13 bikes that will make 2013 awesome

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Excited for next year? You should be. We’re getting not only some of the best bikes ever, but getting them at affordable prices, accessible performance levels and with appealing design too. Here’s 13 of the best new bikes coming in 2013, all guaranteed to not disappoint.

Photo: Ashlee Goodwin

Aprilia Caponord 1200

The recipe here is simple. Take one of the fastest, most fun naked/big sumo thingies out there an fit a big fairing, big tank and a comfy seat. What you’re going to pull out of the oven is a bike that’ll be all-day comfy, capable of hauling a pillion and luggage, but also a blast to ride on a good mountain road or even around a city. That latter point being where most sports tourers fall flat. A great only bike for someone that needs something that’ll do everything, very quickly.

Ducati Hypermotard

Just sat on the new, 821cc, liquid cooled hypermotard for the first time last week. First impressions? Holy crap it’s small! Much slimmer than the outgoing, air-cooled version, it feels approximately the size of a DR-Z400. You sit right up on top of the front wheel too, in true supermoto fashion. All that and they added 20bhp and dropped 9lbs from the old model. Looks a little dumpy in photos, but in person, those curves create a very nice looking motorcycle. This is the one I’m currently most lusting after.

Honda 500s

CBR500R, CB500, CB500X. Sportsbike, naked, ADV, all powered by the same 47bhp parallel-twin and starting at just $5,500 (sans fairing). The CBR is a do-it-all in the old F4 mold, the naked is styled like a CB1000R and the X should be all-day comfy and able to haul plenty of luggage for big trips and camping and whatnot. No matter which flavor you chose, you’re going to rewarded with practicality, comfort and frugality. Fun too, if bikes like the CBR250R and NC700X are anything to go by, anyone of any skill level is going to enjoy riding them.

Triumph Street Triple R

Already the best bike for fun street riding out there, 2013 drops a little weight, sharpens up the suspension and fits a new, low-slung, GP-style exhaust for great mass-centralization. That cast subframe looks way less plasticy in person than it does in photos and the juxtaposition of sharp panels and angular headlights with the very industrial-looking engine feels right in a way that evokes both speed and mechanical function. That 675cc triple is one of the most unique, evocative motors in motorcycling too.

Honda Goldwing F6B

A cruiser?! Out of all the new bikes this year, it’s this one that I find myself showing to most people, most often. Somehow, cutting the screen off a Goldwing and turning the rear into a bagger just worked. That donor bike was already utterly unique with it’s flat-six motor and freakishly good handling, now the emphasis is on enjoying that over just pounding out highway miles. Showed it to Roland Sands and he said, “I’d ride one.” Big compliment.

Kawasaki ZX-6R

600s are the absolute best performance bikes out there, mixing intuitive handling with huge speed in a package that still requires you to actually ride the bike, hard. The new Ninja is the latest, making it the greatest. The slightly larger, 636cc motor is a little more flexible and the addition of traction control (first in the class), is a huge step forward. Sharp looks help too, of course.

Honda CRF250L

This little thing just shreds, whether you’re on-road and off. It’ll go anywhere more specialized bikes can off-road and is way easier to ride for novices and it’s actually better on-road than other dual sports like the WR250R or DR-Z400S because it’s dead stable right up to it’s 85mph top speed. Keep it pinned and it’s totally happy on the highway, even over rain grooves. Just figure 75mph as a reliable cruising speed. I’ve rarely had so much fun riding a bike around city streets either. A general cohesiveness has it keeping up with supposedly much faster bikes. 74mpg and $4,500 out the door won’t break the bank either.

Suzuki V-Strom 650

It might be hard to look at, but this loose assemblage of plastic, aluminum and steel is probably the greatest all-round motorcycle out there right now. Which is definitely saying something when it’s just $8,300. Equally at home touring, commuting or scratching, you can even fit a set of knobby tires and enjoy real off-road ability. It also happens to be the best two-up bike I’ve ever ridden, retaining full composure and control even while carrying two dudes totaling 390lbs and 12’ 7”. The “Adventure” version comes with a big screen and the world’s most comfortable motorcycle seat, but also panniers wider than most small cars. Probably worth starting stock and working your way smartly through an accessories catalog. If I was a smarter person, I’d buy one.

KTM 990 Adventure Baja

We totally fell in love with the 990 Adventure when we ran one long-term for the first half of this year. This new Baja special is the last before the new 1190 comes in. Adding knobby tires and some soft luggage as standard, it’s a good deal and all signs point to the 1190 sacrificing its dirt ability to go all soft and road-oriented. That’s a shame, because this was the only bike ADV bike with genuine dirt capability. Unlike smaller dual-sports, it’s good on the road too, giving sports bikes a run for their money in corners and touring with the best of them. A future classic.

KTM 390 Duke

No word on when this little hooligan is making it Stateside, but when it does, you’re going to want one. Why? 320lbs (wet) and 44bhp combined with quality suspension and brakes. Oh, and signs point to a price around $6,500. Worth waiting for.

Vespa 946

Even if the 946 just had new looks, it’d be on this list. Just look at the thing. But, the story doesn’t stop there. An all-new, 125cc, four-stroke motor boost fuel efficiency 30 percent to 129mpg while also adding more horsepower and torque for a total of 11.4bhp and 7.9lb./ft, but retains its simplicity with air cooling. Exactly the bike Vespa should be making in the 21st century and probably the most stylish powered two-wheeler out there.

2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer w/Record Kit

Holy shit, just look at this thing. For an extra $2,000, Guzzi will sell you the Record Kit, consisting of that fairing, kick-up seat, rear sets and clip-ons, utterly transforming the V7 both in looks and riding position. The V7’s already a stunning bike, coming in at a full 100lbs lighter than the Bonneville, so focusing the riding position and looking like this just creates one of the most special bikes out there.

Brammo Empulse

Finally on-sale, the Empulse is the bike that’s really going to put electric motorcycles on the map. That’s because it’s not just some poor excuse for a motorcycle that happens to be powered by an electric drill, it’s a badass performance bike that’ll out-handle pretty much anything out there. Seriously, it’s one of the most confidence inspiring, characterful, fun experiences on two wheels and that it just so happens not to be super loud or emit pollutants ends up being added value. Straight-line performance is only on par with a middleweight twin like a Ninja 650, but so good in corners you just won’t care. Believe the hype on this one.

Any other bikes that you’d add to the list?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tyler.mcavoy Tyler McAvoy

    That V7 is one of the prettiest production bikes I’ve ever seen…. I just hope you can switch where the kickstand is. That’s one of the only things keeping me from getting one

    • sean macdonald

      What’s wrong with the kickstand?

      • Robotribe

        if it’s like many other Guzzis, it’s far forward like a cruiser. So is the case with the Griso, even with rear-set controls. It’s bizarre (coming from a typical sport bike or roadster).

        • Kevin

          OK, I give up. That’s a problem, why?

  • Robotribe

    Wow. Some of these were already on my personal radar as interesting, but when you put them all together like this, it does re-kindle my broader interest in the “near-future” of motorcycling States-side a little. The Italians especially have a nice showing this year.

    One note: while the tweak to the Goldwing is interesting to say the least, I think they dropped the ball with the Shamu-inspired mirrors. They’re a distraction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Neatus Ernie Ruiz

    Oh boy, oh boy! This is an exciting list. I really love theofferings from Honda, KTM, Moto Guzzzi and Ducati. I might have to get me that Bajà.p

  • protomech

    Re: the Empulse:
    “Seriously, it’s one of the most confidence inspiring, characterful, fun experiences on two wheels” (from someone who’s ridden it)
    “electric motorcycles have no soul” (from people who typically have not)

    The 2013 Zeros are also set up to succeed this year, addressing two of your major complaints from the DS review (up to 70 miles highway, 1 hour charge if you can find a CHAdeMO charger). It’ll be an interesting sales race between Zero and Brammo this year.. and hopefully we’ll see them race in the TTX class on track too : )

    • Campisi

      I dunno, I’ve already sort of placed Zero on a lower tier than Brammo. Zero has more models, but the Enertia has a higher-quality feel and the Empulse has no genuine competition.

      • PrezNixon

        The 2013 Zeros are supposed to take a significant bite out of the gap between the Zero’s and the Empulse. By 2014, Zero may have caught up. I’m guessing they will start leap-frogging each other at some point, with each company taking the lead for a year or two. Zero has been ahead in actual bikes for sale while everyone waited for the Empulse to finally go on sale. It looks like Brammo has now pulled ahead. But that can change in another year. Both seem to be pretty good companies, so the competition is good for everyone.

  • Charlie

    MV 800 Brutale has to make the list…assuming it gets to the US. Why settle for the better than pictures Hyper. Evocative is a euphemism for ugly for the Street Triple. ’13 MTS over the Aprilia on any basis. Sorry, have one more gripe. The Gucci V7 Racer is quickly joining the ranks of the most overrated bikes ever.

    • http://twitter.com/TheVeeTwin Damo Von Maciel

      Me personally I wouldn’t buy an MV, I put way too many miles down. The closest MV dealer to me is more than six hours away. I also think overall the Hyper is a better bike, especially if you ride with a pillion. (I would also take an SF848 or a Speed Triple over a Brutale any day)

      I agree with you on the 2013 Multistrada though.

  • Versys Jake

    Oh boy, I can’t decide what I like best. Umm… how about one water-cooled Hypermotard to go! Does somebody make a touring shield for the Ducati? I’d love to make that bike my commuter.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The HyperStrada has a windscreen and bags.

      • Jesse

        And you can remove them. And that’s pretty much awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/acsberg Aaron Berg

    A guy could almost have one of each.

  • thecrumb

    I was so hoping when Suzuki redid the V-Strom they’d follow Triumph and BMW and come out with a 800. That would be the perfect bike. The Wee is damn close but an 800 version would be perfect.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Doesn’t need an ounce more power. It’s literally a perfect motorcycle, just one beaten thoroughly with the ugly stick.

      • socalutilityrider

        I love my ’08 650. It keeps up on the crazy SD freeways, it’s nimble threading through outrageous city traffic and, surprisingly, works in the dirt as I recently discovered on a Black Canyon Road ride. The seating position was great for riding in the rain the last two days as well.

        • tobykeller

          …and with crash bars, you can drop it, pick it up and keep going. I resprayed my crash bars black about 6 times on my ’08 Wee ;)

          • socalutilityrider

            My Givi ones are already rusting pretty good, wish they used something better than mild steel….

      • Kevin

        The new model looks a lot better than the banana-on-wheels KTM.

      • Heatsoak

        The old model got raped by the ugly stick. The 2012+ is just a bit on the beer-goggles side of bragging about, is all…

    • Stuki

      You know, after finally managing to finagle a ride on a Tiger 800, and having experience with a Street Triple; I’d go out on a limb and say Triumph, not Suzuki, were the ones that blew it wrt. engine displacement.

      The Suzuki 650 is one of the true wonders of motorcycling. As is, the Triumph 675. Something I believe few will say about either the Triumph, BMW or Honda 800s. Or the old Suzuki 800 single, for that matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dadan.sudarmanto Joerig Thumpak Khuda


  • Tommy Erst

    If you need me to disappear on that caponord for a few weeks to test out its true sport touring capabilities, you just go ahead and let me know. :P

  • krayziesensei

    That KTM 390 looks like something I’d rock. I also like the hypermotard. What a great time to be rider!

  • http://twitter.com/bloodfalcons motoguru.

    It’s great to see so many rad bikes coming out in 2013. I look forward to 2023 when I can afford a few of them! The Moto Guzzi California 1400 and Honda CB1100 are are the others I would add to the list.

  • Greg Coombe

    That 946 is beautiful. But scooters are utilitarian, and this one doesn’t look like it has enough storage space to justify.

    *edit*: But it is beautiful…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Owen.A.Lloyd Owen Andrus Lloyd

    I miss my V-strom every once and a while. If it was prettier I would have married her rather than go back in time with my “character-filled” BMW R1100GS…which strangely I do love because its high level on involvement.

  • Lloyd

    Duke 390 and Empulse are my picks too! That Duke 390 is lighter than the current crop of 250s. KTM USA says we don’t get to buy them here this year, bummer!

  • Arno Jaspers

    Sweet bikes, but everybody knows that 2013 will be the year of the LC R1200GS…(and I’m not even a beemer fanboy).

    Also: The MV Agusta Rivale deserves a spot in this top 13, even if it’s just because it is a lot more original and exotic than the Duc.

    Great article and great website.

    • sean macdonald

      That thing is monstrous. What exactly do you need all that for?

      • Arno Jaspers

        I guess 99pct of the GS buyers don’t use it to travel the world, it’s the same story as the soccer mom that drives a Landrover Defender. Sales numbers don’t lie though…

        • http://www.facebook.com/OMG.Awesome Clint Keener

          It’s the Italian 2 wheeled Pontiac Aztec.

    • http://www.ilogic.gr/blog NLS (NULUSIOS)

      Ditto Arno.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.berndt.73 Jonathan Berndt

    “hes cooler than me”??? youre kidding right?

    • http://www.facebook.com/mitchel.durnell Mitchel Durnell

      No, he’s not. Buying a high buck Duc no longer moves you to the top of the pack. Less posing, more riding indeed.

      • Mark

        I’d rather be on an 848 EVO than a cafe-d CB350. To each their own. If the Pani rider actually thinks that, then he bought the wrong ride.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.berndt.73 Jonathan Berndt


  • John

    Two many bikes, not enough money!

  • sean macdonald

    Remember when I said the only reason I wanted to go to the show was to see that hyper and that I thought it was gonna be awesome in person and you told me I was an idiot? I love being right.

  • Will

    I want a CRF230L with panniers. That should be my daily.

    • HoldenL

      Fuck yeah. I believe I will make this happen in 2013.

  • Campisi

    No Duke 690? I’m more excited about the 390 than the 690, but the latter has actually been confirmed for the U.S. market next year.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Does anyone actually want a $10k+ single-cylinder naked?

      • Campisi

        I had heard it’d be a hair less than nine grand. At that price, its specifications are more or less in line with other market offerings. I’m mainly just being cynical about the Duke 390; if it was actually coming to America next year, why wouldn’t they confirm that along with the Duke 690 and the 990 Adventure?

      • http://www.facebook.com/dustin.coury Dustin Coury

        I’m very interested in the 390 as a daily driver around LA and canyons. The components on it are amazing stock, just a little pricey at $9,500 but somewhat understandable. I talked to the KTM guy at the LB show. They are actually curious if the price point is too high, rightfully so. I’ve always been attracted to single cylinder bike for the utilitarian simplicity, thus I have a xl500 build going on in my garage right now . Thumpers are a blast and this 390 looks like a hoot for the streets.

        • Chris Davis

          A pair of Barkbusters and you’re set. I just wish it didn’t look so ‘extreem’.

      • Heatsoak

        Agreed. I’m all about it until the whole one-cylinder-for-most-of-ten-grand-thing. 10k will buy you a Monster or an SV and a whole lotta track days…

      • alfreedy

        Yes, I’m ordering one next week. Seems perfect for in town with the occasional trip to the twisties. Sat on one in Florence and I thought I must’ve mixed it up with a 250, it’s a featherweight and feels lighter.

  • http://twitter.com/bloodfalcons motoguru.

    Fuck Panigales, and fuck vintage Hondas.

  • rohorn

    The KTM 390 has a lower list price than the 300 Ninja in both the UK and Germany – would it be wishful thinking to expect it to sell for less than $4500.00 in the USA?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Extremely unrealistic, very wishful thinking.

      • rohorn

        Figured as much – still had to ask.

    • FastPanda

      Wishful thinking, but admittedly very pleasant wishful thinking.

      At six methinks it would still be a compelling alternative to the CB500, though.

  • guest

    what happened to the international bike show article?

  • sean macdonald

    I felt similarly, but the last one was way too wide for any congested roads. Looking forward to providing you with a review ASAP.

    • http://twitter.com/TheVeeTwin Damo Von Maciel

      I shall keep my eyes peeled. This bike aught to be able to really handle the inconsistent roads of New England. After years of riding liter bikes on them it is time for a change. I should have never sold my 1995 Speed Triple and my old 919 Hornet.

      • Heatsoak

        The old Triple was worth dropping, but not the Hornet.

        • http://twitter.com/TheVeeTwin Damo Von Maciel

          The Triple was fun, but probably more trouble than it was worth. It is also the only bike I have ever turned a profit on when I sold it.

  • Frank

    Dohhh the KTM 1290 super duke is on top of my list

  • Mark Desrosiers

    Brain – “That 500x looks like it would get great gas mileage and carry all your groceries and camping gear!” Heart – “Moto Guzzi ::droool::” Balls – “Buy a Triumph; go 130 mph in 40 zone. Die and not care.” Wallet – “Fuck you all, we’re broke.”

    • FastPanda

      I needed that. Thank you.

    • Heatsoak

      That’s where the DL650 comes in. Super practical, a lot more fun than it should be, and cheap to bu and own. Still not as cool as a Guzzi or KTM though.

  • Bob

    Is the new V-Strom much different from the current or earlier models?

  • FastPanda

    Since we’re in the Era Of Great Bikes For Beginners F’ing Finally, any revised/updated opinions on the Ninja 300 yet? Sounds like it’s more than just a stroker crank and some new plastic after all, so curious about a more involved/developed perspective.

  • nafterli

    The Suzuki VStorm/ KTM 390/ Honda 500s sounds like the next logical upgrade for someone who has been riding for less than a year (me).

    Side note, cut down on the use of the phrase ‘Out There’. My mental GPS cant locate ‘out there’ :-)

    • HoldenL

      Add the Kawasaki Versys to that list. That was my second (and current) bike, after 16 months of owning a Kawi EX-500. You can’t go wrong with a VStrom or Versys.

    • Isambard

      “Out there” is always redundant. There isn’t a sentence above that wouldn’t be improved by removing it.

    • Sohl

      Great. Another grammar faux pas that I’ll never be able to ignore again.

  • Jason Kritter

    Also Erik Buell is coming back next year with 3 new bikes based on the 1190 in the <$20k range. Supposedly in showrooms by October.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You really shouldn’t believe all the regurgitated, single-source, rumor-based news you read elsewhere. At best it’s sensationalist, at worst it’s just made up.

  • Slowtire


  • http://www.facebook.com/Williamgeorgeow William Ow

    Don’t forget the Husqvarna TR650

  • http://twitter.com/threefour Victor Lombardi

    For us new riders, Cleveland’s Ace and Hooligun will be awesome options to buying used.

  • Chris Higgs

    WTF….No mention of the 1290 Super Duke?!!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Concept bike, all the above is stuff you’ll actually be able to buy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.sarik Mike Sarik

    i’m looking forward to the ktm 690 duke, sure hope i can get a test ride, then maybe i will be purchasing… ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobgould99 Bob Gould
  • http://hangaround.tumblr.com/ hangaround

    This is true, but beautiful bikes are fun too.

  • scootertrash

    Scooter trash here! Do not get me wrong I love, love love my vintage vespa but that new vespa is a scooter only a scoterist would love … if you ride it it will grow on you?….

  • CruisingTroll

    Triumph Trophy. Helluva lot more interesting than another warmed over KTM 990.
    Triumph Daytona 675. What that Kwakker 600 wishes it could be.
    The ‘Wing F6B is an interesting bagger treatment, and I think it also points to the imminence of the next generation ‘Wing, just like the Adventure Baja points to the next big Katoom, only KTM is willing to admit it.
    I’m definitely looking forward to the new Honda CB500X. It will be interesting to see how quickly the aftermarket sets to making it a true adventure bike, which mostly will mean suspension ugrades and farkles. Once there are some good suspension upgrades for it, I’ll seriously consider one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000528297116 Charles Freeman

    Perspective: Everything looks better from the inside of a motorcycle helmet…

  • http://www.facebook.com/rokster Reenen Biddulph

    Even though I am 51 I am still a fool and therefore that Ducati HyperPorntard is just the thing, I cannot get it out of my head (or brain or heart or balls as Mark stated below). And that stunning Vespa “for the wife”…

  • Robo

    Rob. I wish the moto guzzi v7 was approx 100 hp. Because with those retro looks it’s a real stunner.

  • Anders Barfod

    There was recently a shootout between the ninja 300 and the honda cbr500r. Both bikes were great, but the kawasaki won in term of being a thrilling small sportsbike. The honda is much more a commuter with its 1:1 bore to stroke ratio, lower rewing engine, riding position, weight and suspension. The honda cbr500x and 500f looks suit more the temper of the bike.
    I really want to see more bikes in the 300cc to 500cc range.

    The suzuki GW250 with its small but long stroke twin engine and high compression rate should be a fuel efficient beast. But come on.. A 250cc naked bike with a wet weight of 402 pounds (182kg) is just to much.. Shave of 50 pounds..

  • jh1289

    I’m sorry, that 2013 Honda Goldwing is a joke. You can argue it looks good, but all the passenger comfort just evaporated.

  • Abed Ak

    whats brand is the bike, that is on the right side of the picture ? under the title of this article