Two Wheels: 5 bikes we can’t wait to ride in 2017
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Despite the perception that motorcycles are a bit of a backward form of transport, there is a ton of development going on within the industry.
Trends appear constantly and we are seeing a resurgence in the superbike war of old, but with sophisticated technology instead of power as the benchmark. For 2017, five bikes in particular have me itching to chuck on my helmet and hit the road.
Triumph has a long history filled with varying styles of motorcycle, but I’m almost certain the brand has never had anything like this, the fantastic looking new Bobber. Built around Triumph’s excellent new 1200cc water-cooled high torque parallel twin (as found in the new Bonneville T120), the Bobber has oodles of that factory custom vibe, with exceptional build quality to match. I imagine one of Triumph’s famous former riders, the late Steve McQueen, would have dropped everything to take one home. It is just that cool.
One of the best bits of engineering I’ve seen in a while, is the clever way Triumph has made its Bobber look as if it is a hard tail (i.e. no rear suspension), but if you look closely there’s a monoshock hidden under the adjustable solo seat. Triumph is the master of making a new bike look old-school, and I can’t wait to cruise around on the Bobber.
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
When you think of Husqvarna, you’re most likely to think of either the company’s chainsaws or dirt bikes, but for 2017 the brand is taking a serious crack at the road bike market with two all-new bikes.
Despite the somewhat tricky name (seriously, try saying it out loud five times fast) the Husqvarna Svartpilen is a seriously cool bit of kit. Designed from the group up as a compact, modern motorcycle, the Svartpilen is the scrambler-inspired twin to the cafe-racer styled Vitpilen.
With a low-slung 375cc single cylinder engine producing 32kW and cool styling wrapped up in a compact and lightweight package, this little bike is unlike anything else on the market. It’ll stand out from the crowd and, with that powerful little motor at its heart, it also promises to be a heck of a lot of fun.
In 2015 Yamaha unleashed the all-new YZF-R1, and it was a game-changer. As soon as it hit showroom floors, it was only a matter of time before the smaller R6 supersport was given a similar treatment.
Yamaha, not a brand to do things by halves, went all in for the redesign of the R6, not only using much of the same styling used in the R1 superbike, but much of the same class-leading technology as well. That means it gains an inertial management unit to help control varying levels of traction control race ABS.
Being smaller, and naturally nimbler due to the smaller engine (600cc vs 1000cc), the R6 is sure to be one of the sharpest bikes to hit the track this year, in a year filled with new 1000cc superbikes. I think it’ll be that good.
Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Kawasaki has a modular base for its machines, with the bikes in the 300cc, 650cc, and 1050cc classes each being based around a shared engine. For the 300cc class, this engine is a stunning 299cc parallel twin that’s now shared between the racy Ninja 300, Z300, and the new Versys-X 300. The Ninja and Z300 are popular, and there’s no reason to believe the Versys-X won’t be, too.
With that great little engine, comfortable touring ergonomics based on the bigger Versys models, and good weather protection from a decent-sized upright screen, the new Versys is going to be a fun, frugal, touring machine, great for exploring the country.
Then again, it will be just as at home within the city limits, thanks to its smaller stature. Add to that an already wide range of touring accessories (including cool panniers and highway lights) and it is sure to be a hit with the rider dreaming of a practical commuter that can hack a bit of adventure.
Rally A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have thought that a 250cc Honda would become an obsession for me, but that was before I discovered how much fun riding on gravel can be (cheers ProRider). Perhaps the bike I am most looking forward to riding is the new Honda CRF250 Rally.
Taking inspiration from Honda’s CRF450 Rally machine, as seen in this year’s Dakar Rally, the 250 Rally takes the base CRF250L to a new level. New additions are the wider body, including bigger fuel tank, excellent screen, ABS, and new digital dash.
It builds on the weak points of the 250L in such a way that it is barely fair to compare the two machines. Plus, wow — doesn’t it look cool? Bike Rider