In a typical year, your friendly Motorcycle.com staff would have already attended several new bike introductions with others under embargo and secretly waiting on our calendar deep within the bowels of the MO Tower’s security center. (Look to the east of the Nakatomi Plaza, and there we are.) Unfortunately, the end of 2020 is pretty dry, and the beginning of 2021 isn’t looking any better for travel to test out new machinery. What this means for you, our readers, is that you’ll likely learn about how the 2021 motorcycle models perform a little later than usual because we’ll have to wait for the production models to arrive Stateside. This is a huge bummer all around. Our staff of MOrons live for this time of year.
Nevertheless, there is an end-of-year tradition that continues – despite the gloomy introduction forecast. By now, we know, either by manufacturers’ announcements or Dennis’ sleuthing, many of the upcoming 2021 motorcycles. Sure, there will be a surprise or two, but we’re reasonably sure that we know what most of the new and/or improved models will be. So, the natural thing for us to do is tell you which motorcycles we’re most excited about throwing a leg over in the upcoming year. Additionally, we’d love to hear which bikes you’re most excited about in the comments below.
I love all motorcycles, and there are a lot of new models to look forward to in 2021. That said, it’s pretty obvious I have an affinity for dirt, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that two of my most anticipated motorcycles of the upcoming year land in the adventure category. With the KTM 790 Adventure R dominating the middleweight adventure category for off-road going enthusiasts, naturally I’m going to be looking forward to straddling the latest and greatest version of it.
Despite the silliness of the “middleweight” adventure category’s swelling displacements, I am looking forward to having a go at the 890’s new motor. What has me most excited about the bigger 889cc parallel Twin though, is the increased crankshaft mass. My hopes are that this will allow the rider to really lug the motor low in the rpm range without much risk of stalling – the revised clutch should help too. Add those two very enticing features to an already stellar package and what was already fantastic just got… fantastic-er.
The fact that I should have the opportunity to test the machine soon also drives up the anticipation. Also, I have to say that I am almost equally looking forward to the Husqvarna Norden 901. It’s likely to carry with it a lot of the same technology and performance that the KTM has while looking entirely unique.
We don’t have a lot of information at this point about the Aprilia Tuareg 660. Troy is the only member of the MO staff that has had the chance to ride the 660 Parallel Twin-powered RS model, as well. So, while I didn’t have much conjecturing to do about my first pick for anticipated models of 2021, the Tuareg 660 is all assumptions for me. The thing that excites me about the Tuareg – aside from the general allure of middleweight adventure motorcycles – is the same thing that had me excited about the Yamaha Tenere 700. The first motorcycle I rode with Yamaha’s 689cc Parallel Twin had me foaming at the mouth with anticipation for that power plant being used in an adventure bike. The punchy Twin delivers usable torque low in its rev-range and still has plenty of power throughout. This is my hope for the Tuareg 660 – a lightweight, nimble machine with the right amount of power from a manufacturer that has turned out some absolutely incredible machines. What an exciting time to ride!
Whether you call them naked bikes or roadsters, I have an affinity for them in the middleweight-ish displacement category. Since I own a KTM 790 Duke, I’ve clearly put my money where my mouth is. So, you shouldn’t be surprised about how excited I was when Ducati announced the 2021 Monster. To my eye – and I know there is some controversy here – swapping the trellis frame for the Panigale-derived aluminum alloy frame is a huge step up in both styling and performance. The new frame saves 10 lb. compared to that of the erstwhile Monster 821, and even more weight savings comes from the new fiberglass polymer subframe. Sexy! While I will miss the single-sided swingarm, the weight savings offered by the more traditional swinger will be appreciated. With a claimed weight of 414 lb., the new Monster is only 6 lb. heavier than the KTM 890 Duke R we just voted Motorcycle of the Year. I wonder what bike the Monster is gunning for? Hmm…
And all that is before we consider the liquid-cooled 937cc Testatretta 11° V-Twin engine with four desmodromic valves per cylinder. While this means there will no longer be an air-cooled Monster available, this water pumper will put out a claimed 111 hp at 9,250 rpm and 69 lb-ft. at 6,500 rpm. The new engine’s exhaust even looks like Ducati managed to improve the clearance with the muffler on the right peg – always a bone of contention with the MO staff. Regardless of foot room, when you take 111 horses and mate them with a 414-lb. naked chassis with sporty rake and trail numbers, shenanigans are sure to follow!
The only specification I was disappointed over with the new Monster was the suspension, which is non-adjustable in the front and preload and rebound-adjustable in the rear. Knowing Ducati, though, an S version won’t be far behind. Similarly, the Brembo M4.32 calipers, while clearly a cost-saving measure, should offer plenty of grip on the 320mm discs.
If Ducati puts together an introduction (and I can get vaccinated), you can bet I’ll pull rank to go to this event.
What could be a better way to shake up the 600-700cc roadster class than to throw in a 660cc Triple? Could it be the Goldilocks engine in a sea of Twins? The beauty of Triples is their ability to deliver stronger bottom end than inline-Fours and more horsepower up top than Twins – all while sounding totally bad-assed.
According to Triumph, the Trident’s engine will spin the dynamometer to the tune of 80 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque, which works out to a little more horsepower and a little less torque than Yamaha claims for the 2021 MT-07, putting the Trident right there in the mix. More impressively, Triumph says it has more bottom-end torque than the Street Triple S, with 90% of its torque available as low as 3,600 rpm – right where riders need it in the real world.
To help it meet its $7,995 MSRP, Triumph kept the Trident pretty simple. You get a steel frame mated to a non-adjustable fork and a preload adjustable shock. Braking is handled by a pair of axial-mounted Nissin twin-piston pin-slide calipers squeezing 310-mm discs. One notable exclusion is the lack of an IMU, meaning no high-tech cornering ABS, although the bike does come with traction control and ABS. Still, the Trident does get the ride modes afforded by a ride-by-wire throttle, with modes for Road and Rain. Included in those modes are preset, non-adjustable ABS and TC settings. Still, quite a good idea for such a low-priced motorcycle designed to appeal to newer riders.
Although the pandemic prevented us from attending the European launch of the Trident, we will be sure to ride it as soon as we can get one in our greedy hands.
The naked version of BMW’s ridiculously speedy sportbike, in which one R is plenty, has long been a favorite of mine, and not just because of the enjoyment I get from pointing out to the other kids how much more civilized it is than their blessed Aprilia Tuono. It’s the bike I chose for our sport-tour to Laguna Seca a couple years ago; its comfort, cruise control, and soft accessory luggage carried me and my undies to and fro regally, its 160 horsepower made mincemeat of the other contestants during the track portion of the competition. Except the Tuono…
They could’ve left it alone, but that’s not what manufacturers of things do, and thank God for that. I’m sure I’ll appreciate the `21 S1000R is claimed to be 6.5 kg lighter (14.3 pounds) than before – right around 440 lbs, wet. Frankly maybe I won’t feel that, but I bet I will like that its new frame takes on less engine-bearing duties, and gives “significantly improved ergonomics thanks to the “Flex Frame” allowing the rider to have his knees closer to the motorcycle body.” Basically, it looks like they’ve adapted the 2019 RR’s new frame, complete with round-tube subframe, for the R.
That midrange-intense 999cc Four needed no assist whatsoever, but BMW says they made it more powerful anyway, with even juicier midrange beginning from just 3000 rpm and culminating in 165 horses at 11,000 rpm. (The last one we dyno’d made 160 rear-wheel ponies.) Do we need a shift/assist clutch when we’ve got an auto-blipping up and downshifter? Why not? Now parking lots are even less effort.
We probably didn’t need the beautiful 6.5-inch TFT display BMW’s taken to putting on its bikes, but we’re getting that too – the big screen does make turn-by-turn navigation that much easier – along with the latest in electronic rider aids controlled by a new IMU. Add it all up and give me an R, and whata we got? A Roadster, that’s what. A fantastic motorcycle for the road and the real world, though it’ll be no slouch on the track either. And still a great bargain BMW, at not much more than $15k.
Because I can’t equate riding a Multistrada without having an excellent time. The last time I put any serious miles on one was, sadly, five years ago, during MO’s wondrous 9-bike, week-long trek up the Pacific coast, when we were one big reasonably happy family.
In august company including all the BMWs, KTMs, Moto Guzzis, and everything else we could muster, Kevin Duke and I preferred that year’s 1260 Multistrada S over all the others – though it finished third overall thanks to the less refined tastes of the other seven riders.
Also, I’ve only gotten a few track sessions in aboard Ducati’s V4 Panigale, but they’ve all been eye-opening experiences. That engine is not only fast, but it just possesses the same sort of character Ducatis V-twins always have, in a completely different but maybe even more delectable flavor.
Combining that excellent Multistrada chassis, with Ducati’s brand of V4 power, I’m thinking, can’t possibly be a bad thing. Ducati claims 170 horses and 92 ft-lb of torque from its all-new Granturismo 1158 V-four, which means way more power on top and probably a bit more torque down low than the outgoing VVT 1260 V-twin. Ducati tells us the new engine’s a few pounds lighter and more compact, too, which means better packaging and mass centralization for even sharper handling.
Throw in the counter-rotating crankshaft, which also improves the handling and agility of the bike, and the “Twin Pulse” technology, which provides, ahhh, a racey feel! (and enhanced traction on the track), and yeah, this one should be a fun ride. Furthermore, the fact that the new engine uses valve springs instead of desmo, and has 37,000-mile valve inspection intervals, means many, many more aspiring sport tourers might seriously consider a Ducati for the first time.
But the number one reason I hope I live long enough to ride the new Multi is because it’s the first motorcycle in the world to have not just cruise control, but adaptive cruise control. And the number one, number one reason, is maybe we’ll be on another fantastic group ride up the Pacific coast, with Covid 19 and all our cares and woes rapidly receding in the mirrors.
I’ve cornered myself as the sportbike guy on staff, but I’m serious when I say, whenever the world returns to something resembling normal, I would love to take an updated 2021 Honda Gold Wing and just get lost for a couple days. I’m slightly ashamed to say that I can count the number of times I’ve ridden a Gold Wing on one hand and still have fingers left over. Nonetheless, it is absolutely sublime when it comes to burning up miles and exploring the open road. But I digress…
Anyway, as the sportbike guy, the bike I’m really looking forward to riding in 2021 is BMW’s M1000RR. As a fan of BMW’s M cars, this BMW M motorcycle is bound to be an absolute fire-breather. With 212 horsepower on tap, revised geometry settings, a robust electronics package, and carbon fiber wings(!), what’s not to like about it?
Well, I’ll tell you. A big reason why I’m intrigued with the M1000RR is because I was disappointed with the updated S1000RR. Specifically, I was let down by the (forced?) state of tune BMW had to put the bikes in to meet homologation standards in the US. The crummy fueling, combined with the instant surge of power in the midrange as the throttle butterflies open up – at the same time BMW’s ShiftCam variable valve timing kicks in – makes it difficult to ride. At least in stock form. Will the M1000RR be just as choked?
Yes, I know ECU tuners will find a way to reflash the ECU to cure this issue if it arises, just as they’ve done with the S1000RR. But 8 times out of 10 my job is to ride box-stock, standard motorcycles – and plenty of other OEMs have found ways to meet the legal requirements without screwing up the bike’s character. I have high hopes for the M1000RR. I just hope BMW doesn’t screw it up.
This one is absolute conjecture at this point, as Triumph has said nothing publicly about a new Speed Triple, nor has our resident sleuth Dennis Chung found any regulatory agency documents about this bike. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree the Speed Triple (current generation shown above) is about due for a refresh, and a bigger Triple would certainly help it keep up with the big-displacement naked bike competition.
So, let’s think about an updated Speed Triple for a moment. There’s the 1160cc three-cylinder engine, to start, which should offer up plenty of excitement (and an awesome sound). We imagine it’ll be stuffed inside a sporty frame, have good (but maybe not astounding) suspension and brakes, and retain its position among the class as the comfortable, streetable option, capable of the odd trackday or two. It’ll be doused with all of the latest electronic safety nannies modern bikes use, and will come with signature Triumph styling – including a modern interpretation of the polarizing bug-eye headlights. Fun will be its number one objective, like it always has, and while it might not be a class-leader, it’ll promise to put a smile on your face each time you ride it. What’s not to love?
Oh, the fact that it doesn’t exist (yet).