Top 10 most eagerly-anticipated bikes of 2016

The bikes we’re most excited about getting our hands on this year

WE'VE had a couple of months since the excitement of bike shows and new model unveilings where company suits breathlessly gush about the joys of the new machines they’re hoping to flog over the coming years, and as we sit in that limbo between seeing the new 2016 models and actually getting to experience their abilities we’ve had time to cogitate over the ones that we’re most enduringly excited about.

Some are obvious, some less so, but hopefully you’ll understand with each why we’ve chosen them for this list. It’s purely subjective, of course, and presumably for every new model shown at the tail of 2015 – from scooters to superbikes – there will be someone out there for whom that bike is their personal dream machine and at the top of their list.

10. Benelli Leoncino

Benelli has got a lot of stick over the years, not all undeserved, but its latest batch of small-capacity machines are really starting to bring the Benelli name back to the fore. Yes, we all know they’re Chinese owned, and who knows what will be made in Italy and what in China. But China can make quality kit – just ask any iPhone fan – and the designs are largely Italian. The Leoncino in particular floats our boat. Yes, it’s another scrambler, but it looks incredibly good. Should be A2-legal, too, and if the price is right and it doesn’t embarrass itself with glaring flaws or mechanical maladies, we could see it tempting plenty of riders. Our fingers are crossed, Benelli, so please don’t let us down.

9. BMW G310R

The craze from manufacturers for these little 300cc-class machines is a little hard to fathom given that we’re still waiting to see any really big growth in the segment in Europe, but presumably the anticipation that increasingly wealthy riders in India and Asia will emerge in their millions is enough to spur their development. Regardless of the sales pitch, though, the G310R is an intriguing machine, with its reverse-cylinder 313cc engine and supposed 84.8mpg economy. Nobody is likely to be blown away by 34bhp, but if the BMW can deliver it in a fun way, this bike might be more than the sum of its parts. Or not. We’ll have to wait and see.

8. Moto Guzzi V9

There have been lots of eyes on the 2016 Triumph Bonneville and the Ducati Scrambler over the last few months but Moto Guzzi’s V9 – coming in ‘Bobber’ and ‘Roamer’ forms – plucks at a lot of the same retro notes and hasn’t had much of a mention. Perhaps there’s more to be said for carefully-orchestrated leaks and pre-publicity campaigns than we realise; Guzzi managed to keep these bikes a secret, and they seem to be staying that way even after they’ve been shown. And while we’re at it, the new V7 Stornello – yes, another scrambler – also looks like it might make for some sedate fun. None of the new Guzzis are aimed at power-crazed track day nut or wheelie fanatics, but there may not be many better ways to look good (and hopefully have fun, too) in 2016. Fingers crossed.

7. Yamaha XSR900

We know pretty much what to expect from the new XSR900, after all, it’s an MT-09 in a frock, but it’s amazing what a speed-block paint job and a few Instagram-filtered, 70s-style photos – all lens flare and washed-out colours – can do for your drool glands. Also, it’s under £8k, has roughly the same power and torque as an original Ducati 916 (but is a good 11kg lighter), has upside down forks, ABS,  radial brakes, traction control… And people moan that bikes are getting more expensive? The MT-09’s millstone is its styling, and the XSR sorts that out.

6. BMW R nineT Scrambler

Prepare for the barrage of comments that the R nineT Scrambler is just an accessory for poseurs, coming in 3, 2, 1… But before scrolling down to read them, hear us out. Yes, the R nineT is about an image, it’s not terribly practical and even BMW knows, deep down, that it’s not going to be used for anything approaching ‘scrambling’ by 99.99% of its customers (the other 0.01% are idiots) – and nobody should care about that. If people want to buy a bike for an image that they find attractive (or that they hope others will find attractive for that matter) then that’s their look out. Call them poseurs if you like, but where do you draw that line? Is it ‘posing’ to buy a shirt that you like if it’s a couple of quid more expensive than one you don’t? Or to get your hair cut by a professional instead of your mum? In terms of proportions and materials, the R nineT Scrambler offers something that looks and feels a bit above the norm, and from a riding standpoint, it’s not like BMW hasn’t managed to make big, heavy boxers with off-road stance go pretty well in the past. With luck the R nineT will be a hoot to ride, and if it makes the poseur in us feel satisfied at the same time, that sounds like great recipe.

5. Triumph Bonneville

We’ve already tried the Street Twin, and it’s got a cautious thumbs-up with reservations over the price, but its 1200cc bigger brothers – the Bonneville T120, Thruxton and Thruxton R – are the bikes that will really answer the question as to whether Triumph has another winner on its hands. Done right, these bikes will see Britain’s most significant bike brand steering a course for success over the next decade, and the initial impressions – based on style more than anything else, since there are still few specs to go on – are good. Most of us underappreciated the importance of the last generation of Bonnevilles when they were launched back in 2000; at the time it seemed more important to know if there was a new Triumph superbike coming soon. In hindsight, the Bonneville and its spin-offs have probably done more for the brand on the world stage than anything else since John Bloor revived Triumph. That’s why we are on tenterhooks about the new one.

4. Ducati XDiavel

The Ducati Diavel took all preconceptions about what could be done with a muscle-cruiser style bike in terms of performance and handling, screwed them into a tiny ball and threw them so far out of the window that they probably haven’t landed yet. And that was just the first attempt, so we’re incredibly intrigued to discover just what the firm’s engineers have achieved with the new XDiavel, which is a bit more cruiser-y in style but takes on a few years’ worth of lessons from Diavel production at the same time. Its biggest problem is that Ducati’s current reputation for moving goalposts means that if it’s not completely astounding in some way or other, then we’ll be a bit let-down…

3. Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro

Much of what we’ve said above about the XDiavel also goes for the Multistrada Enduro. No, most owners won’t use them off-road, but again we’ve got used to being pleasantly surprised by new Ducatis, and it seems most bikes the firm launches have a trick or two up their sleeves. Our bet is that the electronics package will be something to write home about: has another bike ever gathered so many acronyms (DCL, DTC, DWC, DSS, VHC, DVT, DMS, IMU and TFT, at the very least)? As with the XDiavel, though, if the Multistrada Enduro doesn’t manage to move the game on, it’ll be disappointing.

2. Yamaha MT-10

For some reason, the recent trend for ‘naked superbikes’ has rarely been referred to by the name it should really use - streetfighter. Remember when oily oiks would take the crash-damaged bodywork off their oil-cooled GSX-Rs, bolt on some Renthals and a Micron and terrorise the neighbourhood? We’re not sure if that’s the image Yamaha is going for with the MT-10, but it’s certainly approaching it. All that’s needed is a set of camo trousers and a Simpson Bandit (skull paintwork optional) to complete the look. It should be spectacular.

1. Suzuki GSX-R1000

We’ve been waiting a long time for Suzuki to make a proper effort to get back on top with the GSX-R1000. Remember the original K1? It blew us all away in 2001, and  the K5 repeated the trick in 2005, but since then the combination of ever-improving rivals and a slump in the superbike market means we’ve been starved the sort of white-hot rivalries that brewed a decade or so ago. Now we’ve got the prospect of a new GSX-R1000, a revised ZX-10R and the new-last-year Yamaha R1 all duking it out; it’s almost like the recession never happened. Only Honda is missing from the equation – the Blade is just too long in the tooth – but these days there’s the BMW S1000RR in the mix too, not to mention the 1299 Panigale. On top of all that, the GSX-R1000 is bringing variable valve timing to the superbike game for the first time, and that’s a technology that could prove transformative if they’ve got it working properly. Even if it turns out not to be the class leader, the very fact that there’s a sparkling level of competition in the superbike category again is worth celebrating. 

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