You may have noticed at Motorcycle.com a relative lack of motocross coverage. This isn’t because we don’t want to, but rather because none of the staff – except for Brent Jaswinski – feel they are qualified to really give MX machines a proper shake. The problem, of course, is Brent is (sadly) no longer a part of our crew. This posed an even bigger problem when Husqvarna reached out to us and asked if we’d be interested in throwing a leg over the 2019.5 FC450 Rockstar Edition. Our immediate answer was “of course” – now who do we get to ride the thing?
Last week you read all about the new 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 and 950 SP and saw the photos in living color. Today, it’s time to watch the stunning, action-packed 3:35-minute video, filmed on location in beautiful Gran Canaria and starring yours truly in a performance the Academy will have to stand up and notice. Sorry there’s no onboard footage, as I hit the Still Photo option on the GoPro instead of Video, but it’s the thought that counts. There is plenty of beautiful footage courtesy of Ducati‘s crew, though, and there’s even a wardrobe malfunction. Roll film!
The Icon 1000 line has been around since 2012, though as retro styling continues to play a major role in new motorcycle design, the market for their “retro chic” urban inspired gear continues to grow. Traditional gear isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but having the option to suit up in something that still looks presentable/appropriate when at your destination isn’t a bad thing. I recently got my hands on an assortment of the Icon 1000 Varial collection to see how much (if anything) was sacrificed to develop the line with this more style-forward approach. Up first, the Icon 1000 Axys Gloves.
I’m pretty sure I could’ve ridden the new Hypermotard 950 SP like Ruben Xaus rides it, if only the Ducati press people had coughed up the technical info in the press kit a little sooner than right before our first track session. Ahh, now I’m reading about it on the airplane on the way home:
In case you somehow haven’t noticed by now, Motorcycle.com has a separate YouTube channel – because sometimes (okay, most of the time) you’d rather see the motorcycles we ride in action rather than just read our words about them. Sometimes it can be even better if you can get our immediate thoughts about a motorcycle directly as we’re riding them. Of course, this means talking and riding at the same time (it’s harder than it sounds if you’re a MOron like us). The challenge is capturing good, clean audio with little to no wind noise. Bonus points if you can do it on the cheap. Say hello to the HelEquip HelMic 3.1. Since this is a microphone review after all, watch the video below to get my thoughts. Otherwise, feel free to read on.
Funny thing about electric motorcycles: if you’re already an early adopter of the technology, the name Zero Motorcycles is all too familiar. If you still think electrics are as evil to the motorcycling landscape as Jar Jar Binks was to Star Wars… well, you might as well stop reading here. No matter where you stand, the staying power of Zero Motorcycles is hard to ignore. For over 13 years, Zero has been leading the way in electric motorcycle technology, and its staying power has seen it outlast all its competitors. For 2019, Zero is further staking its claim as the leader in electric motorcycle technology, perhaps bracing itself for the arrival of the Harley-Davidson Livewire in 2020.
There’s really no other bike in the off-road dirtbiking world that carries more clout than the Honda CRF450X, except for possibly the XR650R or XR400R models the 450X was designed to replace. Originally introduced in 2005, the CRF450X went on to win the 2006 Baja 1000 in its first attempt. Since then, it’s become the winningest bike in Baja 1000 history, with 11 wins at the 1000 and nine at the Baja 500. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Honda-mounted teams have won 20 of the last 21 Baja 1000s. So, to say Honda knows a thing or two about building a competitive, well-rounded dirtbike would be a massive understatement.
From the moment the rumor mill first started hinting at KTM developing an 800cc parallel Twin way back in 2014, droves of performance-minded motorcyclists, myself included, have been salivating at the thought of throwing a leg over one. Stuffed into a light, nimble chassis, this engine could power what middleweight fans have been dreaming of for years: A razor-sharp instrument for dissecting any twisty road thrown at it.
When I first saw Indian’s photos of the updated Chieftain line, I immediately thought of the presentation during the 2015 Indian Scout introduction. During his speech, Gary Gray, Indian Motorcycle Product Director, said that with Indian’s initial models under Polaris ownership, “we needed to earn the right to change the brand. So, how do you earn the right? You pay the deepest respects you can for the brand, and you pay honor to the people that came before you, and you build a bike that people clearly will see as an Indian.” All of the Indian models prior to the Scout were classically styled in a way that harkened back to the company’s early history, the nod to the past that Gray referred to.
You read that right, folks – Motorcycle.com wants to ride your bike. By now, loyal Motorcycle.com readers are familiar with our Church of MO pieces we run every Sunday. Reviving the stories and reviews from the motorcycles of yesteryear, it allows us to admire the engineering, styling, or otherwise excellent decisions some companies have made with models that have withstood the test of time. It also lets us laugh, mock, and otherwise shame the motorcycles that should have never made it out of the design phase.
Don’t be confused by the new appellation: The MT-07 is the same Yamaha FZ-07 that’s won every MO middleweight mashup we’ve thrown it in since it was new in 2014, beating up on all sorts of bikes since then, including the KTM Duke 690, all Suzuki SV650 variants, various Kawasaki 650 mutations, Hondas of diverse specification, the H-D Street Rod, et al.
I’m a capital C Conservative when it comes to holding onto some rituals, chief among them being the time-honored tradition of toasting one’s co-workers with a beverage at the end of a hard day of motojournalism. That tradition, I’m sad to say, is coming under attack from the forces of evil. At the recent Austrian launch of the new Yamaha Niken, it was almost difficult for me, Rider magazine’s illustrious Editor Mark Tuttle, and the 50-something guy Popular Mechanics sent, to enjoy our cocktails, knowing that the 20-somethings Cycle World/Motorcyclist sent were at that moment out gathering even more video footage of the Niken, on top of the thousands of hours we’d already captured that day. I know what it’s like to be young and ambitious, but outworking the other guy is no way to get ahead in the modern workplace. That’s only going to bring out the Tonya Harding in people.
You may not realize it, dear MO reader, but the 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 was the first motorcycle I reviewed after coming back to Motorcycle.com after nearly 12 months away. In many ways this was the perfect motorcycle to ease me back into the game – the Scrambler line is all about having fun on two wheels and less about dissecting the spec sheet for every last ounce of performance. Believe it or not, the more you do this job, the more you tune-in to the details, and having been away for a short while, I think I was a bit rusty. Had I been reviewing, say, the Panigale V4, there might have been some important details I may have overlooked.
There seems to be much doom and gloom in the motorcycle industry surrounding the state of sportbikes these days. We keep hearing about dropping sales and shifting consumer interest, which will combine to turn the sportbike as we know it into a museum piece one day, gone the way of the Dodo bird.