After a brief teaser campaign, Kawasaki has revealed the new Z650RS, its third “retro sport” model following the Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe. The 2022 Z650RS is based on the Z650 model but is styled to resemble the 1977 Z650-B1, a.k.a. the “Son of Z1”. At the moment, the Z650RS has not been confirmed for the U.S. market, but we expect it will be part of a larger launch event planned by Kawasaki Motor Corp. U.S.A. for Oct. 5.
It was just about a year ago when we sampled Triumph’s reborn Speed Twin for the first time on home soil, in a two-bike standoff against a way-more-expensive optioned-out BMW R nineT. At the time, we were slightly underwhelmed and had to rate the new Speed Twin second, by a hair.
We last performed this public service in 2017, when your Yamaha FZ-07 prevailed over the Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod, and the new and indeterminate Benelli TnT 600, in that order. The FZ-07 has since morphed into the MT-07 amidst a host of well thought-out upgrades in 2018, and then again for 2021. The Z650 got a modern instrument pod in 2020 with a few other tasteful refinements, and the SV650 hasn’t changed a bit (God bless it). The Benelli is still around but didn’t get the call this time, and the H-D Street Rod has been withdrawn from the market under a hail of ridicule. Sad.
If you believe the conventional wisdom of our forum moto-trolls, a motorcycle must be full-sized, fast AF, have the range of a WWII Dornier 217 medium bomber and price tag of a 1980 Suzuki GS850 to have any hope of success, much less being a sales leader. Based on that, what model do you think Öhlins suspension, the high-end, race-focused Swedish company, likely sell the most cartridge kits and shocks for? The GSX-R? Ninjas? Ducati Superbikes?
Ok, I’m old, so what? When I was young, the first Monster M900 (1994) spoke to me. A basic, naked, standard Ducati that was perfect for rumbling round the urban maze back when we all had a downtown office to go to… a svelte Italian Sportster that bounced its mating call off the concrete canyons all the way to 9000 rpm. It really was a radical departure since, before then, Ducati had only built fully-faired assume-the-position sportbikes, and not many of them. They were great on the Futa Pass and Angeles Crest but not so much anywhere else. Later, when we grew power-hungry in the ’oughts, there came the 996-powered S4R, then the Monster 1200s…
Going into it, we were thinking Triumph’s new Speed Twin might be a heavy favorite for the win again in this tough category. But in the actual event, after we got our mitts on one for testing here at MO HQ, we were just slightly underwhelmed with the first modern Triumph to wear that name since the original Speed Twin, way back in 1936. Our disappointment turned to joy, though, when we traded the Speed Twin a couple weeks later for a new Scrambler 1200 XC.
Yamaha announced a new SP version of the updated 2021 MT-09 revealed two weeks ago, featuring higher-end suspension and cruise control plus a black and blue color scheme. Joining the MT-09 SP are the MT-10 and MT-03 which return for 2021 with new color options.
Honda has updated the CB1000R for 2021, giving its “Neo Sports Café” flagship a slightly new look, a color TFT display and Euro 5 compliance, as well as a Black Edition variant. As of this writing, the new 2021 Honda CB1000R has only been announced for Europe, but we expect a U.S. announcement to come soon.
Yamaha revealed an updated MT-07 that… well, let’s just say that if you aren’t a fan of the 2021 MT-09‘s new look, you likely won’t be a fan of this either. Chances are you won’t be a fan of the MT-10‘s next update either if it follows Yamaha’s smaller “Master of Torque” naked MT models.
Is Retro still booming? It was when BMW built its first R nineT in 2013, a bike that was so successful they’ve built like five more versions in the ensuing years. In fact, there are so many nineT’s it’s hard to keep them straight. We put the R nineT Pure in last place in 2017, when we shot it out against the now-defunct Honda CB1100EX and Triumph Bonneville T120 Black here. But in 2014, we rated the standard R nineT first, in a comparison involving the also-defunct CB1100 regular and Moto Guzzi Griso 8V.
Triumph is bringing back another name from the brand’s past, announcing a new Trident for 2021. The new Triumph Trident will slot in as an entry-level model below the Street Triple and Speed Triple, with a contemporary take on classic roadster styling. Triumph revealed a prototype offering a hint of the Trident’s design, promising the arrival of the finished product at dealers next spring.
There are a million ways to skin a cat, as they say, and the field that is the 900cc-ish middleweight naked bike segment is a perfect example. Just take these two cats. After we put the KTM 890 Duke R and Triumph Street Triple R head-to-head, Burns gave us flack for not throwing the Kawasaki Z900 in the mix. I still don’t think it quite has enough to top its Austrian or British counterparts, but it’s peppy enough and should be thrown up against something – if for nothing else than to shut John up.
We may have done a grave disservice to the Z900. When it was brand new in 2017, we bestowed upon the newly right-sized Kawasaki (bigger than the Z800 but smaller than the Z1000), our coveted Best Standard of the Year award – and that is one dog-eat-dog category. Three years ago we (I) wrote:
Indian announced a new FTR 1200 variant with carbon fiber bodywork for international markets. As of this writing, the 2020 Indian FTR Carbon has not been confirmed for the U.S., though that may change at any moment. Right now, the Carbon model has only officially been confirmed for Indian’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. We can confirm that it has also been certified for Australia.