Bikes to Watch in 2019

We’ve seen most of the new-for-2019 motorcycles unveiled at Germany’s Intermot show in October and Italy’s EICMA show this month. Here are 10 new models that have us pumped for next riding season!

Wot, no V-twin? The Livewire is Harley-Davidson’s bold foray into the world of electric motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson Livewire

This electric roadster is the future of Harley-Davidson. With the baby boomer buyer base moving on to two-wheeled retirement and a general declining interest in cruiser-style bikes, Harley-Davidson knows it must change. This machine is the result. It’s no exaggeration to say this is the biggest gamble Harley-Davidson has taken in its modern history. Harley-Davidson says its plan is to deliver “a full portfolio of electric motorcycles by 2022.”

However, for such an important model, we still don’t know much about the bike, despite the allegedly production-ready machine being unveiled at the EICMA show. What’s the battery range? What’s the output? What’s the recharging time? What’s the weight? What’s the price? We just don’t know at this point.

The S1000 RR has more power and less weight for 2019, and is priced competitively as well.

BMW S1000 RR

BMW’s litre bike has muscled up and gone on a diet. Now, it puts out 207 hp at 13,500 rpm, and 83 lb-ft of torque at 11,000 rpm. Wet weight is 197 kg.  Oh, and there’s new fully-adjustable suspension. That all makes for a real rocket, especially considering this is the standard street version of this bike, not some homologation special built specifically for World Superbike competition. But BMW does intend to race this in World Superbike with a factory team, and we’re betting we’ll see some mayhem in the standings as a result.

Looking good! The Panigale V4 R was built with one goal in mind: World Superbike contention.

Ducati V4 Panigale R

Speaking of those homologation specials: Ducati’s standard V4 Panigale is not legal for World Superbike competition due to its 1103 cc engine capacity. Simple solution: Build a WSB-legal bike based on the same platform. This is the result.

Even though this version of the V4 is only 998 cc, this bike actually has more power than the standard Panigale, due to tricky engine internals. With the accessory race kit installed, Ducati says this machine makes 234 hp, though it’s only rated at 214 hp in the base model. And while that’s very exciting, Ducati also got crazy and installed MotoGP-style carbon-fibre winglets  to provide aerodynamic downforce, The frame is modified to make it more race-friendly, and the fully-adjustable suspension is World Superbike-spec as well, with new NPX 25/30 front forks and a TTX36 shock in back. It even comes with a GPS-enabled telemetry unit built in, something that was pretty much science fiction only a generation ago.

All in all, this is looking like the superbike to beat next year.

KTM’s 790 Adventure models are giving middleweight ADV bike fans a reason to get excited.

KTM 790 Adventure R

KTM is responsible for some of the wildest big-bore adventure bikes on the market, but now there’s a new mid-sized option. Well, two options, as there’s the base 790 Adventure and the up-spec 790 Adventure R. And while the base model is pretty decent (94 hp and 63 lbs.-ft. of torque, WP suspension, 20-litre fuel tank, traction control, 5-inch TFT screen), the R model brings even more to the table, with 48 mm WP XPLOR USD shocks up front and a WP rear shock, with 240 mm of travel. This bike should rip.

The R1250 GS moves BMW’s adventure lineup boldly into the future, with the new Shiftcam engine.

BMW R1250 GS

BMW is best-known for its flat twins, especially in its adventure bike lineup. But in recent years, even with the addition of liquid cooling to the R1200 platform, the competition’s machines were getting ahead. So to make the engines perform better, BMW added variable valve timing on the intake side of the engine. The new Shiftcam technology means the engines should run more efficiently and produce power across a broader RPM range. Maybe they won’t be the silly-fast missiles that adrenaline junkies are always asking for, but they will be powerful, sensible all-rounders, able to handle all weather conditions and all terrain.

BMW has a long history of building great adventure bikes, and it’s exciting to see the next generation of these machines. Of course, if the standard GS doesn’t do quite enough for you, there’s also the R1250 GS Adventure version, optimized for off-road riding and long-distance travel. These machines have long been the weapon of choice for adventure riders in the know, and we bet that continues going forward.

The Z400 is Kawasaki’s unclothed version of the Ninja 400. It’s got the power and technology to keep even more experienced riders happy.

Kawasaki Z400

Enough about high-end adventure machinery, what’s new and great for the noobs? Kawasaki knows beginning riders deserve to have more than the lame lineup leftovers, so Team Green put together this super-cool naked bike based off the Ninja 400. It’s rated for 45 hp at 10,000 rpm, and 28 lbs.-ft. of torque at 8,000 rpm, with a 167 kg wet weight — all in all, a very manageable and fun package for even an advanced rider. EFI, dual-channel ABS, LED headlight: this is all proper stuff, and the Z400 really is a modern motorcycle in every aspect. Beginners don’t have to settle for second-best anymore.

Neo-retro Blade Runner styling with 21st century technology: the CB650R has the potential to be a real sleeper hit.

Honda CB650R

Perhaps unfairly, Honda is seen as building less-than-exciting motorcycles these days. Maybe the CB650R can change that. It uses Big Red’s 650 cc liquid-cooled inline four that’s tuned for street usage, unlike previous 600-class inline fours that typically had more peaky power for track use. But that engine is upgraded this year, now making 95 hp, so even the naysayers ought to be happy with those technical upgrades.

But this is hardly the only fast bike in the world, so why get excited? How about that cool neo-retro bodywork? Honda already had the CB1000R at the high end of the price scale, and the CB300R at the low end. The 650 should be the just-right solution for the average consumer who wants a cool bike, but has got other bills to pay too. Plus, you’ll look like you rode straight from the set of Blade Runner.

The Husqvarna EE 5 is an entry-level offroader for the modern day.

Husqvarna EE 5

Here’s another machine that’s aimed at the entry-level rider, and we’re really talking entry-level here. The Husqvarna EE 5 is an electric off-roader for kids, with a 907-watt lithium ion battery. As such, it’s not going to charm the pants off experienced braap-happy hoonigans, but that’s not its intention. Its intention is to make it easier for more people to get into the offroad scene.

Think about it. Electric bikes are going to be a lot easier for busy parents to keep running (no oil changes, no valve adjustments, no premix — you get the idea). They’re green, with no emissions to scare off those who fear Al Gore’s predictions of a coming global floodpocalypse. And they’re easy for parents to regulate; this particular bike makes the equivalent of 7 hp, supposedly, but there are six different ride modes for parents with a mind to taking control of their kids’ need, need for speed.

Is the Niken GT a motorcycle, or not? It does have three wheels, but it also leans, and needs a sidestand to stand on its own.

Yamaha Niken GT

Is this leaning three-wheeler even a motorcycle, technically speaking? On one hand, it has two wheels up front, instead of one. On the other hand, it does lean, and even requires a sidestand to stand on its own, unlike most three-wheelers. Whatever you think about it, there’s no question the Niken design is a bold step forward into the future of motorcycle design; the GT version is likely the most practical application of this three-wheeled technology, with fairing and side cases for sport touring use.

That front fairing will adapt to changing riding conditions, providing downforce as speed picks up.

Aprilia RS660 Concept

We couldn’t leave you without one concept bike. Although the Aprilia RS660 isn’t guaranteed to make production, at least not in this form, we really, really hope it does, because baby, this machine brings the heat.

The RS660 is powered by a parallel twin engine, supposedly derived from Aprilia’s uber-zesty V4 1100 motor (it’s also supposedly closely related to the vertical twin that’s used in Norton’s new Atlas Ranger and Atlas Nomad, but that could be baseless Internet gossip). The engine itself isn’t the big deal here, it’s the fairing.

See, the RS660 uses what Aprilia calls “active aerodynamics,” which is a fancy way of saying the bodywork is designed to change its shape in order to provide downforce when the bike is at speed. The bike is an interesting mix, for sure, because there’s cool tech like that, along with an all-aluminum frame , but the press release also talks about “a comfortable riding position, thanks to the large saddle located on the sleek tail fairing, footpegs that are not too high and a pair of semi-handlebars mounted on top of the upper steering yoke. The result is a saddle-handlebar-footpeg triangulation that is sporty yet comfortable, to the advantage of riding pleasure and comfort.” Despite the advanced components, this bike is intended to work for the everyday rider.


  1. I can’t believe you didn’t include the new Royal Enfield 650 twins. These look like one of the best bargains in years. A new bike for around $8000 with a long warranty.

    • If I thought they were going to make a serious attempt on the North American market, I’d include them, but so far the evidence is otherwise.

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