The Best New Motorcycles for Every Type of Rider
Ah, summer. The wide open road, a sweet smell of grass in the air, sun on your skin, the arms of someone you love holding on tight.
This is why God made motorcycles.
But not every bike is suited for every rider. The perfect Scrambler for an urban, creative type is not going to please the adventurer who longs to cruise long, straight stretches of open road. The tech geek is going to love the latest plug-in, ridable appliance, while the discerning collector will want something rather more exclusive. Maybe you just want something from Keanu.
The good news is that the offering of new motorbikes this year is as interesting as ever. Here are our favorites.
For the Weekend Rider
This Scrambler isn’t as flashy as the Ducati Scrambler or as inexpensive as a Triumph Thruxton. At 485 pounds, it’s light, short, and narrow. But even more than last year's R nineT, it combines the free feeling of vintage café racing with the excellent German engineering that often sets BMW far above its peers. The classic BMW air-cooled, flat-twin, 1,170cc boxer engine with 110-horsepower and 86 pound-feet of torque can easily hit hit 125 miles per hour.
As for looks, BMW has made the dual exhaust pipes on its Scrambler sit snug to the frame of the bike and raised them higher than those of the R nineT. The pipes also have two vertical rear silencers, as classic Scramblers did, but retain the relatively deep rumble that boxer engines such as this one are known to make. It all keeps everything pulled in tight and close, better-looking, and neater for riding.
For the Backcountry Trekker
Ural is the biggest of a handful of small brands that sell new sidecars. It has made sidecar motorcycles in Siberia since World War II, based on the BMW R71 bike that the Germans shared with the Soviets in 1939. The M70 is ideal for camping, hunting, and exploring, with such details as a power outlet, a lockable and watertight sidecar trunk, a tonneau cover, and add-ons such as a pickaxe and wrench. It comes with a standard four-speed transmission and mechanical reverse gear. Cruising speed is 75mph.
For the Stylish Attention-Grabber
The mid-sized, entry-level café racer-style Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is a return to history for the 115-year-old brand, which produced similar bikes as far back as the 1950s. It weighs just 330 pounds—compared to the 414-pound Ducati Scrambler Café Racer—and sits 33 inches off the ground at the seat. Seventeen-inch, spoked wheels and grip-happy Pirelli tires complete a stylized look that is minimalist, aggressive, and dark without being clunky or morose. The single cylinder, four-stroke, 373-ccm engine and six easy gears make it great for the urban-focused rider who appreciates a modern look.
For the Rider Who Likes to Take Along a Friend
The XDiavel S is versatile: It has the technology and performance capabilities of a Ducati Superbike, but it comes in cruiser packaging fit for two. With 152-horsepower, the xDiavel s one of the fastest, most technologically advanced cruisers in the world. It even has a special Launch mode for the fastest start on a drag strip. Most important, it’s nicely set up for a pair of riders, thanks to four different foot-rest positions, five different seats, and three different handlebar options, with the passenger option a choice between a regular seat and a comfort seat with back-rest, all as standard equipment. The standard Ducati Safety Pack, including Bosch cornering and ABS, cruise control, hands-free, and backlit handlebar switches, make it a very fast—and very enjoyable—option to ride as a couple.
Price: 16,995 pounds ($23,000)
For the Tech Nerd
Think of Zero as the Tesla of motorcycles: a revolutionary upstart in an old industry, making machines that actually work—and well. Take the Zero S. Aerodynamic riding posture and relatively light, 452-pound weight help this street bike get as many as 206 miles in the city and 103 miles on the highway on a single charge. That’s the highest range in the entire Zero lineup. It has sporty, aggressive styling, with a 31.8-inch seat height and plenty of give in the shocks through the handlebars. That’s ideal on city streets. Top speed is 98mph. Expect eight hours to fully charge it.
For the Collector
Austin-based Revival Motorcycles creates composite motorcycles and rebuilds vintage bikes: café racers, dirt bikes, and track rockets as potent to ride as they are arresting to view. The variety of forms on offer is jolting, from a flat-seated scrambler-type with insectile blue-and-white tanks to a reimagined Ducati painted-up like Christmas. Most cost six figures and take many months to make. The entry-level 140 shown here is a beast of brushed alloy that takes about 650 hours to build. Expect to wait a year for yours.
For the Contrarian
It’s no wonder this is Ewan McGregor’s brand of choice; he even owns a 1972 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport. Contrary, because of its quirky engine design and handling, the modern V7 pays homage to the legendary racing exploits of the 1970s-era V7 Sport. It looks like the Italian Gambalunga bikes from years ago, thanks to such classic styling cues as a low frame and handlebars, rounded front fairing, and its dial design and dual-cylinder exhaust. There’s a reason the V7 is Moto Guzzi’s best-seller: This 744-cc bike weighs 416 pounds, gets 52 horsepower—and rides like the best of what Italy can offer.
For the Easy Rider
As Indian puts it in the spec materials for the bike, “Scout Bobber is all stripped down styling and in-your-face power.” This is an apt description. The 100hp, six-speed motorcycle has a 1,133cc, V-twin engine and peak torque at 72 pound-feet. It is engineered to feel mean, with a lowered rear suspension, purposeful forward peg position, and street-tracker handlebars. The seat height is extremely low, too—25.6 inches off the ground—all the better to dig in and ride.