Keen to get a piece of the action in the always popular liter-sized naked bike scene, Honda debuted an all-new entry in the class with its 2018 CB1000R ($12,999). The CB slots in Big Red’s newly coined Neo Sports segments, which infuses classic styling elements with modern proportions—exuding a true sport appeal.
You won’t hear us dispute the merits of this concept, as both the CB1000R and its affordable little brother, the CB300R are some of the most attractive streetbikes we’ve seen roll out from a Honda showroom. The CB1000R stands out with its liberal use of metal (as opposed to plastic with the 300R) and the exquisite level of fit and finish.
Loaded with all the bells and whistles, the ride-by-wire-equipped Honda employs traction control and adjustable engine power modes that are tweaked through a tasteful-looking digital display and logically designed switch gear. This allows riders to tune the 2006–2007-generation CBR1000RR inline-four engine making it more friendly to wield on the road.
In this week’s MC Commute review, we dive into the positioning of this model and discuss the features and overall riding dynamic of the 2018 CB1000R as we commute to the Motorcyclist magazine office in Southern California. Click the “play” button and see for yourself what it’s like to ride.
Related: 2018 Honda CB1000R First Ride Review
At a glance, the Scrambler XE looks like a classic Triumph. Tidy proportions, a shapely fuel tank. It’s a recipe that’s worked for generations. But see the thing in the flesh and you’ll quickly realize Triumph’s iconic styling hides an entirely new and entirely more capable machine.
It’s bigger, for a start, and in every way. Suspension travel rings in at a startling 9.8 inches, and Triumph tells us this iteration of its eight-valve 1,200cc engine is good for 89 hp and 81 pound-feet of torque. And there’s technology too. The Scrambler XE is equipped with traction control and an inertial measurement unit, which facilitates cornering ABS. The machine has rider-selectable throttle maps. There’s even optional built-in Bluetooth GoPro control functionality for capturing your riding exploits.
Taken together, the $15,400 Scrambler XE bundles some of today’s best adventure-riding tech into a package with Triumph’s classic visual appeal. But how does it hold up to the MC Commute? Ride along with us, and find out.
If you couldn’t tell, Kawasaki is on a retro new motorcycle kick. Case in point, its new W800 Café. The 2019 Kawasaki W800 ($9,799) is an ode to the Green Team’s first big-displacement four-stroke streetbike, the W1.
Released for the 1966 model year, the W1 was coined after popular British bikes at the time, i.e., England’s BSA. Fast-forward to today, and the W800 is the third retro-inspired ride in Kawasaki’s 2019 streetbike lineup following the 2018 release of the Z900RS and Z900RS Café machines.
Over the years Kawasaki offered a remake version with its W650 in Europe and other parts of the world. It also offered a punched-out W800 in Europe. However, for 2019, engineers gave this retro ride a full mechanical makeover while retaining signature pieces and the silhouette that made this bike a knockout in rider’s eyes and on the showroom floor. And the best part? It’s now available in the US.
Its aesthetically pleasing parallel twin engine, with its delicious-looking bevel valvetrain gear, not only sounds the part, but pumps out a steady stream of torque with upwards of 40 pound-feet available from 2,500 rpm. This allows the W800 to squirt off from a stop delivering real acceleration force that you’d expect from a modern bike. From the brakes to the drivetrain, suspension, and LED lighting, it has all been recalibrated to give a truly nostalgic experience, without any of the hassle of maintenance of an old bike.
Tag along for a ride on the W800 Café in this episode of MC Commute and sound off in the comment section below and share with us what you think of this old-school remake.
Yamaha jump-started the liter-class sportbike segment 21 years ago with its original ’98 YZF-R1. Over the years it evolved, at times teetering toward a more street or track focused design depending on model year. But for its 2015 major redesign, Yamaha had its sights set on track performance first and foremost.
Right away it was apparent the Tuning Fork company certainly did its homework, engineering a competent sportbike for setting fast laps at the track. But how does it perform on the road, on the way to work? We find out in this episode of MC Commute.
The YZF-R1 is powered by Yamaha’s ferocious 998cc crossplane-equipped inline-four engine. Compared to other inline-four configurations, Yamaha’s CP4 mill offers a rowdy powerband that feels like a cross between the punchy feel of a V-twin and the screaming high-rpm performance that I-4s are renowned for. On our dyno, the 2015–2018 generation R1 engine belts out over 160 hp at the business end of the Bridgestone Battlax tire.
The engine is hung in a racy chassis with ergonomics that follow the lines of the Doctor’s YZR-M1 bike. It’s also loaded with capable and easy-to-manipulate electronics that truly complement the engine and chassis allowing the rider to set fast laps with ease. For 2018, engineers tweaked the functionality of its wheelie control (Yamaha calls it “Lift” control) as well as adding auto-blip downshift functionality allowing the rider to downshift without the clutch at lean. Will these gizmos help us wield the R1 from stoplight to stoplight? Find out now this episode of MC Commute.
Following last year’s release of Yamaha’s awesome Niken leaning multi-wheeler, the Tuning Fork brand unveils a touring-specific GT variation for 2019. The Niken GT ($17,299) builds upon the lofty levels of comfort and performance that’s ingrained into its unique design, allowing riders to travel farther and more comfortably.
The Niken GT shares the same three-wheel-equipped chassis as the standard Niken. The front end makes use of a pair of 15-inch wheels with fully independent suspension and steering components. Yamaha’s fun-loving 847cc CP3 inline-three powers the Niken GT and is good for upwards of 100 hp. The engine has been retuned slightly (heavier crankshaft) for additional engine torque.
Compared to the standard Niken the GT spec machine gets a larger windscreen as well as heated grips and removable (and lockable) soft luggage. Cruise control is also standard, as is an additional DC power port. The rider and passenger saddles are upgraded and have a thicker, yet more plush design that makes it easy to rack up the miles with ease.
In this episode of MC Commute, we share the backstory behind the Niken and talk about how the idea came to fruition. We also discuss some of its best features and what it’s like to operate on the road. Watch the video and sound off in the comment section below.
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