Road Raves: Five Easy Rides

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Get yours at: Adam Smith’s Texas Harley 1839 Airport Freeway Bedford 888-496-9072 BMW Motorcycles of Fort Worth 1503 W. Hurst Blvd. Hurst 817-595-0000 Eurosport Cycle 3100 Airport Freeway Fort Worth 817-838-8135 Fort Worth Harley-Davidson 3025 W. Loop 820 S. Fort Worth 817-696-9090 Fort Worth Motorsports 5717 Airport Freeway Fort Worth 817-834-7185 Longhorn Harley-Davidson 2830 W. I-20 Grand Prairie 866-762-8952
More information By the numbers Engine: four-stroke in-line six-cylinder, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, 1,649 cc Horsepower: 160 hp at 7,750 rpm Torque: 129 at 5,250 rpm Weight: 768 pounds MSRP: $23,650 (including ABS)
More information By the numbers Engine: Four-stroke V-twin two-cylinder, air-cooled twin cam, 1.687.9 cc Horsepower: 61 Torque: 84 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm Weight: 728 pounds MSRP: $17,199
More information By the numbers Engine: L-twin cylinder, two valves per cylinder, air cooled, Desmodromic, 696cc Power: 80 hp at 9,000 rpm Torque: 50.6 pound-feet at 7,750 rpm Weight: 410 pounds MSRP: $9,795
More information By the numbers Engine: In-line three cylinder, liquid cooled, DOHC 12v, 675cc Power: 126 hp at 12,500 rpm Torque: 55 pound-feet at 8,000 rpm Weight: 405 pounds MSRP: $13,499
More information By the numbers Engine: Electric Horsepower: 54 Torque: 68 pound-feet Weight: 400 pounds MSRP: $13,995 (add $2,000 for the optional battery pack)

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Decisions, decisions. Today’s 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 it’s a simple commuter, a rumbly cruiser or a long-distance touring bike, there’s 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, BMW’s flagship luxury road warrior inspires passionate reverence among the company’s 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.

Cruiser Crazy

Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy Lo

The variants of Harley-Davidson’s product line are as confusing as BMW’s, 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, it’s the quintessentially meaty, big-boned, bad-boy Hollywood cruiser you’ve always wanted. The Fat Boy Lo’s stump-pulling torque, window-rattling rumble and sheer design perfection elicit onlooker reactions ranging from admiration to condemnation, and that’s just fine from the midnight rambler cockpit: This bike is meant to be seen, heard and, most of all, driven. Simply put, there’s nothing else like it. Yay, America!

Let’s Get Naked

Ducati Monster 696 20th-Anniversary Edition

Sure, we love Ducati’s 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 696’s siblings, too: the midrange 796 and the flagship 1100EVO sport are all superb, avant-garde choices for motorcycle connoisseurs.

Speed Racer

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 bike’s mass, Triumph’s 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 there’s the cool factor: Hey, it’s a Triumph!

Plug and Play

Zero DS

The all-new-for-2013 Zero DS runs on electricity. That’s 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 you’ll ever need as well as control virtually everything but throttle and brake. Nikola Tesla would have loved it.

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