Despite this year's weirdness, the RideApart team still got to do what it does best: ride bikes. Sure, we didn't get to travel nearly as much as in previous years (I know, first world problem) and for a while, manufacturers had to scramble to figure out how to safely get their bikes in our hands. However, though our motorcycle review calling card was a bit shorter than usual, we were lucky enough to still get in the saddle of some of the most exciting bikes of the year.
Some of those bikes really stood out for us and in proper "let's look back at all we've done" fashion, we decided to share with your our five favorites test bikes of 2020. Which one was your favorite?
2020 Kawaski Z900 RS Café
The Kawasaki Z900 RS Café isn't only a looker—it's a real hoot as well. Despite the modern take on a vintage design, it still managed to fool some people into thinking it was much older than it actually is.
The model has been around for two years and carried over in 2020 unchanged. That being said, since it featured on Sabrina's "Really Rad Bikes to Review" wishlist, it didn't need any fancy updates to deserve a spot in our review schedule. And boy was it worth it!
The Café is a real delight. Not only does it look good and rides well, but Kawasaki made sure its neo-retro was a triple threat with a specially tuned exhaust that makes the 948cc inline-four sing.
2021 Aprilia RS 660
There's a reason the new Aprilia RS 660 is often referred to as the "Goldilocks bike" by reviewers. The Italian firm managed to strike the perfect balance between accessibility and excitement without sacrificing too much.
Both Dustin and Luca, our colleague over at OmniMoto, thought the bike to be an important milestone for the company. Aprilia's first mid-size engine in a long time is tractable, responsive, without being overbearing. Between its gorgeous silhouette, efficient aerodynamics, surprisingly versatile powertrain, and overall approachable personality, there's a chance the Aprilia RS 660 could be one of the best bike to have launched this year.
2020 Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin
Though Sabrina wasn't sold on how overly sensitive the ride-by-wire throttle was, which was a bit of a pain in the neck over bumps and dips (imagine in an off-road context!), the new CRF flagship is deserving of all the praise nonetheless. The upgraded 1,084cc twin makes the bike unsuspectedly responsive and exciting to ride—far more than the previous generation.
In addition to the new, more powerful engine, the bike also shed a few pounds during the redesign process, resulting in a more manageable big-size ADV. Honda did some stellar work with its famous adventurer and deserves the recognition.
2021 Honda Trail 125
When Honda announced the revival of the CT (or Trail) family with the introduction of the Super Cub-based CT125, the Internet exploded. Everyone was super ready for it. What's not to love about a scrambler Cub, anyway?
Dustin got to take the new CT, er, Trail 125 on and off the road to see if it was really as awesome as we all hoped it would be. The answer is yes—provided your expectations are aligned with the purpose the bike is meant to fulfill.
With its 125cc engine, the Trail does have its limitations but when you use it the way it's meant to be used, it performs admirably. It does well on the road and even better off of it. Dustin's only recommendation would be to swap out the factory tires if you want a little more grip in the dirt. If not, the Trail 125 really is the perfect go-anywhere mini moto.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4
We waited for the new Multistrada for a really long time. The new Italian adventurer finally launched in November, 2020, and it wasn't long before our friend and colleague Luca go to jump in the saddle and put it through its paces.
The all-new Multi V4 ended up being one of his favorite rides of the year. The V4 Granturismo is as powerful and as flexible as you need an ADV powertrain to be with a little added spunk in Sport mode. Ducati claims that the Multistrada is four bikes in one thanks to its versatility and Luca can certainly vouch for it.