Sport bikes sit at the top of the motorcycle pyramid — they offer the best performance, handling, and technology. However, the best sport bikes, like the Ducati Superleggera V4 or the Yamaha YZF-R1, are not suited for everyday use, and they can cost you (and your best friend) an arm and a leg.
Superbikes make sense in specific cases, but for most bikers, they are overkill. When did you last go 200 mph on the highway, anyway?
In this case, you can look at sport bikes under $10,000 — affordable and potent enough for a fun time. Don’t mistake these bikes for cheap, low-quality products with poor handling and performance. You won’t feel like you are missing out on anything with these bikes except for top speed. The best sport bikes under $10,000 are fast enough for the road, offer excellent handling, and have some high-end components — all for the price of a used car!
10 Suzuki GSX250R: From $4,999
The Suzuki GSX250R may not be the most cutting-edge sport bike under $10,000, but it is a reliable, approachable motorcycle that is super easy to live with, especially for beginners. Think of this bike as a bare-basics beginner-class sport bike with stylish fairing inspired by its bigger siblings, comfortable ergonomics, low seat height, and a peppy yet unintimidating engine. But unlike many beginner bikes, this one does not look like a compromise in terms of its style. You won’t feel like a peasant when riding this with your superbike buddies. And did we mention that this bike has insanely good fuel economy?
9 Yamaha YZF-R3: From $5,299
The Yamaha YZF-R1 has been one of the ultimate poster bikes for years, so if you are a new rider with an R1 poster hanging in your bedroom, nothing will suit you better than the Yamaha YZF-R3. This peppy beginner-friendly sport bike bleeds just as blue as the R1 but in a much smaller package. The off-set twin-cylinder engine revs past 12,500 rpm, producing enough oomph to keep you entertained while being manageable at low speeds. The chassis and suspension balance performance and comfort quite well, too. And this is one head-turner of a sub-400cc bike. It’s the bike for new riders who want something they can grow into.
The Yamaha R3 takes a committed approach to beginner-class motorcycles, but the Kawasaki Ninja 400 takes it one step further by being a perfect midway point between beginner motorcycles and middle-weight supersport. The Ninja 400 offers a large 399cc twin-cylinder engine that is smooth and powerful, and the handling and performance live up to the Ninja legacy. It is an approachable sub-400cc motorcycle that will entertain even experienced riders. And it can be turned into a terrific track bike with minor modifications — no wonder it is the go-to choice for the Supersport 300 World Championship.
7 CFMoto 450SS: From $5,499
Chinese motorcycles have a poor reputation in the States, but if there’s one Chinese motorcycle you should never underestimate, it’s the CFMoto 450SS. This little sport bike is unlike other Chinese bikes — it is high quality, from welds to buttons and everything in between. It is almost as good as its Japanese competitors. But the highlight of this bike is the excellent power-to-weight ratio and the potent engine that manages 50 horses at 9500 rpm. This motorcycle essentially redefines bang for your buck — aggressive, affordable, and stylish — all at a juicy price tag of only $5,499.
6 KTM RC 390: From $5,899
Enough with small-capacity motorcycles geared toward beginners, and let’s talk about the KTM RC 390, a sub-400cc sport bike for experienced riders. The little sibling of the RC 8C is nothing short of a race bike, except for its engine. The bike’s trellis chassis with a bolt-on subframe is agile, the WP Apex suspension gives it excellent composure, and the 373.27cc engine has enough grunt to keep up slightly bigger bikes. And it comes with terrific high-end features like a quick-shifter, ride-by-wire, radially mounted brakes, adjustable clip-ons, and a TFT display. The track is where this bike comes into its own — it is a cheap way to have fun on the track without feeling compromised.
5 Honda CBR500R: From $7,299
Shot of a red Honda CBR500R amid the mountains
Things start to get serious when the Honda CBR500R comes into play. It features the excellent 471cc parallel-twin engine that produces enough power and torque, making this sport bike something that no one can complain about. Yes, it’s not the fastest, most agile, or high-tech, but in true Honda fashion, the CBR500R is a mature motorcycle. If you want a motorcycle that can do it all — from urban commutes to occasional highway rides, sprinkled with some track days in between — the CBR500R is the one for you.
The 649cc parallel twin Kawasaki engine has been used for many years, but in the Ninja 650, it feels like home. The current Ninja 650 fixes the flaws of the older Ninja 650s, making this bike a capable sport bike that doubles as a sports tourer, a commuter, and a track bike. Don’t expect it to be as civil as the CBR500R, though — the light chassis, responsive handling, and a perky engine with a flat torque curve make this 650 an exciting bike to ride. This one does not rev like a supersport but is fun enough to indulge in some hooliganism that your lawyer might not approve of. It’s a far cry from its predecessors and worth every penny you spend on it.
3 Yamaha YZF-R7: From $9,199
The Yamaha YZF-R7 may not be the most expensive bike on the list, but it is hands-down the best bike and a future classic in all rights. The R7 is a full-spec homologation supertwin from Yamaha with a MotoGP-inspired design, and MT-07’s agile chassis and CP2 energetic engine. But just how good is it? The R7 is more flickable than the R6 while being light, slim, and versatile. Whether you ride it on the track or on the streets, Yamaha has nailed the formula with the YZF-R7, making it one of the best sportbikes you can buy right now, not just under $10,000 but for any budget. It proves you don’t need ludicrous power to have fun.
2 Kawasaki ZX-4RR: From $9,699
If you are a fan of the old small capacity inline-fours but want modern tech with it, or just want something with a small engine but explosive performance — the Kawasaki ZX-4RR is here to grab your attention (and money). This 400cc screamer produces 75.9 horsepower and revs up to 15,000 rpm, which gives this bike a top speed of 157 mph! And it comes with all the high-end components that make a superbike, like extensive rider aids, 3-stage traction control, Showa suspension, Brembo brakes, and a quick shifter. The ZX4RR is a superbike with a small engine, but it comes at a cost; at just under $10,000, this bike is more expensive than the Kawasaki Z900.
1 Honda CBR650R: From $9,899
If you want your sport bike under $10,000 to be high-revving, four-cylinder, and still accessible, the updated Honda CBR650R will make you drool. The inline-four 649cc engine has enough midrange torque and an exciting top-end to make you feel like you are riding a supersport — almost. The design is also sporty and handling sharp, but it does not compromise on ergonomics — it is a comfortable bike even on long tours. The CBR650R sits in the sweet spot between street bikes with fairings and true supersports — it strikes the delicate balance that lets you own a sweet-sounding four-cylinder bike that will not give you back problems whenever you take it out. Don’t forget to slap on a full-system exhaust on this — it sounds sweet.