As a lifelong supporter of the underdog and a proponent of keeping things cheap and stupid simple, I was a big fan of the Suzuki GSX-S1000 right from the start. Basically, we’re talking 2005 GSX-R1000 with much improved ergonomics, more supple suspension, EFI, and other conveniences of modern life that make deploying 144 screaming inline-Four horsepower a kinder, gentler and more comfortable experience every time you leave the house.
Billing yourself as a boutique manufacturer of motorcycle art invites intense scrutiny and whether fair or unfair, a cosmetic blemish or performance shortcoming when found is profoundly magnified. It’s the cross MV Agusta must bear, along with its tumultuous history of financial liquidity as well as its family history of adopted ownerships. Regardless the burden, MV remains relevant by ceaselessly pushing the boundaries of motorcycle design by offering enthusiasts something more than a two-wheel commodity.
It was a sad day in southern Spain, not to mention a long way to travel, to be peering out from the garage as intensifying rain dashed any hopes of spinning another lap around the Circuito de Almeria. With only a single session under our belts, and that one merely a familiarization one at best, there was nothing left to do except get wet on the ride back to the hotel.
Somehow I forgot to take this one back to Suzuki after we tested it in late July. Whoops. I bonded with this cute little Suzuki immediately – little being what we’ve come to completely inappropriately think of as a 750cc motorcycle now that we’ve been so spoiled by 1000cc naked bikes.
Honda Canada announced it will offer the new CB300R that recently debuted at EICMA. The CB300R will arrive in Canadian showrooms this spring as an early 2019 model as a replacement for the CB300F. As of this writing, American Honda has yet to confirm whether the CB300R will be coming stateside.
First the good news: KTM confirmed what we already knew, thanks to spy photos: The 2018 KTM 790 Duke was going to be a production model. The bad news: It will arrive in the United States as the 2019 KTM 790 Duke – meaning we’ve got to wait a bit longer, though hopefully not until the calendar clicks over to 2019. What we’re jonesing for is one of the most anticipated middleweight motorcycles to enter the naked/streetfighter class in years.
Husqvarna presented the production version of its Vitpilen 701 at EICMA alongside a concept version of its sibling, the Svartpilen 701. We’ll have more on the flat track-inspired Svartpilen 701 in a separate post, but here’s what we know about the “White Arrow” Vitpilen.
Year after year, we gush about liter-plus-sized streetfighters that offer ultra-sport performance with agreeable street ergonomics. Our expert riders love Super Dukes and Tuonos, and also appreciate S1000Rs and Ducati’s big Monsters. And yet, even we can agree that machines that pound out 140+ horsepower to a rear tire approach the area of overkill for streetbikes.
Being the international man of mystery that you are, you must be in need of an exquisitely designed and meticulously crafted melding of leather and metal that transcends transportation to get you from that hilltop villa overlooking the French Riviera, to your luxury yacht waiting below to take you and your supermodel “friends” out to sail the Côte d’Azur.
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.
Three years ago in its maiden season, the Yamaha FZ-07 came out with both 80mm pistons blazing to take the win from five other tasty middleweights (including the KTM 690 Duke) in our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout! Last year, we threw the Yamaha in with the Duke 690 again – also the reborn Suzuki SV650 (alongside Gabe’s old SV, because why not?), and watched as the Yamaha lost out to the Duke by the slimmest of margins (a different set of testers…), on its way to beating up (barely) the new Suzuki SV.
When it comes to naked inline-Four 600cc streetfighters, Benelli’s TnT600 Tornado is in a class of its own due to an absence of competitors. Similar motorcycles exist in parallel-Twin form from Honda (CB500F $6,099), Kawasaki (Z650 $6,999), Yamaha (FZ-07 $7,199), and a V-Twin from Suzuki (SV650 $6,999), but each of those is two pistons shy of the four-cylinder Benelli. However, just last week Honda announced that its four-cylinder CB650F (a naked middleweight based on the faired CBR650F) will be imported to America beginning this August for the 2018 model year. A price has yet to be announced, but we expect an MSRP around $8k.
As far as we here at MO are concerned, 2016 will be remembered as a particularly exceptional vintage for Aprilia. The RSV4 arrived with newfound power and claimed our 2016 Sportbike of the Year award, while the Tuono’s bump in displacement from 999cc to 1077cc was enough to usurp KTM’s Super Duke R, earning the Tuono 1100 the 2016 Streetfighter/Hooligan Win as well as Honorable Mention for Bike of the Year for 2016. Congratulations, Aprilia!