2008 Motorcycle Of The Year

Taking stock of a changing landscape

BEST CRUISER

HARLEY-DAVIDSON FXDF FAT BOB
Add this to the last few truths of which we are certain: Roll into a Saturday night anywhere from Long Beach to the Bronx or any burg in between with a traffic light. There are two kinds of motorcycles out there: the Harley-Davidson and the compromise. It's more chemical than rational. But Bob here has the sort of rational rationale that takes the door prize at this party. Don't let the Fat part fool you: He's just big-boned, more motorcycle than fashion accessory. The slotted 16-inch wheels flanking that 96-inch Twin Cam twin wear the sort of rubber that lets the boy roll around corners more readily than the average poseur. Ride hard. Bob likes it. Brembo four-pot calipers stop, and a tall sixth gear lets the Big Twin loaf along on the freeway. Soak up the ambience du jour six or eight zip codes away. Bob's down with that. He's a bike that just happens to be a Harley-Davidson. Not the other way around. That's why he's here.





Alternative Take

STAR RAIDER
Performance is the last thing you'd expect from a rakish 39-degree front end ahead of a 210/40R-18 Metzeler Marathon. Especially with 730 pounds of motorcycle balanced on a 71-inch wheelbase in between. Lucky for you there's a healthy 113-inch Yamaha twin in there too, along with a stout aluminum frame and great brakes. Radical chic and civil road manners? What more do you want?





BEST DIRTBIKE

KTM 690 ENDURO
Dual-sport bikes traditionally come in two flavors: two-wheeled SUVs that barely get the job done off-road or MXers with license plates that barely get it done on the road. Leave it to KTM to break that mold with one motorcycle that can truly do it all. The 690 Enduro is the dirtiest sibling in the new LC4 family that also includes the Duke III streetbike and SMC supermoto. Developed for the Dakar Rally, the Enduro boasts an innovative layout with its airbox above the engine and gas tank under the seat. Fuel-injected, it comes with three maps that let you tailor power output to suit conditions or run on low-octane fuel like you might come across in Mexico. Its 10 inches of suspension travel is a couple inches shorter than that of a purpose-built dirtbike, but it's more than capable off-road. At $8898 the 690 Enduro isn't cheap, but considering everything it can do, it's like having two bikes for the price of one.





Alternative Take

SUZUKI RM-Z450
Suzuki's four-stroke motocrosser warrants mention not because it's the best of its breed--Honda's CRF450R has won most of this year's shootouts-but because it's the first mass-produced, fuel-injected MXer. So say goodbye to messy jetting changes and hello to letting electronics do the work for you. After all, racing is hard enough already.

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