Ranked: The Greatest Motorcycles Of All Time
Different manufacturers constructed millions of motorcycles ever since 1885. Some of them were developed to break world records and achieve ultimate performance, whilst others are made purely to cruise around town in style. These are the greatest motorcycles ever made, both past and present.
40. Ducati 1098
The 1098 is easily one of the best modern Ducatis of all time. This monstrous machine was introduced on the market in 2007. Its production ceased just two years later, the Italian manufacturer only constructed 2200 units in total. Exceptional performance and handling aside, the 1098 doubles as one of the most gorgeous bikes of the 2000s.
A powerful 1098cc twin-cylinder motor powers this sportbike, rated at between 160 and 180 horsepower. It can sprint to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds, while the top speed is an astounding 173mph.
39. Honda RC51
Honda has created a wide array of impressive sport bikes through the last decades, and the RC51 may just be the best one of them all. This motorcycle was developed by the Japanese manufacturer primarily to compete in the Superbike World Championship throughout the early 2000s.
The powerplant developed by Honda was a V-twin cylinder 999c, similar to the two-cylinder found in the previously mentioned Ducati 1098. Unsurprisingly, this 138-horsepower monstrosity saw great success in motorsport. The RC51 can reach 164 miles per hour!
38. KTM 1190 Adventure
The Adventure series is well-known in the touring motorcycle community. The 1190 Adventure, sold between 2013 and 2016, is one of the most successful versions. It’s also extremely powerful. In fact, its 1195cc V-twin cylinder motor produces nearly 150 horsepower. In effect, it can accelerate to 60mph in just 2.8 seconds!
This version of the Adventure is more rider-friendly than any of its predecessors. The bike is fitted with electronic suspension control, or the Anti-Lowside technology developed by Bosch, all to ensure that the KTM 1190 Adventure is as versatile as possible.
37. Harley-Davidson Low Rider
Harley-Davidson has one of the biggest cult followings out of any manufacturer in the world. Their motorcycles are beloved by the infamous Hells Angels, among other motorcycle clubs around the globe. The Low Rider series was born in the late 70s and continued to be a vital part of the company’s lineup until 2009.
The FXS Low Rider essentially defined what Harley-Davidson would become over the next decades. The motorbike featured jaw-dropping styling, complete with lots of chrome finishes and a loud 1600cc motor with an unmistakable exhaust note.
36. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11
The ZX-11 is one of the most famous models that are a part of Kawasaki’s Ninja series. This spectacular sportbike debuted in 1990 and quickly made international news. At the time of its debut, the Ninja ZX-11 was the fastest production motorcycle of all time.
The 1052cc motor that powers the Ninja ZX-11 peaks at a little over 134 horsepower, enabling the sportbike to reach 176 miles per hour. The ZX-11 kept its title for a total of six years. The ZX-11 was eventually replaced by the ZX-12C after 2001.
35. Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird
Anyone who has ever ridden a sportbike from the late 90s knows that their spartan nature and lack of rider’s comfort can be exhausting, especially during long journeys. Honda decided to address these issues with the release of the CBR1100XX, commonly known as the Blackbird, in 1996. It was the most versatile and practical sport touring bike at the time. Oh, and the fastest production motorcycle in the world, too.
The Blackbird can reach a top speed of 180 miles per hour, thanks to its 137-horsepower motor. It was a massive improvement in terms of rider’s comfort, compared with any of its rivals.
34. Harley-Davidson Sportster
Harley-Davidson’s Sportster series is one of the longest-running line sold by the American manufacturer. The first Sportster ever debuted back in the late 50s. The Sportster choppers are powered by a V-twin cylinder motor, which was mounted directly to the frame up until 2003. While that meant improved agility and handling of the bike, it also sent engine vibrations directly to the rider. Sportsters built after 2003 are much more comfortable than the older models.
The Sportster is one of the top picks for any fan of Harley-Davidson products. Famous actor and former Hell’s Angels president Chuck Zito used to own one, too.
33. Aprilia Tuono
The Aprilia Tuono remains one of the best naked motorcycles of the 2000s. The bike debuted back in 2002 and was sold by the Italian manufacturer up until 2010. The Tuono is based on the RSV Mille sportbike. The two motorcycles share many components, including the powerplant, transmission, and frame.
The RSV Tuono is powered by a 997cc V-twin cylinder motor rated at a whopping 123 horsepower. The Italian manufacturer took the motorcycle a step further with the release of the souped-up Tuono 1000 R in 2006. The bike received a power bump of 10 horses more than the RSV.
32. Ducati Multistrada 1200 S
Ducati initially unveiled the new Multistrada series in 2003. The all-new Multistrada 1000 was a versatile touring bike powered by a 92-horsepower L-twin cylinder engine. Seven years later, the Italian manufacturer completely redefined the Adventure Motorcycle class with the release of the all-new Multistrada 1200 touring bike. The new Multistrada was better than its predecessors in every single aspect.
The 1200 S remains one of the quickest touring motorcycles ever made, its V2 engine produces 160 horsepower! In effect, the Multistrada 1200 S can shoot up to 60 miles per hour in less than 2.8 seconds.
31. Yamaha XT500
The XT500 was a major milestone for Yamaha, as well as the world of motorcycles as a whole. This enduro-adventure motorbike from 1975 is considered one of the first of its kind!
Following the release of the innovative XT500, other manufacturers quickly flocked to imitate Yamaha’s XT500. None of the copies were as ideal as the original, though. The XT500 came powered by a 500cc 4-stroke, mated with a 5-speed gearbox. This enduro-adventure motorcycle was in production all the way until 1989.
30. Kawasaki Ninja H2R
Without a doubt, the Kawasaki Ninja H2R is one of the craziest motorcycles money could buy. In fact, the H2R is so crazy that it is not even street-legal. Instead, the owners of this sportbike need to head to the race track to enjoy this monstrous machine. The Japanese manufacturer does offer a roadgoing version, though it is nowhere near as powerful.
The H2R makes a whopping 310 horsepower from its supercharged 998cc powerplant. In effect, the bike can shoot up to 249 miles per hour! The street-legal Ninja H2 is impressive as well, it can reach 209 mph thanks to its 200-horsepower supercharged engine.
29. MV Augusta 600GT
The 600GT is one of the most sought-after motorcycles ever built by MV Augusta. This spectacular touring motorcycle debuted in 1966 and saw a short production limited to just 172 examples in total.
The stylish 600GT is powered by a 592cc four-cylinder motor. The bike is capable of reaching up to 115 miles per hour, thanks to its 52 horsepower powerplant. Aside from the regular units of the MV Augusta 600, the Italian manufacturer developed a few different special editions of the bike. All units were finished in black, except for one blue and one yellow special unit. Today, those are the most desired ones.
28. Yamaha PW 50
The PW50 may not be the most powerful motorcycle of all time. In fact, its 50cc single-cylinder motor barely makes 3 horsepower. Nonetheless, this fun minibike is more significant than you may expect, and its tiny powerplant is part of the reason why.
This mini bike is the ideal starting point for children and young teens who want to experience the world of dirt bikes. The Yamaha PW50 is equipped with a three-gear gearbox, as well as an auto clutch and auto lube.
27. Suzuki Hayabusa
No matter whether you’re a die-hard motorcycle fan or not, you have definitely heard of the infamous Hayabusa. This aggressive sport bike made headlines immediately after its 1999 debut, as it dethroned the previously mentioned Honda Blackbird to become the world’s fastest production motorcycle of all time.
The Hayabusa was more than just a quick bike. In fact, it was the first street-legal motorcycle to break the 300km/h (187mph) barrier, thanks to its aerodynamic body and a monstrous 173-horsepower powerplant. The Hayabusa saw two generations built until 2021. The Japanese manufacturer unveiled the all-new third-gen earlier this year!
26. Triumph Speed Triple
The Speed Triple is one of the most popular lines of motorcycles built by Triumph. The first bike in the series debuted in 1994. The Speed Triple name paid homage to the legendary Triumph Speed Twin from the late 30s. As the name suggests, the Speed Triple was powered by a three-cylinder motor.
The bike is beloved by riders for its distinctive aggressive styling, as well as the iconic three-cyl powerplant. The 2016 model seen in the photograph above produces 140 horsepower, which is nearly 50 horsepower more than the original Speed Triple from ’94.
25. Kawasaki Eliminator
The Eliminator is one of the most gorgeous bikes ever sold by Kawasaki. This cruiser first hit the market in the mid-80s and remained in production all the way until 2007. The Japanese manufacturer offered all kinds of engines in the Eliminator, ranging from a 125cc ideal for beginner riders all the way through to a powerful 1000cc version.
One of the best features of the Eliminator is undoubtedly the design of the motorcycle. The first two versions of the bike were practically roadgoing replicas of drag-style bikes! The Eliminator remains a favorite among buyers today.
24. Ducati Diavel
The Diavel debuted back in 2010 as the second cruiser motorcycle ever built by Ducati, the first being the Indiana from the late 80s. The cruiser is widely regarded to be one of the most characteristic motorcycles available on the market. Apart from spectacular design, the Diavel is among the quickest-accelerating production bikes ever made. It can sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 2.6 seconds!
Interestingly, the Diavel is a favorite among experienced riders who are over 50 years old. Many owners switched from a Harley-Davidson V-rod over to the Ducati Diavel.
23. Harley-Davidson FXRS Sport
As great as the Harley-Davidson FXR was, some riders complained that there was still plenty of room for further improvement. Hence, the American manufacturer unveiled the FXRS Sport in 1985.
The Harley-Davidson FXRS Sport was essentially a revised FXR. The bike featured a raised suspension and a second disc brake in the front of the motorcycle. In effect, the ride was dramatically improved over the regular FXR. The FXRS Sport was more comfortable for longer journeys, and the suspension was nowhere near as stiff.
22. KTM RC8
Despite the KTM 1190 RC8 being a truly exceptional machine, it seems to have been forgotten shortly after its debut. The super bike first hit the market back in 2008 and was discontinued just 7 years later. The RC8 had impressive results in the AMA superbike series, it even stole the spotlight at Isle of Man TT. Today, many riders seem to have forgotten about this masterpiece.
The RC8 was powered by a V-twin cylinder engine that peaks at between 151 and 173 horsepower, depending on the model year. A 0-60 sprint takes it just 3 seconds!
21. Honda Dominator 650
The NX650 quite literally dominated the dual-sport segment when it first hit the market in 1988. Honda’s innovative motorcycle was ideal for use on roads, as well as off the beaten path. The Dominator 650 truly defined the dual-sport market for decades to come.
The Japanese manufacturer offered all kinds of variants of the NX dual-sport, ranging from 125cc all the way through to the most powerful 650cc Dominator. In its most powerful version, the NX produced 44 horsepower from its single-cylinder four-stroke motor. The Dominator quickly became renowned for its reliability and exceptional performance.
20. Triumph Thruxton
Any fan of cafe racers is well aware of the Thruxton. This motorcycle debuted back in 2004 as an homage to stylish motorcycles of the past. Even its name pays tribute to the iconic Velocette Thruxton, an award-winning racing motorcycle from the 60s.
Triumph’s gorgeous Thruxton is powered by an 865cc powerplant that produces 68 horsepower. Following the success of the Thruxton, Triumph unveiled the new Thruxton 1200 in 2016. The motorcycle makes around 30 horsepower more than its predecessor, though the design is arguably not as iconic as the original Thruxton.
19. Honda Super Cub
In the 1950s, Honda noticed the booming demand for mopeds and lightweight motorcycles in Germany. The Japanese manufacturer quickly developed the Super Cub, a reliable underbone bike that was ideal for the daily commute, and released it in 1958. The sales skyrocketed, and Honda began offering the Super Cub series in 15 countries around the globe.
The Super Cub may not be the most beautiful, or the fastest bike of all time. However, its influence can easily be seen in many cities worldwide. A rush hour traffic jam in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, for example, is filled with Honda Super Cubs.
18. Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Night Train
One of the most desirable modern Harley-Davidson motorcycles is the FXSTB Softail Night Train, sold between 2007 and 2008. This intimidating machine left the factory as a custom bike, based on the regular Softail. Some owners, like the one in the photo above, took their Night Train a step further and added even more modifications.
The FXSTB Softail Night Train features a unique design that makes it easily distinguishable from any other Harley-Davidson. It’s powered by a 1584cc twin-cam motor. You’re bound to hear it from a mile away.
17. Moto Guzzi Le Mans
The Le Mans series was a major milestone for Moto Guzzi. The Italian manufacturer released the original Le Mans in 1976. It was the first sport bike ever built by Moto Guzzi, and its successful production run continued all the way through to the early 2000s.
The original 850 Le Mans is actually classified as a cafe racer. The newer bikes, however, fall within the sport touring category. The 850’s two-cylinder motor produced 71 horsepower, enabling the motorcycle to reach 130 miles per hour. The mark I Le Mans became highly sought-after by collectors, as only around 7000 of them were built in total.
16. Suzuki GSX-R
The GSX-R series made its initial debut back in 1984. Commonly known as the Gixxer, the GSX-R is one of the most affordable high-performance motorcycles on the market. There are plenty of generations and engine options to choose from, ranging from the entry-level 125cc through to the monstrous 1000cc.
The most powerful variant, the GSX-R1000, has been around since 2001. The latest version is in production since 2017. Its powerplant develops 185 horsepower in total, allowing the bike to reach a total speed of 178 miles per hour.
15. Harley-Davidson VRSC
The VRSC series by Harley-Davidson is pretty much a two-wheel muscle car. These iconic cruisers make anywhere between 115 and 125 horsepower, depending on the version and model year. Despite theoretically being classified as cruisers, these bikes are often referred to as muscle bikes due to their high power output and a throaty exhaust note.
The V-rod may be powerful and loud, yet it is anything but performance-oriented. The VRSC, like the rest of Harley-Davidson’s lineup, is all about riding in style.
14. Yamaha Road Star
Beginner motorcycle enthusiasts may easily confuse the Road Star with a Harley-Davidson. Afterall, the styling of this cruiser does somewhat resemble the iconic V-rod design language of American choppers. The Road Star, also called the Wild Star in some markets, is one of the best modern cruisers on the market.
The Road Star is powered by a loud 1600cc V-twin cylinder engine, which produces nearly 63 horsepower in total. The Road Star, just like any other cruiser, is not about the peak power. Yamaha offers easy customization that enables the owners to personalize the bikes to their liking.
13. Suzuki Marauder
The Marauder may not have been the fastest motorcycle of its time, nor the best-looking one on the market. However, many bikers have a soft spot for this tiny 125cc bike. In fact, its small 12-horsepower motor is one of the primary reasons why.
Most bikers can agree that it’s best to start riding a small bike, ideally a 125cc or a 250cc, before heading to more powerful machines. The Suzuki GZ 125 Marauder is one of the best learner bikes on the market, hence it deserves a spot as one of the greatest motorcycles of all time.
12. Ducati SuperSport
Releasing the 900SS was a gigantic milestone for Ducati. The debut of the first bike in this series dates back to 1972. The original SuperSport was a stepping stone that defined the Ducatis of today. This motorcycle is powered by a four-stroke 864cc motor that produces 67 horsepower. The top speed is a whopping 135 miles per hour.
The SuperSport series continues to live on. In 2017, the Italian manufacturer released the all-new SS as a more laid-back alternative to the radical Panigale.
11. Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer
Moto Guzzi has created some of the most iconic motorcycles ever since the founding of the Italian company back in 1921. After all, you would rightfully expect the oldest European manufacturer in continuous motorbike production to create spectacular machines. The V7 Racer may just be the best ever.
This bike debuted in 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the V7 series. The latest V7 is the ideal combination of astonishing design, as well as agile handling. This naked motorcycle is powered by a 750cc motor rated at 52 horsepower.
10. Triumph Bonneville
Kicking off the top 10 greatest bikes of all time is the legendary Triumph Bonneville. Although the current generation has only been in production for 2 decades, the original Bonneville dates back to the late 1950s.
Many motorcycle enthusiasts have a soft spot for the Bonneville. The styling of the latest generation has a cool, classic touch to it. Unlike most classic bikes, the Bonneville features exceptional handling and a comfortable ride. It really is one of the most versatile picks in its class.
9. Metisse Desert Racer
The Metisse Desert Racer is, without a doubt, one of the coolest bikes of the 21st century. This stylish bike is a replica of the motorcycle used by Steve McQueen back in the mid-60s. Like the original, the replica is built on a Metisse frame. The manufacturer introduced the special replicas in 2009. 300 units were available at a price of around $20,000 each.
The original Desert Racer was constructed by Bud Edkins, a professional stuntman and a close friend of Steve McQueen. The jaw-dropping replica is powered by a 650cc Triumph motor.
8. Velocette Venom
Don’t let the fancy name of this manufacturer fool you. Despite having an Italian name, Velocette is actually a company based out of Birmingham, England. The Venom is one of their most iconic creations, and one of the greatest machines of the second half of the 20th century.
The 34-horsepower motorbike debuted back in 1955. Its 499cc single-cylinder motor allowed the Venom to reach a top speed of 100 miles per hour. Back in 1961, the Venom completed the record-setting 24-hour run at the average speed of a little over 100 miles per hour.
7. Harley Davidson XR750
The XR750 surely looks familiar, doesn’t it? This motorcycle was developed by Harley Davidson purely for racing. The American manufacturer began selling it in 1970. Moreover, the XR750 also happens to be one of the favorite bikes used by world-famous daredevil Evel Knievel.
The XR750 in the photo above is the Iron spec. Harley Davidson only built 120 of them, all of which were sold to flat-track racers. Over 5 decades after its initial debut, the XR750 is still considered to be one of the most successful machines in the history of AMA Racing.
6. Yamaha R1
The R1 has single-handedly dominated the sport bike market ever since its 1998 debut. The motorcycle remains one of the quickest-accelerating production bikes of all time. In fact, units built after 2006 can reach 60 miles per hour in a staggering 2.64 seconds, while a sprint to 100mph takes only 5.1 seconds.
Apart from being a massive success in terms of impressive sales figures, the R1 is also a well-known model in the world of motorsport. In fact, the bike had 5 wins at the Macau Grand Prix between 1999 and 2013.
5. Triumph Model H
The Model H may not look too appealing for fans of modern motorbikes. There is no doubt that the Model H is one of the most important models built by Triumph, though. The bike dates to 1915 when Triumph was commissioned by the British government to develop a motorcycle that would replace messengers on horses. The manufacturer ended up producing 57,000 units during the bike’s 8-year long production run.
The Model H was powered by a 550cc four-stroke single-cylinder motor, rated at just 4 horsepower. It was one of Triumph’s first bikes that had no pedals, too!
4. Vincent Black Shadow
The Black Shadow has gone down in history as one of the most significant motorbikes of all time. The motorcycle debuted in 1948 and became an icon, despite a short production run that ended just 7 years later.
The Black Shadow was widely considered to be one of the best-engineered motorbikes of its time. Its 998cc peaked at 55 horsepower, which translated to a top speed of a whopping 190 miles per hour. The Series C is the absolute best version money could buy. It was essentially a Series B with further improvements, such as a revised suspension.
3. BSA Gold Star
Birmingham Small Arms Company, or BSA for short, released the record-breaking Gold Star in the late 30s. BSA sold the bike with either a 350cc or a 500cc powerplant. Interestingly, the manufacturer gave each owner a dyno test result along with the bike, showing precisely how powerful their machine was.
The Gold Star remained one of the fastest motorbikes on the market up until the 60s. The bike was perfected for nearly three decades, up until it was eventually replaced by the BSA B50 in the early 70s.
2. Brough Superior SS100
Every custom motorcycle enthusiast has heard of George Brough and the Brough Superior SS100. This gorgeous machine, developed by Brough himself, was the first custom motorcycle ever. Brough took components from different suppliers and put the Superior SS100 together by 1924. He then continued perfecting the machine over the next years.
All motorcycles built by Brough were guaranteed to have a top speed of at least 100 miles per hour. A year after the initial debut of the bike, the SS100 was already capable of reaching 110mph. Two years after that, George Brough broke the world record when zooming on his Superior SS100 at 130.6mph.
1. Norton Manx
Selecting the greatest motorcycle of all time is far from an easy task. However, the legendary Norton Manx is arguably the most iconic one of them all. The Manx was developed with the intend of taking the victory at Isle of Man TT. The production of the bike was put on hold during World War Two. The bike finally made its debut in 1946.
The 500cc version of the Manx made 47 horsepower and had the top speed of 140 miles per hour! The motorbike saw great success in motorsport over the next years. The Manx’s powerplant was even used in Formula 3 race cars!