Triumph’s efforts at reinventing the Bonneville platform (which includes the Street Twin and Thruxton along with the T120 Bonneville) deserve huge kudos. It’s one thing to create a terrific new motorcycle that meets contemporary emissions and performance standards, but it’s another to do so while making the bikes look almost like they stepped out of a showroom from 50 years ago. They appear more authentically retro than the previous air-cooled generation, which is a massive accomplishment for bikes with contemporary liquid-cooled motors.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what’s happening here with Yamaha’s FZ-07, the winner of our Best Value award for the third straight year ( 2014, 2015). The 07 continues to impress due to the simple combination of its punchy 689cc, 270-degree parallel-Twin, sub 400-pound wet weight (397 lbs), and $6,990 price tag – the same it’s been since 2014. It makes a great companion for the everyday commute and is a joy to play with in the canyons. It’ll start to protest when the going gets super aggressive, but that’s not unexpected from a $7000 motorcycle.
Twenty fifteen was a big year for sportbikes, with the new Yamaha R1 and a heavily revised BMW S1000RR and Aprilia RSV4 RF making their debuts – the two European weapons motoring their way to the Best Sportbike and runner-up awards, respectively, in last year’s Sportbike MOBOs. With the proverbial load being blown that year, there wasn’t much excitement in store for 2016, save for the new, heavily revised Kawasaki ZX-10R. The Green Machine is a good literbike, no doubt, but it still wasn’t a match for the year-old Aprilia RR (the “base” model RSV4) when we put the two $17,000 machines against each other.
Okay, get out your pitchforks! Indian’s won Best Cruiser for the second year in a row with a Scout. This year, however, the kid brother, the Scout Sixty, takes home the prize. How could that be? The Sixty is only a sleeved down version of the bigger Scout with less shiny parts, right? Well, that would be half right. The other half is that, for a MSRP of $8,999 (or $300 more for white and red color options), Scout Sixty riders get a motorcycle that twists out 95% of big brother’s torque at a 20% discount. The horsepower curves are quite close to each other up until about 5,000 rpm, in the meat of the torque curve where cruisers spend nearly all of their time.
The touring segment is slow to change. Honda’s Gold Wing is always a contender and could easily take the win or the runner-up, and so too could numerous full-dressers from cruiser manufacturers. But in our opinion, nothing matches BMW’s K1600GT/GTL when it comes to combining all the comfort and amenities expected of modern mileage gobblers, with the performance and handling capabilities of more nimble sport-tourers. We even included the GT model in our 2014 Heavyweight Sport-Touring Shootout and the Beemer crushed ’em.
When we learned that Triumph had revamped the engines in its Bonneville line, we had high hopes for what modern power would bring. However, we had no idea how substantial the result would be. Take the Triumph Street Twin, utilizing the smaller of the two engine sizes created in Hinckley, the Street could be looked at as Triumph’s entry-level bike. Although it is, that would be missing the point by a mile down your favorite winding road.
Okay, this makes it three years in a row for BMW’s venerable RT, which actually isn’t all that venerable since it got the 1170cc oilhead Boxer just two years ago. Venerable, though, in that BMW just continues to build amazing motorcycles atop the shoulders of all the great ones that came before.
We had to wait a few years for Honda to get on-board with the current Adventure-Touring trend, but when Big Red finally did, it did with the most iconic of Honda off-roaders. The Africa Twin namesake is a lot to live up to, but the latest edition does so, not by being a hardcore Dakar performer, but by being one the most balanced, all-around big-bore ADV bikes on the market.
This category is one of our favorites here at MO, and it proved to be the tightest contest of our 2016 MOBOs – we initially decided to give it the second tie in the eight-year history of MO’s annual Best Of awards. After all, our recent face-off between KTM’s Super Duke R and the Aprilia Tuono 1100 Factory was a virtual tie, with their scores separated in our rankings by just 0.1%! And, in pure subjective terms, our two testers were divided.
From EiC Duke’s initial ride of the littlest Duke in Thailand, we knew this small KTM was going to be special and it is. From the pointed profile of its front Pirelli to the tail-end bark from its 40-horsepower 373cc Single, this one does nothing to let down the family name, and on top of that, it’s one dollar less than 5,000. And that’s including ABS.
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.
One-hundred and six pound-feet of torque is an addictive drug if you can get your hands on it, and it’s even better when it’s available to you almost instantly. Thankfully for us this dream has been a reality since 2014, in the form of the Zero SR. It accelerates like few other bikes can thanks to its 660-amp motor controller and higher-temp magnets. Couple that with new-for-2015 bits like Showa suspension, Pirelli tires, and Bosch ABS, and you have the makings for our Best Electric Motorcycle of 2015.
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. At the International Driver & Rider Training Symposium, EiC Kevin Duke and I were given a chance to fully explore C-ABS thanks to this year’s Best Product winner, Skidbike.
Historically, our choice of Best Product is a consumer-based item such as 2015’s Winner: Sena 10C camera, and Honorable Mention: Healtech Quick Shifter. For 2016 we’ve chosen a commercial product that has remarkable potential for expanding the reach of motorcycling. Based on Cedergrens’ Skidcar concept, Skidbike removes the trepidation during the initial stage of a new rider learning to balance a motorcycle while concurrently coordinating controls by eliminating the chance of crashing. The device also allows experienced riders to venture beyond their normal comfort levels to better understand the functionality of modern electronics, or explore the amount of brake pressure that can be applied before the front tire washes out (which is much more than you think).