There’s something about inexpensive twin-cylinder middleweight naked bikes like the Yamaha MT-07 (and former FZ-07) that appeals to us. Their simplicity and practicality, combined with their spirited riding attributes make them hard not to love. Clearly, the riding public feels the same, as other manufacturers are starting to get in on the action, making the choices in this category bigger and bigger. Through it all, the MT-07 has been a mainstay since its introduction in 2015.
Laguna Seca’s most prominent feature is the world-famous Corkscrew – the undulating left-right flick that you enter blind, which then proceeds to drop you three stories as you plunge into Rainey Curve. It’s a thrilling piece of asphalt every motorsport enthusiast should experience someday. But one of the more underappreciated sections of the track, especially for motorcyclists, is the hill leading up to the Corkscrew. Tackling it aboard the updated 2021 Aprilia RSV4 really makes you feel alive.
Even before I first rode the Aprilia RS660, I feared this would finally be the bike that made my beloved Suzuki SV650 obsolete. Other bikes have tried – namely the Kawasaki Z/Ninja 650 and Yamaha’s MT-07 – but none have truly made me believe the ‘ol SV’s time in the spotlight was done.
Writing a Crash Tested review is never something we want to do, but if I’m going to write one, then this one is especially important. If you weren’t aware, a couple months ago while comparing the Triumph Speed Twin and BMW R nineT, I was hit by a car. I flew over the hood of the car, did a flip in the air, landed on my shoulder, and rolled to a stop. It sucked, but thankfully I was able to walk away, injury-free albeit pretty sore.
I knew this day would come eventually. I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I suppose good things like the Aprilia RS660 are worth waiting for. You see, as an owner of a Suzuki SV650 that’s almost of legal drinking age (and a former Kawasaki Versys 650 owner), I have a soft spot for bikes in this middleweight category. They hit that sweet spot between power, performance, and price – there’s just enough power to keep things exciting, moderate performance to emphasize the importance of rider skill, and well…SVs are dirt cheap. After all this time, I still haven’t found a compelling reason to replace my trusty little Suzuki.
As far as mass-produced, 1000cc Honda sportbikes go, the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is up there among the best the company has ever built (depending on how you want to classify the RC213V-S). With the increasing trend of the liter-class competition going towards track-focused weapons with little regard for streetability, Honda has finally followed suit with the new Triple-R Fireblade SP.
As I write this, Southern California is under an excessive heat warning, with the next three days bringing temps that can soar up to 110ºF (that’s 43ºC for you non-Americans) in my area. Honestly, when the temps get that high, I’d rather hop in a pool than ride a motorcycle. But even if you’re riding on a nice day, engine heat can radiate right to your feet. No matter how the heat gets to your toes, it’s times like these when a highly breathable shoe is a godsend.
Any motorcycle reviewer will tell you it takes a long ride and several miles to really understand how good – or bad – a motorcycle is. This is especially true when the motorcycle in question is a model refresh and not an entirely new machine. But this might be the first time I can remember where just riding from my house to the stop sign at the end of my street left an impression that would last my entire time with the bike. The updated, 2020 Honda Africa Twin is good. Really good.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My surroundings were whizzing past my eyeballs quicker than my brain could process. Instead of relenting and slowing down, I thought maybe an upshift would bring the engine speed lower and give me a moment to recalibrate. But before clicking up a gear I had to glance down at the tach to see how fast the engine was spinning. It was somewhere around 10-11,000 rpm. That’s pretty fast for most motorcycles, especially those displacing 1103 cc – but the Desmosedici Stradale inside the 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4S I’m piloting shows an (indicated) redline of 14,500 rpm. I still had over 4,000 rpm left to melt my brain! Incredible.
Are you sick of us talking about KTM Dukes yet? And by “us” I primarily mean Evans. Anyone who’s followed this space knows he bought a 790 Duke and has modified it to his version of what an R model should be. The list is relatively short and sweet, and covers the primary weaknesses of the 790. So let’s go down the list:
The title of this story pretty much sums it all, doesn’t it? Today’s flagship literbikes are getting increasingly expensive, putting them out of the realm of all but the most well off among us. So, let’s look at sportbikes at the lower end of the price scale, shall we? Mainly the Ducati Panigale V2. Ducati’s last V-Twin sportbike, the super-mid comes in at 955cc and $16,500 (well, $16,495 at the time I’m writing this). I had lots of good things to say about it when I got to sample it around the Jerez circuit at the end of 2019. Mainly, I was impressed with how easy it was to ride (a refreshing thing after hustling 200 hp beasts around lately. I know, I’m spoiled) and how well the electronics work.
Just because they cancelled South by Southwest doesn’t mean MO would let a little thing like a global pandemic keep us from our appointed rounds, and so it was off to Austin, Texas, to ride Yamaha’s new entry-level Master of Torque last week. (Or maybe it should’ve deterred us, since on my day to fly home again, we got word that the US MotoGP round, scheduled for April here in Austin, was also postponed due to coronavirus. Then the IoM TT, then the run on toilet paper… And now my throat’s a little scratchy… maybe this thing is not a Chinese hoax?)
With the whole world largely on hold for the foreseeable future thanks to the Coronavirus, we finally have time to revisit some projects that have been sitting on the back burner. In this case, the Energica Ego Corsa MotoE racer. If you remember, I wrote some words about the bike and my experience riding it, but never got around to posting the video. Several reasons factor into this: the holidays, other projects, procrastination, and just life in general pushing the ball down the road one more day. But the big reason this video comes to you so late is the fact I wasn’t able to get as much footage as I would have liked.
If you’re making a tire in the sport-touring category, you probably have one of the most difficult jobs in the entire tire business. Where racers want the grippiest tire they can find, longevity be damned, and the touring set seek high-mileage with modest grip, the sport-touring crowd wants the best of both worlds. Oh, and it better have good wet weather performance, too. No easy feat.