Janus Motorcycles has announced its latest model, the scrambler-styled Gryffin 450. The Janus Gryffin 450 has classic ’50s and ’60s style and hand-crafted components, and each one is made-to-order with the owner’s input and preferences.
Janus Motorcycles is based in Goshen, Indiana, and the company’s website states that it makes “simple, beautiful machines that are a joy to own and ride.” The Gryffin 450 joins three other models in the Janus lineup: the Halcyon 450, Halcyon 250, and Gryffin 250. It will use the same enduro-inspired air-/oil-cooled 445cc Single as the Halcyon 450, with a claimed 30 hp. The scrambler version will ride on 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels and will feature a high exhaust, other adventure-oriented details, and a low weight of a claimed 330 lb.
“The Gryffin 450 is a close sibling to our Halcyon 450, but with some key changes that really make it excel off-pavement,” said Charlie Handsen-Reed, senior design engineer for Janus Motorcycles. “The longer suspension travel, wheel size, lower seat height, and larger fuel tank will be really welcomed by our off-road riders, and trimming another 30 lb off our already feather-weight 450 chassis will be a huge bonus for trailering, van-lifers, and for any adventuresome rider’s peace of mind and confidence.”
Part of the experience of owning a Janus is the customization offered from the made-to-order process. Like other Janus models, the Gryffin 450 will be available in a wide range of color options, pinstripe options, and other accessories. It will feature motocross footpegs, a headlight cage, pannier racks, highway bars, a skid plate, and a pillion seat.
Other components included on the Gryffin 450 will be hand-formed and beaded fenders, a hand-formed and welded stainless-steel exhaust, hand-welded chassis and fork, Brembo brakes, and hand-painted graphics and pinstripes.
Janus Motorcycles will begin taking reservations for the Gryffin 450 starting Feb. 23, 2024, and all orders placed in the first 30 days will be First Edition models with serial-numbered plates, limited-edition race plates, engraved components, and commemorative packages.
Those interested in the manufacturing process of Janus motorcycles can check out the Janus YouTube channel, where the company documents their design and build process.
MSRP for the Janus Gryffin 450 will be $13,495, and the fee to place a reservation is $2,995. The first Gryffin 450 bikes are expected to be finished in July 2024.
Living at 6,000 feet in Cedar City, Utah, most of my winter riding involves heading south, which offers a quick drop in elevation and less chance of the falling white stuff. So that’s what I did a week before Christmas, giving myself a gift of a one‑day ride through some southern Utah and Arizona history.
The day promised unseasonably warm temperatures…eventually. Just after the sun peeked over the mountains, the ambient temperature was in the upper 20s, but doing 80 mph on the interstate meant I was closer to single digits. Thankfully, the BMW R 1600 GTL Grand America I was riding offers great wind protection, and with my California Heat heated apparel (see California Heat gear review here), I didn’t need to use the bike’s seat or grip warmers.
Utah is one of the few states where even interstate riding offers great views. Descending the Black Ridge south of Cedar City, the mountain terrain changes from gray and sage green and reveals distant red rock mesas. Exiting Interstate 15, I took State Route 17 to Hurricane and connected with State Route 59.
After a quick climb out of Hurricane, SR‑59 flattens out and heads south. Just a few miles outside of town, jagged peaks painted in rust, deeper reds, and oranges rise in the distance. Much of this area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and numerous dirt roads meander from the highway.
Within an hour, the temperature had risen nearly 20 degrees as I rolled into the small twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, an area locally known as Short Creek. Much has already been written about this area that is both the last U.S. stronghold of the FLDS church (read: polygamists) and the non‑FLDS members struggling against that stigma, so I’ll just say they have a beautiful place to live.
Continuing on, the road isn’t especially exciting, but the scenery remains impressive. Crossing into the Kaibab Indian Reservation, the road heads east, paralleling red cliffs to the north. To the south, on a clear day, you can see as far as 60 miles into the Arizona Strip – a wedge of that state between the north side of the Grand Canyon and the Utah border – without any signs of humanity. The desolation makes it easy to imagine life a couple centuries ago. However, not far onto the reservation is a sign for Pipe Spring National Monument, an oasis in the desert where Mormon pioneers erected a fort in 1872 for protection against some of the very people whose land they had settled on. Located a half mile off the highway, the museum and fort are worth a visit.
Farther east, I picked up U.S. Route 89 in Fredonia, and 7 miles later, I rode into Kanab, Utah, known as “Little Hollywood” for its filmmaking history, particularly old Westerns. My family likes to come here in February for the annual Balloons & Tunes Roundup hot air balloon festival. The historic Parry Lodge is a fun place to stay, and there’s a good mix of dining options.
Outside of town, the road cuts into the red rock, climbing and then dropping again into Mt. Carmel Junction, with the landscape colors changing from red to white to yellow.
Taking State Route 9, this diversity of landscape continues with almost every twist and turn, both in tones and textures, leading to the east entrance of Zion National Park. For most of the year, you can only get up the road into Zion’s main canyon via shuttle, but as spectacular as the towering cliffs in the main canyon are, I much prefer riding on the east side, which is always open. It’s like an alien landscape, and with the slower speeds, you get to enjoy both the views and the numerous curves.
On the west side of Zion is Springdale, a typical national park gateway community with lots of lodging and dining options (depending on the season), as well as art galleries and novelty shops. Just a few miles past Springdale is Rockville, where you can detour on Bridge Road to cross over the Virgin River on the last surviving Parker‑through‑truss bridge in Utah. Continuing 3.5 miles on this road, which turns to dirt about halfway, takes you to Grafton Ghost Town, where parts of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed.
Staying on SR‑9, it’s about 16 miles from Rockville to close the loop at SR‑17 in La Verkin, where I made my way north and back home. Like the places I’ve ridden through, this Favorite Ride is now in the history books.
Back in the ’70s, Cycle magazine coined the term “Universal Japanese Motorcycle” to refer to the proliferation of standard bikes built by the Japanese Big Four that adhered to the same formula: air‑cooled inline‑Fours with tubular cradle frames, disc front brakes, telescopic forks, and dual rear shocks.
Much has changed in the last five decades, but manufacturers still stick to tried‑and‑true formulas when designing motorcycles. These days, regardless of where bikes hail from, there has been a convergence in the middleweight class on parallel‑Twin engines because they are cost‑effective to produce, easy to package within a frame, and flexible in terms of tuning. Also known as vertical Twins because the two side‑by‑side cylinders stand upright, modern versions typically have liquid cooling, fuel injection, and a 270‑degree crankshaft that produces a V‑Twin‑like rumble.
Last year, Suzuki, a veteran of the UJM wars, introduced a liquid‑cooled 776cc parallel‑Twin that powered two new models: the GSX‑8S naked sportbike and V‑Strom 800DE adventure bike. The engine has DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, a 270‑degree crank, throttle‑by‑wire, and Suzuki’s patented Cross Balancer system, which minimizes vibration. The GSX‑8S is equipped with several Suzuki Intelligent Ride System electronic rider aids, including throttle response modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort), multi‑mode traction control (1, 2, 3, and Off), an up/down quickshifter, Easy Start, and Low RPM Assist.
Chinese manufacturer CFMOTO entered the U.S. motorcycle market in 2022 and has expanded its lineup to 11 models for 2024. One of its newest is the 800NK, a naked sportbike powered by a liquid‑cooled 799cc parallel‑Twin that’s a previous‑gen version of the KTM 790 engine, which CFMOTO now builds under a partnership agreement. Similar to Suzuki’s modular approach, the same engine is found in CFMOTO’s Ibex 800 adventure bikes. On the tech front, the 800NK has throttle‑by‑wire, throttle response modes (Sport, Street, and Rain), and cruise control but no traction control or quickshifter.
Those looking for an affordable, streetfighter‑styled motorcycle would likely cross‑shop these two bikes, especially since there’s just a $500 delta between their MSRPs: $8,999 for the Suzuki and $8,499 for the CFMOTO. To suss out their differences, we tested them back‑to‑back on local freeways and backroads and had our friend John Ethell at Jett Tuning run them on a Dynojet dynamometer.
CFMOTO 800NK vs. Suzuki GSX8S: Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!
Despite just a 23cc difference in displacement between the CFMOTO and Suzuki, there’s a significant difference in engine output. Both Twins rev out to nearly 10,000 rpm, and their dyno curves show fairly linear increases in power and flat torque curves. Past 6,000 rpm, their curves begin to diverge, with the CFMOTO climbing to 93.4 hp at 9,400 rpm while the Suzuki levels out at 75.9 hp at 8,300 rpm. Torque figures are closer, but the 800NK still has the advantage in the upper rev range, maxing out at 57.1 lb‑ft at 6,600 rpm compared to 53.3 lb‑ft at 6,700 rpm on the GSX‑8S.
The CFMOTO also has a lower curb weight, giving it a higher power‑to‑weight ratio. It weighs 410 lb with its 4.0‑gallon tank full, whereas the Suzuki weighs 445 lb with 3.7 gallons in its tank.
Differences in power and weight aren’t readily apparent at lower rpm and around‑town speeds, but the Suzuki feels more refined. The GSX‑8S starts easily when cold, idles smoothly, and has spot‑on fueling and throttle response. The 800NK, on the other hand, is slow to warm up, idles like it’s in a bad mood, and exhibits some hesitation when making throttle adjustments between 4,000 to 6,000 rpm, which corresponds to a dip in the horsepower and torque curves.
Above 6,000 rpm, however, the CFMOTO finds its groove, responding cleanly and directly to throttle inputs and making its power and weight advantages readily apparent. It flicks back and forth through tight corners more easily than the Suzuki, and a twist of the wrist catapults the 800NK ahead more rapidly than the GSX‑8S, which falls flat in the upper rev range. Although sound doesn’t necessarily affect performance, it does tap into our emotions. The CFMOTO’s more aggressive exhaust note makes for a more engaging riding experience without being too loud.
There’s also some daylight between these bikes in terms of shifting. Both are equipped with 6‑speed transmissions with cable‑actuated slip/assist clutches. Neither bike requires much effort to change gears, but the Suzuki’s gearbox is noticeably smoother, and it’s aided by the convenience of a quickshifter. The CFMOTO has an adjustable clutch lever, but the Suzuki does not.
When manufacturers aim for aggressive price targets, one of the most common places to cut costs is with the suspension, particularly in terms of adjustability. Both CFMOTO and Suzuki sourced their components from Japanese suspension maker KYB, and both bikes have inverted forks (43mm on the CFMOTO, 41mm on the Suzuki) and rear monoshocks. The only adjustability on the GSX‑8S is rear preload, but the 800NK offers full adjustability on the fork and rebound and preload adjustability on the shock. Ride quality between the two is fairly similar, with their damping rates calibrated for general use rather than the tautness of more aggressive sportbikes, but the CFMOTO allows riders to dial in their preferences front and rear.
The CFMOTO has a slight edge in terms of braking. With components sourced from J.Juan, a Spanish subsidiary of Brembo, the 800NK has a pair of 4‑piston radial front calipers pinching 320mm discs, a 2‑piston rear caliper pinching a 260mm disc, a radial‑pump front master cylinder, and steel‑braided lines. The 800NK’s brakes provide strong, consistent power with good feedback from the adjustable front lever, but they could use more initial bite.
The Suzuki wears Nissin brakes, with dual 4‑piston radial front calipers squeezing 310mm discs, a 1‑piston rear caliper squeezing a 240mm disc, an axial‑pump front master cylinder, and rubber lines. Stopping power is decent, but the Suzuki’s brakes feel more numb and provide less feedback than the CFMOTO’s. ABS is standard on both bikes.
The 800NK and GSX‑8S are compact machines with short wheelbases, narrow waistlines, and sporty chassis geometry. Both have steel frames, steel subframes, cast‑aluminum swingarms, and tapered aluminum handlebars. From the cockpit, the Suzuki almost disappears beneath the rider thanks to its svelte tank, 1.7-inch narrower handlebar, and slender (but 0.4 inch taller) seat. The CFMOTO’s tank and bodywork flare out more, and its handlebar is wider, giving it more visual presence from the saddle. Its seat is also wider at the back and has thicker, more comfortable foam.
As streetfighters, these bikes lend themselves to an aggressive riding style, but they’re comfortable enough for everyday riding or commuting. Their handlebars’ bends and risers allow for an upright seating position, and their footpegs are placed high enough for good cornering clearance but low enough for adequate legroom.
When you exit the highway and find your way to a winding backroad, they are more than happy to display their athleticism. Both roll on 17‑inch cast wheels with 120/70 front and 180/55 rear tire sizes, and their radials – Maxxis Supermaxx ST on the CFMOTO, Dunlop Roadsmart 2 on the Suzuki – provide neutral handling and decent grip. With its additional steering leverage and 35‑lb weight advantage, the CFMOTO is more agile than the Suzuki but not by much.
CFMOTO 800NK vs. Suzuki GSX8S: Devil in the Details
In some ways, these are two evenly matched motorcycles, while in others, they diverge. One is built by a well‑established Japanese brand that has been building motorcycles since the early 1950s and selling them in America since 1963. The other is built by an upstart Chinese company that has been building motorcycles only since 2000 but has grown rapidly and not only builds its own engines and motorcycles but also builds them for KTM, Europe’s largest manufacturer.
Although the Suzuki GSX‑8S was introduced in 2023 as a new model with a new engine, it feels very refined. It has the build quality and fit and finish one expects from one of the Big Four Japanese manufacturers, and its engine, electronics, and chassis work together harmoniously. The GSX‑8S costs $500 more than the 800NK, but it has standard features that the CFMOTO lacks, such as traction control and an up/down quickshifter. Its bright TFT instrument panel uses a larger, thicker font and is easier to read in all conditions than the one on the 800NK.
As the new kid on the block looking to build trust in the market, CFMOTO’s value proposition is to provide more bang for the buck. For the 800NK, that starts with the tried‑and‑true KTM 790 engine that delivers an additional 17.5 hp and 3.8 lb‑ft of torque over the GSX‑8S motor. It continues with a 35‑lb lower curb weight, suspension with more adjustability, higher‑spec brakes, and features like cruise control and smartphone connectivity. Not only is the base price lower, but it comes with an additional year of warranty coverage. But it also feels rougher around the edges, particularly regarding its low‑rpm fueling.
If you’re an experienced rider who wants a light, powerful, somewhat rowdy streetfighter and can live without traction control and a quickshifter, you’ll want the CFMOTO 800NK. But if you’re someone who prioritizes smoothness and refinement over power, or if you’re a newer rider, the Suzuki GSX‑8S is for you.
Spec Comparo: 2024 CFMOTO 800NK vs. 2024 Suzuki GSX-8S
Base Price: $8,499 (CFMOTO) — $8,999 (Suzuki)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles — 1 yr., unltd. miles
Continuing on the success of previous years’ Ride Orange Street Demo Tours – and this year marking “30 Years of Duke” – KTM has announced the first dates of the 2024 KTM Street Demo Tour. Test rides at dealers are a rarity, so the KTM Street Demo Tour is a great opportunity to ride KTM’s street-legal range, everything from the 250 Duke up to the 1390 Super Duke R Evo, ADVs ranging from the 390 Adventure to the 1290 Adventure R, and the 350 and 500 EXC-F dual-sports.
This year’s tour kicks off in March coinciding with Daytona Bike Week, and there are currently 10 stops scheduled for the demo tour between March and October, with more likely to be added. Check out the details in KTM’s official announcement below.
MURRIETA, Calif. – The KTM Street Demo Tour is touring the United States once again in 2024, offering orange bleeders the ultimate chance to sample the latest models in the KTM Street range. Commencing between March 1-9 during Daytona Bike Week in Florida, U.S. consumers will have the opportunity to take part in the tour to be staged alongside a wide selection of premier motorcycle events across the nation.
Organized by KTM North America, Inc. in association with participating dealers, you’ll be able to get up close and explore the 2024 range, together with knowledgeable KTM experts on location. Following that, it will be your time to take to some of the most enjoyable roads in the country. Each ride will take place on pre-planned routes that will be sure to deliver an exceptional experience at this year’s KTM Street Demo Tour.
With the naked bike range celebrating 30 Years of Duke in 2024, KTM brings the ferocious, all-new KTM 1390 Super Duke R Evo – The Beast, reborn – the sniper-like KTM 990 Duke, as well as the powerful yet rideable KTM 390 Duke and KTM 250 Duke. Joining this lineup of all new naked bikes is the original Scalpel, the KTM 790 Duke. Throw a leg over these class-leading machines and discover why the KTM Duke nameplate has stood the test of time.
* Please note that the model list is subject to change and may vary by demo location.
Participants at the KTM Street Demo Tour will receive a VIP voucher (valued up to $500 MSRP), redeemable on KTM PowerParts, KTM PowerWear, and/or KTM SpareParts at an authorized KTM dealer with the purchase of a new KTM Street model.
Registrations for each stop of the 2024 KTM Street Demo Tour open at 9 a.m. on the morning of that event, with riding to take place between 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Demos are first come, first served.
The KTM Street Demo Tour is open to riders 21 years and older who hold a valid motorcycle endorsement. Riders 21 to 24 year olds can only ride motorcycles 500cc and under. Riders who are 25 years and up may ride any displacement. Experienced riders only (no beginners). No passengers are allowed at any time, and KTM staff can revoke riding privileges at any time for any reason deemed necessary.
All riders must show a government-issued photo ID with motorcycle endorsement and will be required to complete a signed waiver prior to any demo rides. Proper riding apparel is essential, including but not limited to a DOT-approved helmet, eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and sturdy footwear.
For a complete list of 2024 KTM Street Demo Tour locations and to connect with your local participating dealer, please visit the KTM website or email [email protected]. Follow KTM USA on all social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on events.
Indian Motorcycle and Roland Sands Design have teamed up to make a limited-edition FTR x RSD Super Hooligan, inspired by the Super Hooligan National Championship series of run-what-ya-brung races that sees custom street bikes battling on challenging racetracks across the country. The FTR x RSD Super Hooligan is built on the Indian FTR R Carbon and will be limited to only 300 units globally.
The FTR x RSD Super Hooligan looks like it’s ready to be rolled onto the racetrack. It features Black Metallic bodywork with Super Hooligan race graphics, an Indian Motorcycle Red frame and matching wheels with gold accents, and Indian Motorcycle Racing’s No. 1 championship logo on the front and side number plates. The bike also features logos from race team sponsors on the rear seat cowl, and additional graphics for the radiator shroud, front fender, and front forks are available as options.
“The term ‘hooligan’ has taken on an entirely new meaning in the world of motorcycles,” said Aaron Jax, vice president of Indian Motorcycle, “characterized by a rebellious, fearless attitude that places having fun on a motorcycle above all else, and that’s what this new FTR is all about. Roland Sands has blazed this trail and built the RSD brand around the hooligan lifestyle. From spinning laps on dirt ovals on mid-size cruisers to today’s competitive racing within the MotoAmerica series, the ethos of hooligan riding has not changed.”
The Super Hooligan National Championship is a MotoAmerica series racing custom street bikes, including water- or air-cooled Twins of 750cc and up, 900cc Triples, and electric bikes. The Super Hooligan series has seen bikes like the Indian FTR and Chief, Harley-Davidson Pan America, KTM 890 Duke, BMW R nineT, Ducati Hypermotard, and Energica electric motorcycles. The 2024 series includes 10 rounds at five race events across the country, and the first event will be at Daytona International Speedway in March, where Tyler O’Hara, once again racing for Indian, will hope to hold on to his No. 1 plate from the 2023 season.
“Super Hooligan has always been about more than just racing,” said Roland Sands, founder of Roland Sands Design. “It’s about pushing boundaries and having a blast riding motorcycles with your friends. Far from the full-fairing machines you normally see on the racetrack, a Super Hooligan bike has effortless attitude and a custom aesthetic with an exposed powertrain. When Indian Motorcycle approached us to codesign an Indian FTR for consumers, it was a natural fit, and something we were very excited to be a part of.”
The FTR x RSD bike is built on the Indian FTR R Carbon model and features a liquid-cooled 1,203cc V-Twin, fully adjustable Öhlins inverted front fork and a rear piggyback shock. Also included are dual-disc Brembo brakes, a 4-inch round touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity, and an Akrapovič muffler and heat shield, as well as Gilles Tooling parts adjustable rear sets, oil cap, radiator cap, and bar-end weights.
The FTR x RSD Super Hooligan will start at $18,499, and each bike will have an individually numbered commemorative tank console. Find more information at the Indian Motorcycle website.
This is a year of milestones. The AMA is celebrating its 100th anniversary, Rider is celebrating its 50th, and KTM is celebrating “30 Years of Duke.” What started out as one bike in 1994 is now a seven-model lineup, including the 125 Duke, 250 Duke, 390 Duke, 790 Duke, 990 Duke, 1290 Super Duke GT, and 1390 Super Duke R Evo. We tested three new/updated models recently – the 390, 990, and 1390 – and we’ll start off with our KTM 390 Duke review.
Thirty years ago, KTM – then a small Austrian manufacturer of dirtbikes – launched its first street-focused motorcycle, the Duke 620, a supermotard-style bike that was the brainchild of KTM engineer Wolfgang Felber. Starting with a KTM 620 R/XC dual-sport, which had a kickstart-only 602cc Single that made 56 hp, Felber shortened the suspension and gave it 17-inch spoked wheels shod with sticky street tires. Weighing just 315 lb, the flickable, wheelie-happy Duke – named after Geoff Duke, a British GP racer who won multiple world championships – became a cult favorite, a hooligan bike that encouraged a rowdy riding style.
Today, KTM is the biggest brand in the Pierer Mobility empire – Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer that also includes Husqvarna, GasGas, and MV Agusta. Although the “Ready to Race” brand says it prefers to look ahead to the future than dwell on the past, KTM recently honored the Duke legacy by hosting a press launch in Almeria, Spain, for three new/updated models: the 390 Duke, 990 Duke, and 1390 Super Duke R Evo. The launch began with a half-day ride on the 390 Duke, which is the focus of this review.
Launched in Europe in 2013, the 390 Duke made its way to our shores in 2015 (read our road test review). Along with the 125 Duke and 250 Duke, the 390 Duke is made in India by Bajaj under the scrupulous supervision of KTM engineers. Just as KTM’s 790 Duke and 790 Adventure models are made in China by CFMOTO, these strategic partnerships allow KTM to increase its production capacity, keep a lid on ever-increasing labor costs, and gain in-country access to the two largest motorcycle markets in the world.
While the 390 Duke has evolved steadily over the years, the 2024 model represents a major leap forward. Compared to its predecessor, KTM says it is 90% new. Displacement of its liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine has increased from 373cc to 399cc, contributing to a small increase in horsepower (45, up from 44) and torque (28.8 lb-ft, up from 27.3). The updated engine is lighter, has improved cooling yet also warms up faster, and has longer oil-change and valve-inspection service intervals. A larger airbox is located under the seat, and the fuel tank now holds 3.9 gallons, up from 3.6.
The 390’s tubular-steel trellis frame was made stiffer and now has an upper mount for the rear shock, which was moved from the center to the right side and positioned at a more horizontal angle, lowering the seat height from 32.7 to 32.3 inches. A new pressure die-cast aluminum subframe is also stiffer, and the new curved, open-lattice cast-aluminum swingarm has a lower mount on the right side for the shock and is curved to accommodate the tucked-in exhaust.
As before, the 390 Duke’s suspension is made by KTM-owned WP, but for 2024, it is upgraded to higher-spec Apex components. The 43mm inverted fork, held in place by new triple clamps, now offers rebound and compression adjustability with five-position clickers atop the fork caps. The Separate Piston rear shock has five-position rebound adjustability in addition to adjustable preload (both easily done with toolkit stored under the seat). Suspension travel has increased from 5.6 to 5.9 inches in the front and remains 5.9 inches out back.
Revised 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels are shod with new Michelin Power 6 tires, and the combo sheds a remarkable 9.5 lb of unsprung weight. Claimed wet weight for the bike, however, remains the same at 364 lb. Single-disc brakes front and rear are made by Bybre, with a 4-piston radial front caliper pinching a 320mm disc (up from 300mm) and a 1-piston rear caliper with a 240mm disc (up from 230mm). ABS with a rear-off Supermoto mode is standard.
The 390 Duke has a new LED headlight with a DRL surround that’s shaped like the new headlights on the 990 Duke and 1390 Super Duke R Evo, and all three bikes share a 5-inch color TFT display. With an MSRP of $6,299, electronics are typically limited in this price range, but the 390 Duke has throttle-by-wire with two ride modes (Street and Rain) that adjust throttle response and lean-adaptive traction control, as well as new launch control. New switchgear and revised menus on the TFT are easier to use, but multiple buttons must be pushed to change ride mode and other settings. We’d prefer a single button to change ride mode on the fly.
What’s It Like to Ride? | 2024 KTM 390 Duke
I love small sporty bikes, and I have a particular fondness for the 390 Duke. My Duke dalliance started in 2017, when KTM hosted a launch for an updated version of the 390 Duke in Turin, Italy, where we began our test ride by turning laps on a test track with banked curves on the roof of the Lingotto building, a massive five-story structure that was a Fiat factory from 1923 to 1982. Then we buzzed around the streets of Turin before making our way into the foothills of the Alps. Cool location notwithstanding, it was the most fun I’d ever had on such a light, affordable bike. Its MSRP back then was just $5,299.
A year later, we got a 390 Duke for a test on our own turf, and I wrangled the keys away from Jenny Smith long enough to give it a proper thrash.
This time around, it was a cold, clear day in Almeria, Spain, when our multinational group of journalists hopped on a fleet of shiny new 390 Dukes. I chose one in KTM orange, with the bright color found not only on the tank and sharply angled bodywork but also on the seat, frame, and wheels. When I turned on the key, the instrument panel welcomed me with a “30 Years of Duke” animation that’s exclusive to 2024 models. Although the seat is a tad lower, the 390 Duke doesn’t feel dainty or undersized but rather slender and compact.
The 390 Duke is an eager beaver, a fiesty machine that begs to be flogged. Its 399cc Single fires up quickly and settles into a mellow burble at idle, but the ’lil Duke really comes alive when its throttle is twisted WFO. With peak horsepower at 8,500 rpm, peak torque at 7,000 rpm, and a 10,000-rpm redline, it pays to keep the engine spinning. Let the revs drop too much, and it can be hard to regain momentum on a twisty road. Though counterbalanced, the engine gets buzzy at high revs.
And believe you me, Spain has more than its fair share of muy twisty roads.
KTM’s nickname for the 390 Duke is “Corner Rocket,” and it lives up to the name. With just 53.4 inches between the axles, sporty steering geometry, and narrow, grippy tires (110/70 front, 150/60 rear), the 390 turns almost as quickly as your brain’s synapses fire off the command to your hands. A lot of shifting is required to stay in the meat of the powerband, and the 6-speed gearbox with slip/assist clutch does the rider’s bidding with minimal effort. The bikes we were riding had the optional Quickshifter+ installed, allowing us to bang our way up and down through the gears without the clutch.
The new Apex suspension did a good job of soaking up bumps as well as the chassis gyrations of being constantly on and off the gas. Since my 200-plus pounds is above average, I used the hook spanner under the seat to ratchet up the rear preload a few clicks. Likewise, the brakes capably slowed the bike and its oversized cargo, and the adjustable hand levers were appreciated.
After a 75-mile hair-on-fire street ride, we returned to the hotel, where KTM had set up a gymkhana course in the parking lot. Pairs of riders went head-to-head on an out-and-back slalom course, with bragging rights going to the fastest time. I’m not a racer, so even though I beat the other rider, I didn’t bother to ask my time. The fastest journalist was a guy from Australia who sliced and diced the course in 34 seconds. Jeremy McWilliams, the former MotoGP racer, current King Of The Baggers racer for Indian, and development rider for KTM, beat all comers with a 32-second time – while wearing jeans and tennis shoes. Check out his Instagram page to see a photo of him losing the front, which he saved on his way to victory.
Upgrades like ride modes, cornering traction control, and adjustable suspension have pushed the 390 Duke’s price up to $6,299, but it’s still a reasonably priced bike that’s more fun than ever. And it’s certainly worthy of the Duke’s 30-year legacy.
Triumph’s new entry-level machines – the 2024 Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400X – are powered by a liquid-cooled 398cc Single with a 4-valve DOHC cylinder head and have claimed wet weights below 400 lb, making them the smallest and least expensive Triumphs we’ve seen in decades. Similarities between these two Modern Classics are the swingarm, switchgear, display, and 3.4-gallon fuel tank; however, beyond that, the Speed 400 follows in the footsteps of the Speed Twin 900 and 1200 with a roadster aesthetic, while the Scrambler offers the potential for light off-roading with longer suspension, off-road-capable tires, a wider and taller handlebar, and other extras.
To test the bikes, we headed to Spain to attend Triumph’s press launch, swapping between the bikes throughout the day as we rode through city traffic and up into the mountains north of Valencia, even tackling a short gravel section. Watch the video below to see the 2024 Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X in action, and read our full review here.
Triumph Motorcycles has announced its 2024 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer and Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer models, which include further refinements to the engine, enhanced comfort and ergonomics, improved cornering clearance, reduced seat height with Active Preload Reduction as standard, and new colors. The GT Pro and Rally Pro models will not be available in the U.S. market for 2024.
At the unveiling of the new bikes, Triumph’s Global Product Marketing Manager James Wood said that, similar to the recent changes made to the Tiger 900 line, when it came to the 2024 Triumph Tiger 1200, the company is “constantly looking for ways to improve and refine our bikes and always looking to make them better for our riders.”
The Tiger 1200 line still features the liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Triple with DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder and a T-plane crankshaft with a 1-3-2 firing order. The irregular firing sequence gives the engine the feel and tractable response of a Twin down low and the sporty character of a Triple from the midrange to redline. In our 2023 Tiger 1200 GT Pro review, the Jett Tuning dyno showed 130.2 hp at 9,100 rpm and 81.8 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm to the rear wheel through the bike’s shaft final drive.
When asked at the unveiling if Triumph had considered changing the engine configuration, Wood said the T-plane was a “very conscientious decision … because of the extra character it gives you and because of the extra tractability it gives you at low rpm.”
“That is absolutely something that we love about this bike and something we know that customers love about this bike too,” he said. “So it was never an option to be changed to anything else. It’s a really nice engine, especially for adventure-style riding.”
For the 2024 model, Triumph has made further changes to the crankshaft, alternator rotor, and balancer to increase engine inertia, plus some associated engine calibration changes, all with the goal of a smoother and more precise low-rev torque delivery. Triumph says customers will be able to feel the increased smoothness while accelerating or decelerating, especially at low speeds, and that an updated clutch design will create smoother engagement when changing into first gear.
Both Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer models still feature Brembo Stylema braking components, with dual 4-piston monoblock radial front calipers clamping down on 320mm floating discs and a 1-piston rear caliper and 298mm disc. Cornering ABS is standard, as is cornering traction control. The Showa semi-active suspension system has On-Road and Off-Road damping modes, with nine settings ranging from Sport to Comfort within each mode, as well as automatic rear preload adjustment. Travel is 7.9 inches front and rear. The Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer rides on tubeless spoked wheels (21-inch front, 18-inch rear), and the GT Explorer features cast aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 18-inch rear).
The seat on both bikes has been redesigned with a flatter profile, providing more space for the rider, and the accessory low seat reduces the seat height by 0.8 inch from 33.5 inches to 32.7 inches on the GT Explorer and from 34.5 inches to 33.7 inches on the Rally Explorer. Seat height is reduced an additional 0.78 inch by the new Active Preload Reduction feature, which was revealed in August 2023 and offers the rider greater confidence by reducing the rear suspension preload as the Tiger 1200 slows to a stopsimply by pressing the ‘Home’ button on the switch cube for one second.
The cornering clearance of the Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer model has been increased by lifting the footpeg position and moving them closer to the bike, and a longer clutch lever has also been introduced, providing increased space for riders’ fingers, adding further comfort especially on longer journeys.
The Tiger 1200 Explorer technology package includes the Triumph Blind Spot Radar System, 7-inch TFT instrumentation with integrated My Triumph Connectivity System, Shift Assist, heated grips and seats, tire pressure monitoring, Hill Hold, and a keyless system that includes ignition, steering lock, and fuel cap.
Both variants of the Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer models will be available with new colors for 2024. The GT Explorer will be available in Carnival Red, as well as the previous options of Snowdonia White and Sapphire Black. Pricing starts at $23,795. The Rally Explorer will be available in the new Matte Sandstorm and Jet Black options, as well as the popular Matte Khaki. Pricing starts at $24,895.
American Honda has announced the return of its flagship Africa Twin adventure lineup, which has been updated for the new model year. The 2024 Honda Africa Twin will be available in in four variants: the off-road focused Africa Twin and the more on-road focused Adventure Sports ES, both of which will be offered in either a manual transmission or Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) model. The DCT models feature automatic shifting or the option to use paddle shifters, as well as four settings: Drive, Sport 1, Sport 2, and Sport 3.
“The Africa Twin is a mainstay of Honda’s adventure lineup, and we’re happy to bring this platform update to our customers for 2024,” said Brandon Wilson, manager of Racing and Experiential Marketing at American Honda. “With the recent addition of the midsize Transalp, and now this updated Africa Twin, it’s clear that Honda is committed to the adventure category, and to delivering capable machines to fuel enthusiasts’ desire to explore.”
Both the Honda Africa Twin and Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES are powered by a liquid-cooled 1,083 Unicam SOHC parallel-Twin with 4 valves per cylinder and 270-degree crank mated to a 6-speed gearbox and chain final drive. The engine’s intake/exhaust has been redesigned, and compression has been increased to 10.5:1.
Both bikes also feature cruise control and throttle-by-wire with seven levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control and four power delivery modes: Tour, Urban, Gravel, and user-programmable. The Africa Twins have a new five-position windscreen, tubeless tires, and a revised fairing design, and the Adventure Sports ES features heated grips.
Stopping power remains the same on both bikes, with dual 4-piston calipers biting 310mm front discs and a 2-piston caliper and 256mm disc in the rear. Both models have switchable cornering ABS with two modes: on-road or off-road.
For suspension, the Africa Twin still has a 45mm inverted telescopic fork and Pro-Link monoshock, but travel has been reduced to 8.0 inches in front and 8.7 in the back (down from 9.1/8.7, front/rear on the 2022 Africa Twin and Adventure Sports ES). The seat height remains at 34.3 inches for the standard position, with a low position of 33.5 inches. The Africa Twin still rides on 21-inch/18-inch front/rear wheels, and with its 5-gallon tank full, it has a wet weight of 510 lb or 535 lb for DCT.
The Adventure Sports ES also has a 45mm inverted telescopic fork and Pro-Link monoshock, both now with electronic adjustment offering five suspension damper settings: hard, medium, soft, and off-road, as well as a customizable “user” setting. Travel has been reduced to 7.3 inches/7.9 inches, front/back. Seat height has also been lowered to 33.7 inches for the standard position and 32.9 inches for the low position. The Adventure Sports ES has a new 19-inch front wheel (still 18 inches in the rear), a 6.6-gallon tank, and a wet weight of 535 lb or 559 lb for DCT.
The Africa Twins feature a 6.5-inch touch-panel LCD multi-information dash with three display options and compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth.
The 2024 Africa Twin will come in Grand Prix Red starting at $14,799 for the manual transmission and $15,599 for the DCT. The Adventure Sports ES will come in Pearl White starting at $17,599 for the manual transmission and $18,399 for the DCT. Both bikes will be available in May.
Cold temperatures and unexpected weather changes are the reality in the northern latitudes where many of us ride. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for decades, I’ve never used heated apparel before. As I prepared for a multi‑day tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last October, I decided to remedy that situation by ordering an Aerostich Kanetsu Wind Blocker heated motorcycle vest to add some comfort to my late‑season ride. This electric vest gave me the feeling of the warm sun beating down on my back, especially on cold 35‑degree mornings on and off the road.
The Aerostich Kanetsu heated vest, which is made at the company’s factory in Duluth, Minnesota, and uses top‑quality stitching and zippers, proved to be hassle‑free. When ordering the vest, you specify size and the type of connection you need to hook it up to your motorcycle: BMW, SAE, or QuiConnect 2 (coaxial, which has a male‑and‑female connection). The vest’s power draw is 45 watts / 3.3 amps.
A size Large suits my 6‑foot‑2, 175‑lb frame perfectly (a detailed size chart is available on the Aerostich website), and the vest fits well underneath a jacket. It has a longer tail in the back to provide lower‑back coverage when seated in a crouched position. The vest has two pockets: one for storing the power cord and a larger one that the entire vest folds into for convenient stowage or a handy pillow for a roadside nap. Also available are optional zip-off sleeves ($97), which I added to the vest for additional insulation and to transform the vest into a jacket that can be worn off the bike.
With the vest on and powered up, I found the heat to be distributed evenly around my core as well as my neck thanks to the high collar. The power is switched on/off with a large, glove‑friendly lighted pushbutton that can be clipped onto the outside of your riding jacket. The vest provided plenty of warmth, and as the ambient temperature approached 50 degrees, I simply turned off the vest’s heat. Given the ongoing comfort, I found myself experiencing momentary guilt as my riding buddies went through the hassle of layering up and down throughout the changing riding conditions. They got tired of hearing me brag about how warm I was.
There are three versions of the Aerostich Kanetsu heated motorcycle vest: Airvantage ($247), which has an air‑adjustable fit and an outer shell made of Windstopper fabric; Windstopper ($197), also with a Windstopper outer shell; and Wind Blocker ($187), the version I tested, which has an outer shell made of windblocking TLTec fleece. Sizes range from S‑2XL. With this heated vest as a permanent addition to my saddlebag, I now look forward to rides on cold, blustery days.