Let me start off by saying I haven’t ridden all these bikes but I have lusted after them from afar. Hence the reason for them making this list. I think we could be witnessing some of the best times in motorcycle manufacturing history. Companies venturing out and building bikes that differ from their normal practices, reviving old classics and generally putting the focus back on riding motorcycles and exploring the planet on two wheels. And that makes me very happy.
KTM’s new 799cc parallel twin cranks out just a hair under 100 rear wheel horsepower while only tipping the scales and a meer 414lbs wet, earning its monoker “the scalpel”. The little orange dynamo comes equipped with a pantload of “ready to race” electronics like launch and wheelie control but also gives you the option to turn them off for full tilt access to complete hooliganism. Along with the engine control goodies comes an ABS package but with a feature they call supermoto that I have been begging for in ABS equipped bikes, you can turn the ABS function on the rear wheel off (cue angels singing).
#2 The Indian FTR1200
One of the more anticipated bikes of the year and technically not available until spring 2019 the street version of the dominant race only FTR750 was release late this year. The closest thing to a real flat track race bike you can get from a manufacture the American muscle bike is easy on the eyes for sure. What I view as the first American “hooligan” production bike is built to be the street to dirt crossover, sporting flat track tires out of the box and real legit sex appeal. At 508lbs wet it’s a bit on the tubby side for in my opinion and 120hp (at the crank) could be a bit better from the new v-twin could also be a bit better when you compare it to other in class bikes. But the styling and components like Brembo brakes, Dunlop DT-3R’s and LED lighting making up for a bit of a lackluster horsepower to weight ratio.
#3 Triumph Scrambler 1200
Yet another bike I haven’t ridden yet but makes me squirm in my seat like a gradeschooler 3 minutes before recess. This bike was recently unveiled by Triumph and seems to be flying under the radar a bit. Big props to Triumph for making what looks to be a true “scrambler”. That term gets tossed around a lot these days but Triumph seemingly has delivered the goods with a 1200cc parallel twin with legit wheels, suspension and brakes. Classic scrambler styling married to legit tech in the form of 5 switchable riding modes, switchable ABS (thank the moto gods), traction control, LED lighting, key-less ignition, cruise control and built in USB charging all coming standard on the new entry from across the pond. Color me intrigued, hopefully I’ll get to spend some time on one of these next year.
#4 Harley Davidson Fat Bob
First off, I am a huge fan of HD’s new Milwaukee 8 powerplant. By the numbers in stock form its fairly uninspiring with horsepower and torque numbers similar to a stock 103 Twin Cam. But when you start adding things like intake,exhaust and cams these motors really wake up. They respond to bolt on modification better than any other previous Harley motor. It’s entirely possible to end up with 125-130 rear wheel horsepower out of a standard big bore kit and cams. Those engine combinations become even more interesting in the Fat Bob package. The reason I specifically like the Fat Bob over the rest of the new Softail family is the chassis dimensions. With 28 degrees of rake and 5.2” of trail and less than 64” of wheelbase the Fat Bob is the best handling big cruiser I’ve thrown a leg over in a while. It could definitely use factory mid-controls and the styling takes a second to get used to but new Harley is many performance levels above its predecessors.
#5 BMW F850GS
I’ve been lusting after an adventure touring bike for a while. The Honda Africa Twin really peaked my interest and now BMW drops a brand new middleweight that is enticing me to make room in my garage. The chain driven parallel twin is big enough to smash some real miles while small enough to raise handling confidence off road. The more I ride the more I find myself riding off road, with that comes the desire for an adventure bike. Most times my street riding sessions are always interrupted by the desire to go down a random trail I happen to pass by, this bike would make my on to off road dreams come true. No surprise it’s a basically a standout in every category with BMW’s history of bad-ass adventure bikes. With an Alaska trip on my bucket list this bike will stay on my radar.
#6 Husqvarna TE300i
A fuel injected 300cc two stroke. SOLD. I’m a sucker for 2 strokes and this oil and fuel injected Husky with all the fixins make me rethink the adventure bike purchase. The idea of dressing one of these in street trim and picking my way across the western United States is incredibly appealing. With plenty of aftermarket farkels available to do a bit of off road touring with you could have your off/on road hooligan cake and eat it too. With no dirt obstacle to stand in my why the only question would be how much on roading the TE300i would put up with? Doesn’t matter, did I mention this was a 300cc fuel injected two stroke?
#7 Ural Gear Up
As I continue to plan out my on-to-off road fantasies I go further down the off road side of the rabbit hole. And you won’t get much farther down that hole than a Ural. Obviously the side car could potentially be a bit wide for some trails but, we’d have so much more room for activities! Oh, and did I mention the Gear Up has on demand 2wd drive? The Russian company seems to gain visibility year after year and the bike seems to be getting a bit more polished. With the 2wd drive option, extra fuel can, spare tire and the ability to cross what looks to be uncrossable rivers (google Ural river crossing) I really want to load one to the gills with camping equipment and disappear for a few weeks.
#8 Harley Davidson Evo Sportster
Yeah, obviously not a new bike but a bike that in my opinion should be in every garage. The best all around Harley ever built can be picked up in running condition all across America for $2500. They are infinitely modifiable from anything from hooligan style bike you can beat at your local track to a rad chopper or even little camp/touring machine to rip the countryside with. The little 4 cam motors respond well to modification and generally pump out more horsepower per cc than their big twin counterparts. And every single part is readily available via the aftermarket or Craigslist score. Do yourself a favor and buy one to live out your bike builder fantasy and have a absolute blast in the process.
#9 Honda Monkey Bike
If you didn’t own one of the original Z series Monkey Bikes when you were a kid then you at least knew someone who did and more than likely spent at least a few minutes on one in your youth. Honda re-released the bike that launched millions of new riders with the same look we all remember from our childhood but with new tech. The street legal pint sized machine gets a 125cc fuel injected overhead cam motor and comes with all the street legal fixins and even an ABS option (seems excessive). For $4k you can relive your childhood fantasies without all the shade tree wrenching, push starting and oil loss.
#10 Honda Goldwing
The best touring bike on the planet was finally revamped after 16 years for 17/18 and surprise, it got better. After a complete overhaul of literally everything the bottom line is the Wing got lighter and more nimble while gaining a more efficient engine and a pantload of new tech. The reason it makes this list is like I stated above, it’s simply the best touring bike available. The only reason someone in the market for a new touring bike wouldn’t own one of these is ego. There can be a bit of stigma attached to being a Wing owner but if your not attached to the classic styling of and American touring bike you’d own one of these. I’m not there yet but I’ll probably have one in my garage at some point later in life when I retire from social media to ride off into all the sunsets.
I’m not exactly sure what 2019 holds for my moto-future but I hope it’s some time spent on a few of the above machines. While my wish list will probably keep growing i’ll do my damndest to throw my leg over as any machines as i can and I hope 2019 gives you as many opportunities as possible to spend time on your favorite motorcycle.