Shivank ranks and rates five standout motorcycles from 2021 that impressed him the most this year.
You know the kind of job we do, right? If not, here’s a quick reminder. Every year we get to drive/ride new machines in the name of ‘work,’ and then just to make it look serious and important, we put out our first impressions of new cars and bikes for you guys/prospective buyers/enthusiasts. It’s a fancy job, there's no denying that, but then not all cars are ‘fun’ or ‘thrilling’ as some of you might expect to be the case. Sometimes it can be a bit boring too.
That said, there are more than a few occasions when a new car or bike knocks us out of our senses. These are the machines that make you grateful for having a job like this. The ones that make a lasting impression on you.
So, without further ado, allow me to rank my top 5 motorcycles of 2021 before the year comes to an end:
Ducati Multistrada V4 S
There’s a running joke among my colleagues that I get bribed by Ducati for promoting the Multistrada so much. I know that’s not the case, but sometimes I do question my motivations for going to great lengths to show my love and appreciation for the Multistrada, which, frankly, can be a bit too much. However, the latest iteration of Ducati’s heavyweight ADV, the Multistrada V4, deserves every bit of praise, and then some. This motorcycle has me totally smitten, and it is, without doubt, the best motorcycle I rode this whole year. The Multistrada V4 is the kind of motorcycle that makes you wonder why we only have two kidneys. Why can’t we have 10, so that we can trade them to experience the joys of owning this mighty and magical Multistrada?
Full review: Ducati Multistrada V4 S, Track Test
Yamaha Aerox 155
After the R3, I can’t remember any Yamaha product that has excited me as much as the Aerox 155. Truth be told, I wasn’t prepared to get bowled over by this pocket rocket. But after living with it for a couple of days, I’m completely sold. It’s a thinking man’s R15. It’s a scooter with a twist. It rides and handles beautifully, and it makes you want to buy one immediately. It makes everyday mundane tasks/commute fun. And, more importantly, it goes on to show that when Yamaha gets a product right, they get it so damn right!
Full review: Yamaha Aerox 155
TVS Apache RR 310
Here’s a confession – the TVS Apache RR 310 was a motorcycle that I absolutely hated when I rode the original version back in 2017. It had crazy vibrations, and every body panel on it jingled and jangled like Christmas bells. But while the first version felt incomplete, TVS has now turned things around completely, and how! I rode the latest 2021 version earlier this year, and I came back with a simple declaration – it’s the ‘Best Sports Bike in India’. And that’s a statement that I stand by even today. For our market, there isn’t a sports bike that’s as complete as the RR 310. You can scorch the racetrack with it, you can go sport-touring, and you can ride it daily, too. On top of that, it looks gobsmackingly brilliant. And you can experience all of this without breaking the bank.
Full review: 2021 TVS Apache RR 310 Review
When I rode the Honda CB500X for the first time, I said it’s 'middleweight perfection'. The CB500X is the kind of motorcycle that you want to live with and ride every day and everywhere. It’s a no-nonsense ADV that has virtually all the bases covered. The parallel-twin engine’s got enough oomph to keep you entertained, and its handling is impeccable. And because it comes with long-travel suspension, it’s well-suited for our less-than-perfect roads. It’s sweet, simple, and an honest-to-God motorcycle. It's a real shame that Honda priced it exorbitantly because if it weren’t for its high sticker price, the CB500X would have been selling like hotcakes!
Full review: Honda CB500X Review
Indian Chief Dark Horse
Be it headbanging music or American cruisers, I’m not a fan of heavy metal. However, the day I rode the new Indian Chief Dark Horse, I was in for a rude awakening. What a motorcycle, honestly! I’ve always been under the impression that cruisers are meant for lazy old blokes who ride motorcycles as a ‘hobby’. But the Chief Dark Horse changed my mind. It’s a proper hoot to ride. A quintessential hot rod, if you will. I no longer have that aversion to cruisers. I now think they're rather brilliant!
Full review: 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Review
Surprise of the Year: Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
When the Pan America concept made its world debut back in 2018, I quipped that Harley-Davidson had lost its mind. But a couple of months ago, I got to ride Harley’s ADV behemoth, and I must say that that the humble pie I was served that day tasted great. Sure, the Pan America is not as accomplished as a big GS or a Multistrada, but for a company that’s never made an ADV before, the Pan America is so damn close to being perfect. Nobody expected Harley-Davidson to get the ADV formula right in its first attempt, which is why it makes this motorcycle all the more impressive. And I think that it's definitely the best underdog story of the year.
Full review: Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 India Review