The 2017 model year will go down as one of the most exciting in motorcycle history. Sneak peeks of 2017 models started in late 2015 and continued steadily throughout 2016, with at least 100 all-new or significantly updated motorcycles announced by 13 different manufacturers—everything from state-of-the-art, high-tech sportbikes to retro-styled bobbers, café racers and scramblers, in all shapes, sizes and horsepower ratings. Here are the 10 coolest.
BMW R nineT Urban G/S
BMW’s highly customizable R nineT retro roadster, which was introduced for 2014 and has been updated for 2017, is a really cool bike. And its spin-off models—such as the Pure, Racer and Scrambler—are cooler still. But to our eyes and in our hearts, the coolest R nineT of them all is the new Urban G/S, an homage to the original R 80 G/S that launched the adventure bike movement.
Ducati 1299 Superleggera
Superleggera means “super lightweight” in Italian, and Ducati ain’t blowin’ smoke. The 1299 Superleggera is the first factory bike to be built with a carbon fiber frame, subframe, swingarm, wheels and bodywork. Claimed wet weight—full of gas and ready to ride—is just 368 pounds. And the 1,285cc Superquadro L-twin has been tweaked and tuned to crank out 215 horsepower. Only 500 will be made, and one can be yours for $80,000.
Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Touring Bikes
When Harley-Davidson unveiled the Milwaukee-Eight Big Twin last summer, it was the biggest announcement from the Motor Company in two decades. The all-new eight-valve, single-cam V-twin, available in oil-cooled 107ci (1,750cc), liquid-cooled 107ci and liquid-cooled 114ci (1,870cc) configurations, makes more torque, runs smoother and cooler, has a richer exhaust note (thanks to less mechanical noise) and fits more riders by virtue of being more compact. Combined with new Showa suspension and unmistakable Harley style, the 2017 Touring lineup is the best—and coolest—yet.
Honda CRF250L Rally
The most common complaints with ADV bikes are that they’re too big, too heavy and too expensive. Honda has the answer with the new CRF250L Rally, which has styling inspired by the CRF450 Rally that Team HRC races in the Dakar. Based on the updated-for-2017 CRF250L, the Rally is powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 250cc single, it weighs 342 pounds ready-to-ride (claimed) and it costs $5,899 (or $6,199 with ABS, which adds 4 pounds). With a 21-inch front wheel and 10.3 inches of rear suspension travel (front travel is TBD), you can go pretty much anywhere (as long as you can deal with the 35.2-inch seat height). Do more with less and have a ball.
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
Nicknamed “The Beast,” KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R is a whole lotta motorcycle. For 2017, its 1,301cc V-twin makes a claimed 177 horsepower, with smoother low-rpm response and a broader powerband. It also gets updated WP suspension, Motorcycle Stability Control with cornering ABS, new styling, cruise control, TFT instrumentation, Metzeler M7RR supersport tires and new options like Quickshifter+, which allows clutchless upshifts and downshifts, and the Track Pack, with additional riding modes, launch control and more.
Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Intrigued by a small-displacement adventure bike but not ready to commit to an extra-tall, dirt-oriented bike like the Honda CRF250L Rally? Kawasaki’s new Versys-X 300 may be the answer. This down-sized version of the popular Versys 650 and Versys 1000LT (Rider’s 2015 Motorcycle of the Year) is powered by the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 296cc parallel twin from the Ninja 300. It has spoked wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear), available ABS and what Kawasaki says is a low seat height and long-travel suspension (detailed specs aren’t yet available).
Moto Guzzi V7 III Anniversario
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its V7 line, Moto Guzzi will build just 750 units of the limited-edition V7 III Anniversario. Featuring all of the third-generation updates found on the V7 III Racer, Special and Stone, the Anniversario stands apart with its chrome gas tank, brown leather saddle, billet fuel cap and steering yoke risers (with laser-etched serial number), brushed aluminum fenders, chrome passenger grab handle, fork protectors and spoked wheels with polished rims and gray hubs.
The original 1999 Suzuki SV650 was a huge hit—a light, nimble, affordable bike powered by a feisty, 645cc V-twin. It was an ideal commuter, a playful canyon carver and a reliable platform for club racing, but after several model updates its performance and styling went from exciting to boring. With a revival of middleweight naked bikes (particularly the Yamaha FZ-07), Suzuki brought back the SV650, with an updated engine, styling more like the original and an attractive price tag. We fell in love with it all over again.
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
After rolling out an all-new, five-model Bonneville platform for 2016—and winning Rider’s 2016 Motorcycle of the Year award for the Bonneville T120/Black—Triumph is expanding the lineup for 2017 with some very cool bikes, including the T100/Black, Street Cup, Street Scrambler and the gorgeous Bobber, which features a liquid-cooled, 1,200cc “high torque” parallel twin, a hardtail look and an adjustable solo seat.
Yes, the Octane is based on the Indian Scout platform (Victory and Indian are both owned by Polaris Industries), with 35 percent of the parts shared between the two bikes. But the Scout is a kick-ass cruiser powered by a liquid-cooled, 1,133cc (69ci) 60-degree V-twin with DOHC and four valves per cylinder that makes 100 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque (claimed, at the crank). With a bigger bore and new pistons, cylinder heads and camshafts, the Octane makes 104 horsepower and 76 lb-ft of torque. It’s an aggressively styled power cruiser that weighs just 528 pounds dry and costs only $10,499. If that’s not cool, we don’t know what is.
Editor’s Note: On January 9, Polaris Industries announced that it would discontinue the Victory Motorcycles brand, effective immediately. For more information, read the full announcement.