By: Cycle World
It’s easy to get onto the Ten Best Bikes list. All you have to do is build a machine that pushes the limits in its class, or pushes the limits of its class, one that performs better, offers more style and gives us everything we want from a motorcycle. See how easy that is?!
Well, it may not be easy, but the results sure make it fun for all us enthusiasts around the world. The CW crew spent another year in the saddle, riding farther, faster and jumping higher (as the case may be), weighing, measuring, adjusting suspension, dyno and dragstrip testing and generally flogging the scores of machines we put to the test in between every Ten Best.
As the market has evolved in the 37 years we’ve been at this, so have the award categories, and 2012 is one of those years in which we’ve made some changes. As Dual-Sport and Enduro have essentially become one in the marketplace, so has the category been combined in Ten Best. This made room for a new one: Best Adventure Bike. In years past, these do-it-all machines have won in four different categories, and with the proliferation of models and major increase in consumer interest, it was time to give these great bikes a home of their own. We’ve also seen “middleweight” expand ever upward in displacement terms, leading to plenty of great machines in the 600-899cc range, that we felt should qualify under a more broad definition, including this year’s winner.
With that, what follows are the very best bikes on the planet in 2012.
Best Standard: Honda NC700X
We’ve picked everything from the Suzuki DR-Z400SM to the Triumph Tiger 1050 for this category in the last five years, so don’t even try to talk us down from this year’s winner, Honda’s new-world NC700X. Even if our highly experienced Eurospondent, Bruno dePrato, hadn’t given the NC a rave review, this interesting, original, approachable and affordable machine takes us back to a time when those qualities helped Honda take the world by storm. What’s not to like about scooter-style storage and great gas mileage in an adventurous-looking package that goes and handles, if not like a sportbike, at least like a sporty bike? For a starting price of $6999 or $8999 with auto-shift DCT and ABS? Maybe austerity won’t be so bad.
Originally Published in the August 2012 Issue of CycleWorld.com.