Not since the heady days of the 600cc sportbike wars have we witnessed competition between manufacturers as fierce as it currently is between Aprilia’s and KTM’s super streetfighters. With the arrival of the Super Duke R in 2014, the monstrously torquey V-Twin-powered hooligan has been in a lock step dogfight with the Tuono and its rip-roaring V-Four. So enamored were we with the SDR it won both Streetfighter and Bike of the Year awards in 2014. For 2015 the SDR retained its streetfighter of the year title over the Tuono, but in 2016 an updated Tuono took away the SDR’s streetfighter crown by virtue of offering a nearly equally equipped but more affordable RR model alongside its top-of-line Factory version. The Tuono duo also claimed honorable mention for motorcycle of the year in 2016.
It’s easy for moto enthusiasts to fall in lust with pricey motorbikes, but it’s much more difficult to feel ardor for inexpensive machines – plastic and steel just isn’t as intoxicating as billet and carbon fiber. But that’s why KTM’s 390 Duke is such a special motorcycle.
If this has been a hard year for scooters (sales are down in the category and there were but a few new models), it’s a harder year for me, the sole self-proclaimed scooter expert here at MO. I’ve ridden a lot of scooters – maybe too many – but if you ask me what’s the best scooter on the market, I’m going to try to find a gap in the conversation so I can slink unnoticed from the room. Editor Duke tried to spear me by demanding a direct answer – I responded with some wishy-washy gibberish about how great a job the Taiwanese scooter industry is doing in this market, so they should all get the prize, but he wants one specific scooter. This job was fun until it got hard.
The truly all-purpose do-everything electric motorcycle still hovers just out of range (due to lack of range), but for those fortunate enough to own more than one motorcycle, and a job with a non-ridiculous commute, an electric bike is a fantastic way to go. Plug it in when you clock in in the morning, plug it in again while you swizzle your martini when you arrive back at the estate. Ride right past gas stations and all the naysayers who bray that electricity production burns fuel too. In 2016, nearly 10% of California’s energy came from solar; the goal is 33% by 2020.
TFT displays are a type of LCD flat-panel display screen in which each pixel is controlled by one to four transistors, which can combine to yield full-color readouts. Not only does this type of display offer great resolution, it allows manufacturers full customization of how the user interface interacts with the rider. In more performance-oriented bikes, we see normal street-riding displays, while more track-focused screens can be made available at the push of a button. Track-specific screens generally focus on tachometer, lap timers, and gear indicators to give trackday enthusiasts an easier intake of information that is important while spinning laps.
Have you ever had something unexpected happen in front of you while you glanced down at your speedometer or GPS? If you have, you understand that the fraction of a second you look away from the road can have dramatic negative consequences, and as a direct result, you also understand that shortening the time away from looking ahead at the road would be a good thing. This is the beauty of head-up displays (HUD) which are, in their most basic sense, a translucent display which allows the rider to view information without needing to look away from the road. The NUVIZ head-up display (HUD), the first HUD built specifically for motorcycling and is our choice for Best Motorcycle Product of 2017.
With August just around the corner, we’re cutting to the apex as we prepare to launch our annual selections for what are the best in motorcycling. MO’s Best Of awards, or MOBOs, begin unveiling the first of August, which is typically the closest the moto industry gets to a bit of a lull period in new motorcycle product launches.
The film and music segments of the entertainment industry use the early months of the year to celebrate themselves with Oscars and Grammys and whatnot. For the moto industry, it’s late summer when we look back at the last 12 months of motorcycling and determine the outstanding products in the two-wheel world.
It’s been a quiet year on the scooter front, as headlines have understandably gone towards more exciting models and categories of two-wheeling. The industry hasn’t offered much new in scootering this year, and by extension, neither have we. So it’s with this harsh reality that we announce the winner for our 2016 Best Scooter award… is the same as last year: The Vespa GTS 300 Super ABS.
For the past week, I’ve been thinking about the reaction to our selection of the 2015 Motorcycle of the Year, or more accurately, the reaction from some readers to our selection of the Indian Scout as the recipient of the MOTY. You’d think that, after so many years in the moto-press, I’d be immune to the vitriol spewed online by people who don’t agree with a choice or statement or evaluation I’ve made. For some reason, however, being accused of accepting bribes in exchange for the MOTY chapped me, where normally I’d laugh off this kind of dreck. Maybe it was because I was the one who initially suggested the Scout was the best choice for the award.
It used to be commonplace to expect to see technology seen in Grand Prix racing bikes and/or World Superbikes trickle down to road-going production models within a decade’s time. Now, with OEMs like Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW and Ducati all having some way to view or alter bike parameters from a cell phone or tablet app, we’re seeing racing tech fast-track its way onto the bikes mere mortals like us can purchase, in less than half that time. Maybe the coolest part of this technological tour-de-force is the capabilities the manufacturers place in our hands, allowing changes to be made almost instantly, all from a few button or touchscreen presses.
Those of you who are paying attention already know this, but we’re big fans of Bluetooth helmet communicators here at MO. (BT communication won our 2014 MOBO award for Best Technology). Well, everyone except Burns, who prefers belting out his own soundtrack inside his helmet while he rides. (In case you’re wondering, the quality is way better than your neighbor who sings in the shower at inopportune times. We know because we sometimes force JB to wear a communicator on long rides which comes in handy when there’s no cellular data connection to pull in Pandora.) You’ve also probably noticed that we make lots of on-bike videos to go along with our road tests. Well, Sena found a way to combine the two activities into one award-winning product, the Sena 10C.
Has another year gone by already? Planet Earth just keeps on spinning, and here at the world’s best motorcycle website, which has just turned 21, we keep on ticking in spite of ISIS, Ebola, another Buell setback, the death of Cecil the Lion, the disappearance of an entire airliner, the impossibility of reason and Universal Dysfunction. We keep on keeping on, bringing you word of the latest moto-developments as fast as they happen or as soon as we can find the time, whichever’s easiest.
The evolution of motorcycles continues its relentless pace in 2014, with new offerings in every segment that advance the state of the art. The list of nominations for our prestigious Motorcycle of the Year award stretched across many categories and a diverse range of prices. After much debate among our editors, we’ve whittled down the best of the best to determine which two motorcycles are most deserving of our honors. And the winners are…