Three of the best motorbikes to get you out on the highway

Prepare for a summer of motoring freedom and fun with a new motorbike. Chris Carter reports.

Make the Triumph Trident your first big bike

The Triumph Trident 660 is being pitched as an ideal first “big bike”, says John Hogan for SuperBike magazine. “It combines an intimidating amount of power with an incredibly well-balanced chassis that can cope with anything you choose to throw at it.” The suspension is simple yet high quality and the bike is “great fun to ride”, handling well even in heavy rain and at high altitudes, where power is sapped and ice a danger. “If you’re new to big bikes, you’ll have fun with the speed while you learn lots about managing bigger bikes in the twisty bits.” The “super soft” traction control is the “star of the show” here. It teaches you how to ride safely by being a “gentle hand holder” more than something that “smacks you about a bit. It cares about the rider and that’s nice”. 

Price: £7,195. Engine: 660cc, liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline three-cylinder. Power: 80 bhp at 10,250 rpm. Torque: 47 lb ft at 6,250 rpm. Top speed: 135 mph. Contact: triumphmotorcycles.co.uk.

Ducati’s new Multistrada – a civilised beast

Ducati Multistrada V4S motorbike

Press the start button on Ducati’s new Multistrada V4S and the engine comes alive, “not with a lumping big V-twin shudder, but the busy, rustling burble of a pair of them, firing as two 579cc V-twins side-by-side in quick succession”, says Simon Hargreaves in Bike magazine. On a clear and crisp afternoon in Ducati’s Italian home of Bologna, the V4 “slides into traffic with a hand-tailored ease. Ducati have been civilising their big V-twins for years, but this is another level of silkiness”. Moving into the surrounding hills, the V4 “continues to astonish, mixing pulsating character with a cascade of power”. The clouds threaten rain, “but the Ducati is safe, secure and confident; no undue see-sawing on the long-travel suspension under braking, no tail-heavy squatting at the back on the gas”. The result is a much smoother ride. “The new V4 is a major, and deeply impressive, forward move in pretty much every area: engine, ride quality, steering, durability, technology, and comfort. Molto bene.” 

Price: £18,565 (£20,345 for the V4S model). Engine: 1,158cc, 16-valve DOHC 90° V-four. Power: 170bhp at 10,500 rpm. Torque: 92 lb ft @ 8,750 rpm. Top speed: 155 mph. Contact: ducati.com.

The Zero SR/S – a two-wheeled Tesla

Zero SR/S motorbike

The Zero SR/S zero-emissions sports bike is made by a Californian start-up that’s out to disrupt makers that have been in the market for decades, says Stephen Dobie for Top Gear. Just think of it as the Tesla of bikes “without the Twitter meltdowns”. The SR/S may have a superbike aesthetic, but its performance is “somewhat calmer”. Its range on a full charge is 109 miles. You can expect more in town, “much less if you’re wringing its neck on a country road”. There are no clutch and gears to worry about, and “you’ll whizz almost silently away with just a twitch of your right hand on the throttle”. Cleverest of all are the Zero’s riding modes. “You effectively choose your own power output and top speed, and therefore difficulty level,” which is great for those new to motorbikes. “I loved it.”

Price: £19,590. Motor: 100% electric powertrain. Top speed: 124 mph. Contact: zeromotorcycles.com.

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