The Ducati Panigale V4S walked away with this year’s Pirelli SA Bike of the Year title. A small contingent of motorcycle journalists gathered at a function in Rivonia on the 25th of October to witness the Bologna bike take top honours. The panel of judges consisted of seasoned motorcycle journalists. It was said that between them the amount of years they held a licence was over 400 years!
The judges’ work was not easy, as there was a fair spread of bikes competing for this year’s title. The judges’ brief was not to compare the bikes directly against each other but rather judge them against other bikes in that category.
To help ensure objectivity, the judges’ evaluation is guided by the following set of questions:
- How has the bike moved its category forward?
• Is it introducing new technology to the category?
• Is it a new departure for the manufacturer?
• Is it competitively priced?
• How good is it dynamically?
• Is it accessible for everyday riders or is it just for experts?
• Can it be serviced anywhere or must it be taken to selected dealerships?
• Does it fulfil the requirements of the class?
• Does it have the ‘wow’ factor?
• Which one would you buy with your own money and take home?
The 12 bikes that squared up for battle were, in alphabetical order:
BMW G 310 GS – When launched in South-Africa earlier this year, this baby GS impressed me a lot.
BMW K 1600 B – A tour bike made to take on the American market. Suitable for the solo rider.
Ducati Multistrada 1260 – A personal favourite of mine, now with 60cc of punch added.
Ducati Panigale V4 – Essentially a track bike with indicators and mirrors. Immensely capable motorcycle. Not for beginners.
Honda Goldwing – The ultimate in luxury and comfort. Put on a diet for 2018. Now even better.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 – Unique styling and lots of fun to ride fast.
Kawasaki Ninja 400 – The Ninja 300 just got bigger. It finished in third place this year.
Kawasaki H2 SX – Another tour bike. This time a sports tourer with a Supercharger.
Kawasaki Z900 RS – Retro done properly.
KTM 790 Duke – My pick for Bike of the Year. I rode this in town and on a track. Equally fun.
Triumph 765 Street Triple – Rival to the Duke and runner up in this year’s competition. Maybe the thinking man’s choice.
Triumph Tiger 1200 – The already excellent Tiger now even better.
To ensure that the judges could just focus on the task at hand and not have to contend with traffic and potholes, testing took place at Gerotek’s excellent vehicle testing facility west of Pretoria.
There is always some controversy at these competitions, and this year was no different. The brand-loyalists questioning the decisions, but in the end, it gets people talking and taking note of motorcycles. Also worth noting is the mid-range bikes being serious contenders for the top spot.
Well done to Ducati and their awesome machine.