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.
For less than the price difference between a Ducati 1299 Panigale and a Panigale 1299S, you could have one of the most value-packed and fun motorcycles we’ve ever ridden. It’s astonishing how many desirable features are available on the KTM 390 Duke, a stylish and capable motorbike that retails for just $5,299.
For the cruiser category of Motorcycle.com’s Best Of awards, we have two new motorcycles representing different arenas of the cruiser spectrum. These bikes will help to bring new motorcyclists into the fold for different reasons. They aren’t the most technologically advanced or most powerful, nor would they be the best pick for riding across the country. However, they represent some new thinking about desirable aspects to what makes a cruiser cool.
Sport-touring motorcycles have a confounding job description. They need to be sporty and deliver plenty of performance capability while still managing to be comfortable enough for when the highway gets straight, flat, and boring. While both of our winners here lean towards the sporty side of the equation, they both manage to take the pain out of long days in the saddle while transporting us to distant locations with big smiles.
The “Best” bike in this category could be quite an elusive target. Who is asking? Is “best” the best bike in hardcore eastern Enduro settings? The best two-up on the interstate? Best at hitting some sweet jumps? Best at attacking a twisty mountain road? You see, every observer is going to mix their pavement and dirt a little differently, so no single on-off-road capable bike could really be the best for everyone. Understanding that, the ultimate “BEST!” On-Off-Road/Adventure motorcycle available in 2017 is unquestionably the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R! (Your mileage may vary, void where inhabited by short people, consult a Dr. for erections lasting more than five or six years.)
While we had no doubt that an all-new CRF450R was on tap for 2017, we wondered if Big Red would do what it took to raise the CRF450R’s engine performance level up to par with the raw power of other machines in its class. We’re stoked Honda responded with a new version of its Unicam engine that boasts more compression, a more radical cam, a finger-follower-style rocker arm and a new cylinder with a downdraft intake layout that gives the incoming air charge a straighter shot to the CRF450R’s valves. While the new engine doesn’t dominate the class in terms of sheer output, it more than makes up for that by providing the most exciting power delivery of any 450cc motocrosser available.
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.