Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 13 Motorcycles for 2015

This post was originally featured on Experimental Ghost's blog as a return favour for a cracking guest post he wrote for me, but I feel it's worth the recap as we head into the New Year and shit-tonne of exciting new motorcycles in 2015.

First of all, a bit about me. I grew up in rural South Australia moving around with my parents as they opened restaurants and fish and chip shops until they retired; we were always a motorbike family. 
Dad wooed Mum with his motorcycle in the 50s, and he made sure all five of his kids could ride as we grew up, including the girls.

Check my Dad out, circa 1953 on his beloved Indian. May he ride on in peace.

I remember getting my first bike, a Pee Wee 80 at four or five years of age and racing through the scrub to show Mum, in my excitement pulling into our driveway I did a classic ‘whiskey throttle’ manoeuvre, looping it into the bushes. From that day forward I was hooked, and I've been riding some 35 plus years since, with a few stints off in between.

I started writing about my passion for bikes when I created Ducati Blog alongside my first Ducati, a Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP, and then later on I created Daily Bikers to broaden the scope beyond just blogging about Ducatis, so I guess I'm also a bit of a nerd with bike blogs too, and that's how I met our mate here Experimental Ghost. I’m also a bona fide bike whore, I change bikes often.

I've owned quite a few in my time, currently I ride a BMW S1000R as well as a Suzuki DRZ 400e supermotard which I commute on, and track, when I get the chance. I love new, old, enduro, trials, street and most kinds of bikes really - lately I've been reading and learning more about cruisers, choppers and bobbers even.

So as long as it’s got wheels, I'm into it. So for my guest post I thought I'd take a look through some of what's coming out next year, and with EICMA behind us, and some exciting new releases to cover so grab a cuppa, this is gonna be a long one with lots of pics and videos to enjoy!

1. Kawasaki H2 Supercharged road bike


Image source:1000ps First place must go to the road going version of the hotly anticipated H2R 200bhp crazy Superbike. It just has to be on top of every motorcycle madman/woman’s mind, right? There was so much hype and build up about it's release I kind of got annoyed with the marketing eventually, but this is going to be one of those bikes that goes down in history as the return of the Supercharger. Just listen to that howl!

Although, now there are a few 200bhp road registered bikes (Panigale 1299, R1M, S1000RR) it’s going to be a hell of a battle for the street riders out there to pick one, and keep your license. Good luck with that.

AUD $TBA

2. Ducati Scrambler


Image source: Ducati I sat on one for the first time at the MotoExpo in Melbourne, and while it was a tad small for me (I’m 6’2” and all legs and arms, like a crayfish) I can totally see the appeal. It screams hipster, yet once you’ve heard that engine with a set of Termi pipes on it, there's no looking back.

Take my money! These little bikes would rev hard and go fast, don't be fooled, they'll tackle a decent track or two with the right rubber and suspension setup. I would love to take one for a blast just about anywhere to be honest. Well played Ducati. At the cheaper spectrum of Ducati price list it’s bound to sell bucket loads to the hipster crew. Oh dear.

AUD $12,990 - 14,990

3. Multistrada 1200S


Image source: Ducati I absolutely loved the sound of the Multistrada I owned, it was a hell of a bike and next year it just gets better and better, with Bosch's new cornering ABS and finally, Cruise Control.

This is currently the cream of the crop when it comes to the go-fast Sport/Adventure market. You just won't get better, yet... The Multistrada has a slight lean towards adventure, but with a 17” front wheel you're never really going to have enough clearance to tackle the proper off-road stuff, but still, don't think you're going to take me in the mountains on your literbike, in fact don't even presume you will CATCH me, these bikes are damn fast and handle like a dream, that's why they keep winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

That engine is unspeakably good and incredibly satisfying with torque oozing out of every gear, powering out of corners has never felt better, and they're equipped with enough electronic doodads for days (did I mention it gets cruise control finally next year?), this is one big upright rip-snorting mega comfortable beast of a bike. And it just keeps getting better every year.

AUD $23,990

4. Ducati Panigale 1299


Image source: Ducati

The most exotic Ducati of them all the Panigale just got 100 more ponies, no doubt a response to the much heralded lunatic bike of choice the KTM Super Duke 1290 and most likely the Kwakka H2 up in position one.

But there is something about the exoctic Italian superbike. It takes me back to the ground breaking days of the 916 - it seems like they have created something extra special that no-one else can touch. That's what it is, they feel untouchable.

That blaring red paint, those vicious looking rear fins and the funky underslung pipe all just ooze attention to detail and if you're lucky enough to be able to afford it, this is the kind of bike that makes heads turns no matter if you are cruising to the cafe or ripping rubber off the back wheel like a maniac on the track. Not to mention that ridonkulous 1285cc Superquadro Twin that Ducati is famous for, the sound is just beyond mere words. Intoxicating. Just like the claimed 205bhp. Yikes!

AUD $TBA

5. Husqvarna FS 450


Image source: Husqvarna

Supermoto riding really gets the blood pumping. It's a perfect blend of road and off-road riding, thrashing small displacement engines in what is essentially a dirt bike with road wheels.

Ringing the guts out of them on the track, elbows out, nuts bashing up against the tank, trying to slide and pushing bars and bike around rather than leaning, it’s like nothing else; completely mental and great fun. As a commuter, you can’t go past a Supermotard.

Light, little, fast, torquey, excellent. Husqvarna are back this year with two models (there is an almighty FS 701 coming in 2015 too) and my bike of choice for this kind of riding would be the Husqvarna FS 450. Light, fast, handling you can only dream about. I mean c'mon, just check this out.

Already sold out here in Australia, the waiting list is 6 months plus and you'd be considered lucky to land one without a good deposit, and the commitment to buy sight unseen. This lightweight top-spec Supermoto gives me goosebumps just thinking about riding it. Want want want! Doh.

AUD $ TBA - € 9,895.00

6. Yamaha MT 09 Tracer Sports Tourer


Image source:1000ps

The MT 09 has been a big success globally it would seem, and why not? At a touch over $10k AUD brand new, it’s a hell of a lot of capable, and incredibly good fun to ride as I found out at Moto Expo. So easy to ride, and that Triple just loves to rev, but so easy going around the city. There really is a lot to like about the Mt-09 donor bike.

The Tracer version takes it to the 'Touring' level adding comfort, touring screen, luggage options, an improved dash and a bigger fuel tank make this one well worth checking out. I'm including it because it's entry level touring without being Hyosung ugly/quality.

AUD $ TBA US $10,490

7. BMW F800R


Image source:1000ps

It’s only a light update for this little thumping twin but, the small change in headlight makes what was kind of ugly looking into something a whole lot tougher. I like it. It comes right after the Tracer because it's going to cost a fair whack more, but then again really nice things always do.

AUD $ TBA

8. SWM - Speedy Working Motors

Image source: SWM

These little prod bikes feature a 435CC air cooled single and weighing in at a mere 150kg which make for a super base for a custom trackers, which is why I'd opt for the Gran Milano 440S out of their new line up of 'old fashioned' thumpers.

How cool is this with its murdered out engine bay and classic spoked dual sport wheels? It's motorcycling back to basics, and let's face it - who wouldn't own a bike made by a company called Speedy Working Motors?

AUD $ TBA

9. Husqvarna 401 concepts - Vit Pilen and Svart Pilen

Image source:1000ps

These bikes were unleashed to gauge public reaction before going into production, and I see a trend here that I like very much. The Vit Pilen (Swedish for White Arrow) and Svart Pilen (Black Arrow) are smaller 400CC 135kg custom bikes ready to go right out of the box. Simple, clean lines, big wide bars and I’m just flat out a total sucker for a single thumper with dual sport tyres. I really hope that they get to see the light of day Down Under.

AUD - concept only

10. Yamaha XJR 1300 Racer

Image source: Yamaha

Not much of an update here apart from aesthetics, but the faired headlight and race number plate scream muscle bike and for that reason alone like it a lot.

My older brother also used to ride the very early iteration of the XJR (or maybe it was an FJR?) back in the 90s and I remember him pulling up alongside me on a country road while I drove along in my cage, and sticking his tongue out like the RoadRunner then ripping a huge wheelie and shooting off like a bolt of lightning on the back wheel, leaving me standing still at 100kmhr.

 That was enough, I was sold. If I could fill my dream shed, then this would have to take the Muscle Bike slot for sure. Simply put, I want to get on the blacked out beast and see if I can hit 300kmh immediately. It's a whole lot of bike for not that much money.

AUD $ 13,999

11. Harley Davidson Street 500

Image source:Harley Davidson

A liquid cooled 500cc V-Twin, the little Harley Davidson deserves a mention just because it's quite different. Not your usual massive displacement Harley engine at all. I also sat on one at the Moto Expo, and again found it too small for me, but can totally see the appeal.

We're talking first bike LAMs approved Harley Davidsons here after all, what's not to like for that market? A hell of a lot I'm thinking. The custom options will play out superbly with these little inexpensive bikes. Well played Harley Davidson. I think they realised that not everyone wants to ride a Ninja 300.

AUD $9,995.00

12. Suzuki GSX S1000 ABS

Image source: MCNews

I love Suzukis. Always have. RGV 250, GSX 400F, GSX R750 and now DRZ 400, they always seem to find their way into my life. And I love naked bikes. So while this may not be that breathtaking or inspirational design wise it gets a mention because it is a naked gixxer.

How can you not like it?

I've never owned a spirited literbike gixxer because I'm not that much of a fan of being raked over the bars racer boy style and so the S version interests me because it has those big wide flat bars and a
more upright riding position in what is essentially the same bike. A naked gixxer, perfect.

What isn't perfect or exciting, is this incredibly lame promotional video which will sell exactly zero of them to anyone.

Still, I'd take the greyed out ghosty coloured one for a spin on any given day. AUD $

13. BMW S1000 XR

Image source: BMW

And finally, the bike I'm most excited about for 2015. The Multistrada killer. The BMW S1000R is the most exciting bike I have ever ridden and yet if I’m honest the Ducati Multistrada was the most comfortable and exciting bike I ever owned.

BMW clearly recognise this with the Multistrada selling by the bucket loads and they made the obvious connection by connecting the S1000R power plant to a tourer/adventure (light) format. Adding this bike to their arsenal makes perfect sense to me. I don’t want a GS R1200R. I want an S1000 XR.

 Add it all up with the same engine as the S1000R plus the Touring Package (pannier mounts, heated grips, sat-nav mount, centre stand, luggage grid and electronic suspension upgrades) and the Dynamic package (extra ride modes, quick shifter, cruise control and ABS Pro [read cornering ABS!] and this is a serious mountain carving, long haul, commuting ball tearer of a bike not to be messed with. I want it. Bad.

AUD $TBA

So there you have it folks, my list of the kick arse bikes coming next year, what were your favourites? Vote for yours in the Poll below.

Until next time, stay upright. Dan.