Last year’s Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout – a six-day, nine-bike extravagasm – pitted some of the lesser dirtable models (Versys 1000 LT, Multistrada S, S1000XR) against some of the industry’s more formidable off-roaders (1290 Super Adventure, 1190 Adventure, R1200GS) as well as a few inbetweeners (Caponord, V-Strom, Tiger Explorer). With this year’s introduction of Honda’s Africa Twin, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XCx, three more off-roady models have emerged.
With BMW’s announcement that it will be producing a small-displacement, single-cylinder motorcycle – the G310R – aimed at newer riders and available come the latter stages of 2016, the German marque has signaled to everyone that it’s aiming at world domination. And if you’re familiar with South Park or internet memes, I’m imagining the plan goes a little something like this:
File this one in the “They still make that?” file. We’ve been bombarded with so many cutting-edge sportbikes and go-anywhere, do-anything adventure-tourers lately that it’s easy to forget about the cruiser segment of the market. And even among the cruising set, the sub-liter middleweight category hasn’t been getting much love. The attention usually goes to the big-displacement crowd because, let’s face it, cruiser riders have an image to uphold.
There’s an old saying that we’ve said many times on the pages of MO: It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow. Never has that adage held more truth than during this, our comparison of the Moriwaki MD250H and Aprilia RS125 in 2010. One (Moriwaki) was designed to be a purebred track machine, while the other (Apriila) distilled the company’s long-standing history of 125cc two-stroke racing into a street-legal model. Considering the difference in performance between the two machines, it was a no-brainer the Moriwaki would be the superior machine around the Streets of Willow Springs racetrack, but it isn’t every day that two small-displacement motorcycles as unique as these two come around our direction, and the opportunity to pit the two of them together proved too much to resist. For more photos of both bikes ripping around the track, be sure to visit the photo gallery.
Things don’t change very often in 250cc cruiser land, but that doesn’t make the players any less important for a newer rider looking for something other than a 250cc sporty-type bike. And so, we decided to conduct a MO shootout. While we attempted to gather all three of the models currently in production, the Honda Rebel wasn’t available. When a bike has been unchanged for as many years as the Rebel, there’s no incentive for a manufacturer to incur the expense of putting one in the media pool. So, despite their best efforts to scare one up from other departments within American Honda, it wasn’t possible. Without the 250cc parallel-Twin, this shootout became a battle of the quarter-liter V-Twins. That’s okay. The Hyosung GV250 Aquila ($3,999) and the Star V Star 250 ($4,340) both have enough to offer to make this an interesting experience.
The Ducati Monster 1200S didn’t do so great against most of the other players in last year’s Super Naked Street Brawl, but mostly because two of the other four were our Motorcycle of the Year KTM Super Duke R and the BMW S1000R, which came within a whisker of overcoming the incredible SDR. The Monster suffered more in the track portion of that test than on the street, though, mainly let down by a lack of ground clearance when leaned into Chuckwalla’s endless high speed turns – a non-issue on the road. Back on the street, il Mostro was a highly pleasant thing to ride – as nearly all motorcycles are that deliver 84 pound-feet of torque. The 132 horses up top are like having your burrito wet.
It’s a good time to be a motorcyclist. OEMs keep ratcheting up the amount of standard or optional technologies available on modern motorcycles. In just the last handful of years we’ve come to expect ABS, traction control, ride modes and slipper clutches as standard equipment. Cruise control is almost ubiquitous, and electronically adjustable suspension is gaining ground quickly. Five of the nine bikes in our Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout are equipped with semi-active suspension, one has electronically adjustable suspension, while only three are bereft of the technology.
Nine bikes and riders, six days and 2,000 miles are the key ingredients going into our 2015 Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout. Sprinkle in some off-road trekking and garnish with a few nights of camping, and our shootout souffle will be complete. Special sauce will be provided by the unforeseen occurrences that accompany any ride of this nature.
In spite of protestations from various peanut gallery season-ticket holders who claim disinterest, our mostly annual Superbike Comparison remains MO’s single biggest deal of the year when it comes to clicks and comments. Apparently, many people who don’t have much interest in owning any of these motorcycles are still really interested in riding them vicariously, which is fine by the MO staff; we’re willing to make the sacrifice, for a few weeks anyway. Whether you lust after one or not, it only makes sense to be interested in them, since this is where the new performance stuff turns up first, as motorcycles, like everything else, grow more sophisticated.
From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.
By now, we trust you’ve had a chance to check out our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, in which we took the Aprilia RSV4 RF, BMW S1000RR, Ducati 1299 Panigale S, Honda CBR1000RR SP, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and Yamaha YZF-R1 – six of the fiercest stock superbikes available in dealerships now – and pitted them against each other at the world-famous Laguna Seca Raceway. There’s a lot that goes into a big test like this, both on and off the track, most of which never make it into the actual story. So for this Top 10, we bring you outtakes from our track test, revealing to you the lighter side of MO.
We’ve conducted 12 shootouts so far this year and we’re working on number 13 – a six-way literbike extravaganza which will soon be streaming your way. So, not including that one, which is assuredly the most important shootout this year, here are the winners of our most popular shootouts at the halfway point of 2015.
You really do have to be careful what you wish for. Before I came to Motorcycle.com 1.5 years ago, my tastefully graying hair had me relegated to “testing” the occasional cruiser or scooter at the Big Magazine when nobody more competent could be found. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was shuffling around the office rooting through musty old files in my slippers, Bartleby the Scrivener style, to put together some sort of retrospective. Or maybe rounding up six old superbikes from my era and getting them running so the popular kids could go out and ride them. It was very, ahhh, peaceful. It felt like the long slide toward the abyss had begun…
It’s kinda funny when I look back on it. Swanky downtown Los Angeles location, circa June 2013. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served. Then someone finally pulls the wraps off the guest of honor: the early-release 2014 Star Bolt. Star employees beam with shameless pride about the new model bike that seems little more than a ripoff of the long-existing Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster.