Holy cow, is it nearly December already? It feels like we just took down our holiday decorations a few days ago, and already, Mariah Carey is haunting our radio stations. We’re not ready to say goodbye to 2023 yet, though, as there is still one important bit of business to take care of.
That’s right, it’s time once again for the Motorcycle.com Best Of (MOBO) awards.
Each year, we gather as a staff for the task of choosing Motorcycle.com’s Motorcycle of the Year (MOTY). Sometimes the debate can be heated – and lengthy. This year, we reached consensus on the top two choices relatively easily. What caused the debate was the ranking of the two, but we were able to come to an agreement (some possibly reluctantly) as to their final standing. Remember, the MOTY is not about choosing the absolute best motorcycle of 2022. While the bike needs to be one of the best by winning one of our MO Best Of categories (MOBO), the bike needs to be something more; it needs to say something about the current state of motorcycling. The 2022 MOTY is no different. In fact, it was alone in winning two MOBO categories. When you combine the two, the motorcycle says a lot about its current class of motorcycles, in this case adventure-touring and value motorcycles. The 2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 illustrates the continuing advancement and the maturity of the adventure-touring market.
It was a hard choice between winner and runner-up in the Adventure category which means we’re the real winners. There are so many great options not only in the middleweight category, but also the genre as a whole. The Ducati and Aprilia are two of the latest entrants into the segment and the Tuareg managed to eke out the win for precisely the reason we’ve seen it twice now in our MOBO selection – its exceptional value proposition.
It seems a little crazy that anyone with the cash can just pull up to a Ducati dealer and walk away with a Panigale V4 S. What it has to offer would have seemed like science fiction just a decade ago. For starters, a decade ago who would have thought Ducati would deviate from its beloved L-Twin for its flagship superbike? Not only has Ducati doubled up its cylinders, but it has continued its winning ways. The 2022 Panigale V4 S is the byproduct of many of those lessons. It’s done so while keeping in mind that pros and regular schmucks like us ride these things too, so making it easier and more accessible to ride – and ride quickly – was also a focus. The convenient byproduct is that a bike that’s easier for average Joes to ride quickly also translates to a bike the really fast guys and gals can ride quickly, too.
Allow me to say it before you do: this is cheating. I know. The Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP is bonkers. And while it technically meets our rules of being available for purchase by the time of posting, it also kinda doesn’t because each of these were spoken for within a week of its release. Sorry.
From a pure performance standpoint, the Ducati in the runner-up position would wipe the floor with the Suzuki here. But every year it’s worth reminding readers that these awards are about more than just outright performance. We also factor in the intangible factors, like what a certain model means for the brand or for the category, and the GT+ is a sign that the traditional, non-adventure-based, sport-tourers are still alive and kicking. There’s also just the shock and awe factor. As in, we expected Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT+ to be a nice motorcycle – but we didn’t expect it to be this nice.
It’s been a few years since an adventure-style moto made its way into this category – though with the popularity of the class still truckin’ along, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see another ADV rip its way into the ranks of the Best Value category. For 2022, the Aprilia Tuareg boldly displays its impressive package starting at $11,999. While $12k isn’t an insignificant sum, what you get for your money with the Tuareg transcends from being an excellent value in the ADV world to an excellent value overall.
Frankly the first modern-era Triumph to wear the legendary Speed Twin moniker was a tad disappointing when it rolled down the skids for 2020. All was forgiven, though, when Triumph made it all right with the 2022 version. The weedy suspension components of the first bike (which, in fairness, may have been more period-correct) gave way to a new, 43mm inverted Marzocchi fork brandishing radial-mount Brembo M50 monobloc calipers squeezing bigger, 320mm discs. A pair of “higher-spec” shocks brought up the rear. New lightweight 12-spoke cast wheels rolled onto the scene, shod with Metzeler RR Racetec rubber.
After years of KTM owning this class with its 390 Duke and (390 Adventure), there’s a new kid in town – new in the US, anyway – in the form of the CFMoto 700 CL-X. It’s only fitting, really, since CFMoto’s Chinese manufacturer and KTM have a decade-long history together. That same Chinese OEM had a pre-existing relationship with Kawasaki also, and if CFMoto’s 700 CL-X isn’t powered by an engine eerily similar to a Versys 650 parallel Twin, I will eat my cat. In fact, the 700 CL-X is powered by a Versys twin that’s been stroked by 4mm, to 83 x 64mm dimensions – a thing Kawasaki’s never had the decency to do. That takes it to 693 cubic centimeters, and a claimed output of 74 hp at 8,500 rpm (and 48 lb-ft at 6,500 revs). Which makes this one a tad larger than our usual Lightweight winners, but for $6,399, how can you not supersize it?
Just because the candidates for Best Electric Bike this year are rather sparse doesn’t mean there isn’t a motorcycle worthy of an award. Energica’s new Experia certainly appears to be worthy of consideration, but as we mentioned in our opening page, a model needs to be available in dealers by the time of our posting. The Experia is not. This leaves one really excellent motorcycle left to choose. It would be hard not to recognize the Zero DSR/X in the Best Electric category after basically calling it the best motorcycle Zero has made so far. If you look at where Zero started – as essentially a glorified mountain bike – to where the company is now, and in a relatively short amount of time, the DSR/X is very impressive. In a way, you could say the DSR/X is the ultimate evolution of that original glorified mountain bike. Built to capitalize on the ADV craze sweeping the industry, it certainly is the most capable Zero so far.
Motorcycle.com’s Best Of (MOBO) award season is finally here again! As has been our recent tradition, we use the MOBOs to begin our December wrap-up of the 2022 model year before we jump into the new model introduction season. Although EICMA was only a couple of weeks ago, and the bulk of the 2022 motorcycle models have been announced, the 2022 model year isn’t officially over until we wrap up our awards!
Before you start peppering me with hate mail about how on earth a Yamaha R7 could possibly be the best Sportbike, let’s remember what our MOBOs are about in the first place. It’s not strictly about performance. If that were the case, then clearly the Yamaha would be pretty far down the totem pole. How the machine works is a factor, sure, but it’s also about a motorcycle’s significance in the greater overall context of its category and motorcycling in general. Considered in this context, the R7 should start to make a little more sense.
With the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour taking top honors of our sport-touring MOBO in 2020, it should come as no surprise that the 2021 Multistrada V4 S further cements the Italian’s dominance of the category. The new Multi V4 is basically better in every way, from its stonking new V4 that can play the part of mild tourer or wild canyon ripper, to its more versatile 19-inch front wheel and world-class electronics package that includes adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitoring as well as electronic Ducati Skyhook suspension. The new Multi continues to impress in a way that is surprising for a bike of its size.
This one may or may not come as much of a surprise to those paying attention. If Harley-Davidson entering the adventure bike segment made waves, then doing so with such a solid offering from the get go was a tsunami that stirred up emotions all across the interwebs. Promising a machine that would compete with motorcycles the likes of BMW’s well-established and venerable GS line while having never operated in the segment previously was bold. The Pan America had detractors from the moment the plan was sussed out by our own Dennis Chung in 2017, where he surmised the moniker’s eventual product category: “… Even wilder, how about a full-fledged American-made ADV?” Wild, indeed. Mr. Chung.