Picture this: you’ve packed up the RV and the family, and you decide to travel to Northern Ontario for a weekend of relaxation. Instead of heading to your regular campground, you decide to mix things up a bit and head to the dragway. Yep – you read right, the dragway. Camping, family togetherness and motorcycle racing are all available at King of the North Dragway and Event Park, located 15 minutes east of North Bay, Ontario.
The not-so-secret 2015 Polaris Slingshot has a steering wheel and bucket seats. So we shouldn’t even be reviewing it, right? I kinda felt that way when given the assignment. In hindsight, though, I’m glad I had the opportunity. The Slingshot’s an absolute blast, and at $19,999 for the base model, it’s gonna give Can-Am’s Spyder ($18,999 for the ST) some stiff competition.
According to my weather app, it was officially 100 degrees at 10pm the night we rode in to Borrego Springs, CA, during our Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout. I’m sitting poolside sipping a tasty, cold beverage while bossmen, Kevin Duke and Sean Alexander, discuss the finer points of gun control in the parking lot.
The mid-70 degree air swirled past the cop-style windshield and gently around the riders while grips pulsed pleasantly under leather gloves. With the heat of the inland valleys behind and the promise of cool, slightly humid air along the beach, the Moto Guzzi’s chrome reflected a brilliant blue sky and wispy clouds that movies and television would have us believe make up every day along America’s southwestern coastline.
When the new BMW R1200RT fell through, recalled because of a possibly faulty rear shock shaft of all things, we almost decided not to take these four lovelies on a little three-day binge up along California’s eastern Sierra, through Bishop, Yosemite and back the long way. But we’re glad we did. The weather and scenery couldn’t have been more perfect, and it’s hard to imagine motorcycles more cut out for a long weekend than these four – all with hard sidebags, great wind protection, shaft drive and everything you need to take your show on the road.
The announcement of Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric motorcycle sent shockwaves through the moto industry and even made headline news in the general media. Harley’s products, perhaps more than any other vehicle manufacturer, are steeped in tradition, so building an e-bike just seemed so unlikely for the hidebound company.
No shootout has been as difficult as this one pitting the Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS against the BMW S1000R and KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Not just in how tight the outcome of the scoring (which was stupid close), but more so in the intangible elements of emotion, sensation and the if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand bliss of why we ride motorcycles.
Cruisers have always been about the essence of motorcycling, stripping motorcycles down to their core: an engine, a seat, a pair of wheels and little else. Naturally, when thinking about the essential elements of motorcycling, thoughts of the open road come to mind. The dream of packing just what you need on your bike and pointing the front wheel towards destinations unknown looms large in many cruiser riders’ hearts.
In the track version of our Super Streetfighter Smackdown, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R won over the BMW S1000R by the narrowest of margins. Which is all well and good for the small percentage of riders who’ll actually take these bikes to the track. For the greater population, riding these motorcycles on the mean streets of America, the streetable personas of these two and the Ducati Monster 1200S and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS are far more important.
What we have in these five bikes: BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS, KTM Super Duke R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, is an assemblage of pretenders to the throne. What throne? The literbike streetfighter throne upon which Aprilia’s Tuono V4R APRC ABS has comfortably resided since its introduction in 2012. Truth is, two of these five have a real chance of dethroning the reigning champ on-track, so once we’ve identified the most worthy contenders in this shootout, first and second place will get a chance to meet the Tuono on the field of battle.
Yamaha‘s Super Ténéré barged into the big-bore adventure-touring market in 2012, gunning for the A-T juggernaut that is BMW‘s R1200GS. Its 1199cc parallel-Twin motor was a good match for BMW’s air/oil-cooled GS, using a unique 270-degree crank-pin offset to deliver traction-enhancing output in the dirt. The Super Ten’s off-road capability was on par with the GS, and its on-road comfort was far superior to KTM’s dirt-focused 990 Adventure.
The first time you roll on the FJR1300ES’s throttle with a stretch of open road in front of you, you realize why it’s so popular with the long-distance riding set. The previous generations of the big Yamaha gobbled up pavement like a coed facing a tube of cookie dough just hours after a difficult breakup. Simply put, the FJR consumes both asphalt and gasoline, not stopping until you run out of one of them and then impatiently waits while you remedy the situation. Perhaps this is why Yamaha has left the FJR1300 largely unchanged over its lifespan, despite recent inroads into its market from other manufacturers. Whether you spell Supersport Touring with two or three words, the class is highly competitive where more than just having the highest horsepower or sharpest handling determines the victor.