You’ll see a theme if you scroll back the last decade or so on MO: we have a thing for the Triumph Street Triple. After numerous rides and shootouts each time it gets updated, it’s safe to say we love that little 675cc three-cylinder. The sound it makes is outrageously cool, the power it delivers is fun without being overwhelming, and the overall package is an absolute blast. Yeah, the looks are kinda polarizing, but none of that matters once you twist the grip.
Last month, during EICMA, Kawasaki announced a pair of new retro bikes in the W800 Cafe and W800 Street. At the time, Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. announced the Cafe version would be coming to the States, leaving people to assume the Street version would not be making its way to these shores.
We probably didn’t really need to compare the Honda CB1000R and Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe since they’re polarized enough in the looks department to make it appear that potential consumers will be drawn to one or the other – and their performance and mission statements both are close enough on paper to make them more or less interchangeable, aren’t they? I think we really just wanted an excuse to ride both of them again, they’re both such charismatic motorcycles. Everybody wants to hang out with them. What is a café racer? One that flits from Starbucks to Starbucks? Close enough for us.
On the heels of the Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe introduced last year comes yet another retro roadster from Kawasaki. The air-cooled 2019 Kawasaki W800 hearkens back to 1966, when Kawasaki introduced the W1. In the U.S., we’ll see the W800 CAFE while other markets will also get the W800 Street sans fairing.
From the moment the rumor mill first started hinting at KTM developing an 800cc parallel Twin way back in 2014, droves of performance-minded motorcyclists, myself included, have been salivating at the thought of throwing a leg over one. Stuffed into a light, nimble chassis, this engine could power what middleweight fans have been dreaming of for years: A razor-sharp instrument for dissecting any twisty road thrown at it.
Our love affair with Triumph’s three-cylinder engines is no secret. The Speed Triple has long been a favorite of ours, as has the smaller-displacing 675cc Street Triple. Last year saw the first major revamp of the Street Triple since 2013, with the biggest change being the dyslexia-inducing increase in engine size to 765cc. It’s always a worry when a manufacturer changes a model we love, but our worries were swept away the moment we rode the new 765 S-T – it takes everything we adore about the outgoing model and amplifies it some more. It’s so good, in fact, that Brent damn near cried man tears when he finally had to part with it.
Indian Motorcycle finally unveiled not one but two highly interesting motorcycles today, inspired by their highly successful FTR750 flat tracker: FTR1200 and FTR1200 S. Adding the “S” on the order sheet, when bikes become available in the spring, will get you, in addition to the 1203cc V-Twin-powered basic street tracker: fully adjustable front and rear suspension, a 4.3-inch Ride Command Bluetooth-equipped LCD touch screen, lean-angle sensitive stability control, ABS, traction control, wheelie mitigation control – and three ride modes.
I’ve owned class-leading motorcycles with plenty of tech and performance for many years, but my time at Motorcycle.com has taught me how much fun middleweight bikes can be. Like every other member of the staff here, I too get all hot under my leathers waiting for the latest technology to trickle down from MotoGP into production sportbikes or monstrous 1200-plus cc naked bikes that have enough torque to dislocate your arms. But sometimes riding a bike that’s not so extreme can be relieving and an absolute blast to scoot around on.
Moto Guzzi revealed a new, sportier variant of its V9 Bobber at its open house event in Mandello del Lario, Italy. The 2019 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber Sport adds Öhlins rear shocks, a single seat, lower drag bars and a sportier riding position than the regular V9 Bobber.
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 will soon be joined by a naked version, as the California Air Resources Board has certified a model bearing the designation ER400DK for 2019. Kawasaki has long used “ER” code for its naked Twins, and the new model will likely be sold as the 2019 Kawasaki Z400.
Okay so maybe I have grown a little bit jaded, ogling then hopping on all these exciting new models year after year, only to stumble across so many of them parked in the gutter a few years later with bald tires and faded paint. Like a grizzled combat veteran, you learn not to make new friends, to control your expectations. Lots of us were knocked for a loop by the Kawasaki Z900RS last year, and I was swept up in the rabble. Later, I felt the bike was a little too derivative of Kawasaki’s earlier work, too obviously grasping at middle-aged heartstrings. Ten minutes later the cool kids were slobbering all over the Vitpilen. I didn’t quite feel it, personally, and riding the bike a while ago didn’t convert me. Next.
When you think of Italian motorcycles, you probably think of something sexily swoopy, a trellis frame, top-notch componentry, and a throaty V-Twin engine. The thought of an electric motor probably never enters your mind. However, Italian manufacturer Energica is doing its level best to change your thinking with its family of exotic electric motorcycles. From the Ego’s committed sportiness to the Eva’s street fighter stance (which was bolstered by having its motor output brought in line with that of the Ego for 2018), Energica’s motorcycles have always positioned themselves as premium electric performance motorcycles. When releasing the 2018 Energica Eva Esse Esse 9, the company created a premium electric roadster to round out its current model line.
Honda’s all-in when it comes to the small-displacement category, perhaps more so than any other manufacturer out there. With the popularity of the Grom, CBR250R, CBR300R, CB300F, and Rebel lines – and recent introductions of the forthcoming Monkey and Super Cub – it’s no wonder Team Red is proud to introduce its latest addition – the 2018 CB300R.