Triumph knows a thing or two about winning Best Standard MOBOs. Last year, the Street Triple RS took home the honors, and two years before that, the Street Twin landed a MOBO. Impressive. And that’s the word that we would use to describe the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin.
Admit it: hooning around on little motorcycles and scooters is fun. At least Ryan and I think so, anyway. And so it was; the two young pups at MO (well, Ryan anyway) went about dreaming up things to do outside our usual testing regimen. Because, you know, even though we have great jobs, the daily grind gets a little routine at times. After a little internet browsing we discovered the glorious sight of Vespa scooters tackling the Dakar. Yes, that Dakar. Thus, the wheels were set in motion.
To evaluate the 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire, you need to let go of everything you know – and everything you think you know – about Harley-Davidson. The haters will cry this is an answer to a question nobody asked, instinctually sh*tting all over Harley for seemingly alienating its core, internal combustion, customer (just look at our Facebook post for proof).
One of my favorite leisure activities is to type an old-timey year, like 1980, into the Craigslist “Motorcycles for Sale” search box and see what pops up. Mostly, it’s either a lot of overpriced junk, overpriced “expert restorations,” or overpriced incomplete projects which are likely incomplete for very good reasons. A reliable, running bike at a reasonable price? Needle, meet haystack.
KTM has changed the way we look at small-displacement naked bikes with the 390 Duke. No longer is it just a learning tool for new or inexperienced riders, but now, no matter who you are, if you can’t find a way to have an ear-to-ear grin riding the baby Duke, you probably don’t have a pulse. If it’s not clear by now, we love the 390 Duke around here – its 373cc Single is anything but boring, it handles surprisingly well, and its looks are sharp enough to convince you to park it where everyone can see.
At MO, just like everywhere else I guess, we always want to classify things. Which is what I’ve been trying to do with the Indian FTR1200 since its formal introduction last fall in Germany, and even more now that I’m just back from finally getting to ride the thing in Baja and am forced to sit here and write words. (Maybe video is the future?) Those exhaust pipes and 1203cc V-Twin say Ducati Monster, but the 19/18-inch wheel and tire combo says Duc Scrambler Desert Sled. Harley-Davidson’s excellent but ill-received Sportster XR1200X bears some resemblance. Guzzi freaks throw in Griso. I want to lump it in with KTM Superduke GT, but maybe it’s more 1090 Adventure?
Oh dear, it’s kind of like one of those deals where you nag a person to do a thing for years, then they do the thing, and you sort of wished you hadn’t encouraged them. Suggesting someone take accordion lessons. Encouraging your wife to take up the krav maga. We always asked Kawasaki why they weren’t cashing in on the “classic bike” market along with the other OEMs, given that they’ve been selling the W800 in other markets since its 2011 upgrade from W650. But now that the W800 is here I kind of agree with their decision not to import it. The W800 is a perfectly nice retro motorcycle, but it’s retro in a way things like Triumph’s “Classics” and some others aren’t: The Kawasaki feels kind of old instead of just looking that way. [Updated with video.]
Husqvarna’s US media guy, Andy Jefferson, is a little worried about Husqvarna’s name recognition in the States, though worried is probably not the right word. More like “interested in” or “amused by.” Husqvarna’s been selling bikes in the US for decades (Andy raced them in the early ’80s), but it still seems like the few Americans who do recognize the name Husqvarna associate it with chainsaws and sewing machines. Dirtbike people have no excuse since Husky’s won a couple of US championships lately. But you do have to give streetbike people a break. I mean, Husky’s only been back in the streetbike market in the US, since, uh, 2018.
Judging from the roll-out, Suzuki really wants us to like its new 2020 Katana. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to Japan for a bike launch, probably because I never have been. For this one, they spared no expense – flying a bunch of us to Tokyo, shooting us via Shinkansen bullet train to the Kyoto Brighton Hotel, and renting out the Arashi Yama Takao Parkway for us to ride up and down upon unmolested for a day. When we weren’t cleansing ourselves with the remote control Toto Washlets in every room (the bidet, it turns out, is for saps), we were touring the local temples and noshing expensively on the Miyazaki beef. They kept dragging us away from the hotel, though, to visit a guy who forges katanas, to tour the new Suzuki factory in Hamamatsu and the Suzuki Museum.
It’s mind boggling to think that mass-produced street-legal electric motorcycles have only existed for 10 years. In 2009, Zero Motorcycles launched the Zero S and ushered in the electric age of two-wheeled street-legal transportation. During that model year, the S wasn’t just the only electric motorcycle in production, it was the only electric vehicle of any kind being mass-produced. To say that Zero was ahead of the curve is an understatement, but that early start has given the company the time – 13 years from its inception – to develop into its PR claim of being “the global leader in electric motorcycles and powertrains.” If your products created an entire category of vehicles, this is more than PR fluff. It is a demonstrable fact.
American Honda is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2019, and as part of that celebration comes the release of the all-new Honda Super Cub. First introduced in 1958, it took a couple years before it came Stateside. Since then, Honda has sold over
100,000 100,000,000 (that’s 100 million) of the little scoots worldwide, making it the best-selling motor vehicle in the history of motor vehicles.
When Triumph decided to create a model that sat between the Thruxton and the Bonneville T120, the designers could have simply taken the Thruxton, adjusted the riding position through higher bars and lower pegs from the T120, and then called it a day. Instead, the engineers cranked out an all-new model, taking features of both the Thruxton and the T120 and turned it into the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin. We’ve already posted the first ride review of the Speed Twin, but in these connected days, we also need to post a review made up of moving images. So, behold! Through the marvels of modern technology, you can enjoy the company of me, your humble reviewer, wherever you have an internet-connected device.
Ever since the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin was announced in early December, we’ve been excited about the prospects that it posed. The idea of Thruxton power wrapped in a more relaxed package intrigued us, and now, the moment is at hand. Thanks to the magical tubes of the internet, we have the skinny on the Speed Twin just hours after the press briefing at the riding launch in Mallorca, Spain.