While burying the speedometer deep into the triple digits in a car is exciting (and something you should only do on a track…obviously…), doing the same thing on a motorcycle ratchets the excitement up exponentially. And going wide-open on a street bike? Even more knuckle-bleaching, as the big-inch engine bellows between your legs and the avalanche of angry air – undiluted by a full fairing – attempts to throw you off the bike and throw the bike off the pavement.
Here are 20 two-wheeled tarmac scorchers guaranteed to thrill.
If you had to pick just one machine that captures the essence of the streetbike movement, you can’t do much better than Ducati’s Streetfighter S. With a booming 1099cc twin and naked GP racer looks, this 155hp brawler gets up and goes, which is no surprise considering it only weighs 368 lb. dry.
Although Honda arguably invented the streetbike segment with the 1969 CB750K0, it has spent much of recent history on the sidelines. That changed this year with the introduction of the CB1000R, a naked all-rounder powered by a 998cc inline-four. It might pack “only” 124hp, but thanks to an innovative gravity die-cast aluminum frame, this hot rod Honda is light enough to go, stop and corner with some real superstars.
Like Ducati, MV Agusta is an Italian company with a rich competition history. Also like Duc, it produces an over-a-liter street beast called the Brutale 1090RR. And brutal it is, with a 1078cc 16-valve four putting down 144hp through a slipper clutch and a top speed of 164.5 mph. All that performance and gorgeous looks? Somebody pinch us.
Want to be able to bring the horizon to you with a twist of the wrist? The Ducati Diavel Carbon might be the bike for the job. It’s a bit chubby at 456 lb., but with 162hp coming from an 1198cc twin that’s just as happy loafing around town as it is zinging up to its 9,500 rpm power peak, that’s kind of a moot point, isn’t it? Plus the looks are pure evil.
While most of the ink and pixels devoted to Suzuki sportbikes are sucked up by the corner-munching GSX-R (“Gixxer” to its friends) range and the speed king Hayabusa, the Big S also makes a big-bore urban pugilist called the Bandit GSF1200. As the name suggests, the powerplant (a twin-cam four-banger) measures 1157cc and features air cooling. Imports to the U.S. ceased after 2005, so you’ll have to look to the used market if you want to saddle up on a big block Bandit.
Italy is not only home to multiple full-fledged motorcycle manufacturers, but also to many small boutique builders. One of these is Vyrus, and its 985 combines a radical hub-steering system with a 155hp 999cc Ducati twin to create a rare, distinctive thoroughbred. A thoroughbred that hits 181 mph at full gallop. Porco Dio…
There are naked bikes, and then there are naked bikes. The Macchia Nera (Italian for “black spot”), produced by tiny NCR, falls into the latter category. The 998cc Ducati twin making 185hp isn’t the big news; no, that honor goes to the Macchia Nera’s dry weight of just 297 lb. Only a handful have been built, which is probably for the best (unless you’re awaiting an organ transplant).
If four valves per cylinder are good, five are better, right? Clearly that was Yamaha’s line of thinking when it designed the 998cc inline-four that propels the FZ1. Yamaha readily admits that this engine is nearly identical to the one in the YZF-R1, though 150hp from a naked bike with a more upright riding position makes for what is in many ways a more visceral riding experience.
Moto Guzzi might not be as widely known as Ducati or even MV Agusta, but its heritage is just as deep and proud. One of the current models that best embodies the Moto Guzzi philosophy is the Griso 1200 8V, with a longitudinally-mounted 1151cc V-twin, shaft drive and muscular styling. That engine doesn’t like to rev sky high, but you won’t care when the scenery is blasting past.
Triumph is an iconic name in the motorcycle world (and has quite a following in the vintage sports car world), and with good reason: It has a long (though not uninterrupted) history of building well-rounded, no-nonsense performance motorcycles. One bike that’s keeping that legacy is the Speed Triple. As the name suggests, it has a three-cylinder engine (1050cc) producing 133hp, and the all-business engineering and aesthetics give it an honest charm not every bike can match.
No mention of the Suzuki B-King, which is still for sale in the EU?
ktm 1290 super duke r??????
B king fastest production street fighter.
Where’s the V-MAX?
where s the b-king.
För snö är väl hojsäsong va?
ala best bikes.
great bikes but I’d like to know about engineers..