All posts in “Motorcycles”

The Best Motorcycles for Navigating City Streets in 2020

Consider this list your introductory guide to commuter motorcycles. No, it’s not an official motorcycles segment per se, but it’s worth looking at; after all, if you’re zipping into, out of and around an urban environment, a motorcycle is just about the best way to get from A to B.

The five motorcycles we discuss here vary in size, style and price, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all perfect for dealing with busy streets, angry traffic and tight spaces.

What Makes a Great City Motorcycle?

Surviving the forces that make up city traffic on a motorcycle requires patience, quick reflexes and steel nerves — and it’s crucial that the motorcycle can keep up. A compact, slender bike is a good place to start. Dodging potholes and traffic and shooting for narrow gaps between cars is the norm when cruising down a crowded street; a good city motorcycle needs to be lightweight and flickable, two qualities delivered well by smaller bikes.

Power is important, but only if it’s usable. There’s no use having chart-topping power and torque if you have to be flirt with the redline to see it. The motorcycles that work best on city streets have accessible power when you’re pulling away from a stoplight or puttering around at low speeds.

When dipping and diving and weaving your way through town, your attention needs to be on the road ahead, not how uncomfortable you are — so good ergonomics are key. That’s not just about the seating position; though it’s important that you’re not stuffing yourself onto the bike, riding comfort also comes from a good suspension setup. A super-stiff suspension that relays every rut, rock and crack can not only be bone-shatteringly uncomfortable, but can lead to a nervous, twitchy and unsettled bike.

It’s a tall order to build a bike that’s versatile enough to handle city streets and still have the capabilities to hop on the highway. But when manufacturers nail the formula, they create motorcycles that can be an incredible asset for fighting back the daily grind.

The Best Motorcycles for City Riding

Ducati Monster 821

The 821 risked falling into obscurity as the middle child of the Ducati Monster lineup. The 797 is prized as the approachable, entry-level Ducati; the 1200 might look almost identical to the little 797, but if you look closer, it’s a tech-laden superbike with no fairings and serious power. The 821, however borrows supersport-level tech from the 1200 and brings it down to an approachable level. It’s the best of both worlds — the controllable and lightweight nature of the 797, and the extra shove the top-of-the-line tech and control systems from the 1200.

Engine: 821cc V-twin
Horsepower: 109
Torque: 63 lb-ft
Price: $11,995+

Triumph Bonneville T100

Our very own Steve Mazzucchi has been riding a Bonneville around New York City for some time, so he’s able to vouch firsthand for its capability as a city bike. The combination of reasonable seat height and the placement of the pegs right under your feet give it great ergonomics and visibility, he says. The latest models add ABS and heated handgrips for added livability, without losing the classic looks. “The fact you can pretend to be Steve McQueen racing away from Nazis is just a bonus, really,” Mazzucchi adds.

Engine: 900cc parallel twin
Horsepower: 55
Torque: 59 lb-ft
Price: $10,450+

Zero Motorcycles SR/F

With their instantaneous torque and lack of a clutch or gears, electric motorcycles are practically tailor-made for city riding. (Also, unlike internal-combustion machines, they get better mileage around town than on the highway.) Zero’s SR/F — one of our most notable vehicles to go on sale last year — goes 161 miles on a charge in the city (or 200, with the optional Power Tank) and recharges in as little as an hour, yet still rips off a 0-60 mph run of well under three seconds. It’ll top out at 124 mph, too…should you find a city street that allows it.

Engine: 14.4-kWh lithium-ion battery and permanent magnet AC motor
Horsepower: 110
Torque: 140 lb-ft
Price: $19,495+

Honda CB300R

Hope you like matte blue, because that’s the only color Honda’s delightful little bike that lands between a naked standard and a sportbike comes in for 2020. (We do, for what it’s worth.) But if not, a can of Krylon is all that’ll be between you and one of the most delightful city motorcycles out there. Its compact size means even its small motor provides plenty of pep for around-town riding, while features like ABS and a 31.5-inch riding position make it friendlier for around-riding. Plus: it’s cheap, and it’s a Honda, so you know it’s built well.

Engine: 286cc single-cylinder
Horsepower: 31
Torque: 20 lb-ft
Price: $4,949+

Kawasaki Z650 ABS

In the middle-weight naked category, the bikes are so closely matched, any scrutiny requires a microscope. But the Kawasaki is one of the more affordable options compared to its Japanese rivals (even on the ABS model that starts at $7,649), and edges out the competition on styling. The Z650 really shines in mid-range power, though, delivering it right where you need it for passing traffic.

Engine: 649cc parallel-twin
Horsepower: 67
Torque: 49 lb-ft
Price: $7,649+

A Man, His Wife and a Sidecar Adventure

The northern portions of the Pacific Northwest spoil road-trippers when it comes to winding asphalt and inspiring backdrops. If you take the time to poke around, they also boast an impressive array of destinations for foodies on the prowl for new bites. Which also played a large part in my wife insisting she be included my most recent motorcycle adventure. Well, plus the fact we’d be doing it all in a Ural.

I’m a firm believer in the personal connection between man and machine. On every long haul I’ve ridden thus far, I’ve made it a point to suss out a deserving handle for my steed. This time, Carolyn, my wife, was with me. And while she understands my addictions, vehicles, for her, are mainly appliances. That’s why she stunned me a little when she christened our ride before I’d even fired it up. The Moscow Mule would be our home for the next couple of days. Moniker: nailed.

Urals are slow and stubborn but incredibly sure-footed, and can schlep more gear than you (and your significant other) can possibly pack. Thanks to its sidecar, the Siberian-built sleds also buck and yaw with every throttle modulation, which makes it a bit of a workout to keep one reined in.

Of course, the sidecar is what truly endears the Ural to traveling couples, and Carolyn was immediately smitten with its combination of moto-level freedom and car-level comfort. Five minutes in, she chimed in to inform me that the odds of her riding pillion in the future were sinking with each relaxed and comfortable mile.

The first leg of our journey had us heading to Mukilteo to catch a short ferry to Whidbey Island. There’s always something about a water crossing that adds to a journey’s excitement, so I pointed our front wheel towards the Interstate to catch the next ship. Speed and motorcycles typically go hand in hand, but there’s nothing typical about one that weighs 740 pounds, has three wheels and boasts only 41 horses of puff. Mirrors full, we tucked as best we could and chugged our way up to 70 mph. A train of other bikes quickly overtook us the first chance they got, but instead of a series of angry gestures and frowns, we were greeted by a parade of passers all looking our way, noticeably happier in the presence of our Mule.

ural-sidecar-gear-patrol-ambianceural-sidecar-gear-patrol-ambiance

This proved to be the theme of our journey. Motorcycle riders skipped the customary two-finger-salute for a full thumbs up, so we did the same. Cyclists had similar reactions, and almost every motorist, barring a Prius or two (clearly in a hurry to hug a Western White Pine), looked on longingly. We were chatted up at every stop sign and red light, with most of the questions heading Carolyn’s way.

“How comfortable are you in that thing?”

“Very.”

“Do you think my wife would prefer riding in that over this?”

“Definitely.”

“How much legroom do you have?”

“A ton.”

Each time, Carolyn was thanked for her opinion, and the people would proceed to pull alongside us to take one more look and smile before waving goodbye. It really was quite magical. Never in 20 years of riding motorcycles have I experienced so much cordiality. Hell, nobody even raised a fuss when we skirted around a two-hour-long line of cars to board the ferry.

On Whidbey Island, we pulled into the Bayview Farmers Market, nudging the Mule between a VW Camper Van that smelled of fryer oil and a Toyota Corolla clad in “THINGS GO BETTER WITH KALE” bumper stickers. We stuck out a touch. We were headed towards Deception Pass and needed a quick bite and fresh supplies for the journey. Some locally prepared jerky, strawberries that were picked that morning and a few other essentials were packed into the trunk, and we sat down to a delicious plate of Filipino street food. Pancit noodles and lumpia from Julie’s Lumpia Hut are second to none. If you find yourself at the market, wait in the line. It’s worth it.

After passing through Deception Pass and Fidalgo Island, the plan was to do a scouting run for the next day’s activities before dinner and drinks somewhere near Mount Vernon. We had planned stops in both Edison and Samish, but the weather was exceptional, the views epic and the road just too good leave. A quick chat confirmed that our moods aligned, so we left those highlights for the next day and continued on into Bellingham. We arrived at the Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen and were promptly greeted by a chilled growler of award-winning Kolsch, some delicious heirloom tomato gazpacho and a plate full of spicy tuna poke — a perfect late-afternoon snack for two warriors still hungry for road.

And so it continued. Our following day, instead of sleeping in, we made early tracks to ride high into the mountains. The pleasant on-road encounters continued, and we were even chased into Edison by a gentleman on a fully restored vintage Moto Guzzi V7, just so he could say, “Nice bike.” We gorged on bounties at Slough Food and Tweets before a stop in Samish for fresh oysters — shucked on the beach, no less.

I’ve been blessed to ride two wheels through some truly exceptional places. And although I’m always traveling with a group, those journeys are always very much on my own. With a third wheel, proper seating and Carolyn by my side, this ride instantly became a road trip. Communication, even without headsets, was easy. We didn’t need to clunk helmets and fight over sight lines; in a Ural, moments can be shared. And at no point is the fun of a moto adventure watered down; if anything, the quirks and the looks of these bikes brighten the day for you, your passenger and everyone else on the road.

ural-sidecar-gear-patrol-gearural-sidecar-gear-patrol-gear

Having a sidecar-equipped Ural at your disposal will go a long way to convincing your significant other to come ride with you, but it’s certainly not the only way. Spoiling your lady with some expertly crafted, women’s-only moto gear will help her feel not just safe, but, thanks to some flattering cuts, sexy too.

Jacket: Aether Apparel Arrow $995
Pants: Saint CC Women’s Mid Rise Technical Moto Jeans $295
Helmet: Icon Alliance Dark $150
Boots: TCX X-Boulevard Waterproof Boots $150
Gloves: Belstaff Esses Gloves $81

Filson Introduces Motorcycle Gear with the Alcan Collection

Filson makes gear and apparel that is tough and timeless, built for abuse. Features that transfer nicely over to a new category: motorcycle gear. Purpose-built for 2-wheel adventure, their forthcoming Alcan Collection brings Filson’s legacy to the open road. The collection includes pants and a jacket, made of waxed canvas with tough cordura overlays gloves, a tool backpack, a tool roll, and a rebranded Bell helmet. All of it available: July 24, 2020.

These Are the Best Motorcycles We Rode in 2019

Reviewing cars, trucks and motorcycles is a big part of our job here at Gear Patrol. After all, we’re here to tell you about the best products out there, and in order to do that, we need to know ourselves what’s worth considering and what doesn’t deserve a second glance. That means a lot of seat time — both on saddles and in climate-controlled interiors.

Last year, we had the chance to hop in and out of an incredible variety of machines, both two-wheeled and four-wheeled alike. On the former front, the biggest news was the appearance of truly mainstream electric motorcycles, with Zero Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson’s new models fighting it out for EV supremacy. But 2019 also saw the arrival of plenty of other cool bikes, stretching from ADVs to cruisers to a genre-breaking muscle bike from Italy.

Here, we’ve pulled together a list of the best motorcycles we rode last year, to give you a chance to remember the great bikes that 2019 brought in. And expect to see plenty more such reviews here in 2020.

2019 Zero Motorcycles SR/F

“When an electric bike promises cost savings, environmental friendliness and one-of-a-kind thrills, you pay attention. Zero Motorcycles has been at this game for 13 years, outlasting fly-by-night competitors and even impacting Harley-Davidson. The Zero SR/F flies contrary to the hallmarks of classic motorcycling: there’s no engine to purr, no gears to shift, no neutral to pop it into at a light. But any doubts whoosh away the moment you twist the throttle; try going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than two seconds. Green means go, baby.” —Steve Mazzucchi

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire

“The first EV from the Motor Company delivers something few, if any, other manufacturers have managed: a well-rounded, battery-driven two-wheeler that comes with a distinctly formed sense of identity. Thanks to well-executed user interface details and an engaging riding experience, the LiveWire delivers more than you might expect, especially given Harley’s predictable propensity for V-twin-powered thump-a-lump. Say what you will about the hefty MSRP or the charging limitations — the LiveWire manages to surprise and delight enough to make Harley-Davidson’s future look very bright, indeed.” —Basem Wasef

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE

Photo: Sam Bendall

“Scrambler-style motorcycle are jacks-of-all-trades, and like any such compromised proposition, concessions must be made. But in that category, there’s no doubt the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE raises the bar to a new level. It’s not the best on the road — but going in and out of corners, it still inspires more confidence than most other road bikes. It’s not the last word in off-road performance — but it’s more sure-footed than some bikes built specifically for the dirt. The only mistake here is that the company undersold this bike by calling it a “scrambler” when it’s something far greater: a naked ADV.” —Bryan Campbell

2019 Indian FTR 1200

“The FTR 1200 will almost certainly succeed in its goals of opening up new markets for Indian. Sure, it’s a looker, which is imperative when going against the Ducatis and Triumphs of the world. But more importantly, its engine, smooth power delivery, and spectacular balance should tick all boxes with demanding European and Japanese buyers — especially those looking for an American bike that delivers on its promises.” —Nicolas Stetcher

2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

“The Hypermotard manages to be more focused than ever on comfort and user-friendliness, without sacrificing any of the engaging personality that made it so groundbreaking when it first debuted. It’s a delicate balance, especially considering how motorcycles can easily tip into becoming annoying or anodyne when their winning formula is messed with. The latest Hypermotard isn’t everything to everybody, especially if you’re looking for a long-distance bike that carries saddlebags. But for an undeniably fun bike to ride that’s more than just an urban runabout, Ducati’s latest iteration of the Hyper is just about ideal.” —Basem Wasef

2019 Indian Chieftain Limited

“From a pure performance standpoint, the Chieftain is a dream on the highway. I took it on a 500-mile weekend roundtrip to central Pennsylvania, and it devoured the distance, even negotiating an unexpected stretch of climbing up a gravel off-road path. The bike feels super-stable, even when surrounded by wind-shearing semis. And the V-twin engine paired with a six-speed transmission is smooth and responsive — to the point where you can easily hit 90 miles per hour without noticing just how fast you’re going.” —Steve Mazzucchi

2019 Ducati Diavel 1260S Review

Photo: M. Neundorf & C. Merey

“The Ducati Diavel 1260S does so much more than raise eyebrows when parked. It’s comfortable enough to handle extended touring trips, nimble enough to hang with supersports in the twisty bits and isn’t fazed by the confines of city life. The new Diavel 1260S is a unique motorcycle that offers a visceral, athletic riding experience — one that, quite simply, needs to be sampled to be understood.” —Matt Neundorf

Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

The Motorcycle Helmet You Deserve Is $280 Off, But You Need to Act Fast

There are plenty of purchases in life where you can justify settling for “good enough,” but a motorcycle helmet shouldn’t be one of them. After all, this is a piece of gear that’s designed to protect the single most valuable part of your body from the potentially-lethal impacts and forces that can occur when your simple, mortal body goes flying off a bike at highway speeds and into a solid object: it’s not a place to cheap out.

Which is why you deserve a great lid like Bell’s Star MIPS Torsion Helmet. This low-profile motorcycle helmet meets or does better than Snell M2015 and DOT safety certifications, thanks to features like its Aramid, carbon fiber and fiberglass construction. Yet it’s also surprisingly comfortable and usable, with a Panovision viewport for good visibility, eyewear arm pockets in the liner that let you wear glasses with it more easily, and built-in speaker pockets for pairing it with your radio or smartphone.

Best of all, this Bell is a steal right now. Normally, this helmet would cost you more than $500, but thanks to RevZilla’s sale pricing right now, you can grab it for 53 percent off the usual price. These sales don’t last forever, though, so snap up this lid while you can.

Save $100 on This Limited-Edition Commuter Bike

Priority Bicycles x Gear Patrol Commuter BikePriority Bicycles x Gear Patrol Commuter Bike

The Gear Patrol Commuter, made in tandem with Priority Bicycles, was inspired by — and tested on — the streets of New York City. Streamlined for your everyday grind, it a pairs a durable, easy-to-maintain feature set with an understated colorway you won’t find anywhere else. Buy Now: $899 $799

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Save Up to 50% Off These Stylish Bell Helmets, But Act Fast

Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you need to roll your motorcycle back into the garage. There’s still plenty of time to hit the road and ride. Which means there’s no reason to wait to invest in one of those new helmets you’ve had your eye on for a while now.

And isn’t it your lucky day: Right now, RevZilla is offering big savings on Bell helmets equipped with Roland Sands Design liveries, with some on sale for as much as 50% off. These helmets bring all the trademark protection and security you’d expect from a legendary name like Bell, but with the retro cool brought to the table by motorcycle racer-turned-bike builder-and-accessorizer Roland Sands. A good motorcycle helmet deal is usually sure to perk any rider up — but being able to grab lids with these fresh looks for hundreds of dollars off sticker, well, that’s better than your morning coffee. Still, don’t wait too long; like any good sale, these bargains won’t be around forever. Besides, it will eventually get too cold to ride.


SRT Modular RSD Newport Helmet by Bell $400 $320

 

Race Star RSD Formula Helmet by Bell $750 $375

 

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Biltwell Gringo S ECE Helmet ($220)
DMD Seventyfive ($210)
Schuberth C4 Spark ($400)
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Review: An Icon, Reborn

Brand: Harley-Davidson
Product: Low Rider S
Powertrain: 114-cubic-inch V-twin, six-speed belt drive transmission; 119 pound-feet of torque
Price: $17,999+
From: harley-davidson.com

There’s no denying Harley-Davidson’s importance to the world of motorcycling. Despite faltering sales of late, they still command the lion’s share of the North American market, and every move they make draws attention and scrutiny. With their recent foray into battery power (the LiveWire) and a stated commitment to exploring turf not currently populated by Bar-and-Shield logos, Harley-Davidson is clearly aiming to maintain its prominence by reaching new demographics.

But what about the riders already bleeding orange and black? Do these moves mean Harley-Davidson is willing to sacrifice the faithful audience that’s built their current empire? Not a chance. In fact, Harley’s getting better at what they already do best. Case in point: the 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S.

What We Like

There’s a reason why H-D’s official name is The Harley-Davidson Motor Company. The 45-degree, 114 cubic-inch, Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin engine powering the Low Rider S is a monstrous lump of noise and torque. Throttle response is smooth and intuitive; with barely a half-rotation of the grip, there’s more than enough grunt to surge away from damn near anything.

Displacing nearly two liters (1,869cc) of space, there’s 119 pound-feet of twist available from a mere 3,000 rpm. That not only turns on-ramps into drag strips, but makes powering through the canyons an absolute blast. With such a grunty mill, you rarely need worry about downshifting to set up a corner or pop out to pass slower-moving vehicles. Vibrations can get a bit heavy when you crest 5,500 rpm, but an upshift cures that.

And then, of course, there’s the sound. I don’t worship at the church of “loud pipes save lives”, but there’s really nothing else like the rumble of a Harley V-Twin. At idle, sure, it’s a loping potato-potato affair, but between 3,200 and 4,500 rpm, the Low Rider S bellows gruff Americana. Combine that with the silhouette the Low Rider S throws, and it makes a strong argument for the “live to ride, ride to live” mindset.

Much of the credit for the Low Rider’s greatness goes to its Softail architecture. The hard-bits beneath are both stiffer and lighter than the outgoing Dyna frame, so handling is more communicative on the 2020 Low Rider S (which shall heretofore be referred to as the LRS).

The suspension has been upgraded, too. Up front, the LRS rides on a set of inverted 43mm Showa internal-cartridge forks; in the rear, there’s a preload-adjustable coilover shock. Running through the kinks that pervade the Laguna Mountains outside of San Diego, the LRS felt planted, stable and hungry for more. It doesn’t take long to hit the 30.1-degree lean angle limits; thankfully the pegs aren’t rigid-mounted. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this bike flickable, but a reduction in rake geometry (from 30 degrees to 28), certainly makes tossing all 680 pounds of bike to-and-fro an easy affair at speed.

The brakes don’t feel affected by that weight, either. A twin set of four-piston Nissin calipers hug discs at either side of the 19-inch bronze mag in the front end, and two-fingers of pull are often enough to reign things in. The back brake is but a single-unit, two-piston affair, but I applaud Harley’s engineers for their pedal placement. Often on cruisers, that actuator sits too high, so you either need to contort your right leg to get things right or you end up applying more whoa! than needed (or you just ignore the back brake altogether). That just isn’t the case at all here, which comes in handy (pun intended) during spirited riding. And if you do happen to get a little overanxious, know that ABS is standard at both ends.

From the 26.5-inch-high saddle, there’s definitely a reach to the wide, elevated bars. It’s part of the look for the LRS, and if you’re unfamiliar with that riding posture, it can feel a bit unnerving at first. It’ll also wear on even the most seasoned Bar-and-Shield veterans after a while. My lower back and tailbone started to complain after about an hour’s worth of riding; that said, the seat itself is plush, supportive and well-shaped to keep you from shooting off the back when you crack the throttle.

Watch Out For

From the riding position, the speedo is barely perceptible, while the tach may as well have been left in Milwaukee. For aesthetic reasons, the gauge cluster is housed in a center-stack mounted on the fuel tank, well out of sight. You need to take your eyes off the road to search for information –a form-over function design decision that seems  especially dumb when you spot the slab of empty black plastic above the four-inch risers, behind the nacelle.

Also, Harley-Davidson has recently developed a suite of electronic rider aids. The system, which they’ve dubbed RDRS (Reflex Defensive Rider Systems), features a Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU) that regulates both the traction control, linked braking and ABS in cornering situations; there’s also a baked-in Drag Torque Slip Control feature that acts like an advanced slipper-clutch to smooth downshifts. This is the technology critics of the brand have been asking for for years, yet RDRS doesn’t come on the Low Rider S — or any of H-D’s cruisers.

Other Options

Most of the competition for the Low Rider S comes from the same dealer floor. The Fat Bob 114 ($18,849+) and FXDR 114 ($21,349+) both offer the same incredible engine in a performance-minded package. If you wanted something a little more in tune with boulevard cruising, the standard Low Rider does that for $3,100 less than the S.

That being said, there are other performance cruisers out there. Interested parties should check out the Indian Chief Dark Horse ($18,499.00+), Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S. ($15,199+)  and Ducati Diavel 1260S ($20,395+).

Verdict

With the new Low Rider S, Harley-Davidson has created a better-handling, more powerful take on one of their most iconic bikes from the now-defunct Dyna era. It has more than enough style and substance to keep the dyed-in-the-wool faithful foaming at the mouth, but should also be on the radar for cruiser riders looking for a bike that rewards hard use.

The Low Rider S is a cruiser to be sure — but boulevards be damned, it was designed with these canyon roads in mind. The Dyna is dead. Long live the Low Rider S.

Harley-Davidson provided this product for review.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Harley-Davidson Rolls Out Pan America Adventure Bike

The forthcoming Pan America is Harley-Davidson’s first ever adventure bike. Like all hogs, it is powered by a V-twin. A liquid-cooled Revolution Max 1,250 cc engine to be exact. Any similarities to a normal Harley end right there. Brembo built the braking system, Michelin developed the tires specifically for the bike. It’s a departure. Built for departures. Big ones. The Pan America will hit HD dealership floors sometime in mid 2020.

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Soiatti Moto Classiche 1971 BSA A65 Thunderbolt Restomod

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The Most Important New Motorcycles and Riding Gear of 2019

This roundup is part of This Year in Gear, a look back at the year’s most notable releases. To stay on top of all the latest product news, subscribe to our daily Dispatch newsletter.

Aether Divide Jacket

Price: $996
From: aetherapparel.com

Aether is renowned for making some of the finest riding apparel money can buy; their Divide jacket builds upon that reputation by incorporating user feedback about past gear, which means bigger pockets and a sealed Gore-Tex liner. (And a steeper price tag…but, y’know, can’t have everything.)

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AJP PR7 Rally

Price: $9,995+
From: motoajp.com

Odds are good you’ve never heard of AJP, but it’s high time you correct that. The small Portuguese-based motorcycle maker’s new adventure bike, the PR7, is a delightful blend of off-road capability and all-around usability — at a price that’s easy to digest.

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Bell SRT Cousteau Helmet

Price: $220
From: revzilla.com

Snapping up a helmet adorned with artwork by Nuno Henriques — better known by his handle Hello Cousteau — has traditionally been fairly difficult, given the rarity of his works. Now, however, he’s partnered with Bell to bring his designs to the masses.

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Blacktrack Motors BT-03

Price: $P.O.R.
From: blacktrackmotors.com

Believe it or not, there’s a Harley-Davidson Fatbob underneath all that sexy sheetmetal. But Luxemburg-based Blacktrack Motors has turned one of Milwaulkee’s old-school rides into something new and distinctively fresh.

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Harley-Davidson Bronx

Price: $TBD
From: harley-davidson.com

The Bronx is Harley’s new streetfighter, a lean machine packing a 975-cc version of H-D’s Revolution Max engine that spits out more than 115 horses and 70 lb-ft of torque. We won’t know how much it costs until it goes on sale next year, but we can ogle it now.

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Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Price: $29,799+
From: harley-davidson.com

The LiveWire may well be the most important machine in Harley-Davidson’s long history —  an all-electric motorcycle with looks that could kill, fast-charging capabilities and more than 100 miles of range. Future, thy name is Harley.

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Harley-Davidson Low Rider S

Price: $17,999+
From: harley-davidson.com.com

The Harley Low Rider S proves that the company still knows how to make some sweet ol’-fashioned knuckle-draggers. In case there was any doubt.

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Harley-Davidson Pan America

Price: $TBD
From: harley-davidson.com

The Pan America may not be as big a deal as the LiveWire, but it still represents a big first for Harley: it’s the brand’s first ADV. Built with a little help from the likes of Brembo and Michelin, this powerful adventure bike is set to tear up roads and trails alike in 2020.

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Honda CB1100 RS 5Four

Price: ~$20,748
From: hondaengineroom.com

Like what you see here? Too bad — this tribute to the enduro bikes of the ’80s is only on sale in the U.K., and only in extremely limited numbers. Just 54 will be made, each at a tall price…but you’re sure to get a lot of looks when you ride down the street.

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Indian Challenger

Price: $21999+
From: indianmotorcycle.com

This giant Indian comes with practically every feature you could imagine wanting on a bike (and probably a few you never even considered wanting). Sure, the price tag is in line with a decent car, but would you rather have a decent car…or an insane motorcycle?

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Kawasaki KLX 230R and KLX 300R

Price: $4,599+
From: kawasaki.com

Kawasaki’s pair of new dirt bikes are, in a nutshell, the epitome of affordable outdoor fun. They’re taut, they’re light, they’re cheap —  and they only come in lime green.

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Lego Creator Expert Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Building Set

Price: $100
From: harley-davidson.com

Legos have usually been seen as toys for kids. Harleys are often viewed as toys for grown-ups. Bring ’em together, and you’ve got a toy for everyone.

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Moto Guzzi V85 TT

Price: $12,990+
From: motoguzzi.com

Moto Guzzi’s new ADV seems tailor-made to give Triumph and its Scrambler 1200 a competitor in the realm of off-beat adventure motorcycles. If you’re looking for retro-styled fun on pavement and dirt alike, the V85 TT is worth a look.

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Roeg Peruna Helmet

Price: ~$271
From: getroeg.com

Dutch brand Roeg’s Peruna helmet may look like it’s from the ’70s, but it’s very much a modern-day lid, what with its strong, lightweight fiberglass shell and face hole large enough for 21st Century goggles.

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Sotera Advanced Active Safety Helmet

doucet motorcycle helmet concept future safety gear patroldoucet motorcycle helmet concept future safety gear patrol

Price: $N/A
From: joedoucet.com

You can’t buy Joe Doucet’s Sotera helmet, unfortunately — it’s just a design concept for the time being. But with its color-changing shell designed to let other riders and drivers know where you are and what you’re doing, we can hope somebody takes this idea and runs with it.

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Triumph Rocket 3

Price: $21,990+
From: triumphmotorcycles.com

Triumph’s new muscle bike packs the largest motorcycle engine ever to hit the streets: a 2,500-cc triple that makes 165 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. It also looks, in a word, badass.

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Triumph Tiger 900

Price: $12,500+
From: triumphmotorcycles.com

The Tiger 900 line of adventure bikes come in several trims, but all these Triumphs have something in common: they want to get dirty and play around — which makes us want to do the same.

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Yamaha Ténéré 700

Price: $9,999
From: yamahamotorsports.com

Yamaha’s new middleweight desert rally adventure bike is not only a stunningly capable machine for weekend riders; it’s also an incredibly affordable machine for what it is.

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Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Death Machines Of London Built a Samurai Streetfighter

Death Machines Of London has a cool name and they build wild bikes like this one, called Kenzo. Hard to believe it’s a 1977 Honda Gold Wing underneath the handmade aluminum paneling,  precision 3D printed parts, & composites, but it really is. So even though it looks like a street-fighting Samurai, it will ride like Grandpa’s Cadillac.

There’s a Massive Sale on One of Our Favorite Helmet Brands Right Now

Fall may be here and winter closing in quickly, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it based on the climate across much of America these days. Skiiers may not be stoked about that, but motorcycle riders sure are. And if this added burst of nice riding weather has you stoked to hit the road every chance you can before the snow flies, then why not take this chance to grab a new Arai helmet for up to 60 percent off at RevZilla’s closeout sale?

The sale covers a wide spectrum of Arai’s high-quality lids, with numerous colorways, liveries and styles to choose from. Helmets for both off-road and on-road riders are up for grabs, with several versions of Arai’s VX Pro for the former and plenty of variants of the DT-X (as well as examples of the Signet-X and Quantum-X) for the latter, all for hundreds of dollars less than you’d pay at the store.

We’ve culled a few of our favorites below, but if you don’t see anything you like here, hit up RevZilla’s site directly to peruse all the options up for grabs.

VX Pro 4 Bogle Helmet by Arai $750 $390

DT-X Helmet by Arai $600 $400

Quantum-X Sting Helmet by Arai $830 $450

DT-X Edwards Legend Helmet by Arai $740 $400

VX Pro 4 Dazzle Helmet by Arai $750 $300

DT-X Pace Helmet by Arai $730 $400
Gear Patrol also recommends:
Bell Eliminator Helmet ($400)
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet ($486)
Bell Bullitt Helmet ($400)
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

‘We’re Full-On Petrolheads:’ A Talk With Norton Motorcycle CEO Stuart Garner

When Stuart Garner bought the rights to Norton Motorcycles in 2009, the famed British brand had been bouncing around between owners since the 1950s. Since then, the brand has slowly but surely grown its portfolio of bikes, expanding from the Commando 961 that relaunched it a decade ago into a range of 10 models and submodels that stretch from the scrambler-like Atlas Ranger to the screaming high-performance V4 RR.

Norton’s newfound solid footing and steady expansion have done more than bring the brand back to prominence in the minds of motorcycle riders; it’s also helped the brand find new partners to work with that elevate its status further. In March, the motorcycle maker announced the fruits of a partnership with famed watchmaker Breitling: the Breitling Sport, a limited-edition motorcycle designed in conjunction with the timekeeping company.

Gear Patrol sat down with him in Breitling‘s New York showroom to discuss Norton‘s partnership with the watch brand, the changing face of motorcycle owners — and why he’ll never ride an electric motorcycle.

Q: How did this partnership come about?
A: Breitling called us. It was quite clear that Georges [Kern, Breitling ‘s CEO] and Breitling wanted to reposition [the brand] a little bit. We got a call to say, they were looking at different partnerships, with air, land and sea; they saw motorcycles as a great extension of land, [so] would we be interested? And what a brand Breitling is, with all the racing over the years with the Bentley relationship. And we said, we’d love to be a part of it.

And it was super-cool; they actually sent a couple of guys over to live with us for a few days, to check us out, to make sure that we were genuine. A lot of companies would just say, “Yep, sign that,” take a cheesy picture, and we’ve got a partnership. They actually came out and put the legwork in. And then we went back to see them, in their hometown. So we got to know each other before we ever did anything.

And both teams care about the products. When we went to look at how do you design a watch, how do you make a watch…the parallels were unbelievable. They start with a sketch in the design brief, then that goes to manufacturing, et cetera, et cetera. But all the time, with Breitling knowing where that watch is going to be positioned and what it needs to be, going through design and drawing through to engineering and manufacturing, exactly the same process as a motorcycle. So not only did we have some historic brand parallel, and a very strong, customer-focused pair of brands, we also had some really strong parallels in the way that we designed and manufactured.

When Georges and I chat, we totally focus on really cool, exclusive product, but [having it be] available in an inclusive way. The product’s exclusive, but everybody that’s interested is included. And its exclusivity in an inclusive way. And there’s not many brands that can capture that; you’re either super-inclusive and you’re mainstream, or it’s super-exclusive and it’s almost…there’s a bit of an arrogance, it’s just a bit stuffy, know?

And I think Breitling sees that, if you’re into your watches, you’re into your watches, and you deserve to be looked after and treated well, regardless of who you may be or how you may conduct yourself. And we do the same at Norton; it’s all about the motorbike. Whether you’re a guy cleaning the roads or a judge or a barrister, if you’re into your bikes, you’re into your bikes, and you’re very welcome at Norton.

Q: Norton’s been around for, what, 10 years now?
A: I bought it in October 2008.

Q: Back from the dead, basically. How has that been?
A: Oh, it’s been a huuuuge adventure.

Q: That’s a polite way of putting it. [laughs]
A: I would never do it again. Never ever. I would never not do it; I’m super glad I did it, but I’d never do another one. I think the pressure of a historically huge brand like Norton, bringing it back in the digital age — with websites and social media, Instagram, Facebook — you have so many people that know and follow the brand, from yesteryear that have a view, et cetera. And then so many people that see the brand for the first time today, in the last 10 years, you have to be so careful to respect the brand and respect all of the owners, whether they’re really old guys back from the `60s and `70s, or whether it’s a new owner from today. And that gives you kind of a very tight…margin for error, if you like, in the way that you bring the brand forwards and how inclusive you have to be to bring forwards the rider and owner from 1970 and also the rider and owner from 2019.

Q: How do you do that?
A: Ultimately, it’s all about the motorbike. Which is why we have great commonality with Georges and Breitling. But being about the motorbike and respecting the brand…it kind of finds its own way. You have to be almost less corporate and less restrictive; in a bizarre way, Norton finds its own way [all by] itself.

Q: It’s a little bit of a Field of Dreams thing. If you build it, they will come.
A: A hundred percent. On day one, when I purchased the brand, I looked back to 1898, and saw what Norton was doing. And I made a brand timeline, with the start being 1898 and the end being where I stood. And I kind of metaphorically looked over my shoulder, back to 1898, followed all those touchpoints to today, and then turned back and looked forwards. You kind of feel the brand behind you, pushing you in a direction. And somehow, it became very obvious: that’s the way the brand has to go. The weight of the brand behind you is telling you which way to go with it, and I think you would only get that if you’re into your bikes, and you understood, if you build it, they will come.

If you’re into your bikes, you go, “If I had a bike brand, I’d do that.” And if you’re an accountant, you’d look at the balance sheet, and make sure my materials were profitable and I had a good margin. We didn’t give a shit about that. It was about building a nice motorcycle. We didn’t do it to be wealthy. We did it to bring the brand back. And as a biker, we just wanted to make cool bikes. We got the brand right, but we only got the brand right because we built what we thought was the bike we all wanted.

Q: What would you say makes a Norton a Norton?
A: When we design it, we say, you need to take a little bit of your history, and bring that forwards to the next bike. but also you need to break a little bit of fresh ground, otherwise, it’s just same-old-same-old. We say, you need to see a bit of old in the new, and you need to see a bit of new. And the acid test for us is to take the name off the motorbike and be able to identify the bike from the silhouette and the visual. When we’ve done that, we know we’ve gotten the design right.

But there’s a heck of a lot that goes into understanding all of that. We go and do all of the motorcycle shows ourselves; we all ride bikes, we’ve all got our finger on what the next trend is, what other manufacturers are doing. And when you stand there and do the motorcycle shows, there’s nothing as honest and blunt as a motorcyclist. If you’ve got it wrong, they will kill you. In a very nice way: “Boys, that’s shit.”

I have a theory: If you’ve been a lifetime on your motorbike, it will have broken down; you’ll be out in the rain and get super-wet; you’ll be in a crash, somebody in a car will knock you off. You have to have some humility. It knocks away your ego and your arrogance. And as you design the bike and look to speak to bikers, if you are one and you understand that, you realize, you don’t need bullshit. Just do it honestly, and as you would expect as a customer and an owner and a rider. That’s been our biggest lesson, just keeping it about the bike.

Q: Who do you admire in the motorcycle space right now?
A: I think over in India, Royal Enfield are doing very well. Not particularly in the big bike space, but as a brand, the last few years, phenomenal how they’ve come forwards. I think Indian have done a great job, with the guys positioning the brand into Harley, bringing out the FTR and some of their new models. Polaris has done a great job in buying that brand. Very brave to close Victory, and then go pretty full-on with Indian. Very, very brave decision by corporate to close a company that had strong revenue overnight and go, “Right, we’ve got Indian.” Super-brave, I couldn’t believe it. But they’ve proven to be absolutely right.

I think the industry in some ways is in a little bit of trouble, because the dynamic of the industry is changing. What motorcyclists want is changing. Everybody’s chased big bikes, horsepower and stats, and I think you see the retro, the coolness and the simplicity coming back. And I think some brands probably aren’t as prepared for that as they should be. I think lifestyle is going to become more of a factor; lifestyle of the brand, of the bike. If you buy a Norton, or a Harley, or an Indian, it’s a lifestyle proposition. It’s not about the numbers. And we continually, as a society, are becoming more brand- and lifestyle-driven. I think some of the Japanese brands will struggle to do lifestyle; they’re big volume guys, and they do big volume brilliantly like nobody else can. But equally, lifestyle proposition is difficult for some of those guys. So I think some of the smaller niche brands have probably got a strong future in the next few years, as it feels like that’s where the market’s going. Who knows. I hope I’m right! That’s where we’re headed.

It feels like that’s where the market’s going. There’s a few demographic changes; in the U.K., lady riders are the fastest-growing demographic. And we see 40-, 50-, 60-year-olds coming to bikes for the first time. They didn’t have a bike when they were 18 or 20, they didn’t have a bike, ever! And now they’re going, “Hey, that looks cool.” And they’re buying a motorcycle and taking their test for the first time.

There’s starting to become a coolness about having a motorcycle. Not in a Harley-Davidson way, where you’re foot-first, and you’ve got your tassels and your hells angels — it’s not in that way. It’s the coolness of having a ride out with your friends. I see the first signs of motorcycling becoming a nice, well-to-do pastime, where for a long time, it’s been kind of frowned-upon. It’s noisy, it’s loud, anti-social; motorcycles have carried that stigma, but I can see that changing a little bit. Maybe it’s already changed and we’re past that already.

And it would be a great thing if that happens, because it would kind of clean up the industry, in a way. Give the industry a nicer feel and a bit better reputation. ‘Cause, well, that stuff goes back to the 60s, when they were doing cafe racers, y’know? And fighting guys on scooters. 60 years ago.

Q: How do you see technology changing the motorcycle experience?
A: A motorcyclist is just about the purest petrolhead you can find. So…if you enjoy your big V8 or your V12, you probably don’t want to kill that with technology. And that’s not an [anti-] electric vehicle statement…you don’t want endless traction control and a Tiptronic gearbox. You want a manual. You want traction control off. You wanna drive the car. Motorcycling is about the purest form of speed. In essence, you sit on an engine with wheels. So there’s an element where, if you’re on a track bike, and you want your rider aids and your anti-wheelie and launch control, we have that — we have all that at Norton, and it takes the bike into a level of performance that you pretty well gotta be a professional rider to maximize and enjoy. We see a lot of our guys and girls, they want the rawness of motorcycling. It’s almost an escape from technology.

And I think one of the reasons why some of the retro bikes are super-cool and coming back, the simplicity of riding a 1950s, `60s, `70s bike is so refreshing! I’ve not got the digital screen; I’ve got four gears. It’s so easy, and it’s not fast, so it’s enjoyable. It doesn’t feel dangerous, because I’m not going that fast. The simplicity of riding the bike means I’ve got more mind space to enjoy the ride more. I think there’s a place for technology in the sports bike market, primarily for track days, and maybe some of the cruisers just to make long rides a bit more comforting. But general motorcycling, I think, is everything technology isn’t. Because it’s about that free spirit, the wind in your face — you know.

We’re not technology-driven at Norton. We have it — bristling on our V4 bike, it’s all over — but if you ask me what’s my favorite bike, it’s my 1950s 500cc single. It’s just so easy to ride. You get on it, and off you go. Beautifully simple.

Q: Have you tried riding any of the EV bikes that are coming out?
A: Man, I don’t wanna do something that’ll make me turn in my grave in years to come. No, I’ve not.

I think…y’know, we all want to leave the planet better than we found it. We’re learning that now. We didn’t know this shit 30, 40, 50 years ago. We’ve obliviously kinda destroyed sections of the planet. I don’t think anyone would say that’s a good thing, or that they’ve enjoyed it. And we all want to do the right thing. But…I think the technology hasn’t shown itself yet, for cars or motorbikes. Full electric, to me, doesn’t seem to be the correct way for cars. and certainly doesn’t work for motorbikes. It works for A-to-B, short mobility, for a motorcycle. It works, for sure, off-road, in a 20-30 minute competition, motocrossing or similar; you’ve got less noise, it’s less anti-social; probably cruising, where you can have a bigger battery, that probably works. But general motorcyclists, battery-limited performance, limited range — the concept doesn’t work at all.

When you come away from the concept and the practicality of it, when you start your bike, what’s the first thing you do? Put your key in, start the bike, rah, rah — you give it a couple revs! Motorbiking’s all about the visceral experience. It’s not just about the speed or the look, it’s the whole package. The sight, the smell, the noise. And an electric bike doesn’t give that visceral experience that a combustion engine does.

And I think we’re kind of playing with fire if we all move over to electric. It could ruin the industry. And it might be different in a couple of generations, when we haven’t experienced the smell of two-stroke and the noise of V8s or a big V4 screaming along, or a 500 single. But at the moment, I think if we move too quickly, we risk losing some bikers. And you might see some of the old retros just become everlasting, just because nobody wants to go electric.

And, y’know — it’s interesting, isn’t it, the planet thing? I think we need to find solutions that work commercially, that are commercially viable and sustainable, and not forced upon industries. And I do have concerns about the electric market and emissions being forced upon the motorcycle market by politicians. And in some instances, I don’t think it’s suitable. And I wouldn’t like to see an industry and jobs ruined because of this EV push. I think if we’re sensible, there are categories and sectors where it could work, and there are categories and sectors where it won’t work. But as yet, I don’t think we’ve found the solution.

We’re probably at the front end of looking at hybrid. So far as I know, nothing’s being launched or delivered in a hybrid motorcycle, but if anybody can crack hybrid…you could be zero emissions in town, because everybody wants that, but have full combustion engine out of town. And I think maybe there’s a compromise there, where the industry could move forwards and have a really sustainable, valuable product.

As a small company like Norton…we can’t afford to be the first mover, to break new technology. We can’t risk putting our investment into a technology that might be the wrong one. So we’ve gotta look to see which technology is gonna be industry standard and adopted, and then move to get behind it. But for now, we’re full-on petrolheads, and fully committed to motorbikes as we all know them.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Tarform Electric Motorcycles Wheelie Toward 100% Green Mobility

Designed & built in Brooklyn, startup electric bike builder Tarform has created a futuristic urban assault bike with a clean, minimalist design. There are currently few details on performance, power, or specs but the brand is talking about integrating machine learning, AI, and bio-materials into the build. The bikes are currently in pre-order phase with an estimated street date of late 2019.

Zero Motorcycles is Bringing Their Flagship Adventure Bike To the USA

For 2020, California-based electric motorcycle maker Zero is introducing the formerly EU-only Black Forest DSR Adventure Bike to the global market. Powered by a silent 14.4 kWh electric motor, it features a whole range of adventure essentials, and lockable cases for ample on-board storage. Numbers. A range of 82 miles in the city & 39 on the freeway; top speed 98mph.

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2019 Indian Chieftain Limited Review: More Bike Than You Need, In the Best Way

It’s kinda hard to remember now, but there was a time before the internet. Back then, when you didn’t know something, you couldn’t just look it up. You went with your gut, or you stalled, or you b.s.-ed your way through; in effect, you felt your way to a functional sense of reality.

Coincidentally, if my childhood memories serve, those pre-internet days were also a time when majestic cruiser motorcycles seemed to rule the road. Why “coincidentally,” you ask? Because I’m writing this review of the 2019 Indian Chieftain Limited while wedged into a cramped seat on a cross-country flight, in a plane that — despite prior assurances to the contrary — lacks WiFi.

So what you’re about to get is a pre-internet-style review of the bike I’ve spent the past month riding, featuring a heavy reliance on gut feelings — but that just might get us closer to the truth.

First Impressions: Let’s start with a few facts about the Chieftain line, courtesy of the press kit I downloaded before my trip. This year marks a full redesign of the series that launched to much acclaim in 2013. Highlights include more aggressive lines, ultra-bright full LED lighting, three ride modes (touring, standard and sport), a 100-watt premium audio system and a low-slung stance with more than four inches of rear suspension travel.

Of course, none of those notions ran through my head when I picked the bike up from a dealership in Connecticut and rode it back to Manhattan. No, when I first laid eyes on this Ruby Metallic machine, all I could think was: she’s big and she’s beautiful.

That said, the dry weight of this bike is 795 pounds — a good 300 more than my daily rider, a 2014 Triumph Bonneville T-100. So I was maybe just a bit intimidated, too. But the moment I pushed the power button and a big swirl of animated smoke unveiled the Indian logo on the 7.0-inch touchscreen, I felt stoked.

I paired the sound system with my phone, queued up a classic rock station on Pandora and hit the (keyless) ignition switch, and the Chieftain quite literally roared to life. I blasted onto the highway to the strains of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” Old-school tunes for a throwback-style ride, if you will.

The Good: From a pure performance standpoint, the Chieftain is a dream on the highway. I took it on a 500-mile weekend roundtrip to central Pennsylvania, and it devoured the distance, even negotiating an unexpected stretch of climbing up a gravel off-road path. The bike feels super-stable, even when surrounded by wind-shearing semis. And the V-twin engine paired with a six-speed transmission is smooth and responsive — to the point where you can easily hit 90 miles per hour without noticing just how fast you’re going.

I’ve ridden other big, somewhat similar bikes, including Harley-Davidson’s Heritage Softail, where the shifts can best be described as “clunky.” Meanwhile, the Chieftain’s casually flickable gear-shift peg and ample torque make for lively, borderline-effortless acceleration. The anti-lock brakes are another strength, allowing gradual deceleration without panic, along with the ability to quickly cut speed without, um, skid marks of any kind.

Even at high speeds, both the handlebar and touchscreen controls are quite user-friendly. On the handlebars, you can skip songs, adjust volume and pause music, all via one left-hand switch. Its counterpart on the right side lets you do something even cooler: raise and lower the windshield a few inches, so you can alternately savor your music or soak up the breeze.

Meanwhile, the glove-friendly touchscreen lets you do even more: switch up the music, change the riding mode, view a full-screen map of where you’re headed and monitor diagnostics; for example, it alerts you when you need gas, asking if you’d like to locate a station. It even lets you know if, say, your rear tire pressure is low. A split-screen view allows you to multi-task at a glance.

But back to the aforementioned music. Indian upgraded its stock audio system for the Chieftain series. Separating the tweeters from the mid-range speakers amps up the output and clarity, while a customizable dynamic equalizer actually adjust frequencies to compensate for road, wind and engine noise. All I noticed is that it’s pretty damn loud, especially when zipping around the city. The music only gets choppy when you go over 75 miles per hour with the windshield down.

Bonus: the infotainment is separate from the engine power, so you can pull up, cut the motor and keep on rocking while you dismount and compose yourself. And did I mention the volume goes to 11? No, really — it does.

Watch Out For: All that said, I do have a few issues with this bike. One is more substantive than the others: the built-in navigation system is a nightmare. The mapping’s not bad, but we’re all so accustomed to using our phones and their intuitive apps to get around. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are clearly where car and motorcycle nav systems should be headed.

This bike is nowhere close to that. Instead, I spent valuable minutes entering addresses that it often could not locate. It literally couldn’t find my apartment; I resorted to entering the name of a nearby flower shop to get home. At one point, after visiting friends in New Jersey, I just wanted to get some gas and cash from an ATM before hitting the road. The nav system, in turn, took me to two banks that were not banks and a crumbling gas station that had clearly been shuttered for years. I ended up playing my phone’s navigation through the speakers to get where I needed to go.

I do love the Chieftain’s storage capacity; it has two large saddlebags, plus a handy little slot above the touchscreen that’s great for connecting/charging your phone and stashing a bit of tollbooth cash. But on several occasions, I found the saddlebags difficult to lock. You have to push down on them in just the right way so they click into place, then hit the lock button on the key fob. I was always able to get them to lock, but it often took a few tries, which isn’t ideal.

One other issue: I’m maybe 5-foot-8 on a good day, and more than once, depending what angle I parked the bike at, the kickstand could be tricky to fully reach and pull back. I would have to sit way up on the seat, carefully lean the bike to the right and then strain my left leg to reach and disengage it. So if you’re sized closer to Kevin Hart than The Rock, you may have issues.

On a somewhat related note, this bike is definitely a challenge to ride around the city. While it excels on open roads, steering around obstacles at slow speeds, heck, even parking, I needed maximum focus to avoid dumping the bike in the middle of Fifth Avenue. But you know you’re getting nitpicky when you’re knocking a bike’s performance in an area it’s not really designed for; is any bike this size designed for the controlled chaos of New York City?

Alternatives: Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special ($27,699+); Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ($16,799+); Honda Gold Wing ($23,800+)

Verdict: You’ve got all the info you need to decide if this bike’s for you, but I’m still 600 miles from Seattle. So I’ll add two more things.

First, if you can’t tell from the photos and description, the Chieftain is sexy AF, as the kids say. From the styling to the paint job to the sound system to the rumbling engine, it turns heads in and out of the city and puts huge smiles on the faces of passengers and passersby alike. (At one point, I was sitting at a traffic light on Bleecker Street, and a guy just walked over and hugged the faring.) Beauty is a little tougher to quantify than engine size, but man, does it count for a lot.

Second, one of the last times I rode the Chieftain, I was cruising the Westside Highway around 10 p.m. on a weeknight, bopping to The Revivalists’ “Wish I Knew You,” when I pulled up behind an ambulance at a red light. Standing up for a break, I could see inside, where an EMT sat next to a man on a gurney with a ghostly pallor. He had clearly seen better days. I felt bad for the dude. I was also reminded that the clock’s ticking for all of us, and we’ve gotta make the most of the time we have.

The light turned green. I took one last look at the guy and said a little prayer for him. Then I cranked up the music, and started kicking through the gears as I sped around the ambulance, reveling in the music and feeling the wind rush past me. Life is just too short to not ride something big, red and fast.

Indian Chieftain Limited: Key Specs

Powertrain: 1,901-cc V-twin; six-speed transmission
Torque: 126 pound-feet
Peak Torque RPM: 2,900
Weight: 798 pounds (empty fuel tank)
Fuel Tank: 5.5 gallons

Indian provided this product for review.

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Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.