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Jensen Beeler

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KTM’s 790 platform is a marvelous thing. It brought us the potent KTM 790 Duke sport bike, and this year sees the arrival of the hotly anticipated KTM 790 Adventure R dual-sport.

Compact, powerful, and affordable – those are the three words that best describe what the Austrian motorcycle house has created, and we knew from the get-go that the 790 platform was destined to bring us several motorcycle models.

Now, the time has come to ask where is our KTM RC790?

We still have over a month before Zero Motorcycles is going to take the wraps off its latest motorcycle, but the teaser is out, and our Bothan spy insiders have been hard at work uncovering more information about the machine.

As such, we have a bevy of details that have leaked out from the Californian electric motorcycle company, and so far, we like what we hear.

This because if our sources are correct, the Zero SR/F is set to be quite the looker, and it will have the technical specifications to back it up.

The Bonnier Corporation continues to be the place where motorcycle publications go to die, as we get confirmation now that the Hot Bike magazine has already delivered its last magazine issue to newsstands.

Shut down effective immediately, Hot Bike joins a list of growing titles at Bonnier that have been closed (Dirt Rider & Sport Rider), or have been substantially revamped in format (Cycle World & Motorcyclist), as the media landscape changes in both format and funding.

KTM has been on a phenomenal track for the past eight years, seeing record set each successive annum.

Part of the secret sauce to that success has been KTM’s partnership with KISKA, the Austrian design firm that is largely responsible for making KTM’s bikes look good, both in real life and in the media.

As KTM ramps up its lineup of two-wheelers, and continues to push into new markets and segments, the motorcycle manufacturer is looking to secure its stake is KISKA, announcing plans to take its ownership position from 26% to 50%.

A patent application spotted by Ben Purvis at Cycle World hints at Honda expanding its variable valve timing technology on its two-wheeled offerings, with designs of a sophisticated VVT system could come to a new CBR model.

Filed in June 2018, the patent application (not yet an actual US patent, mind you) is a restatement of a Japanese patent that dates back to 2017, and in it Honda describes a mechanism where “an internal combustion engine is provided with a variable valve operating apparatus.”

The Episode 5 of the Brap Talk podcast is out for your aural pleasure (though a little late because we have both been battling head colds). Our delay was fortuitous, however, as it allows us to discuss the recent news from Harley-Davidson.

Bar & Shield brand surprised us on Monday by announcing pricing and some performance specs on the Livewire electric cruiser.

Harley-Davidson also gave us a glimpse at two upcoming of its EV concepts, which show a utilitarian scooter and moped-like off-roader.

Before we get into a talk about Harley-Davidson’s electric future though, we discuss another American brand that’s teasing an electric model: Zero Motorcycles.

Later this year, the Harley-Davidson Livewire electric cruiser will finally be available, and today the Bar & Shield brand dropped some details on what we can expect from the revolutionary machine (as well as two more fleshed-out electric concepts).

First up, the obvious. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire will be priced at $29,799 – which is a princely sum for an electric motorcycle, but not an unreasonable figure for a motorcycle from Harley-Davidson.

In addition to having the all new “Revelation” electric drive train, the folks at Milwaukee have packed the Livewire with a number of cutting edge features.

This includes an LTE-equipped media center, as well as traction control and ABS that are assisted by an inertial measurement unit (IMU).

This is the year. This is the year that Harley-Davidson steps beyond decades of being stuck in the past, and instead takes a chance on leading the future.

I am of course referring to the Bar & Shield brand’s move to debut electric motorcycles – starting first with the Livewire electric cruiser.

The Harley-Davidson Livewire doesn’t exist in a vacuum, however. This is because the American motorcycle company has plans for a whole host of electric two-wheelers, which ranges from an electric bicycle, all the way up to full-sized models.

Today, we get a glimpse at the first of these additional models (along with more details on the Livewire electric cruiser), with Harley-Davidson showing us the physical forms of its electric scooter and and electric moped concepts.

The two motorcycles look very similar to the concept sketches that we saw last year, which is a good thing to our eye, as both machines look fit for the part.

It is curious that the past couple of weeks have been rife with internet chatter about Ducati working on a 450cc motocross bike. It is a strange rumor, and if true it would be big news for Ducati.

Of course, for the very same reason that it would be big news, this rumor is also hard to believe, if for no other reason than Ducati getting into the MX scene would be a huge jump for the Italian brand.

What is more curious though is the timing of the story, as it comes only two weeks after we published some thoughts about how Ducati can expand its lineup, through the acquisition of a brand like TM Racing.

Zero Motorcycles has begun teasing its newest electric motorcycle model, the Zero SR/F. The company’s teaser on YouTube doesn’t reveal too much, though it does offer the date 2/25/19 for another announcement.

In the teaser’s video description, we get a little bit more from Zero, with it saying the following: “more than a new model, SR/F is an entirely new platform. The SR/F provides an effortlessly powerful experience in the naked street bike category.”

This is it, the final countdown. The new year is already starting its first hours in other parts of the world, and we won’t have long to wait until 2019 is upon us here in the United States of America.

So, allow us to squeak in just one more “2018 in review” type of story, as I wanted to share with our readers the most important motorcycles that we saw this year – and also got to ride.

The list is an interesting one, as not only is it comprised of a number of machines that lead their segments, but also we picked motorcycles whose debuts carried gravitas for the industry.

As such, these are the motorcycles that defined 2018 model year, and now we only have a matter of hours to begin seeing the bikes that will shape 2019 for motorcyclists.