The Versys has competition

Honda-NC700XFor a couple of years now, perhaps the best all-round bike has been the Kawasaki Versys. It’s a great beginner bike, a great bike for experience riders, a perfect commuter bike, has great gas mileage…the list goes on.

Honda’s new NC700X new aims to knock the Versys off that perch.

With a base price of under $7,000, a fully kitted out model, like the one shown here, will still run you just under $9,900. That’s with the standard transmission, of course. Honda also has an option with the second-generation DCT transmission, much like the one on my VFR, that also has ABS included in the package, for another 2 grand.

Motorcycle.Com has a full review of the bike, and they really seem to like it. In fact, they say Honda has done nothing less than bring back the UJM—Universal Japanese Motorcycle—with this bike, concluding, "its practicality, performance, comfort and value can’t be overlooked." And speaking of practicality, let’s include gas mileage in that, because the testers got better than 60 miles per gallon.

It’s interesting how quickly Honda has gone to include the DCT automatic transmission in its model line-up. Honda is betting the DCT will become every bit as accepted in motorcycles as it has been in automobiles, where the flappy-paddle gearbox is the standard option on pretty much all the high-end sports cars. I can tell you, from owning the DCT model of the VFR1200F, that the DCT works, and works well.

Other manufacturers should probably take notice.

The comparo I’ve been waiting for

Back in 2007, Kawasaki took the sport-touring world by storm with the introduction of the Concours 14. Ever since, it’s been the darling of the motorcycling press, and generally regarded as the king-hell sport-tourer. This year, though, BMW strikes back with the new bikes based on the 1600cc I-6 engine, and they’ve received rave reviews.

The thing is, when you ride a bike by itself, it often seems more impressive than it would by riding it side by side with something else with which to compare it. So, what would happen, and who would win, if some testers rode the Concours 14 and the K1600GT side by side? Well, thanks to Motorcycle.Com, we now know. They spent a couple of days riding the two machines side by side, and have written up their impressions, as well as providing some video.

We’ll get to the video down below. In the meantime, the key takeaway from this comparo is probably this:

Compared to the Kawasaki Concours 14, the K16 simply blows the doors off its Japanese counterpart from the word “go.” It’s astounding to say that the ZX-14 engine is weak by any means, but when stacked against this competition, the Kawasaki simply feels, well, slow.

The K1600GT is the motorcycle that made the Concours 14 seem slow. That says a lot right there. But there’s more. Apparently the K1600GT blew away the Kawi in several other areas, too.

Once above 5 mph, the GT changes direction with absolute fluidity and grace, though the K16 won’t be mistaken for an S1000RR in the weight department. That said, its linear steering and sporty chassis were a hit among both our testers, especially compared to the heavy-steering Kawasaki…

BMW claims the K16 (in both GT and GTL form) makes 70% of its available torque at just 1500 rpm. That’s quite a lot of power with the engine barely spinning. What that means in the real world is that no matter if you’re just leaving a stop or cruising on the highway in sixth gear at 80 mph, when the throttle is twisted, the Beemer moves…

Yes, only 123.4 horsepower. Dyno chart junkies might scoff at that number (especially compared to the Kawasaki’s 131.8 peak horsepower), but from the saddle the abundant amount of torque makes it easy to forget any horsepower disadvantage. What we didn’t expect, and what may be even more surprising, is just how smooth and well balanced the K16 engine really is. Propped up on the center stand and with the engine running, full-throttle blips produced no visual movement from the bike whatsoever. None….

ABS intervention from the BMW felt much less intrusive than the Kawi, to the point where you almost forget it’s working. It’s truly a step above where ABS technology was just a few years ago…Simply put, BMW has nailed the ABS on the K16…

We’ll just say it right now: we’re in love with the K1600GT as it does everything a sport-touring motorcycle should do, and it does it incredibly well.

Looks like BMW has a winner with their K1600-series bikes.

And now, video!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpTPihOYMn4

2012 Harley-Davidsons unveiled

It’s a big week for Harley Davidson.  Not only did they report that earnings more than doubled and sales rose in the second quarter, they’ve also unveiled their 2012 line of motorcycles.

2012 Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback

The first high point of the new models is a brand new Dyna model, called the Switchback. It not only comes standard with the removable windshield and hard bags–that both pop off without tools–it’s also powered by the new 103ci V-Twin mill.  In addition to the more powerful engine, it’s also got new front end geometry, upgraded suspension and a low profile front tire.

A new, 10th Anniversary model of the V-rod is also part of this year’s line-up, with lots of new components, including a special exhaust and wheels.

Next, the more powerful 103ci power plant is now standard on the Softail, Touring, and most Dyna models, almost completely replacing the previous 96ci standard engine in all but a few Dyna models.

A new option generally available on the 2012 bikes is a Security Package, containing ABS brakes and a Smart Security System with a hands-free security fob. The package is a factory option for all Dyna, Softail, V-Rod, and Touring models.  It comes standard for all CVO models, the Road Glide Ultra, the Electra Glide Ultra Limited, and the Road King Classic.

And, speaking of the CVO models, Harley has rolled them out for the motorcycle press to play with, and the reports are in from Motorcycle USA, Motorcycle.com, and Cycle World. This year’s CVO models are the The CVO Softail Convertible, the CVO Street Glide, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a new version of the CVO Road Glide Custom that is oriented more for the street, than the touring version from last year.  The CVO models all come with Harley-Davidson’s 110ci power plant. The CVO Street Glide also comes packed with a 400-watt sound system, to help you better hear your hard rock & roll music over the roar of your loud, life-saving pipes.

2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900R

The long awaited big bike from Husqvarna has been unveiled. It’s a 900cc Parallel-twin–based on the BMW F800 motor–dual sport known as the Nuda 900R.  Husqvarna claims the powerplant peak output is greater than 100HP, with 73lb-ft of torque coming in a 386lb (dry) package. Suspension and forks are top-notch Sachs and Öhlins components.

Styling owes more to Austria’s KTM than Bavaria’s BMW, although the term “styling” is used pretty loosely for duel-sports. If, indeed, it is a dual sport.  True off-roading with the Nuda will require a significant investment in skid plates to protect the exhaust and radiator, it looks like.

Motorcycle USA has more.

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Suzuki has released the details–some of them  anyway–about the new V-Strom 650 ABS.

First of all, the ABS system is new, and is supposedly better and lighter than the old system. In addition, Suzuki has made lots of other styling changes and other tweaks.  The seat is a bit higher, although with optional lower and higher seats, you’ll have a wider range of choice and ergonomics now. The slightly smaller gas tank is also narrower between the knees.  The muffler is excitingly modern, as is the new composite resin luggage rack. The windshield is 3-position manually adjustable, too. New headlights and instrument cluster round out the redesign.

The powerplant is where some big changes come in. The displacement is still the same, but midrange power and torque has been increased with new cam profiles, and the use of single, instead of double, valve springs. Air cooling has been replaced by liquid cooling for the oil cooler. A new crankshaft and primary gear are said to smooth the engine out a bit. Fuel economy is better, too, with a claimed 10% improvement on gas mileage.

The US Market will receive the orange model shown here, as well as an all-black version.

The V-Strom has always been a highly regarded bike, and the new changes seem like an improvement to an already well-loved bike.

 

What to do with a spare $33,000

Buy one of these: the 2012 MV Agusta F4 RR.

2012 MV Agusta F4 RR
2012 MV Agusta F4 RR

It doesn’t look much changed from last year, but under the plastic, it’s a new beast with an ultra-short-stroke 1000cc Inline-4 that MV says will release 201HP.  No top-speed-limiting governors for the Italian chaps at MV. The engine puts at the top of the superbike heap in terms of power.

Supporting the new bike are top-shelf Öhlins suspension components, and forged aluminum wheels.

Everything is top-of-the line on this bike. Sadly, that includes the price.

2011 Aprilia Tuono V4

Aprilia has released a whole mess of photos of the brand new 167HP Tuono V4. Derived from the RSV4, the Tuono’s V4 engine shaves pounds off the old model, while adding 41 more HP than the old V-Twin. It also puts out 82 ft-lbs of torque, comes with a whole mess of electronic goodies like traction control, wheelie control, and launch control, and has a curb weight of 402 lbs.

I think it may be a fast bike.

This is just a fraction of the pictures Aprilia released today, but if you want to see more, A&R has the whole bunch of them, plus an irritating promotional video.

The most

 

2012 Triumph Street Triple

The gentlemen in Hinckley have unveiled pics of the all-new, updated styling for the early release of the 2012 Triumph Street Triple. For some reason, most of the pics are in blue and white.

I’m not sure what, other than some styling changes, the new bike has to offer. In terms of styling, however, the Street Triple gets new headlights like the Speed Triple, aluminum handlebars from the Street Triple R, as well as a spiffy new engine cover. Oh, and a new Triumph logo.

I’m not sure I’m on board with the purple model color.

A New “Corse” version of the Multistrada? No.

The motorcycling press got into a bit a of a tizzy today, heralding the arrival of a new version of the Multistrada, the “Corse” package, for the 2012 model year.

As it happens, however, that model already exists as the “Pike’s Peak” edition. Ducati was just using “Corse” as a fallback name in case they couldn’t acquire the rights to use the “Pike’s Peak” name. Nothing to see here. Sorry.

2012 Victory Highball First Ride

Motorcycle USA’s Bryan Harley has gotten his hands on Victory Motorcycles’ newest take on the Dark Custom craze, the 2012 Highball.

His take on the engine:

The torquey low end is matched throughout the powerband and distribution is even throughout. There’s excellent response from the EFI with every release of the clutch cable and Victory’s Freedom 106 V-Twin in its Stage 2 state of tune is one of the bike’s strongest features. It doesn’t sign off early on the top end and the tranny can withstand winding out each gear before banging it up to the next. Gearing down, there’s a generous amount of engine braking.

2012 Victory High-Ball
2012 Victory High-Ball

Handling:

The straight roads around Daytona Beach had us clamoring to find a corner to test the High-Ball’s handling, but on the few turns we did find the High-Ball impressed us with its neutral turn in and stability when leaned over. Our primary grievance was its limited cornering clearance.

Well, it’s a cruiser. Cornering clearance will never be a strong suit.

The looks:

Victory has done an admirable job of injecting the High-Ball with vintage styling cues, from the way the white paint accentuates the recessed tank to the way the whitewalls make the chunkiness of the tires stand out. Spoked wheels stay true to the theme of the bike while its slim swingarm keeps the tail end open so you can enjoy an uncluttered view of the whitewalls. The few glimmers of white makes the blacked-out treatment of the engine, frame, bars, pipes, headlight bucket, triple trees, fender struts and cylinder head covers stand out that much more.

And, don’t forget the black mini-ape-hangers.

Overall, the new Victory seems like a neat addition to the Dark Custom world, with a powerful 106ci mill, smooth handling, and a price that won’t completely break the bank at $13,499.

2012 Motus MST-01 studio pics

Motus Motorcycles has released some high-resolution studio images of the new MST-01 sport-tourer. Thumbnails are below.

If you like the looks of the MST-01, you’d probably like some clue about the price.  We don’t know it yet, but considering the specs of the bike and the components included, it’s hard to see how you shove the price down below $20k.  So, expect a price in the BMW range.

Motus Motorcycles MST-01 debuts

Motus MST-01
2012(?) Motus MST-01

Motus Motorcycles, an Alabama-based startup, has been working on a completely new, American-made, sport touring motorcycle.  We’ve seen glimpses of the engine, as well as artist concepts of the bike, but now, Motus has finally debuted the complete bike, in the flesh.

The MST-01 is built around a completely new engine, designed by racing powerplant builder Pratt & Miller. Named the KMV4, the direct-fuel-injected engine has a claimed output of 160HP and 122 lb-ft of torque at redline. That power comes, however, without a significant weight penalty, with the engine weighing 130 lbs, and the 6-speed transmission adding about another 70 lbs. This results in a claimed wet weight of just 530 lbs.

Brakes are by Brembo, and suspension is by Öhlins, so pretty much all of the bike is built with top-flight components.  This componentry comes at a cost, however, so the price will probably be siognificantly higher than the main Japanese competitors, the FJR1300 and Concours14.

Mor info and pictures are available at The Kneeslider, and Motorcyclist Magazine.