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Carsguide Bike of the Year awards

The highest of hi-tech bikes is the BMW K 1600 GT and GT-L. Pic: (Lou Martin)

In a year when motorcycle sales rebounded, bike manufacturers have led with a host of new road-going models.

Of the new bikes to hit our showrooms there have been some hi-tech machines with ABS, selectable engine modes and traction control while at the other end there are retro models that plunder the considerable heritage of manufacturers.

The highest of hi-tech bikes is the BMW K 1600 GT and GT-L which not only feature all of the above but also the world's first adaptive motorcycle headlights which follow the curve of the corner as the rider tips in. 

Ducati features in the tech stakes with the Multistrada and the Diavel which are bikes for opposite ends of the riding spectrum. The Diavel, in particular, won our vote for the most striking design of the year ... and then ripped our arms off with its sheer aggressive acceleration and exhilaration. 

The retro models included the return of the Vespa PX150 in virtually unchanged styling including the spare wheel, plus two well-built Japanese models (Kawasaki W800 and Honda CB1100) that rekindle fond memories of the 1960s and '70s.

Australia's vast continent and thousands of kilometres of dirt roads were also explored by an ever-increasing array of multi-road bikes, including Triumph, known over the past few decades for its road bikes. 

The choice was wide, too, ranging from the value-packed Suzuki V-Strom 650 with ABS right thoroughly to the Multistrada with all its hi-tech gizmos.

We also loved the clever diversity of the Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback which goes from a cruiser to a tourer in seconds with the quick attachment of windscreen and panniers, while the Victory Vegas 8-Ball is simply a wolf-whistling beauty with superb build quality.

Last year's winner was the BMW S 1000 RR sportsbike which introduced safety and performance in one technological tour de force that scorched our eyebrows.

In 2012, the Bavarians have done it again. This time with the K 1600 GT and GTL which welds hi-tech safety and performance with a big, comfy tourer that defies the laws of physics by its handling and maneuverability.

CARSGUIDE BIKE OF THE YEAR

1 - BMW K 1600 GT -  ($34,990-$36,990): Nothing has come close to matching the Honda Gold Wing luxury tourer for agility, power and features. Until now. BMW's new six-cylinder 1600 GTL has more power and torque, more features, less weight, better economy and a cheaper price tag. And it takes bike technology to the next level.

- Ducati Diavel - ($23,490-$36,990): Drool all you want, then throw a leg over if you dare, because this macho machine is not just a showroom showoff, but a genuine power cruiser. The AMG model is bound to cause marriage problems.

3 - Aprilia Tuono - ($21,990): All the go of the RSV4 sportsbike, but without the committed riding position. It also features Aprilia's finely-tuned version of traction control and engine management.

- Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback - ($26,990 ride away): Clever marketing from Harley to take a good-handling, compact Dyna and fit it up with some natty touring gear to create a "convertible". The icing is the pricing.

Triumph Tiger 800 - ($14,390-$17,290):T A value package, but still just a BMW F 800 rip-off without the sophisticated suspension and brakes. Imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.

6 - Kawasaki W800 - ($11,990): It out-classes the Bonneville. And at $500 less than the British bike, it comes with extras such as traditional chromed guards, rubber tank pads, fork gators, lockable petrol cap and a centre stand. The Honda CB1100 ($14,990-$15,490) and Vespa PX150 ($5990) are not far behind in the retro stakes.

- Suzuki V-Strom 650A - ($10,890): Still one of the best value propositions on the market with bulletproof performance that is tried and tested. Now it comes with better styling, more protection, upgraded fuel injection, improved economy and lighter weight.

8 Victory Vegas 8-Ball - ($18,495): Watch this space. This American brand is starting to make in-roads with its well-price and well-made cruisers and tourers. This model is a shining example of quality workmanship from the States.

- Yamaha Super Tenere - ($19,990): This comes with Dakar credentials and a yearning for the Aussie outback. Unfortunately, it's a bit too heavy and the ABS is not switchable for off road.

10 - Honda Crossrunner - ($14,990): Sharp styling in a practical all-roads adventure bike with Honda build quality. We're still waiting for the more aggressively off-road Crosstourer coming early next year.

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