gravel road to the Arctic Ocean in Prudhoe Bay, AK, I’ve done my time and racked up the miles, but none of the touring motorcycles I’ve ridden appeal to me as much as the sport adventure touring class of motorcycles. They appeal to me and the type of riding that I like to do. With that said, the 2020 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour is a great example of the species.
Triumph announced, and then quickly sold out of a limited edition James Bond-branded version of the Scrambler 1200 XE. Only 250 models are to be produced, and all 30 units allotted to the U.S. have already been nabbed up. For those still curious, the Scrambler 1200 Bond Edition was priced at $18,500, a premium of $3,100 over the regular Scrambler 1200 XE.
Here we are again. Every few years Polaris (or its PR rep) rings up Motorcycle.com with the opportunity of reviewing the latest Slingshot, a vehicle now designated as an auto-cycle in most US states. It’s not a motorcycle, we know (and I’m sure there will be folks reminding us of that in every comment section available online). For 2020, Polaris tells us its three-wheeler is 70% new with upgrades spanning from the cockpit to the all-new Polaris-built Prostar four-cylinder engine and the AutoDrive “automatic” transmission mated to it. With such substantial upgrades to the machine, we were happy to flog the Slingshot SL for a couple of weeks to give our take on the new machine. This will be a motorcyclist’s perspective of the 2020 Polaris Slingshot SL.
Indian has filed trademark applications for two potential model names: “Indian Pursuit” and “Indian Guardian“. The two trademark applications, initially filed with the USPTO and then with the Australian intellectual property office, were registered for use on “Motorcycles and structural parts therefor.” As usual, the trademark applications don’t offer many details leaving us to speculate on what the names will be used for.
We may have done a grave disservice to the Z900. When it was brand new in 2017, we bestowed upon the newly right-sized Kawasaki (bigger than the Z800 but smaller than the Z1000), our coveted Best Standard of the Year award – and that is one dog-eat-dog category. Three years ago we (I) wrote:
Kawasaki announced it has begun testing of a large flying drone equipped with eight electric motors and three Ninja ZX-10R engines. The eventual purpose is to develop a hybrid drone capable of deliver cargo weighing more than 200 kg (441 pounds) for 100 km (62 miles).
Remember back in the good ol’ days of 2019 when we were gathering en masse, kissin’ hands and shakin’ babies? I do. Well, way back in September of last year MO had the opportunity to test three new Kawasaki motorcycles: the street-legal KLX230, and the off-road only KLX230R and KLX300R. Shortly after, as is usually the case, my reviews went live on Motorcycle.com to tell you all about the KLX230 and KLX230R. Why wasn’t the KLX300R included? Because I was only able to spend a third of one day riding it and honestly, I believed it deserved a more thorough test because it really is a compelling motorcycle for what I think could be a large audience, and at the low price of $5,499, it becomes even moreso.
Piaggio has filed a patent for an active aerodynamic device using winglets that rotate up or down to affect rotational torque. The patent, published today with the World Intelletual Property Office but initially filed in Italy in late 2018, uses a last-generation MP3 three-wheeled scooter in its illustrations, but the principles behind that patent can apply just as well on a two-wheeled motorcycle.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My surroundings were whizzing past my eyeballs quicker than my brain could process. Instead of relenting and slowing down, I thought maybe an upshift would bring the engine speed lower and give me a moment to recalibrate. But before clicking up a gear I had to glance down at the tach to see how fast the engine was spinning. It was somewhere around 10-11,000 rpm. That’s pretty fast for most motorcycles, especially those displacing 1103 cc – but the Desmosedici Stradale inside the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4S I’m piloting shows an (indicated) redline of 14,500 rpm. I still had over 4,000 rpm left to melt my brain! Incredible.
One man’s Scrambler is another man’s cafe racer. What? I don’t really know. Scrambler maybe means something different in Italy, where that nomenclature encompasses entry-level Ducs with off-roady aspirations as well as cafe raceresque ones. What they all have in common is a two-valve per cylinder version of Ducati’s classic air-cooled V-twin, ranging in size from 399 cc all the way up to the 1079 cc of this lovely new 1100 Sport PRO Ducati loaned us for a few days. I’m down. I’ve been a big fan of air-cooled Ducatis since before there were liquid-cooled Ducatis.
It’s been said dozens of times, many different ways. The definition of adventure is unique to the person defining it. Like fingerprints, no two answers will be identical. Case in point: the KTM Adventure 790 R, BMW F 850 GS Adventure, and Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro. These bikes make up three-quarters of the burgeoning middleweight adventure category. These motorcycles comprise a niche within a popular category, yet within a few miles of riding each bike, it’s remarkable just how differently each brand approaches the task. The core philosophy of each marque shines through in these machines and plainly portrays how its part of the world, and the people riding there, define adventure.
We’ve all experienced the exciting period of a new motorcycle relationship where all we want to do is ride together. Unfortunately, Tom Dean has found his new Italian love affair during a pandemic lockdown. Still, it sounds as if the two of them are making the best of the time.
Indian announced a new FTR 1200 variant with carbon fiber bodywork for international markets. As of this writing, the 2020 Indian FTR Carbon has not been confirmed for the U.S., though that may change at any moment. Right now, the Carbon model has only officially been confirmed for Indian’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. We can confirm that it has also been certified for Australia.