MCN's most wanted: our best bikes of 2020
After the unveiling of several beautiful machines at Eicma earlier this month, the feeling here at MCN Towers is that 2020 will be a great year for new metal, with the hyper naked class undoubtedly the main focus of attention.
But there’s been everything from electric scooters to superbikes, so to set out what we think are the most significant motorbikes in 2020 we’ve canvassed the whole office for their opinions…
Name: Gareth Evans
Job title: Online Editor
The Chosen One: Ducati Panigale V2
Why? Let’s get this out of the way: I’m fascinated by electric bikes, love new technology and don’t have the skills or experience to get the best from a sports bike. But frankly, the first time I clapped eyes on the new baby Panigale it stopped me dead in my tracks, jaw on the floor, in awe. I think it’s stunning, and I’ve since decided I’d do very bad things to get near to a bike like this. I like the fact that it isn’t the last word in power – if 155bhp can be classed as ‘moderate’ – and there’s an emphasis on handling finesse that should help make it compellingly capable in corners. It’d be a miracle for me to get my mitts on one, but a guy can dream…
Also good: It’s not as much of a looker, but that Bimota Tesi H2 caught my attention for its epic engineering, and given I’m running the website I’d be remiss not to mention that the Fireblade set the entire internet on fire.
Name: Martin Fitz-Gibbons
Job title: Deputy Editor, motorcycling
The Chosen One: Aprilia RS660
Why? As a previous owner of a 1996 Aprilia RS50 and 1997 RS125, by far and away the Aprilia RS660 is my bike of 2020. I would really like to know what that engine feels like and I’m very happy that they are not scrimping on things like electronics, because low capacity shouldn’t have to mean low spec. If the rumour of a sub-nine-grand is even close to accurate, it could be a revelation for our expectations of middleweights.
Also good: My other highlight from the new bike releases is the Ducati Desert X retro concept, which isn’t actually a 2020 bike, but was shown at Ducati’s model launch last month. I have no nostalgia for the likes of the Cagiva Elefant, or Ducati’s old Dakar bikes, I just think it looks like it would bring together the lighter side of retros, with the practical side of an adventure bike.
Name: Michael Neeves
Job title: Chief Road Tester, motorcycling
The Chosen One: Ducati Streetfighter V4
Why? Call me shallow, but I’m most looking forward to the Ducati Streetfighter V4. I’ve previously run the 1100 and 848 versions and I was probably one of the only people that loved them. I love the fact that they handle like a sportsbike, but felt like a giant supermoto the rest of the time. They are all about skids and wheelies, so a super naked that makes 208hp is like all of my Christmases coming at once. I also ran a Panigale V4S as a long-term test bike last year and if I could’ve changed that in any way it would’ve been to make it more comfortable, so this is the answer to my prayers.
Also good: Also doing it for me is the new Honda Fireblade range. As a track bike, it’s got all the makings of something very special and could knock the BMW S1000RR off its perch. It’s such a radical step from Honda with that short-stroke engine and the fact that it’s longer with more advanced electronics will make it easier to ride as well.
Name: Mike Armitage
Job title: Deputy Editor, motorcycling
The Chosen One: Aprilia RS660
Why? I’m a washed-up middle-aged man, who still thinks he can tear around roundabouts with his knee out, but his joints can’t deal with the position of an R6. The position of the Aprilia means it can remain sporty enough, whilst being practical at the same time. It’s also got all of the exotic elements of the original 1998 RSV1000, without the price tag. I don’t want 200bhp – I’m not safe with 100, so this is perfect for me!
Also good: I’m also taken with the Harley-Davidson Pan America – partly because the front looks a lot like Bender from Futurama. It also looks like it might be a bit top-heavy and I can’t imagine it’s going to ride anywhere near as well as a BMW GS, but that doesn’t matter because I don’t want a GS! They sell so many that it’s almost bland. I like the Moto Guzzi V85TT for the same reason; it’s unexpectedly good.
Name: Dan Sutherland
Job title: Senior Writer, motorcycling
The Chosen One: Vins Duecinquanta 250
Why? Who would’ve thought that, on the eve of the 2020 riding season, we would be welcoming a brand-new two-stroke 250 V-Twin, alongside a Kawasaki-backed Bimota!? Can we bring back iridium visors and Acid Worm leathers next, please? The Vins took my eye because it’s a modern take on a classic concept, combing the nostalgia of 250 smoker with modern technology like a carbon monocoque chassis and a Hossack front end for greater control under braking. I’ve always loved bikes like the Aprilia RS250 and Suzuki RGV250, but being 24, I missed out on them when they were current models, so it’s great to see them making a comeback.
Also good: I’m also quite taken with the KTM 890 Duke R. Although slightly more expensive than the pre-existing 790, this is much more of a track-focussed middleweight naked, with better tyres, suspension, performance and ground-clearance from factory. A pony short of 120bhp and weighing 3kg less than the 790, it could be the perfect trackday and back road toy.
Name: Alison Silcox
Job title: MCN Office Manager
The Chosen One: BMW F900XR
Why? I am very interested to try the BMW F900XR, having had its rival; the Yamaha Tracer 900, as a long-term test bike for the best part of a year in 2018. I also really like a parallel-twin engine, having owned a Kawasaki ER-6f. Most of my riding consists of commuting and longer tours and the BMW looks like it would be perfect for that. I’m still not entirely sold on the looks though, so I will have to see it for myself at Motorcycle Live, before making my final verdict. The engine is very appealing, though.
Also good: As an owner of a Yamaha XMAX 400 scooter, the new Yamaha TMAX 560 really appeals to me. I use my scooter for my winter riding, commuting along the A1 to the office every day. It would be interesting to see if the T-MAX’s larger size and extra performance could tempt me into a trade-in.
Name: Ben Clarke
Job title: Staff Writer, motorcycling
The one: Ducati Panigale V2
Why? Just as I had made peace with the fact that V-twin superbikes were at home on the classics pages, the new 'middleweight' Duke stepped in to save the day. Let’s not kid ourselves, this is not a bike for the inexperienced and ten years ago it would have probably won a superbike group test. It’s not going to win you any games of Top Trumps in a world of S1000RRs, R1s and RSV4s but who cares? You’ll struggle to use the full capability of the V2 on the road anyway and enough’s as good as a feast.
Also good: Yes it’s a four-stroke and yes it looks like it’s been ridden hard through a Meccano factory but I can’t help but get excited when I see the new Italjet Dragster and there’s a lot to be said for that. The marketing footage of it being thrashed around a circuit looked utterly ridiculous and made me want to have a go immediately. It may not be the most practical or best performing scooter but biking is meant to be fun and that’s what I think the Dragster brings in spades.
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