XS to XL, A Look At Motorcycles for 2015
By Guido Ebert
In this issue’s profile of the little Panigale 899, Dave Soderholm referred to the mid-sizer as a “Hero” bike. Too often, the Hero bikes typed about tend to be a manufacturer’s top-level two-wheelers that extoll all of that particular brand’s advances in engineering and design – which, as you’ll read, currently are the rapidly evolving innovations in electronic controls.
Yet multiple manufacturers also have awakened, and responded, to consumer desire for a larger spectrum of displacements – bikes that are not only more adept to real-world surface-street commuting, but fit what may be a relatively affordable price-tag for those of us suffering from a still stagnant income in a higher-cost economy.
In this piece, you’ll read about those “Hero” models, but you’ll also read about the new small- and mid-displacement bikes that are rapidly changing the landscape of the motorcycle market in the U.S.
In what Aprilia called “the most important evolution in the history of RSV4,” the new supersport offers 200hp via its V4 engine, is lighter, and comes with improved electronics in the form of the aPRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) system that includes aTC (Aprilia Traction Control), aWC (Aprilia Wheelie Control), aLC (Aprilia Launch Control) and aQS (Aprilia Quick Shift), all integrated by the ride-by-wire engine mapping. For fans of race replicas, Aprilia offers the RSV4 RF, which looks similar to the SBK winning bike of 2010, 2012 and 2014 and will be produced in a limited edition of 500 units.
As for the Tuono, Aprilia intends to offer it in two flavors for 2015: RR and Factory. Powering the Tuono is an 1110cc V4 motor generating 175hp and 88 lb.ft. of torque. The new powerplant’s displacement has been hiked by 110cc and thus resulted in a jump of 8hp and 4 lb.ft. of torque. In addition to the noticeable style changes and enlarged engine, the chassis benefits from a more aggressive head angle, new swingarm and related suspension settings. The RR & Factory feature the same aPRC electronics package as on the older model. The Factory model gets a trick Öhlins suspension and some other bling. Pricing on these new Tuono is still to be determined, but look for them in dealerships around May.
A third standout 2015 model from Aprilia is the new Caponord 1200 Rally, a V-twin Adventure bike which receives new spoked rims, hard panniers, windshield, engine guards, supplementary LED lights and 6.3-gal. fuel tank, as well as ride-by-wire tech with three engine maps, traction control, cruise control, ABS (can be disengaged) and the Aprilia Dynamic Damping electronic suspension system. Look for it later in 2015.
BMW Motorrad has unveiled four new-for-2015 models: the sporty R 1200 RS and R 1200 R roadster, the S 1000 XR adventure sport, and the revamped S 1000 RR superbike.
The new BMW R 1200 RS is a sport-tourer powered by the same 125hp/92 lb.ft. flat-twin boxer engine as on the R 1200 GS and new R 1200 R. The bike comes equipped as standard with two riding modes (“Rain” and “Road”), Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and ABS. Options include Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension adjustment); Gear Shift Assistant Pro for clutchless shifting; Keyless Ride; and Riding Mode Pro, which adds Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) with banking detection as well as two extra riding modes – “Dynamic” and “User”.
Prefer your BMW in a more standard form? Check out the new R 1200 R, the new do-all roadster that shares most of its DNA with the RS.
For sporting riders, the revamped S 1000 RR receives increased power output and torque (199hp at 13,500 rpm and 83 lb.ft. at 10,500 rpm), lighter frame structure and exhaust system that shaves the bike’s weight to 450 lbs. wet, new instruments and electronics, and completely restyled bodywork. The bike comes standard with three riding modes (“Rain”, “Sport” and “Race”), automatic stability control and Race ABS. Options include Riding Mode Pro with two additional modes (“Slick” and “User”), traction control, launch control, pit-lane speed limiter, Dynamic Damping Control (DDC), HP Gear Shift Assist Pro and cruise control. Yes, cruise control.
Finally, after years of success with its Adventure bikes, and more recent success with its S 100 R-based models, the German OEM appears to have mixed the two bike styles to come up with one delectable treat: the chocolate and peanut butter S 1000 XR that features the 160hp/83 lb.ft. engine of the S 1000 R with the seating concept of the GS series.
Ducati enters 2015 with a handful of new models, including the four-model family of Scrambler, race-bred 1299 Panigale S, useful Multistrada 1200 with variable timing and a host of neat electronics, Monster 821 & 1200S Stripe, and high polish Diavel Titanium.
The Scrambler will be made available in four versions – Icon, Urban Enduro, Full Throttle and Classic. Each of the four models (MSRP: $8,495-$9,995) are powered by an oil and air-cooled 803cc L-twin engine offering 75hp and 49 lb.ft. of torque and are outfitted with a 6-speed transmission, anti-lock braking and an upside-down fork at the front and a mono-shock setup at the rear.
Whereas Ducati is known as a high dollar brand, it is hoped the relatively low cost of the Scrambler family will help to usher in new prospects.
On the other end of Ducati’s product spectrum is the 1299 Panigale, a 395-lb. bike that puts out 205hp and 106 lb.ft. of torque. But Ducati knows lightweight and power are nothing without control, so the bike also comes with nannies like Ducati Quick Shift, Cornering ABS, an eight-setting Ducati Wheelie Control, electronic steering damper and – perhaps coolest of all – Ohlins’ Smart EC Semi-Active Event Based Suspension System. Need even more? Check out the super exclusive Panigale R.
Finally, adventurous Ducatisti will want to take a look at the new Multistrada 1200 featuring the first engine equipped with the revolutionary Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) and produces 136Nm @ 7,500rpm and 160hp @ 9,500rpm while dropping consumption 8% compared to the outgoing model. As you’ve come to expect from these high output motorcycles, the ‘Strada features four ride modes (Sport, Urban, Touring and Enduro) that control power delivery, ABS intervention, traction control, wheelie control and suspension settings. There’s also cornering lights, cruise control, keyless starting, and multimedia Bluetooth connectivity for your phone’s calls, text warnings and music.
The first of the Ducati Scrambler, the Icon, will be in dealerships by February. Production of the 1299 Panigale S will start early next year, with availability by March.
Propelled by Project RUSHMORE, the global launch of the Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles and the buzz surrounding Project LiveWire, Harley-Davidson for 2015 offers 36 motorcycle models in eight categories, including six Sportster, five Dyna, six Softail, two V-Rod, nine Touring, four CVO, two Street and two Trike models.
Harley put a lot of emphasis on its Touring line for 2015. And, why not, Touring bikes represent 41.2% of H-D’s annual sales (compared to Customs at 39.5% and Sportsters at 19.3%).
Highlights include the returning Road Glide ($20,899), back with a new triple vented, frame-mounted fairing that minimizes head buffeting, dual reflector Daymaker LED headlamps, and a new handlebar offering improved ergonomics; the Road Glide Special ($23,199), factory-equipped with premium Boom! Box infotainment, upgraded suspension and linked brakes with ABS; a new braking system for Softail models, with ABS now standard on all Softail models except the Slim; ergonomic enhancements to the Electra Glide Ultra Classic ($23,249); a new 600-watt Boom! audio system on the limited-production CVO Street Glide ($36,349) bagger; introduction of the Freewheeler Trike ($24,999) alongside the TriGlide Ultra ($32,999); and eight new paint colors across the model line.
Of course, there also are the two liquid-cooled Street, the 500 ($6,799) and 750 ($7,499). If you haven’t yet, it’d be worth visiting your local H-D dealer to swing a leg over the bikes.
H-D motorcycle prices for 2015 range from $6,799 for the Street 500 to $39,649 for the CVO Road Glide Ultra.
Honda for 2015 offers 53 two-wheelers in nine categories, including 10 Cruiser models, 11 Sport models, 11 Trail models, six Touring models, four Off-Road Competition models, two Dual Sport models, two Adventure models, two Super Sport models and five Scooter models.
Honda has been busy expanding its model range during the past couple of years, offering new X model Adventure bikes and CTX Cruisers, expanding its DCT-equipped offerings, and adding CBs and CBRs to the Sport category.
Perhaps the most unique of offerings is the NM4 ($10,999), the futuristic looking bike that crosses the line between cruiser and scooter. Beneath the matte black Anime outer shell, the 562-lb. NM4 is powered by a 670cc parallel twin outfitted with Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission – a six-speed with two automatic modes and a push-button manual mode.
For superbike jockeys, Honda in October revealed the RC213V-S Prototype, a bike the OEM said “is set to be the ultimate road-going motorcycle.” There’s been no information given as to when this bike will become a reality, or for how much. Until then, track-day enthusiasts will have the choice of three CBR1000RR. There’s the standard model ($13,999), the CBR1000RR ABS, and the CBR1000RR SP Repsol Edition with a special lightweight subframe and solo seat cowl, fully adjustable Öhlins front and rear suspension, Brembo front brakes and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC premium tires. Buy it to go with your Repsol Edition CBR250R.
Off-road, the CRF450R ($8,699) jumps into 2015 with big news: an all-new Engine Mode Select button lets you choose between three settings (Standard, Smooth, and Aggressive), just by pushing a handlebar-mounted button. It’s an industry first for MX bikes. There’s also a new cylinder head and piston designed to deliver more top-end, more flywheel mass, a bigger front brake, and a revised KYB pneumatic spring fork and rear shock.
Finally, the 2015 model year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Gold Wing ($23,999), so those interested in the bike may want to take a look at available special edition.
Indian for 2015 offers five models in Scout, Touring, Cruiser and Bagger.
Garnering many of Indian’s headlines since its introduction at Sturgis ’14, the Scout ($10,999) is a 100hp sportbike in cruiser dress. I was lucky enough to put about 1,300 miles on a Scout this past fall. After an inaugural 15-mile jaunt atop the bike, I returned to the office and put out on social media that “This is a bike cruiser haters need to ride.”
The first things you may notice about the 2015 Indian Scout are its dimensions. It’s low and it’s narrow. The second thing you may notice is Polaris Industries’ attention to detail in the design and creation of the bike. Check out the intricate liquid-cooled 69 cu. in. V-twin engine and its polished jug tops, the line that runs from the gas tank down through the rear shock as tribute to the original G-20 model’s classic rigid chassis triangle, the fat tires and black wheels reminiscent of the 101, retro badging, the belt cover tribute to the Sport Scout, the sparing use of chrome highlights … even the original-look desert tan leather saddle that sets off the aesthetics.
On the opposite end of Indian’s line-up, the new Roadmaster ($26,999) was designed to be a luxurious touring bike offering the ultimate in comfort. Powered by Indian’s gorgeous Thunder Stroke 111 engine producing 119 lb.ft. of torque, the 930-lb. Roadmaster features all the amenities you would want in a tourer: push-button adjustable windscreen; saddlebags, trunk, fairing and lowers combine to offer 37 gallons of storage and can be locked by remote; heated seats with individual controls; 10-setting heated grips; adjustable floorboards; highway bars; bright LED headlight and driving lights; keyless ignition; cruise control; tire pressure monitoring; and a 200-watt Bluetooth-enabled stereo.
Look for MMM’s profile of the Indian Scout in our first issue of 2015.
Kawasaki for 2015 intends to supply 33 motorcycles in eight categories, including six Sport, seven Supersport, one SuperSport Tourer, four Touring, four Cruisers, two Dual Purpose, four Off-Road and five Motocross models. Highlights include the supercharged Ninja H2, the new Versys 650 LT & 1000 LT and Vulcan S cruiser.
The H2 ($25,000) is the 200hp, 524-lb. street-legal, limited-release version of the crazy track-only 300hp H2R ($50,000). Attached to the H2’s trellis frame is the world’s only supercharged production streetbike engine, aerospace-designed bodywork, a fully adjustable KYB racing suspension and big Brembo brakes. Helping put all of that power to the ground is a new KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control) system featuring multiple ride modes, plus an independently activated Rain mode; KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode) which electronically controls engine output to prevent wheelspin and wheelies; KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Brake System) that features rear lift suppression; and an electronic steering damper jointly developed with Ohlins.
Now it’ll be up to Team Green enthusiasts to decide whether they’d rather opt for the 443-lb. 998cc ZX-10R ($14,299) or 590-lb. 1441cc ZX-14R ($14,999). Want the H2? Hopefully you’ve made your deposit.
More accessible are the redesigned Versys ($7,999) and Versys 650LT ($8,699) and new Versys 1000LT ($12,799). The LT (light touring) models offer hard luggage bags and handguards. Two of the three are powered by a torquey 649cc liquid-cooled parallel twin whereas the larger LT is outfitted with a mile-crunching 1043cc inline four.
The newest addition to Kawasaki’s four-model cruiser line, the Vulcan S ($7,399) – also powered by a 649cc liquid-cooled parallel twin – features customizable riding options via the company’s new Ergo-Fit system – handlebar levers and three-position footpegs that are said to make this bike useable by riders taller than 6 feet and shorter than 5’6”. Further aiding the height challenged is a seat height of 27.8 inches and a slim chassis that provides an easy reach to the ground unencumbered by engine or exhaust. Cross-shop it with the Yamaha Bolt ($7,990) and Indian Scout ($10,999).
KTM for 2015 intends to offer U.S. customers two Supersports, three Naked bikes, three Travel models, 10 MX models and 17 Enduros.
Last year, KTM’s top-selling models in the U.S. were the 500 EXC ($10,099), 450 SX-F ($8,999) and 300 XC-W. Those three off-road bikes return for the new year, offering riders the most powerful standard production Enduro on the market, the bike implemented in AMA competition by the KTM factory team, and lightweight two-stroke competition performance.
Is bigger better? If you answer “Yes,” you may want to check out the Austrian OEM’s bonkers new 1290 Super Adventure – a 504-lb. intercontinental tourer with the same 1301cc V-twin engine as the big Super Duke featured in MMM’s June issue.
That means 160hp and 110 lb.ft. of torque. There’s also a programmable semi-active WP suspension, hill hold control, traction control, ABS, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system, LED cornering lights … pretty much every superlative technology. For rider comfort, the Super Adventure – which joins the much lauded 1190 Adventure / Adventure R in the 2015 lineup– has a redesigned, manually adjustable windshield, adjustable footpegs, seat height and handlebar position, and heated seats and grips.
If size doesn’t matter to you, it’d be worth checking out the 690 Duke ($8,999), a spirited 329-lb., 70hp single-cylinder sport-standard (“Naked”) bike that works just as well around town as it does carving twisties.
Finally, after spending two years telling us it would arrive, KTM says the 390 Duke will be made available Stateside in 2015 at a price of $4,999. The 43hp single-cylinder screamer is set to be joined by the 324-lb. RC390 sportbike ($5,499).
Moto Guzzi for 2015 intends to again offer eight models, including updated versions of the V7 Stone ($8,490), Special ($9,290) and Racer ($10,490), as well as the returning Griso 8V SE ($12,990), Norge GT 8V ($16,290), Stelvio 1200 NTX ($15,990), California 1400 Custom ($15,490) and California 1400 Touring ($18,490).
The three-bike V7 family for 2015 has been dubbed the V7 II. The models received multiple changes to warrant the new moniker, including the addition of ABS and traction control, a revised clutch and six-speed transmission, and placing emphasis on lowering the weight of the chassis – that is, dropping the center of gravity to offer a more spirited chassis feel. The engine has been tilted toward the front axle and lowered compared to the previous model, the shaft drive unit has been lowered, and an altered saddle-handlebar-footpeg triangulation via a lower saddle and lower footpegs will make you feel as if you’re “in” the bike rather than “on” it as with the previous version.
Moto Guzzi, evidently stoked by the relative success of its new-for-2014 California 1400 and California 1400 Touring models (See MMM#153), late this fall also introduced two new 1400-based bikes: the Eldorado and the Audace. Both feature that big 1380cc transverse V-twin engine, but the Eldorado is swathed in chrome while the Audace is black out. It remains to be seen if and when we’ll get a chance to ride them stateside.
Suzuki’s plans for 2015 include 38 two-wheelers in nine categories. The line-up includes four Sportbike, six Cruisers, two Touring Cruisers, six Standard models, five Adventure models, four Dual Sport models, three Motocross models, two Off-Road models and three Scooters.
Included in the line-up are five new models – the GSX-S750 ($7,999) and GSX-S750Z ($8,149), the V-Strom 650 XT ABS ($10,399), the GW250F ($4,499), and the RM-Z450 ($8,749). But there’s more: Check out the early release 2016 model year GSX-S1000/ABS (TBD) and GSX-S1000F ABS (TBD).
The five GSX-S models serve as Suzuki’s standout newcomers.
For the GSX-S750/Z, Suzuki took the 749cc engine from the GSX-R750 and tuned it to deliver a better power curve and ergonomic layout for street riding. Weighing 470 lbs. wet, both bikes feature inverted KYB front fork with a 7-way preload adjustable single rear shock absorber working through a progressive linkage; stop via dual fully-floating 310mm discs and dual-piston calipers up front and a 240mm single rear disc brake with single-piston caliper; and roll on 120/70R17 M/C (58W) front and 180/55ZR17 M/C (73W) rear tires. Ergonomics look to have riders in a standard sport position – with high, comfortable Renthal bars (rather than clip-ons) and lightly swept pegs.
It’s the same story with the three GSX-S1000, except they are powered by the 999cc inline four from the GSX-R1000. They also get Suzuki’s three-mode Advanced Traction Control System; fully adjustable damping, rebound and spring pre-load via a 43mm KYB Inverted front fork and a single Showa rear shock that features externally adjustable rebound and compression damping, along with adjustable ride height. They all stop via 310mm floating-mount dual discs mated to Brembo mono-block front brake calipers with 4 opposite 32mm pistons, and roll on 120/70ZR17 M/C (58W) front and 190/50ZR17 M/C (73W) rear tires.
Suzuki says it intends to begin production of the GSX-S1000 in March and the 1000F in April, with sales following in North America and Europe.
The 2015 Triumph line features nearly 30 motorcycles in Adventure, Classic, Cruiser, Roadster, Supersport and Touring form. Among the offerings are three new edition Bonneville models, an expanded Tiger 800 family and yet another version of the Street Triple.
The three Bonneville Special Edition models include the Bonneville Spirit, Bonneville T214 and Bonneville Newchurch. The Bonneville Spirit features a Spirit Blue / New England White paint scheme atop blacked out bits and pays homage to the 1950s era bike; the Bonneville T214 celebrates the achievements of Texas-born racer Johnny Allen, and his record-breaking Triumph-powered Cee-Gar streamliner; and the Bonneville Newchurch Special Edition is offered in tribute to the small town of Neukirchen, Austria, which hosts the largest Triumph party in the world.
All three Bonneville are to be offered in a restricted quantity. Limited to a total of 1,000 bikes worldwide, the T214 ($9,999) was to be the first delivered, having arrived in Triumph dealerships beginning in November.
The Triumph Tiger 800 previously came in standard and XC versions. For 2015, the bike comes in four: the touring focused XR & XRx range with Showa suspension and the off-road biased XC & XCx range with WP suspension.
There’s also a host of rider-focused technology, including ride-by-wire throttle control and switchable ABS standard on all models, and Cruise Control, Traction Control, three riding modes (Road, Off-Road, Programmable) and four engine maps (Rain, Road, Sport and Off-Road) standard on what are being called XRx and XCx models.
The bikes all are powered by a revised 800cc triple producing about 58 ft. lb. of torque at 7,850rpm and a peak 94hp. The reworked engine was designed to reduce mechanical noise and return better fuel economy. In fact, Triumph claims the new Tiger 800 has a potential range of 272 miles to empty, which would be a 50-mile improvement compared to the outgoing model.
Finally, for you hoonigans, there’s the new Street Triple RX, which still has its 105hp 675cc inline triple engine but now includes the rear subframe and tail bodywork from the Daytona 675, a standard quickshifter and ABS utilizing the same 300mm Nissin brakes as the R.
Victory for 2015 offers 10 motorcycle models, including four Baggers, four Cruisers and two Tourers. Gone are the Boardwalk, Cross Roads, Judge, Jackpot and Hardball.
The first of two new-for-2015 models, the Gunner ($12,999) cruiser features Victory’s 106 cu. in. engine producing 110 lb.ft. of torque, two-tone Suede metallic paint, 24-spoke cast aluminum wheels and 25-inch-high solo seat.
Victory’s Bagger lineup also received a new model, the custom-look Magnum ($21,999). Magnum boasts a new 21-inch front wheel – the largest of any Bagger – slammed rear end; color-matched rear fender closeouts, saddlebag hinges, lock bezels, headlight/taillight bezels, dash and radiator shroud; cruise control; ABS; LED headlight; and 100W 6-speaker stereo with Bluetooth. It’s a big bike – 750 lbs. dry – but features a combination of running gear that make it feel lighter once underway. For a bit more bling, check out the Ness Magnum ($22,999).
Finally, for folks who like riding with their arms outstretched, the Victory Highball ($13,349) cruiser returns with a new blacked out two-tone look and a return to wire wheels with white sidewalls.
Victory’s 10 motorcycle models for 2015 range in price from $12,499 for the Vegas 8-Ball to $22,999 for the Ness Magnum.
Yamaha for 2015 offers 59 two-wheelers in eight categories. The OEM introduced 11 new or radically updated two-wheelers to the U.S. for the new year, including a new YZF-R1/M, the YZF-R3 sportbike, 155cc SMAX scooter, FZ-07 standard, YZ250FX motocross freestyler, WR250F off-road model, Bolt C-Spec café racer, the earlier released SR400 classic, and Raider and Stryker
cruisers with a small front cowl.
Packing just shy of 200hp, the new YZF-R1 ($16,490) comes with the Yamaha Ride Control System featuring variable ride modes and power settings, as well as a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that controls the banking-sensitive Traction Control, Slide Control, Anti-Wheelie Control, Launch Control and unified braking system with ABS. Wet weight: 439 lbs.
Want more? Look for the limited edition YZF-R1M ($21,990). It features Ohlins’ ERS electronic suspension and a communication control unit with data logging system and integrated GPS that allows you to download data and upload settings, a full carbon fairing and front fender, and specially developed Bridgestone tires.
Looking further down the displacement ladder, the new YZF-R3 ($4,990) is powered by a 321cc in-line twin, offers a low seat height of 30.7”, and features top notch components like 41mm KYB fork front and KYB single shock rear suspension, 298mm front and 220mm rear single disc brakes, and 110/70-17 M/C 54H front and 140/70-17 M/C 66H rear tires. Expect to see it in dealerships beginning in March.
The FZ-07 ($6,990), Raider Bullet Cowl ($15,390) and Stryker Bullet Cowl ($12,090) already arrived in dealerships, the SMAX ($3,690) was to be delivered to by November, the WR250F ($7,990) and YZ250FX ($7,890) are to be delivered in December, and the Bolt C-Spec ($8,690) will be available starting in January.