The Bimota YB5 was tagged as the fastest, maddest, most expensive hyperbike on the planet when it was rolled out in 1987. With 130-horsepower from the amazing FJ1200 engine, the YB5 was what the Hayabusa is now, only with the flair and exclusivity that comes with a bike that is hand built and one from a run of only 208 units.
Ever since Triumph announced its 2016 model line at EICMA, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the updated Tiger Explorer line. As we’ve noted before, the Explorer models have been divided between the XR models, which receives more street-oriented cast wheels, and the XC models, featuring dirt-friendly wire-spoke wheels. All Explorer models are based on the same platform (meaning the same engine, basic suspension specs and wheel sizes) with the designations signifying trim packages. The Explorer XCA tested here represents the top of the Explorer line.
There’s no disputing the Energica Eva is fast. With a claimed torque output of 125.4 lb-ft., Energica’s Eva makes the mighty KTM Super Duke R seem anemic (95.7 lb-ft. at 8,100 rpm). A rider twisting the Eva’s throttle to its stop finds himself on the other side of a wrinkle in time in a gearchange-less rush of quiet acceleration. Repeated often it could reverse the aging process. Or not, but it’s fun to try.
As the Wheels & Waves Festival in Biarritz, France enters its fifth year, BMW has, again, released a concept bike based on the R nineT. Last year, a scrambler-ized R nineT, dubbed Concept Path 22 after the trail to one of Europe’s most famed surf spots, featured a custom paint by visual artist Ornamental Conifer. For 2016, BMW decided to look to the marque’s Paris-Dakar motorcycles to create the BMW Motorrad Concept Lac Rose.
Back in April we noticed the Star Motorcycles website was being redirected to Yamaha’s website, and we broke news with an official response from Yamaha that its Star Motorcycles brand was being reabsorbed into Yamaha’s street lineup now split into four segments: Sport, Super Sport, Sport Heritage, and Cruiser.
Arriving on the Isle of Man for the TT during the somewhat quieter Practice Week allows for a visiting motorcyclist to make number of adjustments. Not the least of which is that you are no longer on Earth, that place where most people don’t like you. You are now in a parallel reality, where folks are warm and accommodating to bikers, and the average citizen knows that Bruce Anstey is racing a Honda RC213V-S this year. On the IOM, motorbikes are abundant and admired, the beer and air are pure, meaning-of-life vistas greet you at every turn, and race bikes achieve astounding speeds on public roads. All dogs may go to heaven, but we go here, and it’s better.
What do you think of when you hear “Chinese motorcycle?” Cheap, ugly, and under-performing? Those observations would be largely correct, as the majority of Chinese motorcycles to come to these shores (that’s the United States, for our international readers) were exactly that. Let’s face it: the words “Made In China” aren’t held in high regard.
If your occupation is testing motorcycles there’s a certain measure of accepted risk that comes with the job. When cornering ABS (C-ABS) arrived a couple years ago, the general consensus among the motojournos was, Hey that’s awesome, we’ll take your word for it working as described, because no matter how professional we try to be, grabbing a fistful of front brake mid-corner to evaluate this new technology is a line few were willing to cross. Just thinking of the action conjures images of impacting asphalt at a rate approaching lightspeed.
Here at MO, we’ve made it perfectly clear Suzuki missed the boat with the Gladius, the awkwardly styled and poorly-named successor to the hugely popular SV650. A name change to SFV650 wasn’t enough to fool us, either. By virtue of its stellar engine, the SFV held its own in the various comparison tests we placed it in, but it fell a little short of being a true SV successor. Then factor in the exorbitant price tag the Gladius/SFV carried – up to $8,149 in 2014 – and Suzuki had a tall order trying to win back fans of the SV650.
In the pantheon of vintage motorcycle shows, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering is a little like your neighborhood block party. Part Concours d’Elegance, part custom show and part biker bash, it’s a place where a hardtail chopper with springer forks sits happily alongside an impeccable Manx Norton. Vincents, Velocettes, and boutique customs share the grassy expanse with a newly introduced Yamaha XSR900 in retro Kenny Roberts livery.
It’s nearly impossible to purchase a new motorcycle that doesn’t include some form of pre-installed electronic rider aid. From cornering ABS to switchable ride modes, on-the-fly adjustable traction control to hill-hold start, the variety of rider aids made available in just the last few years is mind blowing.
In 2014 Indian released the Chieftain, and at that stage of Polaris’ reclaiming of the Indian brand, the focus was still very much on the heritage of the name. The styling was clearly inspired by Indians of the past, but great pains were taken to make the Chieftain a modern motorcycle through the inclusion of modern technology. However, the Indian brand has grown to include more modern motorcycles, like the Scout and the Scout Sixty, preparing the public for Indian to be a manufacturer with a clear vision of its past while still looking towards the future.
Going into it we surmised the little Duke was going to be the sportier ride and the Honda the more practical one. Guess what, that’s how it shakes out. Having said that, though, the practical Honda is really pretty damn sporty and the sporty little cheap KTM is practical enough to be your commuter – if you’re not much taller than 5’10, anyway. It’s way more compact than the CB500F.
Think of the new Yamaha XSR900 as an FZ-09 that went backstage for a costume change and emerged for act II in disguise. In the process the XSR was also wired to perform some on-stage acrobatics of which the FZ is incapable. Ticket prices went up, but so did the bike’s technological accountability.