Posted Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013
Decisions, decisions. Todays motorcycle market offers a mind-bending assortment of choices, ranging from economical transportation to identity-forging statements of individuality. Likewise, aficionados opinions about the relative merits of one brand over another are as ubiquitous (and as firmly held) as tattoos. But whether its a simple commuter, a rumbly cruiser or a long-distance touring bike, theres surely something for everybody. With apologies to Indian, Victory, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and other world-class manufacturers, as well as the motorcycle cognoscenti who can name another bazillion worthy brands, we offer our top five freewheeling choices for 2013 (all prices approximate depending on trim/performance options).
The King of Kings
BMW K 1600 GTL
Whether carving up the Autobahn, the Pacific Coast Highway or the whole of Australia, BMWs flagship luxury road warrior inspires passionate reverence among the companys legion of über-loyal riders. The company boasts (and not idly) that the GTL features the most compact and efficient in-line 6-cylinder engine ever installed in a series production motorcycle. Superb ergonomics, electronic cruise control, optional suspension control, a tire pressure warning system and a brilliantly clever adaptive headlight that peers around corners these are just a few of the innovative creature comforts and technological marvels that make the GTL our hands-down choice for the title of two-wheeled master of time and space.
Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy Lo
The variants of Harley-Davidsons product line are as confusing as BMWs, but no list of gotta-have motorcycles would be complete without its laid-back, lusty and luxurious Softail Fat Boy Lo. Enthroned with old-school Marlon Brando cool, its the quintessentially meaty, big-boned, bad-boy Hollywood cruiser youve always wanted. The Fat Boy Los stump-pulling torque, window-rattling rumble and sheer design perfection elicit onlooker reactions ranging from admiration to condemnation, and thats just fine from the midnight rambler cockpit: This bike is meant to be seen, heard and, most of all, driven. Simply put, theres nothing else like it. Yay, America!
Lets Get Naked
Ducati Monster 696 20th-Anniversary Edition
Sure, we love Ducatis crazy-good Panigale 1190 ($38,799), which ranks right up there with the BMW K 1600 GTL. But we really dig the crazy-fun 20th-anniversary edition Monster 626, with its bronze-colored frame, chrome finish, winged mirrors and vintage Ducati 86 logo on the tank. Single-handedly inventing the naked bike movement (think commando, or stripped-down to bare essentials), this 80-horsepower little Monster still delivers the goods, serving as a spunky commuter, sport bike, back road and even tourer (for a while, at least) with aplomb. Check out the 696s siblings, too: the midrange 796 and the flagship 1100EVO sport are all superb, avant-garde choices for motorcycle connoisseurs.
Triumph Daytona 675R
Debuting in 2006, the Daytona 675 immediately established dominance on the track. But not content with greatness, Triumph has seen fit to deliver an all-new bike that transcends its own exhilarating performance both on and off the track. Other than a few minor components like mudflaps, everything else is new for 2013, including the higher-revving, more powerful shorter-stroke engine to its lighter, stiffer chassis. To centralize the bikes mass, Triumphs engineers moved the exhaust system from under the seat to under the engine: Tracksters insist that the new Daytona is even more agile and stable than its superb predecessor. And then theres the cool factor: Hey, its a Triumph!
Plug and Play
The all-new-for-2013 Zero DS runs on electricity. Thats it. No more rumbling vibrations, no more frightening small children when downshifting heck, no downshifting, or clutch, or pistons, or valves, or exhaust just eerily silent power, and tons of it, while the world zooms past. Range is 137 miles (with the optional 11.4 kilowatt battery pack) and handling is sharp, precise and sure-footed. With a 96 mph top speed, highway riding is effortless, but the Zero might be better suited for escaping inner-city traffic jams. You can also pair the Zero with your iPhone to see all the metrics youll ever need as well as control virtually everything but throttle and brake. Nikola Tesla would have loved it.
We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.
Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?