Raw, edgy and super-naked: The top motorcycles of 2016
Fans of two-wheeled transportation have had plenty to excite them in 2016 -- new models, remakes and radical visions that could shake up the motorcycle industry.
Key trends included the continued popularity of naked or standard bikes, that is, stripped-back versions of superbikes without fairings or windscreens. Yamaha's MT-10 for instance, offered a modern, aggressive take. Meanwhile enthusiasm for retro bikes grew, with British brands Triumph and Norton leading a revival of classically styled machines. Triumph's Bonneville Bobber demonstrates how modern technologies can be both integrated and concealed.
As well as looking to the past, the motorcycle industry is addressing the need for future vehicles to adopt more efficient propulsion technologies. Italian firm Piaggio announced that it will release an electric version of the iconic Vespa in 2017, while Swiss company Zvexx unveiled a prototype for a hedonistic electric speed machine.
Looking even further ahead, some firms presented progressive concepts that embrace cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing for lightweight frames (APWorks' Light Rider) and self-balancing safety assistance systems that prevent crashes (BMW's Motorrad Vision Next 100).
This selection provides an overview of some of the top rides around this year, along with a few that might take a while to hit the road.
The first release from New York City firm Vanguard is a roadster targeted at the premium end of the motorcycle market. A utilitarian approach to the vehicle's design has resulted in a clean aesthetic. A reduced number of parts also helps to bring down the price.
"We combine design and engineering to create our own language, without relying on heritage and nostalgia," says the company's co-founder and head of design, Edward Jacobs.
Vanguard has custom engineered many of the components used in the Roadster, enabling it to create consistency throughout its design.
Most of the parts are finished in raw aluminum to enhance its industrial appearance, while a carbon-fiber fuel tank, a flat screen displaying the instruments, and a rear-view parking camera introduce some distinctly contemporary details. The bike was presented at a recent International Motorcycle Show and is planned for production in 2018.
Swiss firm Zvexx produced this eye-catching prototype to demonstrate that electric motorcycles can deliver outstanding performance with the looks to match. The Zvexx P1 features radical aerodynamic bodywork made from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber.
"With this bike, we demonstrate that an electric drive can look fierce and behave like a beast," the bike's designers say. "This is not a project in user-friendly cuteness but a fusion of raw, biker appeal and unbridled electric force."
Promising "brutal acceleration," its makers claim the P1 can reach 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph) from a standing start in approximately three seconds.
The company may produce a limited series at some point in the future, but for now just a single P1 exists, cruising silently around the roads near Lake Geneva.
When Yamaha's hotly anticipated MT-10 hit the roads earlier this year it didn't disappoint, with many experts including it on their lists of the best motorcycles of 2016.
Distinctive bodywork and bug-eyed headlamps make for a machine that wouldn't look out of place in one of the "Transformers" movies. The expressive styling isn't to everyone's taste, but it helps to enhance the raw, edgy super-naked look, and the combination of dark grey and fluorescent details is definitely on trend.
Built on the same engine and chassis platform as the brand's R1, the MT-10 is tweaked to provide optimal performance on public roads. By stripping away some of the expensive materials and technologies employed in the R1, the MT-10 is also cheaper and stacks up well against rivals in the £10,000 ($12,280) price bracket.
Ducati 1299 Superleggera
For a combination of raw speed and contemporary racer styling, the new Ducati 1299 Superleggera is hard to beat, and the Italian firm's latest superbike turned plenty of heads at the recent EICMA 2016 bike show in Milan.
The Superleggera is the most powerful twin-cylinder production bike Ducati has ever produced, and a focus on reducing weight and increasing power has resulted in the first factory bike to be equipped with a carbon-fiber frame, subframe, swingarm and wheels.
Ducati made some bold claims at the launch of the 1299 Superleggera, stating that it is the world's most technologically advanced production superbike. The price of all this power, beauty and technology is £72,000 ($88,430), and the company says that all 500 units to be built have already sold.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
Swedish brand Husqvarna unveiled its Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 at EICMA 2016. The machines are the first models produced as part of Husqvarna's "Real Street" range -- a progressive vision of street motorcycling based on honesty and accessibility.
Targeted at a new generation of riders, the machines have a simple, pared-down aesthetic, with sleek bodywork lending them a contemporary edge. A single-cylinder 375cc engine borrowed from parent company KTM's 390 Duke produces 44 horsepower.
Alongside the production-ready models, the firm showed its Vitpilen 401 Aero concept, which adds fluid aerodynamic fairing to the basic design. A windshield that channels air through the engine to regulate cooling also contributes to a fuller and more balanced design. The Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 are due in showrooms in the autumn of 2017.
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
The new Bonneville Bobber from Triumph takes the British brand's distinguished heritage for producing custom Bobbers as the starting point for a new interpretation of this classic racing-style motorcycle.
The Bobber's low stance, single seat and wide, flat handlebars, its minimal bodywork, and sculpted fuel tank combined, make for a head-turning cruising machine.
Pleasing retro details like the exposed frame and battery box with stainless-steel strap, enhance the classic appeal of a bike that manages to incorporate plenty of modern technology in a simple yet precisely detailed package.
In keeping with the Bobber's customizable tradition, Triumph offers over 150 accessories.
Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
Named by AutoTrader as overall winner of its Best Bike Awards 2016, the Honda Africa Twin is a dual-purpose adventure bike designed to be as competent off road as it is mixing with traffic or cruising on a carriageway.
The first XRV650 Africa Twin was launched in 1988, inspired by the Dakar Rally-winning NXR750, and was responsible for revolutionizing the market for long-distance touring motorcycles. Honda's highly anticipated return to this model is offered in a range of rally paintwork options that connect it with its racing heritage.
An all-new 4-stroke 1000cc parallel twin engine provides the power needed for extreme off-road conditions and ensures a comfortable ride over long distances, with a range of up to 248 miles. It's an agile yet robust machine with a high ground clearance suited to off-roading.
APWorks Light Rider
Reducing weight is key to improving efficiency and speed, and this prototype unveiled earlier in the year by aerospace specialist Airbus Group's APWorks division demonstrates how the latest 3D-printing technology could be employed to manufacture lightweight motorcycles with skeletal mainframes.
Bionic algorithms were used to generate an organically influenced structure that encloses a 6 kilowatt electric motor, providing the required stiffness while optimizing material usage.
APWorks described the 35-kilogram machine as "probably the world's lightest motorcycle prototype," with a power-to-weight ratio "equal to that of a supercar."
The frame itself weighs just six kilograms, and is produced from aircraft-grade aluminum. The complex form is built up in layers by a 3D printer that translates a digital file into a seamless structure by fusing metal powder using a laser. A small series of street-legal Light Rider bikes are planned for production.
BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100
One of the most talked-about concepts of the year was BMW's Motorrad Vision Next 100, which employs self-balancing technology to prevent crashes and enable the rider to dismount without using a kickstand.
The German firm's confidence in the ability of advanced assistance systems to prevent the bike from tilting over means that helmets could be replaced by a visor with a display providing data about the ride.
The vehicle's radical form references the triangular frame of BMW's first ever motorcycle, but is built around an emissionless electric drive unit. The frame is also flexible and bends as the bike is maneuvered, meaning traditional joints are no longer needed.
As a concept, the Motorrad Vision Next 100 fulfills the brief of presenting an exciting vision of the future. It remains to be seen how many of the innovations it proposes are implementable in real-life scenarios.