MCN's most wanted: the bikes that excite us arriving in 2021

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Coronavirus may have spoilt a lot of things, but it hasn’t stopped motorcycle manufacturers coming out with an army of awesome bikes for 2021.

After months of reporting on new model reveals and riding fresh metal at their world launches, we've compiled our top 10 machines coming next year, explaining what makes each one of them great. It’s a mouthwatering hit list that will prove too tempting for many to resist.

Today's Wednesday, December 30 issue of Motorcycle News dedicates eight pages to the hot new metal and features nearly 60 of the wallet-openers. So pick up a copy if you want the full rundownm or alternatively subscribe here. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the class of 2021!

The 2021 MCN hit list:

Triumph Trident 660

Triumph Trident 660

  • £7195
  • 660cc inline triple
  • 80bhp @ 10,250rpm
  • 189kg (wet)

Triumph have succeeded in producing a simple, affordable, characterful and grown-up feeling machine that’s as happy commuting as it is scratching.

The engine is all-new despite sharing the same capacity as the A2-restrictable Street Triple S. That means new pistons, new crank, new cylinder heads, new cases, new clutch, new liners, new camshafts – in fact, it would be simpler to name the parts that are the same.

The Trident 660 is a piece of cake to manage at any speeds, making it the ideal first big bike and is way more capable in the corners than any of its rivals. It’s fast without being too in-your-face, or tricky to manage and is packed with low-down punch, but the triple lacks the playfulness of Yamaha’s twin cylinder MT-07. Great build quality, generous detailing and cheap running costs are the icing on this middleweight naked cake.

The chassis is all-new, too and what’s especially nice is that, even for the price, it’s got smart bits of kit as standard, including 41mm Showa Separate Function forks, Nissin calipers and Michelin Road 5 tyres. There’s not much adjustment in the suspension (just rear preload) but that’s not uncommon at this price. It’s an impressive package.

Aprilia RS660

Cornering on the Aprilia RS660

  • £10,150
  • 659cc DOHC parallel twin, 4v per cyl, l/c
  • 99bhp@10,500rpm (claimed)
  • 183kg (kerb)

Aprilia’s new RS660 is a great-looking performance bike that handles like a mini RSV4 and has superbike-spec tyres, suspension and brakes.

Its new 99bhp, 659cc parallel twin cylinder engine has friendly power and a riding position that’s kind to your body. But isn’t its £10,149 price tag a little bit too fruity? When you compare it to the £6899 Kawasaki Ninja 650 and £7949 Honda CBR650R the answer is yes, but the Aprilia is in a different league when it comes to performance and spec.

Weighing just 183kg, fuelled and ready to go, it’s light, manageable and low enough for shorter riders. The power delivery is smooth and unthreatening, the clutch light, the electronic shifter and blipper slick even when you’re short-shifting and while the riding position is undeniably sporty, it’s not extreme. It even has cruise control, self-cancelling indicators, a fuel gauge and mirrors that actually work.

It also has adjustable riding modes, power maps, traction, wheelie and engine braking control. The Aprilia RS660 is a great all-round sportsbike.

Ducati Monster

The 2021 Ducati Monster doesn't use a trellis frame

  • £10,295
  • 937cc V-twin
  • 110bhp @ 9250rpm
  • 166kg (dry)

The 2021 Monster has ditched Ducati’s famous trellis chassis which has been a feature of the naked model since it was first revealed in 1993.

Simply called the Monster, the new machine supersedes the existing 821 model and features new looks, more tech and a Panigale V4-inspired aluminium front frame that uses the engine as a stressed member.

Starting at £10,295, the bike looks to be all things to all riders, with just shy of 110bhp in standard trim from its 937cc Euro5-friendly V-Twin engine, a gentle seat height of 820mm (lowerable to as little as 775mm) and an additional A2-compliant model also available.

Weighing just 166kg dry, it could be the ideal introduction to the Italian brand for new riders, while also promising sporting thrills for the more experienced pilot. Those wanting a little extra bling can also opt for a £10,545 'Plus' model, which gets a small screen and rear seat cover as standard.

BMW S1000R

Sliding the 2021 BMW S1000R

  • £12,055
  • 999cc inline four
  • 165bhp @ 11,000rpm
  • 199kg (kerb)

BMW’s all-new S1000R is lighter and more sophisticated than ever. The heavily revamped naked is based on the latest and greatest S1000RR sports weapon, but has been significantly reworked. The 5kg lighter (non-ShiftCam) engine has been retuned to maximise midrange and produces an unchanged peak power of 165bhp at 11,000rpm.

The chassis is also based on the latest RR’s, which contributes to the overall 6.5kg weight reduction and features slightly sharper steering geometry. Brakes and suspension come straight off the RR along with the option of BMW's Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) semi-active suspension. It also gets an impressive 6.5in colour TFT dash.

The bike’s been given a major styling makeover and has a striking LED headlight (adaptive headlight is an optional extra). There’s also an up-specced S1000R Sport, with uprated electronics and DDC at £14,000.

Yamaha MT-09 and MT-09 SP

2021 Yamaha MT-09SP

  • £tbc
  • 889cc triple
  • 117bhp @ 10,000rpm
  • 189kg (wet)

Yamaha have taken the next step in a total refresh of their best-selling MT range with an all-new MT-09 and MT-09 SP. For 2021 the MT-09 gets a longer stroke version of its CP3 triple boosting it to 889cc. That brings with it a small power and torque boost but more importantly the torque arrives 1500rpm earlier in the revs. The engine sits in a new frame and subframe, dropping 3.8kg between them, while there’s also new wheels, swingarm and a totally new look. There’s now an autoblipper and six-axis IMU from the R1 bringing with it all the flash tech you’d expect. There’s also a new full-colour TFT dash. And the SP is even better.

Riding the 2021 Yamaha MT-09

The suspension goes up another level with 41mm USD Kayaba forks, which have a diamond like coating for smoother movement. They’re fully adjustable for preload, rebound and compression. At the rear there’s an Öhlins shock, also fully adjustable.

Buying an SP also bags you cruise control, a 'premium double stitched' seat, a brushed aluminium swingarm and various bits of lovely black anodising. There’s even a special R1M inspired SP paintjob. Classy!

BMW R1250RT

The 2021 BMW R1250RT gets radar cruise control

  • £15,820
  • 1254cc ShiftCam Boxer twin
  • 136bhp @ 7750rpm
  • 279kg (kerb)

Forget your multi-level traction control and riding modes configured specifically for overcast Wednesday mornings. If you want to talk proper rider aids, things that actually make it easier to get from A-to-C-via-B, then you want BMW’s new R1250RT.

The latest RT has dynamic traction, 'eco' riding mode, hill start control, cruise, heated grips, 'Full Integral ABS Pro' and a bloody enormous 10.25-inch colour TFT dash as standard on the £15,820 base model. With connectivity and built-in navigation, this cinema-scale display is the first on any bike to have all-singing sat-nav-style maps and route planning, rather than turn-by-turn arrows.

The RT also controls your speed. Opt for dynamic cruise control and the RT uses radar to maintain your gap to other traffic. It’ll pull your speed back if you’re cornering too aggressively as well. 

Ducati Multistrada V4

Riding the Ducati Multistrada V4

  • £15,495
  • 1158cc V4
  • 168bhp @ 10,500rpm
  • 215kg (dry, claimed)

Ducati’s 2021 Multistrada V4 is an all-new motorcycle bristling with top tech. The biggest change is the departure of the 1262cc V-twin engine, replaced by a lighter, shorter, more powerful V4.

Based on the 1103cc unit in the Streetfighter and Panigale, the 'Granturismo' displaces 1158cc thanks to a 2mm larger bore. The Multi V4's motor may be a slightly detuned version of the mighty V4 lump, but it is more flexible and easy to use – and we’re still talking a chunky 92lb.ft of torque at 8750rpm and a mighty 168bhp at 10,500rpm. And the firm’s famous Desmo valves have been dropped in favour of traditional valve springs.

The Multistrada V4 also became the first model to go into production with radar-guided cruise control technology (as a £1950 option), narrowly beating BMW to the claim with the 2021 R1250RT.

The Multistrada V4 also comes as an S model (with Skyhook suspension and Stylema brakes costing £18,395) or S Sport for £19,995 with all the stuff the S has plus a dedicated colour, carbon mudguard and Akrapovic pipe.

The Multi V4 is a towering achievement, blending awesome power with an engaging but civilised character, supreme comfort and handling, and a wealth of top-drawer tech. It’s the best bike Ducati have built.

Kawasaki Versys 1000S and Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE

The Kawasaki Versys 1000 range is all changed for 2021

  • £12,999 (£14,899 for the SE)
  • 1043cc inline four
  • 118bhp @ 9000rpm
  • 257kg (kerb)

Kawasaki have revamped their hugely capable Versys 1000 range for 2021 which sees the stock Versys replaced by the higher-spec-as-standard S while the SE boasts Showa Skyhook suspension.

The semi-active suspension set-up uses electronics to give a smoother ride as it tweaks damping settings on the fly and at £14,899 it’s only £200 more than the outgoing model.

The base-model Versys 1000 has always offered solid performance and comfort at a very competitive price. The 2020 model was a tempting £11,300, but for 2021, the S gets a load of extra spec and a meatier price to go with it: £12,999.

The extra £1700 gets you a quickshifter, an info-packed TFT dash, taller screen, cornering lights, heated grips, hand guards and improved modes. The engine remains the same dependable 1043cc 16-valve inline four with 118bhp on tap. The chassis is unchanged.

BMW R1250GS and BMW R1250GSA

Riding the BMW R1250GS off-road

  • £13,705 (£14,985 GSA)
  • 1254cc flat twin Shiftcam
  • 134bhp @ 7750rpm
  • 268kg (kerb)

BMW have used the 40th anniversary of the big-selling GS family to unveil their most technologically advanced models to date featuring everything from heated seats to headlights that aim around corners.

There’s a huge list of electronic goodies that are new this year, but top of the tree has to be the new adaptive cornering lights. On the new GS and GSA, the headlight reflector is able to swivel by 35 degrees, so on dipped beam as you turn into a corner, the headlight pivots and aims the beam in the direction where you’re going rather than pointing straight ahead.

BMW have also upped the level of safety electronics fitted as standard. Both the GS and GSA will now come with Dynamic Traction Control and ABS Pro as standard, as well as Hill Start Control (HSC). You can also add Pro riding modes plus HSC Pro, which accesses the IMU for smoother take-offs.

BMW have also made some practical additions to the machine, so for the first time ever you can raise the bars by 30mm without being obliged to buy parts from a third party.

Last but not least, all the new features are available alongside a special '40 years of GS' edition with a paintjob that mirrors the classic 'bumblebee' R100GS, with yellow accessories on an all-black bike. If that’s not for you, BMW are also offering buyers the option of a basic 'Ice Grey' as well as 'Triple Black' and 'Rallye' variants.

Royal Enfield Meteor 350

The Royal Enfield Meteor 350 could be the ultimate post-Covid commuter

  • £3749
  • 349cc single
  • 20bhp @ 6100 rpm
  • 191kg (kerb)

Royal Enfield have unveiled their new Meteor 350 – a small capacity city cruiser that could make a perfect post-Covid commuter.

Powering this little machine is a brand new 349cc SOHC air and oil cooled single. Externally it’s visually similar to the 650cc parallel twins Royal Enfield launched a couple of years back. Peak power is 20.2bhp at 6100rpm, while it produces a decent 19.9lb.ft of torque.

Paired with this are a five-speed gearbox, which again should be fine at sensible speeds, as well as a 15 litre petrol tank.

The engine is housed in a brand new chassis, which Enfield say is lighter, stiffer and more durable than previous models but doesn’t give up on comfort. Wheels are tubeless 19/17in, which should give more tyre options than the 18in ones on the 650s. Suspension is a simple affair but the twin shocks at the rear do offer six steps of preload.

The main dash is comprised of a really old-school-cool analogue speedo, with an LCD info panel sat inside. To the right is a little colour TFT that can display directions when linked to a smartphone running the Royal Enfield app. There’s even a USB port to keep your phone topped up as you ride.

For all the latest new bike news and reviews, pick up MCN every Wednesday in store, via Bikes Unlimited in the App store, or head online to motorcyclenews.com.


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Andy Calton

By Andy Calton

Content director, motorcycling, and Suzuki Katana rider