10 Best Motorcycle Brands
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Searching For The Best Motorcycle Brands
Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1986 cult classic romance film His Motorbike, Her Island is more than just a document of young love in tumultuous times. It’s also an aggressive endorsement of motorcycles while also warning that, for as good as a rider that we believe we are, we must still adhere to our cycle’s whims.
The best way to guarantee that you retain as much control as possible of your two-wheeled speed machine is by buying a good one in the first place. The question is, how do you know who to shop from?
We’ll help you answer that question by telling you about the 10 best motorcycle brands. You’ll learn about which companies make the cut, what makes them special, what their product lines are like, and more.
10 Best Motorcycle Brands
The first brand we’ll highlight on our list of the best motorcycle brands is one of the global leaders in motorcycle sales.
Yamaha produces nearly as many products as they have years of business under their belt (they’ve been operating since 1887), but we’re going to focus on the Yamaha Motor Corporation.
Yamaha manufactured their first motorcycle in 1955. The Japanese brand’s offerings comprise nearly every type of motorbike imaginable; we’re talking about motorcycles, scooters, sport bikes, adventure cycles, and more.
Their motorcycles are considered to be among the most reliable of big-name motorcycle producers.
They have a strict quality control policy wherein they make all of their parts and engine components in their own factories. Therefore, Yamaha keeps a close eye on every step in the production line.
- The second highest-selling motorcycle brand on the planet
- Massive product catalog
- Extremely high levels of quality control
When most people think of Kawasaki they instantly picture the company’s Ninja line. It’s a world-famous line of sports cycles that run as quickly and as quietly as their namesake.
The least expensive variant, the Kawasaki Ninja 400, costs $5,400, while the most luxurious model (the Kawasaki Ninja H2R) costs $56,000.
Thankfully, you don’t have to buy a sports cycle if those aren’t your thing. Kawasaki’s catalog is as deep and diverse as the spice mixture in a good curry.
They’re another staple Japanese brand that began producing motorcycles in 1949. Kawasaki developed their first motorcycle engine at the time after taking inspiration from their aircraft technology.
Kawasaki’s products are loved by speed demons and adventure addicts alike. Due to their complex engineering, Kawasaki motorcycles usually have high maintenance costs.
However, this mostly applies to their more opulent models like the aforementioned Kawasaki Ninja H2R. Their less expensive but equally viable models should be easier on your wallet and on your mechanic’s hands.
- Producers of the world-famous Ninja motorcycle line
- Highly technical motorcycles
- One of the largest and most well-regarded brands for sports cycles and adventure bikes
Ducati breaks the rhythm of Japanese-owned companies we established in this list of the best motorcycle brands by being the first Italian company on the list. They come from a prestigious lineage of creators and are a subdivision of another royal Italian company, Lamborghini.
The company’s line of motorcycles is still handmade in Italy. This preserves Ducati’s nearly century-long history of aesthetic brilliance and athletic performance as their bikes are routinely winning races around the globe.
Plus, their motorcycles are so eye-catching that you might not doubt that they could win a beauty pageant.
Most motorcycle fans recognize Ducati as the developers of the V-twin engine.
This engine style is quieter, easier on the motorcycle’s frame, and more powerful than a single-cylinder engine.
Not every Ducati motorcycle uses this engine type, but it’s the one that made the brand a household name.
- Most famous Italian motorcycle producer
- Trusted by racers
- The V-twin engine is favored by those who want a long-lasting and mighty engine
Let’s return to Japan and tell you about the biggest motorcycle producer on Earth. That’s not only in the gross sum of product sold; the Honda Cub is the most frequently purchase motorcycle of all time.
They built their reputation in the 1960s by partnering with an American ad agency to dispel the negative stereotype that all motorcycles were gang fodder.
Honda’s motorcycles come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and functions. You could find a Honda model for everyone in your extended family.
It helps that the company promotes community and accessibility in their products, meaning that their motorcycles aren’t a hassle on the user’s end to repair.
Combine that with the fact that most dealers are familiar with Honda products, and Honda could be one of the best motorcycle brands for people who want an easy-to-ride and simpler-to-maintain product.
- Incredibly easy to find a Honda vehicle
- The largest motorcycle company on the planet
- Low maintenance vehicles
#5: Harley Davidson
We can’t talk about the best motorcycle brands without mentioning Harley-Davidson. There’s no company that captures the American spirit like this 120-year-old titan of chopper motorcycles.
The Harley-Davidson chopper is known for its heavy frame, imposing figure, and overall tough-guy appeal. The company has a rabid fanbase that adores Harley-Davidson’s powerful and chrome-decked cycles.
Thankfully, Harley-Davidson’s library is deeper than their choppers.
They have sport cycles like the Harley-Davidson Nightster ($16,499), beefy cruisers like the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 ($12,499), touring models like the Harley-Davidson Road King ($23,999), trikes, and adventure touring motorcycles.,
Harley-Davidson is the perfect brand for people who want a strong dose of Americana alongside the wafting smell of a motorcycle engine.
- Can purchase pre-owned motorcycles through their website
- Models are usually powerful and heavy
- Strong iconography
- Devoted community around the globe
Suzuki is the fourth horsemen of Japan’s best motorcycle brands, though their niche is all their own. Much like the other three large Japanese motorcycle producers, Suzuki manufactures cycles of various models with different functionalities.
They’re most well-known, however, for their sportbikes, so much so that a quarter of all sportbikes sold worldwide are Suzuki bikes. They made their name off of sportbikes, as they had a rather small motorcycle library before they produced their first motocross-winning bike in the 1970s.
You’ll often Suzuki motorcycles carrying athletes to Grand Prix victories. Don’t let that trick you into thinking that you need to be a world-class athlete to enjoy the luxury of a Suzuki model. Their products are uniformly durable and rated by customers as being reliable in a pinch.
- The go-to brand for sports and racing motorcycles
- Buyers hold their items in high regard for their durability
- Their largest sales event of the year, Suzukifest, is currently underway
We’ve spoken enough about racing bikes and sports cycles that we know you’re thirsty for some classic motorcycles.
We touched on Harley-Davidson before, but now we’re going to speak on another of the best motorcycle brands for old heads who want a bike with a more classic look.
Triumph is the youngest brand we’ve mentioned thus far and the only British company on our list. They started producing their current line of motorcycles in 1982, which is a tad ironic given that their vintage designs are what capture so many people’s attention.
Most of their products are considerably cheaper than other brands, and that comes without any knocks on Triumph’s quality.
For example, the limited edition Triumph Bonneville Bobber Gold Line, with its muscular design and workhorse engine, only costs $14,295. That’s an astoundingly agreeable price given that it’s only available for one year.
- Classically-inspired motorcycle designs
- Motorcycles are slightly more affordable than other luxury brands
Nearly everyone recognizes that BMW stands at the pinnacle of German engineering. They’ve been perfecting their automobiles since 1901, and their motorcycles have seen similar refinement since the brand started manufacturing them in 1923.
BMW’s extensive lineup of motorcycles includes models in all these categories:
It’s the final style that BMW excels in. They’re celebrating their success in the adventure motorcycle market by releasing a limited 40th-anniversary edition of the BMW G 310 GS ($6,195).
It packages the smooth-riding, longevity, and ergonomic splendor that have made BMW one of the best motorcycle brands over the past century.
- Arguably the best European producer of adventure motorcycles
- Vast customization options for most motorcycles
- Praised as some of the most comfortable bikes on the market
We cannot forget about off-road bikes as they’re a massive part of the motorcycle economy. Luckily for those that feel like we haven’t given off-road cycles a fair spotlight, there’s KTM, the Austrian brand that established themselves as the standard-bearer for offroading cycles.
KTM’s bikes have been praised for their sublime handling, and are thus mainstays at off-roading competitions. Their orange color is as iconic as the red, white, and blue on the Stars and Stripes.
They offer more than supreme motocross bikes. They’ve slowly started to enter the road bike market too, and now their sales are evenly split between those two varieties of bikes.
Overall, KTM is a performance-driven brand for people who want to push their bodies – and their motorcycles – to the absolute limit.
- Incredibly well-designed off-road motorcycles
- One of the largest European motorcycle producers
- Bikes epitomize speed, power, and control
Husqvarna is the final company that we’ll cover in this list of the best motorcycle brands. They’re currently a member of the KTM family, which is why there are plenty of similarities between the two, even though Husqvarna has been operating since 1903.
They’ve been quite busy since 2013. Not only did they re-enter the world of street cycles with the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto ($12,499), but they revamped their philosophy by developing electric motocross bikes, and expanding their operations into India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
As such, they combine a century of motorcycle expertise with modern technology and a desire to assert themselves as one of the most innovative motorcycle brands today.
- Nostalgic street motorcycle designs
- Their competition bikes have won world titles
- Husqvarna motorcycles earned strong customer scores in regards to durability
How to Shop for the Best Motorcycle
Now that you know which companies we consider to be among the best motorcycle brands, it’s time to put the pedal to the floor and figure out which motorcycle is the best for you.
To help you with that decision-making process, we’ve put together a list of a few considerations for you to keep in mind.
The best motorcycle brands earned their stature through decades of great engineering and consistent product quality.
Many of them make multiple motorcycle styles, but starting with the brand that appeals to you the most based on their values, practices, and heritage is the most intelligent decision.
We won’t lie to you and say that motorcycles don’t look cool. They’re probably the most attractive vehicles on the road or the race track. They don’t all look the same either, so finding one that matches your style is imperative.
Motorcycles are as dangerous as they are intriguing. It’s important to ensure that your desired motorcycle passes every safety test and earns the necessary certifications in order for you to drive it.
The last thing you’d want is to injure yourself because the manufacturer got a bit lazy on their inspection routine.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. This applies to motorcycles as much as it does free-standing skyscrapers.
A bigger bike may offer more protection, but it could be trickier to steer. Alternatively, a smaller motorcycle can offer more precise turning but it may be more likely to fly out of control due to its low weight.
There’s nothing worse than stepping off of your motorcycle with a mouth full of bugs. A motorcycle with good wind protection can reduce how many flies will get in your grill as well as cut down on wind resistance and potentially keep you warm at higher speeds.
Motorcycles aren’t well-known for being as frugal with their fuel as standard automobiles. That doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a motorcycle that has a good fuel economy, but you’ll have to do some research to find one that can actually get you where you need to go.
A motorcycle’s horsepower refers to how much power its engine can produce. This is especially important depending on which model you purchase.
Racing and sport cycles will usually have higher horsepower ratings than road motorcycles, but that’s because they need to generate more speed.
Ask yourself how much power you need your motorcycle to produce because it may be less than you imagine. After all, how many days a week do you really need to pop a wheelie?
Some motorcycles also come with subscription plans that can deliver monthly supplies of gear, goodies, and other motorcycle-related items to your front doorstep. Whether or not this is worthwhile is up to you, but sometimes we could all use a little gift every now and then.
How Often Do Motorcycles Need Servicing?
Based on the research we conducted, we recommend that you service your motorcycle after every 500 to 600 miles. Alternatively, you can service it every six months if you don’t ride it that often. Either measurement is a good frequency to keep your bike in tip-top shape.
Here are some general service jobs you should do with every maintenance appointment:
- Change the motorcycle’s oil
- Adjust and lubricate the chain
- Check the tire pressure and inflate them if need be
Is Learning To Ride A Motorcycle Hard?
Learning how to ride a motorcycle can be more difficult than learning how to drive a car because it involves slightly more balance and coordination.
Fortunately, if you can already ride a bicycle, then you should have a decent base of motor memory to help you learn how to steer and control the motorcycle.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For A Motorcycle?
You probably shouldn’t ride your motorcycle in any temperatures under freezing (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s when water freezes, meaning that driving can be painful if the weather is too cold and the wind is too harsh.
How Do You Stay Safe On A Motorcycle?
Wear a helmet! That’s the number one way to remain safe and it’s a precaution that we cannot stress enough. Here are some other ways that you can stay safe while riding a motorcycle:
- Adhere to the speed limit
- Follow the laws of traffic
- Recognize that motorcycles play by the same rules as cars but that they’re fundamentally different vehicles
- Drive carefully but not fearfully
Many of the best motorcycle brands are legacy companies with years of experience engineering some of the finest vehicles on the planet.
You’d have to try to go wrong by purchasing from any of the brands we mentioned today, though which one is right for you is ultimately your decision.
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