This has been a great year for the motorcycling industry and the public has benefited from a huge range of new bikes.
Yamaha returned to the sub-400cc sports bike market with the Yamaha R3 and the biggest engine in the Japanese 300cc class (a 320cc parallel twin), a wicked handling frame, and ABS. All for under $8000, it stood out in the increasingly competitive LAMS crowd for both value and fun factor.
With the Suzuki GSX-S1000 it’s main selling-point — apart from more relaxed ergonomics — is its advanced traction control. With performance from the legendary 2005 GSXR-derived engine and price starting from $16,995, it’s one of the best high-performance sports bikes you could ride every day.
But the biggest surprise of the year, and my bike of the year, was Harley-Davidson's Project Livewire. I rode the prototype in Malaysia in March and nine months later still can’t get the all-too-short experience out of my head.
It is low-key yet very high-tech cool, highlighted by a huge colour display with easy-to-use touchscreen.
Decent riding performance equivalent to a 650 twin (70Nm is on tap from 0rpm) with a unique soundtrack, thanks to bevel gears, almost completes the package. Unfortunately, the machine I rode was lacking in battery range which is oh, so important in an EV. For most riders, 85km just isn’t enough.
That said, Harley could be on to a winner. They’ve built up plenty of hype with a hero spot in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.