Bikes to see at the Toronto Motorcycle Show

The Toronto Motorcycle Show opens today, with most of the industry’s new-for-2020 models on display. For many riders, this is the first chance of the season to ogle this year’s new machinery. Here’s a taste of what you can check out in person this weekend.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

KTM continues to make its super-powerful Super Duke, seen above in the main photo, even more super-fast. This machine now has an absolutely silly 180 hp at 9,500 rpm, and 103 lbs.-ft. of torque at 8,000 rpm. The chassis has been revised to handle the power increase — new frame, subframe and longer swingarm.

There are also new 48 mm WP Apex forks, and a new Apex shock as well, with an updated shock linkage design. The forged aluminum wheels and the triple clamps are also new. KTM also designed new bodywork, with aerodynamic winglets that provide downforce at speed, improving stability. If you want proof that the line between superbikes and hypernakeds is rapidly disappearing, the new 1290 Super Duke R is one of the best examples.

The Streetfighter V4 has incredible power and up-to-date electronics and aerodynamics.
Ducati Streetfighter V4

Here’s another example of a superbike that’s masquerading as a naked bike. Its V4 engine makes 208 hp at 12,750 rpm, and 90 lbs.-ft. of torque at 11,500 rpm, and you can boost those numbers to 220 hp and 96 lbs.-ft. of torque by installing Ducati’s performance pack. Until recently, this power would have been unthinkable in even a superbike, let alone a naked bike aimed at street riding.

At its base, this is essentially a Panigale V4 minus the fairing, and with a high, wide handlebar instead of clip-ons. There’s a complete electronics safety package (leaning ABS, wheelie/traction control, etc.) and even aerodynamic winglets, all to make it easier to control the horsepower. It’s a wild bike, and it blazes a trail into a future of naked bikes that far eclipse the litrebikes of only a generation ago.

The Pan America will be on display in Toronto.
Harley-Davidson Pan America, and Bronx

Okay, so the Pan America isn’t in production yet, but it’s not too far off. First announced in July 2018, the Pan America is Harley-Davidson’s first adventure bike. First we saw drawings, and then we saw prototypes and mock-ups that began to appear on the show circuit last summer. Now, Harley-Davidson will have the Pan America’s actual prototype at the Toronto show, as well as a pre-production version of the new Bronx naked bike.

So will the H-D Bronx.

Remember that these aren’t necessarily 100 per cent representations of the final version of the motorcycle, which should be on the market in 2021. But they will give a good idea of what to expect for Harley-Davidson’s future.

The CBR1000RR-R takes Honda’s superbike line to a new level.
Honda CBR1000RR-R

Honda’s built a litrebike that’s aimed at on-track use, with  215 hp at 14,500 rpm, and 83 lbs.-ft. of torque at 12,500 rpm. Much of this bike’s design is drawn from the RC213V-S MotoGP replica bike that Honda built a few years back, with engine internals patterned from that machine. It’s a completely modern machine, not a lightly warmed-over update, and its performance in next year’s World Superbike series will be interesting to watch.

Like every other current superbike, the CBR1000RR-R has a complete electronics package, with a selection of riding modes that includes the capability to tweak the setup for rider preference. Even the steering damper is controlled by the six-axis IMU. There’s also a set of aerodynamic winglets on the fairing, for stabilization. Although the previous CBR1000 was a little lacking, this latest version has got everything you’d expect.

If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced bike that won’t have silly-high insurance, check out the MT-03.
Yamaha MT-03

The show has lots of high-horsepower machinery, but Yamaha’s R3 sportbike has been tearing up racetracks and streets since its introduction, so Yamaha’s done the sensible thing and introduced a naked version. The MT-03 is basically the same bike, but without a fairing — same engine, similar suspension.

That means a lot of the go-fast parts for the R3 will also bolt right on to the MT-03, and it means it’ll be just as reliable and fun. This machine will likely be an excellent seller for Yamaha this year, and the show is a good opportunity to check it out.

The FTR Rally is a fusion of traditional styling with up-to-date bits like EFI and ABS, and high-level fit and finish.
Indian FTR Rally

When Polaris bought Indian, the revived company focused on what it knew best: big-bore cruisers. But recently, it’s been moving toward building sportier machines, and the FTR Rally is a great example of that.

It’s a kinda-sorta-scrambler, with knobby tires and spoked wheels for a retro look. With 123 hp and 89 lbs.-ft. of torque on tap, and a wide handlebar, this should be a very fun bike to throw around, and a great machine to just look at. You can do that this weekend at the Enercare Centre.

The Ninja 1000 is a litrebike for a rider who wants a machine that works in the real world.
Kawasaki Ninja 1000

The Ninja 1000 is Kawi’s more sensible litrebike; it’s aimed more at real-world usability than the ZX-10R, and the updated 2020 version is even more usable on the streets, thanks to significant electronics updates.

Kawasaki added cruise control to the 2020 machine, and a set of riding modes with traction control and power output customization and other tweaks. Leaning ABS was also added, thanks to a Bosch IMU. Kawasaki also built in a quickshifter, and re-tuned the ECU to give the engine more aggressive response. There’s a new TFT screen, new windshield and new seat. All in all, a mix of small and big changes that should make this machine a much more desirable motorcycle for touring enthusiasts and other riders who want real-world comfort and performance.

BMW’s new S1000 XR adventure bike has major weight loss for its 2020 update.
BMW S1000 XR

Everybody thought BMW would put Shiftcam technology into the 2020 S1000 XR update. We didn’t get that, but we did get an engine that’s more usable: longer ratios through the top gears, revised anti-hop clutch, and electronic engine drag torque control, and most importantly, Euro5 regulation compliance. Impressively, BMW reduced the bike’s weight by 10 kg for 2020. Add that all together and this revised machine should be much more enjoyable and easier to ride at a good clip.

BMW’s packed a load of electronic wizardry into the machine again, with Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro riding modes. The Dynamic Pro allows a considerable amount of user-configured electro-interference, including adjustable throttle response, engine braking,traction control, wheelie control, and more. The bike has leaning ABS, hill start assist, optional cornering headlight, 6.5-inch TFT screen — all the conveniences of a modern, high-end touring motorcycle.


  1. Just an observation, 8 out of 9 of these bikes will never, or should never be in the hands of a new rider. It’s too bad the manufacturers aren’t building more bikes for new riders that are worth a look.

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