• Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022

From the huge choice of new motorcycles on offer, how do you pick the best? Do you use your head or your heart?

There are literally hundreds of motorcycles on the market today, for all different purposes and wallets. How do you choose? Well, for a start, you read a list like this one - Top Ten Best Motorcycles in 2022 - to give you some inspiration. Then you completely disagree and make up your own list.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200RS

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Even though there was nothing wrong with the previous Speed Triple 1050, Triumph only went and made it even better in 2021. It is unique in not being a naked version of a faired sports bike, which means it’s not a compromise, while Triumph has refused to be goaded by other manufacturers’ power claims and resolutely gone its own way. That’s not to say that there isn’t enough power, mind you: 178 horses is plenty in anyone’s book.

The new engine is stunning, full of triple-cylinder character, and yet smooth and refined, despite the explosive performance, whereas the gearbox is one of the best on any sports bike.

Suspension is not as compliant as previously, but that only serves to sharpen up the handling, if that were possible. The whole bike feels slimmer and more compact, and the seat proves that sporty bikes don’t have to have a plank for a seat but can actually be comfortable.

It features top-spec brakes and suspension, and overall, the quality is absolutely dazzling, matching the riding experience.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200RS
Engine Inline three-cylinder
Displacement 1160cc
Power 178 horses 
Torque 92 pound-feet
Weight 198 kgs
Price $18,300

Yamaha MT-09

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Yamaha saved its own bacon when it launched the MT-09 in 2013. Here was a Japanese bike with a difference: it had character! It was fast, light, and affordable, with a lovely three-cylinder engine that was punchy and smooth.

In 2021, Yamaha gave the MT-09 a makeover with a bigger engine, new frame, styling, and electronics. The bike didn’t need them, but it is better for them.

Whether you like the looks is subjective, but there is no arguing about the bike’s abilities. The seat isn’t the most comfortable but the chassis is superb and the engine, with 117bhp on tap, works in perfect harmony with the chassis, even if the chassis could handle more power. As it is, this is a great bike to take on a long ride along twisting country lanes while also being perfectly happy being the urban workhorse.

It is well equipped and boasts an electronics package usually reserved for much more expensive bikes: lean-sensitive traction control, ABS, wheelie and slide control, and there’s a two-way quick-shifter as well. The TFT dash could be more attractive, but you’ll be too busy watching the road ahead to let that bother you too much.

In typical Japanese fashion, it’s a bit plasticky, especially compared to the likes of the Triumph Street Triple, but it is cheaper than the Triumph and the KTM 890 Duke R with which it goes head-to-head. But, it’s still one of the most entertaining Japanese bikes out there with a lot of personality.

Yamaha MT-09
Engine Inline three-cylinder
Displacement 889cc
Power 117 horses
Torque 67 pound-feet
Weight 189 kgs
Price $11,099

BMW R1250GS

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Perhaps an obvious choice, but love it or hate it, you can’t deny that the BMW GS is still one of the best-selling bikes of any class in many countries around the world. And, it sells that well not just because it’s a BMW, but because it really is that good.

Yes, rivals from KTM, Triumph, and Harley Davidson (see below) have more power, and next to them, the BMW does look large. However, you can’t deny its ability on any surface: it’s at once a superlative long-distance tourer and a remarkably light and well-balanced off-road plugger.

The Shiftcam variable valve timing engine has a perfectly linear spread of power and torque, transforming the rather bland performance of previous versions of the venerable boxer-twin engine, and the suspension has to be ridden to be believed off-road: on long, bumpy gravel stretches, it’s a magic carpet ride.

Cynics might say the electronics need to be so good as there’s so much motorcycle to control, but if they open up the joys of adventure riding to more people, who are we to criticize?

Despite BMW telling us that the engine has reached its limits of cylinder capacity, a new 1300GS is on the cards. While that could simply be a name change to differentiate the new model and not reflect displacement, BMW is clearly trying to keep up in the horsepower stakes which seems a bit pointless when what they have already is so good.

BMW R1250GS
Engine Flat twin-cylinder
Displacement 1254cc
Power 136 horses
Torque 105.4 pound-feet
Weight 249 kgs
Price $20,345

Vespa

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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There might be dozens of scooters on the market today, but are any really as good as the iconic Vespa? It was conceived after the second world war to not only save a business, but also to feed the demand for simple cheap transport to get a country moving again.

It became a style icon and a symbol of all things Italian and set a blueprint subsequently followed by everyone else, but rarely - if ever - bettered.

Yes, they’re expensive compared to their rivals, but the quality justifies the price. No longer two-stroke buzz bombs, the new generation of four-stroke engines are smooth, quiet, and powerful: the GTS300 model is ridiculously fast for a small-wheeled city bike. All are equipped with stepless continuously variable transmission so anyone can ride them.

But, above all that, when you ride a Vespa, you can do nothing but smile and feel Italian, even if you live nowhere near Italy.

Vespa
Engine Single-cylinder
Displacement 125cc to 300cc and Electric
Power 10- to 25 horses
Torque 7.7- to 16.5 pound-feet
Weight N/A
Price $4,100 to $7,099

Harley Davidson Pan America 1250

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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There are two very good reasons why the Pan America is on this list. Firstly, Harley Davidson had the balls to go in a completely new direction, and secondly, it got it right the first time.

The motorcycling world was ready to scoff when H-D announced an adventure bike, but quickly had to eat its words when the bike appeared. Here was a very real and viable alternative to BMW, KTM, Triumph, et al, which resisted the temptation to be ‘American’ and simply concentrated instead on being brilliant.

The new Revolution Max engine, the chassis dynamics, top-spec brakes and suspension, and the electronics all contributed to the biggest and best surprise of 2021.

Harley Davidson even introduced new ideas to the class in the form of automatically lowering suspension when coming to a halt, an ingenious solution to overly tall adventure bikes, and making the bike accessible to a much wider range of riders.

It’s no surprise that the Pan America quickly became the best-selling motorcycle in any class in the U.S.

Harley Davidson Pan America 1250
Engine V-twin
Displacement 1252cc
Power 150 horses
Torque 94 pound-feet
Weight 254 kgs
Price $17,319 (base) $19,999 (Special)

Triumph Trident 660

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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In reality, there could be many Triumphs on this list, but the Trident 660 is so good and has sold so well that it fully deserves its place here.

It showed us that a bike didn’t have to be super powerful, expensive, or complex to be great. It has lots of character, is comfortable, easy to ride, and will satisfy beginners and experienced riders alike.

The small three-cylinder engine is sublime, full of punch, is married to a great chassis, and it never fails to put a smile on your face when the road gets twisty. At the same time, it is the perfect urban companion, turning even the most mundane journey into something special. It’s one of those bikes you can simply jump on and enjoy and has an endearingly cheeky personality. Rivals might have more features but the Trident 660 is brilliant in its simplicity.

It has the typical Triumph build quality and detailing, and is just as entertaining as the Street Triple while costing significantly less to both, buy and run.

Triumph Trident 660
Engine Inline three-cylinder
Displacement 660cc
Power 80 horses
Torque 47 pound-feet
Weight 189 kgs
Price $8,195

Indian FTR 1200

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Like Harley, Indian took a left turn with the FTR, but unlike Harley, Indian looked to the very American sport of flat track racing for inspiration. The FTR 1200 might be nothing like the rest of the Indian range, but Indian managed to produce a very special bike indeed.

Possessing a fierce personality, it’s not for the faint of heart, but it is extremely rewarding for those with the skill to tame it. Unashamedly retro in appearance, its performance is anything but old-fashioned, and it’s comfortable and well-equipped.

In keeping with its flat track pretensions, the rear wheel can struggle for grip if you are careless with the throttle at low revs. Such is the instant torque from the 1203cc V-twin; but traction control is there to gather everything up again, at least on the ’S’ model.

Sachs and Brembo deal with suspension and braking, while ABS and traction control, where fitted, are lean-sensitive.

A brilliant bucking bronco of a bike, so different from the rest of the Indian range, but somehow, fitting right in.

Indian FTR 1200
Engine V-twin
Displacement 1203cc
Power 118 horses
Torque 85 pound-feet
Weight 231 kgs
Price $12,999 (base), $14,999 (S)

Ducati V4 S Multistrada

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Ducati’s Multistrada V4 might be the last bike you’d think about taking off-road as per its adventure bike designation, but that’s all right as it’s an incredible road bike in its own right.

Moving away from the V-twin which was getting to the limits of the cylinder bore, the new V-4 engine is a brilliant piece of engineering, actually slightly smaller and lighter than the V-twin!

This is one of the most accomplished bikes on the market right now, offering blistering performance reined in by astonishing electronic sophistication while being supremely comfortable and practical.

If ever the phrase ‘all-rounder’ was perfect for a bike, then it is this one: it excels on any road, be it highway, country lanes, city, or race track: there are few bikes that can claim the same level of skill in one of those categories, let alone over such a wide spectrum of riding conditions.

Not only has the V-twin gone, but so has the steel tube trellis frame in favor of an aluminum monocoque. But, if you think that means that this isn’t a real Ducati anymore, think again: it’s as full of Italian style, charm, and emotion as any of its predecessors.

Ducati V4 S Multistrada
Engine V-4
Displacement 1158cc
Power 170 horses
Torque 92 pound-feet
Weight 240 kgs
Price $26,295

Aprilia RS660

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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The old saying, less is more, has never been more appropriate than in the Aprilia RS660 - the pocket superbike from Italy. While the RSV4 1100 Factory is a fine example of excess in every sense of the word, the RS660 is just as much fun, just as competent, in a package that is completely accessible in a way that no liter superbike ever has been.

The RS660, powered by Aprilia’s parallel twin-engine, goes, handles, and excites like a liter sports bike, has all the technology you could need, and even comes with a dose of unexpected comfort. As big sports bikes become ever more powerful, extreme, and some would say, compromised, the RS660 reverses all that by being just as agile and entertaining in the corners, which, let’s face it, is where the fun is and doesn’t lose out all that much on the straights. And, the fact that it’s not trying to kill you every time you swing a leg over it makes it so easy to live with.

It used to be that a middleweight sports bike was a step up to a full-blown liter superbike, but not anymore: the Aprilia RS660 is a brilliant sports bike in its own right and definitely not a stepping stone to anything.

Aprilia RS660
Engine Parallel-twin
Displacement 659cc
Power 99 horses
Torque 49 pound-feet
Weight 183 kgs
Price $11,399

KTM 390 Adventure

Top 10 Best Motorcycles of 2022
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Just as with the Aprilia RS660, the KTM 390 Adventure demonstrates that size isn’t everything. In a world where adventure bikes are getting ridiculously large and complex, the KTM 390 Adventure is refreshingly different, whilst being no less competent.

In the media literature, KTM states that the 390 Adventure is an easily accessible bike to open horizons on roads, tracks, and trails. What is significant about this is that they are not pitching it as an entry to adventure riding per se, which is about right as this is a brilliant adventure bike full stop. It isn’t a stepping stone to anything other than itself.

There isn’t a box it doesn’t tick, be it performance, ability, comfort, equipment, fuel economy, or just sheer fun. Factor in the price and how it opens up adventure riding to a lot of people and any arguments you might simply melt away into insignificance.

KTM 390 Adventure
Engine Single-cylinder
Displacement 373cc
Power 44 horses
Torque 27.3 pound-feet
Weight 158 kgs
Price $6,799

Of course, a list such as this is always going to be subjective and no definitive list can ever be compiled. No doubt you all have your own ideas, so why not tell us and the other readers about them in the comments section.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
About the author

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