Ducati V4 Panigale:
It looks like 2018 is the year of the V4, and the Ducati Panigale V4 is the sexiest of them all. Looking like Andrea Dovizioso has ridden it straight off the MotoGP track and into a Ducati dealership, the 214bhp V4 motor (yes, 214bhp, cause 200bhp is so last year, right?), is 1103cc, with maximum power coming in at 13,000rpm. It comes in at some 175kg dry, too. That’s seriously light by any standards. If the new Ducati isn’t sports bike of the year, then I can’t imagine what is. It costs £19,250. The S version comes with Ohlins electronic front suspension, and lightweight Marchesini wheels and costs £23,895. They’re in showrooms in January when the press launch also takes place, so we’ll find out soon enough.
Norton V4 SS:
A quiet chat with Norton test rider and two-times TT winner Steve Plater suggested the development of the Norton V4 superbike is bang on track. With a design based on the SG6 TT race bike, a chassis already proven and ridden to numerous top 10 positions at the Isle of Man, so we know this bike will handle. What we don’t know yet is how the engine will feel. The Norton and Ricardo developed, all-new V4, 1200cc motor is designed to feel exciting, makes a claimed 200bhp. A TT racer for the road? You better believe it, and we can’t wait to get on one. It costs £42,000. But that’s pretty irrelevant as they’re all sold.
Yamaha MXT850 Niken:
It has three wheels, so surely that means it’s aimed at new riders or less confident ones? Well, not say Yamaha. This bike is designed to be as much fun as anything on two wheels, and bring an entirely new concept to motorcycling. We’ve had three wheelers, scooters with three wheels, and now this. But none of them have ever had an MT-09 motor mounted to them. It’s a system which is said to allow serious lean angle, while remaining safe and secure in dodgy weather. Hmm… can’t wait to try it though.
Ducati Scrambler 1100:
The Ducati Scrambler has been a phenomenon the world over. I bought one, the Ducati Desert Sled. But what the air-cooled 803cc motor makes up for with style, it lacks with grunt and power. The 1100 and its torquier, more powerful and more flexible, so that means all that style with plenty of substance. Now, where’s the 1100cc Desert Sled?
BMW F850 GS:
The F800GS was often under rated as a soft alternative to the all-conquering King Dong R1200GS. But that was unfair as the 100bhp F800GS was almost as capable off-road, easier to manage and cheaper, too. The new F850GS gets a development of the motor, a new chassis, a 21-inch front wheel and styling from its bigger brother, which means the best small adventure bike just got better.
Honda Monkey 125 Concept:
It’s a Monkey bike for 2018. The reborn concept of the king of monkeying around. A bike that started the careers of thousands of riders, and a motorcycle that even non-motorcyclist Michael Jackson and his four brothers sat on for a pic. We don’t actually know much about it as it’s still officially a concept bike, but having had a good sniff around at the NEC bike show, it looks like an all-new frame, a motor based on the 125cc MSX125, and its own unique blend of tiny wheels, chunky tyres, and riding position which puts you below the wing mirrors of most cars. What’s not to like?
Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports:
Having sat on an Africa Twin for some 3500 kilometres from Oslo to the Nordkapp earlier this year, a taller suspended, more comfortable, bigger screen, larger 24.2 litre-tank Africa Twin with a funkadelic paint job sounds very appealing. The standard bike wasn’t exactly rubbish, but with a few tweaks the new big tank Africa Twin looks better than ever and should ride better too. No prices are yet available.
KTM Duke 790:
KTM’s Dukes have always been single-focussed, bonkers machines. And they have always been single-cylinder, until now. The new Duke 790 looks like a whole barrel of slideways fun, with enough power, and less vibration to make it a serious, more sporty rival to bikes like Yamaha’s MT-07 and the Triumph Street Triple which should be able to do decent distance too.
Arch Motorcycles 1S:
Hollywood star and motorcycle fanatic Keanu Reeves doesn’t just head-up and run Arch Motorcycles in Los Angeles, he is the man who rides them, tests them and develops them alongside famed US custom builder Gard Hollinger. The man doesn’t even own a car, choosing to ride every day instead.
The headlines are all about the £200,000+ Method 143, but that seems a little way away still. So, for now, we can’t wait to get a spin on the 1S, an aluminium-framed, carbon-fibre wrapped 2032cc v-twin with the attitude of a jet fighter, and the style of a concept sports cruiser. There’s nothing else on the road like it.
Kawasaki H2 SX:
A supercharged sports tourer? You betcha. The Ninja H2 has grown up in a bike with two seats and room for luggage, which must mean the most bonkers sports tourer ever made. With Suzuki seemingly not developing the Hayabusa, there’s a gap in the market for the H2 SX, and Kawasaki have jumped right in to fill it. Pillion on this though? It better have good rear grab handles.