The High Fives Heard in Milwaukee

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

Ducati’s Project 1309 Reveals a New Diavel Coming

We didn’t hear too much about “Project 1309” from World Ducati Week 2018, which is surprising considering what the past has shown us about Ducati’s secret reveals, but the Bologna brand was once again giving a teaser to fans in Misano. In the past, World Ducati Week has been the place where Ducati showed us the first Scrambler model, and last year the event debuted the return of the Ducati SuperSport. This year, it is another new bike. A new Diavel, to be precise. Set to compliment the current XDiavel model, the new Diavel features the same 1,262cc DVT engine with variable valve timing, but puts it into the more sport Diavel riding platform. This means tucked in feet on rearsets, rather than the XDiavel’s foot-forward controls.

VW CEO Outlines Two Possible Futures for Ducati

The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand. Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder. “We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg.

KTM’s Counter-Rotating MotoGP Engine Debuts at Brno

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. KTM’s response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust.

Retro Livery Pops on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R Superbike

We are big fans of the creations that Team Classic Suzuki has been churning out. Stop what you’re doing right now, look at this Katana race bike, and try to disagree with our enthusiasm. It cannot be done. Taking their touch to the current Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike, we see what this tire-shredder would look like in a retro-mod livery that is inspired by the bodywork found on the original GSX-R750. So far it sounds like the bike is a one-off, done by our friends across the pond, but we think Suzuki should seriously consider some throwback paint schemes in its lineup. Until then, items of note include a number of tasty Giles-made bits, straight from the Suzuki performance catalog, otherwise the bike shown here is pretty much stock.

BMW Plans To Launch Nine New Motorcycles

It might be still be summer, but our eyes are looking ahead to the new bike season in the fall and winter, where the major motorcycle manufacturers will debut their new motorcycles for the future. The big trade shows to watch are INTERMOT and EICMA, as these have traditionally been the venues of choice for new model unveils, prototype teasers, and concept debuts. One brand that is certainly going to be showing us some new motorcycles is BMW Motorrad, with the German company saying that it plans to launch nine new models in 2018. What those nine models will be is up for conjecture, though we have some good ideas, and some bad ideas, on what they could be. Let’s take a look.

Up-Close with the 2018 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000R Suzuka 8-Hours Race Bike

In all our coverage of the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, the name Suzuki has woefully not been in much of the conversation. This isn’t to say that the brand from Hamamatsu wasn’t present at this prestigious event, but its level of involvement and readiness certainly wasn’t on par with the other three Japanese brands. Fielding the Yoshimura Suzuki factory-backed team yet again, this year saw a big milestone take place, as Suzuki’s endurance efforts are now being conducted on the current-generation superbike. This has caused some issues in the paddock, most notably in the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), which is Suzuki’s factory-backed team in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Up-Close with the Kawasaki Team Green Suzuka Bike

The race-winner that could have been. Kawasaki Team Green was the Suzuka 8-Hours favorite coming out of Saturday’s Top 10 qualifying session, and the factory-backed Kawasaki team traded corners with Yamaha during the opening laps of Sunday’s endurance race. What looked like an upset in the making, turned out to be a fizzle, largely because of a poor fueling and pit stop strategy, which saw Jonathan Rea first run out of gas, and then stay out on slicks during a rain storm. As he tumbled down the asphalt, you have to wonder if the World Superbike champion saw his Suzuka fortunes tumbling with him.

Up-Close with the Suzuka-Winning Yamaha YZF-R1

This is it. This is the biggest, baddest, meanest superbike on the Suzuka 8-Hours grid. Setting the high-water mark in Japan FOUR YEARS IN A ROW now, the Yamaha YZF-R1 from the Yamaha Factory Racing Team is the pinnacle of the sport. And while the Yamaha YZF-R1 is a motorcycle that you can pick up at any dealership in the United States (so long as it isn’t for a Superbike Deathmatch), the machine on the Suzuka Circuit this past weekend is anything but ordinary. I sent our man Steve English down to the pits to get some shots of this mysterious machine, and the Japanese team was being “very Japanese” about letting us taking photos, as Steve puts it. That didn’t stop us from getting some photos though. Go ahead, go get a towel before you continue further. We’ll wait.

Harley-Davidson Outlines Its Future Electric Lineup

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

A Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 on the Way?

07/20/2018 @ 12:47 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled debuted, I said that this was the scrambler model the Bologna should have released first. Built actually to go off-road, it is the real scrambler in Ducati’s Scrambler lineup.

Now, I have a feeling that in a few months’ time I’m going to be saying this phrase again about a different bike, as there are some rumors floating in the Bothan Spy network that an 1,079cc version of the Desert Sled is set to debut for the 2019 model year.

This supposed Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled 1100 (try saying name that three times fast) will add to the Scrambler 1100 lineup from Ducati, adding some off-road prowess to a family of bikes that is really just a reworked Ducati Monster 1100.

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Yamaha NIKEN Priced at $5,333 per Wheel

07/11/2018 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The Yamaha NIKEN is trying to make a three-wheeled revolution, and it is coming to the United States starting in September. As such, we finally have pricing information on the NIKEN, and the American MSRP is set at a stout $15,999.

For those who don’t want to do the math, this price tag represents a $7,000 markup over the Yamaha MT-09, which the NIKEN is loosely based off of, from the headstock back.

Yamaha USA will be doing a special “online reservation system” only sort of deal when it comes to selling the NIKEN here, which means that all bikes will have to be ordered through your local Yamaha dealership before they are shipped.

Yamaha faithful should recognize that online ordering scheme is the same system that Yamaha USA used for the VMAX power cruiser and YZF-R1M superbike.

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It has been 44 years since Honda offered the Super Cub on American soil. That is a pretty astounding thing to say, when you think about it, because the Super Cub is the best selling motorcycle in the world – with 100 million units sold, as of 2017.

Needless to say, the Honda Super Cub is beyond iconic, and it is the go-to people mover in more countries than we can count.

Now helping Honda fill-in a price-point hole in its motorcycle lineup, the 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 will be one of the cheapest motorcycle that Honda has to offer inside the United States, with an MSRP of $3,599.

Built using the same 125cc single-cylinder fuel-injected engine that features on the Grom and Monkey bikes, the Honda Super Cub C125 features a step-through body design and clutchless semi-automatic transmission, as well as ABS as standard.

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Yesssh! The Honda Monkey Is Coming to the USA

06/07/2018 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

There is something about the Honda Monkey that we find adorable and appealing, as we did with the Honda Grom, of which the Monkey shares a platform (namely, its 125cc single-cylinder engine with DOHC).

So needless to say, we were thrilled when we heard that Honda would bring the Monkey into production, and today we get confirmation of news we expected: the Honda Monkey will come to the USA as a 2019 model.

Priced at $3,999 of the USA ($4,199 if you want ABS), the 2019 Honda Monkey will be available in October, and come in two colors: red or yellow.

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Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe Coming to the USA, After All

05/14/2018 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

When we first saw the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe, we had no word that the retro-modern machine was coming to the USA, though it seemed far-fetched that the repurposed Z900 wouldn’t see the shores of North America.

Sure enough, Kawasaki USA just sent us word that the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe will be coming to the United States in limited numbers, as a 2018 machine.

Sharing the same 948cc inline-four engine as the Kawasaki Z900, the Cafe model takes the venerable streetfighter and adds a retro look to it. The Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe is part of a two-pronged retro approach, with the Kawasaki Z900RS already seeing a strong response from enthusiasts.

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2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE

The first production superbike with winglets has finally dropped, ushering in what is likely to be a new era for sport bike design. As we teased earlier this week, the new machine is called the 2018 Aprilia RSV4 RF LE, and only 125 units will be made (and only for the North American market).

As such, 100 lucky owners in the United States, along with 25 Canadians, will have a chance to own the new Aprilia RSV4 RF LE, that is of course if they can afford the $24,499 USD price tag ($25,495 CDN).

For that $1,000 premium over the highly acclaimed Aprilia RSV4 RF (note the $500 price bump because of the strengthening euro against the dollar), limited edition buyers get the benefit of the new carbon fiber winglets, a special livery, and a numbered production plate on the triple clamp.

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One of the surprise pleasures at last year’s EICMA show was Honda’s family of “Neo-Sports Café” street bikes, which brought a retro-modern look to Big Red’s approach road bikes.

While the new Honda CB1000R tickled our fancy the most, we were delighted to see that the theme extended all the way to the Japanese brand’s small-displacement platform, the Honda CB300R.

An attractive and affordable entry-level bike, the Honda CB300R looks like it was designed in Europe, rather than Nippon, which is probably why the 286cc commuter is doing so well in the European market.

Seeing that success, American Honda has confirmed the CB300R as an early 2019 model for the US market – available in July 2018.

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In case you haven’t noticed, the Supersport 300 class is heating up, and perhaps most interestingly with virtually zero machines with a 300cc displacement…but that is a subject for another time.

This has put pressure on KTM to remain at the pointy end of business in the small-displacement category, which has lead the Austrian company to the release of a homologation special for the 300cc class. As such, say hello to the 2018 KTM RC390 R sport bike.

A street legal motorcycle, the KTM RC390 R aims to sharpen the points where the entry-level KTM RC390 is a bit dull, namely by using better suspension and new intake trumpets that widen the powerband, but also with a new triple clamp, clip-ons, and levers.

With an MSRP of $8,499 for the RC390 R, the “ready to race” model commands a $3,000 premium over its lower-spec sibling. Of course, if you are really serious about your racing, you will want KTM’s Supersport 300 race kit as well, which will set you back another $11,000.

That’s right, for nearly $20,000, you can race in the “affordable” 300cc race class with KTM.

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2018 Triumph Speed Triple Pricing Revealed

02/19/2018 @ 7:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We were supposed to wait another week until we heard pricing for the new Triumph Speed Triple, but the British brand spilled the beans early to the assembled press, at the bike’s international press launch in Almería, Spain.

Revamped for this model year, the new Triumph Speed Triple is really an evolution of the previous model, but adds some important upgrades to the original production streetfighter – namely a robust electronics suite and a more powerful 1050cc engine.

As such, we have prices for the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple S and 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS for the US market, and Hinckley has done a good job of keeping this venerable streetfighter competitive against the field, both in terms of features and costs.

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Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR.

A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike.

As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride.

Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model. As you would then expect, the electronics have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and the MXR claims better thermal management for the battery pack.

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