The heavyweight Streetfighter category of motorcycles has exploded in popularity lately, with seemingly every manufacturer jumping on the bandwagon for a piece of the pie. Japan’s represented with the Kawasaki Z1000, Honda CB1000R, and even Suzuki is entering the ring in 2015 with the GSX-S1000. Italy’s three representatives include the MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, Ducati Monster 1200 and Aprilia Tuono V4R. Germany, of course, gives us the BMW S1000R, and we can’t forget BMW’s Austrian neighbors and their contribution to the party: the all-conquering KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Motorcycle.com’s 2014 Motorcycle of the Year.
Your giant corporations can be a little slow to respond to trends, but sometimes they surprise you. Yamaha started teasing the idea of bringing back its old SR400 a couple years ago, and now they’ve gone ahead and done it. This is not a modern interpretation of the old bike, this is the actual old bike it’s been building and selling in other markets since the ’70s – though it does have modern fuel injection and a charcoal canister to meet current emissions requirements.
Since the launch of Ducati’s Monster 1200 S ($15,995) earlier this year, we’ve extensively tested the bike on both the track and the street. What we found is that while the 1200 S is not the best choice for a naked track-day weapon, it is a consummate roadster when set between the yellow and white lines. Now comes the Monster 821 with an MSRP of $11,495. Is the smaller-displacement Ducati Monster a better choice than the base-model Monster 1200 at $13,495?
Honda can’t seem to keep enough Groms on dealership floors, and considering its $3,199 price tag, it’s easy to see why. For those in urban environments, college towns, or both, the Grom represents an extremely affordable way to blast through town on a fun and compact motorcycle. Its appeal widens even further when you take into account first-time riders who want to learn the fundamentals of two-wheeling on a motorcycle that isn’t the least bit intimidating.
Honda’s 500cc middleweight duo, the naked CB500F and the sporty CBR500R, fill a mid-size displacement gap between smallish 250cc beginner bikes and larger 600cc supersport weapons. Similarly priced at $5,799 and $6,299 for the F and R, respectively, the bikes represent reliable and fun transportation that’s also economical and attractive. Introduced last year, the CB500F and R have struck a chord with the eco-minded younger generation that are also image-aware and price-conscious.
Harley-Davidson’s electrically-powered LiveWire has sent shockwaves throughout the moto industry – and also through the general public. I don’t recall the last time Harley made a bigger splash in traditional media than the news of this electric motorcycle, which I got to ride yesterday on the streets of New York City.
In a world of increasing electronic complexity, Royal Enfield’s Continental GT is a bastion of motorcycling simplicity. And that’s just how Enfield’s CEO, Siddhartha Lal, likes it. Over lunch on our Continental GT media ride, he relates how the more simple a motorcycle is, the more reliable the bike and the easier it is to fix if there is a problem. No argument there, but what’s his underlying point?
Well, I didn’t really expect the Aprilia Mana 850 GT to be much of a sportbike, but it is. Amazingly enough, when we set off into the sunset back down Ortega Highway toward civilization after a nice day riding, we didn’t get stuck behind a single cement mixer or weaving pickup or any vehicles at all – completely unprecedented – which meant we could set our own pace through all those fast, smooth sweepers. The Mana settled into a surprisingly swift one.
When Honda released the 2012 NC700 series of motorcycles with an optional Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), some members of the riding public scratched their heads. To an experienced rider, operating a well-engineered clutch and gearbox is seen as an asset, not a negative. What the naysayers couldn’t wrap their heads around was that Honda was trying to attract new people to the ranks of riders.
It’s gonna be a good year for moto-nudity. A damn good year. We already tasted the KTM Super Duke R and are still savoring its flavor while salivating like a bloodhound hot on the trail of riding BMW’s fairingless S1000R. But before we sink our teeth into the naked Bavarian, there’s the matter of Kawi’s newest unclothed hooligan, the 2014 Z1000 ABS.