This could’ve gone several ways and almost did. As all the world’s manufacturers scramble to fill a burgeoning need for what we used to call just plain old motorcycles, choosing just one becomes more difficult – especially since eligible new players have only recently been made available to us for testing. I liked the new 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 very much a couple of weeks ago, also the heavily revised 797 Ducati Monster reviewed way back in March. It doesn’t help that “Standard” is such an amorphous category… last year, the new Triumph Street Twin took home the trophy.
Pure, as in unadulterated, undiluted, genuine, real. Pure, as in elemental, untainted, and distilled down to its most basic form. With the Pure version of the R nineT, BMW has stripped the platform of everything its designers deemed interfered with the integrity of the ride. If the Pure were made with a less care, it might have ended up feeling stripped down, incomplete. Instead, the Pure is surprisingly successful and may be my favorite R nineT variant yet.
One of the most famous taglines in motorcycle history is “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” And when it comes to nice motorcycles, Honda most often exemplifies this description. The retro-themed CB1100, first offered on our shores in 2013, made a nice case for nice, and so does this nicely updated version, the CB1100EX.
Asheville, North Carolina has been the scene of several Kymco product launches, and why not? It’s an oddball little city deep in the heart of Dixie that boasts world-class food, fun and roads. It’s kind of an underdog, just like the 54-year-old Taiwanese motor company. Kymco is known (when it is known) for durable, workmanlike products that deliver reliability and value… but not necessarily leading-edge style or wacky arrest-me fun. That changes with this here Spade 150, and Kymco let me ride and abuse the new model so I could lay a brief riding impression on ya’ll (the North Carolina is sticking).
The moto market is spoiled for lustful choices in the high-end arena, but creating a desirable motorcycle at a budget price is a more challenging achievement. The KTM 390 Duke has been entertaining us with its unequaled balance of style, performance and value since we first took the terrific little funster for a spin in 2015, and it rightfully earned its place as Best Entry-Level Motorcycle in our annual MOBO awards. For 2017, the little Duke gets even more desirable by offering greater comfort, higher technology and a bit more power.
Hemlines and exhausts go up and down, radiators come and go, but the Monster hasn’t really ever gone out of fashion since it hit the runway, dang, has it really been 23 years ago? 1994 brought us Miguel Galluzzi’s original naked bike, and there’s been a veritable plethora of Monsters over the years ever since. Also Monsterinos, as Ducati likes to call the smaller-displacement ones.
As a lifelong rooter for the underdog, I really wanted to like this one. Almost three years ago, I was a big fan of the original Street 750, which wasn’t so easy because it did have a couple of glaring shortcomings. But it was such a friendly little approachable motorcycle I liked it anyway – then H-D gave it a better front brake and cured its main malfunction. But the critics still panned its lack of cornering clearance, its mundane parts manifest and its frankly sloppy fit and finish. All legit complaints, but I always liked the little Harley’s potential. The cut of its jib.
For all those traditionalists/purists who bemoan modern motorcycle electronics (TC, ride modes, electronic suspension, etc.), Kawasaki has a bike for you. The 2017 Kawasaki Z900 in this review is lighter and more agile than either the Z800 or Z1000, is more powerful than the Z800, costs way less than the Z1000, and is devoid of electronics save its gear-position indicator.
Since its initial release, the Yamaha FZ-09 has garnered praise for having tremendous bang-for-the-buck. In fact, MO readers named it Reader’s Choice Best Value Bike Of 2015. However, there were still some heretics that felt the grunty Triple didn’t quite live up to its potential. The common refrain was, “Why on earth should an owner need to flash the EFI and upgrade the suspension to get a bike that performs like it should out of the box?”
The last time Triumph conducted a major revamp of its Street Triple family was 2013. At that press launch Triumph didn’t feel it necessary to include any track time because even the uptown R model remained predominantly a street bike. Four years on and Triumph has reshuffled the Street Triple deck and expanded the portfolio to three models (S, R, RS), each with a specific focus including the new performance leader RS model we just finished testing in Spain. While still largely a street bike, the RS features enough go-fast performance Triumph felt compelled to showcase the bike’s wherewithal around one of the most famous Spanish racetracks, Catalunya.
While Americans are still waiting for Yamaha to grace our shores with its MT-03/FZ-03, customers in India have another new small-displacement FZ model coming their way. Introduced this week by India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd., the FZ25 is designed specifically for the Indian market as an upgrade over the existing 150cc FZ and FZ-S. Yamaha expects to sell 40,000 units at a price of 119,500 rupees (about $1,755 US), a competitive price for the 250cc segment in India.
So far, we’ve had a hit-or-miss relationship when it comes to Chinese-built motorcycles. We were pleasantly surprised by the mini Ducati Monst…errr… SSR Razkull 125 when we rode it alone and amongst its peers in our 125cc Ankle Biters Shootout. The little playbike seemed to be put together moderately well and delivered impressive performance in the class, all for less than two-grand. For a price that low, we excused much of its shortcomings, especially compared to the almighty, but costly at $3,200, Honda Grom.
For anyone who held out purchasing a Triumph Street Triple on a hunch the current model was being replaced by a newer, faster, better, more powerful version, you were right to do so. Today Triumph launched three new versions of the popular mid-displacement Triple, and by the looks of it, the new model appears poised to dominate a niche occupied by only the MV Agusta Brutale 800 and Yamaha FZ-09.