Melding classic cruiser feel with sharp, fighter-jet looks, the 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ($16,500) looks like a fine summertime ride. Powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 1,700cc V-twin engine, it's got plenty of oomph to get you around, and also boasts a six-speed transmission, a fully electronic throttle actuation system, a steel frame, air-adjustable shocks, 9-spoke cast aluminum wheels, a LED taillight, cruise control, and killer custom-style bodywork that will draw just as much attention as its rumbling exhaust note.
Just getting started in the motorcycle scene? As tempting as they might be, you — and your brains, bones, and organs — are better off skipping the superbike scene and hopping aboard something a little more tame, like the Suzuki TU250X Motorcycle ($4,000). Sporting a stylish retro design, the TU250X features a 249cc four-stroke SOHC engine, a five-speed transmission, a diamond-shaped steel tube frame, front disc and rear drum brakes, and a low 30.3-inch seat height that's great for beginners.
Most companies would be happy to take a traditional bike, slap an electric engine and some batteries in it, and call it a day. But not Lito. It took cues from Bobber and Street Fighter bikes to create the Lito Sora Electric Motorcycle ($44,000). Built from the ground-up as an electric superbike, the Sora sports the world's first electric motorcycle seat, letting ride in a low position on the highway, then move the seat higher for more aggressive riding. Other features include an integrated GPS system and touch screen, high-quality suspension components, a regenerative braking system, an on-board charging port and sealed, lockable storage compartment, carbon fiber fairing and an aluminum chassis, a CVT transmission that helps the Sora move from 0-60 in roughly four seconds on its way to a top speed of 120 mph, and a unique notification system that emails you when it's done charging and ready to ride.
Enjoy the summer weather as never before on the back of the Ducati Monster 1100 Evo ($12,000). The latest version of Ducati's naked line, the 1100 Evo sports a 100 hp L-Twin engine — the most powerful 2-valve the company's ever made — as well as Brembo brakes with ABS, traction control, 10-spoke wheels, a weight of just 373 pounds, and absolutely killer looks in either red or black. [Thanks, Bill]
Who said that a bike had to look futuristic to look cool? The Royal Enfield Classic 500 Motorcycle ($TBA) defies this convention while sporting a definite retro look. Powered by a single-cylinder 500cc unit-construction engine with an integrated assembly for the five-speed gearbox and clutch, the Classic 500 features electronic fuel injection to keep the perfect air/fuel balance, a top speed of over 80 mph, a spring-saddled split seat, an oval toolbox, and WWII-era styling in a body completely cast and formed in crafted metal.
Not content to do unspeakable things to cars, Mansory is setting its sights on motorcycles. Instead of starting with an existing model, however, the Mansory Zapico ($TBA) is a custom ride, featuring a crazy design hewn from carbon fiber and aluminum, a S&S T 124 V2 engine good for 160 hp, carbon disc rims, leather upholstery, a weight of under 750 lbs., and the ability to zip from 0 to over 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. Not included? A matching case for your phone, which is essential when rocking this much carbon fiber.
Harley makes a ton of different models in different finishes, but if those options simply aren't enough, you should check into Harley-Davidson H-D1 Customization ($TBA). These factory-built custom 1200s let you pick the wheels, seats, handlebars, foot-peg positions, fit, paint color and graphics, engine finishes, and security, with even more options available via dealer-installed accessories. Less work, more riding.
That's right: a dual-screened motorcycle. Just Kidding. The Zero DS Motocycle ($10,500) is an all-electric two-wheeled ride featuring a maintenance free belt drive system, high-performance disc brakes, a quick-charging Li-Ion intelligent power pack, a top speed of 67 mph, a range of up to 58 miles, and Dual Sport tires — get it now? — that provide great handling on dirt or tarmac.
Ready yourself for Spring with the new Harley-Davidson FXS Blackline Softail ($15,500 and up). A creation of the company's Dark Custom movement, the FXS redefines the Softail with features like a bobbed rear fender, an asymmetric five-gallon Softail fuel tank, a compact headlight and speedometer for a more custom look, the lowest two-up seat (only 24-inches off the tarmac) ever offered by Harley-Davidson, paired with new Split Drag handlebars, black-rimmed, laced wheels, and a Twin Cam 96B V-Twin engine dressed in black and silver. Just one more thing to look forward to once the sun and warm weather decide to return.
Part objet d'art, part sport bike, the Ducati Diavel ($17,000 and up) is the latest beauty from the Italian cycle maker. Weighing in at just 456 lbs., the Diavel offers a 162 horsepower Ducati Testastretta 11° engine, custom 14-spoke, 17-inch wheels, Brembo anti-lock brakes, a ride-by-wire throttle system, traction control, keyless ignition, LED lighting, and LCD and TFT instrumentation displays. Also available in a Diavel Carbon model, which uses carbon fiber bodywork and forged wheels to drop the weight another 7 lbs. — as if it needs it. [Thanks, Caz]
Based on the company's best-selling middleweight superbike ever, the Ducati 848 EVO ($13,000) improves upon its stablemate with a specially tuned Testastretta Evoluzione engine pumping out 140 horses, Brembo Monobloc brake calipers, improved chassis and braking systems, a cross-mounted steering damper for added control, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires, and a curb weight of only 369 pounds. Available in traditional Ducati Red or the amazingly stealth "Dark" edition.
Have a hankering for Brammo's Enertia Electric Motorcycle but can't deal with the weak 50mph top speed? That's not a problem with the new Brammo Empulse ($10,000 and up). This electric sport bike will be available in three models — the 60 mile ranged 6.0, 80 mile 8.0, and 100 mile 10.0 — all of which can hit 100mph, or fast enough to let you take the bike off the sideroads and onto the freeway. [Thanks, Robert]