Common Tread

Three new 2017 motorcycles that are (relative) bargains

Feb 13, 2017

Some people don't mind paying more to get the top of the line. Me, I enjoy feeling like I got more than my money's worth. So when I scan the new motorcycles each year, I'm not just ogling the technological marvels and the sexiest supermodels. I'm also scouting for bikes that look like bargains.

It's a matter of practicalities. My motorcycles are my transportation. I ride them all over creation in any kind of weather, maintain them with a level of expertise that makes Lemmy sad, and don’t wash them as often as I should. Resale value is a cruel joke, in my world.

Of course buying the cheapest option isn’t always wise, either, for someone who may put six-figure miles on a bike before retiring it. So with that mindset, I scanned through the 2017 motorcycles that are either all new or at least updated to try to find ones that could be considered bargains. Here are three candidates. They aren’t inexpensive, but — if they live up to their promise and turn out to be good machines — they do represent value.

2017 Kawasaki Z900
2017 Kawasaki Z900. Kawasaki photo.

Kawasaki Z900

If you were shopping for a naked Kawasaki street brawler in 2016, you had the choice of the Z800 or the Z1000. The former was a dated design that was more than a little overweight at 509 pounds. The latter was a good bike but not cheap, at $11,999. The Z900 replaces both of them and provides some of the best traits of each.

What you get

The Z900's engine is based on the same platform as the Z1000’s, but at 463 pounds it comes in lighter than both the bikes it replaces, especially the Z800.

What you give up

With all three of these Kawasakis, you give up traction control and other electronic aids, other than ABS, but some riders are looking for a basic motorcycle where the rider modes are still controlled by brain and wrist, not software. Compared to the Z1000, the Z900 gives up a little front suspension sophistication and, presumably, a few horsepower with its smaller bore in the cylinders. How much difference in performance will a reduction of 95 cc make? Given the Z900’s lighter weight, maybe hardly any. The good news is that we’re going to get a test ride on the Z900 next month, so soon we’ll know for sure if it’s a worthy replacement for its two predecessors.

What you save

The Z800 with ABS was listed at $8,399 (though Kawasaki is now offering some serious incentives to try to move the ones that are left, not surprisingly) and as mentioned above, the MSRP on the Z1000 was $11,999. The MSRP for the Z900 is $8,399 without ABS and $8,799 with ABS. It's almost like getting a Z1000 for a Z800 price.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure
2017 BMW R nineT Pure. BMW photo.

BMW R nineT Pure

When the word “bargain” is used in reference to a BMW, it’s almost always preceded by the adjective “relative.” That applies to the R nineT Pure. It’s not the least expensive stylish new retro-ish 100-plus-horsepower motorcycle you can buy, but it’s the cheapest buy-in to BMW’s quickly expanding Heritage line.

What you get

While the Pure is the “stripped-down” version in BMW’s Heritage line, you still get the same powertrain found in the original R nineT, with a claimed 110 horsepower and 86 food-pounds of torque.

What you give up

The Pure lacks the monobloc front brake caliper, inverted fork and aluminum fuel tank of the R nineT and makes do with less expensive parts. But as Lemmy pointed out when the Pure was introduced, those parts look adequate for the size, power and intended use of the motorcycle. The Pure also rolls on cast aluminum wheels instead of spoked wheels. Some of us see that as an advantage, not a downgrade.

What you save

While the R nineT carries an MSRP of $15,395 for 2017, and the sexier R nineT racer is listed at $13,295, BMW is asking $11,995 for the Pure. Plus, since the Pure is “stripped,” it also comes in about 17 pounds lighter than the R nineT.

2017 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
2017 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone. Moto Guzzi photo.

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could get the blank-canvas retro style of the BMW R nineT Pure for $4,000 less? Well, there is an Italian option. The Moto Guzzi V7 Stone is not technically a new model, but it did get significant changes for 2017 and a lower price.

What you get

Moto Guzzi introduced several new models to mark the 50th anniversary of the V7 line, and while some of them are quite handsome, they also come with some handsome prices. Except the Stone. The Stone got the same upgrades in the form of improvements to its 52-horsepower, 744 cc fuel-injected, pushrod, two-valve transverse V-twin, with new heads, cylinders and pistons, and a revised six-speed transmission with the traditional shaft drive. All V7 models now come with ABS and two-level traction control.

What you give up

What you don’t get with the Stone is the flashy paint of its anniversary special siblings, like the Racer and Anniversario (or the power of the Kawasaki or BMW mentioned here).

What you save

Despite the upgrades for 2017, Moto Guzzi lowered the Stone’s price to $7,990, which is $500 to $2,000 less than the fancier entries in the V7 line. If you’re planning to do any customizing, the Stone is the obvious starting point. And if you’re looking to get into the world of Italian motorcycles and you want one that was actually built in Italy, the Stone is your rock-bottom option. End of story. Ciao!