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Darth Vader’s Cruiser

Let’s start with the low, 25.6-in high saddle and laid-back riding position. The NM4 rider isn’t crouched forward in typical sport bike fashion. That’s because the 670 cc parallel twin-powered bike is more Star Wars cruiser than back road runner. Nor is this a single-seater. The pillion is created for a second rider by folding the three-position seatback over the rear fender. In this position, it can slide fore or aft along four detents.

The eight-valve, liquid-cooled twin is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-style shift buttons. Power is sent to a fat, 200-mm rear tire, and braking is by serrated-edge ring disc brakes with standard ABS. Performance figures have yet to be announced.

The faceted bodywork also conceals a pair of front utility compartments hidden under gullwing covers. Not only are they capable of holding most everything you might want to take on your next journey, including your phone and navigation system, a 12-volt outlet is located inside the compartment. This cargo space complements the built-in saddlebags, which have faired-in turn signals at their trailing edges. If that’s not enough, the backlit LED instrument cluster offers 25 different background color choices.

On sale this June, the Black Metallic NM4 is priced from $10,999. This does not include the $310 destination charge or tax, title and registration fees. — CAS



The Yamaha Life, Anime Style

Yamaha just released the first of four episodes of an original anime series titled Master of Torque. The film series, which is set in a semi-fictional Tokyo in the near future, depicts the life of three young motorcycle riders on Yamaha MT-07 and MT-09 motorcycles, and will run from spring through summer on Yamaha’s official YouTube channel.

The series was created in Japan for a global audience, and is designed to “send a message about the fun of riding motorcycles” and the motorcycle lifestyle. It’s a new avenue for developing the image of large-displacement Yamahas, and one that celebrates the bikes’ Japanese roots. Traditionally, these marketing programs have shown Yamaha’s products in the urban or natural environments of Europe and North America. If nothing else, the series should help Yamaha break out from the crowd. — CAS


Virtually Tour the Ducati Museum

If that trip to Italy is still somewhere off in the future, don’t sit and stew over the fact that, unlike the 40,000 visitors it gets each year, you may never get to see the Ducati Museum. Now, thanks to the folks from Ducati and the people behind Google Maps, you can take a virtual tour of the facility from the comfort of your own home. It’s even possible, thanks to the use of high-resolution imaging, to tour the town of Borgo Panigale, move along the Via Cavalieri Ducati street, and enter the facility. There you can explore the museum’s various rooms, and view the motorcycles and artifacts on display. Start with the tiny 1946 Cucciolo motorized bicycle, move through one of seven thematic rooms, and follow the curving hall until you reach the latest Desmosedici GP and World Superbikes. You can even take a virtual tour of the Ducati Museum Shop any time day or night.

The museum covers 9,149 ft2, and was officially recognized by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Regional Activities in 2012 as a site of significant cultural value. More than 40 motorcycles considered important to Ducati’s racing history are on display at any time, and the exhibition surrounds a giant red helmet. This year marks the biennial World Ducati Week, which takes place July 18-20 at the Misano race track. Ducatisti from all over the world are expected to descend on Borgo Panigale, Bologna to tour the museum and factory, but you can beat them there without having to get groped by TSA. — CAS



Honda for 2014

Honda Interceptor.Honda’s 2014 motorcycle lineup has a few additions and updates. First is the Interceptor, and its stablemate, the Interceptor Deluxe. In addition to Honda’s 782-cc VTEC V4 engine and twin-spar aluminum frame, these sport bikes feature a single-side swingarm, radial-mounted front brakes, new side muffler and front-mounted radiator. The Deluxe adds ABS, traction control, grip heaters, self-canceling turn signals and a center stand. Available this May in Red or Pearl White, the Interceptors are priced from $12,499 - $13,499.


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2014 Honda Valkyrie

Honda’s big news is physically big, and comes in the form of a new Valkyrie cruiser that is anything but retro in its looks. It has been stripped down to shed weight, and wrapped in minimal bodywork to create a “muscle cruiser” powered by the same 1.8-liter, liquid-cooled flat six founding the Gold Wing and Gold Wing F6B. The aluminum twin-spar frame increases rigidity while helping the 2014 Valkyrie keep its curb weight to 750 lb. LEDs are used for the headlight, taillight, and turn signals. A multi-function digital LCD instrument is used, and ABS is available as an option. Though the price has yet to be announced, the bike goes on sale next April, and is available in Black, Dark Red Metallic, or Blue Metallic. — CAS