Best Standard Motorcycle of 2018
Best Standard Motorcycle of 2018: Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
Our love affair with Triumph’s three-cylinder engines is no secret. The Speed Triple has long been a favorite of ours, as has the smaller-displacing 675cc Street Triple. Last year saw the first major revamp of the Street Triple since 2013, with the biggest change being the dyslexia-inducing increase in engine size to 765cc. It’s always a worry when a manufacturer changes a model we love, but our worries were swept away the moment we rode the new 765 S-T – it takes everything we adore about the outgoing model and amplifies it some more. It’s so good, in fact, that Brent damn near cried man tears when he finally had to part with it.
What makes the 765 S-T so good is the same thing that made its predecessor a favorite: the howling Triple. The modest increase in power ups the fun quotient without making it an arm-puller like the KTM Super Duke R, and that luscious exhaust note has only gotten better with time. Couple that with a Continental electronics package, including ride-by-wire throttle, ride modes, switchable ABS, switchable Triumph Traction Control, and self-cancelling turn signals. Opt for the up-spec R or RS models and you enjoy a slip and assist clutch, while the RS is also endowed with a quickshifter. None of the models, however, offer cruise control which, on a bike where complaints are few and far between, seems like an oversight.
The lack of cruise control aside, the new Street Triple offers the kind of unadulterated fun we can’t help but love in a motorcycle. Other machines, like the MV Agusta Brutale 800, offer a similar mix of ingredients, but Triumph’s finished recipe offers a dish our own Gordon Ramsays easily chose over its Italian rival. With more power, agile handling, a host of electronic aids that help – not hinder – the ride, and styling that stays true to the Street Triple brand, what’s not to love?
Best Standard Motorcycle of 2018 Runner-Up: Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
Every now and then, a bike comes along that, though minimally different from its sibling, has the special sauce that sets it apart. The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe is one of those machines. Though essentially the same as its older sibling, the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS, the changes combine to make the Cafe significantly better.
Drawing inspiration from the Kawasaki’s 1982-1983 KZ1000R that Eddie Lawson rode to two consecutive AMA Superbike championships, Kawasaki updated the color scheme and added a bikini fairing that stylistically matched the curvier shape of the Z900RS. The other notable change was a new bend to the handlebar that put the rider in a slightly more forward-canted riding position, which turned out to be better for both combating highway wind blast and negotiating circuitous roads. Finally, an unmentioned (by Kawasaki) change appeared through smoother EFI function that virtually eliminated the off-/on-throttle abruptness that the plain RS had exhibited.
The result of all of these little changes is a Goldilocks motorcycle that simply hits the MO staff in their collective happy places – whether in the morning commute bump-and-grind or a weekend trip into the countryside. Add a MSRP of $11,499, and Kawasaki has a winner on its hands. The only drawback that we are aware of is that the Z900RS Cafe is a limited production motorcycle, meaning you may have to work to buy one if you haven’t done so already. These reasons are why the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe is the Best Standard Motorcycle of 2018 Runner-Up.
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