Top 10 Anticipated Motorcycles of 2015

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

This is truly going to be an exciting year of riding

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the 2015 model year. With so many new models coming from almost every manufacturer, it’s hard not to be excited. And of all those new models slated to arrive within the coming months, this week’s Top 10 lists the ones your MO crew are most anxious to ride.

This list is comprised of bikes no one on staff has yet ridden, meaning models like the KTM RC390, Yamaha FJ-09, Ducati Scrambler, BMW R1200R, and both Kawasaki Versys models, the 650 and 1000, weren’t included. Yes, we realize we left out a few, but with such a wide variety available to choose from, finalizing a list of 10 bikes was no easy task. Did we include your favorites? Tell us your picks in the comments section. Here are our choices.

10. Kawasaki Vulcan S

We begin the list with a cruiser from Kawasaki, the Vulcan S. Why? Because Kawasaki is taking a risk by introducing something different in the cruiser world. It’s intended to cater to a younger demographic than typical cruiser riders who aren’t slaves to traditional (read the same-old, same-old) V-Twin fashion. With more modern styling, the Ninja 650-derived parallel-Twin engine should stand out in the class.

The new, Ergo-Fit concept will broaden the range of customers by allowing the Vulcan S’ ergonomics to be adjusted at Kawasaki dealers to fit the dimensions of a variety of riders. First, the pegs can be moved either forward or rearward one inch from the standard position. The bar can also be moved back an inch to reach shorter riders who will also benefit from a seat that places their butts two inches forward from standard. Finally, the seat for tall riders moves the seat an inch rearward from standard. We think these novel ideas will be attractive to a wide range of current and potential riders. Better still, at $6,999 ($7,399 with ABS), it’s an affordable motorcycle riders won’t grow out of quickly.

9. Suzuki GSX-S1000

Technically classified as a 2016 model, the Suzuki GSX-S1000 and GSX-S1000F are early-release 2016 models that will be available later this year. The naked bike/streetfighter category has been hotting up lately (as evidenced by part one and part two of our 2014 Super Streetfighter Smackdown shootout, another comparison with the Aprilia Tuono, and yet another with the EBR 1190SX), and Suzuki has been out of the fight.

Discuss this at our Suzuki GSX-S1000 Forum.

Instead of designing a whole new engine, Suzuki wisely plucked the K5 GSX-R1000 engine – one widely adored for its power and driveability – and is giving it new life. Supporting players include KYB suspension pieces, Brembo monoblock calipers, Dunlop tires, and optional Bosch ABS. Essentially a stripped-down and re-thought GSX-R1000, it’s the Suzuki naked bike we’ve longed for (no offense, B-King). For those looking for slightly more wind protection, the GSX-S1000F provides a full set of fairings. Pricing hasn’t been announced at press time.

8. Yamaha R3

The beginner bike market is a big one, and though it took a long time for other manufacturers to latch on to the gold mine Kawasaki had to itself with its Ninja 250/300 series, we’re glad Yamaha’s finally jumping on board with the R3. Sure, KTM’s RC390 is stealing some of Yamaha’s thunder in 2015, but the R3’s 321cc parallel-Twin is reported to put out 42 hp and 21.8 lb-ft, according to Yamaha Europe, on par with the 43 hp and 25.8 lb-ft. KTM claims for the 373cc Single. That should put it well clear of the smaller Kawi and Honda CBR300R.

Discuss this at our Yamaha R3 Forum.

Small bikes are incredibly fun to race, and Yamaha is rewarding those who do by offering contingency for racers who shine on the R3, making its appeal that much greater. Factor in the $4,990 price and it’s an easy bike to be excited about.

7. BMW S1000XR

It’s a pretty solid list when the BMW S1000XR lands in the number-seven spot. The S1000XR has its eyes set on topping the Ducati Multistrada, one of MO’s favorite motorcycles, and to do so it will be employing the inline-Four from the S1000R, one of MO’s favorite engines. BMW says it’ll make 160 hp and 83 lb-ft, with an emphasis on mid-range power (for reference, our last S1000R tester made 155.3 hp and 79.7 lb-ft to the wheel). Tack on BMW’s usual array of electronic goodies, and we’re even more excited about getting our hands on one. Price for the S1000XR is yet to be determined at press time.

The Multistrada is one of our favorite rides for a reason – it flat out does it all (Well, it ain’t so hot off-road. – Ed.) – but if any manufacturer is poised to take out Duc, it’s BMW. Perhaps the reason we’re most excited about the S1000XR, is because it means we get to test it and the highly-updated Ducati Multistrada DVT side-by-side. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

6. Aprilia Tuono V4 1100

Another model technically classified as a 2016, the Aprilia Tuono is one of our favorite naked sportbikes and was nearly perfect the way it was. That said, Aprilia made it better by turning to the oldest trick in the book: giving it a bigger engine and more power. As the name suggests, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 gets bumped up to 1,077cc. It’s putting out five more horses at peak (175 hp), and a whopping 20 more hp at 8,000 rpm, according to Aprilia.

That’s enough to get our mouths watering, but refined electronics, including updated traction control parameters, should be plenty of fun to test at the track. Cooler than that is the trick version of Piaggio’s Multimedia Platform, which turns a smartphone into an onboard multifunctional computer and offers corner-by-corner adjustment of the APRC electronics to suit different portions of a race track. Now that’s trick! Price is still to be determined at press time.

5. Ducati 1299 Panigale

When Ducati makes a change to its flagship superbike, it’s a no-brainer that we want to ride it. So, when it was announced the 1199 Panigale would morph into the 1299 Panigale, Ducati had our full attention. With a massive 116mm bore size, the Panigale’s Superquadro engine gets bumped to 1285cc, and is claimed to make 205 hp, surpassing the elusive “double ton,” or, 200-hp mark. Combined with its claimed 106.7 lb-ft of torque, the merits of the bigger engine alone already had us anxious to ride the 1299.

Of course, Ducati’s electronics package, featuring traction control, wheelie control, engine brake control, and race ABS, among others, will make getting all this power to the ground as easy as possible, but a safety feature we’re curious to try is the new Cornering ABS system. Basically, the system is supposed to allow aggressive braking while leaned over, greatly reducing the chances of tucking the front during deceleration. When traction control was first introduced on production bikes with the 1098R, I remember touching my knee on the ground, whacking the throttle, and being amazed by the fact I wasn’t being high-sided to the moon. Maybe I’ll build up the courage to be just as brave with Cornering ABS.

Pricing for the base 1299 Panigale is set at $19,295. The up-spec S version goes up to $24,995.

4. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce

MV Agusta teased us with the Turismo Veloce in 2013, and maybe it’s the extended wait that makes us especially anxious as we head into 2015. Basically a more touring-oriented version of the Rivale, the TV has everything we love in a sport-touring rig: a sweet (798cc Triple) engine, decent wind protection, (optional) luggage capacity, and the ability to take a passenger in relative comfort. And if it handles anything like the Rivale, then it will surely be a special sport-tourer.

Semi-active suspension on the Lusso version should be an especially nice touring feature, while MV Agusta’s MVICS electronics suite, which includes a quickshifter, traction control, wheelie control, and different ride modes, should up the enjoyment factor as well. U.S. pricing has yet to be revealed.

3. KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Considering how much we love KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R (we did give it our Bike of the Year award, after all), you can see why we can’t wait to ride the next missile to come equipped with that engine, the 1290 Super Adventure R. KTM categorizes the Super Adventure as being a “travel enduro” bike, meaning, to properly evaluate it, we’ll have to pile an abnormally large amount of miles on the thing.

Fine with us, as its freakishly large 7.9-gallon fuel tank means gas stops will be few and far between. And get a look at just a sample of the electronics the $20,499 Super Adventure R comes with: semi-active, long-travel suspension, cornering ABS, traction control, cruise control, tire pressure monitors, cornering headlights, and hill-hold control. Combine that with its big windscreen and even bigger saddlebags, and a trip around the world might almost seem like a Sunday stroll.

2. Kawasaki Ninja H2/H2R

It shouldn’t be a surprise the Kawasaki Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R are on this list. Though we understand if you’re a little stunned not to see the supercharged pair in the number-one spot. With 300 hp on tap from the non-street-legal H2R, and perhaps 100 hp less from the road-legal H2, both bikes will deliver an experience of acceleration unlike anything ever delivered from a major OEM. All of us are waiting in anticipation, hopeful for the chance to turn on the launch control, peg the rev limiter and dump the clutch – unsure as to whether our arms and necks are strong enough to counter the force of acceleration.

Discuss this at our Kawasaki Ninja H2 Forum.

The beauty of the H2 and H2R is that they aren’t just one-trick (acceleration) ponies. Sporty steering geometry, up-spec KYB suspension and a trellis chassis (a first for Kawi) will give the rider the confidence to peg a knee on the ground, while the all-important traction control means your chances of getting a bird’s-eye view of the bike if you get too greedy with the power are greatly reduced. The Kawi’s glaring downside is its 525-pound claimed wet weight, which might make stringing together multiple laps at speed a test of both mental and physical endurance. Nonetheless, the might and expertise of Kawasaki Heavy Industries is proudly on display in this technological tour de force, and pricing for the pair reflects it: $50,000 for the H2R and half that for the H2.

1. Yamaha R1/R1M

Yamaha played the hype machine just right with the R1 and R1M, letting the bike’s features and specifications speak for itself. So much so, it’s the 2015 model we at are most anxious to ride. Where do we even begin when discussing the reasons why? We can start with the 998cc inline-Four, its crossplane crankshaft, and the nearly 200 hp it’s claimed to put out at its crankshaft.

2015 Literbike Spec Chart Comparo

And then there’s the nearly endless amounts of MotoGP technology littered throughout the R1, like magnesium wheels, titanium fracture-split con rods, aluminum fuel tank and a plethora of top-tech electronic rider aids built around a six-axis Inertial Measuring Unit. The multi-axis IMU senses pitch, roll and yaw data 125 times per second to mitigate wheelies and stoppies while providing sophisticated traction control and MotoGP-derived slide control. And on the up-spec R1M, there’s GPS telemetry and Ohlins electronic suspension. Yamaha’s latest R1s, at least on paper, have the markings to be a real game changer in the liter-class superbike field.

Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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3 of 12 comments
  • Steve Steve on Jan 11, 2015

    The Vulcan S - Something new? Seriously? This has been done countless times.

  • Amir Amir on Feb 23, 2015

    Very exciting category adv/sport, evolving rapidly with many new models. Would be interesting to compare the "first class" bikes of the category, s1000xr / Multistrada / Ktm1190, with the more "value for money" bikes Versys / Fj-09 / Vstrom / Caponord. For one I'd love to know can a 160 hp really be put to use on a tour/adventure chassis ?!?