Indian Motorcycle, America’s first motorcycle company, and Jack Daniel’s, America’s first registered distillery, along with Klock Werks Kustom Cycles, have partnered to create the 2022 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse. Marking the sixth year of the partnership and limited-edition series, the latest model draws inspiration from Jack Daniel’s renowned Tennessee Rye whiskey.
With only 107 available globally, the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse makes a one-of-a-kind statement. Its custom Rye Metallic paint with gold and green accents nod to the high-touch crafting process of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye whiskey, while the bike’s premium amenities and state-of-the-art technology deliver unmatched comfort and performance.
“We’re proud to continue this unique partnership with Jack Daniel’s and Klock Werks – two respected brands with whom we share the age-old American ethos of uncompromising quality and craftsmanship,” said Aaron Jax, Vice President for Indian Motorcycle. “The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse takes our award-winning bagger to an even higher level, representing the highest levels of premium technology and craftsmanship – just as Jack Daniel’s has done with its Tennessee Rye whiskey.”
With custom-inspired style and technology at the forefront, key features for the 2022 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse include the following:
Bold, Exclusive Design The attention to detail and spirit of innovation that has made Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye whiskey a bold, unique success has been imparted throughout the design of the limited-edition motorcycle. Along with its custom paint, the motorcycle features a numbered Jack Daniel’s Montana Silversmiths badge, custom engraved rider and passenger floorboards, and a genuine leather, Jack Daniel’s custom-stitched seat.
Premium Amenities & Technology Premium features aboard the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse, include a Pathfinder Adaptive LED Headlight and Pathfinder S LED Driving Lights, electronically adjustable rear suspension preload, Powerband Audio, a stylish flared windscreen, low-rise handlebar, and more.
Pathfinder Adaptive LED Headlight and Pathfinder S LED Driving Lights The adaptive headlight from Indian Motorcycle senses the bike’s lean angle and activates individual LED projector beams to provide unprecedented visibility. With 15 individual LED lenses that adjust in real-time to bike lean angle, patent pending technology, and the industry’s first adaptive high-beam feature, the Pathfinder Adaptive LED Headlight delivers unparalleled illumination of the road ahead – whether upright and traveling in a straight line or leaned over to carve a turn.
Fox Electronically Adjustable Rear Suspension Preload The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse has Fox electronically adjustable rear suspension preload which allows riders to adjust their rear suspension preload from the convenience of their infotainment system. To do this, riders will select if there’s a passenger and simply enter the approximate weight of what is being carried on the motorcycle. The electronically adjustable rear suspension preload handles the rest and sets the preload for optimal riding and handling.
Powerband Audio Loud and clear. The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse features the premier Indian Motorcycle sound system, Powerband Audio. With upgraded fairing speakers and added saddlebag speakers, Powerband Audio is up to 50% louder than stock audio.
Ride Command Riders will also receive the luxuries of the Indian Motorcycle industry-leading seven-inch display powered by Ride Command with Apple CarPlay, which delivers an easier, more customized level of control for music, navigation preferences, and mobile device information. In addition, Ride Command provides riders with traffic and weather overlays, key vehicle information, and extensive customization capabilities.
PowerPlus Liquid-Cooled V-Twin Featuring the liquid- cooled, 108-cubic-inch PowerPlus engine, the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse delivers a class-leading 122 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.
Riders looking to add custom style and improve sound can add a PowerPlus Stage 1 Air Intake with the Indian Motorcycle Stage 1 Oval Slip-On Muffler Kit. To unleash 10% more horsepower and 3% more torque, riders can upgrade to the Indian Motorcycle PowerPlus Stage 2 Performance Cams.
“Just as the Indian Challenger breaks the mold for American baggers, so does our Tennessee Rye for American whiskey with its unique distilling process and bold finish,” said Greg Luehrs, sponsorships and partnerships director for Jack Daniel’s. “This year’s bike perfectly embodies what our rye is all about – innovation and a relentless, uncompromising drive to craft American products of the highest quality.”
Each Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse will come with a custom, co-branded bike mat with the corresponding motorcycle number (#001-#107).
Starting at $36,999, the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse is exclusively available through Indian Motorcycle dealerships. The order window opens on October 21, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. EST, and will close once all bikes are sold. Each Indian Motorcycle dealer will have a chance to place orders during the window and will then contact the lucky buyers when the order has been confirmed. To ensure the rider is in contention for a purchase, each customer needs to fill out the form on IndianMotorcycle.com and contact their Indian Motorcycle dealership. Each bike will be built as a model year 2022 with delivery starting October 2021.
Kawasaki has announced a new “SE” version of its retro-styled Z900RS for 2022, which features upgraded suspension and brakes. Up front are new radial-mount monoblock Brembo M4.32 calipers and new settings for the fully adjustable inverted fork, which now sports gold legs. Out back is a new fully adjustable Öhlins S46 rear shock with a remote preload adjuster.
Also new on the 2022 Kawasaki Z900RS is a new “Yellow Ball” color scheme, with Metallic Diablo Black paint, yellow highlights on the teardrop tank and rear fender, and fetching gold wheels.
At the heart of the Z900RS SE is a liquid-cooled, 948cc, 16-valve, inline-Four, which made 100 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 67.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel in our 2020 comparison test. This lightweight and compact engine spools up quickly and delivers solid and smooth performance when pushed but is versatile enough to be ridden in traffic with ease. The high-tensile steel trellis frame has received revisions at the swingarm pivot point, which is now stronger.
A fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork offers 10 clicks of compression adjustment, 12 clicks of rebound adjustment, and a stepless preload adjuster. At the rear, the RS is fitted with a horizontal backlink Öhlins S46 shock with a remote preload adjuster. The shock is linked to an extruded lightweight aluminum swingarm to maximize handling, with the linkage placed atop the swingarm helps to centralize the weight.
Braking is provided by a pair of radial-mount monoblock Brembo 4-piston M4.32 front calipers squeezing 300mm petal discs with a Nissin radial-pump master cylinder. Out back, a 2-piston caliper squeezes a 250mm petal disc. ABS and stainless-steel braided lines are standard.
In keeping with the classic styling, the Z900RS SE is equipped with cast flat spoke wheels, finished in gold, to resemble traditional wire-spoked wheels. Dunlop GPR-300 tires further add to the retro credentials.
The Z900RS SE features a large-diameter round LED headlight with a convex lens and chrome ring, adding to the retro look without compromising on lighting. LEDs have replaced all the lights except for the turnsignals. A dual-dial analog instrument cluster is coupled with a multi-function LCD screen for retro-style with modern functionality. The LCD features white letters on a black background and includes a gear position indicator.
Much like the sporty bikes of the ’70s, the Z900RS SE has a relaxed, upright riding position. A wide flat handlebar means the grips are 30mm wider, 65mm higher, and 35mm closer to the rider compared to the sportier Z900, partly thanks to the raised upper-triple clamp. The footpegs are also 20mm lower and 20mm farther forward, enhancing the relaxed riding position. Rubber-mounted bar ends help dampen vibrations in the bars, and both the clutch and brake levers are 5-way adjustable to help accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes.
The slim fuel tank is narrow at the rear, which allows for easy knee gripping. A low seat height, combined with a slim design, adds to the rider’s ability to place both feet on the ground when stopped.
A full range of Kawasaki accessories is available to give owners the option to add to the motorcycle’s iconic, old-school feel, including a tank emblem set, black, gold, or silver oil filler caps, front axle slider, tank pad, frame slider set, center stand, passenger grab bar and more.
2022 Kawasaki Z900RS SE Specs
Base Price: $13,449 Website:kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 948cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 56.0 mm Horsepower: 100 @ 8,500 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 67.5 lb-ft @ 6,700 rpm (2020 Z900, rear-wheel dyno) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 57.9 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 32.9 in. Wet Weight: 474 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
Fifty years ago, Ducati introduced its first air-cooled twin-cylinder engine, on the 1971 Ducati 750 GT. The new 2022 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro pays homage to this milestone with special livery and a 1,079cc air-cooled L-Twin that makes a claimed 86 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 66.5 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm.
The Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro wears striking “Giallo Ocra” yellow paint, which was used on the 1972 450 Desmo Mono and 750 Sport. The sides of the fuel tank feature the iconic 1970s-era Ducati logo that was designed by Giugiaro, and the same font is used to spell “Scrambler” on the top of the tank. Other styling details include black spoked wheels, round mirrors, and a brown seat with special stitching.
Though honoring the past, the Tribute edition has the modern features found in Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 Pro line, including three riding modes, multi-level traction control, cornering ABS, a headlight with a distinctive LED ring, and the Ducati Multimedia System. There’s a USB socket for mobile phone charging under the seat.
The 2022 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro has a steel trellis frame, an aluminum subframe, a cast aluminum swingarm, and spoked wheels (18-inch front, 17-inch rear) shod with Pirelli MT60 RS tires. Suspension includes a fully adjustable 45mm inverted Marzocchi fork and an adjustable Kayaba shock with a progressive linkage. The front brakes are radial-mount monoblock Brembo M4.32 calipers squeezing 320mm discs.
Pricing starts at $13,995.
2022 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro
Base Price: $13,995 Website:ducati.com Engine Type: Air/oil-cooled, transverse 90-degree L-Twin, desmodromic DOHC w/ 2 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,079cc Bore x Stroke: 98.0 x 71.0mm Horsepower: 86 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm Torque: 66.5 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 59.6 in. Rake/Trail: 24.5 degrees/4.4 in. Seat Height: 31.9 in. Wet Weight: 465 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gals.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230S is still a durable, simple dual-sport, but now you don’t have to be a giant to get your boots on the ground.
Designed to appeal to novice riders on a budget or experienced riders looking for a lightweight, dual-sport machine, Kawasaki first released the KLX230 in 2020, and in most aspects, it lived up to its design goals. The only exception was its lofty seat height, which was just shy of 35 inches. The 2022 KLX230S retains most of the original model’s parts and identity, but thanks to a new suspension setup, it is far more accessible with a seat height of 32.7 inches.
The 230’s softly sprung front fork has been shortened by a total of 2.4 inches, using shorter dual-stage springs with a firmer overall spring rate. The shorter fork on the 230S still provides a respectable 6.2 inches of travel and should reduce front-end dive during firm braking. A revised rear shock, also shorter with a stiffer spring rate provides 6.6 (down from 8.8) inches of travel that Kawasaki says improves handling and bump absorption.
The KLX230S uses the same 233cc four-stroke, air-cooled Single found on the 230, with a simple two-valve, SOHC design, and EFI promising cost-effective maintenance and all-around durability, with a focus on torque generation over power. A close-ratio, 6-speed transmission should handle most trails but still enable the 230S to cruise at a reasonable pace on open roads.
Kawasaki designed the high-tensile steel perimeter frame around the engine, which allowed it to be mounted lower in the chassis to deliver a low center-of-gravity, coupled with a short 53.5-inch wheelbase. The KLX230S should be an easy, nimble bike to ride.
Light aluminum wheels – a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear – promise easy handling and add to the KLX’s off-road potential. Single petal disc brakes measure 240mm at the front, gripped by a 2-piston caliper, and 220mm with a 1-piston caliper at the rear. Optional, factory-fitted ABS is tuned for dual-sport riding.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230S is fitted with a 1.9-gallon fuel tank and should keep this sipper on the move for as long as you might reasonably expect, although the simple instrument dash also includes a low-fuel warning lamp. The new KLX230S is available in Lime Green with an MSRP of $4,799, while the ABS is available in the Lime and in an Urban Olive Green/Ebony color option, with an MSRP of $5,099.
We test the 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT, which won Rider’s 2021 Motorcycle of the Year award. It’s a fully featured sport-tourer powered by an 890cc inline-Triple that makes 108 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft of torque at 7,200 rpm at the rear wheel. MSRP is $14,899.
For 2021, the new Tracer 9 GT gets the larger crossplane Triple from the MT-09, which is lighter, more fuel efficient, and more powerful. An all-new aluminum frame is made using a controlled-fill diecast process that reduces mass and increases rigidity. A new aluminum swingarm is more rigid, and a new steel subframe increases load capacity and allows an accessory top trunk to be mounted along with the larger 30-liter saddlebags. New spinforged wheels reduce unsprung weight, and they’re shod with grippy Bridgestone Battlax T32 GT sport-touring tires.
In addition to updated throttle response modes and all-new KYB semi-active suspension, the Tracer 9 GT now has a 6-axis IMU that enables a suite of electronic rider aids adapted from the YZF-R1, including lean-angle-sensitive traction control, ABS, slide control, and lift control. It also has full LED lighting (including cornering lights) and a new dual-screen TFT display. The rider/passenger seats have been upgraded, and the rider’s ergonomics are adjustable.
Check out our video review:
2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT Specs
Base Price: $14,899 Website:yamahamotorsports.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 890cc Horsepower: 108 @ 10,000 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 63 lb-ft @ 7,200 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Bore x Stroke: 78.0mm x 62.1mm Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 59.1 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 31.9/32.5 in. Wet Weight: 503 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals. Fuel Consumption: 48.7 mpg Estimated Range: 243 miles
Triumph has released an exciting new middleweight sport-tourer, the 2022 Tiger Sport 660. The new Tiger Sport will share the engine from the new Trident released earlier this year, and Triumph claims this is the first triple to make its way into the middleweight sport-touring segment.
Triumph sees the new model appealing to two groups of motorcyclists, newer riders moving up to a bigger bike, and veteran riders looking for a thrilling all-rounder. It says the new Tiger Sport has a narrow stand-over feel and the seat is on the low side at 32.8 inches, which should make it accessible to a broad range of riders in terms of height and experience.
The 660cc triple-cylinder engine is designed to provide a broad torque band across a wide rev range and strong top-end horsepower.
The 660 Sport has a full-size windscreen that should be ideal for long-haul excursions, whereas the rest of the sleek design has a tall but sporty influence, including a stubby stainless-steel silencer. A slip/assist clutch should make for a slick work of the 6-speed gearbox and an up/down quickshifter is available as a factory option.
Triumph says the 660 Sport has exceptional handling, and on paper at least, the bike appears to live up to the claim. The Sport is fitted with Showa’s lightweight 41mm separate function fork (SFF), where each fork leg performs a separate function, one side for damping and the other for spring, and at the rear, a Showa dual-rate monoshock is adjustable for preload. Claimed peak power is 80 horses at 8,750 rpm, 5% more than the V-Strom, and claimed peak torque is 47.2 lb-ft, on par with the Versys, and yet the Tiger Sport weighs 20 pounds less than either.
The Tiger Sport 660 has stats that promise sports performance, but the tall, adjustable screen, 4.7-gallon gas tank, integrated side case mounts, and pillion grab handles cater to riders looking to make longer excursions with or without a passenger. Side cases, with a combined capacity of 57 liters, and a 47-liter top box (and cast aluminum luggage rack) are available options and can be color-matched.
Braking is supplied by Nissin, 2-piston calipers on twin 310mm discs, with a single-piston rear caliper on a 255mm disc. Standard tires are Michelin Road 5, which promise versatility in riding conditions and styles. ABS is fitted as standard, and the brake lever is adjustable for reach.
Throttle-by-wire allows for two riding modes, Road and Rain, as well as switchable traction control. A small TFT color display is integrated into a larger LCD and shows all the key information, and allows for menu selections and connectivity. All-around LED lighting, self-canceling indicators, and key fob immobilizer are all standard.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger Sport 660 is available in three color schemes: Lucerne Blue & Sapphire Black, Graphite & Sapphire Black, or Korosi Red & Graphite (for an extra $125), which also comes with sporty graphics. The standard version has an MSRP of $9,295 and will be available in dealers starting in February 2022.
2022 Triumph Tiger Sport 660 Specs
Base Price: $9,295 Website:triumphmotorcycles.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, inline triple, DOHC w/ 4 vpc. Displacement: 660cc Bore x Stroke: 74 x 57.7mm Horsepower: 80 hp @ 8,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 47.2 lb-ft @ 6,250 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain Wheelbase: 55.8 in. Rake/Trail: 23.7 degrees/3.8 in. Seat Height: 32.8 in. Wet Weight: 454 lbs. (claimed) Fuel Capacity: 4.7 gals.
Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. These days we’ve got three billionaires – Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk – trying to one-up each other in the space race. Ever the showman, Branson beat Bezos by a week in their personal quests to become space cowboys. If you want to book a galactic flight, a ticket could set you back a cool $250,000.
What a waste. You can reach hyperspace right here on Earth for less than a tenth as much. Just head down to your local Suzuki dealer and fork over $18,599 for a new Hayabusa. All you have to decide is which color you want your rocket to be.
Our test bike is a gorgeous Metallic Matte Sword Silver with Candy Daring Red accents. The ’Busa also looks sharp in Glass Sparkle Black and Candy Burnt Gold, but you can’t go wrong with Pearl Brilliant White and Metallic Matte Stellar Blue either. Ah, the tyranny of choice!
Yes, the Hayabusa, along with all other street-legal production motorcycles, has its top speed electronically limited to 186 mph (300 kph). But with some ingenuity – and money – you can go faster. Much faster.
Just ask Becci Ellis. Her husband Mike built a turbocharged Hayabusa, and she rode it to a world-record speed of 264.10 mph in 2014.
Or Bill Warner. He’s a tropical fish farmer from Tampa, Florida, who rode a partially streamlined and turbocharged Hayabusa to a record-breaking 272.340 mph in the standing mile at Maxton AFB in 2010.
For mere mortals riding on public roads, the Hayabusa’s speed cap is hardly oppressive. And it’s really no big deal that claimed peak horsepower for the third-gen 2022 model is lower than that of the previous model (188 vs. 194). Peak torque is lower too. What matters is the extra grunt in the midrange, which helps the new Hayabusa accelerate faster than ever.
Here at Rider, we gave up quarter-mile and top-speed testing a long time ago. It was just too logistically challenging, and on a bike like the Hayabusa, it would be dangerous and felonious without renting a drag strip. In thrust we trust, and on Jett Tuning’s rear-wheel dyno the big Suzook spun up the drum to the tune of 173 horsepower at 9,800 rpm and 106 lb-ft of torque at 6,900 rpm.
We specialize in motorcycle travel and adventure, so after Tom Montano’s first ride mostly on the track at Utah Motor-sports Campus, we wanted to find out how well the Hayabusa works out on the road, ridden until the low-fuel light comes on.
We logged nearly 1,700 miles for this test (including three 400-mile days) on city streets, on freeways ranging from wide open to rush-hour crowded, and on some of the best riding roads the Golden State has to offer. We burned nearly 44 gallons of premium fuel and averaged 38 mpg; the Hayabusa has a 5.3-gallon tank, so that works out to just over 201 miles of range. Our fuel economy was as high as 42 mpg on mellower jaunts, but it dropped as low as 31 mpg when we pushed hard in the twisties.
As a 582-pound sportbike, the Hayabusa isn’t what you’d call flickable. It’s well-composed, graceful even, and will go where you point it and hold a line dutifully. But effort is required when transitioning back and forth through a tight series of curves, like those on Highway 1 along the craggy Big Sur coast, on Skyline Boulevard along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, or on Highway 58 as it snakes over the Temblor Range. You have to earn it, and the big reward is lighting the wick on a long, arcing corner exit.
With a perfectly balanced 1,340cc inline Four, the Hayabusa is remarkably smooth. In fact, it requires care to avoid slip-ping into triple-digit territory without realizing it. At 100 mph in top gear, the engine is spinning at just 5,200 rpm – or so I’m told (wink wink). It redlines at 11,000 rpm. Do the math.
When straight-lining on the freeway, I often used cruise control to avoid speed creep. The Hayabusa also has an adjustable speed limiter, which can be temporarily overridden to allow a quick pass. Both are part of the comprehensive, IMU-enabled electronics suite that was included in the Suzuki’s overhaul for 2022. There are six ride modes (three are preset and three are customizable) that adjust power, throttle response, engine braking, lean-angle-sensitive traction control, wheelie control, and the quickshifter. There’s also launch control, cornering ABS, front-to-rear linked brakes, rear-lift mitigation, hill-hold control, and Suzuki’s Easy Start and Low RPM Assist systems. The only thing missing is a tire-pressure monitor.
As with state-of-the-art electronics on many motorcycles, they sound more complicated in theory than they are in practice. You can just start the bike and ride it without having to figure anything out, and many of the safety functions operate in the background, called upon only when needed. Changing the ride mode is as simple as pushing a button, and setting and adjusting cruise control is a no-brainer. Customizing the “user” ride modes takes a few extra steps, but even that isn’t difficult. The Hayabusa has a crisp, bright, easy-to-read TFT color display in the center of the dash, and it’s flanked by four analog gauges for road speed, engine speed, fuel level, and engine temperature, the latter two being smaller and having attractive gold bezels.
STRUTTING ITS STUFF
From the gauges to the chrome-plated trailing edge of the fairing, the new Hayabusa is a work of art. Opinions are often mixed regarding its bulbous, aerodynamic shape, but there’s no denying that the bike looks fast even when standing still. A pair of massive ram-air ducts surround the stacked LED headlight. Turnsignals are integrated into the bodywork to reduce drag and visual clutter. Black panels between the bottom of the tank and the massive twin-spar frame are embossed with a pattern inspired by the neck feathers of the Hayabusa’s namesake, the peregrine falcon. That falcon is represented by the large kanji character on the fairing, which is also found atop the headlight shroud and on the TFT at start-up. At sunset, the Metallic Matte Sword Silver paint reflects the light so softly that the bodywork looks airbrushed.
For a long weekend trip up the coast to Sonoma Raceway for the Progressive IMS Outdoors show, I installed Nelson-Rigg’s Commuter tankbag and tailbag. With its stretched-out dimensions and wide, thick seat, the Hayabusa has a reasonably comfortable cockpit. Clip-on handlebars are mounted at the same level as the triple clamp, and after a while the weight on the rider’s wrists becomes tiresome. The bubble-style windscreen projects airflow at chest level, providing some support at speed. Cruise control was a blessing, and a set of bar risers would probably be transformative during long-distance jaunts.
To allow for generous cornering clearance, the Hayabusa has high footpegs. With a seat height of 31.5 inches, legroom is limited. I’m 6 feet tall with a 34-inch inseam, so there was a sharp bend in my middle-aged knees. Stopping often to take photos of the Hayabusa in scenic locations gave me a welcome excuse to stretch my legs.
While the Hayabusa’s ergonomics are not ideal for long days in the saddle, its creamy smooth engine transmits very little vibration to the rider, and its enormous boxy mufflers keep noise to a dull roar. When hard on the gas, the four-piece band plays a lively tune, but otherwise the Suzuki sounds relaxed and understressed.
Big, powerful engines pump out lots of heat, and the Hayabusa’s 1,340cc mill is no exception. Its massive curved radiator was redesigned to reduce air resistance and increase air flow for better cooling efficiency. Below it is a second radiator that cools engine oil. Large exhaust vents between the side fairing panels pull hot air away from the engine and around the rider. Even on triple-digit days, the only time engine heat was noticeable was at a stop or riding in slow traffic.
A robust chassis is necessary to harness enormous power. With architecture inspired by Suzuki’s MotoGP GSX-RR racebikes, the Hayabusa’s twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm use both cast and extruded sections to optimize strength and tuned flex. The 1.5-pounds-lighter subframe is made of rectangular steel tubing to provide the strength needed to support a rider and passenger.
The ’Busa’s fully adjustable KYB suspension is responsive and compliant, and it can be softened for comfort or stiffened for sport or track riding. Top-spec Brembo Stylema front calipers squeeze 320mm floating discs, and they provide excellent feel at the lever and hold-your-horses power. The combined braking system adds some rear brake when the front lever is pulled, which helps stabilize the chassis. Cast 17-inch wheels are wrapped in grippy Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 rubber with a neutral profile that helps the Hayabusa turn in smoothly and hold its line.
FAST IS AS FAST DOES
As modern as it is, the Hayabusa feels like a throwback. When you see the latest model parked, you know exactly what it is. It shares an unmistakable family resemblance with the original, paradigm-shifting GSX1300R that debuted more than two decades ago. The top-speed wars are over, brought to an end through diplomacy rather than supremacy (though the Haya-busa was the king when the OEMs laid down their swords).
The Hayabusa is not a sportbike intended for racing homologation. It’s a big, bold sportbike intended for speed and style, however you choose to interpret those terms. Some will lower it, add a turbo, and go drag racing or land-speed racing. Oth-ers will extend the swingarm, fit the fattest rear tire they can find, chrome and polish surfaces, and show it off at bike nights. Hayabusas will find their way to the track. Hayabusas will be pressed into duty for commuting, Sunday morning rides, or, as we did, hypersport-touring.
Like the Honda Grom we recently tested, the Hayabusa is a cult bike that has spawned niches and subcultures, each with its own secret handshake. Nearly 200,000 of them have been sold since it was introduced in 1999. While much of the motorcycle market has become divided into ever smaller specialties and segments, the Hayabusa has remained faithful to its roots rather than chase trends. It evolved over time, and its extensive third-generation redesign brings it up to date without reinventing the wheel.
Joining the larger Z900RS is the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS ABS, a retro-styled middleweight with a liquid-cooled, 649cc parallel-Twin and chassis derived from the Z650 naked sportbike. Its MSRP is $8,999.
Kawasaki says the engine produces 48.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. It has a 180-degree crankshaft and a balancer shaft for smooth operation, and the 6-speed transmission has a slip/assist clutch. The engine also serves as stressed member of the tubular-steel trellis frame for added rigidity.
Suspension is handled by a non-adjustable 41mm telescopic fork with 4.9 inches of travel and a preload-adjustable horizontal back-link shock with 5.1 inches of travel. A pair of 300mm front rotors are squeezed by 2-piston calipers, and a single 220mm rear rotor has a 1-piston caliper. Bosch 9.1M ABS is standard
The Z650RS rolls on 17-inch cast wheels shod with Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires (120/70-ZR17 front, 160/60-ZR17 rear).
Comfortable, upright ergonomics include a wide, flat handlebar that’s positioned 2 inches higher and 1.2 inches closer to the rider than on the standard Z650. Seat height is a comfortable 31.5 inches, and it has a narrow design to make it easier to reach the ground. The brake and clutch levers are adjustable for reach.
Like the Z900RS, the Z650RS blends retro style with modern touches. The tank, seat, round headlight, and bullet-shaped analog gauges say old-school, but the LED lighting, central multifunction LCD info panel.
The 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS ABS is available in Candy Emerald Green with gold wheels (our favorite!) or Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony with black wheels. MSRP is $8,999.
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS ABS Specs
Base Price: $8,999 Website:kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 649cc Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm Torque: 48.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 55.3 in. Rake/Trail: 24 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 31.5 in. Wet Weight: 412 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gals.
Replacing the middleweight Multistrada 950 in Ducati’s adventure-bike lineup is the new-for-2022 Multistrada V2. It’s powered by a revised version of the 937cc Testastretta L-Twin, which makes a claimed 113 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque at the crank. Pricing for the 2022 Ducati Multistrada V2 starts at $15,295 and for the up-spec 2022 Ducati Multistrada V2 S starts at $17,895.
Engine updates include new connecting rods, a new 8-disc hydraulically actuated slip/assist clutch, and a revised 6-speed transmission that Ducati stays delivers smoother shifting and makes it easier to find neutral. A quickshifter is optional on the Multistrada V2 and standard on the Multistrada V2 S.
Rider-selectable electronics on the Multistrada V2 include four riding modes (Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro), the Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch cornering ABS with 3 levels, Ducati Traction C with 8 levels), and Vehicle Hold Control. The Multistrada V2 S adds semi-active electronic suspension with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) system, Ducati Quick Shift Up & Down (DQS), a full-LED headlight with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL) system, and cruise control.
The Multistrada V2 has fully (manually) adjustable suspension, with a 48mm inverted KYB fork and a Sachs shock with a remote preload adjuster. Suspension travel is 6.7 inches front and rear on both the V2 and V2 S.
Ducati’s trademark tubular-steel trellis frame holds the Mulistrada V2 together, and it’s paired with a cast aluminum two-sided swingarm. The cast aluminum wheels, with a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear, are derived from the Multistrada V4 save 3.7 pounds of unsprung weight, and they’re shod with Pirelli Scorpion Trail II adventure tires.
The seat was revised to provide a flat area for easier fore and aft movement while also reducing seat height from 33.1 inches to 32.7 inches. Accessory high (33.5 inches) and low (31.9 inches) seats are available, and the low seat plus accessory low suspension kit reduces seat height to 31.1 inches. New footpegs borrowed from the Multistrada V4 are 10mm lower than those on the Multistrada 950 for extra legroom.
Changes to the engine, front brake discs, mirrors, and wheels on the Multistrada V2 reduce weight by 11 pounds compared to the outgoing Multistrada 950. Claimed wet weight is 489 pounds for the Multistrada V2 and 496 pounds for the Mulistrada V2 S.
The Multistrada V2 has LCD instrumentation while the Multistrada V2 S has a 5-inch TFT color display with a hands-free Bluetooth system. The V2 S also has backlist handlebar switches.
The 2022 Ducati Multistrada V2 is available in Ducati Red with a gloss black frame and black rims, with a base price of $15,295. The 2022 Ducati Multistrada V2 S is available in Ducati Red with a black frame and black wheel rims with red tags, or in Street Grey with a black frame and “GP Red” wheel rims, with a base price of $17,895.
2022 Ducati Multistrada V2 / Multistrada V2 S Specs
Base Price: $15,295 (V2) / $17,895 (V2 S) Website:ducati.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 90-degree L-twin, desmodromic DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Bore x Stroke: 94.0 x 67.5mm Displacement: 937cc Horsepower: 113 hp @ 9,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 71 lb-ft @ 7,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slip/assist clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 62.8 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.2 in. Seat Height: 32.7 in. Wet Weight: 489 lbs. / 496 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
KTM rose to prominence with its competition-winning two-stroke dirtbikes, but in 1994 the Austrian manufacturer made its first foray into the four-stroke streetbike market with the 620 Duke. The original Duke arrived on the scene just as supermoto replicas were booming in popularity. The tall, powerful machines with wide bars, much like enduro bikes but running on 17-inch road tires, were a blast to ride. Packing 50 horses, the light and lithe 620 Duke was the most powerful thumper on the street at the time, earning it a hooligan reputation.
KTM has come a long way since then, but the early Duke DNA – wide bars, a tall stance, and exhilarating power – carries over to the current lineup. Every model – 200 Duke, 390 Duke, 890 Duke (an R model is also available), and 1290 Super Duke R (shown left to right above) – is a naked bike with an upright seating position and a wide, flat seat, and most are versatile enough for urban riding, canyon carving, and even sport-touring. With styling by Kiska, they share bold, angular bodywork and typically favor KTM’s trademark orange on powdercoated frames and bodywork. The split headlight on the three largest Dukes also split the opinion of our test riders.
What are the four Dukes like, and what sort of buyers will they appeal to? We rode them back-to-back to find out.
200 Duke: Scrappy Underdog
Though powered by a 200cc Single that made just 22 horsepower and 13 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno, the 200 Duke is more substantial than the numbers suggest and didn’t appear out of place among its larger siblings. It has the same physical dimensions and 3.5-gallon tank as the 390, but weighs 20 pounds less and its seat is an inch lower. Like all of the Dukes, the 200 has a chromoly tubular-steel trellis frame, and our test bike had a black main frame, a white subframe, and orange wheels.
Suspension is proficiently handled by a non-adjustable WP Apex inverted fork and a preload-adjustable rear shock. Single-disc brakes front and rear include Bybre (an abbreviation of “by Brembo,” a subsidiary focused on smaller machines) calipers, and ABS is standard and can be disabled at the rear wheel. The monochrome LCD instrument panel looks dated, and the one on our test bike needed to be unplugged and reset to fix a glitch. The 200 is the only Duke with a non-LED headlight and the only one that doesn’t have the split design.
It’s only natural to label the 200 as an entry-level bike, and it’s well-suited for that role with unintimidating power and brakes that aren’t grabby and won’t easily lock up. With a flat torque curve and six gears, the 200 is more than capable of cruising at over 70 mph on the freeway, with a top speed approaching 85 mph. The chassis and suspension are well matched, and the 200 is light and exceptionally agile, making it exciting on curvy roads. At full tilt, the brakes could do with more muscle, and aggressive or larger riders will yearn for more power, especially going uphill. Our testing team was unanimous in concluding that the 200 exceeded expectations, especially on the fun scale.
The 200 is a perfect first motorcycle, and it offers more performance than entry-level bikes like the Honda Grom (see test on page 58) and the Royal Enfield Meteor 350. But new riders may outgrow the 200 quickly and trade up to – or even start off with – the 390.
390 Duke: Fierce Featherweight
The 390 is a considerable step up from the 200, and the extra $1,700 is worth the investment. Despite its small size, the 390 is a rider’s motorcycle. Its 373cc Single pumps out 42 horsepower and 27 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel. The suspension and brakes have a similar specification as the 200, but the fork and shock have about an inch more travel and feel better damped, and with its larger front rotor (320mm vs. 300) the 390’s brakes feel stronger and more precise. An LED headlight, a color TFT display with Bluetooth connectivity, and adjustable levers are welcome upgrades over the 200.
The 390 Duke is a blast to ride and punches well above its weight class. Tipping the scales at just 359 pounds wet and offering outstanding maneuverability and usable performance, the 390 will appeal to a broad spectrum of riders and was universally loved by our testers. Despite its power deficit, the 390 was able to keep up with the larger Dukes on tight, twisty sections of road, only falling behind when the pavement straightened out.
New riders, including those who want to go fast, will have years of enjoyment ahead of them on the 390 Duke. This is the sleeper bike, the one that might get overlooked by seasoned riders but packs a ton of fun into a small, affordable package. It can be a carefree, fuel-efficient commuter during the week, and on weekends it’s just a throttle twist away from being a canyon-carving dragon slayer.
890 Duke: Super Middleweight
Nicknamed the “Scalpel,” the 890 Duke hews closest to the original Duke formula: light, agile, and capable of hair-on-fire thrills. Its 889cc parallel-Twin is good for 111 horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel in a bike that weighs just 405 pounds wet. Compared to the 390, you get 164% more power and just 13% more weight, but you’ll pay nearly twice as much in the bargain.
That’s a big jump in price, but everything is better. The WP Apex suspension, with a non-adjustable inverted fork and a preload-adjustable rear shock, offers better damping and more travel. (The 890 Duke R is equipped with higher-spec adjustable suspension.) The triple-disc brakes with multi-mode cornering ABS are precise and reassuring. It also has riding modes, multi-level traction control, and wheelie control, allowing our testers to tailor the riding experience as desired. Our test bike was fitted with the dealer-installed Tech Pack ($750), which includes the Track Pack (Track mode, 9-level TC, anti-wheelie off, and launch control), Motor Slip Regulation, and up/down Quickshifter+.
None of us were immune to the 890’s charms. We praised its dart-like handling, eager yet smooth power delivery, strong, progressive brakes, and sure-footed chassis. The Twin’s 270-degree firing order delivers a broad spread of torque for blasting out of corners and adds a pleasing crackle on downshifts. The 890 is a standout machine that encourages you to test its handling and your nerve, and it consistently rewards the rider with confidence-inspiring feel and agility or a gentle prod where lesser machines fall short.
The 890 is no show pony. It is a mustang, wild at heart, straining at the bit, and embodies the essence of the Duke series: immediate power and razor-sharp cornering stripped down to the barest of essentials. When it comes to performance and handling, nothing is superfluous in the 890, and nothing is wanting. Experienced riders with even the slightest inclination toward spirited riding will never tire of putting the 890 Duke through its paces, and yet it remains friendly and forgiving enough for jaunts around the city or sport-touring with some soft luggage. Just point it at the twistiest road you can find and open the throttle.
1290 Super Duke R: When Too Much is Not Enough
Introduced in 2014, the 1290 Super Duke R – known as “The Beast” – is the pointy end of KTM’s streetbike spear. Updated last year, it’s more powerful and lighter than ever, with its 1,301cc V-Twin churning out an asphalt-buckling 166 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel.
Fully adjustable WP Apex suspension is tuned to handle the Super Duke’s immense power, and it delivers a firm but confident ride. Brembo Stylema front brake calipers feel like they came off an airliner, such is their awesome strength, and while some in the test group felt they had too much initial bite, others raved about them. Riding modes and a full suite of six-axis IMU-enabled electronic riding aids allow The Beast to be tamed or unleashed, and our test bike was equipped with the dealer-installed Tech Pack ($750). The LED headlight incorporates an air intake, but overall styling remains much the same – angular, aggressive, looking for a fight. Creature comforts include self-canceling turnsignals, cruise control, and keyless ignition, steering lock, and gas cap.
The Super Duke elicited the most controversy when it came to the post-riding discussions. Like a silver-backed gorilla, it packs serious punch, but if you treat the 1290 with respect, it will respond in kind. The ocean of torque allows for lazy meandering along open roads, as well as controlled spurts of acceleration and braking demanded by dense traffic. But should you decide to be aggressive with the Super Duke, be sure to have your senses, skills, and reactions at peak readiness, as it comes by its Beast moniker honestly.
The bike feels tall and, with its humpback tank, a little imposing, but its 441-pound curb weight is quite manageable. Although the steering is heavier than on the 890 due to its lazier rake and slightly longer wheelbase, the 1290 is nonetheless nimble and responsive. For a couple of our testers, the difference was partly psychological. Whereas the 890 felt in alignment with their skill set, the 1290’s capabilities felt beyond them. Part of the excitement of riding a motorcycle is the ability to give it full throttle, but doing so on the 1290 is short-lived at best and more appropriate for wide-open roads or even the racetrack.
When considering potential owners for this exceptional machine, it is best suited for those with a high level of riding skills and experience. Some buyers just want the best, or the most, or both, and the 1290 Super Duke R will deliver on those promises. This horse will carry like a Clydesdale and run like a thoroughbred. Beyond that, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R defies reason, in the sense that it offers almost too much of everything, which you could argue is precisely what a Super Duke should do. For most riders, however, the 890 is probably a better fit and will be more enjoyable to ride. Like Dirty Harry said, riders must know their limitations.
All in the Family
Within the KTM Duke range, from the $3,999 200 Duke to the $18,699 1290 Super Duke R, there is a bike for nearly every rider, from those just starting out to those at the top of their game, from commuters to weekend warriors to track-day junkies. While only the 200 and 390 are likely to be cross-shopped by potential buyers, we found the 390 and 890 to be the most broadly appealing of the four. For experienced riders, the 200 may be too little, and for some, the 1290 may be out of reach, but every bike here earned the respect of our testing team.
2021 KTM Duke Lineup Specs
2021 KTM 200 Duke Specs
Base Price: $3,999 Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 miles Website: ktm.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse Single, DOHC w/ 4 valves Displacement: 200cc Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 49.0mm Compression Ratio: 11.5:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 9,300 miles Fuel Delivery: EFI, 38mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 1.6 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain
Chassis Frame: Chromoly steel trellis & cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 53.4 in. ± 0.6 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.7 in. Seat Height: 31.6 in. Suspension, Front: 43mm inv. fork, no adj., 4.6 in. travel Rear: Single shock, adj. preload, 5.0 in. travel Brakes, Front: Single 300mm disc w/ radial 4-piston caliper & ABS Rear: Single 230mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 3.00 x 17 in. Rear: Cast aluminum, 4.00 x 17 in. Tires, Front: 110/70-ZR17 Rear: 150/60-ZR17 Wet Weight: 339 lbs.
The LCD on the 200 (top left) falls short of the full-color TFTs on the larger Dukes, which provide clear, readable information, with a tach, speedo, gear position, and more. In low light, the displays change from a white background (shown on the 390) to black (shown on the 890) or orange (only on the 1290).