If fun and affordability are atop your motorcycle shopping checklist, it’s a great time to kick some tires and contemplate a purchase within the Middleweight Sport Twins class. This year the class continues to evolve with two all-new entries joining a mildly updated version of one of our favorites.
Over the years, Suzuki’s SFV650 ($7699) helped spark riding interest via its lively, reliable 645cc liquid-cooled Twin and simple but functional tubular steel chassis. Though it’s been a while since the platform has received any updates, the SFV continues to appeal to riders looking for a tough, reliable street bike that has stood the test of time.
Ducati’s smallest Monster has served as a gateway into the charismatic world of the Italian motorcycle marque for quite some time. And while the architecture and displacement of the now entry-level Monster 821 ($11,495) continues to progress, the re-tooled 821 is Ducati’s most high-tech Monster solution to date. Featuring a water-cooled L-Twin accompanied by a full electronics suite, the Monster is now a friendlier ride across a wider range of conditions.
Eager to capitalize on the success of Yamaha’s fantastic FZ-09, the Tuning Fork brand grows the FZ family with the FZ-07 ($6990). Powered by a 689cc Parallel Twin that sports Yamaha’s now signature uneven firing order for enhanced torque and fun factor, Yamaha’s latest street bike aims to attract riders seeking the greatest bang for the buck.
To find out how these bikes rank, we spent a couple days at the helm of each, touring across the sprawling urban expanse of Southern California. From hour-plus stints on the freeway to stoplight-to-stoplight drags through traffic light-rich cities, as well as throwing in a couple quick blasts up and down our favorite desolate canyon roads for good measure, we noted where each bike performed best and where it didn’t. Joining us on our “spirted” ride was Red Bull freestyle rider Aaron Colton along with Cycle News’ test rider Jason Abbott. As always each motorcycle was subjected to our standard gamut of performance indexes. Points were then assessed giving us our clear cut winner.
1999 Buell S3T Thunderbolt
1999 Buell X1 Carbon Fiber
1999 Buell X1 Lightning
1999 Buell X1 Racing Stripe
1999 Cagiva GC900 Gran Canyon