2020: weird year, lasted forever, pandemic, masks, election, and stuff, yadda, yadda. We get it, this year sucked on so many levels. There was also some good amid all the chaos. We saw people step up to the plate and try to make the world a little better.
On the motorcycle front, not everything was bad either. After the spring slump, the industry rapidly bounced back as an increasing number of people turned away from public transports and sought new modes of personal transportation which included motorcycles and scooters. Dirt bike sales were off the charts because riders found out that hitting the trail was an excellent way to be outside while also social distancing.
The other good news is that the year is coming to an end and that we have several things to look forward to in 2021, including new bikes. That might not be as important as, say, a new vaccine, but it makes us riders happy so it has to count for something, right?
Everyone on the team is excited about the new Kawasaki KLX300 SM and the Triumph Trident 660 and I absolutely second that opinion—especially the new entry-level Brit. Since the crew already discussed all the excellent reasons to look forward to these new additions to the market, however, I thought I'd shake things up a little and talk about other bikes that deserve our attention in the new year. So, in reality, consider this my "7 Bikes Sabrina is Looking Forward To" rather than five since the Trident and the KLX are two default choices.
The Bimota KB4 has two things going for it: an incredible vintage look and the engine of one of my favorite bikes on the market. There’s just something about that vintage racing fairing that does it for me. It worked on the MV Agusta Superveloce, it works on the KB4.
We’ve been waiting for the second Bimota bike for a few months now and the Italian firm recently confirmed that its retro racer is set to debut in the spring of 2021. We already know that the new model is going to use the Kawasaki Ninja 1000’s 1,043cc inline-four. Inside the famous
Japanese sportbike, the mill produces 138 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque. We can assume that the new KB will offer similar power figures.
Good looks, great and accessible engine—now if only Bimota could increase production volume and expand distribution, that’d be great.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350
This bike was a long time coming. Rumors of a Meteor revival surfaced in March, 2019, but it wasn’t until early 2020 that Royal Enfield confirmed that it was indeed developing a new motorcycle to replace the outgoing Thunderbird.
After pushing the launch back a few times, the company unveiled its new 350 in November. Not only that but Enfield’s North American division that the bike would head for the United States in 2021. What’s so exciting about the Meteor? Well, first, it’s going to be the first time that the bike maker sells a 350 in North America—so far, we’ve had a 400, two 500s, and two 650s.
Plus, it runs on a new 350 engine rather than the one already sold in the smallest Classic and Bullet. Finally, the Meteor is also equipped with Enfield’s first navigation system, one that we’ll likely see carried over in other models including those already available here.
If that’s not enough to make you curious about the Meteor, I don’t know what will.
If you haven’t had a chance to try Yamaha’s inline triple, I recommend you do. Especially the 2021 version since Yamaha boosted both the displacement and output. The MT-09 already provided a raw form of fun back when it rocked its 847cc engine—imagine how much more fun that new 890cc mill is going to be.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-09's engine now makes 117 horsepower and 68.6 lb-ft of torque for a bike that only weighs 417 pounds. The power increase is enough to make up for the ugly new design Team Blue adopted for its two mid-range MTs. The LED projector headlight is obviously inspired by the MT-03, but the layout between light “brackets” doesn’t look nearly as nice. Anyway, you don’t see any of that mess once you sit on the bike, so who cares?
Husqvarna Norden 901
Contrarily to its Austrian counterpart, Husqvarna has been quiet this year. Aside from a few special edition dirtbikes, Pierer Mobility’s Swedish branch didn’t unveil anything new to its lineup. That’s a shame because there’s one bike I’ve been looking forward to and that’s the Norden 901.
Husky unveiled the concept at EICMA 2019 and thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response the bike received, the bike maker decided to go ahead and make the Norden a reality. A year later, however, and we’re still waiting. Thankfully, it looks like we won't have to wait much longer as the bike was recently spotted on the road which suggests we shouldn’t have much longer to wait.
I'm aware that, by the sound of it, the Norden will use the same engine as the already available KTM 890 Adventure (and most likely the same underpinnings as well) so what’s there really to be excited about? To be blunt, as fun as KTM's bikes are, I'm a little over the praying mantis look. That single, round headlight Husqvarna is considering works for me.
The Norden appeared on my 2020 list, now appears on my 2021, and will continue to appear on my "looking forward to" lists until Husqvarna decides that it's time to get cracking.
Aprilia Tuareg 660
Aprilia created a lot of buzz in 2020 when it officially launched its first mid-size sportbike, the RS 660. Finally, the Italian marque gave us something accessible and (somewhat) affordable and the world rejoiced. Aprilia also hinted at a naked version when it presented the Tuono 660 Concept at EICMA 2019. Rumors now suggest that the half-liter Tuono is set to launch in the spring.
The Tuono wasn't the only clue Aprilia gave us about the direction its entry-level lineup is going to take. There was also a glass box on the EICMA stage, filled with tropical foliage, hiding yet another bike. Between the leaves, a badge was barely visible: Tuareg. The idea of a Tuareg 660 was enough to get the industry buzzing again.
Though Aprilia has yet to confirm the new bike’s impending arrival, we have since seen pictures of the Tuareg roaming the streets which means that, whether the Italian firm admits it or not, the project is in development. Considering how well the RS 660 has been received, combined with the fact that I’m a sucker for adventure bikes, the Tuareg 660 fits right in my wheelhouse. Though we don’t have Aprilia’s word about this new bike, it’s hard not to be at least a little excited about it.