Some motorcycles are hits immediately when they’re released. A company manages to find the perfect balance of style, class, performance, and runs with it, and those bikes stay in production for eons.
When you have the perfect blend of a great engine, a phenomenal looking machine, and pure ride-ability, there’s no reason to discontinue something that everyone loves. We’ve got 15 such bikes right here for you. They might be expensive, but they’re worth every penny.
But even legendary motorcycle companies can come out with duds every once in a while. No one’s perfect. Trying something new doesn’t always light a fire under people’s butts like companies might hope. There are 5 duds here that should have never seen the light of day.
Here are 15 bikes worth every dollar, and 5 that aren’t worth the material they were made with.
20 Worth It: Ducati Supermono
The Ducati Supermono was a special release bike of which only 65 were made between 1993 and 1995. So, they’re pretty rare, but they’re also amazing.
Not only do they look super sweet, but it weighed just 267 pounds, and the 572cc four stroke desmodromic 4-valve engine also had extra “dummy” connecting rods to stop vibrations, and a frame with a cantilevered rear shock. It was a “test bed” for World Superbike racers, who would go on to win the World Superbike Championship.
19 Worth It: Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja
The Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja is a legendary bike – there’s no other way to put it. Jalopnik once called it “the amazing superbike that won’t kill you.”
With an unheard-of 207 hp, which is more than many sedans, it was also cheap enough when it comes to gas to make it worth riding around on daily. The newest models are equipped with awesome driving aids, so it might be a bit complex, but it’s all made to harness its amazing power safely.
18 Worth It: Suzuki GSXR 1000
The Suzuki GSXR 1000 is a powerful street bike that has been featured on many “best of” lists. MotorcycleNews.com gave it 5 stars, calling it “sublime” with “lithe ergonomics and handling, radical styling, and full-on usable power.”
When BMW was building their first S1000RR, they got hold of a GSXR 1000 to base the bike on. Anyone who gets an opportunity to ride one should take it in a heartbeat.
17 Not Worth It: Honda C50/C70/C90/C110
All of the Hondas in the early C range were not worth the hassle, such as the C50, C70, C90, and C110. Honda just couldn’t get this bike right. From the onset, it was plagued with problems, which is why it’s ended up on some of the “worst ever” bike lists.
If riders wanted to switch gears quickly, the wheels were prone to locking, making it unsafe. The suspension was also pretty terrible, and the list goes on. Having consistent safety is a key attribute for good bikes though, and this one didn’t have it.
16 Worth It: Moto Guzzi Le Mans
The Moto Guzzi Le Mans is not only a beefy bike, but it’s also pretty amazing looking too. Moto Guzzi, one of the “Italian supercar makers” of the bike world, had a winner on their hands when they released this V-twin powered bike with 80 bhp and a top speed of 120 mph, which was huge in 1976 when it was released.
This café racer had a timeless look, was insanely powerful for its time, and was aptly named after the 24-hour endurance race of Le Mans.
15 Worth It: Triumph Bonneville 790
The Triumph Bonneville 790 is another beautiful bike that rides even better than it looks. Its lines and shape give it a certain chunkiness, but it also looks menacing. It’s a bit tamer than some might expect, but it has power enough to make it the perfect balance of refinement and style.
It’s satisfying to ride, looks great, and is dependable for commuting, cruising, touring, or whatever you want to do. This one pairs perfectly with winding European roads in the countryside.
14 Worth It: Ducati 999R
The Ducati 999R is one of the best bikes Ducati has ever manufactured, and that’s saying something. If you ever get a chance to ride one, take it, because this bike is refined, powerful, and beautiful.
It was not looked well upon when it released, but has since become a cult classic, and Complex.com talks about that transition, saying, “Time has morphed the 999 from clunky to functional, from pudgy to powerful. It’s an affordable modern classic, and there isn’t anything else like it.”
13 Not Worth It: Honda PC800
This bike not only runs pretty terribly, but it also looks bad. It looks like something that Back to the Future would have imagined in the 2020s – futuristic, but in a bland, weak way. It’s not just dated, because a lot of the bikes on this list come from the same era.
Superstreetbike.com put it best, saying, “The Frigidaire White color option was perfectly descriptive of the bike’s appearance – a refrigerator with mirrors and space-age lighting.”
12 Worth It: Honda GL1000 Gold Wing
Speaking of bikes from an older era that are still stunning, we give you the Honda GL1000 Gold Wing. For everything Honda got wrong with the PC800, they got right with this one.
It’s comfortable, effortlessly stylish, has plenty of room for customization, and powerful. The horizontally-opposed flat four keeps weight low, giving it a sweet layout, and this is truly an icon of the motorcycling world.
11 Worth It: Harley-Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention at least one Harley-Davidson on the list of best bikes worth every dollar. The FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide is one of the best Harleys ever made.
It was longer than ever when first introduced in 1993, featured Tommy Gun 2-1-2- exhausts, had an intimidating chopped rear fender, and could just glide and slide like the best of them. Harley had to give away the Dyna platform in 2017 to make way for the redesigned Softail line, but this is one that people will never forget.
10 Worth It: BMW R1200 GS
BMW has made tons of legendary bikes, and this isn’t the last of them you’ll see on this list. The R1200 GS is an adventure bike that practically created the “adventure bike” category. So, in that respect, it’s quite iconic.
The GS has hub-mounted spoke nipples to keep out water and grit, a shaft drive that means no chain adjustments are necessary, and it’s just a joy to ride. Inspiring an entirely new genre of motorcycle is quite a feat, and BMW hit it out of the park with this one.
9 Not Worth It: Yamaha WR250X
The Yamaha WR250X is one of the oddest looking bikes around, and it should be avoided at all costs. It’s powered by a measly 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine, making it run slower than molasses, and it came with a front and rear wave brake rotor that people hardly even noticed. It’s just too big and unwieldy for what it’s supposed to be, and way too expensive.
It crashed pretty quickly in terms of sales, and never recovered. You could buy 10 better bikes for the price of one of these guys.
8 Worth It: BMW S1000RR
Another amazing BMW is the S1000RR, which is one of the coolest, smoothest looking superbikes around. BMW pulled out all the stops for the S1000RR.
According to Complex.com, who says, “After years of making adventure bikes and weird sport-touring machines for old men… they came up with an inline-four weapon with 180 bhp, traction control, and ABS. It is the quickest sportbike available today.” And that’s saying something: the beast clocked in at almost 200 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats!
7 Worth It: EBR 1190RX
The EBR 1190RX is one of the only superbikes from the USA that's actually worth the money it costs. This monster on two wheels looks absolutely stunning, with angular lines and a short, steeply angled muffler that catches the eye.
The engine is also incredible, delivering 175 hp from its 1190cc V-twin. Only 100 units were made, so this is a collector’s item, and it’s also worth every penny you might spend on it.
6 Worth It: Ducati Monster 1200 S
The Ducati Monster 1200 S is aptly named, as it’s one of the best Ducatis they ever made. Based on looks alone, it deserves a spot on this list, but it's also perfectly balanced, making it a geometric, angular masterpiece that’s aggressive, fun to ride, and stylish.
Updates to the model have massively increased performance, with the 1200 R putting out 160 hp rather than 145 from its 1198 Testastretta 11 engine. It’s also been slimmed down a bit.
5 Not Worth It: Honda CX 500
It’s kind of sad that Honda has more bikes making up the worst 5 on this list (three Hondas) than they do the best 15 (two Hondas). The CX 500 is another fail, ranking #1 of the worst motorcycles of all time on TheMotorDigest.com’s list.
It suffered right from the get-go, with poor maneuverability at low speeds, faulty crankshafts, and more. It managed to sell pretty well despite the issues, but these aren’t great attributes for bikes, especially ones from an esteemed company such as Honda.
4 Worth It: Honda CBR250
Now let’s talk about a Honda that's totally worth it: the CBR250. This legendary superbike is pretty close to being the best of all time. It’s been in production since 1987 and has been a hit since day one.
The sublime engine from 1987 can rev up to almost 20,000 rpm, which is Formula 1 territory. It looks amazing, and Complex.com says it’s “Right up there with the spinniest road-legal motors ever.” It’s one of the best bikes in the world and definitely worth your attention.
3 Worth It: BMW HP4 Race
The BMW HP4 Race is an amazing superbike that costs a whopping $78,000, but is actually worth the money. It’s ridiculously fast, with a 999cc liquid/oil-cooled 4-stroke DOHC inline-four engine that produces 215 hp, an all-carbon-fiber chassis that makes it super lightweight, traction and wheelie control, and a quickshifter.
It’s one of the most advanced and stunning bikes out there—it’s just too bad it’s not street legal.
2 Worth It: MV Augusta F4CC
This insanely cool looking bike will set you back $120,000, but only 100 of them have been made. Not only is the MV Augusta F4CC a collector’s item, but it’s so pretty it belongs in a museum. It also runs like a dream, with a 4-cylinder engine that gives it a top speed of 195 mph! I
t’s slick, and the all-black seat is made from material used in supercars that companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati make. The instrument panel even has customized graphics.
1 Not Worth It: BMW R1200C
We hate to end on a negative note, but for all the good that BMW has done on this list, the R1200C couldn’t slide past us. This is one of the few duds from the masterful company—it’s ugly, weak (60 horsepower), heavy (over 500 pounds), and is a monstrous underachievement.
It was discontinued in 2004, which came as no surprise to anyone, and the low seat, huge tank, and tall handlebars just made it ugly beyond anything BMW has ever made.
References: complex.com, superstreetbike.com, themotordigest.com, motorcyclenews.com