BMW’s S1000RR knocked our socks off when it debuted in 2009, earning immediate praise and going on to win several of our superbike shootouts and repeated MOBO awards as it was updated in 2012 and again in 2015. And then there was the higher-spec HP4 version that we described as the most capable sportbike ever when we reviewed it late in 2012.
The recent launching of a completely new Softail platform was somewhat overshadowed by the attendant axing of Harley’s Dyna platform. But after sampling this newest Softail, the Sport Glide, I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of motojournalists who have been effusive in their praise for the comprehensive engineering that has resulted in the best-performing Softails in H-D’s long history. The Sport Glide, the ninth new Softail, might be the best of the bunch.
We here at MO often cite a “more is more” attitude, so perhaps we should’ve seen this coming: a new Ducati Scrambler fitted with a large 1079cc air-cooled Desmodue V-Twin that’s been retooled from the old Monster 1100. And not only is the engine bigger than the 803cc mill in the earlier Scramblers, but so is its new trellis frame, which opens up the riding position to better suit larger riders. And joining the standard version will be a Scrambler 1100 Special (“which draws its inspiration from the custom world”) and the Scrambler 1100 Sport, which is equipped with Öhlins suspension.
If you’re a fan of high-performance sportbikes, BMW’s new HP4 Race should be at or near the top of your must-ride list. This carbon-framed and -wheeled ultra-sportbike achieves new levels of what’s possible from a production superbike. Imagine about 200 horsepower in a bike weighing less than a Ninja 300!
The Island Classic is an annual vintage motorcycle festival held at the iconic Phillip Island circuit in Australia, and its headlining event is the International Challenge teams competition for bikes manufactured between 1973 and 1984. In years past, the event has been dominated by British and Australian teams, as American efforts have been thus far only modestly supported.
In the 1960s and early ’70s, small dual-sport bikes were a common and affordable way for new riders to enter into the world of motorcycling. Today sees a resurgence in the tiddler dual-purpose bikes, with Honda recently offering up its updated CRF250L ($5,149, plus $330 destination charge) and the mechanically similar CRF250L Rally, an adventure-styled quarter-liter mount. Yamaha continues to sell its higher-spec WR250R, which offers greater performance but at an inflated price ($6,699).
Flying us to England to witness the reveals of its new Speedmaster and Bobber Black seems an outsized expense for Triumph considering that riding the latest Bonneville line’s variants wasn’t part of the trip. However, the significance of the Modern Classics to Triumphs recent sales successes can’t be overstated: The Bonneville lineup accounts for 25% of the company’s total production.
We were intrigued when Honda introduced its Grom for the 2014 model year, as the little 125cc street-legal playbike looked to be a fun and accessible way to ride a motorbike around town. It proved to be one of Honda’s best-sellers in its street lineup. It was lightly updated for 2016, which inspired a ridiculously fun shootout between new competitors from Kawasaki (Z125), Kymco (K-Pipe 125), and the SSR Razkull.
Year after year, we gush about liter-plus-sized streetfighters that offer ultra-sport performance with agreeable street ergonomics. Our expert riders love Super Dukes and Tuonos, and also appreciate S1000Rs and Ducati’s big Monsters. And yet, even we can agree that machines that pound out 140+ horsepower to a rear tire approach the area of overkill for streetbikes.
Okay, so it’s got a steering wheel and bucket seats, but it’s classified as a motorcycle in many states, and we weren’t going to turn down a chance to drive a lightweight three-wheeled car powered by a six-cylinder engine from BMW’s K1600 touring platform. That, as it turned out, was a smart choice, as the T-Rex is one of the most exhilarating motor vehicles you can aim down the road – the twistier, the better.
Ah, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, an alien terrain on earth steeped in mystique, legend and awe. It’s a bizarrely barren and flat landscape seemingly designed for wheeled vehicles to push harder and faster in the pursuit of higher and higher speeds. The odd part of the design is that the surface is sodium chloride – salt – pretty much the same stuff that’s in your kitchen cupboard.
Remember when the Slingshot first debuted and motorcyclists poo-poo’d the contraption as a waste of money that nobody would want? Well, it’s three years later and our roads are now spattered with some 20,000 Slingshots being driven by all sorts of people, many of them motorcycle enthusiasts.
It takes a really special motorbike to win our MOTY award, and the Super Duke GT comes from premium stock, as it’s based on the winner of our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year, the 1290 Super Duke R. The uncanny beauty of the GT is that it retains the wonderful virtues of the R and expands the platform with a plethora of comfort and convenience updates that enhance the bike’s appeal without appreciably hindering its performance capabilities.