Best of 2009 - Motorcycles of the Year

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Best of 2009 - Motorcycles of the Year

Post by ganahsokmo on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:38 am

While we enjoy ripping on substandard
motorcycles, crappy bikes are hard to find these days. Take a look at
any of our comparison tests from the last couple of years and you'll
find only marginal differences between our declared winners and their

With so much high-quality product to choose from, culling the field
down into our Best Of winners was an arduous task. But that didn't stop
us from coming up with our favorite stuff from the class of '09!
Introducing the first-annual Best Of awards. And the MoBo
goes to...

Motorcycle of the Year
Triumph Street Triple R
Street Triple R is a fantastically versatile sporting package with one
of our favorite engines of all time. It's an elemental motorcycle but
with major-league performance built in, and its fun-to-ride quotient is
sky high, earning our MoBo Motorcycle of the Year for 2009.

had a good thing going when it unveiled the sweet Street Triple 675, a
pared-down streetfighter version of the beloved Daytona 675 sportbike.
The Street Triple’s finest feature is its soul-stirring three-cylinder
engine that boasts a broad powerband and a symphonic exhaust note. The
motor, re-tuned from the Daytona, has a predictable but powerful output
that makes it accessible and unintimidating to riders of all skill
levels yet is satisfying for even the saltiest veterans. Comfortable
ergos – including a reasonably low seat height – and an eminently
toss-able nature made it a staff darling, but we were a little
disappointed it had some bargain-minded bits to keep the retail figure

But like a dream come true, the Street Triple R was introduced just
last year, replete with the Daytona’s up-spec fully adjustable
suspension and potent radial-mount Nissin brake calipers, alleviating
all of our concerns. The result is an invigorating and versatile
roadster that stickers for less than $10K. Lofting the front wheel is a
snap, and before you know it you’ll be drifting out the back end like an
inspired Brit hooligan. And on your favorite twisty back road, its
friendly yet potent character is almost unbeatable, proving that no one
really needs triple-digit horsepower peaks. Now that Triumph perfected
the Street in our eyes, it became the perfect Standard. And it's our
favorite motorcycle of 2009.

Related Reading
Triumph Street Triple R Review

Naked Middleweight Comparison

Best Sportbike
Kawasaki ZX-6R

The middleweight class's relatively low buy-in results in the largest
amount of sales among sportbikes, so there isn't a segment of
motorcycles more keenly contested among manufacturers. Costly (to the
OEMs) updates to the 600s arrive every two years in a never-ending quest
to one-up their rivals. And it's for these reasons why the ZX-6R is so
redoubtable. Kawasaki
has built a motor that handily out-guns its 600cc rivals, but just as
impressive is a 22-lb lighter machine that handles like a champ, aided
by Showa's fabulous new Big Piston Fork. Doubly impressive is that the
Ninja took top honors on both the street and track – no mean feat.
Triumph's Daytona 675 gives the ZX a run for its money, but among
four-cylinder middleweights, the nasty and nimble Ninja stands clearly
at the top of this ultra-competitive heap.
The ZX-6R's
class-leading motor underpins its track prowess and its usability on
the street, combining to deliver the best 600cc sportbike experience of

Related Reading
Kawasaki ZX-6R Review

Supersport Shootout

Supersport Racetrack Shootout

Kawasaki ZX-6R vs. Triumph Daytona 675

Honorable Mention – Honda CBR1000RR
If you want a literbike that handles like a 600, the lightweight and
whippet-quick CBR is for you. It's as light as some 600s but has a burly
midrange that out-muscles its 1000cc rivals Already a year old in '09,
to win our annual literbike shootout in the face of high-profile new
challengers from Yamaha and
is remarkable.
In the
literbike class, the CBR1000RR marries the lightest weight, sharpest
steering and most potent midrange punch to create our favorite 1000cc

Related Reading
Literbike Shootout

Honda CBR1000RR Review

Literbike Shootout

Best Standard
Ducati Monster 1100
The new
M1100 is the best-ever example of Ducati's popular Monster series,
combining sexy Italian design with an excellent chassis and lusty,
torquey V-Twin grunt that helped make Ducati famous the world over.

The Italians followed up the lively new Monster 696 with this 1100cc
version of its revered air-cooled Desmo V-Twin, and it knocked our socks
off with its all'-round versatility, rich character and a huge grin
The big Monster has cozy ergos that welcome urbane commuter duties,
as a proper standard should, but it also has the capable chassis and
grunty power to terrorize repli-racer sportbikes on a twisty road.
Low-rev neck-snapping performance combines with neck-snapping Italian
good looks. Ducati's
mondo Streetfighter model is much more powerful, but the M1100 is at
least as much fun and is thousands cheaper.

Related Reading
Ducati Monster 1100 Review

Monster 1100 vs Harley-Davidson XR1200 Review

Honorable Mention – Harley-Davidson XR1200
The XR1200
will rearrange your perception of Harley-Davidson performance. Here Pete
imagines himself taking the checkered flag at the Springfield Mile.

When Harley-Davidson
announced in summer 2007 it had created a new model called the XR1200,
but that it was a Euro-only unit, everyone here in the States asked why
we were left out. Then, after listening to the loyal masses, the Motor
Company conceded and made it available for the U.S. as an '09.

Ergonomically the XR1200 strikes a good compromise between aggressive
canyon attacker and sensible, upright everyday ride. And the potent
Nissin brake calipers are crazy powerful. The flat-tracker look-alike
styling is a head-turner, and the reliable 1200cc Sporty Twin has been
massaged to yield the most horsepower of any air-cooled mill ever to
emerge from H-D. Our only criticism is limited lean angle on the exhaust
side impeding super-aggressive cornering, but you have to be the fast
guy in your crowd for that to be a concern.

Related Reading
Harley-Davidson Sportster XR1200 Review

Monster 1100 vs Harley-Davidson XR1200 Review

Best Cruiser
Triumph Thunderbird 1600
It's been cruiser utopia for the last decade or so, with every major
manufacturer jumping into the market to piggyback on Harley-Davidson's
astounding success for the feet-forward crowd. Harley's iconic 45-degree
V-Twin has spawned an endless succession of imitators, many of them
excellent in their own right. But we don't think we're alone in seeing
this genre as a little bit stale. That's one reason why Triumph's new
T-Bird made such an impression on us, as its parallel-Twin (a
zero-degree Vee) stands apart in a sea of clones. Its 270-degree firing
order supplies the requisite thumpity-thump exhaust note, but both its
character and layout are unique. This might be a moot point if the 'Bird
wasn't blessed with clean, graceful lines that follow a well-worn
formula yet are distinct. And for those of you who like cruising on
curvy roads in addition to the straight ones on the way to the cafe, the
Trumpet can cut an inside track as tight as anything in its class.
Thunderbird twists the cruiser mold by eschewing a V-Twin powerplant in
favor of a character-rich parallel-Twin that retains a link with
Triumphs of yore. Clean lines penned by an American designer are
attractive without being too derivative, and a stout chassis encourages
riding on twisty roads instead of avoiding them.

Related Reading
Triumph Thunderbird Review

Triumph Thunderbird Designer

Honorable Mention – Suzuki Boulevard M90
M90 Boulevard combines unique styling, excellent handling and strong
braking to create an unbeatable value in the power-cruiser segment.

Combine the look of a more powerful cruiser with comfortable ergos,
handling and stability rarely if ever found in cruisers; grace it with a
bigger Twin than any other bike in its class, then bring it at a price
at or below the competition, and you’ve got yourself undeniable value.
This is the exact scenario of Suzuki’s Boulevard M90. Looking a whole
lot like its bigger, meaner M109 brother, the M90 gives power-cruiser
fans the look they want matched to V-Twin power that surely has Honda,
Kawasaki and Yamaha scratching their heads at the M90’s $9,999 tag. In
today’s economy, value makes the perfect partner to performance.

Related Reading
Suzuki Boulevard M90 Review

Muscle Cruiser Shootout

Best Touring
When it comes to piling on thousands of miles, we're not sure it's
necessary to saddle up on a half-ton luxo-barge. The surprisingly agile
RT is packed with comfort yet scales in at an easily managed 570 lbs
with its capacious 7.1-gallon tank full of fuel. Prices start below
$17K, but we highly recommend getting the optional “Standard Package”
($17,755) that includes such niceties as heated grips, cruise control
and a trip computer.
understands the touring/sport-touring market better than any other
manufacturer, and the supremely balanced R1200RT is perhaps its best
example of the qualities that go into creating a comfortable and capable
long-distance touring motorcycle.

Related Reading
BMW R 1200 RT

Honorable Mention – Honda Gold Wing
The Gold
Wing is simply an icon in touring motorcycles.

If you want maximum luxury with a bottomless well of power, and
you're okay with piloting around a 900-lb two-wheeled convertible, the
venerable Honda
Gold Wing has an unbeatable combination of comfort and versatile
performance. Three excellent V-Twin touring-cruisers have recently been
introduced, but they can't do everything as well as the superlative

Related Reading
Luxury Touring Shootout

Best Sport-Touring
The Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours 14 and Yamaha FJR1300 are all
terrific mile-munchers, which makes BMW's K1300GT
win in our recent sport-touring shootout all the more impressive. True,
a princely MSRP is attached to it, but it also has available a plethora
of worthy options that are unavailable on its competitors. Combine
standard equipment like adjustable seat and windshield with desirable
options like cruise control, heated grips and seat, on-the-fly ESA
suspension adjustment, Xenon headlamp and traction control, and the
K13GT becomes your cross-country best friend. The fact that it has the
segment's quickest steering, most powerful motor and excellent brakes
only sweetens the deal.
If you're
gonna go far and you need to do it fast, BMW's K1300GT is the best
choice on the market. A cornucopia of options unavailable on its
competitors further expand its allure.

Related Reading
BMW K1300GT Review

Sport-Touring Shootout

Honorable Mention – BMW F800ST
sport-touring doesn't get any better than BMW's F800ST, a desirable
amalgam of sporting prowess and long-distance capability.

If the sport part of the sport-touring equation involves unraveling
the squiggliest parts of a map, the athletic F800ST is hard to beat.
Accommodating ergonomics provide comfort during weekday commutes, while a
lithe and obedient chassis encourages canyon strafing on Sunday rides.
Optional locking luggage and heated grips give you the tools for
inter-state touring, aided by decent wind protection, a maintenance- and
lash-free belt drive, and torquey parallel-Twin motor supplying ample
power. Its excellence became apparent after it won a side-by-side
comparison with Honda's silky VFR800 Interceptor.

Related Reading
Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout

Best On-Off Road
“The GS for the rest of us,” was how Pete characterized the F800GS.
The implication being that the latest addition to BMW’s renowned GS line
of adventure bikes is at least as capable as the big R1200GS was at
traversing tough terrain, but in a much more manageable package. The
F800GS is closer to a big dual-sport than a Boxer-powered behemoth GS or
GS Adventure. The 798cc parallel-Twin provides ample power for just
about any situation imaginable for an adventure-touring rider, and its
humane seat height and reasonable overall size open the door for many
riders who’ve always wanted to tread the Sahara but were put off by the
dimensions of the motorcycles that normally dominate the
adventure-riding segment.
line has been synonymous with adventure-touring, and the F800GS expands
the appeal by providing an ease of use far beyond its more ponderous
1200cc brethren.

Related Reading
BMW F800GS Review

Honorable Mention – Aprilia SXV/RXV 5.5
Prozac. The thrilling SXV 5.5 is our prescription for depression!

Stuffing in a compact V-Twin motor into an aluminum-framed
dirtbike-style chassis has created one of the most grin-inducing rides
we've ever experienced. With 62 excitable horses at the rear wheel
galloping with a sub-300-pound burden, the supermoto SXV (and its RXV
dual-sport brother) is an extreme thrill ride – it even won the recent Pike's
Peak hillclimb
. Its $9,499 MSRP ain't cheap and, as we noted in our
test of the 550cc SXV, “It's as pragmatic as Paris Hilton,” but it's
ultra-cool, quite exotic and as fun as anything on two wheels. We stand
by the closing statement from our review: “If you’re a former or present
dirtbike rider with a dominant yee-haa! gene, you can’t find a
more exciting street-legal two-wheeler at any price.”

Related Reading
Aprilia SXV 5.5 Review

SXV and RXV New Model Introduction

Best Scooter
Piaggio MP3 400/500 i.e.
describes the tilting three-wheeler MP3 500 as the Darth Vader of
scooters. It's amazing what it can do on a curvy road.

For the uninitiated, the MP3 is Piaggio’s
three-wheeled scooter line with two wheels up front. The revolutionary
parallelogram front end uses an automobile-like double-wishbone aluminum
suspension system supporting two independent steering columns that
allows it to lean like a proper motorcycle. The result is a
fuel-injected scooter that brings along another contact patch for
new-rider safety as well as salty-dog giggles. On the right canyon road,
it’s like skiing through the trees, holding your line with your outside
foot (wheel) instead of your inside leg’s ski edge. Back and forth is
wicked fun, like skiing a giant slalom run. At booger-picking speeds,
like when maneuvering in a parking lot, a rider feels the added
balancing help of the third wheel. The 400 i.e. is the more economical
and practical version, with more underseat storage, but the 500 turns us
on for its capability of busting a ton on the speedo and while getting
more than 50 mpg.

Related Reading
Piaggio MP3 500 i.e. Review

Piaggio MP3 400 Review

Honorable Mention – Vespa GTS 300
Also from the Piaggio Group is the recent Vespa GTS
300. It includes the curvaceous Italian styling that has made Vespa a
legend in the scooter world, plus it's the biggest, fastest, Vespa ever
made. New riders would be well advised to go easy on the light-action
throttle for the first few rides, as the GTS can whisk you away with a
surprising pace in near silence and considerable grace. In Fonzie's
upcoming review, he calls it “the invisible hooligan.”
continues to be the leader in sensual scooter design, and the new GTS
300 adds the kind of strong performance we can get behind.

Best Eccentric
Can-Am Spyder
not technically a motorcycle, the well-engineered Can-Am Spyder has
expanded open-air motoring to a new audience.

If standing out in a crowd is you’re cup o’ tea, you’re sure to be
seen riding aboard the Can-Am Spyder
Roadster! Although it can't lean like a motorcycle (or a Piaggio MP3),
it’s got some open wheels and puts you in the wind all the same.
Basically, it’s a “flipped around” three-wheeler, putting the
two-wheeled part of the trike in the front. Packed full of technology as
well as eye-catching appeal, the Spyder now comes in three colors and
two transmission choices: standard foot-controlled shifting (SM5) or a
version that is capable of being shifted by hand (SE5, a sequential
electronic 5-speed). BRP has built in a lot of fun as well as safety.
The coolest part of this machine is the licensing. When last we checked,
if you live in California or Delaware, you don’t even need a motorcycle
license to operate one on the open road. Aging and/or handicapped
riders who still feel the need for speed and excitement they once
received by ripping down the road on two wheels can again feel that old
thrill on the Spyder, and it's also proving to be attractive to new and
female riders.

Related Reading
Can-Am Spyder Test

Can-Am Spyder Review

Can-Am Spyder SE5 Review

Honorable Mention – Travertson V-REX
Built by
the people who turned out the turbine-powered bike made famous by Jay
Leno, the futuristic Travertson V-REX garners more attention than any
motorcycle we've ever ridden.

In the custom cruiser mien, it's not unusual to throw down $50K or
more for something that stands apart from the hordes of other choppers
trying to be unique. And yet they are all pretty much just variations on
tired themes. But nobody will think that when you pull up on a V-Rex.
Looking like a refugee from a sci-fi movie, the Travertson-built
monstrosity is unlike anything you've ever seen. The swingarm front
suspension is the first thing to blow your mind, but everywhere else
your eyes rest will continue the squall on your brain, such as the
bespoke cast frame, the single-sided rear suspension and the
alien-looking nose. There aren't many $40,000 bikes we are willing to
describe as a bargain, but for its incredible traffic-stopping
countenance, V-Rex qualifies.

Related Reading
Travertson V-REX Review

Best Value
Kawasaki Ninja 250
Yeah, most of us know that new riders should hone their riding on a
lightweight and modestly powerful bike, but no one wants to look like a
dweeb while expanding their skill set. The little Ninja avoids the
newbie-bike stigma by looking a lot like its more powerful Kawi
brothers, appearing sleek and purposeful despite its easy-to-ride
nature. Its twin-cylinder 250cc engine won't intimidate newbs yet has
enough power to keep up with 80-mph freeway traffic, and its agile
demeanor has the capability to embarrass larger machines on the right
twisty road. At $4,000, it's a bargain, and you'll get most of that back
on resale when it's time to trade up for a bigger bike.
attractive and capable Ninja 250 forgoes the embarrassment that is
accompanied by most budget bikes.

Related Reading
Kawasaki Ninja 250R Review

Honorable Mention – Kawasaki KLR650
Perhaps no
other streetbike is as versatile as the well-rounded Kawasaki KLR650,
and especially not at its bargain retail price.

Last year saw the renovation of an all-time do-it-all motorcycle. The
'08 model KLR put to rest a 20-year-old design but retained its
simplicity in function, use and potential for roadside repair. With 50
upgrades in handling, power, comfort and styling, the new KLR is so much
more than just minimal increases in horsepower and torque. With an MSRP
of just $5,599 and compatible with many of the past 20 years of
aftermarket products, you can ride to the equator and back with the
money you’ll save over something from BMW. Fonzie knows cause he’s done

Related Reading
Kawasaki KLR 650 Review

KLR650 Project Bike: Part 4

Best Exotica
Ducati Desmosedici RR
If you'd
like a street-legal MotoGP bike, you're looking at the only game in

MotoGP is the pinnacle of two-wheel motorsports, with the best riders
in the world piloting the most exotic sportbikes ever seen on earth. So
when Ducati unleashed a street-legal version of its 990cc V-Four GP
bike, we were as giddy as Casey Stoner after winning his world
championship. Our time aboard the GP bike with lights was brief – just
part of a day at the racetrack – but it was a scintillating experience
we won't soon forget. Blisteringly fast, it blows past regular
literbikes like they are 600s. Abrupt throttle response and a race-stiff
suspension makes you realize you're not worthy of its stratospheric
potential, and its $72.5K price tag will have you thinking twice about
shaving off seconds from your lap time. But it's the most exotic and
outrageous sportbike we've ever ridden, causing us to consider selling
our homes or our mothers to put one in our garage. If we do, we'll make
sure to invite fellow D16RR owners Jay Leno, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise
over to the coffee shop to talk about how cool we are.

Related Reading
Ducati Desmosedici RR Review

Yamaha/Star V-Max
Perhaps it seems a bit odd to label a Yamaha-built bike as an exotic,
but consider its monstrous 200-horsepower V-Four engine stuffed in an
aluminum frame, a ride-by-wire throttle, variable-length throttle
intakes, bespoke radial master cylinders and hand-polished aluminum
intake scoops. A lofty $17,990 MSRP keeps out the punters, helping to
ensure its exotic and rare status. Mountains of power throughout the rev
range is like engaging hyper-drive, and tire-smoking corner exits are
delivered easier than anything else with two wheels. Yamaha has brought
an icon back to life with the new Max, and it's crazier and more capable
than ever.
The V-Max
isn't a cruiser and it's not a sportbike - it's both, and there's
nothing else quite like it. It's an accessible exotic.

Related Reading
Star V-Max Review/Test

New Technology

Honda C-ABS
Sportbike pilots usually have no interest in anti-lock brakes,
believing they can do a better job of quickly bringing a motorcycle to a
stop than a computer. But they probably haven't yet sampled Honda's new
Combined ABS as found on the 2009 CBR600RR and CBR1000RR as a $1,000
option. With this new combined system, there is absolutely no mechanical
link, or otherwise, between the front and rear. It is entirely up to
the electronic control module to determine when more than one brake set
is required. Not only does the ECM regulate pressure to each brake set,
it also can “combine” front and rear brake sets based upon established
parameters, and it does it seamlessly. We now have the first
brake-by-wire system available commercially on sportbikes. Innovative!
Honda's new
C-ABS has allayed our concerns about anti-lock brakes on a sportbike.
You might not even notice it's there until it saves your bacon when you
least expect it.

Related Reading
Honda CBR600RR C-ABS Review

Honorable Mention – Ducati Traction Control
control is available on the 1198S and Streetfighter. It will one day
become ubiquitous among all manufacturers.

While other more conservative manufacturers have been reluctant to
fit a form of traction control to their sportbikes for fear of liability
concerns, Ducati has forged ahead and delivered what will surely become
commonplace in the future. When DTC detects the rear wheel is spinning
faster than the front, the computer first retards the ignition then will
cut fuel if wheelspin continues. The multi-level DTC is
rider-adjustable from scaredy-cat invasive to pro-racer-boy hands off,
providing a new level of security currently unavailable from any other

Related Reading
Ducati Streetfighter Review

Ducati 1198S Review

Best New Product
GoPro Hero
A small,
simple and affordable way to capture your two-wheel exploits.

GoPro Industries has revolutionized the homegrown on-board YouTube
video industry as well as’s own story and video quality
with its Hero video camera, and it got even better this year with the
addition of a wide-angle lens unit that rounds out Fonzie’s bag of
tricks. Its diminutive design and versatile mounts result in a camera
that will go where no human can go – dangling from footpegs, stashed
under subframes or taped to Kevin’s kneepuck. The GoPro Hero camera can
make everyone look like a star.

Honorable Mention – HJC IS-Max
excellent combo of comfort, versatility and value.

With changing times come changing weather, so why not ride with gear
that can adapt? Now that the age of looking goofy in modular helmets is
waning, and we're getting used to seeing fighter pilot sunshades on
motorcyclists everywhere, HJC brings us the IS-Max flip helmet. It's not
only comfortable and reasonably priced, it is full of bells and
whistles like high-flowing vents, an integrated sun shield, clean
styling and well-balanced in the 'up' position. Its MSRP starts at just
$199 for solid colors, while radical wine colors retail for a bit more.
So stylish is the helmet that Harley-Davidson has adopted it into its
accessory line to serve their image-conscious buyers. Subtly branded
with the bar-and-shield logo and H-D name, the IS-Max only comes in
black when bought from Harley for a $325 MSRP.
Best Event
U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca
The USGP is the event we most look forward to each year. Not only is
it our chance to see the world's best motorcycle racers up close and
personal, it's held in one of the best motorcycle race circuits in the
world. Adding to this irresistible allure is the opportunity to string
together some of the best roads California has to offer.
The USGP at
Laguna Seca has an unbeatable atmosphere of the finest motorcycles and
riders, top-quality vendors and exciting race action - all surrounded by
some of the best roads in America.

Related Reading
Red Bull USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Honorable Mention – AMA Vintage Motorcycle
Taking the reigns once again, the American Motorcycle Association has
pumped new energy in to the annual Mid-Ohio event with Grand National
titling in both on- and off-road racing and supplied the 20,000
attendees with the world’s largest swap meet. Despite this year's
rainfall, the event sparked many imaginations and memories with the
relived glory and hundreds of classic bikes on display and for sale.

Motorcycle Days reminds us where our sport and hobby came from. It's a
motorcycle dream world seen through a rear-view mirror.


Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 37

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