We like to produce lots of “Top 5″ lists. But occasionally we shut up and listen to our readers about what’s best and why. A couple of weeks ago, Editor Adam Waheed posed the question to our US audience on the MotorcyclistMag Facebook page: “What’s the most fun motorcycle to ride?” Thankfully, lots of you answered.
Some of you got philosophical. “The first bike you ever owned. All other bikes after that are you chasing the vibe” was Thomas DeLoriea’s answer. That’s a cold fact. Nothing on earth makes me feel like my Yamaha 125 scooter when I was 16 and sneaking out of my parents’ house. Michael King echoed many with the simple observation, “Most fun? The one you’re on!”
The Motorcyclist staff pick (according to Waheed) was the Suzuki Hayabusa. But our readers are rich with opinions. Two-stroke nods went to the classic Yamaha RD350, with the Aprilia RS 250 and Suzuki RGV250 also mentioned. Classic Harley-Davidsons got a few nominations, of course.
Not many weighed in with adventure bike options, though. Same thing with off-road bikes. Guess they’re too busy hitting fire roads in Oregon. But a couple of bikes got more than a few mentions. Here’s the top five fun motorcycles to ride, as picked by faithful Motorcyclist readers who like to comment on Facebook.
As subtle as a barrelful of monkeys on meth. The Kawasaki ZX-14 R.
In hindsight, this is kind of a no-brainer. There’s hardly a better way to threaten life and limb on two wheels. Kawasaki’s ZX-14 has existed since 2006, with the ZX-14R joining the party in 2012 with traction control and a slipper clutch. Our Cycle World comrades got a 0–60 mph time of 2.6 seconds. Couple this with Kawasaki’s long-held commitment to maximum horsepower per dollar and you’ve got a consensus pick. More people going very fast makes a motorcycle even faster, right? As Steven Livingston put it, “Banging open the throttle on something terrifyingly fast (in the best way possible) is awful hard to beat. I got a ZX-14.”
Ducati is hardly a value-based brand, but the Streetfighter V2 got quite a few nods. Not the new 2022 Streetfighter V4 variant, nor the Panigale V4 from 2018. Readers specifically called out the V2, and who can blame them? More than 50 years of 90-degree V-twin development speaks for itself, with Fabio Taglioni’s belt-driven Pantah 500 providing a template for the next 40-plus years of Ducati powerplants. The Streetfighter V2 is more of a concept than anything. While 2009–2012 Streetfighter V2 owners had a 1,099cc powerplant to work with, newer Streetfighter V2 owners track into the middleweight camp, with 848cc and 955cc mills. And while the V4 has supplanted the V2 atop the Ducati pecking order, the idea is unchanged. Supersports and Panigales are sleek, ideal trackday weapons. But the Streetfighter stands tall and lets you punch the wind right back. Unless you earn a living shaving seconds off lap times, the Streetfighter is your canyon carver.
Fans of Aprilia weren’t shy about chiming in. While some mentioned the twin-cylinder MXV 450 dirt bike (notoriously banned by the AMA), more votes went to the Aprilia Tuono, mostly in V4 form. Around since 2011, the Tuono V4R succeeded the V2 variant (still produced through 2012) with a brand-new 1,000cc 65-degree V-4 engine, along with traction, wheelie, and launch control. While some readers have been seduced by the sport-oriented RSV4, most seem to love the semi-naked Tuono. As Chris Smith commented, “That V4 just sings a song few will get to hear or understand.” Like music or art, the love of motorcycles is a completely subjective expression of feeling. But imagine Napalm Death covering Wagner’s later operas. We get it, Tuono lovers.
Aprilia RSV Tuono
In Star Wars movies, people talk a lot about the Force. But they mostly use laser guns. The Triumph Thruxton is that laser gun. It’s a classic parallel-twin 865cc or 1,200cc engine in a traditional tubular steel cradle frame. Named after the notoriously fast British Thruxton circuit near Southampton, the original Thruxton Bonneville dates to 1965 as a homologation special for British endurance racers. History aside, it’s an unapologetic classic. Traditional British soul meets go-fast bits and better metallurgy than anything that ever came out of Meriden. AHRMA (the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) still runs a Thruxton Cup, dating to 2005. Notoriously sharp-elbowed and quick to protest, they race hard and reportedly follow the rule book in “innovative” ways. If that’s not racing pedigree, we’re not sure what is.
KTM likes to refer to the 1290 Super Duke as “The Beast.” Are you going to let some Austrians nickname your bike for you? Of course not. Let’s call the Super Duke a “Howitzer on skates.” The Super Duke concept dates to 2003, starting with Gerald Kiska’s design of the 990 Super Duke, made from 2005 to 2013. The legendary LC8 motor pulls double duty for the 1290 Super Adventure R and S series, and is one of the few remaining performance V-twin engines left in a motorcycle landscape increasingly populated by parallel twins. With the right Power Commander, the throttle becomes a trigger, letting you disappear whatever landscape’s in front of you. Terrifying, but is it fun? Sure is. Super Duke owner Joseph Aaron DiGloria puts it succinctly; “You know I’m right because you all said, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that bike.’”