• Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022

Built for speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering, these machines love slicing the wind to go as fast as possible

Often, fun can come in small or inexpensive packages, as. this list of the ten best sports bikes for under $10,000 demonstrates. From 250cc up to 900cc, this is our pick of the best sports bikes that can be yours for the bargain price of less than $10,000.

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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More than any other category of bike, the sports bike is the one that has undergone the most change in the past 50 years. In the early 1970s, a sports bike was relatively unknown as a mode in its own right. Bikes such as the Triumph Trident 750 or the Honda CB750 were certainly ‘sporty’, but no manufacturer was making a motorcycle in the manner of today’s race-replica superbikes.

By the 1980s, things were changing and fairings were becoming the defining element of a sports bike, along with increased performance from 1000cc+ engines and improved chassis technology. In the 1990s, Honda redefined the sports bike with the first of the CBR900RR Fireblade models, a recipe that every other Japanese manufacturer followed.

Many European manufacturers chose to manufacture so-called naked sports bikes: that is, bikes without fairings but which still possessed huge performance and brilliant chassis dynamics. The Japanese followed suit, often by taking the fairings off their sports bikes to in effect get two bikes for the price of developing one bike. Naked bikes often had much more relaxed riding ergonomics such as higher ‘bars and lower foot pegs.

Whether faired or naked, the choice of sports bikes is huge. The top-of-the-range sports bikes can cost $20,000+ but not everyone can justify spending that much on a bike. As an antidote, here is our list of the top ten sports bikes that cost under $10,000 brand new.

Suzuki GSX250R - $4,999

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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The smallest displacement model in this list is also the cheapest in terms of money, but don’t mistake low price or small engine for a lack of fun. The funky Suzuki GSX250R not only looks like a miniature sports bike but has chassis dynamics that match bikes costing four times as much.

The single-cylinder, 249cc engine produces 24.7 horsepower and 17.1 foot-pounds of torque and pushes along an all-in weight of 392 pounds but the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story. There is something about using all of a bike’s performance 100% of the time that is just intoxicating.

If you want to learn how to ride fast, then learning how to maintain corner speed is the key, and the less power your bike has, the more you have to learn to not scrub off too much speed going into corners. That needs a good chassis and that is exactly what the Suzuki has. Brilliant, simple fun.

Engine Single-cylinder
Displacement 249cc
Power 24.7 horsepower
Torque 17.1 pound-feet
Weight 392 pounds

Yamaha YZF-R3 - $5,299

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Even sports bikes can possess practicality, which, of course, is essential as they are often only a bike. The Yamaha YZF-R3 is a YZF-R1 miniature clone but has enough R1 DNA to make it a proper sports bike pocket rocket.

The R3 is a brilliantly dynamic motorcycle, the chassis, and suspension working in perfect harmony to give a true sports bike feel on the road or track. There’s a parallel twin engine, producing 41.4 smooth horsepower and giving the R3 enough performance to keep any rider happy.

What Yamaha has managed to do is make the R3 more comfortable than you would expect from an uncompromising sports bike, with a comfortable seat and easy reach to the ‘bars. Being physically small, you might expect it to be cramped for taller riders but Yamaha has worked magic to make it fit any height of the rider.

Small displacement it may be, but the parallel-twin engine still manages to sound throaty and will scream all the way up to 14,000rpm, which only helps the sensation of being on a full-size sports bike. The gearbox has to be worked hard, as with all small-displacement bikes but the ‘change is slick and smooth, positively encouraging flicking through the ‘box to find the right ratio for the riding conditions.

It looks the part, goes, stops, and handles really well, and has great build quality, although equipment levels are understandably limited to keep costs down.

Engine Parallel twin-cylinder
Displacement 321cc
Power 41.4 horsepower
Torque 21.3 pound-feet
Weight 372 pounds

KTM RC390 - $5,799

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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KTM might be known primarily for its off-road and adventure bikes, but that’s not to say they don’t know how to make a great sports bike: you only have to look at the RC8 and 1290 Super Duke R to see that.

The secret to the RC390’s success is a good power-to-weight ratio, the single-cylinder engine producing 44 horsepower, and the whole bike weighing in at 342 pounds.

Like the R3 and GSX250R, it has the looks of a liter-superbike, but in a much more accessible package which, with a well-developed chassis and excellent WP APEX suspension, gives the best combination of sharp handling and suppleness over bumps.

A great electronics package includes cornering traction control and ABS, while a ByBre caliper on the single front disc gives excellent braking feel and power. It feels a little more cramped than the R3, thanks to higher-mounted foot pegs, but this just means more ground clearance if you have the confidence to push it to the limits on the track.

With more power and less weight than the R3, the engine on this bike is a single-cylinder unit and isn’t as smooth as the Yamaha and won’t rev to as high a ceiling, but the punchy torque is all you need. Combined with the chassis, this is such a well-rounded baby sports bike that will never fail to put a big grin on your face.

Engine: Single-cylinder
Displacement 373cc
Power 44 horsepower
Torque 27.2 pound-feet
Weight 341.7 pounds

Kawasaki Ninja 400 - $5,799

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Neatly rounding off the ‘baby’ superbike class is the Kawasaki Ninja 400 which is a combination of the best bits of both the Yamaha R3 and KTM RC390.

The 399cc parallel-twin pushes out a useful 44 horses, which is the same as the KTM and around 3 more than the Yamaha, while it weighs 370 pounds, more than the KTM but on a par with the Yamaha.

With top marks for build quality and reliability, the Ninja 400 is, again like the Yamaha and KTM, so easy to live with but exciting at the same time, with big-bike character and comfort, refinement, great performance (119mph top speed) and great looks.

Perhaps the performance is on the limit for a single front disc but how many riders are going to be pushing it that hard all the time anyway? Brilliant handling but the suspension is supple enough to soak up bumpy roads.

There really is nothing to choose between the R3, RC390, and Ninja 400 so pick a color that matches the rest of your garage!

Engine Parallel twin-cylinder
Displacement 399cc
Power 44 horsepower
Torque 27.3 pound-feet
Weight 370.3 pounds

Kawasaki Ninja 650 - $8,299

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Quite a jump in price from the Ninja 400 and its immediate rivals, the Ninja 650 is similar in that it is a toned-down sports bike, this time in the 600cc class. It is nowhere near as frantic and hardcore than the ZX-6R, the Ninja 650 marries the best of both worlds: comfort and perfectly adequate performance and chassis dynamics.

The 650cc parallel-twin engine pushes out a useful 67.3 horsepower which the chassis and suspension can cope with adequately although the overall package feels a lot softer than the Ninja 400 and certainly nowhere near the ZX-6R.

This is to its advantage as it’s a superbly accessible bike with just enough of everything to prevent you from feeling short-changed. The riding position is a little cramped and the seat is hard but if you are after a fun and engaging middleweight motorcycle with the looks of a full-on sports bike, Kawasaki build and engineering quality, and better performance than the 400, then the Ninja 650 is a very good choice.

Engine Parallel twin-cylinder
Displacement 649cc
Power 67.3 horsepower
Torque 48.4 pound-feet
Weight 425 pounds

Yamaha R7 - $8,999

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Once upon a time, the 600cc supersports class was filled with models from all the Japanese manufacturers, but now only Kawasaki plays in that field with the ZX-6R. After a hiatus, the 600-700cc class is enjoying a resurgence but not with hardcore sports bikes, more ‘hybrid’ models that have much less frenetic, jewel-like mechanicals but are still dressed like full-on sports bikes.

The Yamaha R7 exemplifies this perfectly. It could be seen as either a model for sports bike riders who have got too old to fold themselves comfortably into an uncompromising liter sports bike, with its blistering performance, or a machine for the younger sports bike fan, who is using it as a stepping stone to something larger.

The new R7, with its MT-07-derived parallel twin-engine, is the perfect illustration that power isn’t everything. A fantastic chassis will give you all the thrills you could ever need, it’s comfortable, very good looking and well built, and, most important of all, affordable.

It might not have the highest specification but the performance is on the right side of safe. To not need endless rider aids chiming in when you get too enthusiastic with the throttle is to enhance the purity of the riding experience.

The riding position is halfway between a naked bike and a full-on superbike, which is just one more compromise that makes the R7 so accessible to so many riders. With enough of everything to satisfy expert and novice alike, the joy of the R7 is in winding it up and carrying plenty of corner speed, something the chassis and suspension set-up permits. You always feel as if you are riding the R7, not the R7 taking you for a ride.

Engine Parallel twin-cylinder
Displacement 689cc
Power 72 horsepower
Torque 49 pound-feet
Weight 414 pounds

Kawasaki Z900 - $9,199

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Yet another Kawasaki (and not the last!), this is a completely different proposition from any of the others on this list. First of all, it’s a naked sports bike but, unlike other nakeds, it wasn’t developed from a faired sports bike but as a naked from the outset.

The Z900 is the first four-cylinder bike on this list (and one of only three). Don’t get it confused with the Z900SE, which is the full retro-flavored model. It often gets overlooked next to rivals from Triumph and Yamaha which is a shame as it is smooth, refined, well-balanced, and ticks all the right emotional boxes on the road or track.

What you have to remember with these ‘budget’ bikes is that they might not be as glamorous as super naked such as the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Triumph Speed Triple 1200RS, or Ducati V4 Streetfighter, but, in terms of real-world performance, they give very little away and can often be much nice to live with on a day-to-day basis, while costing a ton less money.

Gone are the days of gutless Japanese four-cylinder engines: the 948cc engine in the Z900 is full of fruity punch, negating the need for an infinite number of gear changes every time you want to get anywhere. It could just be one of Kawasaki’s best engines: full of character and usable power.

Whether you like the looks is a matter of personal choice but what can’t be denied is that, in terms of engine, suspension, chassis, performance, and handling, the Z900 is a great all-round package with a comfortable riding position.

Engine In-line four-cylinder
Displacement 948cc
Power 124 horsepower
Torque 73 pound-feet
Weight 462 pounds

Yamaha MT-09 - $9,499

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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Yamaha has taken a completely different route to the Kawasaki Z900 to get to the same destination which is fantastic as now you have a choice of two extremely capable sub-$10,000 naked sports bikes to choose from with completely different flavors.

Thoroughly upgraded for 2022, the MT-09 is lighter, more powerful, and more appealing than ever, as long as you don’t look at the headlight treatment too often: the whole bike has a chunky handsomeness to it which is let down by the front end, although some will like it.

The good thing about the MT-09 is that obvious rivals, such as the Triumph Street Triple or KTM 890 Duke R are significantly more expensive, and, while they might on paper be more desirable, in reality, the Yamaha gives very little away to either, while managing to be civilized.

Like the Triumph, the MT-09 has a triple-cylinder engine with so much character and just about enough power and torque. Traction, slide, and wheelie control are provided by a six-axis IMU, which also allows for cornering ABS.

As with all nakeds, a much more relaxed riding position than an out-and-out sports bike but losing nothing of the fun.

Engine In-line triple-cylinder
Displacement 889cc
Power 117 horsepower
Torque 67 pound-feet
Weight 416 pounds

Honda CBR650R- $9,799

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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The CBR650R is another brilliant compromise bike for those for whom a full-on race-replica sports bike is just too extreme. Bikes such as the Honda CBR650R are sports bikes for the real world, when you might just as easily be heading to the shops as for the race track.

Yes, it’s softer than a CBR1000RR Fireblade, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! Practical, with plenty of alluring character (which isn’t something you can always say about Hondas), it will blow away the cobwebs on the open road with brilliant chassis and great suspension set-up by Showa as well as potter around town without complaint.

It has the typical Honda build quality, although it’s not the best-equipped bike in this class and the seat can get uncomfortable after an hour or so but, also typical Honda, it’s super-easy to get to know and live with.

Engine In-line four-cylinder
Displacement 649cc
Power 94 horsepower
Torque 46.5 pound-feet
Weight 456 pounds

Kawasaki ZX-6R- $10,499

Top 10 Sports Bikes To Buy Under $10,000 in 2022
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I know it’s slightly over the $10,000 limit for this piece, but you might just be able to haggle with the dealer and bring the price down.

But, the ZX-6R just has to be in this list as the one and only Supersport model available from any manufacturer at the moment. It is hard, uncompromising, uncomfortable, requiring the skills of a Schwantz or Hayden to get the best out of it, blisteringly fast and brilliantly dynamic, this is a bike for the experts: the sort of bike the Japanese used to build and sell in their droves before their core market got too old to fold arthritic bones into a tucked position.

It will corner as if on rails, the engine will rev into the stratosphere, the chassis is top-spec, as are the electronics and, to top it all off, it’s well built and (relatively) inexpensive.

This is a bike for the right day, when you’re in the right mood but, when the day is right and so are you, there is little that will thrill as much as this lightweight rocket as it screams up through the revs and you pitch into the first corner.

Should possibly come with a government warning!

Engine In-line four-cylinder
Displacement 636cc
Power 128 horsepower
Torque 52 pound-feet
Weight 432 pounds

FAQs

What is the best sport bike of 2022?

The best sports bike of 2022 is the one you can afford! But seriously, there is such a wide choice and there is something for every pocket. Also, liter-superbikes are enormously fast and need a lot of skill to get the best out of them and are really only at their best on track, whereas smaller-displacement sports bikes can be just as much fun without the guarantee of hurting yourself badly when it all goes wrong.

Which bike is best for sports?

All the manufacturers have a sports bike in their range. The best small sports bike is the Yamaha YZF-R3, while the best large sports bike has to be the Ducati Panigale V4S.

Which is the No 1 sports bike in the world?

In terms of sales, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 comes out on top.

Which is the best sports bike to buy in 2021?

How deep are your pockets? The best sports bike is purely subjective and most of them will have way more performance than you could safely use. But, if you want an answer, then the Ducati Panigale V4S is the best.

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
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