Kawasaki tipped its cap at Intermot last month about its upcoming Z650 and Z900 nakeds. It was an odd strategy, releasing a couple of images and what looks to be an early draft of its EICMA press release. Well, now the Milan show is finally here and Kawasaki has officially confirmed the two models.
Here at Motorcycle.com we’ve made no secret about the KTM 1290 Super Duke R being one of our favorite motorcycles, even going so far as to name it our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year. Since then, however, KTM’s competition has been upping their games in order to make their bikes compete with the almighty Super Duke. So, naturally, KTM had to respond, and it’s done so with this heavily revamped 2017 1290 Super Duke R, unveiled today at EICMA 2016.
With a pocketful of spy shots as proof, we sleuthy MOrons proudly scooped the news a few months ago that Ducati was planning to produce a new air-cooled Monster ( 2017 Ducati Monster 800 Spy Shots). Today at EICMA, Ducati presented the production version. The 2017 Monster 797 borrows the air-cooled 803cc L-Twin from Ducati’s Scrambler models and repackages it for use in its newest naked.
Kawasaki announced a new R Edition version of the Z1000 for Europe but the future of the naked roadster remains unclear with a new Z900 model on the way. Kawasaki Europe will still offer the base model Z1000 for the 2017 model year but the R Edition may turn out to be a final production run special edition.
Yamaha launched a new series of naked motorcycles in 2013 with the three-cylinder MT-09 (a.k.a. the FZ-09 here in North America) earning strong reviews from the press and consumers. European consumers in particular took to the MT-09, making it one of Yamaha top-selling models in the continent. Now joined by a family of MT models ranging from 125cc to 1000cc, the MT-09 receives its first update, getting a quick shifter, assist & slipper clutch and (at last) improved suspension.
Taiwanese manufacturer Kymco has filed a design patent for a motorcycle based on Kawasaki‘s ER-6n. The design, filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, shows a motorcycle with a similar engine, swingarm and offset lay-down shock as the ER-6n and its faired sibling, the Ninja 650. The Kymco design has a different frame and bodywork than Kawasaki’s naked Twin.
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.
Once upon a time, OEM streetfighters weren’t a thing. Instead, streetfighter motorcycles were solely the province of riders who were forced by finances to become customizers, with many getting their start after plastic-grinding slides down the pavement. The cost of replacement factory bodywork being what it was (and still is), many young riders were challenged when it came time to fix their damaged rides. So, the bodywork came off, and their sportbike’s industrial underbelly was exposed for the world to see – the rougher the better – with the scars from tangles with the laws of physics displayed with pride. Eventually, streetfighters became something other than a repair option. Instead, riders began taking new bikes and stripping perfectly good components off of them. Custom parts geared towards this market mushroomed, and much like cafe racers, a grass-roots-inspired motorcycle class was born.
How do we love the Triumph Speed Triple? Let us count the ways… one, two, three… ever since the original naked Triple showed up in, well not the original one, but the first aluminum-framed one that arrived on scene in 1997. That first real Speed Triple had various teething problems you can read all about in MO’s test here, but nigh on 20 years later all the bugs seem to be worked out, including the chrome bug-eye headlights of the original, which we still miss.
This is merely my subjective list of 10 good things, but there are really no bad things about riding those few hundred miles from MO’s SoCal headquarters to the Monterey peninsula; blasting over a few mountain ranges, making time up the spine, toasting the coast. Mother Nature pulled out all the stops in the scenery department, the weather’s perfect, we wangled six great bikes (more on them next week). The fact that it’s a World Superbike and MotoAmerica race weekend is really just a bonus.
If you’ve read my 2017 Suzuki SV650 First Ride Review, you’ll know how I feel about the new SV. I’m a big fan of the new bike and feel that it’s recaptured the magic of the original SV. With its charismatic and refined 645cc V-Twin, I was instantly drawn to its fun-loving character, and now that Suzuki has wised up and given the bike an attractive – and competitive – $6,999 price tag, it’s clear Suzuki is answering the challenge thrown down from its crosstown rival, Yamaha, and the $6,990 FZ-07.
In his review of the 2016 KTM 690 Duke, Evans Brasfield gave the bike a score of 89.75%. That’s a strong score, to be sure, but I didn’t pay much attention to it since, frankly, I wanted to find out for myself. Well, I’ve finally had the chance to do so, as we’ve recently put the KTM up against the new Suzuki SV650, the Yamaha FZ-07, and a first-gen SV650 from 1999. That test will go up tomorrow, but in the meantime let me say that I concur with Evans’ rating. It’s a fun bike, but without giving too much away here in the opening paragraph, here are 10 features to like about the 2016 KTM 690 Duke.