Top 10 City/Commuter Motorcycles

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7. Aprilia Mana

Aprilia Mana

A relative sleeper on this list, the Aprilia Mana doesn’t get much of the spotlight, but it meets the criteria we’re looking for here and does it well. The ride position is commanding with its low pegs and upright bars that give lots of leverage. Power comes from a 839cc V-Twin sourced straight from the Gilera GP800 scooter (they share the same parent company, Piaggio), which means the Mana also shares the CVT gearbox from the scoot as well.

Is the Mana a glorified scooter? Maybe, but consider this: shifting can still be done at the push of a paddle on the handlebar into one of seven gears. Or you can switch it to full auto and use your left hand to sip a latte on your way to work. When you’re done, stow your Thermos, along with your lunch, and whatever else, in the faux fuel tank storage compartment. Accessory luggage is also available if you need more space. Really, for getting around town or to the office, the Mana deserves more attention.

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  • Piglet2010

    The Bonnie feels like a tank when pushing it around the garage, but the combination of standard seating position, reasonably short wheelbase, low-end torque, progressive and light clutch, proper fueling, and an easy to modulate back brake makes it very easy to do tight U-turns, slow speeds in parking low, and tight weaves using a brake-torque technique. And the narrow, round section tires make turning at higher speeds while steering around potholes and manhole covers effortless. And the Bonnie will not cook your legs, unlike some other air-cooled bikes.

    • rudedog4

      The Bonneville is air and oil cooled as well. I’ve ridden mine to work almost every day since I picked it up earlier this month, and when I keep the speed under 60, I’ve gotten as high as 50 mpg.

  • Rick Vera

    I think this list was quite comprehensive and hit everything quite nicely. I think the NC700X is probably the best commuter, period, and as you said is a natural choice. A few others worth mentioning: Kawasaki Versys, Kawasaki Ninja 650, Suzuki SVF650 and Yamaha FZ-09. Of course, given that there can only be ten on the list, I’m not surprised that these weren’t necessarily picked over the ones you’ve chosen.

    One that I am surprised with is the Vulcan 900 LT. Even though Star’s 950 Tourer has a bit less ground clearance, I feel with their more capacious saddle bags that also lock combined with their more extensive OEM accessories which further enhance its commuter role (luggage rack, lowers, etc), that the Star should have edged out the Vulcan.

    Lastly, I’m also surprised the only proper mid-size sport-tourer on the market (until Yamaha reads my mind and makes a mid-size FJR using their new triple) after Honda’s canceled NT700V didn’t make it on the list, the BMW F800GT. For those of us who have no choice but for their bike to live outside all of the time, not having to deal with chain-drive maintenance is a big plus. BMW’s belt-driven, faired, sport-standard with ABS and optional traction control and factory luggage—both saddlebags and top case—is quite an attractive option and I’m surprised it didn’t edge out something like the Aprilia Mana.

    • Piglet2010

      How many NT700Vs did Honda sell in the US – 17 or 18?

      Just went over 10K miles on my “Dullsville”, and the only downside as a commuter bike is the relatively high seat height and center-of-gravity, so you need to make sure you have good footing when you come to a stop.

  • Ed

    I am very surprised that the Kawasaki Versys did not make your list! I ride it to work quite often and it’s one CAPABLE bike both on the highways and local streets– agile, nimble and most of all FUN to ride. I also had the TU250X before the V and enjoyed it. The downside was power, or lack of it on the expressway, but around town, it’s great!

    • Kevin Duke

      The Versys is another great commuter choice!

  • Brad

    My Speed Triple is a fantastic commuter. Comfy riding position and saddle. Excellent visibility. Lithe, nimble, and responsive. Equally flickable on side streets, twisties, and highways. Phenomenal machine.

    • Kevin Duke

      Yep, that’s another one that made it late into our final voting.

  • dustysquito .

    Seems like a weird list, but there’s some nice bikes on it. I’m a little surprised that the Ninja 1000 made the cut instead of the Ninja 650. Better fuel economy, lighter weight, and it still has more power than you legally need on the highway. The Ninja 1000 is more sport touring than “commuter.”

    • Kevin Duke

      Yeah, I voted for the Ninja 650, but my colleagues reminded me that many commuters in SoCal have to travel long freeway distances.

      • Kevin

        This was probably one of those times when you should have gone with a list of more than 10. There are just too many great bikes out there for this to mention them in a list as short as 10. I personally prefer some thing with liquid cooling for commuting but a lot of guys will carp about too much extra weight because of it.

  • Doug Erickson

    No CTX700? No Grom/MSX 125? No BV 350?

    The Hyperstrada and Ninja litre bike are really pushing it. Low speed, low CoG, and high maneuverability are everything in urban commuting.

  • Jeffrey McCollum

    And this shows what is wrong with motorcycling in America. the only bike that should be on the list is the Suzuki TU250. Small, frugal, nimble. Maybe Honda’s PCX150 ? CBR 250 CRF250, Kawasaki Ninja 300 as well as other easy, frugal offerings

    • Keith Lamb

      The problem with the CBR, CRF and Ninja is they can’t carry anything. It’s difficult to commute when you don’t have anywhere to store your lunch on the ride and jacket, gloves when you get to work. Scooters like the PCX are perfect for commuting because of underseat storage and low cost. If you’re going to commute on a bike, you want it to be a cheap bike since you’ll be putting so many miles on it without having as many smiles as you’d get on the weekend.

    • enzomedici

      No cruiser or bagger should be on a commuter list. There is no way you can react to any emergency situations on those bikes fast enough to avoid accidents. In my mind, sportbikes are the best commuter bikes period. Sportbikes or naked bikes that have traction control, abs, ride modes are the best. These are critical when commuting. It is much better to be in a sport bike riding position on a quick and nimble motorcycle than on some slow bike with lame performance if you want avoid accidents.

  • barney fife

    That Honda NC700X is, with a doubt, the all time ugliest bike ever produced. It represents everything that is wrong about the majority of modern bike designs.
    Apparently the designer was congenitally incapable of drawing an organic line.

    • Jamison

      I disagree. I think it looks fantastic. So we can agree to disagree on this subject. :-)

    • vitor

      no man it’s looks cool,i’d tottaly buy one if it wasn’t for the new cb500x,wich is cheapers and revs higher (i love high revving engines)

  • Jeremy

    The DR-Z400SM with a tail bag is my urban/commute bike. Need to jump a curb to get around traffic or construction? No problem. It also averages 60+ mpg.

    • vitor

      that’s a great bike, the sm version is even better


    how come there is no VESPA?

  • vitor

    Holy fuck do you even know what commuting is? or are you americans some way riding in straight lines with no traffic to get to work? dude i can’t believe who wrote this claims to know anything about commuting…
    i hope no one bought one of those bikes because of this list,i’m sure they’re dissapointed.

    • RobbyTaylor

      Actually, my commute is pretty straight with relatively light traffic. I work at night, which explains the traffic. As for the straight lanes, in the Dallas area there are a lot of highways so you can get pretty much anywhere from anywhere in a pretty straight line.

  • i sargin

    “And in case you’re wondering about range, electric motorcycles get their best mileage in city traffic, as each time you’re coasting or braking, the regenerative effect is adding a tad more juice back into the batteries.” Lemme see…The power regained by the regenerative mechanism is always less than the power used to accelerate up again, so wouldn’t the writer/Zero S manufacturer have broken the laws of physics and invented a perpetual motion machine if this were true? ;)

  • Sebastian Beretvas

    this list is very awkward. no dualsports? xt250? wr250? crf230l? all great city commuting bikes. and if you’re worried about storage capacity bring a backpack… my dad went from canada to florida and then all the way to california all on a 1970′s kawasaki 350 twin… that is the difference between the old generation and new generation of motorcyclists.