One interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years is the seeming inability of the non-motorcycling public to read. Inevitably, when whatever motorcycle I’m riding draws a layperson’s attention, they’ll ask, ‘What kind of motorcycle IS that?’ And it doesn’t matter how large VICTORY or HONDA is written on the gas tank. The sole exception is Harley-Davidson. Then the comment is always ‘Nice Harley.’ And if some casual observer says ‘nice Harley’ when you’re on a Japanese cruiser trying to hide its identity, you know the Japanese have won another skirmish but are destined to eventually lose the cruiser war.
The rainy season is underway in Southern California, home of the expansive MO Testing Center, and we have naturally turned our attention to seasonally appropriate riding gear. Today’s selection is a pair of Alpinestars Supertouring Gore-Tex Boots. These premium touring boots have all the features you’d want when you don’t know what kind of weather you’re going to encounter on an extended tour.
So far, we’ve had a hit-or-miss relationship when it comes to Chinese-built motorcycles. We were pleasantly surprised by the mini Ducati Monst…errr… SSR Razkull 125 when we rode it alone and amongst its peers in our 125cc Ankle Biters Shootout. The little playbike seemed to be put together moderately well and delivered impressive performance in the class, all for less than two-grand. For a price that low, we excused much of its shortcomings, especially compared to the almighty, but costly at $3,200, Honda Grom.
For anyone who held out purchasing a Triumph Street Triple on a hunch the current model was being replaced by a newer, faster, better, more powerful version, you were right to do so. Today Triumph launched three new versions of the popular mid-displacement Triple, and by the looks of it, the new model appears poised to dominate a niche occupied by only the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and Yamaha FZ-09.
The life of a Motorcycle.com editor is mostly the same as yours – good days balanced by ones we’d rather forget. Hammering out endless streams of words for your education and entertainment steals opportunities for the seat time behind a handlebar we all crave, and we have several friends who spend more hours riding than we’re allowed. But then every so often our motojournalist cards can provide entry into the kinds of experiences most civilians can only dream of.
Humans are odd animals. Generally speaking, they don’t like to stray far from the herd to avoid the anxiety that comes from being recognizably different than their peers. And yet there exists a potent part of society which thrives on being unconventional. As motorcycle enthusiasts, we obligate ourselves to a distinctiveness that clearly stands apart from cagers.
Each new naked demands of us another shootout. The catalyst this time around is Yamaha’s R1-powered FZ-10. Introduced in July as a 2017 model, the new FZ-10 stands as the only liter-size Japanese streetfighter offering enough performance and attitude to bring the fight to the currently dominant nakeds. Add to that a rare appearance by an EBR 1190SX, and two stalwarts of the class, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR and Triumph Speed Triple R, and we’ve the ingredients for a spicy streetfighter omelette.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then SSR most really be trying to suck up to the Italians. First it was the Razkull 125, the miniature playbike that looks like someone stuck a Ducati Monster 796 in the dryer for too long. Now it’s this, the SSR Buccaneer Cafe, which resembles another Italian: the Moto Guzzi V7 II Stornello.
By now you must’ve heard the bobber backstory: Restless GIs home from WW2 self-treated their PTSD by bobbing the fenders off their heavy old motorcycles to make them lighter, faster and generally more obnoxious to the populace. Triumph was right there from the beginning, supplying Marlon Brando’s bike in The Wild One, and now it’s back with the brand-new 2017 Bobber, the stripped-down, elemental variation on the new Bonneville theme the company’s been furiously rolling out for about a year now.
The great American West never suffers fools. When you look at the harsh conditions faced by the hardy souls who set out to claim their fortune in California’s Mojave Desert, the stakes get even higher. Do a little research, and you’ll discover an impressive number of hamlets were born, sometimes prospered, sometimes didn’t, then died – often in dog years. Most have disappeared without a trace. A few still have bits of their remains visible in the arid landscape. Still others hang on in a semi-zombie state between self-sustaining life and their final desiccation plotted by the patient desert.
As soon as you begin mentally mapping the featureless layout of the Losail International Circuit, it gets dark, the floodlights come on and the track layout changes in a surreal manner. A desert haze drifts through the infield, and in addition to remembering if the approaching corner is the slow left one or the fast left one, you’re also now looking through faceshield glares and the occasional glimpse of you passing your own shadow. Steadfast among all these nocturnal distractions is the familiarity of the Super Duke R’s performance, its booming exhaust note, and that deliciously torquey V-Twin.
If you’re wondering how important the small-displacement segment is to BMW, here’s a figure to chew on: Edgar Heinrich, BMW Motorrad’s Head of Design, estimates, on a global scale, its current model lineup, excluding the G310R, appeals to approximately one million motorcycle shoppers. This means motorcycle consumers are buying bikes in segments BMW currently is present in. That includes everything from the G650GS on the low end, all the way to the K1600GTL at the other extreme.
Still need convincing that scrambler-styled motorcycles are hot? Moto Guzzi, a brand long known to march to the beat of a different drummer from the rest of the motorcycling world, has taken its updated-for-2016 V7 II platform and created a limited – and numbered – production scrambler model, the Stornello. In doing so, Moto Guzzi’s design team restyled the V7 II Stone to quite accurately resemble scramblers of the past.