Last year, amid a global pandemic, BMW Motorrad introduced a motorcycle that is a very big deal for the company. With the introduction of the R 18, BMW entered the traditional cruiser segment, a distinctly American category that has long been dominated by Harley-Davidson.
Just as Harley-Davidson is known for V-Twins, BMW is known for horizontally opposed Twins called “boxers.” To compete in the world of heavyweight cruisers, there’s no replacement for displacement. BMW created what it calls the “Big Boxer” that displaces 1,802cc, or 110 cubic inches – much larger than the 1,254cc boxer in most of BMW’s R-series models like the R 1250 RT.
Soon after the standard R 18 came the R 18 Classic, which is equipped with a windshield and semi-soft saddlebags. For 2022, BMW has further expanded the lineup with two touring models, the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental. Both are equipped with a fork-mounted fairing, a full infotainment system, hard saddlebags, and other amenities. The Transcontinental also has a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest.
BMW invited Rider to ride both models at their U.S. press launch in Denver, Colorado. And after the one-day press ride, I spent four days riding an R 18 Transcontinental (TC) more than 1,500 miles through five states with my wife as a passenger and the luggage packed full of gear.
We’ll have an in-depth road test review soon. Here are our top 10 highlights of the new bikes.
1. They Rock better than they Roll
BMW’s “Big Boxer” makes a claimed 91 horsepower and 116 lb-ft of torque at the crank. When we put the R 18 on Jett Tuning’s dyno late last year, its shaft-driven rear wheel spun the heavy drum to the tune of 80 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 109 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm, which is about what you’d expect after accounting for power loss through the drivetrain.
The R 18s have three ride modes – Rock, Roll, and Rain – that alter throttle response, idle character, engine-drag torque control, and traction control intervention. In Rock mode, the R 18s feel lumpy and shake a lot at idle, and their throttle response is direct. But in Roll and Rain mode the bikes feel dull and lifeless, like a middle-aged couple nodding off at an AC/DC concert.
2. Who doesn’t like big jugs?
Ahem. Get your mind out of the gutter. We’re talking about cylinders here. With 901cc jugs sticking out of both sides of the bike, there’s no getting around the size of those things. They are a distinctive styling element, with prominent cooling fins and chrome pushrod tubes.
Even on really hot days – when riding across northern Arizona and southern Nevada, Carrie and I dealt with temps ranging from the high 90s to 113 degrees – the cylinders don’t put out excessive heat felt by the rider and passenger, nor do the exhaust pipes. But they do trap the rider’s legs behind the cylinders, limiting options to stretch out during long stints in the saddle.
The cylinders are too wide for highway pegs, so BMW offers accessory chrome-plated leg rests so riders can stretch their stems with calves atop the cylinders, as shown in the photo above. The leg rests weren’t available on the press ride or our ride-away. I tried resting my jean-clad legs atop the cylinders, but that lasted about half a second because those big jugs get hot to the touch. The TC has highway bars in front of the cylinders and my legs are long enough that I was able to put my heels on them and mostly straighten out my knees.
3. Leave the riding to us
Thanks to the proliferation of throttle-by-wire, cruise control has become a common feature on all sorts of motorcycles, even sportbikes. It’s especially helpful on long, multi-day rides when even moderate tension in the rider’s arm while maintaining steady throttle can lead to sore wrists and achy shoulders.
On the R 18 B and Transcontinental, BMW takes things a step further with optional Active Cruise Control (ACC). Embedded in their front fairings are radar sensors that scan the lane in front of the bike when cruise control is activated. If a vehicle is detected in front of the bike, the system will automatically reduce speed to maintain a fixed distance (both speed and distance are adjustable). Using inputs from the lean-angle sensors, ACC will also adjust speed to assist with safer cornering.
ACC works really well, and it isn’t affected by vehicles in adjacent lanes. This is one of those features you don’t think you need or want until you use it.
4. My, what a big TFT you have!
Most premium motorcycles are equipped with TFT (thin film transistor) instrument displays that offer nearly infinite variation for graphics, color, animation, etc. BMW has offered TFTs on some of its models for several years, but none approach the size of the TFT embedded in the fairing on the R 18 B/TC. It measures 10.25 inches on the diagonal, which is at least a couple of inches more than the largest TFT we’ve seen on other bikes. The thing is like a billboard, and its default background is a copper-colored illustration of the Big Boxer.
Using BMW’s proprietary Multi-Controller wheel on the left grip, navigating through menus is a breeze and keeps the number of buttons to a minimum. But, unlike the Indian’s Ride Command system, the hardened, glare-resistant glass screen isn’t touch-enabled.
5. If it’s too loud, you’re too old
If you’ve seen amps on stages or stood next to huge stacks at a rock concert, then you’re familiar with the cursive script of the Marshall logo. In the movie “Spinal Tap,” there’s even a Marshall amp that goes to 11. BMW partnered with Marshall to create an audio system for the R 18 B and TC, and it rocks.
The standard setup has two 25-watt speakers embedded in the front fairing. The Premium Package on the R 18 B upgrades to the Marshall Gold Series Stage 1, which adds two 90-watt subwoofers in the lids of the top-loading saddlebags (eliminating half a liter of storage capacity) and brings total output up to 230 watts. The Premium-equipped R 18 TC gets the Marshall Gold Series Stage 2, which adds yet another pair of 25-watt speakers to the passenger backrest, for a total of 280 watts.
6. Get out of my way
To complement the classic lines of the R 18, the fork-mounted fairing has a streamliner shape that tapers at the sides, providing wind protection for the rider’s hands. There’s a single round headlight that uses LEDs for low and high beams, and there’s an optional Adaptive Turning Light that swivels +/- 35 degrees to illuminate the inside of curves during cornering.
The fairing parts the wind smoothly, though airflow over the R 18 B’s short windscreen hits the rider’s helmet while airflow over the R 18 TC’s tall windscreen goes over the rider’s head. During our multi-day ride, my wife said she enjoyed the calm pocket of air and never dealt with helmet buffeting like she has on some touring bikes.
Neither windscreen offers height adjustment, which is disappointing, especially on such premium machines. The top edge of the TC’s screen was right in my line of sight, which was distracting during back-and-forth cornering in the Rocky Mountains. While the tall screen provided welcome protection from cold wind when temps dropped into the 40s on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway (U.S. Route 550), I wished I could lower it when the mercury rose into triple digits several hours later in northern Arizona.
7. Galaxy Dust metallic would have made Prince jealous
Offering an iridescent paint scheme that changes from purple to blue depending on how the light hits it seems a little out there for BMW. And in the studio photos, it looks garish. But in person Galaxy Dust metallic it looks undeniably cool, and the color variations are more subtle than the photos suggest. The colors are darker, the metal flake really pops in bright sunlight, and the Titanium Silver 2 metallic on the gas tank and fairing adds nice contrast.
Such a unique, factory-custom paint job doesn’t come cheap. It will set you back $2,400.
If it were possible to make a sequel to “Purple Rain,” an R 18 B in Galaxy Dust metallic / Titanium Silver 2 metallic with a custom his-and-hers seat and sissy bar would be Prince’s motorcycle of choice.
8. Two peas in a pod
For long-haul touring motorcycles, rider and passenger comfort is critically important. Carrie and I rode more than 1,500 miles on the R 18 Transcontinental over four days, averaging nearly 400 miles per day. Except for the final day on I-15 through the Mojave Desert, we logged most of our miles on scenic roads full of hairpins, high-mountain passes, and steep grades.
As mentioned above, the cylinders of the Big Boxer limited my ability to move my legs around during long stints in the saddle. But the seat and riding position were comfortable, and the footboards allowed me to move my feet around to adjust the position of my hips and knees.
Carrie’s first-ever ride on a motorcycle was on a Honda Gold Wing back in 2009, and she’s measured every passenger seat and backrest since against that experience. With a low rider seat height of 29.1 inches on the TC and a passenger seat just a few inches higher, Carrie, who has short legs, found it easy to climb on and off the bike, aided in part by the passenger footboards. And once aboard, she found the seat to be all-day, day-after-day comfortable and the wrap-around backrest to be reassuring.
9. A place for my stuff
As George Carlin once said, “That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff.”
The top-loading saddlebags on the R 18 B and TC offer 27 liters of storage each, or 26.5 liters with the Marshall subwoofers installed in the lids. Styling-wise, the bags look great. Function-wise, they are fairly narrow, which presents some challenges with packing (BMW offers accessory drop-in liner bags that should make the process easier). But they open and close easily, with pop-up levers and central locks. The top trunk on the TC holds 48 liters (47 liters with optional audio), and it is spacious and easy to open/close/latch even when filled to the brim.
In the top of the 6.3-gallon fuel tank is a waterproof compartment for a smartphone. There’s a USB socket or charging and connecting the phone to the bike (navigation is provided via the free BMW Connected app). And since smartphones get hot, the compartment is ventilated with an electric fan. But the smartphone compartment does not lock, so riders must remember to take their phones with them when they park their bike. How else would you check Instagram?
10. Heavy is as heavy does
Heavyweight cruisers come by that description honestly. The 2021 Indian Roadmaster Limited we tested weighed 895 pounds. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited we tested weighed 922 pounds. The 2022 BMW R 18 B weighs 877 pounds and the R 18 Transcontinental weighs 941 pounds, and that’s before you add the Premium Package and other options/accessories. Part of that major poundage comes from the Big Boxer and its 6-speed gearbox, which weighs 244 pounds – about 35 pounds more than a Honda Grom.
BMW beefed up the R 18 frame to accommodate the added weight of the fairing, saddlebags, and trunk. Total permitted weight is 1,389 pounds, which translates to a load capacity of 512 pounds on the R 18 B and 448 pounds on the R 18 Transcontinental. Compared to the standard R 18, the B and TC also have a shorter wheelbase (66.7 inches, down from 68.1) and sharper rake (27.3 degrees, down from 32.7 degrees) but more trail (7.2 inches, up from 5.9). Even though the B and TC are heavier, they handle better.
Like most touring bikes, you mostly notice the weight when you lift it off the sidestand or move it around a parking lot or garage. Fortunately, our test bike has the optional reverse gear installed, which helped when moving the bike around on an incline. Out on the road, the heavy bikes trundle along just fine. And when the road gets windy, they handle well within the limits of other heavyweight touring cruisers.
We’ll post our full review soon, so stay tuned!
2022 BMW R 18 / R 18 Transcontinental Specs
Base Price: $21,945 / $24,995 Price as Tested: $29,065 / $31,695 Website:bmwmotorcycles.com Engine Type: Air/oil-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,802cc (110ci) Bore x Stroke: 107.1 x 100.0mm Horsepower: 91 hp @ 4,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Torque: 116 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank) Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated single-plate dry slipper clutch Final Drive: Shaft Wheelbase: 66.7 in. Rake/Trail: 27.3 degrees/7.2 in. Seat Height: 28.3 in. / 29.1 in. Wet Weight: 877 lbs. / 941 lbs. (base models) Fuel Capacity: 6.3 gals. Fuel Consumption: 42.5 mpg (R 18 Transcontinental, as tested) Estimated Range: 268 miles (R 18 Transcontinental, as tested)
Honda’s first complete motorcycle, the D-Type, was built in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II. The D-Type was also known as the Dream, and although the exact origins of that name are unknown, the new motorcycle was a significant step toward realizing Soichiro Honda’s vision for the company that bore his name.
A former race-car driver and brilliant engineer, Mr. Honda was the charismatic, outspoken leader of Honda Motor Company, Ltd. for decades. From humble beginnings, Honda became the world’s largest engine and motorcycle manufacturer, as well as one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers. The company also makes ATVs, power equipment, aircraft, and robots, and it has competed in and won championships in nearly every form of motorcycle and car racing.
Honda has created many groundbreaking motorcycles in the 72 years since the D-Type first emerged, from the Super Cub C100 – with more than 100 million units built since 1958, it’s the most produced motor vehicle in history – to the CB750 to the Gold Wing.
A Wing Fit for a King…
As one of Honda’s most long-lived models, the Gold Wing has been critical to the company’s success, particularly in the U.S. Inspired by Honda’s “King of Kings” M1 prototype, the first Gold Wing – the 1975 GL1000 – was the second most powerful production motorcycle at the time, edged out by the Kawasaki Z-1. The GL1000’s flat-Four engine layout and liquid cooling set a precedent for smooth, quiet performance.
The Gold Wing created a new market, meeting pent-up demand for dependable, luxurious long-distance motorcycle touring. Its comfort and reliability made it easy for more people to ride more miles, and Honda’s new touring customers became an integral part of the design and development process. Owners were willing to trade top-end power for better midrange performance, so as the GL evolved, peak torque rpm moved closer to cruising rpm.
When Honda introduced the GL1100 in 1980, it offered an Interstate version with a fairing, windscreen, saddlebags, a trunk, and a plush king-and-queen seat. Two years later, Honda brought out an even more luxurious version called the Aspencade. You could still buy a naked version of the Gold Wing when the GL1200 was introduced for 1984, but by 1985 the only models available were the Interstate, Aspencade, and Limited Edition. The market had spoken, and from then until now Gold Wings have been outfitted for touring.
As long-time readers know, Rider’s history parallels that of the Gold Wing. Denis Rouse founded Rider in 1974, the same year the GL1000 was introduced (for the 1975 model year). The success of the magazine and the Gold Wing grew in parallel as the touring market grew rapidly in the late ’70s and ’80s. Over the years, we’ve published dozens of tests and features that showcase the Gold Wing. Including this issue, it has been on our cover numerous times, and it won Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year award in 2001 and 2018.
… And a Queen
Many Gold Wing owners can and do ride solo – in fact, most of the miles I logged for this test were done without a passenger – but the Wing’s true calling is well-appointed two-up travel. In his first ride review, Ken Lee and his wife Katie evaluated the 2021 updates to the Gold Wing Tour, which include better passenger accommodations, a bigger trunk (now 61 liters, with 121 liters of total storage capacity; the standard, non-Tour Gold Wing foregoes the trunk), and improvements to the styling and audio system. Compared to the previous-generation 2008 GL1800 in their garage, Ken and Katie both found the accommodations and ergonomics more to their liking.
Former EIC Mark Tuttle and his wife Genie did many two-up tests of Gold Wings over the years. As a wet-behind-the-ears staffer with less than a year on the job, I was tasked with testing a 2009 GL1800 for Rider’s 35th-anniversary issue (April 2009). At the time I had just started dating my wife Carrie, and she had never been on a motorcycle before. What better way to welcome her to the joys of two-wheeling than the plush back seat of a Gold Wing? She was immediately hooked. Spoiled right out of the gate, she has measured every other motorcycle she has ridden with me against the gold standard of the Gold Wing.
For that 2009 road test, photographer Rich Cox – with him riding the magazine’s former photo wagon, a black 2000 25th-anniversary GL1500SE – and I rode up California’s western edge from Ventura to Monterey on Highway 1, which hugs the rugged, dramatic coast for 100 miles from Cambria to Carmel. For this test, photographer Kevin Wing – who was a protégé of Rich’s in the early part of his career – and I followed the same northern route.
Torque and a Fork
With a perfectly balanced, liquid-cooled flat-Six displacing 1,833cc, the Gold Wing’s engine churns out a big dollop of creamy smooth torque whenever you twist the grip. When we dyno’d a 2018 GL1800, the peak rear-wheel torque was 106 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm, and more than 100 lb-ft was available between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. With no mechanical changes since then, the results should be about the same for our 2021 GL1800.
With the Gold Wing in Tour mode, throttle response is relaxed, and its optional 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) quickly shifts into higher gears to keep rpm low and fuel efficiency high. (Over the course of 1,300 testing miles, we’ve averaged 40 mpg and 224 miles of range. Admittedly, we’ve ridden the Wing hard and fast, so typical numbers will be higher.) It’s common to be trundling along at a modest pace on a twisty road with the DCT in 6th gear, yet on corner exits the Gold Wing’s torque-rich Six will pull all 838 pounds of bike plus hundreds more pounds of rider, passenger, and gear along without breaking a sweat.
Strangely, for a motorcycle clearly designed for touring, I found Sport mode to be way too abrupt. Rain and Econ modes serve a purpose, but I largely ignored them. When I didn’t want the DCT to upshift too early or fight to find the right gear when transitioning back and forth between corners on curvy roads like Highway 1, I put it into manual mode and used the paddle buttons to quickly shift up or down. With such a broad spread of torque, often I’d leave it in 3rd gear and control revs and speed with the throttle.
The ride mode also affects suspension damping, and when stopped the rider can dig into the menu to set rear preload. When riding solo on the photo-shoot ride with Kevin, I set rear preload to two-up plus luggage, which increased cornering clearance such that I rarely scraped pegs, even when riding at a brisk pace.
What most sets the current-gen GL1800 apart from its predecessors is its double-wishbone front suspension, which separates steering dynamics from suspension action and prevents fork dive under braking, a useful feature on such a heavy bike with strong, responsive brakes. The suspension offers good compliance and isolates the rider and passenger from vibration, but it also isolates the rider from front-end feedback. From the cockpit you can watch the tie-rod ends bounce rapidly up and down over bumps, seams, and ripples, yet the connection with the road often feels vague and distant. A rider can push the current Gold Wing as hard as they want and it will respond dutifully, but it lacks some of the light, intuitive steering response of the previous-generation GL1800.
The Stuff of Dreams
As Ken Lee wrote about in his review, the Gold Wing has been unfairly maligned over the years as an “old man’s bike.” Sure, there are thousands of Gold Wings out there ridden by older couples, sometimes with their bikes adorned with flags, cup holders, and stuffed animals lashed to trunk racks. With the sixth-generation Gold Wing, Honda made the bike lighter and gave it sportier styling and state-of-the-art tech, perhaps to attract younger buyers but also to keep evolving its flagship touring bike.
When the GL1800 replaced the GL1500 for 2001, Wing Nuts decried the loss of storage capacity, particularly the replacement of the cavernous, boxy trunk with a smaller one that looks sleek from the outside but has an oddly shaped interior. For 2021, Honda added storage capacity to the trunk, and it’s easy to load but frustratingly hard to close when full of gear. Nearly every time I closed the trunk, a warning message would appear on the dash that, nope, still not closed all the way. I got into the habit of slamming the trunk shut, which made me cringe.
Details matter, and Honda has always sweated the details on the Gold Wing. When you put miles on the new Gold Wing over the course of multiple days, you can’t help but be impressed. Sure, there’s a learning curve with its buttons and menus, but once you get things dialed in, you can mostly set it and forget it. While Kevin trailed me on our KTM 890 Adventure R long-term test bike, I cruised along in the lap of luxury. Temperatures ranged from the low 50s on the coast to 102 degrees inland, and I adjusted the electric windscreen or turned on the heated grips or set the cruise control or changed riding modes as desired. If anything, at times I felt a little too comfortable, especially in the heat of the day after lunch. That’s when I cranked up the heavy metal tunes to ward off the drowsies.
Thirteen years after our first ride together, with Carrie donning the same riding jacket that we had mothballed in the garage, we took a leisurely cruise on many of the same roads on the new Gold Wing that we had explored on the 2009 model. As Carrie sat comfortably in the passenger seat, hugged securely by the wrap-around backrest and perched high enough to enjoy the view (I’m much taller than she is), we enjoyed a trip down memory lane. During our lunch stop, we reminisced about our early days of dating, the many rides we’ve been on over the years, getting engaged atop Stelvio Pass in Italy, and spending our honeymoon on a Norway tour with Edelweiss Bike Travel.
Motorcycles really are dream machines. We fantasize about the bikes we want, and we use them to fulfill dreams with bucket-list adventures. They bring us together and help us create lasting memories. When Carrie and I returned home from our nostalgic ride, she said, “If we can only own one motorcycle, this has to be it.” As you wish.
2021 Honda Gold Wing Tour Specs
Base Price: $28,300 Price as Tested: $29,300 (DCT model) Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles, transferable Website:powersports.honda.com
ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat-Six, Unicam SOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,833cc Bore x Stroke: 73.0 x 73.0mm Compression Ratio: 10.5:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 24,000 miles Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 50mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.9 qt. cap Transmission: 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission automatic (as tested) Final Drive: Shaft, 1.795:1
CHASSIS Frame: Aluminum tubular & box-section double cradle w/ single-sided cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 66.7 in. Rake/Trail: 30.5 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 29.3 in. Suspension, Front: Double-wishbone w/ single shock, electronically adj. (as tested), 4.3 in. travel Rear: Pro-Link w/ single shock, electronically adj. (as tested), 4.1 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ 6-piston opposed calipers & C-ABS Rear: Single 316mm disc w/ 3-piston floating caliper & C-ABS Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 18 in. Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 16 in. Tires, Front: 130/70-R18 Rear: 200/55-R16 Wet Weight: 838 lbs. Load Capacity: 421 lbs. GVWR: 1,259 lbs.
This 2022 motorcycle buyers guide includes new or significantly updated street-legal models available in the U.S. It includes cruisers, sportbikes, retro-styled bikes, scooters, touring bikes, and more.
Organized in alphabetical order by manufacturer, it includes photos, pricing, key update info, and links to first looks and – when available – first rides, road tests, and video reviews of each motorcycle.
Available in Europe since 2018, the 2022 BMW C 400 GT scooter receives updates and joins the U.S. lineup. As its Gran Turismo name implies, the GT is geared toward touring and comfort while still offering agility, twist-and-go user-friendliness, and generous underseat storage scooters are known for. The 350cc single-cylinder engine receives new Euro 5 emissions certification and delivers a claimed 34 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 26 lb-ft of torque at 5,750 rpm. There are other updates to the engine, throttle-by-wire, traction control, and more. Base price is $8,495.
The 2022 BMW CE 04 scooter is part of BMW Motorrad’s “electromobility strategy.” It uses an innovative liquid-cooled, permanent-magnet electric motor mounted in the frame between the battery and the rear wheel. The motor is rated at 20 horsepower with a claimed maximum output of 42 horsepower, top speed is 75 mph, and 0-30 mph is achieved in 2.6 seconds. The CE 04 has a battery cell capacity of 60.6 Ah (8.9 kWh), providing a claimed range of 80 miles. Price and availability have not yet been announced.
When BMW unveiled the R 18 last year, a cruiser powered by a massive 1,802cc OHV air/oil-cooled 4-valve opposed Twin that’s the largest “boxer” engine the German company has ever produced, it was only a matter of time before touring versions were added to the lineup. For 2022, BMW has announced the R 18 B “Bagger” (above) and R 18 Transcontinental (below). Both are equipped with a handlebar-mounted fairing with an infotainment system, a passenger seat, and locking hard saddlebags, and the Transcontinental adds a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest. The 2022 BMW R 18 B is equipped with a low windshield, a slim seat (height is 28.3 inches), and a matte black metallic engine finish. Base price is $21,495.
Like the R 18 B, the 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental is equipped with a handlebar-mounted fairing with an infotainment system, a passenger seat, and locking hard saddlebags, and the Transcontinental adds a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest. The 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental has a tall windshield, wind deflectors, driving lights, heated seats, highway bars, and an engine finished in silver metallic. Base price is $24,995.
The lovable, popular Grom has been Honda‘s top-selling streetbike since it was introduced in 2014. Now in its third generation, the 2022 Honda Grom gets a revised engine, a new 5-speed transmission, a larger fuel tank, a thicker, flatter seat, and fresh styling. Large bolts on the bodywork and a new two-piece design for the down pipe and muffler make the Grom easier to customize. Base price is $3,399, and another $200 gets you ABS. The Honda Grom SP ($3,499, above) comes in Pearl White and includes special graphics, gold fork tubes, and gold wheels.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chief, Indian Motorcycle revamped the entire lineup. In a nod to post-WW2 Indians, the lineup includes an updated Chief and two new models: the Chief Bobber and the Super Chief. Up-spec models include the Chief Dark Horse, Chief Bobber Dark Horse, and Super Chief Limited.
All Indian Chiefs are powered by the air-cooled, 49-degree Thunderstroke V-Twin, in either 111ci (1,811cc) or 116ci (1,890cc) displacement, with 6-speed transmissions and belt final drive. Every model has a low 26-inch seat height, and standard equipment includes keyless ignition, ride modes, cruise control, rear cylinder deactivation, and LED lighting.
The modern, sporty 2022 Indian Chief (above) has cast wheels with a 19-inch front, a solo saddle, midmount foot controls, and a drag-style handlebar. It’s powered by the Thunderstroke 111 V-Twin that makes 108 lb-ft of torque, and ABS is optional. The Indian Chief is available in Black Metallic, Ruby Smoke, and White Smoke, and pricing starts at $14,499.
Dark Horse models are known for their blacked-out finishes, dark paint, and minimalist styling. The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse has a Thunderstroke 116 V-Twin that belts out 120 lb-ft of torque. It also features a 4-inch round instrument panel with Ride Command, offering turn-by-turn navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and more, as well as standard ABS. The Chief Dark Horse rolls on cast wheels (19-inch front, 16-inch rear) and is available in Black Smoke, Alumina Jade Smoke, and Stealth Gray. Pricing starts at $16,999.
Following the success of the Scout Bobber, it’s only natural that Indian would add a variation to the Chief lineup. The 2022 Indian Chief Bobber has mini-ape hanger handlebars paired with forward foot controls for an upright riding position. Powered by the Thunderstroke 111, it rolls on 16-inch wire wheels, has fork and shock covers, a large headlight bucket wrapped in a nacelle, and a mix of chrome and black finishes. ABS is optional. The Indian Chief Bobber is available in Black Metallic and Ruby Metallic, pricing starts at $15,999.
The 2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse gets the larger, more powerful Thunderstroke 116 V-Twin, the 4-inch display with Ride Command, and standard ABS. Sixteen-inch wheels have chrome spokes and gloss black rims, and nearly everything gets a menacing, blacked-out look. The Chief Bobber Dark Horse comes in Black Smoke, Titanium Smoke, and Sagebrush Smoke, and pricing starts at $18,999.
For 2022, Indian‘s FTR lineup includes four models: FTR, FTR S, FTR R Carbon, and FTR Rally. The entire line gets an updated liquid-cooled 1,203cc V-Twin with a revised fuel map for better cold-start performance and throttle response, and rear-cylinder deactivation and revised heat channeling to improve comfort. The street-biased FTR, FTR S, and FTR R Carbon now roll on 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels with Metzeler Sportec rubber, and have less front/rear suspension travel, a lower 32.2-inch seat height, and a narrower ProTaper handlebar. The scrambler-themed FTR Rally is still equipped with wire-spoke 19- and 18-inch wheels and longer suspension travel.
The base-model 2022 Indian FTR (above) has fully adjustable Sachs suspension, with a 43mm inverted fork and a piggyback rear shock. It’s available in Black Smoke, and pricing starts at $12,999.
The up-spec 2022 Indian FTR S features a Bluetooth ready 4.3-inch Ride Command touchscreen display, giving riders access to three selectable ride modes and IMU-supported rider aides like cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, rear-wheel lift mitigation, and stability control. Standard equipment includes a fast-charging USB port, an Akrapovič slip-on exhaust, and fully adjustable Sachs suspension. It’s available in Maroon Metallic (above) and White Smoke, and pricing starts at $14,999.
The top-of-the-line 2022 Indian FTR R Carbon stands apart from the crowd with a carbon fiber tank cover, fender, and headlight nacelle. It also has fully adjustable Öhlins suspension, a red frame, silver tailsection, black Akrapovič slip-on exhaust, a premium seat cover, and numbered badging. Pricing starts at $16,999.
Ready to hit the road for days on end in comfort and style, the 2022 Indian Super Chief features a quick-release windscreen, saddlebags, a touring seat with passenger pad, floorboards, and traditional pullback handlebars. Like the Chief Bobber, the Super Chief is powered by the Thunderstroke 111 and has 16-inch wire wheels, a large headlight bucket with nacelle, fork covers, and optional ABS. Its fully chromed shotgun-style dual exhaust enhances its classic style. It’s available in Black Metallic and Pearl White, and pricing starts at $18,499.
For touring riders who want more power, safety, and sophistication, the 2022 Indian Super Chief Limited features a quick-release windscreen, saddlebags, a touring seat with passenger pad, floorboards, and traditional pullback handlebars like the base-model Super Chief. The Limited adds the Thunderstroke 116 V-twin, standard ABS, and a 4-inch round display with Bluetooth-connected Ride Command. Chrome finishes and rich metallic paint make the Super Chief Limited extra special. It comes in Black Metallic, BlueSlate Metallic, and Maroon Metallic, and pricing starts at $20,999.
As far as dual-sport motorcycles go, the Kawasaki KLR650 is the stuff of legend. We’re big fans of the KLR, and when it was dropped from Kawasaki’s lineup we wrote a heartfelt requiem for our old friend. After a brief retirement, the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 returns with some major upgrades, including a fuel-injected (finally!) liquid-cooled 652cc Single that promises increased reliability and fuel efficiency and optional ABS.
Four versions are available:
KLR650 (MSRP: $6,699; Pearl Sand Khaki and Pearl Lava Orange)
KLR650 ABS ($6,999; Pearl Sand Khaki)
KLR650 Traveler ($7,399; Pearl Lava Orange; equipped with factory-installed top case, 12V power outlet, and USB socket)
KLR650 Adventure (Non-ABS MSRP: $7,699, ABS MSRP: $7,999; Cypher Camo Gray; equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, tank pad, 12V power outlet and USB socket)
The 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000 is a naked sportbike powered by an updated version of the liquid-cooled 999cc inline Four from the K5 (2005-2008) GSX-R1000. It gets more aggressive, angular styling with stacked LED headlights and MotoGP-inspired winglets, a new 4-2-1 exhaust system, a new slipper clutch, and the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System. An updated seat design, new wheels shod with new Dunlop Roadsport 2 tires, revised instrumentation and switches, and a new larger fuel tank (5 gallons, up from 4.5) round out the changes. The 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000 is available in Metallic Triton Blue, Metallic Matte Mechanical Gray, and Glass Sparkle Black. Price is TBD.
Now in its third generation with its first update since 2008, the legendary 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa gets a thoroughly revised liquid-cooled 1,340cc inline that makes 187 horsepower at 9,750 rpm and a whopping 110 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm. Peak figures are lower, but there’s more grunt in the midrange, and the latest Hayabusa accelerates faster than its predecessor. The Hayabusa has been updated and refined from nose to tail, with new styling and instrumentation, an IMU-enabled Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, and much more. Available in Glass Sparkle Black and Candy Burnt Gold; Metallic Matte Sword Silver and Candy Daring Red; and Pearl Brilliant White and Metallic Matte Stellar Blue, pricing for the 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa starts at $18,599.
For 2022, Triumph has given performance, technological, and visual updates to its entire Modern Classic lineup, which includes the iconic Bonneville T100, Bonneville T120 and T120 Black, Street Twin and Street Twin Gold Line, Bonneville Bobber, and Speedmaster models.
Triumph has merged the Bobber and up-spec Bobber Black into one single model, the 2022 Triumph Bonneville Bobber. Like other models in the Bonneville lineup, the Bobber’s “high-torque” 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin gets a lighter crankshaft and mass-optimized clutch and counterbalancers. It also gets a larger 3-gallon fuel tank, an upgraded fork, a chunky front wheel, dual Brembo front calipers, standard cruise control and ABS, a new LED headlight, and some styling updates. The Bobber is available in Jet Black, Cordovan Red, and Matte Storm Grey and Matte Ironstone two-tone (above). Pricing starts at $13,150.
The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster gets an updated “high-torque” 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, refined riding modes (Road and Rain), a larger-diameter and higher-spec 47mm Showa cartridge fork, improved rider and passenger seating, and updated instrumentation. The Speedmaster is available in Jet Black, Red Hopper, and two-tone Fusion White and Sapphire Black with hand-painted twin coach lines (above). Pricing starts at $13,150.
The 2022 Triumph Bonneville T100’s Euro 5-compliant “high-torque” 900cc parallel-Twin boasts an additional 10 ponies, bringing its claimed figures up to 64 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 59 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm. The engine also gets a lighter crankshaft, mass-optimized clutch and counterbalancers, a magnesium cam cover, and a thin-walled clutch cover, which together reduce curb weight by 8 pounds. The T100 also gets an upgraded fork, new instrumentation, and some styling tweaks. The Bonneville T100 is available in Jet Black, two-tone Lucerne Blue and Fusion White (above), and two-tone Carnival Red and Fusion White. Pricing starts at begins at $10,500.
The 2022 Triumph Bonneville T120 and T120 Black get engine updates, less weight (520 pounds wet, down 15.5), and other updates. The “high-torque” 1,200cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin gets a lighter crankshaft and mass-optimized clutch and counterbalancers. The big Bonnies get cruise control, new Brembo front calipers, refined riding modes (Road and Rain), and aesthetic upgrades. Pricing for the 2022 Triumph Bonneville T120 and T120 Black (above) starts at $12,050.
Limited to 1,000 units worldwide, the 2022 Triumph Rocket 3 R Black gives the 2,458cc mega cruiser an even leaner-and-meaner look. It features an aggressive all-black colorway that focuses on matte finishes, darkened tank badging, a carbon fiber front fender, and blacked-out components from nose-to-tail, and it comes with a certificate of authenticity. Pricing starts at $23,700.
Also limited to 1,000 units worldwide, the 2022 Triumph Rocket 3 GT Triple Black applies the dark treatment to the touring version, with a high-gloss three-shade paint scheme, a carbon fiber front fender, and blacked-out components. It comes with a certificate of authenticity that lists each motorcycle’s VIN. And its enormous 2,458cc inline Triple produces 167 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a 163 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Pricing starts at $24,400.
Also built on Triumph‘s Bonneville platform, the 2022 Scrambler 1200 XC, Scrambler 1200 XE, and Scrambler 1200 Steve McQueen Edition are powered by a “high power” version of Triumph’s liquid-cooled, 1,200cc parallel-Twin that’s been updated to meet Euro 5 emissions regulations, which includes a revised exhaust system that offers improved heat distribution. With a dedicated Scrambler tune, it makes 89 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 81 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. All three models have a 21-inch front wheel, side-laced tubeless wheels, and nearly 10 inches of suspension travel.
The 2022 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC is available in Sapphire Black ($14,000), two-tone Cobalt Blue and Jet Black ($14,500, above), and two-tone Matte Khaki Green and Matte Black ($14,500).
2022Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE / Steve McQueen Edition
Receiving the same updates as the XC, the higher-spec 2022 TriumphScrambler 1200 XE adds an Off-Road Pro mode and cornering-optimized ABS and traction control. It’s available in Sapphire Black ($15,400), two-tone Cobalt Blue and Jet Black ($15,900), and two-tone Matte Khaki Green and Matte Black ($15,900).
Limited to 1,000 in individually numbered units worldwide and based on the XE, the 2022 Triumph Scrambler 1200 Steve McQueen Edition (above) honors the King of Cool with unique Steve McQueen branding on the tank and handlebar clamp, an exclusive Competition Green custom paint scheme, premium Scrambler accessories fitted as standard, and a certificate of authenticity with signatures from Triumph’s CEO, Nick Bloor, and Chad McQueen. Pricing starts at $16,400.
The 2022 Triumph Speed Twin gets similar engine updates as the rest of the Bonneville family, and its “high power” liquid-cooled, 1,200cc parallel-twin makes 98.6 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 83 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. To improve handling, the Speed Twin gets a higher-spec Marzocchi inverted cartridge fork, Brembo M50 monoblock calipers, lighter cast aluminum 12-spoke wheels, and Metzeler Racetec RR tires. Styling has also been refreshed. The Speed Twin is available in Red Hopper (above), Matte Storm Grey, and Jet Black. Pricing starts at $12,500.
As with other Bonneville models, the 2022 Triumph Street Scrambler’s liquid-cooled 900cc parallel-twin has been updated to meet Euro 5 emissions yet it still delivers 64 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 59 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. Styling updates include a new side panel with aluminum number board, a new heel guard, new brushed aluminum headlight brackets, new adventure-oriented seat material, new throttle body finishers, and new paint schemes. The Street Scrambler is available in Jet Black, Urban Grey, and two-tone Matte Khaki and Matte Ironstone; pricing starts at $11,000.
Limited to 775 units worldwide, the Scrambler Sandstorm Edition (above) has a unique paint scheme, premium accessories (high front fender, tail tidy, sump guard, headlight grille, and rubber knee pads on the tank), and a certificate of authenticity personalized with the bike’s VIN. Pricing starts at $11,750.
Heralded as Triumph’s best-selling Modern Classic, the 2022 Triumph Street Twin gets an updated engine, new cast wheels, and updated styling. Featuring the same updated “high-torque” 900cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin as the T100, the Street Twin now boasts 64 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 59 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. New 18- and 17-inch 10-spoke cast-aluminum wheels are fitted with Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tires. The Street Twin is available in Cobalt Blue (above), Matte Ironstone, and Jet Black. Pricing starts at $9,400.
Limited to 1,000 units worldwide, the 2022 Triumph Street Twin Gold Line features a Matte Sapphire Black colorway with a Triumph heritage logo and hand-painted gold lining. Pricing starts at $10,150.
The all-new 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is a 689cc sportbike based on the MT-07 platform, slotting between the YZF-R3 and YZF-R1. It features an slip/assist clutch, an optional quickshifter, chassis upgrades, and all-new bodywork. The R7 delivers track-ready performance within reach, with an MSRP of $8,999. Available in Team Yamaha Blue (above) and Performance Black.
This 2021 motorcycle buyers guide includes new or significantly updated street-legal models available in the U.S. It includes bikes in many categories, including adventure, cafe racer, cruiser, sport, sport-touring, retro, touring, and others.
Organized in alphabetical order by manufacturer, it includes photos and links to details or, when available, first rides and road test reviews of each motorcycle. Due to the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, some manufacturers skipped the 2021 model year. Stay tuned for our 2022 Motorcycle Buyers Guide.
Aprilia‘s RS 660 is the first of three models — the RS 660 sportbike, the Tuono 660 naked bike (below), and the not-yet-released Tuareg 660 adventure bike — built on a new engine platform, a liquid-cooled 659cc parallel-Twin with a 270-degree firing order that makes a claimed 100 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 49.4 lb-ft of torque at 8,500 rpm. The RS 660 is equipped with the IMU-enabled APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) electronics package with five ride modes, 3-level cornering ABS, 3-level traction control, wheelie control, cruise control, and engine braking management. Pricing starts at $11,299.
Aprilia is an Italian brand known for performance, and the RSV4 and RSV4 Factory are at the pointy end of the company’s go-fast spear. Both are powered by a 1,099cc, 65-degree V-4 that Aprilia says cranks out an eye-watering 217 horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 10,500 rpm, even while meeting strict Euro 5 emissions regulations. And both are equipped with a 6-axis IMU and the APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) suite of rider aids. Whereas the standard RSV4 features fully adjustable Sachs suspension, the RSV4 Factory is equipped with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension, with a 43mm NIX upside-down fork, a TTX rear shock, and an electronic steering damper. The RSV4 has cast wheels and the RSV4 Factory has lighter and stronger forged wheels. MSRP for the RSV4 is $18,999 and MSRP for the RSV4 Factory is $25,999.
The Tuono name has always been associated with top-of-the-line street performance, and the Aprilia Tuono V4 and Tuono V4 Factory carry the cred with a 1,077cc V-4 that produces 175 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque at the crank (claimed). The Tuono V4 is the more street-focused of the two, with a taller windscreen, a higher handlebar, and optional saddlebags (as shown above), and it is equipped with fully adjustable Sachs suspension. The Tuono V4 Factory is equipped with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension. Both models feature a six-axis IMU that supports the APRC electronics suite. MSRP for the Tuono V4 is $15,999 and MSRP for the Tuono V4 Factory is $19,499.
The Benelli Leoncino (“little lion”) is an Italian-designed, Chinese-manufactured roadster powered by a liquid-cooled 500cc parallel-Twin also found in the TRK502X adventure bike (below). In the U.S., the Leoncino is part of a two-bike lineup, which includes the standard street-biased roadster model (shown above) and the Leoncino Trail, a scrambler variant with more suspension travel and spoked wheels with a 19-inch front and 90/10 adventure tires. The Leoncino comes with standard ABS and is priced at $6,199, while the Leoncino Trail is $7,199.
Like the Leoncino above, the Benelli TRK502X is an Italian-designed, Chinese-manufactured adventure bike powered by a liquid-cooled 500cc parallel-Twin. It has a comfortable and upright seating position, a good windscreen, 90/10 adventure tires with a 19-inch front, spoked wheels, ABS, hand and engine guards, and enough luggage capacity to go the distance (aluminum panniers and top box are standard). MSRP is $7,398.
The BMW R 18 is a cruiser powered by a massive 1,802cc OHV air/oil-cooled 4-valve opposed Twin that’s the largest “boxer” engine the German company has ever produced. Part of BMW’s Heritage line, the R 18 has styling inspired by the 1930s-era R 5. Despite its classic looks, the long, low cruiser is equipped with fully modern electronics, brakes, suspension, and other features. Base price is $17,495. BMW recently announced two touring versions for the 2022 model year, the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental, both with a fairing, hard saddlebags, and an infotainment system; the Transcontinental adds a trunk with an integrated passenger backrest.
The Ducati Monster is one of the Italian manufacturer’s most iconic and best-selling models. Gone is the trademark tubular-steel trellis frame, replaced with a front-frame design that uses the engine as a structural member of the chassis, as on the Panigale and Streetfighter V4 models. Compared to the previous Monster 821, the new model weighs 40 pounds less and is equipped with a more powerful 937cc Testastretta 11-degree L-Twin engine and top-shelf electronics. New styling and more make this an all-new Monster. Pricing starts at $11,895 for the Monster and $12,195 for the Monster+, which adds a flyscreen and passenger seat cover.
Another top-selling Ducati is the Multistrada adventure bike. For 2021, it is now the Multistrada V4 and it is powered by the 1,158cc 90-degree V4 Grandturismo engine that makes 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and stomping 92 lb-ft torque at 8,750 rpm (claimed). Ducati Skyhook semi-active suspension and a full suite of IMU-supported electronics are standard, and S models are equipped with a radar system that enables Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Detection. New for 2021 is a 19-inch front wheel. Pricing starts at $19,995 for the Multistrada V4 and $24,095 for the Multistrada V4 S.
Updates to the Ducati SuperSport 950 include new styling inspired by the Panigale V4, an IMU-enabled electronics package, and improved comfort. The seat is flatter and has more padding, the handlebar is higher, and the footpegs are lower. The SuperSport 950 is powered by a 937cc Testastretta L-Twin that makes 110 horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 68.6 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm (claimed, at the crank). The SuperSport 950 is available in Ducati Red for $13,995. The SuperSport 950 S, which is equipped with fully adjustable Öhlins suspension and a passenger seat cover, is available in Ducati Red and Arctic White Silk starting at $16,195.
2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival
Earlier this year Harley-Davidson announced its new Icons Collection. The first model in the collection is the stunning Electra Glide Revival, which is inspired by the 1969 Electra Glide, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle available with an accessory “batwing” fairing. Though retro in style, the Electra Glide Revival is powered by a Milwaukee Eight 114 V-twin and is equipped with RDRS Safety Enhancements and a Boom! Box infotainment system. Global production of the Electra Glide Revival is limited to a one-time build of 1,500 serialized examples, with an MSRP of $29,199.
With its iconic solid aluminum 18-inch Lakester wheels, for 2021 Harley-Davidson gave the Fat Boy 114 a new look with lots of chrome and bright work. Powering the Fat Boy is none other than the torquey Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine, equipped with a 6-speed gearbox and putting down a claimed 119 ft-lb of torque at just 3,000 rpm. Pricing starts at $19,999.
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 / Pan America 1250 Special
A competitive, state-of-the-art, 150-horsepower adventure bike built by Harley-Davidson? Yea, right, when pigs fly! Well, the Motor Company came out swinging with its Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special. Powered by the all-new Revolution Max 1250, a liquid-cooled, 1,252cc, 60-degree V-Twin with DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. The killer app is the optional Adaptive Ride Height, which lowers the higher-spec Pan America 1250 Special (which is equipped with semi-active Showa suspension) by 1 to 2 inches when the bike comes to a stop. Pricing starts at $17,319 for the Pan America 1250 and $19,999 for the Pan America 1250 Special.
For Harley-Davidson Touring models like the Road Glide, Road King, and Street Glide, there are Special models that offer a slammed look and 119 lb-ft of torque from the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin. The 2021 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special is available with new two-tone paint options, and with a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatments. All Special models are now equipped with the high-performance Ventilator air cleaner with a washable filter element, and a new low-profile engine guard. Pricing starts at $26,699.
2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S
The (air-cooled) Sportster is dead, long live the (liquid-cooled) Sportster! Visually similar to the 1250 Custom teased several years ago, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S represents a new era for the legendary Sportster line. Since the introduction of the XL model family in 1957, Sportsters have always been stripped-down motorcycles powered by air-cooled V-Twins. Harley calls the new Sportster S a “sport custom motorcycle,” and at the heart of the machine is a 121-horsepower Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin, a lightweight chassis, and premium suspension. Pricing starts at $14,999.
The Street Bob, with its mini-ape handlebar, mid-mount controls, and bobber-style fenders, has become a fan favorite among those looking for a minimalist American V-twin to customize. The 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 packs more punch, thanks to the larger, torque-rich Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. Pricing starts at $14,999.
With a slammed look and 119 lb-ft of torque from the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is available with new two-tone paint options, and with a choice of a blacked-out or bright chrome styling treatments. All Special models are now equipped with the high-performance Ventilator air cleaner with a washable filter element, and a new low-profile engine guard. Pricing starts at $27,099.
The 2021 Honda ADV150 is an ADV-styled scooter, essentially a Honda PCX150 with longer travel Showa suspension (5.1/4.7 inches front/rear) and a larger ABS-equipped 240mm disc brake at the bow and a drum brake without ABS in the stern. Its powered by a liquid-cooled 149cc Single and has an automatic V-matic transmission. Pricing starts at $4,199.
Well-mannered motorcycles seldom make racing history, and the 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP was developed with one uncompromising goal — win superbike races at all costs. It’s powered by an inline-Four that we dyno tested at 175 horsepower at the rear wheel, and it’s equipped with Öhlins semi-active suspension, IMU-enabled electronics, and top-shelf braking hardware. And it’s street legal and available for purchase from your local Honda dealer. MSRP is $28,500.
The 2021 Honda CRF300L (above) and CRF300L Rally (below) dual-sports share the same powerplant, a liquid-cooled 286cc Single which boasts 15% more displacement, power, and torque than its 250cc predecessor. They have a new slip/assist clutch, revised steering geometry, less weight, and a new LCD meter. The CRF300L has a base price of $5,249 (add $300 for ABS), weighs 309 pounds, has a 2.1-gallon tank, and has a 34.7-inch seat height.
The 2021 Honda CRF300L and CRF300L Rally (above) dual-sports share the same powerplant, a liquid-cooled 286cc Single which boasts 15% more displacement, power, and torque than its 250cc predecessor. They have a new slip/assist clutch, revised steering geometry, less weight, and a new LCD meter. The CRF300L Rally, which has a windscreen, handlebar weights, rubber footpeg inserts, a larger front brake rotor, more seat padding, and a larger fuel tank (3.4 gallons vs. 2.1) than the CRF300L, has a base price of $5,999 (add $300 for ABS), weighs 333 pounds, and has a 35.2-inch seat height.
The Honda CRF450L debuted for 2019, bringing CRF450R motocross performance to a street-legal dual-sport. Its lightweight, compact, liquid-cooled 449cc single has a 12:1 compression ratio and a Unicam SOHC valve train with titanium valves. For 2021, Honda added an “R” to the model name (CRF450RL), lowered the price to $9,999 (from $10,399), revised the ECU and fuel-injection settings for better throttle response, and added new hand guards and fresh graphics.
The Gold Wing has been Honda‘s flagship touring model for more than 40 years. It entered its sixth generation for the 2018 model year, with a complete overhaul to the GL1800 platform that made it lighter, sportier, and more technologically advanced. The standard Gold Wing (above) and trunk-equipped Gold Wing Tour (below) won Rider‘s 2018 Motorcycle of the Year award. Gold Wing updates for 2021 include a suede-like seat cover, colored seat piping, audio improvements, and red rear turnsignals. Pricing starts at $23,800 for the Gold Wing and $25,100 for the Gold Wing DCT (with 7-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission).
Updates for the Honda Gold Wing Tour include the same ones listed above for the standard Gold Wing: a suede-like seat cover, colored seat piping, audio improvements, and red rear turnsignals. But the Tour also got a larger top trunk (61 liters, up from 50) that now easily accepts two full-face helmets; total storage capacity is now 121 liters. The passenger seat’s backrest features a more relaxed angle, thicker foam, and a taller profile. Pricing starts at $23,800 for the Gold Wing and $25,100 for the Gold Wing DCT (with 7-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission).
Joining the Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 in Honda‘s cruiser lineup for 2021 is the all-new Rebel 1100, which is powered by powered by a version of the liquid-cooled 1,084cc parallel-twin used in the 2020 Africa Twin, which uses a Unicam SOHC valve train and is available with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. Standard equipment includes four ride modes (Standard, Sport, Rain and User, which is customizable), Honda Selectable Torque Control (aka traction control, which has integrated wheelie control), engine brake control, and cruise control. Pricing starts at $9,299 for the Rebel 1100 and $9,999 for the Rebel 1100 DCT.
The latest addition to Honda‘s miniMOTO lineup is the Trail 125 ABS, which is powered by the same air-cooled 125cc Single found in the Grom, Monkey, and Super Cub C125. Like the Monkey and Super Cub, the Trail plays the retro card, pulling at heartstrings for a bike beloved by many decades ago. Just like its forefathers, the 2021 Honda Trail 125 proudly carries on the tradition of being a quaint and understated dual-sport, with a steel backbone frame, upright handlebar, square turnsignals, upswept exhaust, high-mount snorkel, and luggage rack. MSRP is $3,899.
For 2021, the Indian Roadmaster Limited gets the larger 116ci Thunder Stroke V-Twin versus the original 111, and it has a modern streamlined fairing, open front fender, and slammed saddlebags. As a premium touring model, the Roadmaster Limited also gets Indian’s heated and cooled ClimaCommand seats and other upgrades. Pricing starts at $30,749.
Like the Honda CRF300L above, Kawasaki‘s entry-level dual-sport got a displacement boost, which warranted a name change from KLX250 to KLX300. The 2021 KLX300 makes more thanks to a larger 292cc Single, which is liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, and has DOHC with four valves. It also uses more aggressive cam profiles, making it livelier than its predecessor. All of that is paired to a 6-speed gearbox and 14/40 final drive. Pricing starts at $5,599. And joining the KLX300 is a supermoto version, the KLX300SM (below).
Joining the KLX300 dual-sport (above) in Kawasaki‘s 2021 lineup is an all-new supermoto version, the KLX300SM. It has street-oriented 17-inch wire-spoke wheels and IRC Road Winner RX-01 rubber, and the suspension is stiffer with slightly abbreviated travel. The KLX300SM also has taller final-drive gearing and a larger front brake rotor. Pricing starts at $5,599.
Speaking of supermoto, KTM‘s track-only, race-ready 450 SMR is back for 2021. Using the 450 SX-F motocross racer as its foundation, the SMR shares its 63-horsepower 450cc single-cylinder SOHC engine, lightweight steel frame, and cast-aluminum swingarm. To suit its supermoto purpose, wider triple clamps with a 16mm offset accommodate tubeless Alpina wheels (16.5-inch front and 17-inch rear) fitted with ultra-sticky Bridgestone Battlax Supermoto slicks. The WP Xact suspension is updated, reducing suspension travel to an ample 11.2 inches in the front and 10.5 inches in the rear, lowering the bike’s center of gravity and improving handling. A radially mounted Brembo M50 front caliper squeezes a 310mm Galfer floating rotor to deliver all the braking power you’ll ever need on a bike that weighs just 232 pounds wet. MSRP is $11,299.
We selected the KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R as Rider‘s 2019 Motorcycle of the Year. Just two years later, KTM has updated the platform. Adapted from the 890 Duke R, the engine now has more displacement, a higher compression ratio, and other improvements. And like the 890 Duke R, the Adventure R has better throttle-by-wire response, a beefed-up clutch and a shortened shift lever stroke and lighter shift-detent spring for faster shifting. Chassis updates include an aluminum head tube, a lighter swingarm, revised suspension settings, and refinements to the braking system. Pricing starts at $14,199.
The limited-edition KTM 890 Adventure R Rally received the same updates as the 890 Adventure R (above), but is loaded with race-spec inspired components. Its development utilized feedback from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team riders, Toby Price, and Sam Sunderland. Only 700 units of the 890 Adventure R Rally will be produced worldwide, with 200 slated for the North American market. Pricing starKTM 8ts at $19,999.
Powering the 2021 KTM 890 Duke is the same punchy, rip-roaring 889cc parallel-Twin producing a claimed 115 horsepower and 67.9 lb-ft of torque that’s also found in the 890 Duke R and 890 Adventure (above). Shared amongst the middleweight Duke family is a chromoly-steel frame, lightweight one-piece aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm. By using the 889cc engine as a stressed member, the 890 Duke flaunts a mere 372-pound dry weight. We recently completed a comparison test of the 2021 KTM Duke lineup (200, 390, 890, and 1290), which will be posted soon.
On March 15, 2021, Moto Guzzi celebrated its 100th anniversary of continuous production at its headquarters in Mandello del Lario, Italy. One of Moto Guzzi’s most iconic models, the V7, was updated for 2021, and is available in more modern V7 Stone and classic V7 Special versions. Both have a larger 853cc V-Twin derived from engine, variations of which are found in the V9 and V85 TT. They also get reduced effort from the single-disc dry clutch, a stiffer frame, a bigger swingarm with a new bevel gear for the cardan shaft drive, revised damping and a longer stroke for the preload-adjustable rear shocks, an updated ABS module, a wider rear tire, vibration-damping footpegs, and a thicker passenger seat. MSRP for the V7 Stone is $8,990, or $9,190 for the Centenario edition (shown above).
The 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special gets the same updates as the V7 Stone above. Whereas the V7 Stone has matte finishes, a single all-digital gauge, black exhausts, cast wheels, and an eagle-shaped LED set into the headlight, the V7 Special is classically styled, with spoked wheels, chrome finishes, dual analog gauges, and a traditional headlight. MSRP is $9,490.
For 2021, the Moto Guzzi V85 TT gets some updates to its air-cooled 853cc 90-degree V-Twin. The revised powerplant offers more torque at low to midrange rpm thanks to optimized lift of the pushrod-and-rockers timing cams and tweaks to the engine control electronics. New spoked rims now mount tubeless tires, reducing unsprung weight by 3.3 pounds for better handling and facilitating plug-and-go flat repairs. Two new riding modes—Sport and Custom—join the existing three (Street, Rain, Off-road) to provide more flexibility in managing throttle response, traction control and ABS to suit rider preferences. Cruise control and the color TFT instrument panel also come standard. The 2021 V85 TT Adventure ($12,990) has standard saddlebags. The 2021 V85 TT Travel ($13,390) includes a Touring windscreen, side panniers from the Urban series, auxiliary LED lights, heated hand grips, and the Moto Guzzi MIA multimedia platform.
For 2021, the Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure bike, which is powered by an air-cooled 411cc Single, get several updates, including switchable ABS to help riders when riding off-road, a revised rear brake that is said to improve braking performance, a redesigned sidestand, and a new hazard light switch. MSRP is $4,999.
For 2021, the Royal Enfield family gets a new addition — the Meteor 350, a light, affordable cruiser powered by an all-new air-cooled 349cc single with SOHC actuating two valves. Available in three budget-friendly trim packages, variants include the base-model Fireball ($4,399) with a black exhaust system; the Stellar ($4,499), with a chrome exhaust and a passenger backrest; and the Supernova ($4,599), which adds a windshield and a two-tone paint scheme.
Triumph‘s Speed Triple is one of the original hooligan bikes. It has evolved over the years since its introduction in 1994, and for 2021 the Speed Triple 1200 RS is the lightest, most powerful, highest-spec version yet. Its all-new 1,160cc Triple (up from 1,050cc) makes 165 horsepower at the rear wheel, and the RS is equipped with state-of-the-art electronics, fully adjustable Öhlins suspension, Brembo Stylema front calipers, and much more. Pricing starts at $18,300.
The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport, a street-focused adventure bike powered by the same liquid-cooled 888cc in-line triple as the Tiger 900 models, but it has been detuned to 82 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 58 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel, as measured on Jett Tuning‘s dyno, which is about 10 horsepower lower. To keep the price down, Triumph also reduced the number of ride modes to two (Road and Rain) and limited suspension adjustability to rear preload. But this is no bargain-bin special. It has Marzocchi suspension front and rear, and it has Brembo brakes, with Stylema front calipers and a radial front master cylinder. ABS is standard but not switchable, and traction control is also standard but is switchable.
The 2021 Triumph Trident 660 is a triple-cylinder-powered roadster in the the twin-cylinder-dominated middleweight class. It’s powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 660cc inline-Triple making a claimed 79.9 horsepower at 10,250 rpm and 47 lb-ft of torque at 6,250 rpm, and it is equipped with ABS, switchable traction control, and selectable ride modes. MSRP is $7,995.
Updates for 2021 to the Yamaha MT-07, its best-selling middleweight naked sportbike, include revisions to the 689cc liquid-cooled CP2 (Cross Plane 2-cylinder) parallel-Twin engine to meet Euro 5 regulations and to improve low-rpm throttle response. The MT-07 has a new 2-into-1 exhaust, revisions to the 6-speed gearbox to improve shifting feel, LED lighting all around, new instrumentation, revised ergonomics, and new styling that brings it closer in appearance to the larger MT-09 (below). Base price is $7,699, and three color choices are available: Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black, and Team Yamaha Blue.
Now in its third generation, fully 90% of the Yamaha MT-09 naked sportbike is new for 2021. Its has an entirely new 890cc CP3 (Cross Plane 3-cylinder) inline-Triple engine, a thoroughly updated and significantly stiffer chassis, state-of-the-art electronics, and a fresh look that results in the most refined MT-09 yet. The base price increased by $400 to $9,399, but the four extra Benjamins are worth it. The MT-09 is available in Storm Fluo (shown above), Matte Raven Black, and Team Yamaha Blue. There’s also an MT-09 SP ($10,999) with exclusive special-edition coloring, premium KYB and Öhlins suspension, and cruise control.
After being teased for several years, Yamaha‘s highly anticipated Ténéré 700 adventure bike made its U.S. debut in the summer of 2021, bringing some excitement during a challenging pandemic year. It’s powered by the versatile 689cc liquid-cooled CP2 (Cross Plane 2-cylinder) parallel-Twin engine from the MT-07 (above), modified for adventure duty with a new airbox with a higher snorkel, a revised cooling system, an upswept exhaust, and a final gear ratio of 46/15 vs. 43/16. The rest of the bike is all-new, including the narrow double-cradle tubular-steel frame, triangulated (welded-on) subframe, double braced steering head and aluminum swingarm, adjustable long-travel suspension, switchable ABS, and more. Base price is $9,999 and its available in Ceramic Ice, Intensity White (shown above), and Matte Black.
Now in its third generation, Yamaha’s middleweight sport-tourer — now called the Tracer 9 GT — is new from the ground up for 2021. It has a larger, more powerful engine, a new frame, and a state-of-the-art electronics package that includes semi-active suspension. With these updates comes a higher price, and MSRP is now $14,899. It’s available in Liquid Metal (shown above) and Redline.
New for 2021, Zero has taken the existing frame from the FX and added a redesigned body. The starkly modern, supermoto styling is very similar in appearance to the FXS – tall, slim and sporting a raised front mudguard. However, the FXE is capable of a claimed 100-mile range on a full battery charge and costs $11,795, which can be bought down to around $10,000 depending upon available EV rebates and credits.
Compared to many of its heavier, more expensive competitors the FXE is a lightweight and thrilling runabout, and what it gives up in range it makes up for in accessibility and potential for fun. The FXE makes for a credible commuter bike, capable of taking to the highway but ideal to zip around town on.
Harley-Davidson is producing a limited run of 2021 Street Glide Specials featuring the handcrafted Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint set. The motorcycle was revealed today at the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Availability will be limited to 500 examples worldwide, each serialized on the fuel tank.
The Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint will be offered in a single colorway – metallic deep blue with bright blue strokes over a pearlescent white base. Each of the Street Glide Specials receiving the new custom scheme is hand-painted by the artisans at Gunslinger Custom Paint in Golden, Colorado. Gunslinger is home to a renowned group of painters, designers and, artists with decades of experience supplying custom-painted components for Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations team and limited-edition motorcycles.
“With the Arctic Blast Limited Edition paint offering for the Street Glide Special, at Harley-Davidson, we continue to build on our reputation and lead by example, as the best in exclusive custom motorcycles and design,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO Harley-Davidson.
The Street Glide Special model is a Harley-Davidson hot-rod bagger that combines long-haul touring comfort and custom style powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine. Key features include the iconic Harley-Davidson batwing fairing, stretched locking saddlebags, a Daymaker LED headlamp, low-profile engine guard, and Prodigy custom wheels.
“The Arctic Blast paint is executed in strokes of high-contrast color intended to communicate the appearance of motion,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Design. “The design looks bold from a distance but offers interesting details that can only be seen up close, including a blue pearl effect over the white base, and a ghosted hexagon pattern on the fairing.”
The Arctic Blast Limited Edition Street Glide Special MSRP is $38,899. A Chopped Tour-Pak luggage carrier with matching paint will also be offered through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories (MSRP: $1,699.95).
When BMW unveiled the R 18 last year, a cruiser powered by a massive 1,802cc OHV air/oil-cooled 4-valve opposed Twin that’s the largest “boxer” engine the German company has ever produced, it was only a matter of time before touring versions were added to the lineup.
For 2022, BMW has announced the R 18 B “Bagger” and R 18 Transcontinental. Both are equipped with a handlebar-mounted fairing, a passenger seat, and locking hard saddlebags, and the Transcontinental adds a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest.
Available this month, the 2022 BMW R 18 B has a base price of $21,495 and the 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental has a base price of $24,995. The standard R 18 and R 18 Classic remain in the lineup.
The new R 18 B is equipped with a low windshield, a slim seat, and a matte black metallic engine finish. The R 18 Transcontinental has a taller windshield, wind deflectors, driving lights, heated seats, highway bars, and an engine finished in silver metallic.
Seat height is 28.3 inches on the R 18 B and 29.1 inches on the R 18 Transcontinental. Both have mid-mount controls, with footrests on the Bagger and rider and passenger footboards on the Transcontinental. Fuel capacity is a generous 6.3 gallons (up from 4.2 on the standard R 18).
The saddlebags offer 27 liters of storage in each side (26.5 liters with optional audio), and an additional storage compartment with charging for mobile phones is integrated into the fuel tank. The Transcontinental’s trunk holds 48 liters (47 liters with optional audio).
BMW gave the touring versions of the R 18 a streamliner-style fairing and sculpted saddlebags that complement the lines of the standard bike. Inspired by the 1930s-era R 5, the R 18 has a double-loop frame, a gloss nickel-plated universal driveshaft, classic housing for the rear-axle gearbox, and black paintwork with optional double pinstriping. The “Big Boxer” showcases the overhead pushrod guides on top of the cylinders, while the belt cover and the cylinder head covers echo the legendary R 5 engine’s styling.
As with BMW motorcycles of the past, the fork tubes are clad with a cover extending to the slider tubes in the form of contemporary stainless-steel fork sleeves. Newly designed, rearward-curving side covers blend with the elongated lines, combining with the handlebar-mounted front trim and round mirrors to give the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental a distinctive styling touch.
The R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental have triple-disc brakes with BMW Motorrad Full Integral ABS. Standard equipment includes Dynamic Cruise Control, which maintains the preselected speed even when riding downhill and applies the brakes as needed to do so. Optional Active Cruise Control uses radar sensors to maintain distance from the vehicle in front even if speed changes, and it also adjusts speed during cornering.
Both models have full LED lighting, and the Adaptive Turning Light is optional. It uses a swivel function to point the low beam into corners according to banking angle, and it also adjusts according to load and ride height.
Behind the fairing are four analog gauges and a 10.25-inch TFT color display. The gauges include a speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and a “Power Reserve” instrument adapted from the BMW Group’s Rolls-Royce Motor Cars brand. The TFT display allows a navigation map to be displayed in the instrument cluster via a smartphone and the BMW Motorrad Connected App, thus eliminating the need for any additional displays. The display can also be customized with various tiles such as My Motorcycle, Radio, Navigation, Media, Phone, and Settings. Vehicle functions such as Settings, Navigation, and Communication are operated using the Multicontroller wheel next to the left grip.
Other features include:
Riding modes: Rain, Roll, and Rock
Automatic Stability Control (switchable)
Engine drag torque control (MSR)
Hill Start Control
Reverse assist (optional)
The new R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental are equipped with a standard sound system developed together with the British manufacturer Marshall featuring two 2-way loudspeakers, each with 25 watts output, integrated into the front fairing, black speaker grills, and white Marshall lettering.
Highlights of the audio system include:
Equalizer profiles – optimized listening profiles for a perfect audio experience
via the helmet: one profile (studio)
via loudspeakers: four profiles (bass-boost, treble-boost, voice, balanced)
Highly flexible sound architecture design options (treble/bass) with a very broad output spectrum (output range), even at high speeds
FM/AM band, HD radio and optional SiriusXM Satellite radio
The optional Marshall Gold Series Stage 1 equips the motorcycles adds a pair of 90-watt subwoofers in the front upper section of the side cases and a 180-watt amplifier.
The Marshall Gold Series Stage 2, available for the R 18 Transcontinental, includes five speakers (two in the fairing, subwoofers in the saddlebags, and a 2-way, 25-watt speaker in the front side section of the passenger backrest) and a 180-watt amplifier.
R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental First Editions
At market launch, the new R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental will be available in exclusive First Edition versions in addition to the standard models. These combine the classic R 18 look with equipment in exclusive paint and chrome.
Additional equipment extras include chrome components, Blackstorm metallic paint with elaborate double-pinstripes in Lightwhite echoes the bikes’ historical roots. Other highlights include special surface finishes, an embroidered seat and the inscription “First Edition” on the side cases.
First Edition features include:
Wheels in black, contrast milled (R 18 B)
Wheels in silver grey, contrast milled (R 18 Transcontinental)
Chrome clasps on cases with “First Edition” lettering
Chrome-plated handlebar fittings
Chrome-plated cylinder head covers and hero chest
Chrome-plated intake trim
White double pinstriping on fuel tank, fairing and trunks and cases
Chrome-plated brake calipers at the front (R 18 Transcontinental only)
Another component is the “First Edition” Welcome Box which is exclusively reserved for buyers of the “First Edition” and contains:
Box with picture of the engine on the lid
Historic fuel tank emblems (copper-colored lettering)
Historic slotted screws (copper-colored)
Assembly screwdriver (can also be used as a key ring)
“R 18 First Edition” cap
Leather belt with exclusive “R 18 First Edition” belt buckle
Book the history of BMW Motorrad
As with all BMW motorcycles, the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental will be available with an extensive range of options and accessories. We’ll get a chance to ride both bikes soon, so stay tuned for our review. To find a BMW Motorrad dealer near you, visit bmwmotorcycles.com.
EIC Drevenstedt asked me a simple question: “How many Honda Gold Wings have you ridden?” My answer required lots of mental calculations: maybe 75 or 80 total? “Okay,” he said. “Then you go ride the 2021 Gold Wing Tour DCT and tell me how it fits in with all those past Wings.”
Back in the late 1970s, I worked at Cycle magazine, and we rode the living snot out of every test bike, including the big ones. So full disclosure: I’m an outlier regarding performance standards. I’ve always pushed motorcycles far beyond the typical pace, and I prize light and lively handling above all else. Since 2000 I’ve ridden over 40 different fifth-gen Wings (2001-2017 GL1800s), but I had yet to ride the sixth-gen GL1800 that was introduced in 2018 and updated in 2020.
Revised passenger accommodations: The passenger seat backrest reclines more and has thicker foam and a taller profile. Both my wife and daughter prefer this setup compared to the previous-generation GL1800s we ride (2003 and 2008; see “SIDEBAR: A Tale of Two Gold Wings” below). They especially like the longer armrests but regret the loss of the two rear storage compartments.
Larger trunk: The top trunk now holds 61 liters (up 11 from before; total luggage capacity is 121 liters) and can now stow a pair of full-face helmets. The low back lip facilitates easy loading, but care must be taken to tuck in the cargo’s stray straps, sleeves, etc. so the lid latches securely.
New seat cover and rear turn signals: The seat’s new suede-like material has a premium look and feel to it, and the colored seat piping is a nice touch. The rear turn signals are now all red for a cleaner look.
Updated audio: Improvements include upgraded, 45-watt speakers with richer sound, optimized automatic volume-adjustment level, a standard XM radio antenna and new Android Auto integration in addition to the previous Apple CarPlay integration.
My other impressions of the sixth-gen Wing? Awesome brakes. Truly awesome, much like sportbike binders. I never felt the brakes on my 2008 Wing were lacking, until now. Equally important, rider ergonomics are vastly improved. I’m a big guy, and I’ve always felt cramped and confined by the previous-gen GL1800’s seat/bar/peg configuration. The latest iteration offers much more natural and comfortable ergonomics.
The Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) is also impressive and relieves some of the rider task load, especially while riding around town and dealing with traffic. Its shift points in Tour mode are accurate, if a bit relaxed, while Sport mode’s power delivery feels much crisper and even a bit abrupt. Sport mode holds shift points so much longer you really need to be totally sport focused, not even a little bit lazy in your planning. And that’s not a complaint; Sport is my preferred setting on tight back roads. The DCT can be a little tricky during ultra-low-speed maneuvering, but I adapted fairly quickly. I do, however, miss being able to slow-roll a tight turn using the clutch during gas station maneuvers and such.
As for styling, the new machine looks stunningly sleek and remarkably athletic parked beside my 2008 GL1800. However, I am not much swayed by a machine’s cosmetics; it’s what she’ll do that counts. And Gold Wings have long been unfairly maligned for their size and looks without proper respect for their high level of full-throttle performance.
It’s hilariously revealing when anybody bad-mouths the Honda Gold Wing as an “old man’s bike,” especially if their opinion isn’t based on actual riding experience. When I wrote the test for the then-new GL1200 for the February 1984 issue of Cycle, my conclusion was: “This year the Honda engineers have pulled off an unbelievable trick — they’ve taken a 790-pound machine and made it nimble and manageable. The choice is clear. Why put up with a big-feeling touring mount when you can have something as close to magic as we’ve seen in a long time?”
Whew! Lofty praise indeed. But it reflects how much Honda engineers have always invested in the basic bones — the chassis and engine — of every generation of the Gold Wing to create a good-handling package.
Things got bigger and better with the gen-four GL1500. I didn’t spend much time on full-dresser 1500s, but I fell deeply in love with the stripped-down 1,520cc Valkyrie muscle bike — unvarnished, rowdy fun! Do you have your October 1996 issue of Rider handy? That’s my story, “The Great Escape,” with our daughter Kristen joining me on the new Valkyrie in Montana. After completing that trip I had more Valkyrie miles logged than any non-Honda employee. And I loved it.
Within the realm of big tourers, I am especially enamored with the fifth-gen Wing for both its handling and power. When I dove into the first corner aboard the GL1800 back in 2000 during the bike’s press intro, that previously beloved Valky instantly turned to toast; the GL1800 simply smoked it on handling alone, not to mention the big boost in power. For riders with a serious sporting bent, it was a real revelation thanks to its delightfully agile handling and precise steering. (We have former Large Project Leader Masanori Aoki, who was responsible for several CBR sportbike models before heading up the GL1800 project, to thank for that.) It felt nothing short of wondrous at the time and it remains a wonder and a mystery even today, which is why many uninitiated “experts” still foolishly look down their noses at Wings.
Fact is, I’ve personally schooled more than a few leather-clad sportbike riders by treating them to a sudden appearance of a Wing in their mirrors — followed by polite passes, of course. I’ve logged thousands of miles on dozens of different GL1800s and I know exactly how well they get down a road, twisty or straight. Until you’ve ground down a GL1800’s footpegs to half-length smoldering stubs, you’ve got nothing to say about how a Gold Wing supposedly cannot perform.
That brings us to this 2021 Gold Wing Tour DCT, which is an impressively sporting, fun, and stylish package. It’s so good in so many ways it really outshines the early fifth-gen GL1800, a bike I love dearly. In my book, the sixth-gen’s main shortcoming is that its Hassock-style front end that lacks the delightful steering agility of its predecessor. And that nimble feel is what originally set the GL1800 apart from other big rigs. The 2021 may be 80 pounds lighter, but that benefit is largely offset by heavier steering and muted front-end feel and feedback.
I regret that loss, but then I’m a nut for steering agility. In the real world, for every rider with a sport orientation like mine, dozens more will line up for all of the comfort, convenience and technology features that make the latest Gold Wing Tour DCT such a sweet touring machine.
2021 Honda Gold Wing Tour Specs
Base Price: $28,300 Price as Tested: $29,300 (DCT model) Website:powersports.honda.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat six, Unicam SOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,833cc Bore x Stroke: 73.0 x 73.0mm Transmission: 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission automatic (as tested) Final Drive: Shaft Wheelbase: 66.7 in. Rake/Trail: 30.5 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 29.3 in. Wet Weight: 838 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gals. Fuel Consumption: 40 mpg
SIDEBAR: A Tale of Two Gold Wings
Motorcycle industry gurus talk about expanding the touring market with younger riders. But nobody seems to do anything about it. So I did.
Back in 2019, I had one motorcycle — my trusty Honda 919. My wife Katie had basically quit riding with me even though a pair of artificial hips let her hop on a backseat freely again. A GL1800 seemed a nonstarter. Yet next thing I knew, I owned not one but two Gold Wings.
How’s that? Well, we had invited the entire family to vacation with us in Tuscany last June, including motorcycle rides with a private guide. Sweet, huh? That commitment meant Katie needed seat time prior to Italy and a Wing in the garage would supply necessary incentive.
In November of 2019, I found a used 2003 GL1800 showing 29,000 miles. It was a cream puff, and for $5,500 it was a steal. Katie and I mounted up and she fell in love with riding all over again. Life was grand. And then COVID-19 hit. Even worse, serious health issues sidelined me for nearly all of that cursed year.
So I told my son-in-law Gregg (not Drevenstedt!) to come and take the Wing so my daughter Kristen could enjoy a break from the pillion of their Yamaha R6. Kristen had logged thousands of miles with me on Wings and Valkyries from her teen years onward, so she’d surely dig it. But to my surprise, Gregg immediately fell in love with the whole Wing thing and they headed out riding most weekends, having a blast. Months later, I’d feel like a heel by repossessing it. So I bought another GL1800, this time a 2008 for $7,800. And I gave them the ’03. Growing the touring segment one young couple at a time … for less money than that trip to Italy would’ve cost us! — KL
As the growing popularity of the resto-mod customization movement has shown, combining classic styling with modern engineering is a winning formula.
Harley-Davidson has announced its new Icons Collection, and the first model in the collection is the stunning 2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival.
The Icons Collection is an annual program that offers very limited-edition motorcycles designed to elevate traditional forms and celebrate Americana, either by revisiting classic Harley-Davidson design themes or by exploring ideas that represent the future of motorcycle style.
Only one or two models will be included in the Icons Collection each year, with a single production run that highlights their exclusivity. Production of that model will never be resumed or repeated. Each Icons Collection motorcycle will be serialized, and the purchaser will receive a certificate of authenticity.
“With The Hardwire, we made a commitment to introduce a series of motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO Harley-Davidson. “With that in mind, I am proud to introduce our new limited production Icons Collection, a series of extraordinary adaptations of production motorcycles which look to our storied past and bright future.”
2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival
The first model in the Icons Collection is the Electra Glide Revival model, a drop-dead gorgeous retro-classic motorcycle decked out with chrome and an old-school two-tone paint scheme. Global production of the Electra Glide Revival model will be limited to a one-time build of 1,500 serialized examples, with bikes available at Harley-Davidson dealers in late April, with an MSRP of $29,199.
The look of the Electra Glide Revival model is inspired by the 1969 Electra Glide, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle available with an accessory “batwing” fairing. The fairing became an iconic Harley-Davidson styling cue, its shape an instant on-the-road identifier of many H-D models and the foundational design of the fairing featured on current models.
In 1969, the accessory fairing and saddlebags were only offered in white molded fiberglass, and the Electra Glide Revival replicates that look with a Birch White painted finish. The period-inspired tank medallion and Electra Glide script on the front fender complete the look. The Electra Glide Revival will be offered in a single color scheme inspired by the original 1969 colorway: The two-tone fuel tank in Hi-Fi Blue and Black Denim bisected with a Birch White stripe, with Hi-Fi Blue paint on the fenders and side panels.
“We live in a very dynamic time, each of us experiencing constant change,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design. “The Electra Glide Revival model is an oasis in this daily turbulence, a way to reconnect with the fundamental Harley-Davidson DNA that created Grand American Touring.”
Design highlights of the Electra Glide Revival model include a solo saddle with a black-and-white cover and a chrome rail, mounted over an adjustable coil spring and shock absorber, also a nod to Harley-Davidson FL models from the 1960s and a functional feature that adds rider comfort. Chrome steel-laced wheels and wide whitewall tires add to the nostalgic look, as do brilliant chrome on front fender rails and saddlebag rails, front fender skirt, Ventilator air cleaner cover, fork covers, and auxiliary lights.
The Electra Glide Revival model is powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine which delivers inspiring performance and classic Harley-Davidson look-sound-feel.
Displacement: 114 cu in (1,868 cc)
Torque: 118 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm (claimed)
Four valve cylinder heads (two exhaust and two intake valves per head, eight total); increased airflow through the engine contributes to power output.
Dual spark plugs for more complete combustion of the air/fuel charge and maximized power and efficiency.
6-Speed Cruise Drive transmission reduces engine RPM at highway speeds to enhance fuel economy and rider comfort.
The Electra Glide Revival offers classic style, but its design and technology is absolutely modern. The foundation of the Electra Glide Revival model is the single-spar Harley-Davidson Touring frame with a rigid backbone design to sustain the weight of luggage and to support current engine power. The entire chassis is designed for the long haul. A single knob hydraulically adjusts the pre-load of emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers for optimal ride and control. The 49mm fork with dual bending valve suspension technology deliver linear damping characteristics for a smooth ride.
The classic Bat Wing fairing features a tall clear windshield and a splitstream vent to help reduce rider head buffeting. Electronic cruise control holds a steady speed for comfort on long rides, while a halogen headlamp and incandescent auxiliary lamps provide outstanding illumination and maintain the nostalgic styling of the Revival model.
A Boom! Box GTS infotainment system with color touch screen powers two fairing-mount speakers and features advanced navigation and hand and voice commands (when paired with a compatible headset) plus Android Auto application and Apple CarPlay software compatibility.
Also standard is the suite of Harley-Davidson RDRS Safety Enhancements, a collection of technology designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking, including:
Since the last time we put a Roadmaster through it paces (Rider, April 2018), Indian’s Touring family has grown to five models. At the top of the heap are the Roadmaster Elite and limited-edition Jack Daniel’s Roadmaster Dark Horse, flashy Harley CVO competitors adorned with premium finishes, accessories and hardware to go with their nearly $40,000 price tags. Riders with simpler tastes have a choice of three Roadmaster models all priced within $750 of one another, the Roadmaster and Roadmaster Dark Horse at $29,999, and the Roadmaster Limited at $30,749. For 2021 all offer the plush, stable Roadmaster highway experience, now with a little more rumble and snort thanks to getting a larger 116ci Thunder Stroke engine versus the original 111ci air-cooled V-twin. Like the Roadmaster Elite, the base Roadmaster still wears the bike’s original swoopy fork-mounted fairing and skirted front fender like Indians of old, while the Limited and Dark Horse models have a more modern streamlined fairing, open front fender and slammed saddlebags.
The “new” Indian Motorcycle company did it right when it launched its first lineup for 2014, delivering three cruiser and bagger models with signature Indian styling like those fully valanced fenders and finned flathead-like cylinder heads with downward-firing exhaust headers on the new Thunder Stroke 111 engine. The Roadmaster full dresser followed shortly after with a complete complement of touring equipment, including an electric windscreen, removable fairing lowers, plush air adjustable single-shock rear suspension and a large top trunk. We were mightily impressed by its comfort, convenience and performance, but had concerns about the bike’s massive weight and engine heat output. As time marched on and the supply of nostalgia buffs interested in their historic styling began to wane, Indian added lighter versions of the Chieftain bagger and Roadmaster with crisper, more modern lines, as well as the all-new Challenger bagger with its liquid-cooled Power Plus 108 V-twin and frame-mounted fairing (a bike we deemed worthy of Rider’s 2020 Motorcycle of the Year award).
As a great touring motorcycle in its own right, with less weight and no engine heat to complain about, the Challenger’s introduction created a dilemma. Since you can add the Roadmaster top trunk to it as an accessory and end up with a cooler, lighter, fully dressed touring machine that handles better and makes more power, is there still a place in the lineup for the hot and heavy Roadmaster? Let’s find out.
Fascinated as we are by shiny things, for this refresher we focused on the Roadmaster Limited, which gets beautiful deep gloss Crimson Metallic or Thunder Black Azure Crystal paint and a V-twin engine swathed in chrome rather than the Dark Horse’s matte paint and black engine. For 2021 both the Limited and Dark Horse come with Indian’s recently released heated and cooled ClimaCommand seats, with controls conveniently integrated into the Ride Command infotainment system’s touchscreen. The seats also have separate temperature button controls for rider and passenger. Their 19-inch Contrast Cut front wheels vs. the 17-incher on the base model further distinguish these two bikes.
Some other nice changes for 2021 include the replacement of the fairing-mounted starter button with a 12-volt, 5-amp accessory socket under a flip cover (the starter button lives on the right handlebar now). That wouldn’t be notable except that the socket is an SAE type, the first we’ve seen integrated from the factory in such a way. It can be used to charge the bike’s battery, and to plug in other accessories with SAE connectors and power draws of five amps or less. The bike also has two 12-volt, 5-amp cigarette outlets, one in the trunk and one in the right saddlebag, so you can charge or power devices from all three sockets while riding. Apple CarPlay is integrated into the Ride Command System now, and there’s a USB port in the small pocket in the top of the fairing for plugging in a thumb drive or your iPhone (required to enable CarPlay, as is a Bluetooth headset).
Of course the major change since we last tested a Roadmaster is the bump in the Thunder Stroke’s displacement from 111ci (1,811cc) to 116ci (1,890cc), a move meant to keep power levels up in the face of more restrictive emissions requirements and counter Harley’s jump to 114ci on some of its models. Cylinder bore in the air-cooled, 49-degree OHV V-twin with two valves per cylinder was increased 2.2mm to 103.2mm to get the extra cubes. On the Jett Tuning dyno this roughly 5-percent increase in volume has resulted in slightly more power at the rear wheel, to the tune of 75.9 horsepower at 4,200 rpm and 105.8 lb-ft of torque at an astoundingly low 2,000 rpm — talk about a stump puller. From its peak, torque output stays above 90 lb-ft up to about 4,000 rpm, but most of us will have shifted long before that. Ridden solo the Thunder Stroke 116 gives the Roadmaster plenty of power with great pulse feel and an enormously satisfying rumble, and even fully loaded for touring and two-up the bike can still be coaxed into making a brisk pass with a single downshift. Shifting the 6-speed transmission is clean and positive, with a decisive “thunk” going into gear that big V-twin riders seem to like, and power gets to the rear via clean and quiet belt final drive.
ABS brakes and suspension are unchanged since our last Roadmaster review, fitting since the bike’s ride remains plush and well controlled, it stops as quickly and easily as desired and has good feel at the front adjustable lever and rear pedal (though the reach to the latter is a bit far for my 29-inch inseam). Handling on such a big, heavy motorcycle with a long wheelbase is a bit like dancing with an elephant — perfectly doable as long as you watch your feet and don’t try any sudden moves, which will just annoy the elephant and run you out of ground clearance right quick. Let’s just say that the Roadmaster’s handling rewards smoothness, more now with the stylish increase in front wheel size to 19 inches that seems to make the bike handle even more slowly. You need to keep your wits about you on a winding road, though steering effort is low and it does hold a line well unless a strong crosswind jostles the fork-mounted fairing.
Wind protection and comfort on the Roadmaster are excellent, with a very functional pushbutton electric windscreen, adjustable vents in the fairing lowers (that with practice you can open with your feet), a low seat and longish floorboards that allow you to move your boots forth and back. Excess engine heat can still be a problem in ambient temperatures of more than 70-75 degrees or so — at the end of long, hot ride in the sun on backroads or the Interstate you will definitely feel pretty baked. Bring the Mitchum. The cooling function of the unique ClimaCommand seat (explained in detail on our website here) helps a little, but on our test bike it mostly made the seat feel less hot, not cold or even especially cool, and only on a strip in the center. Personally I’d rather have more padding instead, since the seat’s thermoelectric module can be felt just below the surface, and it adds several pounds to an already heavy bike. On the other hand, with its substantial wind protection, adjustable heating in the seat and grips and all of that engine warmth, it takes a Blue Norther to get cold on the Roadmaster!
With 142 liters total of storage in the central locking saddlebags, trunk and fairing lower pockets plus its luggage rack you should never run out of room for stuff, and the trunk will hold two full-face helmets. Keyless ignition, throttle-by-wire, cruise control and three ride modes (Tour, Standard, Sport) are all included, though I never felt the need to ride in anything except Standard mode, which provides great throttle response. We’ve written reams about Indian’s highly functional Ride Command infotainment system with its 7-inch glove-friendly touchscreen, navigation, Bluetooth and gigawatt audio with four speakers, and it only seems to get better with each passing year. For 2020 Indian added a new quad-core processor to speed up the experience, more intuitive destination search capabilities, improved customizable ride screens and Connected Services, which include traffic and weather overlays so riders can avoid traffic and poor weather conditions. Combine it all with hands-free Apple CarPlay functionality and you just won’t find a more comprehensive system.
Which brings us back to that dilemma. Now that Indian has the Challenger, is there still a place for the Roadmaster? For me it comes down to a matter of style and tradition—though it adds a lot of electronic and performance advantages to the features found on the Roadmaster, the liquid-cooled Challenger’s looks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Both versions of the traditional air-cooled Roadmaster, on the other hand, are and will remain classic beauties for the foreseeable future. And to many riders that’s the most important aspect of a full dresser.
Mark’s Gear: Helmet: Shoei Neotec II Jacket: Highway 21 Motordrome Pants: Olympia X Moto II Boots: Dianese Long Range
American V-twin motorcycles are big, boisterous, and have an unmistakable rowdy personality. Love ’em or hate ’em, they immediately assert their presence in the parking lot of any roadside haunt. The thrum of a massive, torque-rich engine and a booming exhaust note have almost become synonymous with Harley-Davidson — best exemplified in its touring machines.
Receiving a spit-shine from the Bar and Shield marque, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited replaces the Ultra in H-D’s touring bike lineup and adds premium finishes, along with high-tech options, to an already bright feather in the brand’s cap.
Subtle updates to the luxury long-hauler come in the form of a gloss-finished inner fairing, painted pinstriping, new badges on the 6.0-gallon fuel tank and fenders, as well as heated grips. A dizzying array of paint options are available this year, along with a Black Finish package ($1,900) that bestows an ebony touch to nearly every piece of hardware. New premium 18-inch Slicer II wheels are the soul mechanical changes, up from 17- and 16-inch wheels on the Ultra.
At its core, it’s still the same shark-nosed Road Glide with the bright LED Daymaker headlights, Boom! GTS infotainment, a massive top-case, premium Showa Dual Bending Valve suspension, linked braking by Brembo, a potent Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 powerplant, palatial seating and fit-and-finish fit for kings. This is a machine for the American V-twin touring faithful, dressed in full regalia.
The big news this year is optional tech. For $995, any H-D touring bike (save for the Electra Glide Standard) can be equipped with H-D’s Reflex Defensive Rider System, which includes linked-braking cornering ABS, lean-sensitive traction control, hill-start control, tire pressure monitoring and an engine braking management system to reduce rear-wheel lock when decelerating. We’ll dive into its functionality later.
What the Road Glide Limited yearns for is exploring the highways and hidden gems of your state. So, I did just that on this Tour Test, taking the RGL on a two-wheeled pilgrimage through Central California amidst a record-breaking heat wave and wildfires. Both made planning a route with reasonable temperatures and smoke-free scenery for photos a challenge, but it was a mere inconvenience compared to the challenge portions of the Western U.S. face, battling unprecedented drought and wildfires. The loss of life and property has been staggering, and our hearts go out to those who have had their lives upended.
With the Tour-Pak and saddlebags filled to the brim, I set off in search of more temperate weather. The fog-blanketed beach cities of California’s coast were more than tempting.
Santa Paula, California, is an unassuming agriculture town nestled in the nook of the Santa Clara River Valley. It’s quaint, quiet, and has loads of quality places to nab a breakfast burrito. It’s also where you can pick up California State Route 150 and venture into the Transverse Ranges, home to numerous legendary motorcycling roads.
Action is relatively light on SR 150; it mostly saunters up the hills and allows me to take in the RGL’s lavish accommodations for the first time. At 5-feet, 10-inches, the Limited’s cockpit has everything I can ask for on a long ride. Its plush, supportive leather-bound seat is 27.2-inches high (laden), and the mini-ape handlebar provides all the leverage I could want while keeping me in a neutral position. Floorboards allow plenty of movement during droning freeway rides, although the brake pedal angle is a tad acute. Meanwhile, the triple Splitstream frame-mounted fairing with a tall touring windscreen offers excellent wind protection and airflow.
The Boom! Box GTS infotainment unit’s full-color TFT touchscreen has useful features like navigation, phone connectivity and vehicle data. Audio is clear, even when riding at freeway speeds, and the radio signal is downright impressive. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported. However, you’ll need to have your device connected to the USB port in the fairing cubby, and also be wired in directly with a helmet headset to use them.
Branching off SR 150 is the legendary State Route 33, a road that any motorcyclist in California worth their salt has traversed. With more views and winding corners than you can shake a stick at, some might even be interested in calling it a day after taking it in. I’d recommend a quick break at one of the many overlooks on Pine Mountain.
Dropping into the flatlands, temperatures spike into the triple digits during the summer in the San Joaquin Valley, making the ride through oil towns such as Maricopa, Derby Acres (population 322!), and Taft a drag if it weren’t for the standard cruise control. Once in Taft, it’s time to top off the RGL because my next stop won’t be until Morro Bay, about 116-miles away and well within the bike’s 217.5-mile fuel range.
State Route 58 is a gem of a road with variety that’s rarely matched. Epic curves lead into long slogs through majestic wheat fields, and if the time of year and conditions are right, you might catch a California poppy super-bloom.
Roads like the 58 are where the Road Glide Limited shines. Our last 114 M8 engine produced a healthy 78 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and a stomping 104 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm at the rear wheel on the Jett Tuning dyno. If you had doubts about the fully loaded RGL’s ability to get-up-and-go, put them to rest now, because she’ll compress you into the seat lickety-split. The 114ci M8 hums a nice, bassy tune with just enough visceral vibration coming through to let you know that it’s alive.
The 114’s chunky gearbox makes sturdy, positive shifts befitting of the RGL’s size. However, clutch pull is quite heavy, making clutch modulation during low-speed maneuvers tricky and taxing when in traffic. Luckily, all that luscious torque and well-spaced gear ratios will almost allow you to leave it in 6th gear, settling into a rhythm on a road like 58.
The 922-pound Road Glide takes some effort to lift off the sidestand and is cumbersome at low speeds, like many touring bikes of this size — plan your route carefully in tight spaces. Once you’re rolling, its low center of gravity and gentle handling perform well, and thanks to the Road Glide Limited’s frame-mounted fairing, steering is noticeably lighter than its Electra Glide brethren with fork mounted fairings. A bit of input on the mini-ape hanger bar and the RGL will tip in as quickly and as controlled as you’d like, holding a steady line.
The non-adjustable 49mm Showa Dual Bending Valve fork with 4.6-inches of travel does a commendable job of hiding road impurities. The spring preload adjustable rear shock with 3-inches of travel can struggle to deal with hard-edged potholes but does soak up rough roads well, in general.
I did notice that when the pace picks up, the RGL’s plush setup, abbreviated suspension travel and older dual-shock chassis design show their limitations. Over long, fast sweepers, wallowing can be felt that serves as a warning to cool your jets. It never truly gets out of shape, but it’s as if the Road Glide is tapping you on the shoulder, saying, “More Grand Tour, less Gran Tourismo, kid.”
Branching off 58 is the short, but very sweet SR 229 — colloquially known as “Rossi’s Driveway.” This single-lane, undulating road sweeps through loads of twisting, blind corners in a roughly 8-mile stretch of tarmac and seems like something only a motorcyclist could dream up — hence the reference to Italian MotoGP star, Valentino Rossi. It’s still fun to hustle the big RDL on a road seemingly built for Supermotos.
With the sun setting behind the hills, I connected to State Route 41, making my way to Morro Bay. Even at dusk, inland temperatures this time of year are high. As you drop down toward the coast, the reprieve comes with each mile, eventually leading to a cool, socked-in beach city.
Morro Bay is a kitschy spot with beautiful views and seafood along the boardwalk, which isn’t a bad place to stretch your legs after a good ride. It’s a surf town with a vibe to match; things happen at their own pace here, unless you’re working the bustling docks or fishing boats. There’s plenty of affordable lodging, as well as more ritzy accommodations and even camping options nearby.
In the morning, we headed south on U.S. 101 in search of winding roads, jumping on SR 166 to Tepusquet Road in the Santa Maria Valley. Much like Rossi’s Driveway, Tepusquet sachets through the mountain range, diving in and out of the valley, with plenty of action to perk you up in the morning. There is something fun about wrangling a bike of this size through narrow, single-lane roads.
Brembo provides the braking hardware, with 300mm rotors all around. Feel at the lever is progressive and does require a generous pull if you need to stop in a hurry — like when wild turkeys run out in your path.
In those moments, H-D’s RDRS rider aid package goes from optional to mandatory. On compact, often dirty mountain roads, I’ll ride with more confidence when faced with corners filled with debris or obstacles.
Tepusquet Road spits you out into wine country, with grapevines as far as the eye can see, and onto Foxen Canyon Road. One can saunter along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail or make the foliage blur along the respectably winding road. Asphalt here is something of a mixed bag due to all the agriculture vehicles, and again, highlights the need for a decent electronics package.
When I hit SR 154, I know that my ride is coming to a close. In a short time, I’ll be winding down the mountain in Santa Barbara, California, and reconnecting with U.S. 101 for the slog back into SoCal. The Road Glide Limited has been a fixture in American V-twin touring due to opulent rider and passenger comfort and massive storage capacity. In 2020, its chassis is beginning to show its age, but when it comes to luxury touring, the feature-loaded Road Glide Limited offers everything else one could want.