Eagles, Spyders and Ninjas – oh my!

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Softail Deluxe

Softail Deluxe

Racers, roadsters, choppers, dirt bikes, three-wheelers, ATVs, side-by sides – Montreal’s Motorcycle Show at the Palais des Congrès February 27-March 1 was chock-full of motorized magnificence.

The Harley Davidson space was crammed with curious onlookers vying for the opportunity to cop a feel of the 2015 line-up. Notable newcomers include the Street 750 and the Street 500.

With top speed capability barely exceeding 160 km/h for the 750, and considerably less for the 500, the Street is more about looks and smoothness of ride than anything else. Shadowy in colour and relatively low-key for Harleys (read: no chrome!), these new models feature blacked out 750cc and 500cc versions of the new Revolution X liquid-cooled V-twin engine. The Street puts a refreshing focus on handling performance and fuel-economy, while retaining the signature level of H-D noise pollution (they have been sound-tested them in labs to ensure this).

Already available in Canada, the dark, more restrained look goes a long way in appealing to young urban riders looking to make their first purchase. The Street 750 and 500 are priced starting at $8,999 and $8,199, respectively.

The other Harley-Davidson models on the showroom floor were more in line with the classic image of glamorous touring and unparalleled comfort. For most, the name Harley Davidson sets industry standards for innovations in extravagance, style, luxury and decadence. The rest of the 2015 line-up is no exception.

From the rebellious Breakout, to the low-riding clout of the V-rod Muscle, to the easy-going swagger of the creamy Fat Boy Lo; from the new-school luxury of the Freewheeler trike to the trusted old-school pedigree of the Softail series: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are iconic status symbols by nature.

Marketed as high-performance cruisers, the V-Rod Muscle along with the Night Rod Special wipe the floor with competing cruisers thanks to the power of its patented liquid-cooled, dual-cam, V-twin Revolution engine. The original Revolution engine was designed and tested in Germany in partnership with Porsche to meet racing standards. The version residing in the current V-Rod Muscle is the 1,250cc VRSCF, which delivers 122 horsepower. The non-street legal V-Rod Destroyer packs the Screamin’ Eagle 1,300cc VRXSC Revolution engine that delivers more than 165 horsepower.

The H-D Street Glide is impossible to miss. This bike features a flaming hot-rod paintjob and an audio system with no less than 12 speakers and two 300-watt four-channel amplifiers, in addition to an infotainment system and a Touchscreen GPS. The Street Glide starts at $25,219.

The 2015 H-D Softail Deluxe was perhaps the classiest cruiser at the show. A chromed-out stunner with design style to burn, this new take on the traditional cruiser is made for high-riding city tours, but is less than ideal for covering long distances at high speeds. Its wide-set handlebars necessitate a tiring upright posture and heavy wind resistance for the driver. Base models start at $22,179; the CVO version is priced at $35,439.

To compete with H-D’s fully loaded comfort-cruisers, Victory Motorcycles released the 2015 Magnum. Advertised by Victory as their “boldest bike ever,” the Magnum is a satisfying big wheel bagger, which comes complete with a high performance 6-speaker audio system. Starting at $25,399, the Magnum is available in a variety of flashy retro finishes including magnum red and plasma lime.

Indian Motorcycles’ display floor featured the much-anticipated 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. An intimidating cruiser heavy on attitude, the Dark Horse dons a matte black finish that eliminates all the chrome save its dual exhaust pipes. It cuts one badass silhouette. Weighing in at 340 kg, the 2016 Dark Horse is the lightest and fastest model in the Chief series and is geared towards customization with dozens of exclusive new mods scheduled to roll out over the next year. Base models start at $19,799.

Victory Magnum_green

Victory Magnum

The 2015 Indian Scout sports a leaner, slicker look than the Dark Horse, and is equally impressive in its design. A lighter cruiser than the Chief series, the Scout weighs only 250 kg. It features Indian’s first liquid-cooling engine, and its 1,100cc V-twin powertrain delivers a solid 100 horsepower. Starting at $12,199, the Scout is aimed at a similar demographic as the H-D Street 750, however the Scout is both faster and more affordable.

The 2015 Indian Roadmaster is a touring bike that rivals the Honda Goldwing. Its elegant saddle-style seating maximizes driver comfort for a long relaxing ride. At the same time, the Roadmaster leaves a generous amount of space for a passenger and ample cargo room making it ideal for an extended road-trip or a weekend getaway. Base models start at $31,499. Coincidentally, Honda is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Goldwing by releasing a special 2015 commemorative edition, also priced starting at $31,499.

Ducati’s new 2015 Scrambler is an urban bike, which prioritizes comfort, style and easy handling above all else. Marketed as a hipster bike that caters to new riders, this bike comes in four trendy variations. Its 803cc air-and-oil-cooled SOHC V-twin engine delivers a mild 75 horsepower, but with an emphasis on excellent fuel economy.

The new Can am-BRP Spyder F3 looks promising. Custom Spyders on display were indeed captivating, but the most eye-popping three-wheel vehicle at the show was undoubtedly Polaris’ new Slingshot. Legally considered a “motorcycle,” the Slingshot features a 5-speed manual transmission and a 2.4L DOHC Ecotec engine with 173 horsepower allowing the slingshot to go from 0-100km/h in approximately 5 seconds. In terms of safety, the vehicle has no airbags and its low set, ultra-light carbon fibre body will surely crumple in a collision with an automobile. Therefore, it makes sense that in regions where motorcycle helmet laws apply, drivers and passengers are obligated to wear helmets at all times. Base models start at $21,999.

For riding off the beaten path, there was no shortage of dirt bikes, ATVs and side-by-sides.

Triumph Motorcycles’ new Tiger 800 XCx is a medium-sized adventure bike with off-road capabilities. Riders can configure ABS settings between three driving modes: Road, Off-Road, and the fully customizable Rider Mode. Base models start from $14,899.

For those seeking a sportier, cheaper alternative, the 2015 Honda CRF250L is an amazingly economical and balanced dual-sports bike, intended for riders who need the versatility of a bike that can deliver sports-level performance both on the road and in the dirt.

Bikes such as the Kawasaki KX250F and the Honda CRF450X are for the dirt-bike purists whose top priority is maximizing off-road competition performance. The 2015 Kawasaki KX250F has a number of substantial improvements on its previous design, including modifications to its exhaust pipe and muffler to provide enhanced low-end and top-end power. Alterations in its dual-fuel injection process provide the dirt bike with enhanced mid-range power as well.

Polaris joined Honda and Kawasaki to compete for best ATV at the show with formidable offerings from all companies. The 2015 Honda Rubicon TRX 500 IRS and its big brother, the Rubicon DCT Deluxe both offer riders a tempting 4-wheeled option for off-road utility and/or recreation. The IRS model starts at $7,799, while the DCT deluxe starts at $10,999.

Kawasaki’s Brute Force 300 is a more compact ATV, but also more affordable, starting at $4,799. Polaris’ Sportsman XP 1000 reigns over the others, with a 952cc 4-stroke twin cylinder engine that produces 88 horsepower and towing capacity of 680 kg. The Sportsman XP 1000 is a monster ATV, whose biggest drawback is its monster price tag, starting at $13,599.

Kawasaki had some attractive SxS vehicles in their line-up too, such as the two-seater Mule 610 XC, and the four-seater Teryx EPS LE. These SxS’s can plow snow or carry passengers and cargo through the wilderness. Whether you’re fishing, camping or hauling workers and materials to or from a worksite, these SxS’s are built to manage transportation and tough jobs efficiently over unpredictable terrain. The Mule 610 XC and the Teryx EPS LE start at $8,599 and $16,999 respectively.

Polaris’ Sportsman ACE 570 falls somewhere between the Mule and the Teryx in terms of size, but its chassis admirably blends the sporty essence of an ATV with the capacity and functionality of an SxS. Polaris’ Ranger 900 EPS is decidedly SxS by design and goes toe-to-toe with the Teryx in terms of looks and utility, the Deluxe version surpasses the Teryx in terms of superior performance and add-ons, but also comes with an added cost, with Northstar Ranger 900 EPS Deluxe models starting $24,199.

And the prize for “most impressive utility vehicle” at this year’s show goes to… Polaris, for the 2015 RZR XP 1000 High Lifter Edition!

The bright orange roll bars and dual front-seat configuration distinguish The High Lifter from an ATV in the strictest sense, but the huge tires, centralized body and daring lines tell a different story. The RZR XP 1000 High Lifter comes equipped with all-wheel-drive, and its 999cc 4-stroke ProStar Twin-Cylinder engine delivers 110 horsepower. The ultimate adventure UTV, it carries a cargo-bed capacity of 136 kg and wields enough torque to blast a driver and a passenger across a shallow river, or up a muddy slope even while burdened with supplies and/or heavy gear. The fully loaded RZR XP 1000 High Lifter Edition sells for $26,699.

As far as racing bikes go, it wasn’t even close. Kawasaki’s Ninja H2-R and its street-legal counterpart, the Ninja H2 stole the show to the point where no one even remembers who the competition was.

True to form, these Ninjas are outwardly demonic and terrifyingly fast. The Ninja H2-R is the cutting edge of modern superbike design, its 998cc inline four-cylinder engine employs a variable speed centrifugal supercharger to command an incredible 300 horsepower and a claimed top-speed of 400-420 km/h, which makes it the most powerful motorcycle produced — ever!

The Ninja H2 shares the supercharged 998cc engine, but its horsepower has been reduced to 197. Despite the loss of a hundred horses, the H2 might still be the fastest street-legal production bike in the world, reportedly able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in under 2.5 seconds. The Ninja H2-R and the Ninja H2 are priced at $55,000 and $25,000 respectively.

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