All posts in “Motoring Desk”

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.

2019 Airstream Bambi Review: The Stylish, Easy Way into Camping Trailer Life

By this point, the only way you don’t know what an Airstream is if you’re a vampire who’s been asleep in a cave for the last century. The aluminum-sided travel trailers have been rolling along America’s roads since the ’30s, their iconic design capturing eyes with the same ease they reflect sunlight. They’ve been featured in countless films and TV shows, and transformed into homes, AirBnBs and works of art.

For 2019, the eight-decade-old company has added a new model to its lineup: the diminutive, adorably-named Bambi. Ask Airstream where the name “Bambi” came from, and they’ll say founder Wally Byam named it after a type of agile deer he saw while overlanding across Africa in the ‘60s. (Dollars to donuts he actually named it after a certain Disney movie, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s been a common nickname for the company’s small, single-axle trailers for more than half a century — but now, the name has finally been given the honor of formally becoming part of the team, signifying the two-wheeled rigs that are the most affordable way to hop aboard one of the company’s classic aluminum trailers.

The Good: It may be compact, but the Bambi crams more usable space and features into its limited length than most studio apartments. My Bambi 19CB tester was the second-smallest variant, yet in spite of being a mere 18 feet 11 inches long — shorter than a Rolls-Royce Phantom — it had space for a two-burner gas stove, a stainless steel sink, a refrigerator and freezer, an LED television (with integrated antenna), a built-in stereo, a memory foam mattress (sized somewhere between a twin and a double), even a shower and a flushing toilet.

Even with all that gear inside, the interior has a fair amount of space to spread out. During an impromptu Brooklyn tailgate party, I managed to fit seven or eight adults (and one large dog) inside comfortably, with room to spare for snacks and a soft Yeti cooler backpack. A family with kids might find it cramped, but it’s more than spacious enough to serve as a good base of operations for a single adult or a couple.

Who It’s For: First-time Airstreamers looking to dip their toe into the world of trailering adventure; empty-nesters who want to roam freely in retirement but don’t want to wrangle giant trailers and full-size pickup trucks.

Watch Out For: Backing up. As the model that seems most likely to be adopted by trailering novices, you might think the Bambi would pack some sort of technological magic to help maneuver it in reverse more easily.

Nooooooooooooooooope.

Spinning my trailer 180 degrees required a good 30 minutes of Austin Powers-style shuffling back and forth, and that was with the help of the kind owner of the Hipcamp camp site we were staying at — a man whose own history included training people how to drive heavy equipment in the army. A backup camera is standard, though it wasn’t hooked up on mine; regardless, it wouldn’t have done much beyond tell me where I would have gone were I able to keep the thing moving in a straight line for more than three seconds. The first company to sort out some sort of idiot-proof trailer-reversing technology — brake-based torque vectoring? Computer-controlled active steering? SpaceX-inspired compressed air thrusters? — deserves to make a mint.

Alternatives: Safari Condo Alto R-Series ($29,500+); Homegrown Trailers Woodland ($39,495+); Forest River Alpha Wolf ($25,995+); Airstream Nest ($45,900)

Review: Full disclosure: In spite of more than a decade of driving and writing about automobiles, I can count the number of times I’ve towed a trailer on one hand. Actually, I can count the number of times I’ve towed that weren’t under the well-supervised confines of a media junket on one finger; that sole instance involved towing a U-Haul U-Box through a couple dozen miles of country roads, then winding up stuck at a closed bridge on a one-lane road because I couldn’t reverse to a turnaround spot.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I hitched the Bambi up to the Ford Ranger XLT I’d borrowed as a tow vehicle for a weekend of criss-crossing New Jersey and the lower boroughs of New York City. Yet the Bambi-and-Ranger duo proved blissfully easy to handle, even when winding them through the tight streets of Brooklyn or on the open highways of the Dirty Jerz. The tidy proportions meant turns never proved a problem (at least, when going forwards); the trailer’s brakes were reassuringly dependable and solid, always snapping on in sync with the Ford’s discs; and the Ranger’s EcoBoost engine made easy work of the trailer’s weight, hauling it up to mile-per-minute velocity without issue. Going much beyond that felt a mite worrisome, however; by 70 mph, every imperfection in the road seemed to be magnified into a shimmy in the Bambi that prompted unwanted visions of tank-slapper flips or pileup-causing detachments.

Still, Airstream life isn’t about speed; it’s about taking things slow and easy, leaving troubles and stresses behind in favor of the freedom of the open road. (There’s a reason the Indiana-based company offers a Tommy Bahama trim level on some models.)

Once the driving and parking (and reversing, and re-parking) was done and I’d settled truck and trailer in the tree-lined camping spot within spitting distance of the Delaware River, the Bambi came into its own. The starboard-side awning’s coverage area is on the smaller side, but it’s enough to keep the sun off one or two chairs — or to give you a place to dry before coming aboard in a squall. The nice weather meant I parked my butt in a nearby camping chair instead, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.

My hosts provided fresh water and a power hookup, but I wound up needing neither; the on-board battery never came close to losing all its power, thanks to the solar panel mounted atop the roof. (Pre-wiring for a solar panel is standard, but the panel itself is an option; considering how well it worked, I’d suggest making it the first box you check.) Running the air conditioner built into the roof would probably guzzle the electrons faster than the solar panel could replenish them, but I never needed it, in spite of summertime temps; between the shady interior, the twin roof-mounted ventilation fans and the plentiful screened-in windows (and the screen door), the Bambi’s interior stayed breezy and cool all day long, in country and city alike.

The toilet situation, should you be curious, is best described as “acceptable.” The 19CB variant’s loo occupies an odd middle ground amongst Airstream lavatories; while smaller trailers and touring coaches place the toilet in the shower and larger ones have a miniature bathroom with an actual door, the 19-footer uses an odd W-folding wall that’s designed to offer some semblance of privacy for the tight corner. In practice, it’s less than ideal; let’s just say you should ask anyone else in the trailer to vacate the premises before using the restroom. Functionally, however, it works just fine.

Admittedly, I didn’t have a chance to use the shower — folding my frame inside that tiny space seemed like a violation of the Geneva Convention — so I can’t vouch for the efficacy of its handheld nozzle. (Exhibitionists might have better luck with the outdoor “shower,” a similar handheld nozzle with hot and cold knobs tucked away in one of the exterior ports.) That said, I never had any issues with the flow or temperature of the water blasting from either the kitchen or bathroom sink — which, like the keyholes in a nuclear missile silo, are exactly far apart enough that one person can’t use them both simultaneously — so I have no reason to assume the shower would be anything less than effective.

Another reason to assume the best from the hot water supply: the two-burner gas stove proved as adept as any found in a modern house, if a mite smaller. Same could be said for the kitchen table, which has room for four provided everyone’s comfortable rubbing flanks and knees; same goes for the fridge and freezer combo, too. (The latter can reportedly be quite the power suck; should you rather save the electrons, a good Yeti cooler and a couple bags of ice will likely be every bit as effective for 24-48 hours.)

Indeed, all told, the Bambi does an exceedingly good impression of a tiny, efficient apartment — good enough to tempt this New Yorker away from his hard-won one-bedroom. The night before I had to return the trailer, after my friends had left, I wound up laying in bed watching football on the television, eating a s’more made over the gas stove’s burner. The TV reception was better than in my apartment; the memory foam mattress was comfy than my couch; the sounds of the park beside me more relaxing than the rumble of cable trucks making their way home to their garage near my place. In that moment, it wasn’t hard to see the appeal in tossing that Great American Dream of Homeownership out in favor of living out my days in an elegant rolling apartment.

Verdict: By striking a perfect balance between size, style and comfort, the Airstream Bambi delivers the right combination of features to endear it to anyone who’s long harbored dreams of rolling across the land with a shiny trailer behind them, following the whims of the road. Sure, you can snag a new travel trailer for far less money — but doing so would mean swapping those timeless looks for the blocky looks and garish pseudo-airbrushed designs of most travel trailers and RVs, which are utterly lacking in both elegance and Instagram-ability. (Let’s not pretend the latter is unimportant.)

Indeed, the Bambi pulled off something I never would have expected: It made me into a camping trailer person. I spend my time stuck in traffic fantasizing about car camping trips out West; now I fantasize about doing it with an Airstream.

2019 Airstream Bambi 19CB: Key Specs

Length: 18 feet, 11 inches
Weight: 3,650 pounds
Windows: 11
Refrigerator Size: 4.3 cubic feet
Sleeping Capacity: Up to four people, but two of them better be tiny

Airstream provided this product for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

10 Cool Cars From the 2000s Sure to Become Future Classics

Automotive nostalgia for the Nineties is having a moment. (Call it the Radwood effect.) After all, fawning over rad Japanese tuner cars from those days is more fun than reconciling ourselves with the fact that it’s been 25 years since Weezer’s self-titled blue album came out.

But all this enthusiasm for the 1990s had us wondering: Could the 2000s be next? Prices for cars from that era are still reasonable. And the defining features of many fun cars of the era — manual transmissions, naturally aspirated engines, not being crossovers — should age well moving forward.

Here, then, are 10 future classics for your consideration (and potential investment in).

BMW M3 (2000-2006)

There are the uber-purists who believe BMW lost its way in the early 1990s. For everyone else, the early 2000s were the halcyon days for BMW, with that era’s cars being a perfect fusion of modern engineering, classic BMW driving dynamics, and somewhat-conservative styling.

The E46-generation M3 may be, simply, the best car BMW has ever built. It packed the S54 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six engine, with 338 horsepower and an 8,000 rpm redline. Whether it would come with a six-speed manual was a question one need not bother asking.

Honda S2000 (1999-2009)

The Honda S2000 may be the ultimate purists’ roadster. The original version had a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter VTEC putting out 247 hp — an impressive 123 hp per liter. It (only) had a six-speed manual, 50/50 weight distribution, and rear-wheel drive. With a 9,000 rpm redline and a power curve that topped out right near that limit, it was built to be driven hard. It’s also not bad to look at, whether it’s from before or after the 2004 facelift.

Audi TT (1998-2006)

The Audi TT was one of the most stunning, innovative concept cars ever — and it made it to production with its sleek Bauhaus look intact. The TT Mk1 was far more of a cruiser than a track car; the first models had to be recalled for dangerous handling at high speed. But a 225-hp engine, a smooth Audi six-speed stick, and baseball-stitched leather made it a fun car for most drivers. The best testament to the TT may be how many owners have pushed them past 150,000 miles.

Dodge Viper (1996-2002)

The Dodge Viper was the proud antithesis of the modern sports car. It had a stupidly large engine, a manual transmission, and no driving aids whatsoever. (Look out for trees.) The second-generation SR II had an 8.0-liter V10 putting out 450 hp and a six-speed manual. It kept the distinctive styling and stripped-down feel of the original, but in addition to a power upgrade, the later model added features like airbags, standard AC, and anti-lock brakes — things any sane driver would want.

Ford Mustang (2005-2014)

With the S197 — better known as the fifth-generation model — Ford decided the Mustang should look like the Mustang again. The company emulated the boxier style of the first generation and produced its best-looking Mustang since the original. It was not a mind-blowing performance upgrade over the fourth-gen, but it held true to Ford’s initial vision for a car that looked awesome, made a lot of noise and came at a price nearly everyone could afford. Indeed, it may have been too affordable: Ford opted to axe an independent rear suspension that would have improved the ride significantly but made it much more expensive.

Jaguar XK (2007-2014)

The Jaguar XK was Jaguar’s 2+2 grand tourer. Famed designer Ian Callum penned the second generation, and it was one of the cars that helped reestablish Jaguar as a sporty, sexy car manufacturer. There was no manual option, only a six-speed ZF automatic, but the XK makes up for it by offering three variants: naturally aspirated V8, supercharged V8, and even beefier supercharged V8. This wasn’t a Bond car, but it’s a car that can make you feel like James Bond on a budget: Even well-kept performance XKR versions with low mileage gavel for less than $30,000 on Bring a Trailer.

Volkswagen Golf R32 (2004)

The R32 is among the standouts from the Volkswagen Golf line. It was VW’s halo Golf for the Mk4 generation, and only sold in the U.S. for the 2004 model year. The R32 had every option and a massive (for a hot hatch) 3.2-liter VR6 engine putting out 238 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It also came with two excellent transmission options, a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch transmission — the first to appear in a production car.

Saab 9-5 Aero (2000-2009)

Saabs were quirky, comfortable and Swedish — before the fallout of the GM bankruptcy made the brand all but defunct in the early 2010s. The 9-5 Aero was a performance version of the 9-5 executive sedan. It was a Saab that could haul ass — to a degree. The torque-heavy 2.3-liter turbo four’s output figures of 250 hp and 258 lb-ft were reportedly significantly understated. It could also be fitted with a five-speed manual.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (2003-2006)

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG was the precursor to the E63 AMG. It came as both a sedan and a wagon, and its supercharged 5.4-liter V8 produced 469 hp and 516 lb-ft. When new, it was the fastest four-door vehicle in the world: It accelerated from 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, more than a second quicker than the Audi RS6 and faster than a Corvette Z06. It only offered a five-speed automatic, because Mercedes’ seven-speed at that time could not handle the torque.

Pontiac Solstice GXP (2007-2009)

GM gave the Pontiac brand the boot during its restructuring — sadly, just as it was producing fun, intriguing cars. The Solstice was a classic two-seater, available as a coupe or a convertible. The GXP version had a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four putting out 260 hp and 260 lb-ft (though it could be tuned beyond that at the dealer) and an available five-speed manual. It weighed less than 3,000 pounds, and accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The car’s production also included some period-perfect GM cost-cutting measures, but we won’t hold that against it.

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

10 Amazing New Cars We Wish We Could Buy in America

The car market in the United States isn’t quite like anywhere else. Automakers must meet a separate set of emissions standards; roads in suburban and rural areas tend to be broader and straighter than their counterparts elsewhere; gasoline is much cheaper. And, of course, American buyers have a particular taste for giant SUVs and full-sized pickups that people in other countries lack. 

All those distinctions mean Americans tend to get different cars from other markets — which, among other things, means many finely-tuned driver’s cars made for Europe and elsewhere never float over to the United States while they’re in production. Here, then, are 10 of the best examples of the “forbidden fruit” new cars American buyers can’t have…at least, not for another 25 years or so, when they can import them one by one

Alpine A110

The Alpine A110 is a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe from Renault, a modern reimagining of the original Alpine A110. The specs don’t leap out at you — it uses a 1.8-liter inline four producing 249 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque — but look closer, and you’ll see the appeal. At just 2,432 pounds, the A110 is insanely light — 30 pounds lighter than an Alfa Romeo 4C. It hits 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. And yet it’s not a gutted track car; it’s built to be comfortable, too.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Renault left the U.S. market nigh-on 30 years ago. And even if they were coming back, a limited-edition sports coupe meant to rival the Toyota Supra would not be the ideal vehicle to re-launch the brand here.

Audi RS 4 Avant

The RS 4 is Audi’s all-wheel-drive retort to the BMW M3. The European RS 4 pulls 450 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. It’s an absolute rocket, accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds with a top speed that can reach 174 mph. America has the equivalently-powerful RS 5 coupe, but the sedan range tops out at the less-potent S4 — and the only wagon we get here is the 248-hp A4 Allroad.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Americans tend to be anti-wagon, though Audi fans less so. Audi has teased that RS Avant models might come back; given how successful AMG and M cars have been for Mercedes-Benz and BMW here, bulking up the RS portfolio just seems like good sense. But for now, we go without.

Ford Focus ST Wagon

Ford recently unveiled the wagon version of the Focus ST hatchback. The longroof is sporty and swell to look at, with the gasoline version using Ford’s 2.3-liter inline-four to generate 276 hp and 310 lb-ft. Want that knife twisted a bit more? You can get Ford’s hot wagon with a six-speed manual. Enjoy your Edge ST, American bros.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Ford needs profits for Wall Street. Cars need to sell in volume to be profitable. Trucks and SUVs are profitable. Americans don’t buy wagons in volume, so they’re not.

Mercedes-AMG A45 Hatchback

Yes, Mercedes makes a hot hatchback. In fact, Mercedes makes the hottest of hot hatchbacks: The new Mercedes-AMG A45, incredibly, will squeeze 420 hp from a 2.0-liter engine. That’s more power per liter than just about anything else on the road. It will also have a drift mode, which Mercedes has been hyping in YouTube videos.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Americans don’t think hatchbacks are luxury vehicles, so one north of $50,000 would be a tough sell. Raise it a little, add some body cladding and call it a GLA45, though, and Americans will love it.

Renault Megane RS

The RS (Renault Sport) is the hottest version of Renault’s Megane hatchback, and is the carmaker’s answer to the Golf R. The 300 Trophy trim tunes the inline-four to 292 hp and 310 lb-ft, delivering a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. It’s front-wheel drive, has four-wheel steering, and can still be ordered with a six-speed manual. It also has a fancy new turbocharger the company claims was “taken directly from Formula 1,” which was probably a better selling point before the 2019 season.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Renault doesn’t sell anything here.

Subaru Levorg STI Sport

A Subaru enthusiast’s dream car might merge the Outback’s wagon body with the WRX’s manic persona. The not-for-America Levorg wagon isn’t that exactly, but it’s the closest Subaru comes to that idea today. The 2.0-liter boxer engine produces 264 hp and 258 lb-ft. The top-of-the-line STI Sport adds some sport tuning and appearance features. It only comes with a CVT, sadly.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Subaru has been too successful here, almost selling more cars in the US than they can produce. Why add to the workload?

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki just released its updated version of the Jimny, which was named a 2019 World Car of the Year. It’s a small, boxy and bulletproof SUV that resembles the child of a Land Rover Defender and a G-Wagen. It’s also a rugged, supremely capable off-roader. It can go pretty much anywhere a Land Rover can go — and some places a Land Rover can’t, since it’s smaller and narrower.

Why American Don’t Get It: Suzuki left the US market in 2012. The Jimny may have a niche, but being useless for families and ill-suited to American highway driving (it only makes 100 horses) would make it hard to find mainstream appeal.

Toyota Century

The Century is Toyota’s super-lux flagship, a Japanese market-only four-door sedan. Production is limited and units available by invitation only, reserved for royalty and VIPs. It’s kept its classic aesthetic intact over the years — in part because it has been relaunched just twice since it debuted in 1967, and in part because it caters to such a small audience. Toyota’s GRMN racing division did make a special edition one that may be produced, though.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Some things should be kept special. Also, Americans don’t view Toyota as a luxury brand — hence the existence of Lexus. And even a $200,000 Lexus sedan would be a tough sell.

TVR Griffith

The TVR nameplate has been revived in the form of what may be the perfect driver’s car. The new Griffith will be a two-door coupe designed by Gordon Murray, the man who designed the McLaren F1. As is TVR tradition, it will have a huge engine — a Ford Cosworth 5.0-liter V-8 — and a super-light, all carbon fiber chassis, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds, and reached a top speed north of 200 mph. It will also have ABS, power steering, and traction control, because they aren’t sadists.

Why The U.S. Isn’t Getting It: It’s not worth building a US-spec Griffith for a 500-vehicle limited production run, considering how difficult the development process has been for TVR in general.

Volkswagen up! GTI

The oddly-named up! is Volkswagen’s pint-sized hatchback, which also comes in GTI version. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder is horsepower-light, but torque-heavy, making 113 hp and 170 lb-ft. Its size, power, and handling capability place it quite close to the original GTI. It also costs less than $20,000. There may not be a better city car on sale on any continent.

Why The U.S. Doesn’t Get It: Americans consider the Golf a small car, and sales have plummeted in recent years. Volkswagen has countered by going hard into crossovers with the Tiguan and Atlas, which doesn’t leave much room for introducing a tiny city car. And highway-centric American driving would minimize the up! GTI’s strengths and fully display its weaknesses.

A Cool Car We Can Have

Popping the top changes the experience dramatically, and suddenly, we’re debating whether the ideal GT is the one that doesn’t get in between you and road trip wonderment. Read the Story

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

The Most Beautiful Details Hidden Throughout the New York Auto Show

Walking through the 2019 New York International Auto Show can be overwhelming. With all the shiny sheet metal on display—some of it for the first time—it’s easy to lose yourself in all of the big news and announcements. But, if you take some time and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see there are a lot of beautiful design details peppered throughout the show’s attractions that you might have missed otherwise. Yes, concept cars will have bucket loads of futuristic moldings and supercars are packed with aerodynamic facets, but even something as mundane as a family sedan can hide an interesting quirk or two.

So, in case you missed them, these are the most beautiful details hidden throughout the cars at NYIAS 2019.

Acura TLX Taillights

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Acura deserves a huge amount of credit for the bold design choices it’s made over the past few years. Acura’s design language is polarizing, to say the least, but if you look closely, you’ll spot intricacies that deserve appreciation. The taillights on the TLX are one of them: They mirror the car’s headlights, making what could’ve been a run-of-the-mill tail lamp into a delightfully complex display.

Audi E-Tron Dashboard

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NYIAS-Details-Gear-Patrol-E-Tron-Slide-2

Open-pore wood isn’t anything new as far as car interiors go, but the Audi E-Tron pulls it off brilliantly. The all-electric SUV is a vision of the future for Audi, and the designers could have gone the usual clinical design route for such things, but it’s nice to see organic material in there instead; it nicely complements the future-forward E-Tron.

Genesis Mint Concept Seats

There are a lot of details to fawn over on the Genesis Mint concept car, but if one stands out above the rest, it’s the seats. If they look askew in the photo, that’s because when you open the door, they automatically slide back and rotate for easier ingress and egress. And it might only be a concept car for now, but Genesis brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald says he wants to see something like the Mint on the road in the near future.

The Whole Kia HabaNiro

When autonomous driving takes operational responsibility away from the passengers, the experience of driving as a whole will shift; there will more time to appreciate and interact with the interior, for one thing. Designers are starting to cater to that in concept cars like this funky Kia, by pouring more energy into details like seats and dashboard design. The Kia HabaNiro might look like the crossover of tomorrow on the outside, but the not-so-subtle crimson flair on the inside would be a welcome addition to the Korean automaker’s lineup.

Koenigsegg Jesko Rear Wing

The Koenigsegg Jesko’s rear wing isn’t exactly a “hidden detail,” seeing as how it’s one of the largest objects on the show floor. It helps the Jesko achieve 2,200 pounds of downforce when deployed, but can level out to reduce drag and let the Swedish supercar hit its supposed 300-mph top speed.

Lincoln Corsair Taillights

Lincoln is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the American luxury car market. It’s very rare an automaker adopts a design language which works on all of its cars, no matter the body style. The Corsair can easily be described as a mini-Navigator, but it also has its own unique details worth a mention. The taillights, for instance, look like the full-width setup Lincoln has applied elsewhere; move in closer and the design begins to resemble a stylized eagle’s wing.

Nissan GT-R50 Taillights

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You’ve probably seen the Nissan GT-R50 by now, and drooled over as much as everybody else has. (Just ignore the $1.1 million price tag.) The car was a chance for Italdesign to flex its creative muscles, so it’s packed with design touches. Walk around the back, and you’ll see the semi-floating tail lights that look like jet engines; they compliment the moveable rear wing with its aircraft-like actuators.

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Center Console

Range Rover has been moving towards minimalism for a while, but the new Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic highlights how far the company’s interiors have come—and how well they’re executed.

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

Watch Now: An Oven for Pizza Idiots, the 2019 BMW X7 & More

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Eric Yang and Will Price test Breville’s countertop pizza oven, Henry Phillips discusses the $5K Leica Q2 and Nick Caruso raves about the all-new BMW X7. Also in this episode, a Bryan Campbell reviews the Honda Talon side-by-side – in 30 seconds – and AJ Powell explains why the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are the last thing he bought.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit crownandcaliber.com/gearpatrol to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

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Breville the Smart Oven® Pizzaiolo

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Leica Q2

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2019 BMW X7

The X7 very well may be everything great about BMW, fully realized.

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Honda Talon SxS

“Add an exciting application of DCT technology and it’s fair to say that while the Talon 1000R and 1000X aren’t necessarily game changers, they’ve sure as hell raised the bar.”

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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds

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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.

Watch This Week In Gear, Episode One: We Review the All-New Porsche 911, Apple Airpods & More

Welcome to the premiere episode of Gear Patrol’s first video series: This Week In Gear, the ultimate news show for gear enthusiasts.

As the definitive executive briefing on what’s new in product culture, every week we’ll be talking shop about the latest and best gear, from outdoor & fitness, automotive and tech to home, style, grooming and watches. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Eric Yang, every episode will feature insights from Gear Patrol staff experts as well as field tests, interviews, buying advice and beyond.

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Nick Caruso gives a rundown of the all-new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S; Tanner Bowden introduces The James Brand Ellis multitool; Jacob Sotak explains just how hugely advanced the Orvis H3 fly rod is; and Tucker Bowe describes what’s new in Apple’s second-generation AirPods. Also in this episode, a lightning-round Q&A with Staff Writer Meg Lappe.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit crownandcaliber.com/gearpatrol to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

Featured Products

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Porsche’s all-new 911 is, as expected, a tremendous performer.

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The James Brand ‘The Ellis’

The brand’s first multi-tool is a gorgeous shot across the Swiss Army Knife’s bow.

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Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod

“Without a doubt, the most scientifically accurate rod ever produced.”

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Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case

The second-generation earbuds feature incremental tweaks, which means they’re still great.

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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.

This Motorcycle Magazine Sets a New Industry Standard

“Print is dead” gets said often enough you’d think the industry is actually six feet under an unmarked grave. But every time someone says it, another well-designed magazine finds its way. Five years ago, that was Meta — a triannual publication founded by motorcycle-industry veterans Andrew Campo and Ben Giese, who just opened a retail shop that doubles as a creative coworking space in Denver, Colorado.

Campo is the founder of Vurbmoto, a highly influential platform in the motocross space, and Giese was the lead graphic designer at DC Shoes. The pair created Meta out of a shared passion for two-wheeled culture. As Giese puts it, they “saw a void in the print world,” one that was ripe for smart, elevated motorcycle coverage. “I was very immersed in skateboarding and surfing, and I saw publications coming out those cultures focused on quality, design, and photography,” he says. “At the time that’s something the motorcycle industry was lacking.”

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In addition to narrative stories, the Meta website houses awe-inspiring short films and videos, like Little Monster, a story about eight-year-old Kelana Humphrey and his journey from growing up around mechanics and motorcycle riders in Indonesia to racing dirtbikes in California. Sure, the stories are motorcycle-centric, but you don’t have to ride dirtbikes or know anything about motorcycles to appreciate the content.

Telling stories isn’t the only objective of Meta. “Our goal with Meta is to blur the lines between all genres of motorcycling and celebrate what we call ‘a life well ridden,’” Campo says. Hence the new HQ in Denver — a red brick walled half-motorcycle garage, half-cafe in the middle of the River North Arts District of Denver, where Meta plans to bring the two-wheeled community together.

The Denver flagship isn’t just a place where Campo and Giese can ride their bikes, write stories and cut video footage. They plan to open up the shop for events, gatherings, community rides and anything else to increase the culture’s inclusiveness. “It’s meant to be an extension of the book,” Giese says. “It’s a place where you can just hang out. You don’t even have to ride motorcycles.”

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

Lexus Is the Most Dependable Luxury Brand of 2019

J.D Power just released its 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study findings, and Lexus tops the list. Toyota’s luxury brand ranking the highest in dependability shouldn’t come as a surprise — this is the eighth year in a row Lexus earned top honors. What should raise a few red flags are a few industry firsts the study uncovered.

Now, 30-years running, J.D power’s study tallies up the number of problems experienced per 100 cars over the last 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. So 2019’s study is shining a light on 2016’s cars. The study scrutinizes 177 possible problems across the eight major categories: mid-size sedans, full-sized pickups, all the sizes of SUVs, etc. Then, each vehicle gets a score, using golf rules: the lower, the better.

With all the numbers crunched and Lexus in the number one spot, Toyota and Porsche tied for second. The Porsche 911 won the inaugural “Most Dependable Model” award. But, for the first time, mass-market brands like Toyota and GM outperformed luxury brands. J.D Power’s study also revealed Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen are better than the industry average for the first time in 30 years. If that doesn’t dismantle the urban legend of German cars being historically reliable, nothing will.

“Vehicle dependability continues to improve, but I wouldn’t say that everything is rosy,” said Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “Vehicles are more reliable than ever, but automakers are wrestling with problems such as voice recognition, transmission shifts, and battery failures.” So it would seem manufacturers have the most mechanical kinks worked out, but the more technology we pack into our cars, the more we’re leaving up to a chance of failure. At least now you know the best bet is a Lexus.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Is Already a Legendary Car

You can’t be a genuine gearhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. It’s a common axiom. That’s because Alfa Romeo, above all other automakers, understands that driving is a sensual, visceral experience. Alfas look gorgeous. Their engines sound explosive and sonorous. Their potency comes with a distinct personality. Driving an Alfa Romeo reminds you why you love cars.

The current Giulia Quadrifoglio ($73,700) is a proper Alfa Romeo. It was the perfect car to reintroduce Alfa Romeo to the U.S. market. Already a legend, it is destined to be a modern classic.

One must appreciate Alfa Romeo’s sheer ambition. BMW’s M3 provides the benchmark for sport sedans. That reputation stems from decades of excellence. Alfa, with help from Ferrari, took on the M3 with the Giulia Quadrifoglio and blew it out of the water. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is faster. It’s more compliant. It looks better in metallic blue paint.

A German dad and former M3 owner hailed me in a grocery store parking lot. He asked whether the Giulia Quadrifoglio was as good as he had heard. The most forthright answer, after admitting the car wasn’t mine, was “yes, it’s incredible.”

Driving the Giulia Quadrifoglio thrills. It’s as close to a four-door Ferrari production sedan as we’ll ever get. The “Ferrari-derived” 505hp Twin Turbo V6 makes the Giulia QF lightning quick. It would be unnerving but for the supreme balance and laser-precise steering. It can be as maniacal or as composed as you want it to be. The German ZF transmission is dulcet and intuitive. You forget the paddles (or the absent manual option in the States) after a short while. The Giulia shifts better than you can.

The transmission misstepped once in a week’s worth of driving. When I accelerated from zero to 20mph over the speed limit, the Giulia Quadrifoglio presumed I wish to keep going. In true Alfa fashion, it was more in tune with my heart than my head.

Daily driving the Giulia Quadrifoglio is not annoyance free. Lane clogging SUVs will annoy you. Our oppressive regime of traffic laws will subdue your buzz. The Giulia QF can still provide a compelling drive at normal speeds. But, you’re ever cognizant of how much fun you could be having if not for other people.

Performance comes with impeccable Alfa style. The Giulia is beautiful. Clear lines project the available power and aggression under the hood. But a subtlety and effortless restraint underlie the whole package. The Quadrifoglio version does not announce its hotness beyond the odd clover. It doesn’t need to. The Giulia looks like what it is, an M3 redone with better taste.

The sports sedan is the ultimate real-life driver’s car. The Giulia Quadrifoglio may be the ultimate high-performance variant. It may never be topped.

It also brings the noise. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s engine is a purified raucousness. Think Beethoven over Metal Machine Music. You find yourself cranking up the revs to hear it again, at every stop sign, light, or gap in the traffic.

Alfa Romeos are perfect. Why doesn’t everyone who can afford one own one? They don’t always run. Stereotypes depict Alfas as notoriously unreliable. Some stereotypes are rooted in fact. My parents still remember the name of their old GTV 2000’s mechanic forty years later. They remain convinced he was sabotaging the car. It didn’t seem possible to them that many things could go wrong with a car.

In that respect as well, the Giulia Quadrifoglio has proved itself a proper Alfa Romeo. There are two general reviews of the car. The first rates it as at or near “best car on the road” status. The second describes where the reviewer was driving when the engine light popped on and the car died with an unclear prognosis. Mine had zero issues for what it’s worth. Though, I only drove it for a week and did not track it.

Issues, particularly in early press cars, no doubt stemmed from the development process. Alfa Romeo rushed the Giulia into production in two and a half years. Most cars take four-plus to put out. Working out some of the inevitable electrical gremlins happened with real drivers on the road. Things could get worse as these cars age. If you want a sedan to bore you with its obsessive reliability, buy a Toyota Camry.

Okay, so the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a great car. It’s a mind-blowing drive when it runs. Why, beyond that, will it be collectible?

Animalistic car performance will be at a premium moving forward. The sports sedan is the ultimate real-life driver’s car. The Giulia Quadrifoglio may be the ultimate high-performance variant. It may never be topped. A pocket rocket sedan with a 3/10 EPA smog won’t be on the menu moving forward. Manufacturers are phasing out both sedans and internal combustion. Even Alfa will be moving toward plug-in hybrids and EVs. Performance may well be “ludicrous.” But, it won’t feel or sound the same. This car will remind purists what they loved about gas and be worth what may be a crushing expense to fuel it.

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is part Ferrari, the important part. It’s not an affordable car. But, it’s more attainable than a true Ferrari. It’s a special and memorable collaboration. The notion is similar to the legendary Mercedes 500E from the early 1990s that had a Porsche designed chassis and was assembled on a Porsche line.

Giulia Quadrifoglios should be relatively rare. Alfa does not sell in huge numbers compared to Mercedes and BMW. The Italian company did have a record U.S. sales year in 2018. But, that was still fewer vehicles than Mercedes sells in the U.S. during one month. Most Giulias sold will be lower trims, not the Quadrifoglio. My local Alfa dealer has 86 2018 and 2019 Giulias listed in its present inventory. None are Quadrifoglios.

Finally, it’s an Alfa Romeo, a darn near impeccable one. Alfas charm car people. They charm non-car people. My wife scolded me for shifting out of dynamic mode and softening the suspension on the highway on the way back from dinner. My other passengers gushed about rides around the block. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s charisma was infectious. Or, perhaps, it was my persistent glee rubbing off on everyone I met.

2019 Porsche Cayenne Review: A Proper Porsche, and One You’ll Pay For

The Cayenne is Porsche’s larger mid-size luxury SUV. For its third generation, the self-described “sports car for five” has gotten lighter, faster, and more performance-inclined to distinguish itself from external competitors and similar internal competitors like the Audi Q8 and the Porsche Macan S.

The Good: Porsche designed it. Quick for an SUV. Excellent balance and low center of gravity. Responsive steering. Intuitive transmission. Notably comfortable front seats.

Who It’s For: Affluent SUV buyers who want Porsche cachet and performance. Perhaps a one-car Porsche enthusiast whose kids have outgrown the 911’s rear seat.

Watch Out For: Engine noise underwhelms. Standard suspension feels tight. The option tree gets pricey and borderline exploitative.

Alternatives: Other high-end European performance geared SUVs in this general price range include:
Range Rover Sport ($67,050, base)

Audi Q8 ($67,400, base)

BMW X5 ($60,700, base)

Review: The thing about driving a Porsche around Napa for a day is you can’t describe it as work. Social mores mandate at least a knowing smirk when you say that. We all know why. Porsche means premium, precisely engineered, and damn near perfect. When Porsche needed to redefine the Cayenne for its third generation (and differentiate it from its Audi Q8 cousin using the same MLB platform and engine) the answer was to play up just how much of a Porsche this midsize SUV is.

Porsche made the Cayenne more athletic. The SUV has gotten lighter (down 120lbs) from the last generation. The new 3.0L Turbo V6 in the base model generates more power (+35hp) and torque (37lb-ft) than the last model. Getting lighter, more powerful, and having the driving dynamics improved makes it faster. Every iteration of the Cayenne will do 0-60mph in under six seconds.

Porsche wants the Cayenne to look more like a Porsche. Truth be told, it looks similar to Gen 2. But, Porsche wants the wide shoulders to remind you of the 911’s characteristic, much fawned over back end. The new Cayenne also incorporates a number of performance features from other Porsches. It has staggered front and rear wheels, replacing the predecessor’s square alignment. It can be fitted with rear axle steering and launch control. The Cayenne will be the first Porsche fitted with proprietary Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB). These deliver most of the benefits of ceramics, cost much less, and leave a boss mirror finish.

Upping the Porsche quotient (surprise, surprise) produces an engaging SUV to drive. The Cayenne is quick. It is well-balanced. The steering is responsive. It has a low center of gravity and an impressive amount of grip. The transmission intuits what the driver wants seamlessly. It’s a keen corner taker. It behaves when bottled up behind a Subaru on a two-line highway. About the only criticism is the engine note which was either too mild or too mild to puncture the noise canceling glass.

Rest assured. Porsche did not go full-on “SAV” here. The Cayenne is still an SUV. The grab bag of Porsche sports car features available did not include the PDK transmission, because Porsche believes its 8-Speed Tiptronic is better for off-roading and towing. The Cayenne has multiple off-road terrain settings. The closest we got to testing them was ducking into a scenic roadside lookout for pictures.

The Adaptive Air Suspension is worth the expense. The standard one felt very tight and unforgiving on our morning tester with 21-inch wheels. The air suspension gives a smoother and more composed ride. Even when the car is being pushed, the copilot can settle into a notably comfy front seat for a post-lunch snooze.

I would lean toward taking the PSCB brakes as well. I found them too touchy starting out at slow speed. I missed how easily they stopped the car when I didn’t have them. The standard brakes are adequate. The PCSBs, as they should be for the cost, are better and look cool.

I didn’t futz with the infotainment system too much. The Cayenne has dual customizable 7-inch displays behind the wheel and a 12.3-inch tablet screen in the center. The design was clean. Menu progression was natural. I wish the big screen had been angled toward the driver slightly more.

Where the Cayenne offers the truest Porsche experience is when you reach for the checkbook. Porsche makes nearly everything, including many features most luxury cars would make standard, options. Those options get expensive in a hurry. Embark with me on a quick configurator journey.

Let’s add the air suspension ($4160) and the PSCB brakes ($3490). The latter require you to upgrade to at least 20 inch wheels ($1720 minimum). That alone is approaching $10,000. You probably want adaptive cruise control ($2000) and lane change assist ($950) on your kid transporter. Sunroof? That’s an additional ($1850). Want your car to remember your seat settings ($1900) and heat up during the winter? ($530 for just the front).

Does the performance stuff intrigue you? The Sport Chrono package for launch control and sport plus driving mode ($1130) is a must have. There’s the rear-axle steering ($1650) Do you plan to use your Cayenne for SUV stuff? That will be an additional off-road package ($2000) and tow rig ($660). Yeah, I dig that Biscay Blue Metallic paint ($800) too. This stuff only scratches the surface of the customization options.

Our lightly outfitted, base model tester vehicles were pricing out north of $80,000 for what, reminder, is the third best engine you can have in a Cayenne. That price tag factors into the perception. The Cayenne provides a great drive for an SUV. It’s an all-around, capable, and fun car. It’s recognizable as a Porsche. It’s more than a profitable placeholder in the Porsche lineup. But, an $80,000-plus or more car should have some outstanding quality that makes that expenditure feel justified. However improved or formidable, the Cayenne in the base trim doesn’t.

The Cayenne will be more than enough SUV for most buyers. Porsche will sell a number of them. The cachet from that Porsche emblem alone will keep many Cayenne customers happy. It better, because they are paying a steep premium for it.

Verdict: The Cayenne is a proper Porsche. It’s top notch engineering. It performs just about every task well. It will be more than enough for most buyers. But, a near $90,000 car, SUV or no, should give you the giggles. It should have one exceptional quality that excites you about spending that much money. The Cayenne didn’t.

What Others Are Saying:

• “It took Porsche 53 years to sell a million 911s. Porsche has sold 770,000 Cayennes in the 15 years since it was launched in 2002, and the millionth will probably be built in about three years. As much as we love and cherish the sports cars from Stuttgart, Porsche in the 21st century is the house that the Cayenne SUV built.” – Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver

• “If you’re willing to pay the premium, though, the new Cayenne delivers precisely what cargo-hauling Porsche fanboys consistently insist they want: an SUV that satisfies the sport part of the equation while offering a level of functionality and people-moving they can’t get in a 911 or 718. – Basem Wasef, Autoblog

2019 Porsche Cayenne Key Specs

Engine: 3.0L Turbo V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Tiptronic
Horsepower: 335hp
Torque: 332lb-ft
Weight: 4,377 lbs
0-60: 5.6sec (with Sport Chrono package)
Top Speed: 152mph

Porsche hosted us and provided this product for review.

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My 8 Gear Essentials For Surviving an Off-Road Race Across Nevada

Going by the way of smooth, paved asphalt and piloting a modern, road-legal car, it’ll take you just under seven hours to get from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada. Your luxurious, climate-controlled cocoon of leather and carpet can effortlessly glide over the ribbon of road connecting those cities regardless of the searing sun, triple-digit temperatures and gusts of wind carrying buckets of desert dust. It’s almost too easy. But try to get from one of the casino-laden cities to the other without using any roads at all, as fast as you possibly can, while fighting off dehydration, silt beds waiting to swallow wheels, blind turns preceding cliffs and suspension arm-hungry boulders… that’s a different story. Coincidently, The Best in The Desert Vegas to Reno, which at 540 miles is the longest off-road race in the US, puts on just such show. I attempted to finish it in a relatively stock Polaris RZR Turbo S.

By “stock,” I mean the only things added to the RZR were to make it race-safe and compliant — an extensive, reinforced roll cage, race seats and safety belts, removable-steering wheel, race fuel cell, radio, safety lights and fire extinguisher system. Other than what the regulations deemed necessary, everything on the Turbo S was factory-spec — there were no mechanical upgrades. Meaning the suspension, engine, transmission, ECU and basic chassis rolled up to the starting line the same as they were on the showroom floor. My co-pilot and I, on the other hand, were in need of necessary optional extras. Fireproof suits, gloves and driving shoes and a ventilated race helmet were baselines; on top of that, we needed a way to communicate to the pits and, as we found out 50 miles into the 580-mile race, food and water, just in case we got stuck out in the desert. This is the gear we brought along to attempt America’s toughest off-road endurance race.

Polaris RZR XP Turbo S

Pyrotect Pro Airflow Helmet

PCI Race Radios Offroad Helmet Wiring Kit

Alpinestars GP Race Suit

Alpinestars Tech 1 Race Glove

Oakley Race Mid Boot

CamelBak Ratchet 6L Backpack

Cliff Bars

Country Archer Beef Jerky

A Damn Fun, Affordable, Stripped-Down Overlander from Polaris: the Polaris General

When you think of side-by-sides or UTVs, you’ll most likely conjure up images of a roll cage jacked up on an arm’s length of suspension travel, shod with massive tires ripping around desert dunes and tearing through a mountain trail. Or, you’ll picture a seasoned ranch hand puttering along mending a fence or moving hay bails. If you’re in the market for a UTV it’s understandable to see one as too extreme, over the top and unnecessary and the other as dull and joyless. The Polaris General lives at the 50-yard line between the company’s performance-centric RZR and its workhorse Ranger.

The Good: Slinging the General around the surrounding trails and property at the Main Line Overland Festival, it quickly became abundantly clear how a UTV like the 180 horsepower Can-Am Maverick X3 XD S turbo was complete overkill. Unbelievably fun, yes. But, is that much power needed to entertain yourself on a gravel back road or rock crawling path? No. The 100 horsepower the General sends to all four of its wheels is more than enough to get the back end to step out, get you into all sorts of trouble and get you out of that trouble when you come face to face with a boulder or log crossing.

Who It’s For: Overlanders, and active lifestyle types. Considering it’s not too raucous, the General was designed with weekend warriors in mind. It has enough power to keep you on your toes, a utility bed, significant payload capacity, 1,500-lbs winch and the ability to add optional racks, cargo boxes, light bars and tougher rims.

Watch Out For: One problem with Polaris performance UTVs is they inherit the upright seating position from the Ranger. The proper posture works fine when you’re putting the machine to use as a docile cargo hauler, but the minute you want to switch to hooligan mode, the higher seat position multiplies the “we’re about to tip over” feeling.

When it comes to getting the machine optioned exactly as you need it, prices start to climb. The base model doesn’t come with much and a $1,500 jump to the Premium trim only gets you the 4,500-lbs winch, front bumper and painted body panels (which you’ll probably scratch up immediately). The $20,299 Deluxe edition buys you a roof, MTX sound Bar and Fox podium shocks on top of what the Premium offers. And that’s just the two-door model, the four-door starts at $21,299. So if you can live without the bells and whistles, the smart buy is to go with the base and add the roof, cargo boxes and racks, which start around $250.

Alternatives: The most direct competitor to the Polaris is the Can-AM Commander. It certainly looks more aggressive and has better base-level storage options, and the General-equivalent model price is $3,000 below the Polaris. However, the Polaris comes out on top with better suspension, more power and a higher cargo capacity, which, all things considered, are key aspects if whether you’re doing some light off-roading or hailing camp gear.

Review: Cutting through narrow trails, crawling over boulders, logs and splashing through boggy mud pits, the General seemed right at home on the dirty side of this year’s Mid Atlantic Overland Festival. But the machine’s dual personality is what sets it apart from the rest of the lineup. When it wasn’t thrashing trails or picking up a front wheel while the back two swung around, the UTV’s ‘utility’ shined through, hauling gear and taxiing people from one side of the campground to the other, to the bonfire and back again. When I wanted to have fun, I had fun. When I needed to tend to a few festival responsibilities, it was right there, willing and able, with one major caveat.

As much as the General champions being the 50-50 mix of the RZR and Ranger, I was split between the two- and four-seater depending on where I was going or what I needed to do. Going for the win at this year’s rock-crawl hill climb challenge or tackling the boulder-strewn trails along the property outskirts? Two-seater. Giving rides across the grounds to campsites, hauling a keg or two to the bonfire or putting the bed to use as skybox seating for the film festival? Four-seater. The longer wheelbase of the four-seater brought out the best of the utility side of the General, but on obstacle trails, the wince-inducing scrapes and slides of knee-high stones and logs along the side rails were enough to permanently appoint it to workhorse status.

Verdict: Just like a Jeep, as an affordable, stripped-down overlander, the General makes a lot of sense. Again, like a Jeep, the base model is incredibly capable fresh from the showroom floor. But if you want the real weekend warrior-mobile with Moab trail tackling suspension, light bars, roof racks, crash bars and cargo boxes, you’d better be prepared to shell out extra cash on top of the MSRP. The General will do what you ask of it and it’ll put a smile on your face the entire time, but that’s entry-level. If you want to make extracurricular overlanding activities easier, it’s pay to play.

What Others Are Saying:

• “On one particular day, we logged just over one hundred miles on some really tight, rough trails at Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Coal Township, PA. The General was really comfortable, providing us with a comfortable ride and spoiling us with some kicking tunes streamed via Pandora through the Bluetooth MTX audio.” — Lance Schwartz, UTV Driver

2019 Polaris General 1000 EPS Key Specs
Two-seater
Engine: 999cc Twin Cylinder
Transmission: Automatic PVT
Horsepower: 100
Torque: 65 lb-ft
Payload Capacity: 1,100 lb
Weight: 1,491 lbs (dry)
Price: $16,299(base)

Four-seater
Engine: 999cc Twin Cylinder
Transmission: Automatic PVT
Horsepower: 100
Torque: 65 lb-ft
Payload Capacity: 1,280 lb
Weight: 1,857 lbs (dry)
Price: $21,299(base)

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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.

2018 Ducati SuperSport S Review: A Sport Bike for the Average Rider

The Ducati SuperSport came back in 2017 from a 10-year hiatus to bridge the gap between the upper echelon of the Ducati lineup and more approachable bikes. The SuperSport brings the elegant, looks-fast-standing-still design and technology from the Panigale to riders who aren’t used to reigning in 200 horsepower on a daily basis.

High strung sportbikes are one-trick ponies, as eye-catching and blisteringly advanced as they are. Bikes that are born from racing but adapted to the streets while still retaining impressive stats are compromised for everyday riding. Ergonomics, torque curves and power bands well-suited to produce lightning fast lap times are a bike’s most significant weaknesses on a daily commute while dodging traffic going from stop light to stop light. The Ducati SuperSport S cherry picks the best aspects from longer distance bikes and the sport bike world to give the average rider a taste of top-tier Ducatis on a daily basis.

The Good: Styling on the SuperSport is one of its main draws. What used to be out of reach for most riders — those who didn’t want a high-performance track machine but adored the styling — can now enjoy one of Ducati’s best designs in years.

A host of electronic aids and layers of menus let riders customize the character of their bike. You and a friend could both get a SuperSport, but through the eight-level traction control and three level ABS system, you can mix and match the computer’s level of intervention so much that you could share the same bike but have two completely different experiences.

Who It’s For: Commuters who are looking for a premium bike to use almost every day but don’t want the aggressive and cramped ergonomics of a track bike.

Watch Out For: The SuperSport only comes in two colors, but there’s a catch. The base model just comes in red, so if your heart is set on the white, you ‘ll have to spring for the S model and throw down an extra $1,700. And if you can live with red, a non-adjustable suspension and adding an optional quick-shifter, I’d stick with the base model, because those are the only differences.

One of the most egregious flaws of the SuperSport is undoubtedly its mirrors. I’m somewhat broad-shouldered, so with the SuperSport’s mirrors on such short stalks I had to keep pinching my shoulders and elbows in to get a view of what was behind me. That annoyance, however, had nothing on vibrations that rendered the mirrors all but useless at night. A bike with that big of an engine, with so few cylinders will, of course, not ride very smoothly — there are bound to be vibrations and a lot of them. The mirrors vibrated so much that during the day my rear view was closer to a French impressionist’s interpretation of reality and at night, I gave up entirely and just used quick glances over my shoulder.

Alternatives: The only real direct competitors are the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F. Both the Japanese bikes are more powerful than the Italian at 140 hp and 148 hp respectively and also both get power from inline-four engines, affording a smoother ride.

All three have similar price tags and multi-level traction control systems, but the Ducati is the only bike of the three to offer fully-adjustable suspension, three ride modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) on top of the eight-level traction control system and three level ABS.

Review: I never got the chance to take the SuperSport on to a track to explore or even get close to the limits of what can do, but then again, the majority of riders picking this bike up won’t either. In my week with the SuperSport I commuted back and forth from Manhattan to Jersey City through the Holland Tunnel during a heatwave, did a few highway blasts on the way to see friends and took a trip down to the beach for the weekend. In other words, I lived my life as I usually would, I just happened to have a Ducati underneath me. And, for an everyday rider, the SuperSport followed through on Ducati’s promise of versatility and performance.

I already had it in my head that Ducati’s idea of a ‘comfortable’ sport bike was simply bolting the footpegs lower on the bike and calling it a day. And with styling so close to that of the Panigale superbike, it was all too easy to write the SuperSport off almost immediately. Getting proved wrong the second I sat on the bike was the most jarring moment of the entire week.

Yes, the pegs are lower, opening up more leg room, especially for taller riders, but so is the seat. Combine that with the raised position of the handlebars and I was sitting nearly bolt upright. On longer rides or even short bursts through the city where body position is continuously changing, that freedom of movement affords the rider back an incredible amount of endurance.

In slipping in and out of traffic to and from work, useable torque is the SuperSport’s calling card. If the SuperSport boasted superbike performance to match its looks, all the power you need would be comically high in the rev range. Instead, Ducati moved most of the torque to just above 3,000 RPM, so you can ride around at a pace which won’t earn you any tickets or summons, but you can still get your money’s worth from the power you paid for. You can thank the punchy 937cc L-Twin for that because the more rev-happy inline-four competition from Japan make you go searching for power above the 9,000 RPM mark, which can be useful on the highway but you’ll rarely see that on city streets.

The engine gives the Ducati trademark vibrations throughout the bike — it renders the mirrors absolutely useless and becomes temperamental at low speeds, on light throttle. Trundling through the Holland Tunnel, where there’s no passing and traffic moves at crawling pace on a regular basis coasting was difficult. At low RPM, power delivery was choppy, causing the bike to jerk slightly. I wasn’t anywhere near the point of stalling the bike; the engine just didn’t like the lazy pace — noting the bike’s air-temperature thermometer read 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the tunnel, neither did I.

Verdict: If you look at the price tags and performance numbers alone, the Ducati doesn’t sit at the top of its class. The Kawasaki and Suzuki easily beat it out there, offering more power for the same if not less money. But – and this is very big, obvious ‘but’ – numbers aren’t everything.

The full experience on the Ducati SuperSport is more than just numbers. Superior design, sound and the way it effortlessly takes on corners are the reason anyone leans towards a Ducati. Throw in the everyday usability of the SuperSport and you know have a beautiful bike, packed with performance and technology, without the torturous ergonomics of a superbike set up as a track weapon. The engine does have its flaws but as a whole package, Ducati scored a major win by opening up more riders to the more exclusive and intimidating part of the dealership.

What Others Are Saying:

• “Ducati may have designed this ride to bridge the gap between the laid-back riders and the more spirited ones, but the look is all sport and distinctly Ducati.” — Top Speed

• “Agile on city streets, comfortable on the motorway and superlative on out-of-town twisties, the SuperSport is super-versatile. Relaxed rider and passenger positions, good airflow deflection from the height-adjustable Plexiglas screen and the mileage provided by the 16-liter fuel tank also make the Ducati SuperSport a cool companion on medium-distance rides.” — Total Motorcycle

• “The SuperSport S is marketed as perfect for road riding without compromising its sporting spirit, to paraphrase Ducati. The subsequent lack of any soreness after riding definitely backs up that statement. The seating position makes for a pleasant commuter ride, while the handlebar set-up allows you to sit high, and the soft, wide – but not quite Honda Gold Wing wide – leather seat is perfect for stylish road riding.” — The National

Ducati Super Sport S Key Specs

Engine: 937cc L-Twin
Transmission: Six-speed
Horsepower: 110 hp @ 9,000 RPM
Torque: 69 lb-ft @ 6,5000 RPM
Weight: 463 lbs

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story

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Affordable Commuter Bags From Timbuk2 are On Sale, But Not For Long

If you missed all the sales over Memorial Day weekend, you’re in luck. Over on Revzilla, you can save up to 30 percent on Timbuk2 commuter bags. Whether you walk, take the train or ride a bike — motorized or not — Timbuk2’s selection will have… your back all summer long (not sorry). All different styles are available at various price points, so we curated a few to make it a little easier as you settle into the short work week.

Parkside Laptop Backpack $69 $49

Tuck Pack Carbon Coated $99 $70

Stark Messenger Bag $160 $112

Especial Medio Laptop Backpack $179 $126
More Deals, Served Up Fresh Every Day

Deals, discounts and drops on products you actually care about and want. Curated by the Gear Patrol Editors. Start Saving

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

First Impressions: We Drive the All-New Mercedes-Benz G 550 and AMG G 63

We drove the new Mercedes G550 and AMG G 63 in southern France this week. It’s the first new version since the rugged machine launched in 1979. It’s had updates, of course, but this is the first time they really started over with it. Our full review will post next week, but here’s a quick taste to whet your appetite. – Eric Adams

Who It’s For: Depends on which model we’re talking about. If it’s the G 550, you’re into sunrises, long runs on the beach, and hard-core off-roading. If it’s the AMG G 63, you’ve never actually seen a sunrise, you go to the beach mostly to burn off a hangover, and you enjoy blasting past lesser machines on the highway at triple-digit speeds while towering three feet above everyone else.

Updates: Well it’s been 40 years so pretty much everything is updated. But the highlights are a new front axle design that improves stability both on-road and off, all the safety and driver-assist features the G-Class never had, and the barest hint of aerodynamic tuning to minimize the ever-present wind noise as much as possible without compromising the car’s signature look.

Verdict: Two thumbs up if you’re in the G550; two middle-fingers up if you’re rocking the AMG.

Key Specs
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbochanged V8
Transmission: nine-speed automatic; front, center and rear locking differentials
Horsepower: 416; 577 horsepower
Torque: 450; 627 lb-ft
Price: TBA
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Finally Shows Its Face

After months of hints, teases and a slow trickle of information, Mercedes finally unveiled the new 2019 A-Class. Read the Story

4 Wildly Impractical Vehicles I Want to Buy Right Now With a $10,000 Budget

Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.

In the most regrettable way, I’m back in the market for a car. Suffice it say that flash floods, deceptive standing water and a hurried morning commute do not mix. (More specifically, buckets of rainwater and the engine of my now dead 2002 BMW 325i.) Could I have taken a different route? Taken my time? Not assumed it was a fordable depth for a sports sedan? Yes, yes and… duh. Hence, “regrettable.”

So this week’s Found is, admittedly, a bit selfish. The best catharsis I can manage right now is to share my next-car search. In the long run, these are wildly impractical, but at the moment seem fun enough actually to pull the trigger on. Would any of these turn into their own source of regret after, say, a month of daily use? Perhaps, but they’re pretty tempting right now.

Modified 1984 Porsche 944

Mileage: 29,000 (TMU)
Location: New Hill, North Carolina

What I like: Most of the car is refurbished, replaced or rebuilt to look like what you’d get if Porsche had built an ‘R’ version of the 944 (which they should have done). It reminds me of the Cayman GT4 — one of my favorite cars of all time.
From the seller: “This 1984 Porsche 944 was purchased by the seller five years ago and subsequently built into a street-legal track car. The 2.5-liter inline-four was rebuilt to stock specs and sends power through a torque tube to a five-speed manual transaxle. A new clutch was also installed, much of the suspension was rebuilt, the brakes were gone through, a repaint in a custom color was conducted, and a four-point roll bar was installed.”
What to look out for: Like you should for any car this age, keep an eye out for bad seals and leaking fluids. In regards to the 944 specifically, there have been a few recalls worth noting.

1952 Willys M38

Mileage: 462 (TMU)
Location: Comstock Park, Michigan

What I like: I’ve recently come to admire snorkels.
From the seller: “This 1952 Willys M38 was purchased as a military-spec example by the seller in 1996 and subsequently underwent extensive refurbishment to its exterior sheet metal, tub, frame, brakes, steering, exhaust and 24-volt electrical system. Modifications include a new old-stock military deep-water fording kit as well as modern gauges, lighting, and wheels.”
What to look out for: Typically, the electrical systems on old Willys are the main headache, but this particular lil’ guy under went a full refurbishment, including an electrical system swap.

1989 Honda NSR250R

Mileage: 7,000
Location: Richmond, Virginia

What I like: The late-’80s styling is hard to resist, even if it is a two-stroke — I’d be mixing my own gas everytime I fill up. Still, a 249cc 90° V-twin with an 11,500 rpm redline is a pretty fantastic and rare sound this side of the pond.
From the seller: “The NSR is powered by a 249cc 90° V-twin liquid-cooled two-stroke with crankcase reed valve induction via twin naturally aspirated carburetors. The two-stroke is fitted with a kick start that fires right up and idles nicely. The 11.5K redline comes up quickly with the rev-happy V-Twin.”
What to look out for: The main problem with an imported bike like this is when you do need parts you’ll be waiting for them to ship from the other side of the globe via small mail-order operations. If you spot certain parts starting to show their age, anticipate the worst and order ahead.

2014 Triumph Daytona 675R ABS

Mileage: 9,000
Location: Freehold, New Jersey

What I like: I was never a fan of the way 600cc inline fours sound — they’re just too whiny, but the Triumph’s triple gets away with sounding like a bigger engine than it actually is. I’m also a sucker for red trellis frames.
From the seller: “Extras include Triumph painted seat cowl, trickle charger, rear stand, rubber tank grip, R&G rear bobbins, Competition Werks rear fender eliminator and Taylor Made … carbon fiber bodywork [and] racing exhaust system, reducing overall weight by about ten pounds. All stock parts are included. Mechanically and cosmetically flawless, never laid down or tracked. Garaged and covered, professionally maintained with all scheduled services performed and documented.”
What to look out for: Most of what goes wrong on the ’14 Daytona 675R is reconciled by a recall. It’s a fairly young bike to find massive part failures at this point in its life.

What the Rest of the Team WOuld Get for $10,000

If we had a [limited] blank check, this is what we’d pick up. Read the Story

5 Best Commuter Motorcycles of 2018

This list serves as a guide to commuter, motorcycles. It’s not an official segment of motorcycles, but certain lifestyles demand daily transportation in and out of urban areas, and a small motorcycle is the perfect answer. The five motorcycles included vary in size, style and price but are all perfect for navigating the daily grind.

Prefer to skip directly to the picks? Click right here.

The Short List

Best All-Around Commuter: 2018 Ducati Monster 821



In the Ducati Monster lineup, the 821 risked falling into obscurity as the middle child. The 797 is prized as the approachable, entry-level Ducati since the Scrambler line spiraled off into its own sub-brand. The Monster 1200 might have a near identical design to the little 797, but if you look closer, it’s a tech-laden superbike with no fairings and serious power. Instead of being a slightly bigger version of the 797, the 821 borrows supersport-level tech from the 1200 and brings it down to an approachable level. It gets the best of all worlds — the controllable and lightweight nature of the 797, plus a little extra shove from the engine and the top-of-the-line tech and control systems from the 1200. And it costs just over $11,000.

Who It’s For: The commuter who doesn’t need the power of a bigger engine, but wants the tech that seemingly only the bigger, more expensive bikes get.

What’s Good: “For some, and understandably so, the 147-horsepower Monster 1200 may prove to be too much bike and the 797 too small and rudimentary. The 821 comes in as the Goldilocks option: it utilizes the same frame, brakes, tank and headlight, the beautiful if intricate, color TFT instrument display and traction control and ride mode system as the more expensive 1200 — but delivers it all in a much more manageable, affordable package. That seems to be the magic of the Monster. The Scrambler may be its own sub-brand, but the Monster has its own following under the larger Ducati umbrella. It offers the same styling with different levels of performance, attracting a wider array of riders. It succeeds with an architecture Ducati got right the first time and has simply fined tuned over the years in small, minute increments like Porsche has done with the 911.” – Bryan Campbell

What to Watch Out For: The term ‘all-new’ for 2018 has to be used loosely. “The engine in the new 821 is the same 821cc Testastretta L-Twin engine from the outgoing model but gets a host of modern hardware from the bigger, more technologically advanced 1200. Looking at the 797 and the 821 side-by-side, you might say they’re both entry-level models; if the 797 is the base model, with no options ticked, the 821 is the upgraded sport package. – Bryan Campbell

Value: There are very few other bikes at this price point with this much technology on board, though that much tech is becoming increasingly more common. Aside from the power deficit and the yellow paint job option, the 821 is incredibly similar to its big brother, the Monster 1200 — a bike that starts around $17,000.

Design: “Ducati’s Monster married a superbike engine to a Super Sport frame and created somewhat of a new genre with the “naked” sportbike — a modern cafe racer of sorts. It was an undeniable hit. It was different. It was beautiful. It could handle the canyon roads as well as a race bike could tackle the track and it came with three different engine options: the M600, M750, and M900. Until now, we’ve had the all-new Monster 1200 and 797; and now, the latest update: the middleweight 821. For 2018, in keeping with tradition, Ducati brought its iconic, entry-level roadster into the modern era with an incredibly minimalistic approach.” – Bryan Campbell

Verdict: “The 821 certainly isn’t a paradigm shift in the Monster universe, but what it gets right is bringing upper-echelon sportbike technology within the grasp of new riders — or riders not interested in spending nearly $18,000 for what should be standard on any modern sport bike.” – Bryan Campbell

What Others Are Saying:
“Stylish yet utilitarian, practical yet exciting, thoroughly modern but consciously linked to its glorious past, the 821, like Italy itself, blends opposing forces in a harmonious whole, forging its own identity in the process. The 821 isn’t just the Monster 1200’s little sibling. It’s a user-friendly package suitable for less experienced riders, but it’s also competent and engaging in ways that appeal to riders looking for a motorcycle distinguished, not by a single dominant sensation, but by the parity of its parts in pursuit of motorcycling bliss.” – Cycle World

“By far the biggest change, though, is to the electronics, and this comes in two parts. First, the old, letterbox-esque LCD dashboard has been consigned to the trash can in favor of a thoroughly modern color TFT display. Second, Ducati have thrown a full-on electronics package as standard at the 821 and that means full ride-by-wire with 8-level configurable traction control, three-level configurable ABS, and three engine maps.” – Ride Apart

“In the end, I think the new Monster would make a fantastic and stylish first Ducati for any rider with more than six months of riding experience under their belt. Ducati wasn’t B.S.-ing when it claimed the new 821 is the “Best Balanced Monster.” – Motorcycle.com

Engine: 821cc L-Twin
Horsepower: 109
Torque: 63 lb-ft
Price: $11,995

Best Value Commuter: 2017/18 Kawasaki Z650



In the middle-weight naked bike category, the bikes are so closely matched that any scrutiny has to be done under a microscope. Pricing is all evenly matched, though the Kawi is one of the more affordable options compared to its Japanese rivals (even on the ABS model at $7,399) and also edges out the competition on styling with lively pearl white plastics and an electric green trellis frame. Where the Z650 really shines is under power in the mid-range, right where you need it for passing traffic in day-to-day commuter traffic.

Who It’s For: The rider who wants to save a money rather than shell out for the absolute best in class but still wants to enjoy tight and twisty back roads on the way home from work.

What’s Good: “Team Green developed this bike as the bigger brother of their own monkey-bike, the Z125 Pro. That means power took a backseat to flickability during development. Which is why Kawi only breathed on their tried-and-tested 649cc parallel-twin engine, opting to smooth out delivery and provide grunt where it was needed most — in the mid-range.” — Matt Neundorf

What to Watch Out For: To be a better bike for a wider audience, Kawasaki set up the front forks more lightly sprung than usual. It makes the bike more user-friendly to novice riders but aggressive riders might overdo it and find the front end diving under hard braking.

Value: For a modern, naked sports bike to have this level performance and a $6,999 price tag hanging off the bars, it’s a bargain.

Verdict: “You feel this as soon as you settle into the saddle. During stop-and-go stints in downtown Santa Monica, there were no struggles to stand flat-foot at lights, and the bike never felt like it could get away from me. The revised chassis geometry and slim, straight bars make 90-degree, grid-street negotiations a breeze, meaning this thing will do well for urban commuters too.” — Matt Neundorf

What Others Are Saying:
“In all, the Z650 satisfies nearly all of the prerequisites for an affordable, mid-level, sport-inspired machine. In terms of performance, nearly all of the systems found on the Z650 have massive amounts of potential to take a rider with little to no experience, and allow for a great deal of maturation to take place; a rider can develop their skills for a good while, before stepping to the next rung on the proverbial ladder.” – Ultimate Motorcycling

“As it stands, the bike is a great addition to the Z family, and proof of what Kawasaki has learned from years spent with the Z1000 and Z800 (both of which will be replaced by the Z900 for 2017). And it’s a great option for those naked bike lovers who’ve been waiting for a mid-displacement twin with Team Green badges on its side.” – Cycle World

Engine: 649cc parallel twin
Horsepower: 63
Torque: 42 lb-ft
Price: $6,999

Introduction

Navigating any concrete jungle can be hell — especially if you call the asphalt wilds your commute. Driving into the city is certified insanity and public transportation isn’t always the most reliable (which is the understatement of the year for any New Yorker). That only leaves one serious option: a motorcycle. In the city, agility trumps power and bulk is the enemy of timeliness. To get to work on time what you need is a slender, nimble bike that looks good and handles well — here are five of the best motorcycles for any city-dweller.

Terms to Know

Sport Standard: A style of motorcycle with an up-right riding position, with handle bars close enough to the rider not to neccesitate and agressive lean or reach.
Naked style: A motorcycle lacking plastic fairings, exposing the engine and transmission.
Twisties: When a road has many, tight and winding turns.
Lane splitting: Riding your motorcycle between the lanes or rows of slow moving cars or stopped traffic. California is the only state in the U.S. to officially legalize lane splitting.
Flickability: The ease at which a bike can be quickly change direction, leaning from one side to the other.

What Makes a Great City Motorcycle?

Surviving city traffic — mad cabbies, delivery trucks and frantic commuters — on a motorcycle requires patience, quick reflexes and steel nerves from a rider and it’s crucial the motorcycle itself can keep up. A compact, slender bike is a good place to start. Dodging potholes and traffic and going for narrow or closing gaps between cars is the norm when you’re cruising down a crowded avenue or side street. To be able to get any of that done with ease a good city motorcycle utilized that smaller silhouette by being lightweight and flickakble. Of course, bigger bikes are at a disadvantage there but if they can hide their weight with a nice and low center of gravity, heavier bikes can ride like they’re half the size.

Power is important but only if it’s in a usable spot in the rev range. There’s no use having chart-topping power and torque if you have to be flirt with the redline to see any of it. Motorcycles that work best on city streets have a healthy low- and mid-range — basically where the engine speed lives when you’re coming off light or traveling at traffic speeds.

When you are dipping and diving, weaving your way through town, your attention has to be at an all-time high. And not surprisingly, if you’re not physically comfortable on your bike, you’re going to be distracted. That’s not just the ergonomics of the seating position either. Although it is incredibly important that you’re not stuffing yourself onto the bike and cramping up your needs, riding comfort also stems from a great suspension setup. A super stiff suspension setup, where you can feel 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 to get out of town. But when manufacturers get the formula right, a city-bound motorcycle can be an incredible asset in fighting back the daily grind.

Buying Guide

What’s in This Buying Guide

5 Best Urban Motorcycles of 2018

Best All-Around Commuter: 2018 Ducati Monster 821



In the Ducati Monster lineup, the 821 risked falling into obscurity as the middle child. The 797 is prized as the approachable, entry-level Ducati since the Scrambler line spiraled off into its own sub-brand. The Monster 1200 might have a near identical design to the little 797, but if you look closer, it’s a tech-laden superbike with no fairings and serious power. Instead of being a slightly bigger version of the 797, the 821 borrows supersport-level tech from the 1200 and brings it down to an approachable level. It gets the best of all worlds — the controllable and lightweight nature of the 797, plus a little extra shove from the engine and the top-of-the-line tech and control systems from the 1200. And it costs just over $11,000.

Who It’s For: The commuter who doesn’t need the power of a bigger engine, but wants the tech that seemingly only the bigger, more expensive bikes get.

What’s Good: “For some, and understandably so, the 147-horsepower Monster 1200 may prove to be too much bike and the 797 too small and rudimentary. The 821 comes in as the Goldilocks option: it utilizes the same frame, brakes, tank and headlight, the beautiful if intricate, color TFT instrument display and traction control and ride mode system as the more expensive 1200 — but delivers it all in a much more manageable, affordable package. That seems to be the magic of the Monster. The Scrambler may be its own sub-brand, but the Monster has its own following under the larger Ducati umbrella. It offers the same styling with different levels of performance, attracting a wider array of riders. It succeeds with an architecture Ducati got right the first time and has simply fined tuned over the years in small, minute increments like Porsche has done with the 911.” – Bryan Campbell

What to Watch Out For: The term ‘all-new’ for 2018 has to be used loosely. “The engine in the new 821 is the same 821cc Testastretta L-Twin engine from the outgoing model but gets a host of modern hardware from the bigger, more technologically advanced 1200. Looking at the 797 and the 821 side-by-side, you might say they’re both entry-level models; if the 797 is the base model, with no options ticked, the 821 is the upgraded sport package. – Bryan Campbell

Value: There are very few other bikes at this price point with this much technology on board, though that much tech is becoming increasingly more common. Aside from the power deficit and the yellow paint job option, the 821 is incredibly similar to its big brother, the Monster 1200 — a bike that starts around $17,000.

Design: “Ducati’s Monster married a superbike engine to a Super Sport frame and created somewhat of a new genre with the “naked” sportbike — a modern cafe racer of sorts. It was an undeniable hit. It was different. It was beautiful. It could handle the canyon roads as well as a race bike could tackle the track and it came with three different engine options: the M600, M750, and M900. Until now, we’ve had the all-new Monster 1200 and 797; and now, the latest update: the middleweight 821. For 2018, in keeping with tradition, Ducati brought its iconic, entry-level roadster into the modern era with an incredibly minimalistic approach.” – Bryan Campbell

Verdict: “The 821 certainly isn’t a paradigm shift in the Monster universe, but what it gets right is bringing upper-echelon sportbike technology within the grasp of new riders — or riders not interested in spending nearly $18,000 for what should be standard on any modern sport bike.” – Bryan Campbell

What Others Are Saying:
“Stylish yet utilitarian, practical yet exciting, thoroughly modern but consciously linked to its glorious past, the 821, like Italy itself, blends opposing forces in a harmonious whole, forging its own identity in the process. The 821 isn’t just the Monster 1200’s little sibling. It’s a user-friendly package suitable for less experienced riders, but it’s also competent and engaging in ways that appeal to riders looking for a motorcycle distinguished, not by a single dominant sensation, but by the parity of its parts in pursuit of motorcycling bliss.” – Cycle World

“By far the biggest change, though, is to the electronics, and this comes in two parts. First, the old, letterbox-esque LCD dashboard has been consigned to the trash can in favor of a thoroughly modern color TFT display. Second, Ducati have thrown a full-on electronics package as standard at the 821 and that means full ride-by-wire with 8-level configurable traction control, three-level configurable ABS, and three engine maps.” – Ride Apart

“In the end, I think the new Monster would make a fantastic and stylish first Ducati for any rider with more than six months of riding experience under their belt. Ducati wasn’t B.S.-ing when it claimed the new 821 is the “Best Balanced Monster.” – Motorcycle.com

Engine: 821cc L-Twin
Horsepower: 109
Torque: 63 lb-ft
Price: $11,995

Best Value Commuter: 2017/18 Kawasaki Z650



In the middle-weight naked bike category, the bikes are so closely matched that any scrutiny has to be done under a microscope. Pricing is all evenly matched, though the Kawi is one of the more affordable options compared to its Japanese rivals (even on the ABS model at $7,399) and also edges out the competition on styling with lively pearl white plastics and an electric green trellis frame. Where the Z650 really shines is under power in the mid-range, right where you need it for passing traffic in day-to-day commuter traffic.

Who It’s For: The rider who wants to save a money rather than shell out for the absolute best in class but still wants to enjoy tight and twisty back roads on the way home from work.

What’s Good: “Team Green developed this bike as the bigger brother of their own monkey-bike, the Z125 Pro. That means power took a backseat to flickability during development. Which is why Kawi only breathed on their tried-and-tested 649cc parallel-twin engine, opting to smooth out delivery and provide grunt where it was needed most — in the mid-range.” — Matt Neundorf

What to Watch Out For: To be a better bike for a wider audience, Kawasaki set up the front forks more lightly sprung than usual. It makes the bike more user-friendly to novice riders but aggressive riders might overdo it and find the front end diving under hard braking.

Value: For a modern, naked sports bike to have this level performance and a $6,999 price tag hanging off the bars, it’s a bargain.

Verdict: “You feel this as soon as you settle into the saddle. During stop-and-go stints in downtown Santa Monica, there were no struggles to stand flat-foot at lights, and the bike never felt like it could get away from me. The revised chassis geometry and slim, straight bars make 90-degree, grid-street negotiations a breeze, meaning this thing will do well for urban commuters too.” — Matt Neundorf

What Others Are Saying:
“In all, the Z650 satisfies nearly all of the prerequisites for an affordable, mid-level, sport-inspired machine. In terms of performance, nearly all of the systems found on the Z650 have massive amounts of potential to take a rider with little to no experience, and allow for a great deal of maturation to take place; a rider can develop their skills for a good while, before stepping to the next rung on the proverbial ladder.” – Ultimate Motorcycling

“As it stands, the bike is a great addition to the Z family, and proof of what Kawasaki has learned from years spent with the Z1000 and Z800 (both of which will be replaced by the Z900 for 2017). And it’s a great option for those naked bike lovers who’ve been waiting for a mid-displacement twin with Team Green badges on its side.” – Cycle World

Engine: 649cc parallel twin
Horsepower: 63
Torque: 42 lb-ft
Price: $6,999

Best Big Engine Bike: 2018 Ducati Multistrada



As far as styling and sound go, the Multistrada can be polarizing. What’s not up for debate, though, is how well the big adventure sport bike rides and tackles turns. The secret is the phenomenal Skyhook semi-active suspension and the clever way Ducati engineers hid the bulk of the Multistrada’s 518 pounds. It has the looks of an adventure bike, but when you start to flick the ‘Strada back and forth, navigating traffic and city streets, it’s easy to forget it can handle a mountain pass or two as well.

Who It’s For: The long distance commuter.

What’s Good: “The high-visibility LED graphic display makes swapping riding modes and adjusting suspension settings a simple task, displaying them in simple, visual terms. With a dry weight of 467 pounds, the Multistrada 1260 feels light and agile, albeit a bit tall (seat height is adjustable from 32.5-33.3 in), which makes maneuvering the bike in and out of parking spaces somewhat difficult if you’re a shorter rider.” — Justin Coffey

What to Watch Out For: “Don’t expect to take the new 1260 off-road, as its 17-inch cast Marchesini wheels are more adept at eating up the asphalt than dirt.” — Justin Coffey

Value: The sports-adventure bike category is a tough one to navigate — nearly every manufacturer offers one at this point and they’re all similarly priced. The Ducati, though, has style to go with its tech and performance.

Design: The Multistrada 1260 feels much like the outgoing 1200cc model. Riding position stays the same – upright, comfortable, with wide handlebars and ample wind protection thanks to the on-the-fly adjustable windscreen. With the longer wheelbase, the new 1260 is more confident in corners, more noticeably so in the faster, sweeping curves on the island of Gran Canaria. — Justin Coffee

Verdict: “Ducati’s Multistrada was designed to offer the owner a variety of options. From taking the long way home to riding the length of South America, the Multistrada is capable of many tasks, although it excels at making twisty (paved) roads disappear into the distance. Locking luggage comes standard (optional aluminum panniers are available from Touratech), as do heated grips, keyless ignition, a tire pressure monitoring system and a quick-shift function (clutch-less up- and downshifts, available on the S and Pikes Peak models). With its upright riding position and multiple ride modes, the new 1260 can transform from a docile urban commuter to an aggressive sport-touring machine with the push of a few buttons.” — Justin Coffey

What Others Are Saying:
“So much of what has made the Multistrada a popular machine since 2010 is captured wholly in the new 1260. The engine is the biggest improvement. Ducati claims six additional ponies over the 1200, but it doesn’t really feel faster. The longer wheelbase makes it less prone to wheelie, I’m sure—mostly it’s how linear the power delivery is that made me smile. It’s happy to lug around town, and has a fat midrange that won’t disappoint.” – Cycle World

“The handling of the Multistrada 1260 is superb for a motorcycle of its size. At a claimed 511 lbs wet and with a 62.4-inch wheelbase, I was pleasantly impressed with how precise and light the front end felt and how quickly the entire motorcycle could be flicked from side to side.” – Motorcycle.com

Engine: 1262 90-degree L-twin
Horsepower: 158
Torque: 95.5 lb-ft
Price: $18,695+

Most Stylish: 2018 BMW R NineT Urban G/S



The heritage line at BMW is a tad confusing. The R NineT that launched the line, though it’s a pretty bike, at $15,000 seems rather tame. It does have the technology and power to warrant a price tag around that limit, but the Urban G/S not only looks miles better, it’s more affordable as well. Granted, though it’s more pared down, tech-wise, it still handles just as well as the R Nine T its based on. A Dakar racer it is not, but while weaving through traffic downtown few things look cooler.

Who It’s For: The rider who wants iconic style and design cues blended into a modern BMW.

What’s Good: “Calling it a new model is a touch misleading, though, because it’s essentially just a restyled R nineT Scrambler — except better looking. A high front fender, nose fairing and the iconic combination of red seat and blue tank graphics over a white paint job bring out the best in the R NineT’s styling. The exhaust differs from the Scrambler’s as well, but the rest of the running gear — like the compact analog-digital combo speedo — is identical. It even comes standard with the Scrambler’s alloy wheels, but the optional spoked wheels (pictured) are the ones you want. As a styling exercise, there’s no doubt the Urban G/S is a home run.” – Wesley Reyneke

What to Watch Out For: Where the original G/S that this bike takes most of its inspiration from was known for dominating Dakar, the Urban G/S is not as off-road savvy. It has a few design touches here and there that would help it do better on a dirt than the R NineT it’s based on, but for the most part, it’s just that: design touches.

Value: It might be a slightly paired down version of the more expensive R NineT, but there’s no doubting it looks better. Saving around $3,000 doesn’t hurt either.

Design: “The Urban G/S’s upright ergonomics make it all-day comfortable, but you’ll eventually pine for a cushier saddle, if you do find yourself in the saddle. Its 485-pound form factor won’t give you supermoto-like levels of handling, but the low center of gravity makes it relatively easy to muscle through turns. It’s a deceptively compact motorcycle.” – Wesley Reyneke

Verdict: “The Urban G/S does have incredible potential to be customized beautifully, to be made unique, to be made your own. If customization isn’t your thing, that shouldn’t turn you away. Out of the box, the Urban G/S is a great-looking and well-performing motorcycle. Even if you won’t actually race across the desert with it, it’ll make you feel like you can.” – Wesley Reyneke

What Others Are Saying:
“The heritage the Urban G/S pays tribute to is reminiscent of the old R80 G/S, a motorcycle that basically invented the adventure-touring category. In its time, dirt bikes were lightweight, single-cylinder machines. The original G/S was a street bike fitted for off-pavement duty, a motorcycle made for exploring. The modern version, the Urban G/S, really is no different..” – Revzilla

“The thing is, while none of the other models have really struck my fancy, I really like the R NineT Urban G/S. BMW seemed more willing to admit the Urban G/S is not an adventure bike but a daily bike for people who loved that first adventure bike and who are moved by the styling..” – Cycle World

Engine: air- and oil-cooled 1,170cc flat-twin
Horsepower: 110
Torque: 85 lb-ft
Price: $12,995

Best All-Electric Option: 2018 Zero DS ZF13.0 +POWER TANK



There’s an argument to be made that motorcyclists have a better understanding of torque than most. Sitting so close to the fulcrum point at the wheel, with any amount of twist from the engine you can easily feel the forces at work. Now consider that one of the defining characteristics of electric vehicles is their maximum torque is available from zero RPM — full power can be instantaneous and available throughout the rev range. When you need to make a last minute pass or get ahead of traffic off the line, an electric motorcycle can spoil a rider. The Zero DS ZF13.0 +POWER TANK is admittedly on the expensive side for the bike that it looks like, however, having 188 miles per charge is a mileage stat not many other bikes can boast. Efficiency is the Zero DS ZF13.0 +POWER TANK, but the way it sends power to the rear wheel is addictive and a great way to spice up any commute.

Who It’s For: The eco-concsious commuter who has a taste for neo-futurism and appreciates that quality power doesn’t mean paying through the teeth at the pump.

What’s Good: Even without the Power Tank option added, the DS gets better city mileage than almost any other bike in its price bracket or power class. Spring for the Power Pack and the DS ZF13.0 increases its range from 147 miles to 188 miles. In other words, more than enough to stifle any lingering range anxiety.

What to Watch Out For: You’re paying for the battery performance, technology and capabilities. Where the Zero falls short is the overall refinement. The plastics seem to be on the cheaper side of the spectrum. But if you can look past that, the DS’s 188-mile range makes it an incredible commuter.

Value: As mentioned, the plastics and overall refinement of the Zero DS falls a tad short, but the better range and money saved at the pump is really why you’re buying this. It’s no electric-assist pedal bike either. Aside from the lack of exhaust note, this is a genuine motorcycle and should be looked at as such. Not many other motorcycles at this price point can claim the same endurance.

Design: The DS design lands somewhere in the gray area between the dirt world and sports standard city bike. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — giving off the peppy character of a scrambler or dual sport while retaining the practicality and comfort of a city bike helps the DS stand out. Oddly, its the complete lack of noise as you ride by that catches the attention of most.

Verdict: There’s a lot to go back and forth on with electric bikes — the lack of sound, the range anxiety, the lack of gears or on some, the pointless gears. But the DS can handle corners well enough (despite being 457-lbs) and will go further than anything else you have in your garage on two wheels. Not to mention it’s one fewer reason to vist the gas station and give them money.

What Others Are Saying:
“Basically, with some cute bodywork and clubman bars, this bike would be the perfect scrambler. Like all Zero motorcycles, it’s best as your daily commuter, but if you really need to do those 100-mile Sundays in the canyons, or just have a long distance commute, there’s always the power tank, which gives it an additional 25 miles at Highway/City combined. That 25 miles of range comes at a price of $2,695 and 44 lbs of added weight.” – Clean Technica

“Zero DS is pleasurable in virtually any riding environment. It’s not your run of the mill electric bicycle “wannabe” motorcycle, but the real deal. If there were a negative issue, it would be that it’s so quiet that other motorists are often unaware of your presence, requiring extra vigilance on your part..” – The Fast Lane Car

Power: Lithium-ion Cell Zero Force Battery
Horsepower: 60
Torque: 81 lb-ft
Price: $16,890
The Best SUVs Under $50,000

Choosing one among the endless many is no easy task. Moreover, since the average price for an SUV 2017 was just under $40,000, it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To cover all the bases, we bumped the budget up to $50,000 and chose the best new SUVs you can buy in 2018. Read the Story