You can ride alongside others or even with a pillion passenger, but in the end, motorcycling is and has always been a solitary pursuit. That form of solitude and peace took on extra meaning in 2020, a year when wearing face coverings and keeping your distance became the norm not just for riders, but for everyone. When the world seemed at its worst and there was nowhere to go, hopping on the bike and riding became an escape from the surreality of this pandemic-addled year.
Of course, none of the companies that made these bikes knew what 2020 would be when they started planning them years ago. They just so happened to release their new two-wheeled creations onto a world that saw an increased appreciation for the freedom that motorcycle riding could bring — an enthusiasm that, most likely, will endure in many long past that happy day when we can finally put our hand sanitizer and face masks in the back of the closet.
Black Tea Moped
If your motorcycle desires run more towards "short-range urban commuter" than "epic road tripper" or "corner carver," Germany-based Black Tea Motorbikes's Moped might be just the ticket. Ignore the latter part of the name; there are no pedals for auxiliary propulsion here. This "moped" is an electric motorcycle, albeit one small enough to qualify as a scooter by many definitions. Here in the U.S., you don't even need a motorcycle license to ride it in many places.
BMW R 18
BMW Motorrad has been building motorcycles for many, many, many years, but the new R 18 represents their first venture into the cruiser market so long dominated by Harley-Davidson. If you come to kill the king, you best not miss, so BMW brought out a new big gun: a 1,802-cc two-cylinder that makes 91 horsepower and 111 lb-ft of torque. Oh, and of course, it's highly customizable.
Cake Kalk Ink&
Cake's array of futuristic-looking electric mobility solutions expanded even further this year. The Kalk Ink& is a street-legal version of the Kalk Ink dirt bike, with the accoutrements needed to pass muster with U.S. authorities on the streets. Taller gearing means it can hit 63 mph, but this baby isn't meant for the highway. Besides, at those speeds, who could appreciate how cool it looks?
Cleveland Cycleworks Falcon, a.k.a. Land District
Cleveland Cycleworks's new Falcon (renamed the Land District since it launched) represents the minimalist potential of electric motorcycles: it almost seems like its battery pack and wheels are held together by an idea as much as by metal. There's only 17.5 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque on tap, but considering it only weighs 175 pounds before rider climbs aboard, that's enough to zoot around town. As for whether it's worth the money, well, that's up to you.
Ducati Superleggera V4
To describe the new Ducati Superleggera V4 as one of the most batshit bikes to ever come from the Italian company wouldn't be a stretch, given a power-to-weight ratio that reaches 54 horsepower per kilogram in race spec is the equivalent of a Mazda MX-5 Miata packing 1,628 horsepower. Considering only 500 were made at a lofty price, it's also probably not a stretch to say none of us will ever saddle one up. But we can dream.
Ducati New Monster
Granted, Ducati's latest Monster is actually just called the Monster, but the "new" highlights how novel this bike is. Extensive lightweighting has shed pounds everywhere from the frame to the rims, while power rises and maneuverability increases.
Ducati Multistrada V4
Ducati may be best-known for its road and track bikes, but it's no stranger to the world of adventure bikes. The new Multistrada V4's heart is its new engine, a 1,158cc unit that cranks out 170 horses — and, impressively enough, goes 9,300 miles between oil changes.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary
Last year, Harley made a big splash with debuts like the Live Wire and Pan American. This year, though, the company threw a bone to anyone who might have been worried the company might have lost touch with its roots: an extra-badass special edition cruiser called the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary. It's exactly what you think, and it's awesome.
Indian FTR Rally
Indian's new-for-2019 FTR 1200 didn't need much in the way of changing, so the brand didn't do anything drastic to turn it into the FTR Rally. The colors have been twiddled with, the design adjusted, and knobby tires that seem better suited for clawing up rough roads fitted. The result, though, looks pretty damn cool. (Read our review here.)
Indian Scout Bobber Sixty
Indian's new minimalist street rod is, in the words of GP's own rider and reviewer Steve Mazzucchi, "a caveman motorcycle in the best way." (You can read his full review here.) It may be less powerful than the original Bobber, but that just makes it more accessible — as does the affordable starting price.
Segway Dirt eBike
Ignore the eBike part of the Segway Dirt's name — this two-wheeler is pure dirt bike, and your legs don't need to do any more than hold it up when stopped. (That includes shifting — no gears.) Don't let the fact that it shares a name with Pall Blart's vehicle of choice keep you from lusting after it, especially since it packs 184 lb-ft of torque and does 0-31 mph in four seconds flat.
Triumph Scrambler 1200 Bond Edition
We may not have gotten the new James Bond movie we were promised this year — thanks, COVID — but we did at least get a cool Triumph out of the bargain. The Scrambler 1200 Bond Edition celebrates the world's least-secretive secret agent by taking the regular Scrambler 1200 XE and adding blacked-out accents and other cool accoutrements.
If the name Volcon doesn't ring a bell, don't sweat — it's a brand-new powersports brand based out of Texas that's looking to make a name for itself with electric motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles. Their first product, the Grunt, promises to impress: it 's waterproof, packs 75 lb-ft of torque, and goes up to 100 miles on a charge — with a hot-swappable battery if you need to keep going.
The Zero SR/F made a big splash last year when it landed, quickly vaulting to the top of the fast-growing electric motorcycle ranks. The SR/S packs the same powertrain, but puts it into a slipperier, more comfortable package for added range and touring capability. (Read our review of the SR/S here.)