Once upon a time, many generations ago, motorcycle tires were in limited supply. You wanted them black, round, and capable of holding air. Well, the technology has changed to the point that there is no universal best motorcycle tire. Rather, the motorcycle tire industry developed the capability to create carcasses and tread compounds to handle very specific conditions. Hence, we have the fragmentation of the motorcycle tire market. Let’s take a look at the differing categories, but if you want to jump straight ahead to your type of motorcycle, click on the link at the top of each section.
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.
At long last, Aprilia has finally taken the wraps off the highly-anticipated RS660. The first model on a platform intended to be used for years to come, not unlike the RSV4, the RS660 clearly takes some cues from its superbike sibling. The thing is, in its presentation to the media recently, Aprilia representatives were quick to point out that, unlike the RSV4, the RS660 is not a track-focused weapon but rather a streetable sportbike. This is a motorcycle you can live with on track and on the street, says lead designer Miguel Galluzzi.
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.
Let’s be real for a second here: Honda’s always taken the über conservative route with what we now know as the CBR1000RR, and this dates all the way back to the CBR’s origins with the CBR900RR. When compared against its peers, the consensus usually goes “The Honda is a really good bike, but it’s not great.” The reason is because Honda’s tried to toe the line between racetrack performance and streetable useability because these are road-legal motorcycles after all. And as much as any investor will tell you how important it is to diversify, in the sportbike world, this simply isn’t the case anymore.
BMW officially announced its first two-wheeled M model with the new M1000RR. Based on the S1000RR, no slouch on its own, the M1000RR offers a higher level of performance, adding aerodynamic wings and bumping the power output up to a claimed 212 hp while reducing the claimed curb weight to 423 pounds.
When Triumph introduced the Daytona 675, it became popular for a number of reasons but primarily because it was different. While the rest of the supersport category relied on four cylinders and 599cc, Triumph ditched a cylinder and made the remaining three spit out 675cc of air. It made a wonderful sound unlike anything else in the class, it was narrow, it handled well, and the power was impressive.
After teasing us earlier this month, Honda officially introduced its updated 2021 CBR600RR for the Japanese market. That’s right, the updated CBR600RR has only been confirmed for Japan, with just 1,000 units being produced, while Honda’s U.S. and European arms say there are no plans to introduce it in their respective markets.
When we last left the Ninja 1000 in 2017, all we could complain about was a bit of engine buzziness around 6000 rpm, a too-firm seat, and a lack of modern features, i.e., to wit, cruise control. Here it is another three years under the bridge, and for 2020, Kawasaki has blessed the latest iteration of its excellent sport-tourer with: upgraded electronics including cruise control, a smoother-running 1043 cc Inline-Four, and an improved seat that’s still just slightly on the wooden side. Suspension tweaks give the bike a more refined ride than ever – and all for only $200 more.
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.
Motorcycling is a niche activity, with sportbikes comprising a small niche within it. Track-only sportbikes make up such a miniscule niche within a niche within a niche that they’re almost not worth talking about. Until one so cool comes along that we’re forced to pay attention. The Kramer HKR-EVO2R is such a machine. This is its story.
Since the 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP was announced in November, we’ve been eagerly waiting for Honda to release horsepower figures for the U.S. market, hoping it wouldn’t be far off the 215 hp claimed for the European-spec model. Thanks to VIN documentation Honda submitted to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, we can now report the American-spec CBR1000RR-R will only produce 188 hp.
Read enough motorcycle reviews and you’ll inevitably hear people like the MO staff talk about two things: Rake and Trail. It’s mentioned so much because rake and trail have a major role to play in the way your motorcycle handles, and the people who design these motorcycles are well aware of this when going from CAD drawing to real-life machine.