Ghost Rider’s: Top Performing Motorcycles of 2012

Thinking about buying your first motorcycle, or perhaps hopping on one for some joy riding? Want to enjoy the most addictive mode of transportation around, but not too sure of how or where to begin? There are some things about motorcycles that will always ring true, just by virtue of the fact that a motorcycle is effectively an engine with wheels and that’s it. 99.95% of the time your motorcycle will be faster than a car; you will encounter drivers who don’t see you when they are turning, merging, or are otherwise trying to steal your spot in traffic; you will bite off more than you can chew when you mash the throttle.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS (“comfortable adventure tourer”)
When Suzuki returned to the U.S. market in 2011 after a one year hiatus with a small but strong model line, the V-Strom 650 ABS was once again among its best sellers. So, it’s no surprise that this asphalt oriented, middleweight V-Twin adventure-tourer has been updated and improved for 2012. The 2012 V-Strom 650’s new look is sporty yet tough, with less painted plastic and more impact-resistant black resin body panels, less visual mass around the front fairing and tank, and a new front fender that hugs the tire and directs air flow to the radiator, which itself has wind directing plates for better cooling and to channel engine heat away from the rider. Black wheels now match the frame and swingarm, and the engine was cleaned up by replacing the unsightly oil cooler with a compact, liquid cooled heat exchanger behind the oil filter. The dual cat eye headlights are smaller but just as bright as before, while the front end and tail were pulled inward and the muffler overhang reduced to centralize mass. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a street-oriented adventure tourer, the V-Strom 650 ABS should be on your short list. This middleweight V-Twin comes well equipped in either Metallic Fox Orange or Glass Sparkle Black, is a solid, all around performer and, if absolutely necessary, can be pressed into dirt duty.

Aprilia Shiver 750 (“wavy”)
The Aprilia naked which astonished the world with stylistic and technological content which was so fresh and new that it was inaccessible to the direct competition, confirms the leadership it has built thanks to its strong personality, riding pleasure and ergonomic features. Shiver aims in no uncertain terms towards sportiness. The colouring with a new graphic, the “wavy” discs and the sporty rider footpegs are just a few of the signals which Shiver gives off to the beholder. The line remains very streamline and Italian and thanks to the clever use of the new colours and graphics, Shiver moves up a few notches as far as balance and aggression are concerned, highlighting some techniques that really make a difference, such as, for instance, the side shock absorber or the mixed steel trellis frame and aluminium plates. The V90 engine is the result of the extensive experience Aprilia has in high performance mechanics. Thanks to its peculiar technical features the Aprilia twin cylinder is able to combine an exceptionally high level of output with maximum exploitation rates and user friendly riding options.

Yamaha FZ8 (“do-it-all”)
Combining sports performance and agressive styling with all day riding comfort, the 2012 Yamaha FZ8 is a special breed of motorcycle. The word practical pops to mind, but don’t confuse practical with dull. Most riders can only afford one machine and the 2012 FZ8 is worth a serious look. It delivers solid performance from its 779cc inline four engine and excellent handling thanks to the 2012 FZ1 inspired twin spar aluminum frame. And when it comes to comfort, it’s in the bag. It’s not enough that the bike looks good, which it does, but it also has to come with real world performance that sports bikes of this caliber are capable. Other bikes will offer you entry-level performance to get you acclimated to the seats, but the FZ8 is different. This is one bike that has naked sportsbike grit with matching power and bucket’s worth of attitude. The FZ8’s muscular stance speaks to the aggression of the machine while a comfortable and upright riding position matches up with a compact design that contributes to the bike’s first rate handling. In so many words, this bike excels in just about every road it travels.

Zero XU (“ultimate urban crosser”)
Zero Motorcycles, a global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, released information about its newest machine, the Zero XU. The Zero XU is an innovative, lightweight, electric motorcycle that blends industry leading technology, performance and practicality to deliver the ultimate urban crosser. A low seat height, no shift operation, removable power pack and optional onboard storage allow riders of all kinds to negotiate the city with a new kind of freedom. The entire powertrain of the Zero XU is new for 2012. The result is a more powerful motorcycle that goes 75% farther on a charge, is 25% faster, utilizes regenerative deceleration and offers a dramatically extended lifetime of nearly maintenance free riding. Capable of hitting a top speed of 65 mph, the new Zero XU also has a significantly broader power band that makes urban riding more fun than ever before. Now featuring new state of the art battery cell technology and a brushless motor, the Zero XU lasts over 3,000 full recharge cycles, or over 100,000 miles, while requiring no motor or power pack maintenance. In addition, the rear wheel is now driven by a belt drive that is both maintenance free and offers the same sophisticated silence as the Zero S and Zero DS.

Ducati Monster 696 (“naked essentiality”)
When you choose to ride the Monster, you are not just choosing a bike, but an entire lifestyle. A desire to experience the exhilaration of naked power from an iconic motorcycle. Less is Monster – The ‘less-is-more’ philosophy behind all Monsters underlines Ducati’s never-ending pursuit of genuinely compact, high performance motorcycles, but these new models have succeeded in being even more ‘pared down’ than their predecessors. Every single component has been redesigned and redeveloped so now more than ever, form follows function. With any details detracting from the Monster concept being eliminated, ‘less-is-more’ also means ‘less-is-Monster’. Less weight plus more torque equals fun-filled riding. The 696 engine produces 80hp (59kW) and 50.6lb-ft (7kgm) of torque ensuring a smooth and powerful delivery for a relaxed and enjoyable ride as well competitive and owner-friendly service intervals of 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometres). The highly efficient, lightweight engine uses a bore and stroke of 88×57.2mm and, like the 796, features an advanced APTC ‘wet’ clutch. With a ‘slipper’ type action that prevents destabilising of the rear end under aggressive down-shifting, the APTC clutch also gives the extra benefit of a super light feel at the lever, a great benefit in stop start city traffic. The oil bath clutch represents a power enhancing weight reduction over the dry system as well as having a considerably quieter operation.

Kawasaki Ninja 250R (“road assasin”)
In terms of thrills per dollar, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R is one of the best bargains of them all. This little guy is really fun to ride. The Kawasaki Ninja 250 has dominated the entry level sportbike market in the US for decades. The little Ninja 250, in fact, has long been Kawasaki’s best selling Ninja sportbike. Ever since its 1983 debut, the Ninja 250 has been a favorite for beginners and many experienced riders have fond memories of the little Ninja upon which they learned to ride. As shown on Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A.’s website, the 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 250 has the same specs as the 2011 Ninja 250R, only it’s missing the “R”. The 2012 Ninja 250 is powered by a249cc liquid cooled parallel Twin engine with a six speed transmission. And despite Honda upping the ante with the fuel injected CBR250R, Kawasaki is keeping its Keihin CVK30 carbs instead of importing the fuel injected version available in other markets. Wrapped by a modern aerodynamic fairing and windscreen, the 250 not only looks great, but also delivers effective wind deflection for a wide range of riding situations. An easy to read instrument panel with fuel gauge and neutral indicator is another convenient feature for the new rider.

Triumph Bonneville (“the bonneville. say no more.”)
In case you didn’t know, the Triumph Bonneville, considered the most iconic Triumph motorcycle of all time, was named after the Bonneville Salt Flats, the site where Triumph broke numerous land speed records in the 1950s. As a tribute to their achievements, Triumph introduced the Bonneville back in 1959 and since then, the model has been considered one of the most famous and most popular bikes on the planet. This iconic symbol of rebellion and independence is even more appealing now thanks to its modern specification, low seat, clean fuel-injected 865cc engine and lightweight 17 inch alloys for even sharper handling. Stirs the heart, not the wallet. The name and look may be traditional, but don’t for one second think that the Bonneville is old-fashioned. The fuel efficiency of 43 mpg city / 57 mpg highway. Estimated fuel economy tests on a sample motorcycle conducted in ideal laboratory conditions. Actual mileage may vary depending on personal driving habits, time, vehicle condition and other factors. Styling: Bonneville. Renovated. A timeless, classic look. Our development of the traditional view of Bonneville. Parallel twin stands proudly as the fulcrum. Alloy wheels, screens and short megaphone muffler complete late seventies look. With its engine of 865cc parallel twin is a classic British style, but injection running clean and complete reliability. Gives 68PS with the soulful voice of Triumph alone can not provide.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 (“anti-chrome”)
Smooth travel riding suspension, cozy cruising position and easy handling for endless miles. Reflecting the style of riders who want a quality ride with no hassles, the blacked-out, back-alley bruiser is the “anti-chrome” Harley® model. The Iron 883 is for those who want their first taste of that ride-hard-and-put-up-wet lifestyle. It’s for those who want to tear up asphalt and back-roads instead of polishing paint and chrome. The “anti-chrome” Harley, the Iron 883 is the rawest Sportster currently available in the 2012 lineup. The Iron 883 takes dark one more step with aggressive styling from the slammed drag-style hand-bars, dual shorty mufflers, front fork gaiters, chopped rear fender and a solo seat. The 883 is the smallest in Harley’s Dark Custom line of motorcycles, but is not small on features or looks. It’s simply a no-hassle machine, with a no-hassle price point. Air-cooled and durable as hell, the 883cc Evolution® engine is yet another nod to the unwavering work ethic that drives advancements in motor technology at Harley-Davidson. Aluminum heads and cylinders lighten the load of the bike and improve air-cooling efficiency. Electronic fuel injection says goodbye to carburetors and boasts increased reliability and less routine maintenance.

Star Stryker (“fists in the wind”)
The Stryker is the coolest bike to roll off the assembly line since the Raider took the industry by storm. When designing the 2012 Stryker, Star had one style concept in mind – create a motorcycle with that forward lunging, chopper style. Star began by raking out the front end and adding a 21-inch front wheel. Out back, the Stryker features a 210mm-rear tire with a steel fender and classic belt drive. The seat is only 26.4 inches high, giving the Stryker that low profile that chopper lovers crave. Yamaha packed all of its sportbike know-how into this liquid cooled, 60-degree, 1304cc V-Twin. Four-valve heads with single overhead cams and a closed-loop fuel-injection system that features dual 40mm throttle bodies and 12-hole injectors promises to provide excellent power and response. A 34-degree steering-head angle and 6-degree-offset triple-clamps yield the desired 40-degree rake. When purchasing a Star Stryker, the buyer can chose between two customized trim packages – either chrome or aggressive, blacked-out parts. And with the Star Accessories Catalog having many parts available, the 2012 Star Stryker can be further customized to the rider’s specific taste.

Honda Shadow RS (“classic roadster”)
Introduced in 2010, the Honda Shadow RS takes classic styling and handling from the 750cc flat-track racers of the 1980s, and adds modern engine technology. Check it out: higher fixed footrest and a shorter, more vertical bar. We’re talking serious classic roadster, built for riders who want to ride their bikes actively, not just a place to putt. Make no mistake: RS Shadow take you anywhere you want to go, and you’ll have a lot of fun to get there. The Shadow offers a healthy dose of style roadster from the old school and the function that you do not have to look hard to see the classic flat track impacts peanut-shaped fuel tank and flatter seat. It all comes down to a fantastic bike that is equally at home on a preferred route, as it prowls a Saturday night. By combining agile and responsive handling, V-twin power, clean, crisp lines and standard-style riding ergonomics, this is one ready and willing bike that’s perfectly poised for whatever the journey may bring. The Shadow RS’s higher footpegs enhance ground clearance, and its thoroughly modern liquid-cooled 745cc V-twin engine boasts Honda’s sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection to enhance your riding pleasure. Climb aboard the Honda Shadow RS, and the open road is all yours.

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