Hooray! November has arrived, and after relentless teasing ( here and here) from some manufacturers, we’re ready to see what Model Year 2020 has in store for us. The Tokyo Motor Show had some early entries from Kawasaki, the biggest of which was the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2. Then Ducati stepped up with its own early announcements about the updated Panigale V4 family and the new Panigale V2, plus the beastly Ducati Streetfighter V4 and V4 S. So, you could say that we’re all warmed up and ready to hit the road.
It’s not every year a motorcycle hits the scene and redefines the boundaries of its category. The KTM 790 Adventure R has done just that. KTM has taken its decades of off-road championship-winning pedigree and infused it into what we believe is the most capable adventure bike to hit the market in some time. The 790 Adventure R utilizes KTM’s fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension front and rear, componentry previously only found on the company’s XC-W, EXC-F, and Enduro R models. The compact 799cc Parallel Twin and low slung gas tank only adds to the maneuverability of the bike, giving it a nice low center of gravity. Whether tiptoeing through a rock garden or blasting through sand washes, the 790 Adventure R handles in a way no other adventure bike does, mostly thanks to keeping its CG as low as possible.
If there’s one thing that motorcyclists look forward to almost as much as the beginning of riding season, it has to be new model season – when all of next year’s updates are announced. It’s a bench-racer’s heaven. However, in a longstanding MO tradition, we like to pause before the rush of the new to look back at what the previous year offered the world of motorcycling.
In a virtual carbon copy of last year’s riveting Grand Prix of Qatar, Andrea Dovizioso, the second-best rider on the planet today, edged defending world champion Marc Marquez by .023 seconds to capture the win. Cal Crutchlow, the Black Knight of MotoGP, took the third step on the podium on a right ankle held together with bandaids and baling wire. Parity has arrived in MotoGP, with tonight’s race producing the 8th closest podium in history and the fastest Top 15 ever. Last year, Dovizioso’s winning margin was .027 seconds, suggesting Marquez, his surgically-repaired shoulder mostly healed, is making progress. Comparing this year’s top seven riders to last year, the only significant difference is Suzuki’s Alex Rins. Last year Rins, whose season started miserably despite my jocking him all over the place, crashed out mid-race. This year, he was in the mix the entire time, led the race for a couple of partial laps, and finished fourth, barely 14/100ths behind Crutchlow. He was followed by Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi (who started 14th), Ducati factory rider Danilo Petrucci and polesitter Maverick Vinales who, with a full fuel tank and cold tires, rides like the second coming of James Ellison. Last year, behind Dovi and Marquez, it was Rossi, Crutchlow, Petrucci, and Vinales. This, I suggest, is what they mean by “the usual suspects.” Embed from Getty Images
Within Triumph’s Modern Classics line there was always a sizable gap between the Bonneville T120 and the Thruxton. The Bonnie had a nice standard riding position and more sedate power delivery, while the Thruxton had a much more committed rider stance and sportier performance. What about riders who wanted an upright riding stance but craved more get up when the go knob was twisted? Well, the good folks in Hinckley have answered the call with the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin.
One of the biggest news stories in MotoGP for 2019 is Jorge Lorenzo leaving Ducati after two years and joining the factory Repsol Honda team, replacing the now-retired Dani Pedrosa. The move comes as a bit of a shock for a few reasons, but it also pairs the three-time MotoGP World Champion with five-time – and reigning – champ, Marc Marquez.
Nothing excites motorcyclists – who are often in a forced staycation from riding this time of year – like new model season. The manufacturers have revealed their new mounts, but most are not yet in show rooms. So, all we’ve got is highly produced photos, minimal specifications, and our fantasies to go on. This is the time of year that we motojournalists live for. Not only do we get to pad our frequent flyer miles, but we also sample the latest and greatest that the manufacturers have produced so that we can come home to tell you all about what the upcoming model year has in store for all of us.
In America, some might consider owning and riding a Harley-Davidson to be patriotic. But in Italy, Ducati is revered and more closely synonymous with religion. Hardcore Ducatisti take motorcycles, their performance, style, and love of their red rockets seriously, and the 2019 Multistrada 1260 Enduro is no exception. With its high-performance/racing pedigree, adventure touring and/or off-road riding is rarely (if ever) the first thing that comes to mind when the Italian marque is mentioned. The update and introduction of this new 2019 Multi aims to change all that, and it started with the goal of making the 1260 Enduro more accessible and intuitive to operate, easier and more enjoyable to ride, all while increasing its overall performance.
KTM has been teasing us for years. Yes, years. And now, the time has come for parallel Twin fans in North America to do what riders in the rest of the world were able to do in the 2018 model year. We’re not bitter – a little frustrated, yes – but not bitter, and we are salivating at the opportunity to throw a leg over the 2019 KTM 790 Duke. In case you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of the 790 Duke, here’s what to expect.
Ever since my interview last December with Rod Copes, President of Royal Enfield North America, I’ve been looking forward to experiencing the new 650 Twin the company developed for the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650. The common engine and chassis underlying these two models represent just one of “several” platforms slated to be released by RE in the next 3-5 years, according to Copes. Additionally, Copes claims that these platforms will all be aimed at the 400-700cc category because Royal Enfield wants to be the global leader in the middle-weight segment, which he thinks is underutilized as most manufacturers have been exploiting the heavy-weight market with its wider profit margins. Since I am a fan of both middle-weights and parallel Twins, these were heady statements to receive.
We here at Motorcycle.com like the Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT. In fact, we named it the value choice of our recent Big-Bore Adventure Touring Shootout ( Part 1, Part 2). So, imagine our surprise when we saw that some of the same accessories installed on our 1000XT for the tour were now standard fare on the 2019 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT Adventure.
The Suzuki V-Strom 650XT has proven popular with fans of middle-weight adventure touring motorcycles. Couple that with a plethora of accessories available directly from Suzuki and the aftermarket, and you’ve got a flexible mount for either commuting or racking up the miles. Still, some people don’t want to bother with outfitting their bike with accessories, preferring that the essentials be installed directly at the factory. The release of the 2019 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Touring should make these people very happy.
If you’re a fan of naked bikes or sport-tourers, odds are that you’re familiar with the offerings from KTM. Both motorcycles eschew the velvet glove and deliver the iron fist of sporting performance to riders. For 2019, the 1290 Super Duke R returns essentially unchanged while the 1290 Super Duke GT gets a raft of upgrades, bringing it in line with the R.
When I first saw Indian’s photos of the updated Chieftain line, I immediately thought of the presentation during the 2015 Indian Scout introduction. During his speech, Gary Gray, Indian Motorcycle Product Director, said that with Indian’s initial models under Polaris ownership, “we needed to earn the right to change the brand. So, how do you earn the right? You pay the deepest respects you can for the brand, and you pay honor to the people that came before you, and you build a bike that people clearly will see as an Indian.” All of the Indian models prior to the Scout were classically styled in a way that harkened back to the company’s early history, the nod to the past that Gray referred to.
The California Air Resources Board has certified a new BMW engine, confirming an entire new range of 1254cc R models for 2019. According to the new CARB executive order, the engine will be equipped on five models: the R1250GS, R1250GS Adventure, R1250R, R1250RS and R1250RT.