The Life Electric: You Have the Right to Remain Silent

More than 50 city, county and municipal police departments now use police-spec electric motorcycles on the job, many of them as part of their traffic divisions – you know, those motorcycle cops who light you up and pull you over to write you a citation for something that you’re absolutely positive you didn’t do. “80 in a 25??? But officer, this old thing won’t even go 80 mph… ”

But of the ever-growing number of police agencies incorporating electrics as a means of saving money and reducing environmental impact, few can claim their electric motorcycles were instrumental in foiling a bank robbery. The Ceres, California, Police Department can.

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Victory/Brammo Race Isle of Man TT Zero

I have heard the future. And if you listen closely to the video snippet below, you will as well. It’s the whining sound barely discernable under the commentary on the loudspeaker and the beating rotors of the helicopter. That is John McGuinness rounding the corner at Creg-ny-Baa on his way to winning today’s Isle of Man TT Zero race, at a new lap record of over 119 mph. The snippet following that is of Lee Johnston on the Victory electric prototype. Johnston claimed third place at 111.620 mph, a stellar accomplishment for the American brand that is pressing forward into segments and markets virtually unthinkable just a few months ago. Johnston had been running increasingly faster laps throughout practice as he became more familiar with the bike, and he rode his fastest lap when it mattered most.

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Strange Bedfellows - Star Bolt C-Spec Vs. Suzuki Boulevard M50 + Video

It’s kinda funny when I look back on it. Swanky downtown Los Angeles location, circa June 2013. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served. Then someone finally pulls the wraps off the guest of honor: the early-release 2014 Star Bolt. Star employees beam with shameless pride about the new model bike that seems little more than a ripoff of the long-existing Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster.

In true Japanese fashion, however, Star built a better performing version of the original, at least in my opinion, and I comment to this effect in our 2014 Star Bolt Vs. 2013 Harley-Davidson 883 Iron shootout. Sales of Star Bolts over the last couple years seem to support my two-cents, as the model’s become one of Star’s best sellers, and for 2015, Star saw fit to grow the range by introducing the Bolt C-Spec.

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2016 Moto Guzzi Audace Video Review

Moto Guzzi flew us to its factory in Mandello del Lario on the shores of Lake Como to sample the two latest members of Guzzi’s popular California line of motorcycles. In this video, we take the Audace through its paces in the towns and mountains near Guzzi’s legendary facility.

2016 Moto Guzzi Audace – First Ride Review

In case you haven’t yet read our review of the Audace, here’s a quick primer. The Audace is based on the California 1400, which won our 2013 Best Cruiser Award. Utilizing the same 90° V-Twin – updated to Euro 4 emissions – the Audace’s power is the same torque-filled bottom end and silky smooth vibrationless powerplant on the open road. With electronic rider aids usually reserved for top-shelf sportbikes, the Audace has sorted the throttle response to a much more refined level than previous generations of this engine.

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The Life Electric: Stressless In Seattle

We met up with Arvid Elias at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, late on a Friday morning. The plan was to ride to lunch with a few of his petrol-powered pals, but only two showed up: The no-show claimed a dead battery as his excuse.

“Funny,” observed Arvid, “the gas guys have more trouble with batteries than we electric guys do.”

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More for Less: $8K Four Vs. $8.2K Triple Vs. $8.7K Twin + Video

“Chock full of bland mediocrity” was the original subhead for my second ride review of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S750. It was a subhead EiC, Kevin Duke, rightly removed. I was a little harsh on the new Gixxus, and now in a group of its peers, the naked bike from Suzuki has proven itself to be quite the contender. Out of the three testers involved in this shootout, John “run-on sentence” Burns and Troy “I’ve ridden the new R1 more than you” Siahaan, it is I who is championing the GSX-S.

On my ScoreCard the Aprilia Shiver came in third behind the FZ and Gixxus by less than two points. Burns and Siahaan didn’t see things the same way. In fact, none of us managed to agree. When the results were tallied, Siahaan ranked the Suzuki third, while Burns slotted the Yamaha into last place. But once we averaged the scores and included the Objective scores for Price, Weight, etc., a winner did emerge. It’s a little surprising, and here’s why.

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2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 First Ride Video Review

The idea of a Kawasaki sportbike that costs $25,000 might seem incongruous. That’s the realm of Italian exotics and, though Kawasaki ends with a vowel, it’s not a swanky European marque that commands an exotic price tag.

But then, Kawasaki hasn’t ever produced a motorcycle quite like the H2. In fact, no major manufacturer has. The fitment of a centrifugal supercharger makes the H2 really special, helping to produce nearly 200 horsepower at the wheel, and it’s a feat of engineering to package it all inside a wheelbase marginally longer than a typical literbike. A tubular-trellis frame and single-sided swingarm are not unusual for Ducati or MV Agusta, but they are firsts for Kawasaki. Witness also the mirror-finish paint that can’t be found on any other factory-produced motor vehicle.

We rushed to give you our impressions of the H2 in text and photos, and now we’ve put together the below video so you could see it in moving pictures and sound. If the concept behind the muscle-bound H2 appeals to you, a $25k MSRP might seem quite reasonable.

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Beginner-ish Sportbike Shootout + Video

From the title alone, there’s a good chance new riders are intently combing through each word of this shootout. The beginner bike market is one the manufacturers value dearly, and for decades Kawasaki has owned this corner of the market with its EX/ Ninja 250, and now the current Ninja 300. Honda finally followed suit in 2010, introducing the CBR250R as a 2011 model, and later, in 2014, the CBR300R as a 2015. Now the floodgates have opened, as both KTM and Yamaha have launched their own small-displacement sportbikes – the RC390 and YZF-R3, respectively – to try to grab a slice of that pie. If it weren’t for the crop of highly advanced literbikes coming out this year, a strong argument could be made for 2015 being the year of the entry-level sportbike.

Meanwhile, more experienced riders probably don’t care. Those bikes are way too slow for me. I’d get bored with them in no time. This is likely the tune they’re singing. Here’s the thing: your humble MO staff has several decades of riding under their collective belt, on everything from 50cc scooters to fire-breathing superbikes. After hopping off each of these “beginner” bikes, whether on the street or the racetrack, we couldn’t stop smiling. All are genuine hoots to ride, no matter your skill level. Beginners will appreciate the gentle learning curve each provides, while more experienced pilots will get their jollies off wringing the necks out of each of ’em. As former MO staffer, and now MO columnist, Gabe Ets-Hokin describes in his Skidmarks column, it’s simply a blast to ride a slow bike fast.

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2016 Aprilia RSV4 RF First Ride Video Review

This year marks the debuts of several remarkable new motorcycles tugging hard at the moto spotlight, and the most intense category is the literbike supersport/superbike category. BMW’s class-leading S1000RR has been updated and tested here. Yamaha offers a ground-up re-do of its R1 tested here, and it comes equipped with perhaps the most advanced electronic rider aids of any company. And let’s not forget Ducati’s awesome 205-horse 1299 Panigale tested here, nor the outrageous supercharged Kawasaki H2 tested here!

Lurking in the shadows is an updated version of Aprilia’s RSV4, a bike we’ve loved since its 2009 introduction. It’s a sweet-handling and soul-singing animal that has seduced every MO editor to some extent. And for 2015 (called 2016s in America), the World Superbike title-winning RSV4 gets injected with a purported 16 extra horsepower to a claimed-at-crankshaft 201 ponies.

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All-Caps Scooter Shootout: Honda NM4 Vs. Yamaha TMAX + Video

What makes a scooter a scooter? Is it the step-through frame? The completely hidden engine? The underseat storage? The clutch-free operation? We have here two radically different visions of scooters in the form of the Honda NM4 and the Yamaha TMAX, representing the different design intents of maxi-scooterdom. The NM4 looks like a futuristic scooter but rides like a cruiser. In fact, Honda lists the NM4 in the cruiser category on its website. The TMAX strives to be the sportbike of scooters with its aggressive styling and performance. What the pair do share is a price tag separated by just $509, with the NM4 costing $10,999 to the TMAX’s $10,490.

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Inside Batteries: Zero Motorcycles Senior Battery Specialist, Luke Workman + Video

For as many benefits as electric motorcycles provide, to date there are still two areas preventing e-bikes from penetrating through to the masses: range and price. There’s not enough of the former, and there’s too much of the latter. Zero Motorcycles’ Senior Battery Specialist, Luke Workman, is dedicated to furthering the performance of battery technology. The results, then, would lead to ever increasing range at a price affordable by the masses.

Motorcycle.com recently had a chance to sit down with Workman and pick his brain about EV technology. Here we bring you some highlights of our conversation, along with a supplemental video with some rather bold predictions. Definitely give it a watch.

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2015 Yamaha R3 First Ride Video Review

After riding Yamaha’s spectacular YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M, stepping down to something like the R3 might seem a bit dull in comparison. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Yamaha’s latest entry into the beginner bike market. As I noted in my first ride review following the R3’s press intro in Northern California, the R3 is a bike gentle enough for a new rider, yet entertaining enough for an experienced rider to still have some fun.

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Scrambler Slam: Ducati Vs Triumph + Video

What’s a scrambler? In decades past, a scrambler was a street motorcycle stripped down and optimized for off-road use by way of swapping-in high-pipes, wider handlebars, semi-knobby tires, and differently styled fenders, seat and tank. Sometimes, it was an unmodified street model given a scrambler or street scrambler designation. In essence, it’s a cool name meant to convey agile sportability regardless of the bike’s dirt or street intentions.

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2015 KTM 390 Duke First-Ride Video Review

There are numerous obstacles to streetbike ownership for young adults, including how fewer children are even riding bicycles these days, never mind motorcycles, as I discussed in my latest Duke’s Den editorial. So, for an entry-level bike to overcome the hurdle into motorcycling, it has to be cool enough to push the desirability scale past the point of trepidation.

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A New Chapter For MV Agusta USA + Video

Reader responses to MO’s MV Agusta reviews typically involve a few common themes: Some note how beautiful the bikes are. Others comment on the performance. Many mention both of these points, followed by grief because their nearest MV dealer is several hundred miles away. For these readers, and surely others like them, it’s this lack of dealer support that keeps them from pulling the trigger on an MV Agusta.

Don’t think Varese hasn’t heard your plight. The company is well aware how big a market the U.S. is, and it’s also well aware how much it is underrepresented. Several steps have been put into place to solve this issue, a significant one being the appointment of Helen Vasilevski to run the point as CEO of MV Agusta USA. Motorcycle.com recently had the chance to chat with Vasilevski about the past, present and future of the MV brand in America, and you can watch our interview in the video below.

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