The hallmark of a good sporting motorcycle is one that instills supreme confidence in its rider to comfortably push their abilities. And if the motorcycle also is able to turn heads in the process, then all the better. Of all the new sportbikes we’ve ridden in the past year, none have felt as sure-footed and confidence-inspiring as the Ducati 899 Panigale, Motorcycle.com’s Sportbike of the Year. It doesn’t hurt that the 899 is a sexy object of desire, to boot.
In a class where keeping up with the latest technology can mean the difference between being on the podium and being left at the starting gate, Yamaha’s YZ250F was waaayy loooong overdue for an update in 2014. The Blu Cru’s quarter-liter four-stroke could do little more than hold its own against its rivals, suffering a power deficit and lacking a more precise and easier to tune fuel-injection system. If only Yamaha could come up with something more competitive while retaining the 250F’s excellent handling character…
Motorcycling is fun and exciting no matter what bike you’re on, but what really stokes our fires is the incessant march forward of what is considered the state of the art on two wheels. It’s fascinating to observe the evolution of motorcycles, irrespective of category or market intention.
The past 12 months have seen motorcycle winds blowing in two different directions. From one direction are technological advances made to premium-priced high-end machines, mostly from European manufacturers like BMW, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta and Triumph. From the other side are new motorcycles intended to tap into newer, less-experienced riders looking for affordable ways to join our moto world, headlined primarily by Japanese OEMs like Honda and, to a lesser extent, Kawasaki.