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2018 New Model Overview

It's a time when our industry is down. The think tanks are saying that the manufacturers don't produce enough low cc models, there's not enough innovation and so on. We think the 2018 model lineup is poised to squash all that thinking, and maybe, just maybe, there are some bikes that will appeal to new riders as well as seasoned ones. Here's a look at 10 models entering showrooms this coming year that may make a dent in the sales slump, for the better.

Suzuki V-Strom 250

If you're already an adventure rider, of course this is not the bike for you. But if you're new to riding and you think you want to join in with the dual sport crowd, here's your ticket. As is the case with any 250, these bikes are great starter bikes to graduate to larger models more suitable for highway speeds. They hold their value too, especially when they transfer from the second to third, fourth, fifth owner and so on. So, expect to see the V-Strom 250 around for a while, in both new and used incarnations.

Other dual sports that are key to ADV entry level riders include Kawasaki's KLX250, Versys 300, Honda's CRF250L, and Yamaha's WR250R and XT250.

KTM 790 Duke

There's quite a bit of excitement about Big Orange's latest Duke entry. For the rider who must have the ultimate in street hooligan tech, the new Duke is the cat's meow. But it will no doubt go beyond just the Duke, as KTM designs the same motor into other models such as adventure and Super Moto mounts.

Big Baggers

BMW introduced their bagger in 2017, and Yamaha and Honda will bring four more models to the market collectively. While H-D may own the bagger market now, younger riders are perusing other options to feel like they're moving ahead of where their ancestors have been. Expect a marketing push from manufacturers in the coming months and years to introduce younger people to riding and the exceptional feeling of riding on an open road. As a result, a new generation of bagger riders is coming our way, and the newest models from Yamaha and Honda may lead that charge.

Yamaha Niken

It's a crazy concept, but not much different from when Piaggio introduced the MP3 over 10 years ago. While the MP3s didn't take off like a rocket, other three-wheelers have, including the Can Am Spyder and the Polaris Slingshot. What this does show is some forward thinking and innovation, and you can bet there are some pro racers who would like to get their hands on one of these to take around the track. Can you say "new class" in the superbike category?

Kawasaki Z900R and Z900RS

Kawasaki has always done a nice job putting new technology into classic styling. Whether it was the W650, or the ZRX1000 Eddie Lawson replica, you had to wonder when they'd get around to replicating the classic Z models of the 70s. The time has come. Why these models may sell? Drive by your local hooligan hangout and check out all the Triumph standards parked at the nearby coffee clatch. There's room for variation and Kawasaki plans to be a part of that.

Royal Enfield Himalayan

It's good to know that after decades, RE has finally developed a new, more reliable motor. And one of its first models to get that motor is the new Himalayan. At $4,500 MSRP, this 411cc lightweight will compete against the likes of BMW, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha in the under 500cc dual sport/ADV market and is sure to capture a few new customers for the brand. Time will tell if it was worth your buy.

Ducati Panigale V4

Ducati experienced good success in the top-end sport bike market with its Panigale lineup over the last decade. So, when the V4 was developed, it only made sense to kill the brand off on the V-twin side and move it to the new tech model. While there's currently not a hot market for top-end sport bikes, Ducati has proven over the decades to be a top choice for the big spenders. And of course, when you spend $40k on a new bike, it goes without saying you match that with an additional $40k in OEM aftermarket accessories.

SR/January 2018


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