Johannesburg – Despite an economy that continues to be uncertain at best, 2017 didn’t disappoint when it came to introducing new bikes.
Here, in no particular order, is my list of the bikes that have impressed me the most during the past year:
1 Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade
Honda went both backwards and forwards with the new iteration of the venerable ‘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.
2 BMW G 310 R
BMW’s entry into the commuter market may well have been the surprise of the year.
It impressed me every time I rode it, offering more power than you’d expect, combined with BMW’s build quality and brand equity at price that comfortably competes with other bikes in this category.
3 KTM 1090 Adventure R
While its bigger sibling walked away with the Pirelli SA Bike of the Year title, the 1090 R impressed me 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.
4 Kawasaki Z900
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.
5 Ducati Supersport
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.
In my review of the SuperSport, I concluded that it was versatile enough to be your only bike, and that it was the model from Ducati’s stable I would be most likely to buy for myself.
6 Suzuki SV650
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.
7 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 Scrambler 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.