2009 Motorcycle of the Year

Cashing In The New Currency

By: Aaron Frank, Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Best Dreambike
Aprilia RSV4

Do you sense a hint of Honda RC212V in Aprilia's new RSV4? That's no coincidence. The Italian engineers studied all manner of engines for their new World Superbike contender, and came to the same conclusion that Honda-along with Ducati and Suzuki-came to for their MotoGP bikes: The V-4 configuration works best. Yes, Ducati beat the others to the punch with its Desmosedici RR, but that limited-edition model sells for $72,500. The Aprilia will sell for less than the base-model Ducati 1198 when it goes on sale here later this year-and there's an uprated Factory version to rival the 1198S as well. Meanwhile, the RSV4 has been winning various overseas sportbike comparisons, so we can't wait to ride one stateside. But we're going to have to, and you'll have to wait to buy one too. So color the RSV4 forbidden fruit. And color it our Dreambike of the Year.

Alternative Take

Though BMW's all-new S1000RR hasn't been quite as successful as Aprilia's RSV4 in this year's World Superbike Championship, it's probably only a matter of time. The Germans claim their new superbike will be the most sophisticated available when it goes on sale later this year, with a fly-by-wire throttle, advanced traction control and race ABS. We're holding our breath...

Best Bang For The Buck
Kawasaki ER-6n

With the same steel-trellis frame and compact engine as the 2008 MOTY award-winning Versys and the popular Ninja 650R, the ER-6n is destined for success. It looks strikingly similar to the fire-breathing Z1000 naked bike, but it's cheaper, lighter and less likely to land you in jail. That's not to say the ER-6n is boring-far from it. The ER's peppy 649cc DOHC parallel-twin and light handling make it every bit as fun as the Ninja, yet its upright ergonomics mean it's almost as comfortable as the Versys. A low seat height and a lower $6399 price tag put this edgy streetfighter within reach of cash-strapped riders, and 48-mpg fuel economy and conservative tire sizing makes for affordable operating costs. Despite its economical price, the ER-6n hasn't been diluted with discounted components, and its reliable, rubber-mounted, fuel-injected, engine offers seamless throttle response plus plenty of power to keep you entertained in the twisties.

Alternative Take
Kawasaki KLX250SF

At $5299, Kawasaki's KLX250SF is the least expensive production supermoto you can buy. A bigger front rotor, 17-inch wheels and ample suspension travel transformed the KLX250S dual-sport into this road-eating mini-monster. Excellent fuel mileage aside, this little thumper is a blast to ride-especially on one wheel!

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