It’s been a stellar year for new motorcycles; our frequent flier miles are piling up like crazy as we span the globe to bring you the thrill of victory (Indian now) and the agony of defeat, from the 2019 bumper crop of everything from Nikens to Svartpilens. There’s more to it than new bikes, though. So, let’s take a look at what’s got us excited as we approach the mid-point of 2019.
10. MO Steps Up its Video Game
Maybe you missed this one since it didn’t get inserted into the Kawasaki W800 road test until a few days after it was posted, but the star of the vid is our new guest commentator, Jimmy Tumbleweeds. The middle of the vid is our standard fare, but Jimmy really spices up the beginning and end. If you’re not already, you really should be one of the 323,000 subscribers to our Youtube channel (don’t panic, it’s free) so you never miss another gem like this.
9. Return of Royal Enfield
The Indian manufacturer never went away, RE’s just been a bit third-world for a very long time unless you’re really into nuevo vintage. Then came the new Himalayan adventure bike – really impressive in its debut last year. But the new 650 twins – Continental GT and Interceptor – have knocked our socks completely off. Packing a brand-new 648cc counterbalanced SOHC classic parallel Twin into a frame designed by Harris Performance, decking both bikes out in excellent paint covering beautiful lines, and hanging on a price tag circa-$6k – seems like a recipe for the glorious resurrection of another classic marque.
8. Motorcyclists Continue to Strike Blows for Freedom Everywhere
The right to lane-share has been codified into California law for the last couple of years now. Utah passed a half-assed law to allow limited lane-sharing in March (better than no-assed), and now Oregon’s on the cusp of giving riders the ability to slide between the cars, where it’s both safer and swifter for everybody involved. If you’re in Oregon, even if you’re not, you need to go to laneshareoregon.com immediately and make yourself heard. Give me liberty or give me death!
While we’re on the topic, attorney/rider Michael Padway has an interesting site up here, which points out that many states are like California was for many years – with no law prohibiting lane splitting. We advise taking it slow and polite if you decide to test those waters.
7. People beating up Marc Marquez in MotoGP
It’s spring and a young man’s thoughts turn to love; we’re head over heels with anybody who can beat Marc Marquez after his dominating run these last five years or however long it’s been. Too long. First, Alex Rins won his first of what very may well be many MotoGPs in Texas last month. And where did this kid Fabio Quartararo come from, to take the pole in Jerez last weekend, appear to maybe be closing on Marquez for the race win (when his f%$&*#g shifter broke), and to break the circuit record by half-a-second the day after in testing? France, that’s where. If it keeps up like this, it’s gonna be a helluva satisfying season. Freedom fries, anyone?
6. The Big Boxer
What?! An 1800 cc BMW boxer motor makes about as much sense as a 1600 cc straight Six! It’s ridiculous, really, it’s insane. BMW must be on the drugs. Which is why we are down, and eager, to learn more about what’s up BMW’s sleeve as they peel away the next veil at the BMW-sponsored Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2019, on the scenic shores of Lake Como in Italy, two weekends from now.
5. A Serious American Performance Bike
That would be the new Indian FTR1200 Burns finally had the privilege to ride in Baja a couple weeks ago. It is to the typical American V-Twin motorcycle as a well-oiled cheetah is to a water buffalo. Apart from being a serious, 123-horsepower animal, it’s just nice to note that Indian is setting off down the high-performance road, with an imaginative “street tracker” that’s its own unique motorcycle. Now, we sit back and see what the marketplace decides…
4. Will Lightning Strike?
What might be a breakthrough electric is supposed to begin deliveries in July, starting with the $19,998 Lightning Strike Carbon Edition – with carbon fiber bodywork, Öhlins suspension at both ends, Brembo monobloc brakes, AIM Strada racing dash with lap timer and GPS-based data logging built in. The top-line Carbon is powered by a 20 kWh motor Lightning says is good for 150 to 200 miles per charge, and with a Level 3 charger that can upload another 100 miles of juice in 20 minutes. Scooby-doo says hunh??
The Standard Strike has a 10kW motor, less range and less power, but still 180 pound-feet of torque, 30 pounds less weight (455, says Lightning) and a price tag of just $12,998. Good luck, Lightning. More information here.
3. More Women on Motorcycles
The Motorcycle Industry Council’s report last November puts the percentage of women motorcycle owners at 19%, which is a number that’s been bandied around extensively. Actually, that seems a little low to me, and in fact, we talked to a statistician rider the other day who questioned the MIC’s methodology, which “polled 2,472 adults nationwide for the 2018 Motorcycle/ATV Owner Survey.” She thinks there are better ways to track that number, ie., actual registrations, and that female ownership (and ridership) is higher than 19%. Hmmm. So, we went back and took a look at the report. Aha. Here’s the second paragraph:
Among all age groups, women now make up 19 percent of motorcycle owners. But the 2018 survey showed even greater female ownership within younger generations. Among Gen X motorcycle owners, 22 percent were women; among Gen Y, 26 percent were women.
That seems more like it. What’s more important maybe is that the 19% number is fully 10 greater than the MIC’s 2009 figure of 9%. The full report is here.
2. Middleweight ADV Bikes on the Way!
Some ADV bikes are just toooo big, and others are just too small. How about a happy medium? Our boy Ryan Adams is off adventuring somewhere on the new Yamaha Tenere 700 as we speak, which is supposed to be available about this time next year. And before that, the little guy was off in Morocco to report back on the new KTM 790 Adventure – a 463-pound bike with the engine we’ve already grown to love in the new 790 Duke. Then there was the slightly larger but still not-huge new Moto Guzzi V85TT… all bikes you wouldn’t have to think twice about heading down unknown, unpaved roads on. We like that.
1. Resurgence of Great Little $5000 Bikes
KTM’s amazing 390 Duke kickstarted this movement a few years ago. The second-gen version that’s out now is even more lovable ($5,499), as is the new Kawasaki Z400 ($4,799) that sprang up to compete. We had a blast riding BMW’s new G310 GS ($5,695), the Royal Enfield Himalayan ($4,499) and Kawi Versys-X 300 ($5,699) in Baja last year. The Honda CRF230L ($5,199) is more practical than a barrel of Monkeys ($3,999 each). Tough times make tough people – also lots of great little motorcycles.
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