In light of our upcoming First Ride review of the 2024 Kawasaki ZX-6R, we thought it would be a good time to revisit one of the first sportbikes to shake up the establishment – the original 2003 ZX-6R, powered by a 636cc engine. At the time, the supersport wars were starting to heat up and each of the Big Four Japanese manufacturers were trying to out-do the other. The 636 turned heads because of the bigger displacement compared to the competition (a standard 599cc version was also made to appease the racing rule-makers).
Harley-Davidson’s CVO line has always been for the company’s biggest fans, the riders who want the best that is available for any given model year and are willing to pay a premium to get it. Typically, the CVO line comes with exclusive paint and accessories along with other choice upgrades like a premium sound system. For the powertrain, Harley historically graces the CVO with the largest production units available, which will typically start to become standard a model year or two on. Of course, that means that the next CVO needs an even bigger engine. Lather, rinse, repeat. Well, this year, besides bumping the displacement up to 121 cu. in. from the now paltry 117 cu. in. of the previous year, other huge changes were mixed in, giving an advanced look at what we predict the bulk of the Milwaukee-Eights will be like in the not-to-distant future. If the fact that the 2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO and Street Glide CVO models both feature this new mill weren’t enough, there are a plethora of other changes to the bikes. So, let’s get started.
To most North American motorcycle riders, China-based motorcycle maker CFMOTO is a newcomer when it comes to street bikes. Elsewhere, it’s a familiar face, especially in Australia, the Philippines, and the UK, where CFMOTO’s sub-300cc motorcycles and scooters have been sold for decades. But CFMOTO is now making a play for a share of the street bike market in America, and the new 2023 450SS is one of the high-profile new “bigger bikes” beginning to arrive at over 300 CFMOTO motorcycle dealerships across the nation.
In 1999, Yamaha blasted the liter-class sportbike doors wide open with the YZF-R1. It made quick work of all the competitors around it and launched the epic sportbike wars that would continue for the next decade or so. The first challenger to Yamaha's throne? Another mighty motorcycle – the 2001 Suzuki GSX-R1000. By no means is the Gixxer slow, but as we look back at this review from the track intro at Road Atlanta more than 20 years ago, it's amazing that today's 1000cc sportbikes are making 50 more horses from the same displacement. But it's also these early bikes that remind us how lucky we are today to have rider aids like traction control, wheelie control, and slide control to save us from ourselves.
The year is 2001 and the off-road world is in a strange period. Four-strokes were starting to stake a foothold in the dirt scene, even in motocross, and as such, the manufacturers were trying to figure out how much to expand their product offerings. For riders who didn't care much for the jumps and whoops of the moto track and like to play more off-road, it was a hassle to adapt a motocross bike for the occasion. Hence, Yamaha jumped in with the 2001 WR426F. Here, we share our review from 22 years ago.
Normally, Church of MO features are all about motorcycle reviews we've done from a time long, long ago. It's fun to take a trip back in time to see what we thought about yesteryear's motorcycles back when they were new. Today's Church feature is a little different. Today's motorcycles are basically sophisticated computers on two wheels. Making them go faster or perform better is less the result of turning a wrench, and more a product of pushing a button on a laptop. But tuning via computers instead of wrenches isn't a new concept. As proof, we take you back to the year 2000 and this ECU module to improve the performance of... a Harley-Davidson Dyna. Although the Dyna was carbureted, playing with spark and altering when the air/fuel ratio goes pop compared to what the factory says is still a staple of tuning today.
Kawasaki's ZX-7R is a perfect example of motorcycle engineering refinement. In 1993 Kawasaki designed the new generation ZX-7R that has, to this day, remained virtually unchanged. For 1997 Kawasaki continued to refine rather than redesign. It's hard to argue against this approach as it is obviously working on the racetrack. Doug Chandler's performance on the Muzzy Superbike is proof enough that this machine is extremely competent.
Digging deep into our archives, we bring you this First Ride review of a legendary motorcycle: the 1995 Suzuki GSX-R1100. The GSX-R1100 became super popular in drag racing circles and for good reason – that 1074cc four-banger was made to zip you in a straight line quickly. If it was handling and circuit performance you were looking for, the GSX-R750 was the bike to choose. The 1100 was the sport tourer of the time even if it wasn’t supposed to be. At least we’d consider it one now thanks to its smooth, powerful engine, clip-ons above the triple, and comfortable seating position.
Writing about Ducati’s 2023 Streetfighter V4S is nice and all, but while at the Andalucia racetrack riding the bike, I also attached a GoPro to my helmet and spun some laps. This happened for a few reasons: first was so you, the viewer, could hear the amazing roar of an 1103cc V4 at 13,000-plus rpm. Next was to get an idea of the different challenges the Andalucia track poses. The camera doesn’t quite do it justice, and I never did figure all of them out, but the experience reaffirmed just how remarkable the 2023 Ducati Streetfighter V4S really is.
Because supermoto stories are always a lot of fun, this week we bring you our pal Gabe’s story on taking his 2006 KTM 950 Supermoto out for a spin in the California Bay Area. If you know Gabe, then you’re familiar with his excellent storytelling. If you don’t, well let this piece introduce you to the wonderful mind of one of MO’s alumni. Of course, a great story deserves a great subject, and the 950 Supermoto was all about hooliganism before that was really even a thing. We’ll let Gabe take it from here.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but we’re big fans of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 around here. The do-it-all naked bike is fast as hell when you want to get crazy, but as docile as a puppy when you don’t. For years, fans of naked bikes have yelled to the hilltops for a manufacturer to build one that was a sportbike without fairings. No neutering, no “re-tuned for torque” BS, just pure naked power – and a handlebar. Ducati has firmly delivered with the Streetfighter V4 and we’ve sung its praises endlessly. Which begs the question: what on earth could Ducati possibly do to warrant yet another press intro and new model launch?
News flash: Suzuki is still selling the DR-Z400SM. Can you believe it? One of the early adopters of the street-legal supermoto craze, Suzuki had a lot of people excited with this bike. Unlike former MOron Sean Alexander in his ride story below, I was less than thrilled with the bike. Anemic and heavy, it dulled the sensation of how cool a supermoto for the street (or just supermotos in general) could be. In fact, I still feel this way, and Suzuki isn’t doing itself any favors by keeping the bike exactly the same over the course of nearly two decades while KTM has gone and made some insanely fun street-legal SuMos.
The Harley-Davidson vs. Indian rivalry is a great American classic on par with the likes of Army vs. Navy, Lakers vs. Celtics, Ford vs. Chevy, Pepsi vs. Coke, and even…Google vs. Bing? Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the point. Harley and Indian have been at each other’s throats going back over a century, save for a 50-odd-year pause in the middle when Indian originally closed its doors. But when Polaris bought the keys to the palace and opened the doors again, the fight resumed as intense as ever when the FTR750 flat tracker started beating Harley’s legendary XR750. Repeatedly.