Despite an economy that continues to be uncertain at best, 2017 didn’t disappoint when it came to introducing new bikes. With lots of two-wheelers getting launched here and there the eyes and hands of all the adrenaline junkies kept on piquing. Interestingly, the industry seems to be moving towards slightly larger, more premium and performance oriented motorcycles though, and commuters clearly took a back seat in 2017. Here’s the lowdown on seven of the best motorcycles (although incomplete) that were launched around the globe this year.
Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade
Honda went both backwards and forwards with the new iteration of the venerable Fire Blade. Back to their initial design philosophy of mid-weight handling coupled with heavyweight punch, and forward by bringing it up to date in the electronics department with the likes of ride-by-wire, cornering ABS and traction control.
The new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade and CBR1000RR Fireblade SP were first showcased last year at EICMA 2016 in Milan, Italy. The CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, in particular, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the iconic super sport from Honda Motorcycles. Powering the 2017 Fireblade is the same 999 cc in-line four-cylinder engine, which has been heavily revised and uses a lot of new parts as well. The engine gets a bump of almost 10 bhp bringing the total power output to 189 bhp at 13,000 rpm, which developing a peak torque of 114 Nm at 11,000rpm. The motor is now also Euro4 compliant and gets a revised cam timing as well. It comes mated to a six-speed transmission.
BMW G 310 R
BMW’s entry into the commuter market may well have been the surprise of the year. In terms of looks, the G310R is exactly what you would expect a BMW designed bike to look like. BMW says that the bike follows the same design language that we have already seen on the new S1000R. The V-shaped headlight with the golden finished upside down forks gives the front an aggressive stance.
The profile is dominated by the large well sculpted tank, the tank extensions and the massive exhaust. The seat looks long and wide enough for comfort. Under the skin the BMW G310R sports a 313cc single-cylinder liquid cooled unit that produces 34 horses and close to 28Nm. The G310R tips the scale at 158.5kg. To ensure efficient burning of fuel, BMW has twisted the cylinder head around by 180 degrees thereby allowing a straight path for the fuel and air mixture. This change in the architecture has also given the bike a lower centre of gravity for increased confidence over corners.
KTM 1090 Adventure R
While its bigger sibling walked away with the Pirelli SA Bike of the Year title, the 1090 R impressed us with a whopping power increase over its predecessor without sacrificing the latter’s nimbleness. It is a competent off-road machine that you wouldn’t mind using as your everyday mount.
New for 2017, the 1090 Adventure R is two things. First, it’s a response to the elephant in the adventure touring room—a response to anyone who’s ever accused big-bore adventure bikes of being too big for actual off-road riding. And second, it’s a practical means for separating KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R and the outgoing 1190 Adventure R, which would’ve been tough for dealers to distinguish on showroom floors. It’s lighter, faster, and better off-road, KTM suggests, with the added benefit of being less-expensive than the bike it replaces. Emphasis is on the less-expensive bit and a lighter ride. In addition to weight savings, KTM’s goal with the 1090 engine was to improve responsiveness at lower rpm, which it’s done through a shorter stroke (63mm vs. 69mm) and a heavier flywheel. Tweaks to the combustion chamber (plus added hardware, we’re sure) lead to full Euro 4 compliancy, while new cam timing, intake velocity stacks, and engine mapping round out the list of engine updates.
Another bike that exceeded my expectations, the Z900 is the type of machine that can serve as a commuter during the week and carve up the twisties or double as a track bike over weekends. A whole 21kg lighter than its predecessor and with 92kW on tap, the Z900 was one of the best all-round packages of the year.
It has received both cosmetic and mechanical updates. The styling of the bike is inspired from the sinister-looking Kawasaki Z1000. It features sharp and sporty lines with an edgy headlamp, while the contrast green finish on the trellis frame looks cool. The instrument console is also new and it now sports a semi-digital instrument cluster with an analogue tachometer. The Kawasaki Z900 will be brought to India via the CBU route and is expected to carry a premium of close to Rs 1 lakh over the Z800.
Powering the Japanese performance motorcycle is a new 948cc, in-line four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that is based on the Z1000’s motor. The engine churns out 125PS of power and 99Nm of peak torque which is a considerable hike with respect to the older bike. Power is transferred to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox whose ratios have been modified to offer better low-end and mid-range performance. Slipper clutch also makes its debut on the new motorcycle and is a useful addition.
Built around a mildly-modified version of the 937cc Testastretta II V-Twin engine that has also done duty in several other Ducati models, the Supersport offers everyday versatility with Panigale-like looks.
The lines of the SuperSport create dynamic shapes, visually compact and light. The design, sporty and elegant, integrates elements typical of Ducati sports bikes such as the single-sided swingarm, sculpted tank and compact lateral silencer with two overlapping exits, which leaves the rear wheel, with its “Y” spoke design, fully visible. Sophisticated electronic management ensures full-bodied supply and an immediate, easy to manage response.
Ducati Supersport is first-class technological equipment that includes ABS, DTC, Ducati Quick Shift up/down, Riding Modes and a LVD Display that turns the LCD display into a control panel to set and check engine info, setting and more. The SuperSport presents a rich electronics package that increases the level of active safety. The Ducati Safety Pack (DSP), which includes Bosch 9MP ABS and Ducati Traction Control, enhances the bike’s performance and optimises control even on surfaces that offer fewer grips.
2017 was a year of surprises, and the SV650 was one of the most pleasant. A compact body, light weight, accurate steering and a good helping of low-down torque help the now-naked SV650 redefine the word “fun”. It is the kind of bike that you want to throw into corners and accelerate hard out of them for the pure joy of it.
For 2017, Suzuki introduces a new version of an iconic motorcycle that embodies the sporty personality that only a lively, mid-sized V-twin roadster can deliver. The new SV650 ABS has a polished power plant that provides increased performance with low emissions and outstanding fuel economy, mated to refined trim and lightweight chassis that delivers a sporty, exciting ride. In addition, the SV650 ABS has a new Low RPM Assist feature that seamlessly adjusts engine speed during take-off and low-speed running to smooth the power delivery and to help eliminate the possibility of the rider stalling the motorcycle. Like its predecessors, the 2017 SV650 promises to have the sparkling performance, style and value that a broad range of riders will enjoy.
Triumph Street Cup
Riding this one conjures up visions of rushing away from Aces Café and returning before the end of what is currently playing on the juke box. The Street Cup doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is: a slightly modern take on the café racer genre that packs a period feel that few other can match, despite modern conveniences of ABS and traction control.
Born from the stripped back style of the Street Twin, it delivers a stunning street racer attitude, bringing together the minimal bodywork details and contemporary finishes of the Street Twin, with a host of urban sports features, such as an authentic bullet seat and removable café racer seat cowl. With dynamic urban sports focused ergonomics, dropped ‘Ace’ bars and dedicated rear suspension, the Street Cup delivers an engaging riding position with smooth and agile handling. The 900cc high-torque Bonneville engine is perfectly tuned for a blast around town, or escaping it all on twisty B-roads. Wherever you ride you are always accompanied by a raw, rich soundtrack from its shorter, lighter twin upswept satin black and stainless steel silencers.
The sensitive incorporation of rider focused technology, ride-by-wire, switchable traction control, ABS, torque-assist clutch and low seat height, provide an enhanced level of confidence, comfort and control.