Some people feel a lot more alive when riding a motorcycle than when driving a car. The open nature of riding gives a sensation that many can refer to as a feeling of absolute freedom. Some adore the joy of burning the asphalt like the popular bike of the Ghost Rider.
Others develop a sense of belonging to the Hells Angels, Outlaws, and other prominent motorcycle clubs. Whatever your reason is, a motorcycle can give experience and pleasure no luxury car, or truck can ever give. And in case you’re one of those wondering what constitutes the best brands of two-wheeled wonders, I am here to give you ten.
When it comes to the best or the most outstanding motorcycle brands of all time, you should consider brands from all parts of the world. What may sound funny about it is that many of the brands that one set of riders would consider the best is what other people have scarcely heard of.
There are chances that you’ve heard of many brands on this list and you might even have one of them. It is also certain that you will look at some of the brands and start scratching your head not knowing where the names are from.
You should know that there is a reason why every brand of motorcycle you see here made it here usually, the brands made it here because they produce products of high quality and performance. Also, most of the brands we have here have been performing well for decades back, though I can say so for some of the brands. To find out more, keep reading.
While there are many reasons to ride, another commitment to make towards becoming a dedicated order is the decision to have your own motorcycle. This is the second commitment after learning how to ride.
Assuming you have learned your basics of riding decked yourself out in safety gear, now you are left alone with the overwhelming task of looking for a bike brand that produces the best products that fit you and your needs. What are the factors you have to consider when choosing a band? Search no more; I have got your question answered in this article.
Let’s go straight into the best brands in the market as of 2020.
The motorcycle equivalent of American muscle cars of the Mustangs and Chevys, Harley-Davidson is one of the most iconic and best motorcycle brands in the industry. They may not appear in MotoGP circuits or any of the racing organizations’ other events but when we talk of conjuring images of a great brand in the world, Harley-Davidson comes first.
This brand is famously known for its standard style that began to gain ground in the 1950s. The HD chopper, with lengthened forks and extreme steering angles, gives a new definition of what custom bikes should be. This is not a racer but for those that go on tours. It is what you would like if you only want to have the rush of wind-fighting against your face while your skin gets sun-drenched along the byways.
There is one more feature that makes Harley Davidson a standout. The brand has an engine roar that no other motorcycle brand will ever try to copy to avoid being called a copycat. This is also what makes them like the characteristic rumble of a V8 engine on the Plymouth Barracuda or the Pontiac GTO, and the manner in which the engine roars is exciting to the ears.
Harley-Davidson’s modest beginnings were in 1903 when Arthur Davidson and William S. Harley built their first motor-bicycle. It came with the design of Harley’s ordinary pedal-bike frame. The first HD (Harley Davidson) motor-bicycle did not perform well when riding uphill. And this motivated the founders to improve their engine.
Through the while, Harley-Davidson had built a reputation that now equates to American ingenuity, high quality, and total freedom on the American asphalt. You should know that this is not an ordinary motorcycle brand, but a lifestyle.
2. Indian Motorcycles
Coming next after Harley-Davidson is Indian Motorcycle. India Motorcycle is probably the most beloved motorcycle brand in the United States. Over the years, they’ve been through many changes. The company actually started in 1901 in Springfield, Massachusetts. They built their motorcycles there until 1953.
For many years, people wanted to buy virtually any product they came across stamped with the Indian name. This was so because it had gone far to become a staple of American culture and had stopped production for a good number of years. Finally, Honda made the decision to resurrect the Indian name and went into the production of motorcycles under the name once again.
To this moment, a lot of people who are loyal to Indian Motorcycles still want to have one of the original brand’s products and not the product they consider to be produced by a rebranded Honda. However, other people are just okay to know that motorcycles are again produced with the Indian name on them.
Ducati may not have the unique engine roar of the Harley-Davidson, but Ducati motorcycles are unique on their own. In a few words, Ducati is known to motorcycles as Ferrari is known to cars. One thing we must add is that Ducati is a big motorcycle brand that is never a downgrade whether it runs on highways or on MotoGP tracks. In fact, it is from the same company that manufactures Ferrari’s greatest competitor, Lamborghini. Being under the umbrella organization of Audi, there is also a touch of elegance.
Being a winner of 17 Manufacturers Superbike World Championship and 14 Riders, Ducati’s racing prowess is flawless. The only thing that you may not like about the brand is that the brand so far has just one MotoGP World Championship trophy when Casey Stoner won the trophy in 2007. The brand also prospers greatly in the Formula TT, the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, and the British Superbike Championship.
Like Harley-Davidson, Ducati depends greatly on enthusiast groups to affirm its brand in all parts of the world. Up till now, the brand had more than 20,000 loyal followers in more than 400 Ducati clubs. Many are keen followers, with a focus on the vintage rides that Ducati has been able to produce since 1926.
The company was established by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati in 1926 with the cooperative effort of his 3 sons, he never imagined that the company would become a well-known and respected motorcycle brand. As it stands to be, the company’s aim was to produce just vacuum tubes, condensers, and other radio components.
By mid 19s, the company manufactured its own motorcycle, which was based on the Cucciolo engine design. Today, Ducati is a producer of a variety of motorcycles, which include the Monster, Supersport, Diavel, Hypermotard, Multistrada, and Scrambler.
4. BMW Motorcycle
Coming about 3 years before the establishment of the Ducati, BMW Motorrad had a clear head start when we talk of motorcycle brand domination in Europe. We’ve all seen how BMW Z-series cars race and roar in many J Bond films. What a number of us don’t know is that there is a James Bond film that features a BMW motorcycle, which is the BMW R1200C.
This German product featured some of the structural elements of the classic Harley-Davidson chopper, having lengthened fork and more cool seating. This was why James Bond and Wai Lin had to ride through the occupied streets of Saigon with the R1200C.
Away from Hollywood films, you cannot mistake the identity of a BMW motorcycle. It has one of the most outstanding stylings among motorcycles in the world. Ranging from the flashy C-series maxi-scooters to the sportbike S-series to the parallel twin-engine F-series and everything else in between, BMW products have everything that you will ever ask for from a universal motorcycle brand.
One thing that we still expect the German brand to do is join the MotoGP. It enters the Superbike World Championships and the Dakar Rally. Don’t be surprised to know that BMW Motorrad has bagged the Dakar Rally trophy 6 times? This is a race in unforgiving terrain and weather. That’s to show you how solid the engineering of these bikes is.
For devoted BMW Motorrad lovers, this is not surprising. After all, the band released its first motorcycle in 1923, which featured a flat-twin boxer engine. This power train is what many power plants, automobiles, and light use. Therefore, with such power, you should expect BMW as a force to reckon with in the motorcycle industry. Of course, the brand also presently uses other engine designs.
To dethrone Ducati as Italy’s premier motorcycle brand might not be Aprilia’s immediate goal, but it looks like it is. This Italian brand is well known for starting out small, before going further to reach more strong market segments. Producing scooters and small-capacity motorcycles, Aprilia has established itself as a well-known brand in professional motorcycle racing circuits. That is proof of the brand’s priority for responsive engineering and superior styling.
Aprilia came into the industry in 1945 as a bicycle producer in Noale, Italy. Cavaliere Alberto Beggio, after World War II, came to an end in 1968, established the company in his effort to motivate the restoration processes in Venice. Ivano, Beggio’s son designed and constructed the company’s first motorcycle. This was a 50-cc motorcycle, coming with pedals and giving rise to the moped. As a result, Aprilia is well known for its distinct mopeds – the Packi, Colibri, and Daniela.
The brand came into the professional racing circuit firstly in the 1976 Motocross World Championship, questioning other motorcycle brands in the 125-cc category. In 1985, Aprilia joined the MotoGP and has had a number of successes since then. This brand also has vast experience in the SuperMoto and the Superbike World Championships
The brand may not have a good productive history in the racing circuit. Regardless, it certainly has its own base of loyal followers. Whether it’s a moped, a scooter, or a top-performing sportbike, this is a brand you can always expect to deliver a thrilling ride.
Honda is well known for its automobiles, immerging as the world’s 8th largest automobile manufacturer in 2015. However, many do not know this brand has been producing motorcycles prior to when it began to produce automobiles. Honda produced its first motorcycle, the D-Type, in 1949.
The brand has severally bagged 24 MotoGP World Constructors Championship trophies, making it a motorcycle brand that has grown bounds and leaps over the decades. In 1955, the brand began motorcycle production and this brand has earned a name for itself. 9 years after manufacturing their very first motorcycle, Honda already contended the title of the world’s largest manufacturer of the motorcycle.
In the 1980s, the company had been able to produce almost 3 million motorcycles yearly. That’s to show how their products were demanded. However, by 2006, the company’s output slipped down to half a million unit motorcycles. Nonetheless, their output is still higher than the other Japanese brand in the industry.
The brand ran the transduction of motorcycles. Many of these are a combination of the touring appeal of the Harley-Davidson with the elegant looks of Japanese rival, Yamaha. There are off-road variants, scooters, street motorcycles, and ATVs to satisfy riders’ lust for these types of vehicles.
Taking after their cars, Honda motorcycles come with responsive and sporty handling to ensure a comfortable ride. They are also costlier than Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha. But if you would take time to factor in the quality of their motorcycles, you would discover that this is valuable beyond what you see on the price tag.
Yamaha is one of Japan’s Big motorcycle brands. It is also one of the world’s best motorcycle brands, having won MotoGP Constructors World Championships 14 times with another14 trophies in the Moto2 series. It may not have earned the championship Honda’s accolade, but it is more known than the other two Japanese brands in the industry.
Yamaha Corporation, its parent company, came into existence in 1887. As such, Yamaha is one of the oldest brands on the planet. However, in 1955, its motorcycle division gained its independence as the Yamaha Motor Company.
Under the chairmanship of Genichi Kawakami, the company started a more focused design and production of world-class motorcycles starting with the 125 cc YA-1. The YA-1 has so far proved to be a great product pushing it to as one of the top All Japan Autobike Endurance Road Race. This also gave way for Yamaha to enter into international racing competitions.
Yamaha motorcycles are best known for their sportier handling qualities. These bikes are more fun to ride and are good for challenging unmarked tracks. However, they are not so good for long-distance touring. For that reason, they are quite contrary to Harley-Davidsons’ products.
Yamaha does not only produce motorcycles, but the company also produces scooters, ATVs, motorized bicycles, recreational off-roaders, and many others. If you’re still looking and not sure of what kind of motorcycle you should go for, were sure Yamaha has a product you will love to sit on.
Kawasaki motorcycles may not be well known as Yamaha or Honda even in the land where it is produced, but this is one of the motorcycles that are well known elsewhere around the world. The company is part of a multinational corporation, the Kawasaki Heavy Industries that is distinct in Japan. Kawasaki Heavy Industries was established in 1896 and segregated its motorcycle division in 1949 as the KHI Motorcycle & Engine Division.
Although the brand ’t have a good history in MotoGP, it is not lagging behind when it comes to motorcycle racing technology. It has won 4 crowns in the 350cc division of the MotoGP, and another 4 in Moto2. Also, they succeeded in the Superbike and Endurance World Championships. You can say that there’s still a lot to work on when in the aspect of racing performance.
Streetwise, Kawasaki motorcycles have a different story. Kawasaki is best known for the production of sporty performance bikes. For example, the Ninja ZX-series is famously known for its ultra-narrow structure, low weight, and radial brakes. It is not surprising that the ZX-10R led other motorcycle brands in the Best Superbike plum 2004 and 2005.
One thing you to understand about Kawasaki products is that their performance on the track is trickled down onto the world’s highways and streets. These motorcycles are built to race. Thus, they’re promising for someone who would want to unleash the racer spirit.
If you’ve come across the SV650X, you’ll understand that its maker is among the world’s best. The SV is built with a café racer look that has gained the interest of both car enthusiasts and the motorcycle-riding public. It is among the best starter bikes in the market, finished with race-spec features.
Don’t be tricked by its powerful look. This is a product that is fun to take on rides regardless of your skill level. This is strong proof that Suzuki clear understands modern motorcycle technology and design.
Suzuki, from its humble outsets as a producer of weaving looms in Japan, has risen to become one of the most respected motorcycle brands in the world. Since 1909, the brand only has been focusing on weaving looms. However, by 1937, they already started experimenting with cars.
15 years after the Second World War, the company released its first motorized bicycle to the market. In the early 1970s, the company started the production of the GT750 Le Mans, a triple-cylinder, 2-stroke 2-wheeled marvel. However, by the mid-1970s, the company started its four-stroke machines with the GS-series. From this starting point, the company manufactured the GSXR750, the world’s first superbike
Suzuki manufactures some of the most remarkable motorcycles in the world. They have produced power bikes and scooters to meet the needs of the motorcycle-riding community. And while it owns a competing record in the MotoGP championships race as Honda and Yamaha, Suzuki has bagged 7 World Constructors Championship in the premier class.
10. KTM Motorcycles
In 1934, KTM, an Austrian motorcycle brand, had humbly begun as an upstart auto repair shop. In 1937, Johann Trunkenpotz began the production of motorcycles from DKW. And by 1951, Trunkenpotz began the design and production of the R100, which was his own motorcycle. From 1953 down to 1991, the company had designed and manufactured different scooters and motorcycles that people love for the cool ride that they offer.
However, starting in the 1990s, KTM followed a different direction. The company experienced a significant rebranding in 1992 and focused on improving its off-road performance power bikes. Thus, the company is now famously known for off-road bikes with those used in Enduro, Motocross, and Supermoto series not left out.
In fact, when we are talking of sportbikes, KTM has become a brand you must talk of. Their road bikes are capable of driving through bends with ease and without you feeling unsettled. KTM is best known for its production of racing motorcycles, off-roaders, and dirt bikes that are the speed devil.
Triumph is one of the brands with good histories in the world. The company was established in 1902 and has since been producing high-performing and high-quality motorcycles for riders all around the world to use and enjoy. A good number of these early-20 century motorcycles are now collector’s commodities and they are not going to stop running.
Triumph, in World War I, contributed to the Allied force by supplying them with about 30,000 bikes. During the Second World War and through to the reconstruction in the 1950s, the company didn’t stop forging ahead. What brought the company under the limelight of international fame was in the film “The Wild Ones” released in 1953, where Marlon Brando rode Triumphs 1950 Thunderbird 6T.
Triumph had a change of leadership but that didn’t stop them from remaining one of the world’s and Great Britain’s finest motorcycle manufacturers. They’ve produced motorcycles that are identical to Harleys in terms of design and functionality. And if you happen to be the speed-demon type, you will find what fits you, too.
Choosing the right motorcycle to ride depends on many factors. These include your rider experience as well as how you plan to use the motorcycle. You should have fewer challenges to choose if you have got a clear idea of what you need.
Founded in 1997, Victory is an American motorcycle company. The company’s introduction to the American chopper market was a threat to Harley’s domination. Surprisingly to their fans, the company stopped production in 2017, 20 years after coming into the market.
The brand has a longer history than some of the market leaders because of the history of innovations made, leaving many others just as followers. The major strive in the process of innovation was largely performance-oriented and happened mainly in the last decade, a huge demand also arose in the aspect of safety.
Yinxiang was founded in 1997 as a motorcycle brand of Yinxiang Group. As an industrial organization based in Chongqing, China, the company specializes in real estate and research, manufacturing, and sales of gasoline engines, motorcycles, and general-purpose equipment and engines.
Xianfeng Motorcycle is a branch of Yinxiang. Founded in December 2001, the company was in 2005 acquired by Yingxiang.
The company is located at Dayan Industry Zone, Chongqing, China. They have employed over 10,000 workers comprising 100 technical engineers and personnel. They own a modern and standard workshop of about 8,000 square meters.
Since they released their first motorcycle, they have increased in output and sales by a wide margin following the fast expansion of the market. They already have two advanced motorcycle assembly factories, a packing factory, and a good number of intelligent testing equipment, which produce 100,000 two-wheel motorcycles as well as 20,000 three-wheel motorcycles every year.
In the year 2002, Chongqing Xianfeng Motorcycle Co. Ltd went into a strategic co-investment withstand Korwith and TAR Industry Company and Korea Hyosung Machinery Company in its effort to give birth to Chongqing Hyosung Motorcycle Co. Ltd. This leads to the establishment of the brand’s Chinese Hyosung series motorcycles which include about 10 types of recently developed world-class motorcycles.
The Hyosung series adopted the use of four recently developed devices of the advanced technical standard going by the world standard.
The company has produced products covering over a hundred categories of vehicles, which include mopeds, scooters, dirt bikes, ATV, three-wheelers, and engines with displacement, varying from 50 cc to 250 cc. All the company’s products have qualified for ISO9001 certification.
On the 27th of March 2003, Xianfeng Motorcycle became the holder of Guinness Mountain Climbing Motorcycle in the world, as conducted by the China Climbing Club, and got recognized by Guinness World Record.
The company has earned the China Quality certification CQC and CCC, which are to be obtained before the sales of any motorcycles can be granted in the Chinese market. They presently have over 2,000 dealers servicing and selling Xianfeng Motorcycles in China.
14. Hero MotoCorp
Hero Motocorp Ltd. is a company formerly known as Hero Honda. The company is a maker of Indian motorcycles and scooters, having its base in New Delhi, India. Hero Motocorp is the biggest manufacturer of two-wheelers in India as well as in the whole world. In India, it owns a market share of around 46% in the two-wheeler category.
In 2006, Forbes ranked Hero Honda Motors no. 108 in the 200 World’s Most Respected Companies. As of 31 March 2013, the company’s market capitalization was US$4.3 billion).
Hero Honda launched into operations in 1984 as a joint venture with Hero Cycles (also called Hero Group) of India and Honda of Japan. In 2010, Honda decided to disengage itself from the joint venture and paid for the shares held by Honda.
In June 2012, Hero MotoCorp made the decision to merge the automaker with the investment part of its parent Hero Investment Pvt. Ltd. This decision was coming one and a half years after it split from Hero Honda.
The Munjal brothers adopted the brand “Hero” for their flagship company, Hero Cycles Ltd. Hero Cycle is a joint investment between Honda Motor Company and the Hero Group which was founded in 1984 with the name “Hero Honda Motors Limited at Dharuhera”, located in India. Honda group and the Munjal family jointly had a 26% stake in the Company.
Mahindra India has a total of 5 motorcycles. Among these is the 0 Mahindra, which is an upcoming, as well as 5 new Mahindra bikes. Mahindra bike models list in the country includes 2 commuter bikes, 2 scooters, 1 sports bike. A few of the famous Mahindra motorcycles in India are Mahindra Mojo, Mahindra Centuro, Mahindra Centuro Rockstar, Mahindra Gusto, Mahindra Gusto 125.
In February 2020, Mahindra offers a total of 1842 dealerships scattered over 921 cities in India. To have an in-depth understanding of the brand, go through Mahindra’s price in India and also find out Mahindra’s on-road price, search and read Mahindra bike reviews, have a comparison of Mahindra bikes online with other brands bikes.
In 2008, MTWL (Mahindra Two Wheelers Limited) was founded after Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, its parent company, obtained selected assets from Kinetic Engineering. The company headquarters is in Pune, Maharashtra is a venture under M&M and is best known for producing motorcycles and scooters.
To its scooter line-up, MTWL partnered with Nanyang Industry Company (SYM), a Taiwan based, and Engines Engineering, an Italy-based. This provides product design and research-based support. The company owns a production unit at Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh as well as a research & development center at Chinchwad, located in Pune. Mahindra Two Wheeler released its first two scooter models, Duro and Rodeo in September 2009.
MTWL became the first Indian company to take part in FIM Moto3, Motorcycle Racing Championship in 2011. Mahindra Two Wheelers released Centuro, one of its significant categories in the 110cc bike segment in July 2013 followed by Mojo, its game-changing model, in 2015.
What to Watch Out For in Motorcycle Brands
Since bike manufacturers now produce a number of motorcycle genres, the first step you should take is to look for a brand that produces your type of motorcycle. What differentiates most brands is the bike is good on-road, off-road or if the bike is a dual, purpose one.
When you are through with that phase, you are still left with a long list of motorcycles. If you have a particle area in mind, your search may be made easy as you have a shorter list of motorcycle brands. For instance, If your passion is towards a particular area, let’s say cruisers, you may be equivocating between touring cruisers and power cruisers.
Your search should eventually bring you to a motorcycle brand that fits your interests and needs, but it might require some thorough searching to know which fits you the best. The rider triangle (the relationship between the wrists, legs, and hips) powerfully influences your long-term rider comfort.
To make sure a motorcycle is ergonomically desirable with a rider’s body is more complicated than it might generally sound. Yes, you can sit on a motorcycle at a dealer shop or even decide to take it for a test ride within the dealer’s vicinity. But sometimes, what feels comfortable and pleasing at first might turn out to be boring or painful, when taken on a long ride; the subject is so complex that there are even websites based on the art of comparing body types to motorcycle geometries.
Consider a motorcycle brand’s ergonomics before you consider buying any of its products. Also, try to visualize yourself aboard the saddle for a long period of time: is your weight resting extremely on your wrists (which let them feel sore through the journey)? Is your knee bending far than necessary? Are the handlebars far for your arms? Be honest in answering these questions and accurately evaluating the long-term effects of the brand.
It can involve guesswork (stopping an extended test ride on a bike you’re considering), but finding your optimum physical match ensures long-term satisfaction with your new bike.
Motorcycle seat height is another crucial factor to consider when buying a bike, but don’t expect the seat should let you flat-foot at traffic lights to be in control of a motorcycle.
The topic of seat height is closely related to the ergonomics issue (especially if you are a shorter person). As a matter of fact, women are a big issue in this aspect that some bike manufacturers are specifically producing motorcycles with low saddle heights for the benefit of women. Regardless of your gender, you should consider the finer points of saddle altitude.
The Bike’s Wind Protection
Windshields aren’t restricted to only touring bikes. Also, another subject closely related to ergonomics is the subject of wind protection.
While naked motorcycles are charming in their design aesthetic and exposure, the fact that they lack a fairing or wind deflector implies you may find them miserable on long rides, and the elements may beat down on you, which can eventually be unexpectedly fatiguing.
If your plan is to ride for a long period of time or through harsh weather, you should seriously consider looking for a motorcycle brand that produces products with a fairing.
Saddlebags are in all shapes and sizes, and some even collapse or expand that they don’t provide enough space than they need to.
Yes, motorcycles’ beauty lies in their simplicity of lightweight as well as their stripped-down design. But their beauty is also extended to escape and freedom and one of the best means to go about it is to journey with a small personal commodity in a saddlebag or a top case. If you are into long-distance riding, think of having a bike that comes with saddlebags, or one that is at least capable to get fitted with a set.
Anti-lock brakes and traction control are now commonplace on motorcycles, and a safety net on a bike is to choose a bike that comes with electronic aids, especially if you are planning on riding in wet weather. And if you are a purist who derives pride in not depending on technology, consider the fact that most traction and ABS systems can get disabled just at the touch of a button.
Style of the Motorcycle
What is the point of going for motorcycles that aren’t head-turning sexy?
Style is a big reason many get into riding in the first place, and a notable factor when in your choice of bikes. Since each rider has a unique style, my recommendation is that you should choose a motorcycle that’s good-looking.
Control of Sound Pollution
One brand that does well in this area is Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson derives pride in their Potato-Potato exhaust note for which they once sued a Japanese manufacturer for copying the signature sound.
Motorcycles often attract the wrong attention when they produce unnecessary noise pollution, but there’s a big disparity between loud pipes and a mellow with a pleasing exhaust tone. Go with your ears and your eyes when looking for a bike; after all, you can derive much enjoyment in the whine of an inline-4 or burble of v-twin as there is in the thrill that comes with riding.
Why do monetary issues almost come last on the list of what to consider when looking for a motorcycle? Because motorcycles are usually passion purchases, you’re likely to not make a cash-conscious purchase, but instead, spend a few additional cash to purchase a bike that pleases you. Truly, most of us have our limits when budgeting for a motorcycle, but if there is a means to buy something outstanding, you have no reason not to go broke and indulge.
The truth be told, most riders couldn’t neglect the fuel economy. But you would be absolutely wrong to conclude that all bikes are gas sippers, especially when talking of big-bore engines. Knowing that there’s a big potential for fuel savings when you make the right bike purchase suggests that it’s worth seriously considering MPG figures before you commit to a ride.
Thanks for reading this piece. I believe it has been productive in showing you the best brands in the industry and that you now know what to expect from each brand.
Always remember my recommendation: The safety of other road users is your safety. So, always consider them first each time you have to take any action, whether major or minor. I wish you a safe trip each time you get on your saddle. Stay here with me for the next post.