Top 30 Motorcycles To Ride In 2016
Just like you, when the new models are revealed, I start drooling. Fortunately, along with my drooling, I have a huge dollop of anticipation, as I’m likely to get a ride on virtually every new machine every year.
The exceptions to my “ride everything” edict is supersport and superbikes; I leave those bikes the go-fast guys like Coram Publishing President Arthur Coldwells, Online Editor Ron Lieback, and Associate Editor Jess McKinley (though I will sneak out on them if I have a chance at an Ultimate Motorcycling/Jett Tuning track day).
I’ve already started mapping out what bikes I’m going to be riding in 2016, and at the behest of Online Editor Ron Lieback, I’ve put them in order of importance. But, don’t kid yourself; I’m nearly as exited about riding #30 as I am #1. These all look to be great bikes, and 2016 is going to be another epic year for motorcycling!
Top 30 Motorcycles to Ride in 2016
1. Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
Ok, this one is likely to get me into all sorts of trouble. 67 horsepower and a dry weight in the area of 320 pounds means that all sorts of hooligan fun is around the corner. Supermoto bikes truly speak to me -- they’re aimed right at the 12-year-old inside me that is still alive and well -- and you know that Husky is going to do the 701 Supermoto right (though I expect the stock final gearing might be a tad high).
2. Honda VFR1200X
Yes, it’s a faux adventure bike, but adventure touring is a fairer description. As much as I liked the VFR1200F, I felt like the ergonomics were just a bit too aggressive for extended distance. The fully upright 1200X should be an incredibly comfortable bike for putting on lots of miles, yet still ready for the twisties and the occasional good-quality dirt road. I want one with bags, and no map. The Honda VFR1200X induces wanderlust.
3. Yamaha FJR1300ES
A long-time favorite of mine, Yamaha has sweetened the pot considerably by updating the big FJR for 2016. Most notable is the long-overdue six-speed transmission, but I’m also happy to see a full suite of electronics, along with lean-angle sensitive LED lighting. An unexpected bonus--adjustable ergos! It’s time for a trip!
4. Ducati Monster 1200 R
Upright sport bikes have long been in a love affair with me, and the Ducati Monster 1200 R is the most powerful Monster yet. The new Monster 1200 R also has more roomer ergonomics, and you get Öhlins suspension and the same front brakes as on the 1299 Panigale. I loved the 1200 S, so I await the R with great expectations.
5. Triumph Bonneville T120
Stretching to Bonneville concept up to 1200cc is a great idea. It’s not that the old 850 was especially slow, but who’s going to argue with a big 1200cc vertical twin that puts out 77 ft/lbs at 3100 rpm? There’s also a Black version, but my heart is set on the classic red/silver paint. Ride-by-wire technology and more electronic aids increase the desirability of the new Bonneville T120. Oh, and I’ll take mine with the optional Vance & Hines chrome peashooter mufflers.
6. Honda Africa Twin
Associate Editor Jess McKinley is off to South Africa to ride the Africa Twin shortly, but I’ll have to wait for them to arrive in America. With the CRF designation, which tells me it’s a dirt bike, I really look forward to some sort of unexpected adventure off the pavement. They promo videos show some big air for a liter-bike, so that’s appealing. Some people are disappointed that the Africa Twin isn’t a 1200; I think some people are going to be surprised by this bike.
7. Harley-Davidson Softail Slim S
I’ve already ridden a good number of the 2016 Harley-Davidsons, but the Softail Slim S has escaped my clutches so far. With the big Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110B motor, I’ll enjoy leaving the traffic behind when the light turns green even more than ever. Yeah, what’s not to like about 109 ft/lbs of torque? Forget the Vivid Black version; I want the military-inspired Olive Gold Denim.
8. 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler
Like the BMW G 310 R, we won’t be seeing the R nineT Scrambler until Fall 2016, but that just gives me plenty of time for anticipation. Using the less-powerful older air-cooled boxer motor does damp my enthusiasm a bit from a riding perspective, but the new high-muffler look and 19-inch front wheel is undoubtedly cool. It’s always fun to ride a head-turning bike, especially in crowded locales where performance is moot. The BMW R nineT Scrambler will definitely earn me approving nods and the inevitable “How much is it?” question wherever I stop.
9. Ducati Hyperstrada 939
Supermoto touring is definitely an under-served market, but the previous Ducati Hyperstrada filled the niche quite well. The new Hyperstrada 939 promises more of the same, but with more electronics (safety and performance) and power (113 horses from the 937cc Testastretta 11° motor). Let’s just hope Ducati has fixed the hair-trigger cold clutch action of the previous edition.
10. Husqvarna 701 Enduro
This 701 Enduro isn’t the full-on racebike-with-lights that the FE-S bikes are, but that’s okay. Sometimes you want a bike that is highly capable on the fastest roads, yet far more viable that the multi-cylinder adventure bikes on technical single-track. All I need is this bike and with the optional tailbag and I’m off to parts unknown to see just how good it is.
11. 2017 Suzuki SV650 ABS
A cult favorite since the 1900s, the Suzuki SV650 ABS naked upright sportbike is back for 2017 with a more-powerful motor and lighter chassis. That means an extraordinarily fun bike will be just that much more enjoyable. I won’t mind, of course, if Suzuki deigns to also grace us with a faired SV650S (with optional bags for lightweight sport touring).
12. Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro
I never had the heart to take the original Multistrada 1200 into the dirt, but the new Multistrada 1200 Enduro might just change my mind. It has all the trappings of a true adventure bike, including wire-spoked wheels (19”/17”), longer-travel active suspension, real undercarriage protection, hard panniers, and a traditional swingarm. I’m not sure where I want to take it, but I’ll find out when I get there.
13. KTM 1290 Super Duke R Special Edition
The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is one of the all-time epic upright naked bikes. That should be enough for most people, but do motorcyclists strike you as being “most people”? Well, KTM took a stroll through its PowerParts department and gathered up some goodies -- some functional, some bling -- to make a Special Edition version. I’m hooked on the Akrapovic muffler alone! I’ll need to check how many points I have on my license, but I’m really not going to care. I want to ride this bike!
14. Indian Scout Sixty
I loved the original Indian Scout and it seems like it would be hard to improve on it. However, giving it a slightly smaller engine might be a way to make it even easier to enjoy around town. It still has plenty of thrust if you trust the spec sheet, and I like that it has less chrome. The Scout Sixty could be a perfect example of less being more.
15. Moto Guzzi V7 II Scrambler ABS
The scrambler bandwagon is a fun one, especially with legitimate up-pipes. The Arrow exhaust system on the V7 II chassis looks awesome, as does the stirring racing stripes on the tank, and the wire-spoked wheels. The V7 II Scrambler ABS isn’t going to break any performance records, but it will be a cool bike to be seen one. Plus, the package works together to make for a fun rider, and I might just take it down a dirt road or two and see if a powerslide is in the works.
16. Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Rally
We sent Online Editor Ron Lieback out to test this one in Sardinia, and he came back with glowing reviews. I’m still not sure that I’d take this ruggedized version of the Caponord on anything harder than a smooth dirt road, even with the crashbars and skid plate, but the platform is a winner. I love all the electronics (even if there were some teething problems on the standard Caponord we tested), and the Aprilia Caponord 1200 ABS Rally is one of those bikes that has me scanning maps for exciting destinations.
17. Ducati Hypermotard 939 SP
When you’re a kid growing up riding dirt bikes, this is what you dream about -- a dirt bike with a bigger engine and lights. The Hypermotard has never disappointed since its flashy debut, and the new 939 looks like more pure fun. The new 937cc Testastretta 11° motor puts out 113 horsepower and has the Ducati Safety Pack at its disposal. Brembo Monoblock M4.32 front brake calipers, Öhlins suspension, and Marchesini forged wheels all scream, “Back it in!”
18. MV Agusta Brutale 800
MV Agusta made some big promises to us earlier this year that just haven’t panned out -- we haven’t tested one of their amazing bikes for a while. Issues with the California government and insurance have been a big part of the problem, and I hope to see that solved soon. The new Brutale 800 has such goodies as a counter-rotating crankshaft, a full array of electronics, high-end brakes, LED headlight, and absolutely stunning styling. Hello, MV Agusta! Let’s get back to business.
19. Ducati XDiavel S
I’ve ridden hundreds of bikes during my time at Ultimate MotorCycling -- from Aprilia to Zero -- but somehow I’ve never been aboard a Ducati Diavel. I intend to fix that in 2016, and the XDiavel S should be worth the wait. I’m most interested in finding out which of the 60 ergonomic settings is right for me, as well as testing the 40-degree lean angle. The new 1262cc Testastretta DVT with is variable timing is just icing on the cake -- a cake with 156 horsepower and 95 ft/lbs of torque at just 5000 rpm.
20. Triumph Street Twin
I’ve been a huge fan of the Bonneville line, and the new Street Twin gives me more power and impressive torque at just 3200 rpm. Sure, I could cry about the addition of water-cooling, but I’m a motorcycle rider, not a purist. It has that warm 270-degree firing sequence, and a nearly unlimited supply of charisma. The Street Twin name is great, and this looks like a bike to be seen on, and to enjoy riding anywhere from the city to the canyons.
21. KTM 690 Duke
Managing Editor Kelly Callan is the one who is really anticipating this bike. The previous 690 Duke is one of her favorite bikes of all-time. I can hardly argue with her, and the new motor puts out 73 horsepower and weighs around 350 pounds wet, while having a wider powerband. I’m just crossing my fingers that no one at Ultimate MotorCycling has to get bailed out for going full hooligan. Traction control is optional, but I’m not sure anyone here will want it in the case of the 690 Duke.
22. Moto Guzzi Eldorado
This is an early 2016 Moto Guzzi model that I still haven’t gotten a chance to ride. I love the big white-walled tires on wire-spoked wheels, and the rest of the retro styling. The motor, with a full array of helpful electronics, is a fast one. Anyone that thinks I’m on a slow retro-bike is going to be in for a surprise when I roll on the gas.
23. Yamaha XSR900
I wasn’t expecting this bike, but I’m glad it’s here. A close relative of the awesome FZ-09 Crossplane Crankshaft Concept triple, the XSR900 might just be the most capable retro-bike out there, and it looks very cool in its 60th Anniversary Yellow livery. While the old Yamaha XS line supposedly inspires the XSR900, I think it recalls the legendary Daytona Special and RZ350 two-strokes, and that’s a good thing. The XSR900 has to be a huge amount of fun to ride.
24. 2017 BMW G 310 R
I’m probably going to have to wait a while for this one, as it’s not due until Fall 2016, but that’s okay--there are lots of other bikes to ride in the meantime. Living in Los Angeles, 300-class bikes are perfect for getting around town in tough traffic. BMW brings some interesting technology to the table, as this DOHC thumper has a rearward canted cylinder and front intake, just like the Yamaha YZ-F motocross bikes. With 34 horses and a wet weight under 350 pounds, the BMW G 310 R should be lots of fun in the city, and the top speed of 90 means you can take it on the freeway when necessary.
25. Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
The standard Scrambler seems a bit over-motored for the riders Ducati seemed to be targeting, especially as it lacks different power modes. Ducati has solved that problem with the Scrambler Sixty2 with its 399cc air-cooled desmo L-twin. It has been a long time since Ducati sold a bike that put out only 41 horsepower, but that’s just the right amount off muscle for the young, hipsters they court in their marketing campaign. Of course, I want my turn on the Sixty2, too. This will be a blast to ride in urban environments, I suspect.
26. Kawasaki Z800 ABS
Editor At Large Jonathan Handler has good things to say about the new Kawasaki Z800 ABS. I believe him, and I want to take this smaller Z out for a spin sooner rather than later. I like the futuristic styling, and smaller inline-4s are always a blast to spin up. Plus, the claimed 500ish-pound wet weight is enticing.
27. Victory Vegas
The new blinged out Victory Vegas caught my eye, with its painted frame and wild 21-inch Falchion front wheel, has all the attributes that are typical of the Victory line, including the Freedom 106/6 motor. I might see if Victory can set me up with the optional Hammer Drag Bars and Stage 1 X-Bow exhaust system, so I’ll be comfortable and audibly correct, while I’m looking sharp on the Strip.
28. Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS
Every time the Bandit 1250S ABS is in the Suzuki lineup, I enjoy taking it for an extended ride. The motor and ergonomics are just made for long trips. Oddly, bags aren’t even optional on the latest incarnation of the Bandit 1250S. Still, it’s a big torquey upright sportbike with just the right amount of fairing.
29. Triumph Thruxton R
I’ve never been a huge café racer fan, as I dislike the hardcore ergonomics. However, Triumph relaxed the old Thruxton 850 over the years, and I want to find out if they did the same for the new 1200cc Thruxton R. It certainly has a torquey motor that will pull out of turns with authority. Plenty of electronic aids are there to make going fast safer, and the R’s Öhlins suspension promises great handling. The clip-ons look like they have a bit of rise, so I’m holding out hope.
30. Vertigo Vandal
I’ve been riding observed trials from the 1970s to the present day. The new Vertigo Combat, developed by 12-time World Champion Dougie Lampkin is enticing. There’s a full-on, high-horsepower Combat version, but I think the fuel-injected two-stroke Vandal, which is rumored to have electric start and a sturdier frame, might be just the bike for me. I certainly want to ride it and find out!