Almost exactly 14 months ago Yamaha jetted Motorcycle Courier Editor, Troy Siahaan, to San Francisco to sample the 2014 FZ-09, and he came back impressed. Just a little over two months later, MO gathered together four Triples to see how the new kid stacked up against the rest of the three-cylinder class. The results were quite favorable with the FZ-09 finishing second overall and being the editors’ choice if cost were the deciding factor. If it hadn’t been for its little sister, the FZ-07, claiming the Best Value Bike Of 2014, the FZ-09 would have been in a hard-fought battle for the number-one position in that category. That’s how much we love the FZ-09.
Motorcycle.com’s European correspondent, Tor Sagen, has just completed riding the 2015 MV Agusta Stradale 800 in Southern Spain, where he provides these first impressions. As mentioned in our preview of the Stradale 800 from EICMA 2014, this is MV Agusta’s attempt at tapping into the lightweight touring market. Whereas the Turismo Veloce has a more substantial half fairing and windscreen, the Stradale takes a more minimal approach, essentially slapping bags and an adjustable windscreen onto a Rivale.
Back in July, MO took its show on the road to Yosemite National Park to compare the latest crop of sport touring motorcycles, and the result wasn’t that good for the 2014 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS. Not that it’s a bad bike. Quite the opposite. The Connie is as good as it ever was, but the sport-touring class has advanced to include niceties such as cruise control, quick shifters, and electronically adjustable suspension. So, we have a great motorcycle, powered by an ass-kicking engine derived from the ZX–14R, that is languishing in the eyes of motojournalists who are always looking for what is shiny and new in a technologically evolving class. Meanwhile, Concours fans continue to be as rabid as they ever were about the bike.
The BMW we really wanted to take along for our epic sport tour to Yosemite back in July was the company’s new R1200RT, but a batch of faulty rear shock shafts on the ESA models put the kibosh on that, so we wound up taking the K1600GT instead. The big six-cylinder is a great bike in its own right, but really falls more into the touring camp than the sport-touring one. Not that that kept us from declaring it the winner. We’re fickle that way. But based upon our own Tom Roderick’s impressions of the RT on his introductory ride way back in April, we went ahead and named it our Sport-Tourer of the Year, anyway. So, there was really no pressure on the new BMW; it was all on Roderick, who responded in his usual way by setting off to down the easiest target first.
The 2015 Kawasaki Concours14 ABS boasts a litany of improvements including a new electrically adjustable windshield, revised linked braking settings, a revised first gear ratio, lighter steering at low speed, stiffer rear suspension and a new rear luggage rack.
While the new Yamaha R1 and R1M are stealing the Tuning Fork headlines this year at EICMA, Yamaha also introduced another new model: the FJ-09, or MT-09 Tracer for the European market. Based on the FZ/MT-09 naked bike, the FJ-09 slots in below the FJR1300 as a more Sport-Touring machine for the entry level crowd. To meet the S-T needs for which it was designed, the FJ gets a host of new items like an adjustable windscreen, larger fuel tank, traction control, ABS and provisions for saddlebags, among others. E-i-C Kevin Duke is on hand at EICMA, where he gives us his first impressions of the FJ-09 after its worldwide unveiling.
If a trifecta of Inline-Four-powered sporting motorcycles from BMW aren’t enough for you, how about bringing the total to match the number of cylinders? Today in Milan, BMW announced the BMW S1000XR, an adventure sport designed to bring a little attitude to the segment.
The last time we spoke of the Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V was three years ago, in 2011, during our then-annual trek to Laguna Seca for the MotoGP races. We had seasoned touring rider, and friend of MO’s, Glenn Giardinelli, take the controls to offer an opinion that possibly varied from the similar voices of the usual MO staff. What we learned was essentially what we already knew: the Norge is quirky yet capable, slightly outdated, and it endears itself to all who ride it if given enough time.
The 1976 R 100 RS was the first mass-produced motorcycle in the world to come with a full frame-mounted fairing, a bike that immediately put BMW on the map as a maker of truly sporty tourers, and reinforced its boxer twin as the company’s signature motor. The all-new R1200RS is a continuation of that tradition, powered by the same DOHC boxer that powers the R1200GS, R1200RT and the new R1200R.
According to my weather app, it was officially 100 degrees at 10pm the night we rode in to Borrego Springs, CA, during our Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout. I’m sitting poolside sipping a tasty, cold beverage while bossmen, Kevin Duke and Sean Alexander, discuss the finer points of gun control in the parking lot.
When the new BMW R1200RT fell through, recalled because of a possibly faulty rear shock shaft of all things, we almost decided not to take these four lovelies on a little three-day binge up along California’s eastern Sierra, through Bishop, Yosemite and back the long way. But we’re glad we did. The weather and scenery couldn’t have been more perfect, and it’s hard to imagine motorcycles more cut out for a long weekend than these four – all with hard sidebags, great wind protection, shaft drive and everything you need to take your show on the road.