2013 was a solid year for the motorcycle industry, with bike manufacturers across the world unveiling their latest, highly anticipated models to eager bikers. So, with the new year now upon us, we thought we’d take a look back at what we think were the best rides of 2013.
Ducati 1199 Panigale R
For the speed freaks among us, nothing can surpass the power and torque of Ducati’s prize model – the 1199 Panigale R. Based on the 2012 standard Panigale motorbike, the R model underwent several improvements which included an upgraded fuel injection system and lower gearing to make the torque more accessible.
We love this bike for many reasons; not just because it has the potential to top speeds of over 175mph. For us, the bike’s best features are its carbon-fibre components, its sleek design and its Desmo V-twin engine that produces 195bhp. When taking to the road, the gearbox’s quick-shifter means that there is no pause when accelerating. The lightweight chassis increases agility, and the low rumble of the machine is sure to turn the head of any passer-by.
Late last year saw the long awaited arrival of the S1000R from German manufacturer BMW, which is based on the title-winning S1000RR superbike. Though it shares many features with its predecessor, such as its 999cc Inline four engine, aluminium frame and comprehensive electronics system, the S1000R bike has undergone notable improvements, creating an altogether completely different riding experience.
Such improvements include alterations to engine management parameters, along with revisions to cylinder head ports, the chassis and cam timing. The bike comes equipped with BMW’s top rider-assist functions: race-grade ABS, traction control and a Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) suspension system option.
On the road, this sophisticated machine looks good and rides great. Its low-nose, high-tail and four-into one exhaust add to the beauty of the bike, while the soft saddle and raised, one-piece handlebar creates a comfortable riding experience. Though the bike’s 160bhp capability may seem average to some, the torque is sure to take any riders’ breath away. The sports package option comes with all the mod cons: LED indicators, heated grips, belly pan and cruise control.
Harley-Davidson FXSB Breakout
Our award for the best power cruiser of 2013 had to go to Harley-Davidson’s FXSB Breakout, particularly for its handling and design. The suspension delivers a smooth ride, aided by the redesigned oil tank that allows the wheel to move further and so increases wheel travel. Riders sit low on the bike, with wide, curved bars putting them in a broad-shouldered stance. The design scheme of gloss black on chrome, along with its ultra wide rear tyre, make the Breakout a seriously stylish street rod.
The V-twin four-stroke engine displaces 1690cc, with a six-speed cruise drive and top speeds of around 115mph. When riders start to accelerate, the bike produces a magnificent growl.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
For everyday use, Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 is a practical but exciting bike that doesn’t stretch the budget. The bike replaces the 2012 250R model, and features sportbike bodywork, optional ABS and a 296cc Parallel-Twin cylinder engine that can produce up to 39bhp and top speeds of 110mph. The latest model’s engine has been given a fuel injection which generates superb throttle response while also being good for the economy.
The ride can feel a little bumpy at times, but the bike’s 379 pound chassis both enhances handling and increases agility. The bike is particularly eye-catching in the lime green finish, too. All-in-all, the Ninja 300 is a compact, vibrant machine perfect for everyday use. And with new back-torque slipper clutch technology, you can get all the perks from riding a high-end bike, without the high-end price.