New Motorbikes for 2021 Roundup
By Alan Dowds
New Year, New Bike Launches for 2021...
You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 was a bit, er, weird, in a lot of ways. One big hiccup in the bike industry was the lack of any trade shows – the Milan, Cologne and NEC shows were all cancelled. And that meant there wasn’t anywhere for the big firms to show off their new 2021 models to us all.
Without a big event around then, the firms’ actual announcements were drawn out over the past few months. And there were plenty of new bikes – far more than you might have expected given the impact of Covid-19 on the world. One huge factor has been the introduction of Euro5 emissions regulations this year, which meant lots of bikes needed new or revised Euro5-compliant engines. And the firms have generally given them a bit of a tickle while they were having the updated motors bolted in.
So – more sweet metal than we maybe expected (and more to come early in 2021 we hear) – here’s our pick of the bunch.
We saw the new RS660 back in late 2019 at the Milan show, but Aprilia only really released it late-on in 2020, and we didn’t know the full specs until then. It’s on sale now, but is really a 2021 model (honest!). The Noale firm has pulled a blinder with it too: it makes a beefy 100bhp from its 659cc ‘half-an-RSV4’ parallel twin motor, and weighs just 183kg ready to ride. The chassis is well above the class standards in terms of suspension, braking and handling, and it’s a very handsome little beastie all round. Aprilia’s also working on adventure and naked versions of the 660 this year too, so keep an eye out for smaller Tuono and Capo Nord models…
- Tuono V4X
If you manage to get hold of one of these, give us a shout and we’ll help you run it in round Brands GP any day you fancy. Our treat. In the same mould as the RSV4 X launched last year, it’s a special track-only variant of the mental Tuono supernaked, with a 221bhp version of the RSV4 1100 Factory engine and a stunning 166kg dry mass. There are carbon fibre wings up front because of course there are, it wears forged magnesium Marchesini wheels, superbike-spec Brembo GP4-MS billet calipers plus full Öhlins track suspension, and costs a mighty £34k. Numbers are limited, so you better get the furlough money spent soon…
The latest generation S1000RR superbike, which turned up a bit late in 2019, is a belter – though we’ve not seen so much of it what with 2020 being such a planetary-scale shit-show. BMW’s done the right thing anyway, by giving it a right royal tweaking up to produce this, the M1000RR; a special race homologation version which taps into the ‘M’ Motorsport vibe from its car division.
Confusingly, they had sort of gone halfway with the 2019 bike, launching it with an optional ‘M-Sport’ performance package that included carbon wheels, adjustable frame geometry and additional electronic rider aids. The M1000RR is even more serious though – and it’s aimed purely at superbike racing. It’s packed with the stuff that race teams are gagging for, but is only allowed into production-based racing if it comes on a bike available to buy in the dealership. So the M-Thou boasts clear-coat carbon fibre aerodynamic wings, longer titanium con-rods by Austrian metal-wizards Pankl and a heap of engine tweaks inside the cases. There are hollow titanium exhaust valves for more lightness, a full titanium exhaust system, two-ring race pistons and a higher compression ratio. All that adds up to a claimed 212bhp@14,500rpm from the variable-valve-timing ShiftCam lump: knocking on Ducati V4 S power levels.
The suspension is less flash – again because the race teams will be fitting their own race forks and shock, so the stock stuff is basically irrelevant. It’s not disastrous: 45mm Marzocchi forks and a nice blue-springed rear shock will do a top job, but we expect all serious M1000RR owners will be speccing their own suspenders at both ends even as we speak.
New ‘M’ brakes are luscious blue-anodised four-pot calipers from Nissin rather than the typical Brembo parts, and it will be interesting to see how these fare in racing (and if they even make it onto a race bike at all). Top-end electronics, giant colour LCD dash, quickshifter all go without saying, but we’re not sure on heated grips availability as yet… The price? Around £31k, though there are only 500 of the buggers planned to be built this year.
No surprise here that BMW is giving its supernaked S1000R a new motor, based on the one from the new S1000RR. Like the new S1000XR launched last year, the engine lacks the expensive-to-manufacture ShiftCam variable valve timing setup, but is all-new otherwise. Power is pretty much the same as before – up a bhp or two to 165bhp, but you get Euro5 emissions compliance, and it’s both half an inch narrower and 5kg lighter than the old ‘un.
The chassis is new too, with a different aluminium frame and underbraced swingarm – and the whole shooting match is 6.5kg lighter than before, now just 199kg ready to ride. Price starts at around £12k and it should be in dealers about now…
- Multistrada V4
New engines cost a fortune to develop, so it’s no surprise that the big firms all aim to get as much as they can from that cost, using the motors in various bike forms. So, a V4 Multistrada makes perfect sense.
Now, Ducati could have easily just slung a lightly tweaked variant of the 1,103cc motor from the Panigale V4 into a tweaked Multistrada chassis and watched the sales roll in. But the Bologna firm went a lot further, impressively enough, and came out with a new 2mm big-bore 1,158cc touring version of the engine, which drops desmodromic valve operation in favour of more conventional valve-springs in the DOHC heads. That means massive service intervals – an amazing 60,000km between valve clearance adjustment, and a 15,000km oil change schedule.
It’s not short of performance either – Ducati claims 170bhp for the new motor, which isn’t a lot more than the 160bhp from the old 1200 V-twin version, but it’s a smoother, less brutal powerplant.
Away from the new engine, the V4 S Multistrada is laden with tech – from the latest version of Ducati’s semi-active Skyhook suspension to cornering headlights, full rider aids, quickshifter, and most impressive – a new adaptive cruise control system, which uses radar to keep you a safe distance from other vehicles. All-up weight is 215kg dry on the base V4 model.
- Panigale V4 SP
Ducati revamped the whole 1,103cc V4 Panigale range for 2021 with a new Euro5 emissions compliant engine, and also launched a new variant, the Panigale V4 SP (Sport Production). It adds carbon wheels, wings and new Brembo Stylema R brake calipers. It’s 1kg lighter than the standard V4S, and will be produced in strictly limited numbers, costing a whisker over £32,000.
- 950 Supersport
Ducati’s entry-level road-biased superbike gets a revamp for 2021, with a new Euro5 engine, similar to the Hypermotard 950 lump, in a set of Panigale-style bodywork. The 937cc twin-cylinder motor makes 110bhp, and the overall dry weight is just 184kg. You get a high-end set of rider aids, single-sided rear swingarm and Öhlins suspension on the S version. The 950 SS costs £12,295 for the base bike and from £13,895 for the S variant.
Even people who should know better (like us!) have got confused with the various Monster variants over the past few years. Is it an 797? An 821? 1100? Luckily Ducati has made it much easier for 2021, with just two variants of its middleweight roadster – the Monster and Monster+.
The ’21 Monster had had a fairly radical overhaul though, with a new aluminium frame replacing the traditional steel tube trellis design. That, plus the new headlamp, fuel tank and tail unit have sparked comparisons with MV Agusta’s Brutale and even the Yamaha MT-07.
The Monster is powered by the near-ubiquitous 937cc Testastretta V-twin motor shared with the Hypermotard and Supersport range, which lifts the Monster out of the ‘entry level’ class. Ducati offers the various Scrambler models for that sector now, and the Monster occupies a slightly beefier niche.
The engine puts out 110bhp, and with kerb weight of 188kg, it should be a lively beastie. There’s a full suite of high-end road riding aids – traction, wheelie control, launch control, cornering ABS and quickshifter as well as power and rider modes, all accessed via a colour LCD dashboard. Prices are from £10,295 and it’s in dealers this spring.
Honda’s CRF250L and CRF250 Rally made great green lane and light adventure machines – but they were a bit low on grunt. So for 2021, Honda’s bumped the capacity up to 286cc thanks to a longer stroke, up to 63mm from 55mm, with the bore staying at 76mm. That means ten per cent more power, now up to 27bhp. Weight is down by 4kg, with the base bike weighing in at 142kg and the Rally at 153kg – both kerb weights. New bodywork, LCD dash and a host of chassis tweaks rounds off a fairly hefty update to Honda’s classy lightweight dirt bike.
It’s in the shops now, priced at £4,999 for the CRF and £6,100 for the Rally.
Honda’s Fireblade-engined CB1000R has been around for what seems like forever, and while its on-paper specs sometimes fall behind the opposition, it’s always been a cracking bike to ride. For 2021, the firm is giving it a medium-spec overhaul, with fresh, muscular styling, engine tweaks that give Euro5 emissions compliance, and some sweet new seven-spoke cast aluminium wheels. Power and torque are as you were – 143bhp and 77ft lb – and wet weight is also unchanged at 212kg.
The styling is A Good Thing we reckon – there’s a hint of something like the Ducati Diavel, and it’s a much more imposing look. Add in a new full colour 5” LCD dashboard plus the usual Honda refinements and it looks like the new CB will keep on doing what it does best in 2021…
- CMX1100 Rebel
Honda likes to keep us on our toes – so the first alternative use of the Africa Twin parallel twin engine isn’t a roadster or sporty tourer, it’s this cool retro-cruiser. The 1100 motor from the big adventure machine has been retuned to make 86bhp@7,000rpm, then bolted into a conventional low-slung steel tube frame. Twin shock suspension and conventional forks take care of the bumps, and there’s an unexpectedly posh front brake: a single huge 330mm disc with a radial-mount four-piston caliper. It’ll need that mind: it’s no lightweight, at 223kg for the manual version.
DCT autobox is an option, and there’s more than enough electronics for a modern retro cruiser. It’ll be an interesting option to something like a Triumph Bobber for 2021 – and is well priced too, at £8,999 (£9,899 for the DCT variant).
Kawasaki’s supercharged supernaked was one of the big hits for 2020, with its amazing engine, aggressive styling and high-tech equipment all going in its favour. The suspension was criticised a bit though – the job of handling all that power (200bhp) and mass (239kg) sometimes seemed to be a bit much for the standard Showa kit.
So Kawasaki’s come up with this SE version for 2021, which adds Showa Skyhook semi-active suspension to the mix. ECU-controlled damping, as seen on the firm’s Versys 1000 SE will keep things in line a lot better and should be worth the extra cost – the SE will be £18,349, £2,450 more than the standard bike.
Kawasaki and Jonathan Rea have won the WSB title with the ZX-10R for what feels like about fifty years now – and for 2021 the mighty Ninja gets another makeover. The most striking part is obviously the radical new front fairing, with its exotic aerofoil shape around the headlights, all the better for high-speed downforce and stability without silly side-mounted wings. Inside the all-new bodywork, there’s no change to the 200bhp motor on the ZX-10R, but the chassis has had a load of tweaks.
The RR version is limited to 500 units, and it gets a heap of small-but-significant engine mods including new two-ring pistons, cams, valve springs and more. The RR also has an adjustable swingarm pivot point for racers to further faff about with.
Royal Enfield’s Anglo-Indian design and engineering team made a great job with the current 650 twin range, so we’re hoping this small-bore cruiser will be just as good. It’s the first use of the next-generation 20bhp single-cylinder engine which replaces the ancient 500 and 350 lump and will be sold in the hundreds of thousands across India and worldwide. Priced to sell at just £3,749 and in dealers soon.
- Trident 660
An all-new entry-level middleweight from Triumph for 2021, the Trident 660 uses a fresh 660cc triple engine design, making 80bhp and taking the fight to the likes of Yamaha’s MT-07 and Kawasaki’s Ninja 650. The chassis is a fairly standard setup, with steel tube frame, Showa suspension and Nissin sliding front brake calipers, and all-up weight is low at 189kg wet. The price is decent, starting from just £7,195, so if you need a cool middleweight roadster and like the slightly-controversial styling, it’s got to be worth a test ride when the weather and lockdown picks up a bit…
The MT-09 was one of those bikes which needed its emissions cleaning up for Euro5 – so the excellent fun roadster has a new motor, up 42cc to 889cc thanks to a 3mm longer stroke. All the internals are revised, and it finally gets a ride-by-wire throttle setup, while the engine itself saves nearly 2kg over the old one.
The frame is also completely new, with a Deltabox-style twin-spar design replacing the old trellis-type unit. Steering geometry is revised, the swingarm is new, and there’s an updated fully adjustable KYB front fork too.
The electronic package powers up for 2021 with a new six-axis IMU controlling the traction, ABS and wheelie control, and there’s a fresh quickshifter setup too. Wet weight overall is just 189kg, 4kg less than before. It’ll be in dealers in March…
- Tracer 9/GT
Yamaha’s excellent sporty-touring Tracer 900 gets the same engine and frame updates as the MT-09, so there’s a new 889cc motor with a 3mm longer stroke, and power is up 4bhp to 118bhp. The chassis has the new cast aluminium Deltabox frame, longer swingarm and now features spin-forged aluminium wheels which are lighter and stronger than conventional cast rims. Keeping all this in line is an upgraded electronics package with a six-axis IMU, allowing cornering ABS, better traction control, anti-rear-wheel-lift and more. You also get cruise control thanks to the new ride-by-wire throttle.
New bodywork is sleeker and there’s a twin-screen colour LCD dashboard installation. The rear subframe is stronger and can now take proper three-box hard luggage, and the weight limits are increased: you now have 193kg total for rider, pillion, and luggage.
The high-spec GT version gets all the same updates as the base bike, plus new semi-active suspension from KYB, which works alongside the new IMU unit. It also has colour-matched panniers, up/down quickshifter LED cornering headlights and heated grips – luxury!
The new Tracer 9 and GT will be in the shops in March, prices tbc.