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2017 New Bikes. Best year yet.

Posted on 03 January 2017

The 2016 edition of EICMA motorcycle show will go down in history as the exhibition where manufacturers debuted the most new bikes in a single year. There are new models not only in the current segments but also in newly introduced segments as well. A biker has never been so spoilt for choice.

With so much to choose from, Wahid Ooi Abdullah pares it down to a few of the more significant ones. Watch this space for more.

KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

The original 1290 Super Duke R, was the bike that would send even the most jaded biker running for their mummies. Hence, known as “The Beast”.

If you didn’t find it exciting enough, then perhaps you should take up bomb defusing as a hobby. And we’re not talking about World War II hand grenades someone unearthed on the beach but a nuke that could turn an entire city to dust. With 10 seconds left on the clock.

The Austrian firm, however, deigned it necessary to make The Beast even faster in 2017. But also better. Wait a minute? Is this leading to some kind of identity crisis?

Not so.

While the Duke R has always been described as blindingly fast, it’s also a pussycat as a daily commuter. KTM had imbued the right mix of sportiness and comfort into the bike’s ergonomics.

Thus, for 2017, although The Beast now has a total of 177 bhp, KTM actually made the power delivery a lot smoother with a wider torque spread, making it accessible to (almost) everybody.

The already great WP fork received new stiffer springs and re-valved rear shock. The handlebar is now wider, lower and placed further toward the front for a more natural seating position and addresses some of the windblast on the rider.

So now, unlike the two-dimensional Austrian actor, the Super Duke R is more complex. If the 1290 Super Duke GT sport-tourer was any indication, the 2017 R should be as brutish as you want it to be but it also helps you from crashing into your neighbour’s living room.

TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER

The Bonneville’s runaway success in the modern retro market boiled down to accessibility, reliability, simplicity and the ability to be customised. Look around – no two Bonnies are alike. Triumph is fully aware of their customers’ propensity in pimping out their rides, evidenced by their offering of more than 300 items in the accessories catalog.

With all the private customising going on, it’s high time Triumph launched their “factory custom”.

Based on the Bonneville T120, the Triumph arrived at the Bobber’s unembellished looks by stripping away everything that’s deemed unnecessary. The single seat is a floating aluminium and adjustable unit. As for the “hardtail” look, it was achieved by placing the rear shock underneath the bike and attaching it to the swingarm via a linkage.

There are bits and pieces of nostalgic design cues smattered around the bike, including the battery box, throttle bodies that mimic the classic Amal carbs, drum brake-like rear brake hub, side panels, and so forth.

But as cut down as the Bobber is, it remains a functional modern classic, featuring modern amenities such as ABS, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control.

It is definitely a beautiful motorcycle worth waiting for.


DUCATI SCRAMBLER DESERT SLED

When Ducati launched the Scrambler in 2014, the Italian firm took great pains to explain why the bike was on a separate lineage to the “red” Ducatis. Those marketing and branding exercises promoted that one buys into the “carefree lifestyle” of the Scrambler, compared to the “performance lifestyle” of the other Ducatis.

But while the name Scrambler would have invoked the sense of a bike being ready for the rough, the original Scrambler only fared well on unpaved roads as far as “offroad” is concerned. That limitation was due to the supple road-biased suspension.

So now, for 2017, the Scrambler is ready to scramble with the introduction of the Desert Sled.

Bigger forks (now 46mm up from 41mm), new swingarm with new springs, longer travel at both ends; motocross style handlebar and an under-engine skid plate telegraph the Desert Sled’s intended intentions.

But how does one justify riding the Desert Sled offroad? Well, we see it this way: A motocross or enduro bike is too focused and uncomfortable. On the other hand, an adventure bike such as the BMW R 1200 GS would be comfortable, but too big and heavy. The Scrambler Desert Sled slots right in between those two extremes.

Whatever it is, the Desert Sled edition is now the best-looking Scrambler!

SUZUKI GSX-250R

The 250cc market is the most fiercely contended segment as this is where almost all motorcyclists begin their foray into the wonderful world of motorcycling.

As such, Suzuki has finally unveiled their 250cc entry-level model at EICMA.

The GSX-250R derives its looks from its biggest brother, the GSX-1000R, including the MotoGP livery. But all similarities stop there, as the rest of its components were lifted from the GW250, including the frame, and the 248cc parallel-twin which produces 24.7 bhp and 23.4 Nm of torque. Those aren’t class-leading figures, of course, but who knows? Might there be different power outputs for different countries?

The GSX-250R will be a comfortable ride especially for beginners, least to say, evidenced by the taller handlebars, and footpegs that are placed further forward and lower.

BMW R 1200 GS

The R 1200 GS or more popularly known as the “GS” has always been the standard to which other adventure motorcycles are measured by. And speaking of being the standard, the GS’s competitors have edged very close, or even bettered, its qualities in recent times. How does it stay the best-selling motorcycle, then? By moving the goalposts further, of course.

There are two variants (apart from the GS Adventure), with one called the Exclusive and the other the Rallye.

Firstly, both models receive new, svelte fairings for better ergonomics in the knee area.

The new GS also gets BMW’s Dynamic ESA “Next Generation” electronic suspension. Besides automatically adapting its damping to different riding situations, the system now also has a self-leveling feature to compensate for different loads by adjusting the spring preload.

Since the Rallye is for offroading, the suspension has stiffer springs, longer spring struts and longer travel. This model also has a seat optimized for offroading, lower windshield, radiator guard, frame guard, enduro footrests and spoked wheels.

The Exclusive has cast wheels, standard windscreen and seat.

Customers may also want to include the optional Riding Modes Pro function which includes the Dynamic, Dynamic Pro, Enduro and Enduro Pro riding modes. Each mode incorporates lean-angle sensitive dynamic traction control (DTC), Hill Start Control and ABS Pro (in addition to the standard Rain and Rain riding modes, plus the basic Automatic Stability Control traction control system).

It’ll be interesting to see what the competitors will come up with.


HONDA CBR1000RR


The superbike segment, although having lost some of its appeal to sport touring, continues to be where the manufacturers find prestige in ruling the roost. To stand still in this class is akin to relegating oneself to the initial nanoseconds after the Big Bang. Consequently, this is where they roll out their fastest and baddest machines, loaded up to the nines with the latest technologies trickled down from MotoGP and/or World Superbike racing.

The CBR1000RR has always been the favourite among many riders due to its rider-friendly feedback in terms of both power and handling. But while handling has always been at the cutting edge, engine power had lagged behind its competitors’. The same handicap also applies to its rider aid electronics – there was none.

Honda isn’t a manufacturer that likes to get beat.

So for 2017, the venerable CBR1000RR gets thoroughly reworked in terms of chassis, engine, and electronics.

The frame walls were thinned for more ideal chassis rigidity to increase torsional flexibility for a “faster reacting chassis,” as Honda puts it. Swingarm thickness has also been adjusted for the same effects, while saving some weight in the process.

Although the 998cc inline-four engine retains the same 76x55mm bore and stroke figures, the piston crown has been redesigned to kick up the compression ratio to 13.0:1 from 12.3:1.

For further weight savings, the engine utilizes a magnesium ignition cover. The transmission gears have also been cut down to save weight as is the slipper clutch.

Most importantly, the CBR1000RR now features a rider aid electronics package, which is centred on a five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and ride-by-wire throttle. The package includes the Honda Selectable Torque Control (traction control with wheel control) and Engine Brake control. There is also a quick shifter for both up- and downshifts.

Will this be the most exciting iteration of the CBR1000RR? It most probably is.

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