Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring
The BMW K1600GT is an irresistible force, but if you value a simpler life, the Multistrada might be the better tool. It, too, bristles with semi-active suspension, the latest in electronics and excellent saddlebags. But there’s nearly 200 pounds less Ducati than there is BMW, which gives it a sporting edge and means hardy souls can take the Multi’s name literally; off-road is not off limits.
Yamaha Star Bolt
Of the Japanese cruiser builders, Star has shown the most signs of life, and its new Bolt is a direct hit on the venerable Sportster. Lighter and more fun to ride, the air-cooled Bolt touches all the right style bases, including being the first metric cruiser with H-D-style grips and levers. Shame about that gas-tank seam, but then perfection would be inauthentic, wouldn’t it?
Kawasaki Ninja 300
It’s like Kawasaki was waiting for the Honda CBR250R to get here so it could bust out the Ninja 300 and whack it right back down. Adding 47cc to the littlest Ninja, along with fuel injection, results in a small bike that performs way bigger. It hits 104 mph, cranks out 35 horses, slices up traffic like a Ginsu—heck, it’s even comfortable. A great way to get started. And keep going.
Ducati 1199 Panigale R
Due in part to its staggeringly user-friendly performance, the BMW HP4 could not be denied Best Superbike this year. But maybe even more desirable because of its gruff bark, the new Ducati Panigale R— packing titanium rods, a higher redline and all the racecraft Ducati can cram into a homologation special—is the high-water mark for all- out racetrack performance in 2013.
Aprilia Tuono V4 R
Last year’s Best Superbike was dethroned by the almost supernatural HP4. Okay. But. The thing about the Tuono is that it’s got similar performance with a much kinder riding position. And while there’s no doubt that a traditional superbike would be faster on the track, in the real world, the naked Tuono gives similar results with a more comfortable riding position.