In 2016, the Yamaha MT-03 debuted as the naked variant of the popular Yamaha YZF-R3 sport bike. And while the R3 came to American soil (with very positive results), its naked sibling never found its way across the pond.
Small and aggressive, the Yamaha MT-03 borrowed the R3’s twin-cylinder engine, and wrapped it in Yamaha’s “Dark Side of Japan” aesthetic. Like its full-fairing sibling, the Yamaha MT-03 was a strong offering for younger riders.
Now for the 2020 model year, the Yamaha MT-03 is finally coming to the United States, complete with a new aggressive look, with the hopes of offering new riders with an intriguing offer that won’t bust the bank.
When it comes to rumors about Harley-Davidson, everything is up for grabs. The Bar & Shield brand has done a complete about-face on its business paradigm, which means that no idea is too crazy for those in Milwaukee.
So, when we hear talk about a 250cc model from Harley-Davidson (supposedly an XR250 street tracker bike), we have to give it some credit, whereas before we might have dismissed it out hand for being crazy talk.
We know that Harley-Davidson is looking at electric models; we know that Harley-Davidson is looking at mainstream segments outside of the cruiser spectrum; and we know that Harley-Davidson will be looking at markets abroad for future growth.
What does this all mean? A 250cc model is almost the worst kept secret in Milwaukee.
Here is an interesting move from a motorcycle manufacturer, as Husqvarna is adding a Rekluse auto-clutch to the list of options that can be put on its Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 models.
The unit is very similar to the “Smart Clutch System” that MV Agusta debuted on its Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso SCS model, which effectively eliminates the bike’s ability to stall the engine.
On the MV Agusta model, the Rekluse clutch basically means that the clutch lever is only used for starting the machine, as the Italian bike has an up/down quickshifter installed as well.
That won’t be the case for the Husqvarna models, but the addition of the Rekluse could be a very powerful move from the Swedish brand.
Another model that we expected to see debut at the 2018 EICMA show, the Kawasaki Z400 is a logical evolution of the small-displacement lineup that Team Green is creating.
Built in conjunction with the Kawasaki Ninja 400 sport bike, the Z400 is the naked option for the street for new riders, short riders, and riders that want to do more with less.
This means that the 2019 Kawasaki Z400 has a 399cc parallel-twin engine, that produces 45hp (33.4 kW), which is a 6hp increase over the 300cc model that it replaces.
One of the few surprises at the INTERMOT trade show in Germany, was Team Green’s release of two 125cc motorcycle models: the Kawasaki Ninja 125 and the Kawasaki Z125. The bikes are basic in their concept, and will be headed only to the European market.
Kawasaki hopes that the Ninja 125 and Z125 will be the ideal option for those with A1 or A2 licenses in Europe’s tiered motorcycle licensing program, though the Japanese company didn’t discount some interest from older riders who are looking for something smaller in their garage.
That is a fair goal from Kawasaki, because despite the budget-focus of these 125cc machines, the quality of the bikes is quite high, and we were most impressed with the fit and finish found on the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 125.
One of the hottest bikes on the market since its 2013 debut, the KTM 390 Duke is seemingly set for a model refresh, with cosmetic updates and other minor technical changes coming our way.
This photo above shows the 2017 KTM 390 Duke with its new headlight, and in it you can also see some of the styling changes to the fairings and fuel tank, along with the updated switchgear and dash design.
Designed in Austria, but built in India, it doesn’t surprise us to see this photo leak coming from the Bajaj factory near Pune, India – where production has surely already started in anticipation for the next model year.
The eagerly awaited 2016 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is the small-displacement machine we have been waiting for from Ducati, and it has finally dropped at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. The Scrambler Sixty2 joins the Scrambler Flat Track Pro as one of the two new Scrambler Ducati models for 2016.
Accordingly, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 takes the basic Scrambler chassis and re-sleeves the machine’s air-cooled v-twin for 400cc of displacement, with a 72mm x 49mm bore and stroke (compared to the 88mm x 66mm bore and stroke on the 803cc models).
The result is a bike that Ducati says is better suited for new riders with its 41hp and 368 lbs dry weight. That’s only a 7 lbs reduction from the the 803cc models, so the Scrambler Sixty2 is still a bit heavy, but the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 does fit into Europe’s A2 license format, so there’s that.
We didn’t get the Honda CBR600F here in the States, so it seems unlikely that we will get that bike’s successor, the 2014 Honda CBR650F. Taking the popular road bike platform, and slapping an obvious 50cc of additional engine displacement, Honda’s mantra for 2014 is clear: more is better.
We already saw that the Honda CBR300R added 37cc to Big Red’s baby CBR, and the Japanese OEM has done a similar treatments with its new NC750 platform as well. As they say, there is no replacement for displacement, but the 2014 Honda CBR650F is more than just a re-worked street bike — it is a brand new machine from the wheels up.
Next up from Benelli is the 2014 Benelli BN302, a pint-sized two-cylinder machine that continues the Italian company’s quest to bring in new riders to the brand. As such, styling is taken obviously from the Benelli BN600, though shrunken down into a smaller format for younger riders.
We assume that the BN302 uses 300cc parallel-twin motor, though the Italian company failed to mention engine capacity in its press release. Nonetheless, we do know the lump has fuel-injection and that the key power figures are 36hp and 20 lbs•ft of torque.
There is not much that we don’t already know about the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300. It looks pretty much exactly like the re-designed 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R that broke cover in Indonesia earlier this year. The EPA already spilled the beans on the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s 296cc displacement and 40hp, and we know that the Ninja 300 is the peppier fuel-injected cousin to America’s dreadfully under-developed Ninja 250R…and now we know that the bike will come to the American market for next year.
Tipping the scales at the curb with 387 lbs, with its 4.5 gallons of fuel, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 isn’t a featherweight, but it isn’t a slouch either. In fact, when it comes to a sporty learner-class motorcycle for the American market, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 may very well be the bike of choice.
In a category where prospective buyers are raiding the couch cushions for a down payment, price is king. And with its $4,799 starting MSRP, the Ninja 300 is an expensive option, but is it still a bargain?
Several sources have now confirmed that Erik Buell Racing is considering making a 250cc learner-style motorcycle to compliment its EBR 1190RS race/sport bike. Presumably filling the niche left behind by the crushed Buell Blast, the 250cc bike would be geared towards new and first-time riders, and would likely be MSF RiderCourse friendly. With bikes like the Kawaaski Ninja 250R / EX250 topping the sales charts as the best selling sport bike in the US, the folks at Erik Buell Racing are surely eyeing the market potential of a smaller, lightweight sport bike for the company’s growing product line.