Whenever I first meet other motorcyclists and they find out what I do, they almost immediately say that it must be pretty cool to get to ride all the time. And I won’t lie. It is pretty cool, but there’s a lot of work associated with the job that most people don’t see. Most surprising to casual observers is the long hours spent in front of the keyboard that keeps us from riding as much as we wish we did. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes that you don’t see from your side of the screen. For my first MO Moto-Vlog entry, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes on a day-long video shoot where we spend an entire day just capturing the video for our quest to determine “ What’s the best sport-touring motorcycle of 2017?”
We’re getting a little giddy around here as we begin to gather the gamut of new superbikes for our most intensive shootout of the year! We’ve got a fabulous two-day street ride to begin our testing, stringing together some of our favorite twisty roads on an overnight trip to begin our superbike shootout. And then the hardcore performance testing will take place over two days at Auto Club Speedway with our friends at Fastrack Riders. If you can be near Fontana, California, May 26-27, you should sign yourself up for a fun day at the track with us!
For this week’s Church feature we’re turning the clock back to 2003, and a shootout between five classic tourers: The Yamaha Roadstar Silverado, Victory V92TC, Kawasaki Nomad 1500, Harley-Davidson Road King, and BMW’s R1200CL – the clear oddball of the group. Speaking of oddballs, get a load of the MO crew from 14 years ago – off-the-cuff, irreverent, and funny (and maybe a bit chauvinistic at times), the writing of this shootout is good for a few laughs. As for the results? Read on to find out.
Each new naked demands of us another shootout. The catalyst this time around is Yamaha’s R1-powered FZ-10. Introduced in July as a 2017 model, the new FZ-10 stands as the only liter-size Japanese streetfighter offering enough performance and attitude to bring the fight to the currently dominant nakeds. Add to that a rare appearance by an EBR 1190SX, and two stalwarts of the class, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR and Triumph Speed Triple R, and we’ve the ingredients for a spicy streetfighter omelette.
The great American West never suffers fools. When you look at the harsh conditions faced by the hardy souls who set out to claim their fortune in California’s Mojave Desert, the stakes get even higher. Do a little research, and you’ll discover an impressive number of hamlets were born, sometimes prospered, sometimes didn’t, then died – often in dog years. Most have disappeared without a trace. A few still have bits of their remains visible in the arid landscape. Still others hang on in a semi-zombie state between self-sustaining life and their final desiccation plotted by the patient desert.
Mr. Burns’ diary entry of the Top 10 sportbikes of the 1990s gave me a great idea for this week’s Church entry. If you want a taste of what old MO was all about, then the 1997 Open Bikini Shootout is a perfect example. Silly, irreverent, and filled with fast riding and fast riders, this test between the Buell S1 White Lightning, the Triumph T509 Speed Triple and Ducati’s M900 Monster, has it all: three cult classic motorcycles, one Shawn Higbee – an AMA Pro racer and former Buell test rider – and even a bikini model! Because, you know, a Bikini Shootout wouldn’t be complete without one of those. Check out the story (and the model), and don’t forget to click on the photo gallery for more pics.
You can thank Honda for reigniting the mini bike craze with the release of the Honda Grom back in 2014. The little 125cc runabout is a refreshing throwback to the days you could grab your board, ride out to the ocean, hit the waves, then jet around town in search of the best carne asada burrito – while maybe sneaking into a skate park for a quick blast. In short, the Grom inspires fun rides at a slower pace.
As jobs go, working at a motorcycle publication is pretty darn good – as long as you’re not too fond of money. Still, like every job, there are work days and there are work days. This week, aside from having Monday off for Labor Day, we’ve got a pretty hectic work schedule planned.
Like their sportbike cousins, middleweight cruisers provide nearly as much pleasure as their big-displacement counterparts, but have the benefit of lighter weight and better maneuverability. Two middleweight cruisers that are reliable as a rock, though perhaps a little bland, the Honda Shadow ACE and Yamaha V-Star 1100 are solid mid-displacement cruisers that are just as fine today as they were back in 2004, when we pit the two against each other. On the surface they may look fairly similar, but dig deeper and the two go about cruising in notably different ways. Here’s the MO crew of 2004 to tell you more.
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.
Going into it we surmised the little Duke was going to be the sportier ride and the Honda the more practical one. Guess what, that’s how it shakes out. Having said that, though, the practical Honda is really pretty damn sporty and the sporty little cheap KTM is practical enough to be your commuter – if you’re not much taller than 5’10, anyway. It’s way more compact than the CB500F.
I didn’t pay to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because I’m failing to see the struggle. College Humor best surmises my disposition of the movie. Besides, why go the make-believe DC Comics route when we have a real-world shield and spear paradox between two super-powered nemeses right here before us: Aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 Factory and KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R.
Of the world’s finest naked sportbikes, the KTM Super Duke R and Aprila Tuono 1100 Factory stand above the rest of the streetfighters on offer from major manufacturers. This might be an overly bold statement had we not already published four comprehensive shootouts and almost 45 minutes of video in this category during the last two years.