Kawasaki is bringing back both the Ninja 650 and Z650 for 2023 with one significant update – traction control. Formerly a rider aid only for the most powerful sportbikes on the planet, the safety benefits of traction control reach far beyond trying to go quickly around a racetrack. The two-step KTRC system does not feature the exotic IMUs that flagship sportbikes use, but a more modest system. In mode 1, KTRC allows the rear tire to slip a little more and doesn’t intervene as early. It’s a sport setting designed to allow the rider maximum drive and acceleration off a corner.
A few years ago, I took a break from my lovely MO family and decided to get a real job, complete with an actual commute. Without the pick of the litter to choose from anymore, I had to actually buy a bike to get to work on. The pick? A Kawasaki Versys – anecdotally, the number one motorcycle actually owned by motorcycle journalists (or former ones, in this case). When asked, Brad Puetz (pronounced like the Fight Club actor but not nearly as famous), Kawi’s PR guy, spouted off a series of names of folks in this job who own the VERsatile SYStem.
Following on the heels of the recently updated Superveloce range for 2021, MV Agusta has now announced a refresh for the Turismo Veloce family, which includes the Turismo Veloce Lusso, Lusso SCS, RC SCS, and Rosso. MV’s take on a sport-touring motorcycle, the updated 2021 range is more of an evolution of the family rather than a revolution – spurred primarily by the need to keep up with Euro 5 emission standards.
Kawasaki has announced it will be producing the Versys 1000 S for the European market. Currently, the top trim level available in Europe is the Versys 1000 SE, which includes the KECS – Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension. The new S model will ditch the KECS in favor of traditional 43 mm Showa components at both ends, adjustable only for rebound damping and spring preload. Undoubtedly, this will also bring the price down.
I could be wrong, but I feel like the demise of the sportbike has been greatly exaggerated. That or I’m confusing the demise of the sportbike with the demise of myself? We’re junkies loose in the pharmacy with all kinds of motorcycles here at MO, but every year – or at least every couple of years – when it’s time for the big Superbike Comparison!, well, all of us get even more amped-up than usual.
Just as we suspected, Honda today unveiled its much anticipated 2017 CBR1000RR at Intermot in Germany. We first reported on the new CBR last month as spy photos started to come out, but Honda still had a few surprises in store with this announcement. Two, actually. First, Honda decided to release its up-spec model, the CBR1000RR SP, ahead of the standard edition (Honda says to expect an announcement on that one come November). And second, there would be a second, limited-edition model, the CBR1000RR SP2, homologated strictly for racing purposes (more on that later).
Ducati revealed a new 90th anniversary edition of the 1299 Panigale S this weekend at World Ducati Week. The limited edition (only 500 will be produced) Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario sports a new color scheme, slightly longer wheelbase, several lighter components and updated electronics including a new traction control system that allows the Panigale to drift around corners. Watch Casey Stoner demonstrate some rear wheel sliding in the following video:
It’s nearly impossible to purchase a new motorcycle that doesn’t include some form of pre-installed electronic rider aid. From cornering ABS to switchable ride modes, on-the-fly adjustable traction control to hill-hold start, the variety of rider aids made available in just the last few years is mind blowing.
Opinions about electronic aids to riding motorcycles are like belly buttons, every rider has one. Cruise to any of the motorcycle forums that my employer owns (there are a bunch of ‘em), and you’re likely to find a thread debating the evils of ABS and/or traction control because they insert themselves between the rider’s input and the motorcycle’s reactions. Just about a year ago, Teakettle editor, John Burns, gave us his take on traction control, summing it up thusly: “I think TC is the greatest moto invention since the rubber tire.”
Cresting the hill coming onto the front straight at Sydney Motorsport Park (better known as Eastern Creek Raceway), the throttle is wide open in second gear. As I click into third, the front comes up, rests at a neutral position about a foot off the ground, then gently returns to Earth moments later. All the while, the throttle was resting on the stop. Drive never felt interrupted, and despite the roughly 200 horses packed inside the new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, there was never a fear of being too liberal with the throttle. That’s when I knew Yamaha has just raised the bar. A lot has changed since the original R1 was introduced in 1998, and with the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M, never has the line between MotoGP and lil ’ol me been so blurred. That’s not just a Yamaha marketing tagline, either. Valentino Rossi himself (along with American Superbike champ, Josh Hayes) had a significant role in developing the R1, with the aim to incorporate the most sophisticated level of electronics on a production sportbike. These are just a few examples:
Introduced at EICMA 2014, the Ducati Diavel range, which includes the standard Diavel and the Diavel Carbon, is bolstered by the limited-edition Diavel Titanium. As the name suggests, the Diavel Titanium takes advantage of the lightweight and sturdy metal, and combines it with strategic doses of carbon fiber to create an elegant yet sinister looking new member of the Diavel family, of which only 500 will be made.