The best bikes of 2012

MV Agusta over­all win­ner for value and style Mo­tor­cy­cle man Paul Owen gives us his pick of the class of two-wheel­ers in 2012.

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

It’s been an in­ter­est­ing year for mo­tor­cy­cles, for it saw the re­turn of Lam­bretta to the scooter fold, the res­ur­rec­tion of Husq­varna as a road bike maker, and the ad­vent of the Learner Ap­proved Mo­tor­cy­cles Scheme (LAMS), plus a huge on­slaught of new prod­ucts that mostly sported Euro­pean brands.

Best Com­muter/Learner mo­tor­cy­cle: Du­cati Mon­ster 659 LAMS

At $17,490, the most af­ford­able Du­cati isn’t cheap, but nei­ther is the rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that it sup­plies. De­tun­ing and down­siz­ing the en­gine of the ex­ist­ing Mon­ster 696 to meet LAMS ap­proval re­sulted in only a slight drop in per­for­mance, and the Mon­ster is the bike many learn­ers will keep long af­ter they’ve grad­u­ated to a full mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence.

Best Scooter: Honda PCX150

The big-haitch bought a whole raft of fuel-sav­ing tech to the bike sec­tor this year, us­ing lessons learnt in the car busi­ness. The PCX there­fore fea­tured an off­set en­gine cylin­der to re­duce fric­tion, highly ef­fi­cient fuel in­jec­tion pro­gram­ming, and a world-first for bike­dom in the form of the two-wheeled sec­tor’s first au­to­matic idle-stop sys­tem. The re­sult was a well-made (in China) scoot that was ex­cep­tion­ally par­si­mo­nious with fuel. At $4995, the PCX150 is way cheaper than a Toy­ota Prius, is con­sid­er­ably cheaper to park in a cen­tral busi­ness district, and can make a litre of fuel go twice as far.

Best Ad­ven­turer Tour­ers: Suzuki DL650 V-Strom and Honda VFR1200X Cross­tourer

It’s a hard call to sep­a­rate th­ese two well-crafted bikes with a sim­i­lar fo­cus on all-sur­face ver­sa­til­ity and long-dis­tance com­fort. Really it is your body weight and size that will de­cide which is best for you. Those of smaller stature will find Suzuki’s com­pre­hen­sive re­cent up­grade to the DL has sharp­ened both its looks and han­dling, while en­gine re­vi­sions have im­proved both re­fine­ment and fuel use. At $15,000, the DL is also ex­cel­lent value. At the op­po­site end of the rider size and price spec­trum lies the $27,995 Honda Cross­tourer, a spa­cious shaft-drive heavy­weight that re­tains all the val­ues of quintessen­tial ad­ven­ture bike, the BMW R1200GS, and coats them with an ex­tra layer of rider com­fort. A thump­ing V4 en­gine plus a full suite of elec­tronic rid­ing aids to tame it help ful­fil the Honda’s aim of be­com­ing the first of a new breed of ad­ven­ture su­pertour­ers.

Best Street­bike: Aprilia Tuono V4R

If forced in a court of law to name the bike that en­cour­aged the naugh­ti­est ride of the year, my mech­a­nised ac­com­plice would be the Aprilia Tuono V4R. For this street­bike is ba­si­cally the V4 Fac­tory sports­bike that formed the ba­sis of Max Bi­aggi’s suc­cess­ful 2012 World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship with some of the body­work re­moved and a pair of higher han­dle­bars fit­ted in place of clip-ons. The Tuono there­fore joins ex­ist­ing white-hot streeters such as the Du­cati Street­fighter S at the up­per end of the seg­ment for per­for­mance. How­ever in­stead of in­hab­it­ing a pre­mium price po­si­tion like the $37K Duke, the Priller costs only $25,995. The money buys a 163bhp en­gine and a whole raft of elec­tronic rid­ing aids to help you con­trol it. Just leave enough in your bik­ing bud­get to pay for the fuel, for the Tuono is the Aussie V8 of the street­bike sec­tor.

Best Cruiser: Tri­umph Thun­der­bird Storm

The Storm model lifts the wor­thy-but-bland Thun­der­bird par­al­lel-twin in two key ar­eas – looks and per­for­mance. An ex­tra 100cc of ca­pac­ity and amore dis­tinc­tive de­sign made it the cruiser that I was most re­luc­tant to hand back in 2012. Yours for $25,690.

Best Sports­bike: MV Agusta F3

If you be­lieve the cheesy ads, good things take time, and that’s cer­tainly true of the F3. For it took 12 years, and the sud­den in­jec­tion of cash that came with Har­ley-David­son’s brief own­er­ship of the com­pany, for MV Agusta to make the F3. The bike was cer­tainly worth the ef­fort as it is the clos­est thing you can ride on the road to a Grand Prix racer. The bike’s so­phis­ti­cated 129bhp 675cc three-cylin­der en­gine uses a back­wards-ro­tat­ing crankshaft to re­duce steer­ing in­er­tia with amaz­ing ef­fect, plac­ing new en­trant MV Agusta right at the head of Su­per­sports class for han­dling dy­nam­ics. Be­fore the even more af­ford­able Bru­tale street­bike ver­sion ar­rived in New Zealand show­rooms this month, the $22,490 F3 paved the way in low­er­ing the en­try price to one of the most aris­to­cratic brands in mo­tor­cy­cling.

Best of the Best

The $39,909 BMW R1200RT de­serves men­tion as it re­mains the best all-round mo­tor­cy­cle on the mar­ket in my mind. How­ever it really does price it­self out of con­tention as a Bike of the Year. The award there­fore goes to the F3.

Great per­for­mance: TheMVA­gusta F3.

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