It’s that time of year again. With all the new models unveiled and manufacturers’ lineups released, we’ve put together our fourth annual roundup of sportbikes. Savvy readers will notice that we’re an issue later than usual; the manufacturers are becoming increasingly cagey with new-model information, releasing little until it’s publicly available. Delaying the guide for a month allows us to include accurate information as far as pricing and specifications for more models.
After a dalliance with electric bikes in last year’s guide, we haven’t included any this year. While the level of technology is increasing at a rapid rate, we still have yet to see—or test—a viable electric sportbike. We do, however, have three new manufacturers included this year: Erik Buell Racing with its stunning 1190RS model, Husqvarna and the Nuda 900, and the Motus MST sport-tourer.
Manufacturers are presented alphabetically, and models within each manufacturer’s section are listed in decreasing order of price. Similar models, such as ABS and non-ABS versions of the same bike, share one capsule in many cases. The price listed represents MSRP for the base model; paint schemes and options sometimes shown in the accompanying picture may add a premium to the base price, although we’ve tried to point this out in the description if that’s the case. Check with the manufacturer (a listing and contact information is at the end of the guide) for up-to-date pricing and options. The specifications list engine type, seat height in inches and wheelbase in inches. The engine spec can be deciphered as follows: listed first is cooling type (L-C is liquid cooled, A-C is air cooled); next is total number of valves in the engine (16V for example), then displacement in cubic centimeters; finally, the layout of the cylinders (Inline-four, V-twin, etc). Following the capsules, you’ll find a list of discontinued models from each manufacturer.
Aprilia RSV4 R APRC/ Factory APRC SE $16,999/$22,499
RSV4 Factory APRC SE shown
Engine L-C 16V 1000 V-Four Seat HT. 33.3 in. Wheelbase 55.9 in.
The standard RSV4 R model now receives the stunningly competent APRC electronics package from the Factory SE model, including wheelie/launch/traction control. The Factory SE model that won our BOTY shootout keeps the Öhlins suspension, forged aluminum wheels, variable-length intake system, and adjustable Engine/swingarm position features.
Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 $11,999
Engine L-C 8V 1197 V-Twin Seat HT. 34.3 in. Wheelbase 60.2 in.
Tested in our December 2011 issue, the Dorsoduro 1200 packs the type of power that supermoto bikes should’ve had from the start, with a combination of impressively flat torque curve and beefy top end that won’t wheeze out on the highway. Excellent handling and brakes complete the package.
Engine L-C 8V 750 V-Twin Seat HT. 31.5 in. Wheelbase 56.7 in.
The Shiver 750 was heavily updated last year with a new windshield, petal-style front rotors, and revised ergonomics with a more aggressive riding position, narrower saddle, and new footpegs and handlebar. The rear wheel and tire were also made wider. It all adds up to a seriously fun naked bike at a nice price.
Aprilia Tuono V4 R $14,999
Engine L-C 16V 1000 V-Four Seat HT. 32.9 in. Wheelbase 56.9 in.
After debuting in Europe last year, the Tuono V4 R (basically the naked version of the RSV4) finally comes to American shores. The superb APRC electronics, 160-plus horsepower V-4 engine and excellent chassis from the RSV4 come standard, but with a more hospitable riding position.
Aprilia Mana 850GT ABS $10,999
Engine L-C 8V 839 V-Twin Seat HT. 31.5 in. Wheelbase 57.6 in.
The Mana 850 will now only be available in the 850GT ABS version, which includes a small windscreen and anti-lock brakes to complement its unique design. The fuel tank is actually a large storage area, and the torquey Engine features a CVT transmission with automatic or semi-auto modes.
Engine L-C 24V 1649 Inline-Six Seat HT. 31.9 – 32.7 in. Wheelbase 63.7 in.
BMW’s inline-six Engine changed the face of sport-touring last year, with its smooth, versatile powerband and inspiring exhaust note. The K16 bristles with technology, including the optional Adaptive Headlight that compensates for lean angle in corners, traction control, Electronic Suspension Adjustment II and more.
BMW K1300S $15,555
L-C 16V 1293 Inline-Four Seat HT.
32.3 in. Wheelbase
The four-cylinder version of BMW’s K series continues for 2012 with two optional performance packages. The HP package includes Akrapovic muffler, rear wheel stand, HP footrest setup, and numerous carbon pieces, while the Dynamic package features the ESA II, traction control, tire pressure monitor, GSA, and more.
BMW S 1000 RR $15,050
L-C 16V 999 Inline-Four Seat HT.
32.3 in. Wheelbase
BMW’s literbike warrior is heavily updated for 2012 (check our First Ride report this issue), including better midrange power, more Riding Mode performance curves, refined Race ABS and traction control settings, new chassis geometry and suspension rates, different gearing, subtle styling changes, new colors, and much, much more.
BMW R1200R $13,880
A-C 8V 1170 Opposed-Twin Seat HT.
31.5 in. Wheelbase
The R1200R’s air-cooled boxer twin was updated last year with the new DOHC cylinder heads with dual plugs and radial valve layout previously seen on the GS and RT models, raising the redline to 8500 rpm and boosting power to 110 horsepower and 88 ft-lb of torque.
BMW F800R $10,840
L-C 8V 798 Inline-Twin Seat HT.
31.5 in. Wheelbase
BMW’s naked middleweight receives a visual makeover for 2012, with redesigned radiator guards now matching in color along with the flyscreen and front fender; rear shock spring is red, and turn signals are white. The 798cc parallel twin with “dummy” counter-balancing connecting rod provides smooth and peppy power.
Ducati 1199 Panigale/S/Tricolore $17,995/$22,995/$27,995
Engine L-C 8V 1198 V-twin Seat HT. 32.5 in. Wheelbase 56.6 in.
The 1199 Panigale represents Ducati’s latest generation V-twin sportbike technology, with an extremely oversquare bore/stroke configuration Engine, component monocoque frame design, sophisticated electronics including (on the S and Tricolore models) Öhlins electronic suspension, ABS, and traction control just for starters. There no denying the 1199 is a ground-breaking motorcycle.
Ducati Diavel ABS $17,495
Engine L-C 8V 1198 V-twin Seat HT. 30.3 in. Wheelbase 62.6 in.
Ducati basically broke its own mold with the Diavel, a power cruiser with Italian flair utilizing the 11° Testastretta Engine in a low-slung chassis with 240-size rear tire. Its success has already spawned numerous special editions with various accessories: Carbon ($19,995), Carbon Red ($20,395), Cromo ($18,995), and AMG ($26,495).
Ducati Streetfighter S $18,995
Engine L-C 8V 1099 V-twin Seat HT. 33.0 in. Wheelbase 58.1 in.
One of the more aggressive naked bikes out there, the Streetfighter S returns unchanged for 2012. With a beefy 155-horsepower Engine squeezed into a chassis with a longer swingarm and more relaxed steering geometry utilizing Öhlins suspension at both ends, the Streetfighter S promises serious performance in any arena.
Ducati Multistrada 1200S/Sport/Touring $15,495/$16,995/$19,995
Engine L-C 8V 1198 V-twin Seat HT. 33.5 in. Wheelbase 60.2 in.
After completely upending the adventure-touring landscape two years ago, the Multistrada 1200 gets revised Seats that are longer and more comfortable, with the S Touring model available in a “race titanium matte” motif with black frame. The Pikes Peak special edition (featuring special styling bits) will still be available for $21,995.
Ducati Hypermotard 1100EVO SP Corse Edition $14,495
Engine A-C 4V 1078 V-twin Seat HT. 33.3 in. Wheelbase 57.7 in.
The large-displacement Hypermotard lineup has been streamlined to just one model, the 1100EVO SP Corse Edition. Featuring a slightly higher-spec Engine along with better ground clearance, improved suspension, higher bars, and less weight, the Corse Edition also gets new Y-spoke forged aluminum wheels and red/white/black Corse paint.
Ducati 848 EVO/Corse SE $13,995/$14,995
Engine L-C 8V 849 V-twin Seat HT. 32.6 in. Wheelbase 56.3 in.
The middleweight 848 EVO returns basically unchanged (as does the 848 EVO Dark model, but at the same $13,995 price), but new for 2012 is a Corse SE model that boasts the latest Ducati electronics with traction control and quickshifter, an Öhlins rear shock, and huge 330mm front brake discs.
Ducati Streetfighter 848 $12,995
Engine L-C 8V 849 V-twin Seat HT. 33.0 in. Wheelbase 58.1 in.
We got the opportunity to try out the mid-size Streetfighter in the January issue, and found it to be more comfortable than its bigger cousin, with good midrange steam to keep things interesting while offering more nimble handling. Plus you get traction control and 320mm front brakes.
Ducati Monster 1100 EVO $11,995
Engine A-C 4V 1078 V-twin Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 57.1 in.
A beefed-up Engine with five more horsepower via new cylinder head, hotter cams, and higher compression make the new Monster 1100 EVO even more fun than its predecessor. Add ABS and Ducati Traction Control, and you’ve got the makings of the best Monster ever by a good margin.
Ducati Hypermotard 796 $10,295
Engine A-C 4V 803 V-twin Seat HT. 32.5 in. Wheelbase 57.3 in.
The smaller Hypermotard returns unchanged for 2012, but it offers a lot of advantages over the bigger version. This includes a lower Seat height, plus APTC wet clutch from the Monster lineup and less weight, making for a supermoto-style machine that’s just as fun while being easier on your wallet.
Ducati Monster 796 ABS $10,295
Engine A-C 4V 803 V-twin Seat HT. 31.5 in. Wheelbase 57.1 in.
An early-release 2011 model, the Monster 796 seemed to be a curious addition to the entry-level 696, but sales show there’s a demand for a larger Monster without going the full-monty 1100 route. The 796 has ABS as standard equipment, a Marzocchi fork, and the same revised ergos as the 1100 EVO.
Ducati Monster 696/ABS $8795/$9295
Engine A-C 4V 696 V-twin Seat HT. 30.3 in. Wheelbase 57.1 in.
The smallest member of the Monster family returns unchanged for 2012, with the same hospitable Engine and low Seat height that have endeared it to many novice riders. Changes for 2011 included Marzocchi fork, 20mm-higher bars, revised Seat shape and rear subframe. ABS model is also now available.
Erik Buell Racing 1190RS $39,999
Engine L-C 8V 1190 V-twin Seat HT. 30.5 in. Wheelbase 55.4 in.
It may sound familiar but it’s totally different: EBR’s first model is loosely based on the 1125R with a similar Rotax powerplant housed in a fuel-in-frame chassis. But the Engine is bigger and stronger, final drive is by chain, running gear is top-shelf Öhlins equipment and the wheels are magnesium. Add $4000 for the carbon bodywork package.
Harley-Davidson XR1200X $ 11,799
Engine A-C 4V 1200 V-twin Seat HT. 31.3 in. Wheelbase 60.0 in.
We sure had fun racing our project XR in a round of the AMA’s Vance & Hines XR1200 series last year, and the class is certainly gaining in popularity. The XR1200X returns to the H-D lineup with Michelin Scorcher (yes, they really called them that) tires but otherwise no changes — even the price is the same.
Honda VFR1200F/DCT $TBD/TBD
Engine L-C 16V 1237 V-four Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 60.8 in.
The updated VFR pushes the techno-envelope even further with a new traction control system, while other revisions include increased low-end torque, a larger fuel tank, more comfortable Seat and the Candy Blue color shown here. The DCT model “now intelligently optimizes shift points relative to the rider’s throttle inputs.”
Engine L-C 16V 1261 V-four Seat HT. 31.1 +/- .6 in. Wheelbase 58.7 in.
After a year away, Honda’s V-4 sport-touring bike returns with ABS as standard equipment. Touring amenities include an adjustable Seat and windscreen, while available accessories include heated grips, saddlebag liners and various scuff-pad sets. Available in any color you like this year as long as it’s Black.
Honda CBR1000RR/ABS $13,800/14,800
Engine L-C 16V 999 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.3 in. Wheelbase 55.5 in.
Changes for the CBR1000RR this year, which incidentally marks the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking CBR900RR, include a Big Piston Fork, Balance-Free Rear Shock, 12-spoke wheels, an updated cockpit display and new bodywork. Honda’s exemplary Combined-ABS continues to be available as an option.
Honda CBR600RR/ABS $11,540/12,540
Engine L-C 16V 599 Inline-Four 32.3 in. Wheelbase 53.9 in.
“Still a great bike but perhaps in need of an update,” we wrote of the CBR in our last middleweight comparison test (“Return Engagement,” Aug. ‘11), and we’ll say that again here as it returns for ‘12 with no changes. We’re not complaining, as we love its combination of light weight and great midrange power.
Engine L-C 16V 998 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 56.9 in.
This big brute of a naked bike combines the previous generation CBR1000RR’s Engine with a mono-backbone aluminum chassis and outrageous styling. “Think of a fighter,” says Honda, “standing in the ring.” The new color for ‘12 is Matte Gray Metallic, as opposed to last year’s Pearl Black.
Honda CBR250R/ABS $TBD/TBD
Engine L-C 4V 249 Single Seat HT. 30.5 in. Wheelbase 53.9 in.
Honda’s single-cylinder beginner bike is packed with innovations such as a unique forked roller rocker arm system in the cylinder head, a “spiny cylinder sleeve” to improve cooling and even optional linked ABS. It returns in three color combinations this year, including this striking White/Pearl Blue/Red.
Husqvarna Nuda 900/R $TBD
Engine L-C 8V 898 Inline-Twin Seat HT. 31.3 in. / 34.5-35.2 in. Wheelbase 58.9 in.
While not yet officially a ‘12 model, expect Husky’s first street offering to be available late this year. The Nuda’s Engine is based on BMW’s F800R architecture but the bike has its own distinctive styling and running gear. R model has Öhlins shock, Sachs fork, Brembo monobloc calipers and some carbon bits.
Engine L-C 8V 647 V-twin Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.5 in.
The fully faired GT650R returns unchanged for ‘12. That means adjustable footpeg position, four-piston front calipers, an inverted front fork and a torquey fuel-injected V-twin Engine. There are six color options; three solids (red, white, black) and three two-tones, which add $400 to the base MSRP.
Engine L-C 8V 647 V-twin Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.5 in.
Everything the R model is but minus the fairing and clip-ons, the standard GT650 has a conventional handlebar and accordingly more relaxed ergos. The Korean-built bike also gains a stylish new headlight assembly for ‘12, and is available in black, white or two shades of red.
Engine A-C 8V 249 V-twin Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.5 in.
Featuring many big-bike components like dual disc brakes and an inverted fork, Hyosung’s tiny V-twin fared well in our beginner-bike comparison test last year (“New Beginnings,” May ‘11) and returns unchanged this year. It’s available in black, white and red or three two-tone color options that add $200 to the price.
Engine A-C 8V 249 V-twin Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.5 in.
You can guess this one: The GT250 is a naked GT250R with a conventional handlebar and featuring a new headlight assembly. Note that it also lost a front disc brake assembly in the process. The naked beginner bike is also available in black, white and two shades of red.
Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS $15,899
Engine L-C 16V 1352 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 59.8 in.
Every time we get a Concours test bike in the fleet, it becomes Kent’s de facto long-term bike and we have a tough time prying him off it to test anything else. That says a lot for the big Connie, which returns unchanged for 2012 and is available in Ebony or Flat Super Black.
Engine L-C 16V 1441 Inline-Four Seat HT. 31.5 in. Wheelbase 58.3 in.
The ultimate Ninja picks up an R after its name for this year, in addition to some extra displacement, traction control, a slipper clutch and, of course, more power. The makeover includes a redesigned monocoque frame and swingarm and all-new bodywork. Add $200 for the Golden Bladed Green SE graphics package.
Kawasaki ZX-10R/ABS $13,999/14,999
Engine L-C 16V 998 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.0 in. Wheelbase 56.1 in.
Introduced last year with much fanfare, the traction-control-equipped 10R proved a worthy challenger for our literbike crown (“The Empire Strikes Back”, July ‘11). And, as we found out later in the year, Kawasaki’s Intelligent ABS is one of the best systems on the market (“Absolutely Brilliant Stopping”, Dec. ‘11).
Kawasaki Ninja 1000/ABS $11,199/11,899
Engine L-C 16V 1043 Inline-four Seat HT. 32.3 in. Wheelbase 56.9 in.
Introduced last year as a do-it-all sportbike, the Ninja 1000 certainly lives up to that promise and handily won our “Battle of the Super-Standards” comparison test (Aug. ‘11). While the basic package — based on the Z1000 platform — returns unchanged for this year, ABS is a new option.
Engine L-C 16V 1043 Inline-four Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 56.7 in.
Available in this Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Spark Black color scheme for ‘12, the Z1000 is one of our favorite urban brawlers. Its long-stroke four-cylinder mill provides plenty of usable power, while the aluminum frame and adjustable suspension make for a nimble-handling chassis; together they make a very fun package.
Engine L-C 16V 599 Inline-four Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 55.1 in.
While Kawasaki’s big-bore models have received the bulk of the company’s attention in the last couple of years, the ZX-6R hasn’t changed much since its ‘09 introduction. But that’s not a bad thing, as the middleweight Ninja still packs a punch and remains a contender for top middleweight honors.
Engine L-C 8V 649 Inline-twin Seat HT. 33.3 in. Wheelbase 55.7 in.
“This solidly built multi-purpose tool will have you searching for more reasons to ride and more roads to explore,” says Kawasaki about the Versys. Our sister magazine Motorcyclist even named it Motorcycle of the Year in 2008. Look for this versatile model in Metallic Spark Black or Pearl Solar Yellow/Ebony this year.
Engine L-C 8V 649 Inline-twin Seat HT. 31.7 in. Wheelbase 55.5 in.
The ZX-14R didn’t get all the love for ‘12: The Ninja 650 is also updated, with a redesigned frame and swingarm, new exhaust system and bodywork, improved brake pads, a new instrument cluster and a lighter-pull clutch. Revised suspension settings and increased travel improve comfort but slightly increase Seat height.
Kawasaki Ninja 250R $4199
Engine L-C 8V 249 Inline-twin Seat HT. 30.5 in. Wheelbase 55.1 in.
All the style of the big Ninjas in a small-bike and small-price package, the Ninja 250R has long been a success story and especially so since its ‘08 upgrade. The base model is Candy Lime Green (of course!), while Passion Red and Metallic Spark Black schemes add $250 to the price tag.
Engine L-C 8V 1195 V-twin Seat HT. 31.7 – 32.5 in. Wheelbase 56.1 in.
The RC8R gets a myriad number of changes for 2012. Just a few include dual spark plugs per cylinder for better combustion, heavier crankshaft and flywheel for smoother response, Club Race Kit cam timing, gear sensor to permit the ECU to control Engine braking depending on gear selected, and much more.
Engine L-C 8V 1195 V-twin Seat HT. 31.7 – 32.5 in. Wheelbase 56.1 in.
The Race version of the RC8R gets a whole host of upgrades for 2012, including new suspension settings, Akrapovic titanium exhaust, slipper clutch, WP 4618 Race shock and fork with TiAlN coating, extra thinner head gasket and cam timing tool, different gearing, forged Marchesini aluminum wheels, and much more.
Engine L-C 8V 999 V-twin Seat HT. 34.4 in. Wheelbase 59.3 in.
The supermoto version of the 990 has morphed into a more sport-touring-oriented model for 2012, with semi-hard luggage and a two-channel Bosch ABS as standard equipment. A new preload adjuster for the rear shock allows easier access with supplied tool, with the 999cc 75-degree V-twin supplying quick-revving torque.
Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V $15,990
Engine A-C 8V 1151 V-twin Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 58.8 in.
Heavily revised last year, the Norge GT 8V returns unchanged for 2012. The more powerful eight-valve Engine, a revised fairing and electrically adjustable windshield, heated grips, standard ABS, 12-volt accessory socket, color-matched hard bags, and new sidestand and centerstand are just some of the upgrades.
Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE $12,490
Engine A-C 8V 1151 V-twin Seat HT. 31.5 in. Wheelbase 61.2 in.
Introduced in 2011, the Griso 8V SE makes a return engagement this year with the same more powerful 8V Engine, “Tenni” matte green livery, leather Seat, aluminum spoked wheels with tubeless Pirelli Scorpion rubber, and much more. We tested it in the December 2011 issue and came away impressed.
Moto Guzzi V7 Racer $9790
Engine A-C 4V 744 V-twin Seat HT. 31.7 in. Wheelbase 57.0 in.
The V7 Racer recreates the venerable Moto Guzzi V7 Sport of the 1960s, but with a modern touch. The black-on-red motif (the American version unfortunately doesn’t include the chrome fuel tank) gives the V7 Racer a sinister café racer style, while the spoked wheels, number plate/flyscreen, and solo saddle complete the period look.
Moto Guzzi V7 Classic $8990
Engine A-C 4V 744 V-twin Seat HT. 31.7 in. Wheelbase 57.0 in.
Moto Guzzi’s modern rendition of the original V7 that debuted back in 1967, the V7 Classic marries up-to-date equipment with the simple flavor of its forebear. The 744cc pushrod V-twin, cradle frame and current suspension bring performance up to speed, while various chrome parts set it apart from the crowd.
Engine L-C 8V 1645 V-four Seat HT. 31.0 in. Wheelbase 58.0 in.
Motus is a new American company with plans to produce two versions of this sport-touring machine as a 2012 model. The chassis and longitudinally mounted direct-injection V-4 Engine feature Pratt & Miller Engineering technology, while the upscale R model will offer lighter weight and higher performance.
MV Agusta F4R/RR Corsa Corta $19,498/$24,998
Engine L-C 16V 998 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.3 in.
A totally revised radial-valve Engine headlines the new F4R and F4RR (a claimed 195 horsepower for the F4R, 201 for the F4RR) with both getting a refined traction control and variable length intake. The more expensive F4RR also gets the latest Öhlins suspension and forged aluminum wheels.
MV Agusta Brutale R 1090/RR 1090 $16,498/$18,998
Engine L-C 16V 1078 inline-Four Seat HT. 32.7 in. Wheelbase 56.6 in.
New for 2012 is an uprated Brutale 1090 in two versions, the 144-horsepower R 1090, and the 158-horsepower RR 1090 edition. Both have the eight-level traction control and Marzocchi 50mm inverted fork/Sachs rear shock, but the RR model also gets slipper clutch, monobloc Brembo brake calipers and forged aluminum wheels.
MV Agusta F3/Serie Oro $13,498/$27,900
Engine L-C 12V 675 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 31.7 in. Wheelbase 54.2 in.
MV Agusta’s long-awaited inline-triple bristles with the latest technology, including counter-rotating crankshaft, four Engine maps plus one that is customizable, and traction control (with optional launch and wheelie control). The limited production (200 units worldwide) Serie Oro gets the latest Öhlins suspension and numerous trick bits.
MV Agusta Brutale 675 $TBD
Engine L-C 12V 675 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 32.0 in. Wheelbase 54.2 in.
Along with its new F3 supersport comes MV Agusta’s new middleweight naked bike, the Brutale 675. Utilizing the same MVICS ride-by-wire throttle system as the F3, the Brutale boasts the same multiple Engine maps and traction control, as well as the counter-rotating crankshaft Engine (albeit tuned for low-end and midrange power).
Engine L-C 16V 1679 V-four Seat HT. 30.5 in. Wheelbase 66.9 in.
As if this big power bruiser wasn’t bad enough — and we mean that in a good way — Star has made this change for 2012: “A stylish new side cover finish matches the intake cover — adding to the menacing looks of the VMax.“ Hide the women and children.
Engine L-C 16V 1340 Inline-four Seat HT. 31.7 in. Wheelbase 58.3 in.
Suzuki makes no excuses for the Hayabusa, saying up front that it, “quite simply, isn’t for everyone.” A lot of people think otherwise, judging by how popular the model has been for the company since its 1999 introduction and 2008 makeover. Look for the big GSX in Glass Sparkle Black and Pearl Glacier White this year.
Engine L-C 16V 999 Inline-Four Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 55.3 in.
Suzuki is aiming to take back the literbike crown it once held for years with the GSX-R1000, as the bike is tweaked for ‘12 with internal Engine updates, a 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust system, Showa Big Piston Fork, Brembo monobloc calipers and other refinements. Meanwhile, MSRP goes up by only $200.
Engine L-C 16V 750 Inline-Four Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 54.7 in.
Fresh off its 25th anniversary and an upgrade last year, the middle GSX-R has long been a standout performer, lacking only some competition to prove its mettle. For 2012 it’s available in traditional Suzuki colors as well as this new Marble Daytona Yellow/Glass Sparkle Black combination.
Engine L-C 16V 599 Inline-Four Seat HT. 31.9 in. Wheelbase 54.5 in.
After a long run in the doldrums of our middleweight comparison tests, the GSX-R600 returned to the top of the heap last year following its major update (“Return Engagement,” Aug. 2011). The 2011 model also won the AMA Daytona SportBike and SuperSport championships, proving its strengths on the racetrack.
Engine L-C 16V 1255 Inline-Four Seat HT. 31.7 – 32.5 in. Wheelbase 58.5 in.
“Think of the GSX1250FA as a kinetically charged invitation to enjoy the ride of your life,” says Suzuki of its big-bore standard model. We definitely agree, as the bike is plenty comfortable and way fun to ride. Check out how easily we added 30 horsepower for the full experience though (“GSX-essive,” Jan. 2012).
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 $10,399
Engine L-C 8V 996 V-Twin Seat HT. 33.1 in. Wheelbase 60.4 in.
Wow, here’s a surprise: After a two-year hiatus the big V-Strom returns for 2012. The 996cc V-twin Engine, culled from the SV/TL models, has long been one of our favorites in any form. An Adventure model is available with side and top cases, adding long-haul capability and $600 to the MSRP.
Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS $8299
Engine L-C 8V 645 V-twin Seat HT. 32.9 in. Wheelbase 61.4 in.
Suzuki has updated the “Wee-Strom” with the development concept “The comfortable adventure tourer.” That means more power in the low-end and midrange, new styling, better wind protection and improved fuel economy, among other upgrades. Adventure model ($9799) includes aluminum side cases, Engine bar and an adjustable windscreen.
Triumph Tiger 1050 SE ABS $13,399
Engine L-C 12V 1050 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 32.8 in. Wheelbase 59.4 in.
The Tiger 1050 SE received some minor upgrades for 2012, including revised ergonomics, improved suspension, and numerous detail changes. These include ABS, hard bags, centerstand, and hand guards as standard equipment. There was no word at press time regarding the standard Tiger 1050 for the U.S.
Triumph Sprint GT ABS $13,399
Engine L-C 12V 1050 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 60.5 in.
The Sprint GT returns for 2012 basically unchanged, but it’s not like it needed improvements. Two 31-liter hard bags, ABS, accessory power socket, upgraded suspension and headlights are all standard, and Triumph is claiming a 200-plus-mile range from the 5.3-gallon fuel tank. Available colors are Phantom Black and Pacific Blue.
Triumph Speed Triple /R $11,999/$12,799
Engine L-C 12V 1050 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 56.2 in.
After getting a makeover in 2011 that included a revised chassis and minor Engine upgrades, the standard Speed Triple has finally been joined by an R-spec brother. As expected, the R gets an Öhlins NIX30 fork and TTX shock, Brembo monobloc brakes and forged aluminum wheels.
Triumph Daytona 675 /R $10,999/$12,699
Engine L-C 12V 675 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 32.5 in. Wheelbase 54.9 in.
The Daytona 675 returns with minor styling changes for 2012, with a dark finish to the bellypan, footpeg brackets, and brake discs, plus clutch and generator Engine covers embossed with the Triumph logo. The higher-spec 675R returns as well, with numerous parts upgrades including Öhlins NIX30 fork and TTX36 shock.
Triumph Street Triple /R $8899/$9599
Engine L-C 12V 675 Inline-Triple Seat HT. 31.5 /31.7 in. Wheelbase 55.5 in.
Both versions of the middleweight naked triple return for 2012 with minor updates. The standard Street Triple gets a brushed aluminum finish on the mufflers and control plates, tapered aluminum handlebar, and new color choice (Imperial Purple) while the R model receives the same aluminum finish and Triumph-branded Engine covers.
Yamaha FJR1300A $15,590
L-C 16V 1298 Inline-Four Seat HT.
33.3 – 34.2 in. Wheelbase
The big FJR has turned out to be a favorite among the extended Sport Rider family, thanks to its smooth-running Engine, comfortable ergonomics and rock-solid reliability. Touring amenities such as the OEM heated grips and adjustable windscreen help too. No changes for 2012 aside from color, which is Cobalt Blue this year.
Engine L-C 16V 998 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.9 in. Wheelbase 55.7 in.
Yamaha’s literbike gets a dose of MotoGP tech this year, with the addition of a seven-level Traction Control System. Styling is also subtly changed, and the bike is available in the World GP 50th Anniversary Edition shown here. Add $200 to the base price for Pearl White/Candy Red paint, or $500 for the Anniversary Edition.
Yamaha YZF-R6 $10,890
L-C 16V 599 Inline-Four Seat HT.
33.5 in. Wheelbase
This middleweight screamer is listed as unchanged for ‘12, but is also available in the Anniversary Edition paint scheme for an additional $500 — only 1500 units will be produced worldwide. Other colors include Raven and Team Yamaha Blue/White, or Pearl White/Candy Red for $200 extra.
Engine L-C 20V 998 Inline-Four Seat HT. 32.1 in. Wheelbase 57.5 in.
Yamaha’s “ultimate street brawler” has been only subtly updated since its ‘06 introduction, but it still fared well in our super-standards comparison test last year. Look for the FZ1 in this Pearl White/Matte Black color scheme this year; otherwise, no changes from the ‘11 model.
Yamaha FZ8 $8690
L-C 16V 779 Inline-Four Seat HT.
32.1 in. Wheelbase
Talk about bang for the buck. Yamaha claims the FZ8, introduced last year and a little brother to the FZ1, “fills the gap for sport riders who feel a 600cc is too small and a 1000cc is too big.” It’s certainly more than its MSRP would indicate, with a surprisingly strong Engine, comfortable ergos and a smooth ride.
Engine L-C 16V 600 Inline-Four Seat HT. 30.9 in. Wheelbase 56.7 in.
This entry level sportbike combines performance, style and value. Of note for newer (and even experienced) riders are the adjustable Seat height and handlebar position that allow the ergos to be modified to suit a wide variety of people. Add $100 to the price shown here for the Raven model.
The manufacturers have all cleaned house in the last couple of years thanks to the trying economy, leaving some of them much leaner in terms of number of models as compared with past years. As such, only a handful of models have been dropped for 2012. Discontinued or not, however, there are some great deals to be had on leftover models; check with your local dealer or the manufacturer’s website to see what’s available.
•RSV4 R (standard model)
•Mana 850 (standard model)
•Hypermotard 1100EVO (standard model)
•Monster 696 Dark/796 Dark
•990 Super Duke
•Griso 8V (standard model)
•Daytona 675 SE
•Tiger 1050 (standard model)