10 motorcycles that we can't wait to ride in 2021!

With the lighter, sunnier and dry spring days right around the corner, we take a look at the 10 motorcycles that have got our eyes on for 2021 rides

Speed Triple 1200 RS - Hero Riding

THE year 2021 may so far be something of a wash out, blighted by Covid-19 lockdown and the dregs of winter, but there’s still time for it to be one of the best biking years ever!

Being 2021 also means that, due to Euro5 coming into force, we’re also getting an absolute glut of new bikes – many mere updates to improve emissions and noise output – but most being significant revisions or all-new machines.

What’s more, although some of these have already been unveiled and ridden – the most obvious example being Triumph’s brilliant, all-new Trident 660 – many, due to Covid-19, have only been unveiled but not yet put to the test. And, with spring around the corner, lighter, warmer drier days coming fast, we simply can’t wait to try them out.

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So, which are we looking forward to most, what is it about them that’s getting us in a froth and what can we expect? Here’s our pick of 10 of what we think will be the best, in price ascending order…

10 motorcycles we can't wait to ride in 2021:

Honda NC750X – from £7459

OK, a slightly hum-drum, ‘worthy’ offering to start off with, but Honda’s new NC750X is almost certainly a ‘goodie’, too. The original, then 700ccs, was launched in 2012 as the adventure-styled version of Honda’s all-new, commuter-friendly ‘New Concept’ trio, along with the Integra scooter and NC700S roadster. All shared the same low-revving, car-derived, parallel twin powerplant in a budget but adequate chassis boasting novel, practical features such as Honda’s optional semi-automatic ‘DCT’ transmission and a  built-in luggage compartment – in the X’s case inside the dummy ‘tank’.

Boosted to 750cc, from 51 to 54bhp and receiving a significantly better facelift in 2014, the new NC750X became a Europe-wide best-seller. It wasn’t hard to see why, either: stylish, a doddle to ride, economical, well-built and brilliant for commuters because of that luggage space and auto option, the NC made for very tempting transport. While, even better-looking for 2021, with more power, extra luggage space and less weight, the new version looks certain to be better all-round and something of a no-brainer.

No, the NC isn’t the sexiest of motorcycles but we like it. As a sensible, practical, affordable and different commuter there’s nothing quite as good.

Aprilia Tuono 660 – from £9700

We, like everyone, loved Aprilia’s all-new 2020 RS660 middleweight 100bhp sportster. It’s a stylish, sexy Italian that handles superbly, has just enough power to entertain on real-world roads and is decent value, too. But we’re even more excited about its new-for-2021 ‘super naked’ brother – the Tuono 660.

Based around the same 659cc 100bhp V-twin as the RS and carrying over much of that bike’s chassis, including quality aluminium frame, inverted forks and Brembo brakes, the Tuono promises to be more upright, all-day comfortable and practical than the RS. It also benefits from a half-fairing that should give as much weather protection as bikes like Yamaha’s popular Tracer 900. Best of all, though, the new actually Tuono’s cheaper than the RS, as well – by £450.

So, a sexier, better-equipped, more fun ‘Italian Tracer’ that’s cheaper, too? You bet we can’t wait – not that we should be surprised: Aprilia has a long track record with its brilliant Tuonos. This one looks like it might be the best yet.

Yamaha Tracer 9 – from £10,199

Speaking of Tracers, Yamaha’s best-selling Tracer 900 is almost certain to be better for 2021 as well. Yamaha has taken the opportunity of a Euro5 refresh to give nearly all of its hugely successful MT family significant updates. So the MT-09 gets a larger engine, new twin-beam chassis, improved brakes and so on while its sports tourer brother, the Tracer 900, gets all of that, a new name, a complete styling update, new clocks and even an improved GT variant.

When launched in 2014 as the MT-09 Tracer, the original became a best seller for combining MT-09 roadster fun and dynamism with more roomy and faired practicality. That bike was restyled and improved into the Tracer 900 in 2018 but although it was joined by the first GT version with comfort seat, TFT screen and soft panniers, it still felt a little ‘budget’ around the edges. Now those niggles looks to have been banished once and for all with this new Tracer 9. Now 890cc and 118bhp it also has an all-new, lightweight aluminium twin beam frame, all-new bodywork and TWIN TFT screens. In short, there’s absolutely no way it’s not better than the old one and that bike was already brilliant.

Oh, and by the way, we can’t wait to try Yamaha’s new MT-09 and MT-09 SP either!

Ducati New Monster – from £10,295

An all-new Ducati Monster is always big news – and there has never been a Monster more different and advanced than the new-for-2021 version. Replacing both the previous 821 and 797 Monsters (but not the 1200) to become the new ‘entry-level’ machine in Ducati’s line up, the new V-twin naked is a radical departure for the Italian marque.

Gone is the old Monster’s ‘signature’ tubular steel trellis frame; in comes a lightweight, cast aluminium two part frame, all-new styling, updated electronics and more. The 937cc engine is still based on that of the old 821 but enlarged and uprated to 111bhp and the whole bike promises to be livelier, more sophisticated and more fun. And, if that’s not enough, there’s also an all-new Monster ‘+’ version, which gets a seat and headlamp cowling for £250 more.

We’re still to be convinced by the styling – is it us or is the new Monster a bit Japanese-looking? Performance-wise, however, it’s almost certain to be a blast.  

Indian FTR1200 S – from £13,699

Here’s one you probably didn’t expect. We were already big fans of Indian’s Scout-based, Ducati Monster rival, the FTR1200. Its flat-track-inspired style not only stood out in a class rammed with similar nakeds, its 118bhp was up there with the best, it had decent suspension, brakes and electronics and it was well-equipped, too.

In fact the only thing worthy of criticism was its odd 19/18inch wheel sizes, which limited tyre choice. For 2021, though, that’s changed: it now wears normal 17in hoops front and rear, which also serves to usefully lower the seat. Distinctive, fun, classy and engaging the 2021 FTR should be right up there with the best, whichever version you go for. We tested the higher-spec S but, considering its pared-down flat tracker style, we’re sure we’d be just as happy with the significantly cheaper standard version. Bring it on!

Oh, and again, while we’re talking all things Indian, we can’t wait to try the US firm’s new-for-2021 Chief cruisers, either. Maybe at long last Harley will have something to truly worry about…

Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 – from £14,000

Did somebody say ‘Harley’? Well, that’s appropriate, as for 2021 the Milwaukee legend has released what’s surely its most radical and surprising bike ever. We know you’re familiar with Harley’s new Pan America 1250 adventure bike by now – it’s been coming the best part of a year and a half, after all.

But what nobody saw coming was how competitive its potential performance, spec and abilities would be. With a claimed 150bhp it’s more powerful than both BMW’s class-leading R1250GS and Triumph’s latest 1200 Tiger. At just 245kg wet the new Harley’s lighter than both those two more established rivals. It also boasts an impressive array of the latest electronic rider aids, comes with Brembo brakes, an up-specced ‘Special’ version has semi-active suspension, the list goes on. At £14K it’s not even that expensive. 

Like most, we were fairly sceptical when the ‘PanAm’ was first announced. After all, how could a manufacturer with no adventure bike or high performance experience be expected to compete with a machine as established and refined as the GS? But on the basic of the specs Harley has now released, it looks set to put a cat among the pigeons. Still not sure about its ‘wide-mouthed frog’ face, though…

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – from £14,999

With all the fuss and bally-hoo over Harley’s new Pan America it’s been easy to overlook the fact that 2021 brings another all-new, top-performing adventure bike – and from a manufacturer with a gilt-edged reputation with the breed. KTM’s all-new 1290 Super Adventure was also revealed this week and, again, going by its spec – and by the Austrian marque’s proven track record in adventure bike brilliance – it looks set to be a stonker.

As with the old 1290, the new bike comes in both S (street) and R (more off-road) guises. Both benefit from a revised 1301cc V-twin that’s now Euro5 compliant and puts out around 158bhp (chew on that, Harley) but thanks to a new chassis it’s now carried lower, giving a lower CofG for improved handling while there’s also a new TFT screen, updated electronics, tweaked bodywork and so on. Best of all, though, the S version also comes with KTM’s version of radar-controlled adaptive cruise control, which has proved such a surprise bonus on Ducati’s brilliant new Multistrada V4.

The old Super Adventure was already one of the best, most versatile and explosive adventure bikes. Going by the above, the new version is certain to be better still. Harley? What Harley…?

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS – from £15,100

Now here’s a bike we’re not just looking forward to – we’re positively chopping at the bit to try. As if Triumph hadn’t already impressed with its 2021 output with the all-new Trident 660 and the recent, updated Bonneville family, the Hinckley-based brand has gone one better with its all new Speed Triple 1200.

Brand new ‘Speedies’ don’t come around very often: the last, in 2011, proved astonishing while you have to go back to 2005 for the most significant update before that. This version however, with an all-new 1160cc triple replacing the aging 1050 powerplant, looks set to lift it to an all-new level. Power is up by a whopping 29.5bhp to a class competitive 177.5bhp; a brand new chassis is a full 10kg lighter to improve handling; there’s modern creature comforts such as backlit switchgear and cruise control while this top spec RS version also comes with Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes.

The Speed Triple has long been the most distinctive, most characterful and arguably best all round super naked, now it looks set to be the best handling, fastest and best equipped, too.

Suzuki Hayabusa – from £16,499

How long has the world been waiting for a new Suzuki Hayabusa? Well, the wait is nearly over – and we’re as excited as anyone. First launched in 1999, the big ‘Busa was mad and bad enough to quite literally rewrite the hyperbike rules. It was so fast (200mph+ in good conditions) it led to a ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ voluntarily-restricted speed of 300kph/187mph.

In the face of competition and extra sophistication from Kawasaki’s ZZ-R1400, an updated version came in 2007, with improved brakes and ABS also following in 2013. Now, for 2021, Suzuki has used the opportunity of Euro5 to give its Hayabusa a complete makeover yet again. The styling has evolved and is sharper, the chassis is lighter, the brakes better and there’s a raft of all-new electronics including a fancy new TFT dash.

Yes, it’s unlikely the new ‘Busa is actually any faster – the ‘agreement’ puts paid to that – but it’ll almosty certainly remain one of the most dynamic motorcycles available and now have the chassis, spec and electronics to make that experience better still.

Kawasaki Z H2 SE – from £18,349

And finally, just when you thought Kawasaki’s H2 supercharged adventure seemed to winding down (its Ninja H2 SX and Ninja H2 haven’t been updated to survive through Euro5), Kawasaki has brought out an updated, better specced version of arguably the wildest version of all. The Z H2 SE is a new, ‘special equipment’ version of the plain bonkers Z H2 supercharged super naked introduced last year.

Chief among the additions is Kawasaki’s ‘skyhook’ semi-active suspension, as first introduced on its Versys 1000 SE adventure sport machine. There’s also uprated Brembo brakes from the H2 series and new colours and graphics, all for £2450 more than the stock bike. The result? the same old whistlingly madcap 197bhp, but now with a better chassis and brakes and improved looks as well.

After all, if you want a silly-fast super-naked, you might as well have one that handles and stops and gets you noticed as well. Can’t wait.