After BMW announced several changes to the potent in-line four powerplant in its S 1000 RR superbike earlier this year, we figured it was only a matter of time before the tech trickled down to its flagship adventure sport tourer. And sure enough, here comes the 2020 S 1000 XR, lighter, faster and more versatile than ever before.
The big news of course is the RR-derived engine, which pumps out a claimed 165 horsepower at 11,000 rpm and 84 lb-ft of torque at 9,250. Fourth, fifth and sixth gears have longer ratios to reduce noise, fuel consumption and engine speed (hopefully addressing some of the buzziness we’ve noted in our tests — read our review of the 2016 S 1000 XR here). It also now features what BMW calls engine drag torque control (MSR), which reduces rear wheel hopping under hard deceleration.
The suspension, frame and swingarm have all been tweaked to reduce weight, and coupled with the lighter engine the 2020 S 1000 XR is said to weigh just 498 pounds (our 2016 test bike weighed in at 531 pounds).
The list of standard features is long: Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension), four ride modes (Road, Rain, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) with wheelie control, ABS Pro (cornering ABS) with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), 6.5-inch TFT display, LED lighting and Hill Start Control Pro. Options include Dynamic ESA Pro with two damping modes and automatic load compensation, HP Shift Assistant Pro (up and down quickshifter), Headlight Pro with DRL and cornering lights, and electronic cruise control.
The 2020 BMW S 1000 XR will be available in Ice Gray and Racing Red/White Aluminum. U.S. pricing and availability are TBA.
BMW surprised us with two new mid-range models, the 2020 F 900 R and the F 900 XR, both based around a slightly enlarged version of the parallel twin released last year that powers the F 850 GS. With an increase from 853cc to 895cc, BMW says the new engine is good for 105 horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque, and its dual counterbalancers result in a smooth riding experience.
Apart from the engine, the 2020 F 900 R and the F 900 XR also share a steel frame and rear subframe and feature unique lightweight plastic-welded fuel tanks (3.4 gals. for the R, 4.0 gals. for the XR), a 6.5-inch TFT display, LED lighting, two ride modes (Rain and Road), ABS and ASC (Automatic Stability Control) as standard.
Options include Riding Modes Pro, which adds Dynamic and Dynamic Pro ride modes, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), cornering ABS (ABS Pro), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and engine drag torque control (MSR), which prevents rear wheel hop when decelerating. Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension, rear only) is also available as is Headlight Pro, which adds cornering lights, and Keyless Ride.
Both models feature an upside-down fork and rear monoshock, with 5.3 inches of travel at the front, 5.6 at the rear on the F 900 R, and 6.7 front, 6.8 rear on the F 900 XR.
The 2020 F 900 R will be available in Blackstorm Metallic, San Marino Blue Metallic and Hockenheim Silver Metallic/Racing Red. The 2020 F 900XR will be available in Light White, Galvanic Gold Metallic and Racing Red. U.S. pricing and availability are TBA.
In addition to the new 390 Adventure, KTM revealed several new and updated machines at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy this week that should further its reputation as a performance-oriented brand. The 1290 Super Duke R returns to the lineup completely revamped, and a Rally version of the 790 Adventure R promises heaps of off-road ability — both are expected at dealers in February 2020. The cover was also lifted from the new KTM 890 Duke R, which will come to North America in the fall of 2020 as a 2021 model. Details on the latter bike weren’t readily available, but we imagine giving a displacement bump to what appears to essentially be a 790 Duke is to compensate for Euro 5 emissions restrictions.
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R MSRP: $18,699 USD Though the name hasn’t changed, the 2020 1290 Super Duke R is so improved from its predecessor that it’s essentially an all-new motorcycle. Coming in at a claimed 416.6 pounds dry, the bike is said to be lighter and more powerful and have better handling than its predecessor.
Engine An updated more powerful 1,301c LC8 V-twin, with titanium inlet valves and resonator chambers on the cylinder heads, gets new top-feeder injectors and 56mm throttle bodies for improved air/fuel mixture at high rpms. A new ram air intake positioned in the new headlight mask also maximizes flow by forcing air into the combustion chambers. New thinner engine casings and revised water and oil cooler mounts have resulted in a 1.7-pound weight savings, and new exhaust headers optimize gas flow. An updated Pankl gearbox provides quicker shift times, shorter shift action and lighter lever modulation.
Frame A new ultra-lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel frame carries the engine as a stressed member. The combo is said to be 3 times stiffer and 4.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor. A new lighter composite subframe combines a number of functions to save weight and increase functionality, and a longer single-sided swingarm has been repositioned closer to the output sprocket for more control.
Suspension An updated, lighter 48mm WP Apex USD fully adjustable split front fork has separate damping circuits. The newly developed WP Apex rear shock absorber features separate gas and oil reservoirs, making it lighter and more compact than its predecessor. A “no-tools-needed” manual preload dial eases rear shock set-up, and new linkage at the rear helps smooth out rough roads.
Wheels New CAD designed wheels offer a lighter build while keeping strength, and new Bridgestone S22 tires were developed with a specific carcass in the rear for the KTM 1290 Super Duke R that provides a more stable ride in corners, improving grip and performance.
Electronics Reworked and updated ride modes have been designed to be less intrusive in all modes, with smoother anti-wheelie functions. MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control) with Cornering ABS by Bosch includes Supermoto mode, Ride mode technology and multi-stage, lean angle sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC). The lean-angle sensitive MTC uses a 6-axis lean angle sensor and two different controllers to keep things in check. The wheel-slip controller regulates the amount of spin or break in traction at the rear wheel. A pitch angle controller identifies and regulates abrupt changes in front wheel lift.
Optional “Track mode” includes launch control, 9-level spin adjuster, a track ride mode and anti-wheelie off function. Optional “Performance mode” takes the basic concept of “Track mode” but adapts it for the street. An optional dealer-installed Performance Pack combines Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) and Quickshifter+, and cruise control adds long distance convenience. KTM’s Race On keyless system means less hassle and increased security.
Details KTM My Ride is standard on the 1290 Super Duke R and features a Bluetooth connection to the rider’s smartphone to control audio playback and accept phone calls. A new LED headlight and LED daytime running lights improve visibility, and the new multifunctional TFT-dashboard with increased functionality displays information in a clear and bright display. Finally, new colorways and bodywork are aggressive and lean — every panel and plate has been calculated for optimum thickness and minimized wherever possible.
2020 KTM 790 Adventure R Rally MSRP: $19,499 With only 500 units planned for production worldwide, the limited edition KTM 790 Adventure R Rally adds top-line suspension components from WP Pro to make it the most off-road-capable ADV bike in KTM’s lineup. Based on the KTM 790 Adventure R, the Rally model has the same steel trellis chassis, compact LC8c parallel twin engine and the R’s electronic rider aids. The major difference is the addition of the special WP Xplor Pro suspension, which was developed in the same department as WP’s Factory Racing equipment for superior performance. It also adds 30 mm of suspension travel front and back and raises seat height to 35.8 in.
KTM says that the WP Xplor Pro 7548 fork uses cone valve
technology that allows unlimited opening, so harshness of the suspension is
reduced, while the closed cartridge construction ensures reduced friction, consistent
performance over longer periods and improved responsiveness. The WP Xplor Pro
6746 shock absorber uses KTM’s trademark progressive damping system (PDS),
which allows progressive damping without using a linkage for reduced weight and
Other upgrades to the 790 Adventure R Rally include a completely new and unique color scheme, Akrapovic titanium silencer and an off-road-specific air filter from the KTM PowerParts line. The bike also has special high-strength DID Dirt Star rims, a high, race-specific straight seat and Rally footpegs.
2021 890 Duke Here are photos of the 2021 890 Duke. Besides the addition of a passenger seat cowl and bump stop and passenger footpeg delete in this European-version photo (and obvious color and graphic changes), we don’t yet know what else has been changed besides displacement. KTM’s “Scalpel” 790 Duke certainly didn’t lack for power, so perhaps it was done for Euro 2020 reasons…we’ll find out soon enough!
The ranks of lightweight, entry-level adventure bikes will grow by at least one in 2020 with the introduction of KTM’s new 390 Adventure. Ready for touring and light off-roading at a claimed 348 pounds dry with a 33.6-inch seat height, the bike’s high-performance heart is the liquid-cooled, 373cc DOHC single with four valves from the 390 Duke, which has EFI, a balancer shaft, PASC slipper clutch and a Ride-by-Wire throttle for smoother and more refined response. The engine is carried in a steel trellis frame with a bolt-on seat subframe and die-cast, open-lattice swingarm similar to the larger 790 Adventure’s.
The 390 Adventure’s WP Apex 43mm upside-down fork was originally developed for enduro riding and features 6.7 inches of travel with a spring on both sides; compression and rebound damping are separated into the left and right fork legs respectively. The WP Apex shock has 6.9 inches of travel and adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. Extra robust cast wheels — a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear — are fitted with tubeless Continental TKC 70 tires for a blend of street performance and off-road grip.
The 390’s Bybre brake package includes a 320mm front brake disc and 4-piston radially mounted front caliper, and a 230mm rear disc with a 2-piston floating rear caliper. An ergonomically designed 3.8-gallon fuel tank gives the 390 Adventure a claimed range of more than 249 miles. Rider aids include Off-Road and Cornering ABS and Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC), and the 390 Adventure comes standard with an adjustable windscreen, LED lighting and KTM My Ride, which allows for a Bluetooth connection to control incoming calls and an audio player through the full-color, 5-inch TFT display with multifunctional dashboard. An up/down Quickshifter + is optional for the 390 Adventure, along with a number of KTM Power Parts accessories. The 2020 KTM 390 Adventure is priced at $6,199; availability is TBD.
Harley-Davidson made some waves at EICMA this week, showing off two models it teased in 2018, the Pan-America adventure-tourer and the Bronx streetfighter. Both are powered by a new liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin engine platform called the Revolution Max — 1,250cc in the Pan America and 975cc in the Bronx. Harley also confirmed that both models will launch in late 2020.
The Revolution Max is a bold new step for a company invested so heavily in (air-cooled) tradition — although perhaps not as bold as its LiveWire electric motorcycle unveiled earlier this year and now on sale at H-D dealerships nationwide. (Read our First Ride Review here.) Harley says the Revolution Max is designed to minimize weight and maximize performance, with a narrow profile that integrates into the bike as a stressed member of the frame. It also features a counter-balancer for smooth and comfortable operation.
Harley claims performance targets of more than 145 horsepower and 90 lb-ft of torque from the Revolution Max 1250, and more than 115 horsepower and 70 lb-ft of torque from the Revolution Max 975.
A few other details about the new Pan America and Bronx were released as well, including a collaboration with Brembo to create a new radial monoblock caliper that complements Harley’s unique design, and a continuing partnership with Michelin to develop co-branded tires specifically for each model.
Thanks to a smattering of new images (scroll down to see them all), we can also glean a bit more info about the new bikes.
Suzuki has announced updates for its lineup of big V-Stroms, including a nomenclature change from 1000 to 1050. The 2020 V-Strom 1050, V-Strom 1050XT and V-Strom 1050XT Adventure feature sharper styling with bold, bright paint schemes that reflect Suzuki’s historical race livery, and a few technological updates.
At the heart of each Strom is the tried-and-true 1037cc 90-degree V-twin that Suzuki says has been updated with more horsepower while still complying with worldwide emissions standards. Ride-by-wire with dual electronic throttle assemblies powers a revised traction control system with an additional ride mode (for a total of four), a new three-mode Drive Mode Selector that adjusts power delivery characteristics and the addition of Suzuki’s one-touch Easy Start System. There is also a new LCD instrument with mounting bar for a GPS and a new USB port.
The base V-Strom 1050 rolls on cast wheels, but the V-Strom 1050XT and 1050XT Adventure both include tubeless spoked wheels for more off-road endeavors. They also feature the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) with a new six-direction, three-axis IMU. The S.I.R.S. includes electronic cruise control and an updated cornering ABS and combined braking system that now includes Hill Hold Control and a Slope Dependent Control System that manages rear wheel lift when riding downhill.
Both the V-Strom 1050XT and 1050XT Adventure also come with a redesigned windscreen, hand guards and mirrors, a new height-adjustable two-piece seat, a centerstand, engine guards and more.
The 2020 V-Strom 1050XT will be available in two colors, Championship Yellow and Orange and White. The V-Strom 1050XT Adventure will be available in Glass Sparkle Black and includes quick-release aluminum panniers and heated grips. Pricing and availability on all three models is TBD.
Ducati has announced its entire 2020 motorcycle lineup, which includes new models such as the Streetfighter V4 and V4 S and the Panigale V2, updates to its Panigale V4 and V4 S, a new version of the Multistrada 1260 S called the Grand Tour and the Scrambler Icon Dark.
After a four-year absence, the Streetfighter returns for
2020 and is now a naked version of the Panigale V4 with an upright handlebar. Its
1,103cc Desmosedici Stradale V4 makes a claimed 208 horsepower at 12,750 rpm
and 90 lb-ft of torque at 11,500 rpm. Features include “biplane wing”
aerodynamics, a full IMU-based electronics package with riding modes, fully
adjustable suspension (Showa Big Piston Fork, Sachs shock), a Sachs steering
damper, Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers, Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II
tires, a TFT display and LED lighting. With its 4.23-gallon aluminum tank full,
the Streetfighter V4 is said to weigh 443 pounds.
The higher-spec Streetfighter V4 S gets Ducati Electronic
Suspension (DES) EVO, Öhlins suspension (NIX-30 fork, TTX 36 shock and steering
damper) with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 control system and forged aluminum Marchesini
wheels, and claimed curb weight is 439 pounds.
Both the Streetfighter V4 and Streetfighter V4 S come in
Ducati Red with a dark gray frame and black wheels. Pricing and availability
2020 Ducati Panigale V2
The Panigale 959 has been renamed the Panigale V2, and it’s
powered by a Euro 5-compliant version of the 955cc Superquadro L-twin that
makes a claimed 155 horsepower at 10,750 rpm and 77 lb-ft of torque at 9,000
rpm. For 2020 the Panigale V2 gets all-new bodywork, a full IMU-based electronics
package with riding modes, fully adjustable suspension (Showa Big Piston Fork,
Sachs shock), a Sachs steering damper, Brembo M4.32 monoblock front calipers, Pirelli
Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires, a TFT display and LED lighting. With its 4.5-gallon
steel tank full, the Panigale V2 weighs a claimed 441 pounds. The only color
option is Ducati Red with black wheels; pricing and availability are TBD.
2020 Ducati Panigale V4 and V4 S
Introduced for 2018 as the first mass-produced Ducati to incorporate a 4-cylinder engine, the Panigale V4 and V4 S have been updated for 2020 with “a series of refinements [that] make for an easier, more user-friendly, less fatiguing ride while simultaneously making the bike faster not just on individual laps but over entire timed sessions.” Adapted from the Panigale V4 R, the V4 and V4 S get a new aerodynamics package for improved stability, modified Front Frame stiffness for better feel at full lean and new settings for the electronics, suspension and throttle-by-wire mapping.
The Panigale V4 and V4 S are powered by a version of the 1,103cc
Desmosedici Stradale V4 with “new rider torque demand control logic” that makes
a claimed 214 horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 91.5 lb-ft of torque at 10,000 rpm.
The Panigale V4 features a full IMU-based electronics package with riding
modes, fully adjustable suspension (Showa Big Piston Fork, Sachs shock), a
Sachs steering damper, Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa
SP tires, a TFT display and LED lighting. With its 4.23-gallon aluminum tank
full, claimed curb weight for the Panigale V4 is 436 pounds.
The higher-spec Panigale V4 S gets Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO, Öhlins suspension (NIX-30 fork, TTX 36 shock and steering damper) with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 control system, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, a lithium-ion battery and sports grips. Claimed curb weight is 430 pounds.
Both the Panigale V4 and Panigale V4 S come in Ducati Red
with a dark gray frame and black wheels. Pricing and availability are TBD.
2020 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour
Joining Ducati’s adventure bike family for 2020 is the Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour, a special version with enhanced style and touring capability. Powered by the 1,262cc Testastretta DVT L-twin that makes a claimed 158 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 95 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm, the Grand Tour features riding modes that adjust power, throttle response, ABS and traction control settings, a full suite of IMU-based electronics (cornering ABS and traction control, cornering lights, wheelie control), semi-active Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evolution, an up/down quickshifter, hill hold control, cruise control, Brembo M50 monoblock front calipers, a TFT display and the Ducati Multimedia System. The rider’s seat height is adjustable, and the Grand Tour comes standard with a centerstand, hard saddlebags, heated grips, a keyless gas cap and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The 2020 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour comes in Sandstone Grey with Ducati Red trims, red frame and black wheels with Ducati red trims. Pricing and availability are TBD.
Returning for 2020 are the Multistrada 950, Multistrada 950 S, Multistrada 1260, Multistrada 1260 S, Multistrada 1260 S D|Air, Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak and Multistrada 1260 Enduro.
2020 Ducati Scrambler Icon Dark
Joining the Icon, Full Throttle, Café Racer and Desert Sled
in Ducati’s 803cc air-cooled Scrambler lineup is the Icon Dark, a matte black
version with a black frame and black seat with gray piping. All Ducati
Scramblers are Euro 5 compliant without any loss in performance, and cornering
ABS is standard equipment.
Other returning Ducati models for 2020 include (pricing and availability are TBD):
Back in 2016 Honda launched a reboot of the Africa Twin, a
legendary, ’80s-era, Dakar-inspired dual-sport that never made it to the U.S. Sharing
the “CRF” model designation with Honda’s line of off-road bikes made it clear
that the all-new CRF1000L Africa Twin was designed to be just as capable off
the pavement as on it.
Powered by a snappy 998cc parallel twin, the Africa Twin shared
DNA with Honda’s Dakar competition bike, the CRF450R Rally, with a semi-double
cradle frame, 21-inch front/18-inch rear spoked wheels with tube-type tires, extra-long
suspension travel (9.1 inches front, 8.7 inches rear) and nearly 10 inches of
ground clearance. It was offered as a standard model with a 6-speed manual
transmission with an assist-and-slipper clutch, or as a DCT model with Honda’s
Dual Clutch Transmission with automatic and manual modes.
For 2018, Honda introduced a more touring oriented version
called the Africa Twin Adventure Sports, which benefited from engine updates, a
lightweight lithium-ion battery, throttle-by-wire with riding modes, an extra
inch of suspension travel, a 1.4-gallon larger fuel tank (6.4 gallons), a taller
windscreen, a taller handlebar and other cosmetic, ergonomic and functional
There’s been buzz for a while now something new coming down
the pike, and today Honda announced the new 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin and
CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES. Both get a larger, more powerful
engine, a more advanced suite of electronic rider aids and other updates. The
standard Africa Twin is geared more toward off-road performance, while the
Adventure Sports ES is designed to deliver more comfort and confidence for
The liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twin powering both Africa
Twin models gets an 86cc bump in displacement, to 1,084cc, which, along with along
with improved intake and exhaust systems, results in a claimed 6% increase in horsepower.
The frame has been updated for optimized handling, the rear subframe is now made
of aluminum construction and is detachable, and the CRF450R-style aluminum swingarm
is lighter and more rigid.
A six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) enables new rider
aids including wheelie control, cornering ABS, rear-lift control, DCT cornering
detection and cornering lights. A new 6.5-inch TFT color touchscreen display is
compatible with Apple CarPlay, and cruise control is standard on both models.
2020 Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin
The 2020 Honda Africa Twin features a shorter, fixed
windscreen and a 5-gallon fuel tank. It will be available in March 2020 in
Matte Black Metallic for $14,399 with a 6-speed transmission or $15,199 with
2020 Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES
The 2020 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES features new Showa
Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment suspension (EERA), tubeless wheels,
heated grips, an accessory socket, a larger skid plate, an aluminum rear rack
and a 6.5-gallon tank. It will be available in March 2020 in Pricing Pearl
Glare White/Blue for $17,199 with a 6-speed transmission or $17,999 with DCT.
Suzuki has announced new and returning models for its 2020 motorcycle lineup. New models include the modern interpretation of the iconic Katana sportbike, which we test rode in Japan and reviewed last spring, and the V-Strom 650XT Adventure.
All other returning models for 2020 are unchanged except for colors and pricing.
Based on the GSX-S1000 naked sportbike and powered by a liquid-cooled,
DOHC, 999cc in-line four that’s a modified, street-tuned version of the
GSX-R1000 K5 (2005-2008) engine, making 147 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 80
lb-ft of torque at 9,500 rpm (claimed), the new Katana is based on the Katana
3.0 Concept created by Italian designer Rodolfo Frascoli.
Read about the history of the original, Hans Muth-designed 1981 GSX1100S Katana and the evolution of the new model in our First Ride Review. The 2020 Suzuki Katana will be available in Metallic Mystic Silver or Solid Black. Pricing starts at is $13,499 and it will be in dealerships in November.
2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Adventure
Replacing the V-Strom 650XT Touring for 2020 is the V-Strom 650XT Adventure, which is equipped with tubeless spoked wheels, aluminum panniers, an accessory bar, a handlebar cross-brace, mirror extensions and a centerstand. Powered by a 645cc 90-degree V-twin, it is mechanically unchanged from the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT we last tested.
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom XT Adventure will be available in
Pearl Vigor Blue and base MSRP is $10,399.
The rest are returning models….
2020 Suzuki Burgman 200
For 2020, the Suzuki Burgman 200 scooter is available in
Pearl Brilliant White and base MSRP is $4,999.
2020 Suzuki Boulevard C50
For 2020, the Suzuki Boulevard C50 cruiser is available in
Candy Daring Red or Glass Sparkle Black and base MSRP is $8,299.
2020 Suzuki Boulevard C50T
For 2020, the Suzuki Boulevard C50T touring cruiser is
available in Metallic Oort Gray No. 3 and base MSRP is $9,599.
2020 Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S.
For 2020, the Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S. muscle cruiser
is available in Pearl Glacier White/Glass Sparkle Black or Metallic Oort
Gray/Glass Sparkle Black and base MSRP is $15,199.
2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S
For 2020, the Suzuki DR-Z400S dual-sport is available in Solid
Black and base MSRP is $6,799.
2020 Suzuki DR-Z400SM
For 2020, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM supermoto is available in Solid
Iron Gray or Solid Special White No. 2 and base MSRP is $7,399.
2020 Suzuki DR200S
For 2020, the Suzuki DR200S dual-sport is available in Solid
Iron Gray and base MSRP is $4,649.
2020 Suzuki GSX-R600
For 2020, the Suzuki GSX-R600 sportbike is available in Pearl
Glacier White or Glass Sparkle Black and base MSRP is $11,399.
2020 Suzuki GSX-R750
For 2020, the Suzuki GSX-R750 sportbike is available in Pearl
Glacier White/Glass Sparkle Black or Metallic Mat Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle
Black and base MSRP is $12,499.
2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000
For 2020, the Suzuki GSX-R1000 sportbike is available in Metallic
Mat Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle Black or Pearl Glacier White/Glass Sparkle Black and
MSRP is $15,599.
It’s seldom (if ever) easy to pick a Motorcycle of the Year…not that anyone ever feels sorry for us and our “but we had to ride so many motorcycles” tale of woe. For example, we took our initial ride on the first of this model year’s crop of Contenders, the Yamaha Niken, way back in May of 2018. We can’t even remember what we had for dinner last Tuesday, but fortunately Yamaha jogged our memories of the bike by unveiling the tour-ready GT version of its three-wheeled LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) in April 2019.
In the interim, Royal Enfield released a pair of highly anticipated 650 twins, designed, tested and engineered at its brand-spanking-new R&D facility in England and built at one of its sprawling factories in India. Triumph showed off its truly off-road capable yet still pleasantly retro Scrambler 1200 XC and XE. Harley-Davidson, meanwhile, was creating a lot of very different noise with its LiveWire electric motorcycle, but as a 2020 model it’s not eligible for this year’s award. The rightful successor to the dearly departed V-Rod, the dragbike-inspired FXDR 114, is a 2019 contender though. At the decidedly non-dragbike-inspired end of the motorcycle spectrum, Honda, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in the U.S. this year, brought us two absolutely adorable throwback models designed to both tug at Boomer heartstrings and appeal to vintage-loving Millennials, the Monkey and the Super Cub. Indian tapped into another vein of nostalgia and good ol’ Americana with its FTR 1200 S flat-track replica, one of the best-performing American bikes we’ve ridden in a while. Meanwhile BMW managed to improve once again on its bestseller by introducing the R 1250 GS, and Suzuki did the same with its venerable V-Strom 650 XT Touring.
So no, it’s never easy. That said, one machine stood out above the rest as our pick for the 2019 Motorcycle of the Year, and not just because it’s capable of scrabbling to the top of a mountain—then carrying you and your stuff comfortably home again. Our choice, as always, goes to a machine that succeeds best at its intent and could be considered a game-changer in its category. We celebrate all new motorcycles, as they each represent the opportunity to get more people on two wheels, experiencing this great adventure we know and love. Congratulations to all the manufacturers, and thank you for keeping our passion alive!
BMW’s big GS
gets ShiftCam variable valve timing that broadens the powerband, increases fuel
efficiency and decreases emissions, a full-color TFT display, updated
electronics and a bump in displacement (and power) from 1,170 to 1,254cc, making what was already arguably one of the
best all-around motorcycles even better.
The V-Rod is dead, long live
the V-Rod! Well, sort of. The newest member of the Softail family is a long,
lean power cruiser that channels the spirit of the VRSC V-Rod, with a 114ci
Milwaukee-Eight V-twin, raked-out cartridge-style USD fork, 33 degrees of lean
angle and a 240-section rear tire wrapped around a solid-disc rear wheel.
years ago, the original Super Cub proved that motorcycles needn’t be feared by
the masses, and this new version continues to make good on that promise, with a
4-speed semi-automatic gearbox, 244-pound wet weight, timeless styling and
modern conveniences like keyless ignition and ABS on the front brake.
The FTR 1200 S is a light, fast, agile street tracker
inspired by Indian’s championship-winning race bike. It’s also a breath of
fresh, young air in the cruiser orthodoxy that’s dominated American-made
motorcycles for decades, and features include a liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin and
a six-axis IMU-based electronics package.
The Interceptor 650 and Continental GT are completely new,
the first global models for India-based Royal Enfield and the first to be
designed, tested and engineered at its new facility in England. Powered by an
air/oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin, both bikes manage to evoke the simple
pleasure of riding for riding’s sake.
While we haven’t yet ridden
the 2019 version, we’ve spent many thousands of miles aboard Wee Stroms, and
this is the best-equipped one yet. With tubeless spoked wheels, locking side
cases, hand guards, a centerstand, cruise control, ABS, Easy Start and Low RPM
Assist, it’s ready to take on almost any adventure for just $9,999.
Most modern scramblers talk the talk, but don’t walk the
walk of off-road capability. Enter the Scrambler 1200, a full-on adventure bike
with minimalist, retro styling—and a 21-inch front, nearly 10 inches of Öhlins
suspension travel on the up-spec XE model, multiple riding modes, switchable
ABS and traction control.
They’re a bold, groundbreaking move from Yamaha, and they nearly snagged our top honor. The Niken and Niken GT, based around the Tracer 900—a fantastic bike in its own right—work surprisingly well, with ridiculous front-end grip that must be experienced to be believed and that lovely 847cc in-line triple at their hearts.
It’s no secret that adventure
bikes are exploding in popularity, as riders discover the utility and versatility
of their combination of upright seating position, decent ground clearance and
suspension travel, wind protection, the ability to carry luggage and, to
varying degrees, venture off-pavement. ADV bikes have been getting increasingly
bloated, however, bigger, more powerful—and heavier—each model year. Hard-core
ADV-ers have been clamoring for years, begging for a bike that returns
adventure riding to its truly adventurous roots. Something lightweight and
trail-capable, yet with enough elemental protection, power and luggage capacity
to comfortably travel cross-country, and modern fuel injection and electronic
rider aids wouldn’t hurt.
At long last, KTM answered
the call, and what an answer it is. The 790 Adventure and its even more
off-road-oriented R sibling manage to check all the boxes: light weight at a
claimed 417 pounds dry, a state-of-the-art 799cc liquid-cooled, DOHC LC8
parallel twin that produces a claimed 95 horsepower and 65.6 lb-ft of torque
delivered low in the rev range for optimum grunt, and spoked tubeless wheels in
21-inch front/18-inch rear sizes. The standard, more touring-oriented model has
a still-respectable 7.9 inches of travel from its WP Apex suspension and a
fairly accessible, adjustable seat height of 32.7/33.5 inches. Multiple riding
modes (Street, Offroad and Rain) adjust throttle response and lean-angle
sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) settings, and power reaches the
rear wheel by way of an assist-and-slipper clutch, a 6-speed transmission and
chain final drive. The more off-road-oriented R model gets a Rally ride mode,
fully adjustable WP Xplor suspension with 9.4 inches of travel and a 34.6-inch
A defining characteristic of
the 790 Adventure is its rally racer-inspired, 5.3-gallon horseshoe-shaped gas
tank, which keeps the bike’s center of gravity low, creates less bulk between
the knees for stand-up riding and makes air filter, battery and fuse access
easy, plus it does double-duty as engine protection in case of a tip-over.
On paper the 790 Adventure is
impressive, and riding it is confirmation; the seat is flat, spacious and
comfortable, the wide handlebar is six-position adjustable and the long-travel
suspension soaks up road irregularities at high and low speeds. Bosch 9.1 MP
cornering ABS backs up powerful brakes and many useful features are standard,
such as an aluminum skid plate, a 12V dash socket and an underseat USB port.
Cruise control, a centerstand, a quickshifter, heated grips and TPMS are
At long last, the empty slot
between a street-legal enduro and an open-class ADV tourer has been filled, and
that sound you hear is the cheering of all those riders looking for a bike to
rule both mountain and highway.
Congratulations KTM, for the 2019 790 Adventure, Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year!