Not a year of massive fanfare, but there were a number of standouts, including a pair of Kawasakis, a KTM that breaks new ground, and some tasty adventure kit

Mark Fattore – Bikesales Network editor
1. Kawasaki Ninja 300. It sucked us in -- we thought only a revamped 250cc machine was on the way. And we're happy we were duped, as the 300cc is such a great piece of kit, with the extra hike in capacity providing a nice mid-range filler.
2. Triumph Tiger Explorer. I was lucky enough to ride this bike from Adelaide to Uluru during the Aussie press launch. It was good then, but a back-to-back comparison against the R 1200 GS proved just how adept it is. It's not the best dirt bike or road bike, but as an all-rounder it's numero uno.
3. KTM Freeride 350. If this award was based on shock value, the Freeride 350 would win in a landslide. I was expecting a staid, boring version of the 350EXC, but how wrong was I: it's a beautifully tactile trail bike that goes anywhere, is easier to flick around than a boogie, and won't rip your triceps pulling out of turns.
4. Kawasaki ZX-6R. Back in 636cc guise -- supersport racers can still buy a 599cc version though -- and with more generic appeal. The power is broader, but there's still a delicious top-end hit.
5. BMW F 800 GS. An updated version of the middleweight adventure bike, and still as natural and easy to ride as ever. Mr Versatility.
Honourable mention: Street Triple R. Just sneaks into our 2012 deliberations -- we know that because a Bikesales Network staffer bought one in early December. A much sharper handler -- although the old Street Triple R was hardly an oil tanker. A bike you fall for in seconds.
Honourable mention: CFMoto 650NK. A beautifully compliant parallel twin engine with a thoroughly well-mannered and accomodating chassis.

Rod Chapman – Bikesales Network contributor
1. Kawasaki’s ZX-14R – what a sensational bit of engineering; it still boggles my brain that something so powerful and fast can still be so refined.
2. KTM’s revised 690 Duke was a blast too and awesome value for money
3. Triumph’s Tiger Explorer was every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be, both on and off the bitumen.
4. Honda’s NC700SA (really clever engineering and so cheap to run)
5. Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 (one smart, thoroughly sorted package that will put Team Green right back in the fight in the important entry-level class).

Martin Child -- Bikesales Network contributor
1. Yamaha XTZ1200 Tenere – not new for 2102, but still the bike I’d buy (if I wasn’t a spoilt-for-choice journo…).
2. Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 – because there’s more to Australia than bitumen and not enough coppers to spoil the bush. And this would be a fine way to get there.
3. Kawasaki ZX14R – In a mundane world of hi-vis vests and where 99.9 per cent of all-known gems are killed by a bottle of hand cleaner, it’s good to know that $20K and a bad attitude are all you need to piss off both the law and society. It’s the closest we’ve got to space travel here on Earth.
4. Any custom bobber – the Deus-effect is spreading and beautiful, one-off creations clog the footpaths outside cafes like ants on sugar.
5. See Gripe of the year

Published : Thursday, 27 December 2012
In most cases, the Carsales Network attends new vehicle launches at the invitation and expense of vehicle manufacturers and/or distributors.

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