Being the penny pinchers that we are, we like a good value when we see one, and the Triumph Trident 660 is certainly a wise choice for those looking to get a lot of bang for their buck. Let’s take the $8,095 price tag out of the equation for a second. The Trident 660 is a nice bike we’d expect to pay a few grand more for. Starting with that sweet three-cylinder engine, we were initially bummed (and a little confused) to hear it went down in displacement to 660cc from the 675cc it started life as in the Street Triple and Daytona, but once you ride it, everything starts to make sense.
Best Standard is a crazy class that can and has vectored all over the map. But strangely enough, the last few years have been an all-Triumph affair. Last year we picked the Scrambler XC (and Kawasaki Z900 as runner-up). In 2019, it was the Street Twin eking out the win over the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701. The year before that, it was Triumph’s Street Triple 765 RS doing the deed. Before that is ancient history.
How’s this for a no-pressure assignment? Completely redesign the Harley-Davidson Sportster, the best-selling Harley that’s been around since 1957. Start with a clean sheet. Make a motorcycle that appeals to people who’ve never considered a Sportster. Whatever you do, don’t offend the Base. On the other hand, it’s okay and even preferable that it offends some people – the ones who’d never consider a Harley under any circumstances.
If you’re tired of hearing us gush over KTM’s second-smallest Duke, imagine how tired we are of gushing. The 390 Duke took its first Best Lightweight title following its 2015 introduction, and it’s won the class every year since except 2018, when we gave the award to Kawasaki’s new Ninja 400. And okay, last year the award went to the KTM 390 Adventure, which is almost just a longer-legged Duke. That 373 cc counterbalanced single-cylinder just keeps shining through. The Duke’s engine is light, compact, torquey, powerful – and most importantly, it’s smooth-running enough that you’d never know it’s only got one cylinder. We used to call them “thumpers” for good reason; that descriptor really doesn’t fit the 390 Duke, or the 690 either.
Motorcycle.com’s Best Of (MOBO) award season has finally rolled around again! While we typically roll out each year’s MOBOs before EICMA, this year we were so busy with the Heavyweight Naked Shootout that we decided to delay the MOBOs. Although the bulk of the 2022 motorcycle models have been announced, the 2021 model year isn’t officially over until all the accolades have been handed out. So, let’s get started!
Every year, we are faced with the task of choosing Motorcycle.com’s Motorcycle of the Year (MOTY), and typically, the debate is heated – and lengthy. This year, we reached agreement remarkably quickly – a rarity with any decision made by this crew of misfits. As we say each year, however, the MOTY is not about choosing the best motorcycle of 2020. While the choice 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 or do something for motorcycling. Looking back at the last five years, you’ll see that we’ve spread the MO love around, choosing an adventure bike, a sportbike, a sport-touring bike, an entire motorcycle platform, and a cruiser. Each choice has been an exemplary motorcycle, but each has expanded the way we think about motorcycling. The KTM 890 Duke R, MO’s Motorcycle of the Year 2020, is a great example of this characteristic.
The Ducati Superleggera V4 borders on obscene. With up to 235 horses on tap with the race exhaust and pushing something hovering at around 400 pounds, the sheer amount of thrust bends your perception of…well, everything. And yet, despite the absurd amount of power mixed with its carbon-fiber and titanium-infused diet, the Ducati Superleggera V4 still handles and circulates around a racetrack as well, if not better, than anything else I’ve ridden. And if the stopwatch ultimately proves me wrong someday, certainly nothing I’ve ridden to date can match the utter exhilaration the Superleggera V4 provides.
There are Sport-Tourers, and then there are Sport-Tourers. The Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour is the latter, a cut above the rest. It checks all the boxes: stonking engine, state-of-the-art electronics, great suspension and brakes, decent-but-not-isolating weather protection, and included cargo-carrying capacity. Every time I ride the Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour, I think how retirement is a long seven years away and wouldn’t I rather just pack my bits and bobs onto the back of this bike and head for parts unplanned?
Perhaps it’s time to change the category’s name since both bikes mentioned here surely classify as hyper-nakeds. With both of these bikes, you get big, burly engines mounted to aggressively styled chassis. For riders who believe that too much of everything is just enough, 2020 is the year for you in naked motorcycles. To our eyes, the Kawasaki Z H2 embodies the best of this category and achieves it through a unique powerplant, making it worthy of the Best Naked Motorcycle MOBO. When we have one in the MO Garage Complex, the boys are always fighting over it. Here’s why:
We always say it’s a great time to be a motorcyclist. There are so many great bikes for all sorts of end uses these days. Perhaps the best example of this is the Adventure category – specifically the red hot middleweight adventure class. There are a handful of middleweights that quite thoroughly span the breadth of what moto-wanderers might consider necessary to tackle the unknown. In MO’s collective opinion, no motorcycle quite runs the gamut like Triumph’s new Tiger 900 Rally Pro.
We generally associate value with cheap when, in reality, this isn’t (necessarily) the case. The KTM 890 Duke R is a perfect example. For under $12,000 you get a motorcycle packed with performance KTM could charge 15-large for, and you still wouldn’t feel ripped off.
Going into it, we were thinking Triumph’s new Speed Twin might be a heavy favorite for the win again in this tough category. But in the actual event, after we got our mitts on one for testing here at MO HQ, we were just slightly underwhelmed with the first modern Triumph to wear that name since the original Speed Twin, way back in 1936. Our disappointment turned to joy, though, when we traded the Speed Twin a couple weeks later for a new Scrambler 1200 XC.
There was a lot of racket in the cruiser/bagger world this year, and this thing could’ve gone several ways. But we like a little performance with our cruisers, and it was Triumph’s audacious Rocket 3 that blasted off to the win. The previous version was a hoot to ride, but the new one’s less like the world’s biggest-engined production motorcycle, and more like the world’s biggest Speed Triple. It likes to party. From the 2294 cubic centimeters of the original Rocket 3, to 2458 cc, now there are three 4.3-inch pistons producing a claimed 163 ft-lbs of torque and 167 horses at 6000 rpm. More to the point is the additional lightness; Triumph says the new Rocket’s 88 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, at just 642 pounds (claimed dry weight). It definitely looks way more svelte than the old bike; the new seamless gas tank doesn’t hurt in the looks department. Neither do the brushed alloy intake and hydroformed exhaust header balancing the left and right sides of that big engine, totally reminiscent of a Supermarine Spitfire.
The Duke 390 has almost owned this class since its 2015 introduction, with a brief interruption by the new Ninja 400 Kawasaki two years ago. So it was nice of KTM to make it easy for us to mix things up a bit this year, by giving birth to the KTM 390 Adventure. It, of course, makes use of that same amazingly ingratiating little 373 cc Single-cylinder as the Duke but places it in an all-new ADV-style housing, adventuring being all the rage lately.
Typically our MOBO awards have a winner and a runner-up. But we’re going to break from tradition this one time and award our 2020 Best Technology prize to airbags. The runner-up? Also airbags. If you’re a regular follower of Motorcycle.com, then you’ll know exactly why.