1. KTM 690 Duke

KTM 690 Duke

The 690 Duke is ideally suited for the cut and thrust of commuting. It boasts an incredibly low weight (about 360 pounds full of fuel) and a super-responsive fuel-injected Thumper motor sure to paint a smile on your face on your way to work. In our review of the KTM, we wrote: “There’s perhaps no sprightlier traffic dissector than the Duke.”

In a commuter role, it lacks only standard onboard storage, but there’s ample room to add a tail pack or other similar luggage. Its grunty Single provides instant power, even on freeways, and it’s challenging to get fuel economy to dip below the 50s. Standard ABS helps keep it shiny side up, rain or shine. Priced at $8999, it might be impossible to find a more amusing bike for you ride to work.

  • 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.

    • Lawrence of Bavaria (Piglet)

      I have a choice of a F800 GT, a “base” Modern Classics Bonnie, and a Xmoto to ride to work – the F800 GT wins about 95% of the time. Mine has Givi Trekker cases instead of the optional BMW hard luggage – a lot more space for less money.

      Oh, I traded in a NT700V for the F800 GT.

  • 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.

      • nutragedomsemaca

        And the 650 doesn’t have enough power to go to 55?

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • nutragedomsemaca


      • Angus Irving


    • 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.

      • Lawrence of Bavaria (Piglet)

        I find it too hard to see around and keep track of traffic in a race replica crouch, and a supersport is gutless at city speeds. A “naked sportbike” with mid-range grunt is a much better choice.

    • Nicholas Cremato

      You have to be insane or a dwarf to commute on a bike that tiny!

  • 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. 🙂

      • disqus_SWe1pH5gM2

        You probably think that Honda makes a truck too. 😀

    • 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)

    • Gootch

      It’s not pretty but it has a long way to go to be as ugly as the Ducati Diavel. That things is brutal.

  • 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.

      • vitor

        that sounds so boring

      • nutragedomsemaca

        If no ttraffic and no curves, gas is cheap why not commute in a Peterbuilt? Why use a bike in the first place?

        • RobbyTaylor

          I said relatively light traffic, there’s still traffic dude I work near DFW airport, my hours are just such that I don’t travel much during rush hour.

          • Mike

            The limey is a moron who thinks motorcycles only are to be ridden on mountain passes. The fool clearly never swung a leg over a motorcycle and hasn’t the first clue what it is to ride one.

        • Mike Heuer

          Anyone who has to ask why isn’t much of a motorcyclist.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            either that or he is not in hells angels…..

          • Mike Heuer

            If the Hell’s Angels are your idea of motorcyclists, then you have your head firmly planted in your hind end.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            I could say the same thing about someone who would choose a motorcycle to comute on a straight highway with little traffic thus gaing no time or enjoyment from the ride compared to a car but with a distinctive lack in comfort and safety. But hey, you yanks invented the ride to live bullshit and go to the corner shop in a vehicle of somesort, who am I to diasgree….

          • Mike Heuer

            No. You couldn’t. The more you claim you could, the more you prove you can’t. Idiots never will get why riding a motorcycle is far preferable to a car — such as quicker commute, easier parking, and superior fuel economy.

            And that’s not even getting into the mental aspect of the ride.

            But, you have shown you are an ignorant foreigner, which explains much, including your asinine opinion. The closest you ever came to riding a motorcycle is watching Tom Cruise in the movies.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            Here we go with the insults, laking arguments, ey? Must get realy draughty between those ears on the bike commute with all that empty space.

          • Mike Heuer

            Here we go with the illiterate ignorance again. It’s fun to watch. You must have started drinking particularly early today.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            Time zones, ever heard of those?

          • Mike

            So, you admit you are in a drunken stupor.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            I admit, you are a bigger moron than I am and I wasted too much time talking to you. I wish endless straight roads and freezing rain on your commute.

          • Mike

            More projection by an obvious alcoholic limey.

          • Saddaf

            Your ‘ride to live bullshit’ and ‘you Americans riding in straight lines…’ comments started this insult fight. So you must be the one ‘lacking arguments, ey. Must get really (two ‘l’s) drafty between tho ears’ of yours.’
            You’re so narrow minded you probably can’t even find a helmet shaped like a book. ;-D Seriously, if you ever make it to Texas (you know that state that is bigger than the British Isles combined?), you would find you can ride in ‘straight lines’ for 17 hours and still not have left the state! I can ride for 17 hours in your mini-country and never hit 125 mph because of all the stops. Not everyone lives in a cramped cracker box of a place like yours, so you might broaden your perspective a little. But that would take humility. Do they have any of that where you live? Maybe you could borrow someone else’s just to try it out for a while.
            Insults aside, couldn’t you have a conversation without insulting a fellow biker? I thought we were all sharing a commaraderie of the ride? But I would say that by starting out with ‘Holy f—-‘ told me all I would need to know about you. You lack substance. You don’t matter. Go away, please, before you hurt yourself.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            While I am flattered you think I am British (I’m not, just learned proper english), You still insult me without any arguments on why anyone should comute on a motorbike using straight (as în boring) highways and no trafic. This în a country with mire dangerous roads than europe and lower speed limits.

          • nutragedomsemaca

            Unfortunatkley , I was not the one starting the insults and I do consider I have the right to reply in kind. As for riding in Texas, conditions you described are precisely why you do not NEED a bike there, why it is not FUN to ride a bike there, and the ridiculously low speed limits are why you do not need more than 70 HP to ride a bike there (and probably why you need 17 hours to leave the state) . I can ride in mountains and 2 hours later go 200kph on a straight bit of road which makes riding the bike FUN.

  • 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 motorcycle.com 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.

    • nutragedomsemaca

      Most cities have tarmac, so why dual sports?

      • bill engstrom

        because the roads are in such bad shape.

  • vitor

    SuperMoto. end of discussion.

  • Jorge Mesa

    How is the Yamaha Bolt not on this list? I’ve owned one for over a year and have commuted 9000 miles without a problem and in great comfort. It’s well powered and nimble with great maneuverability. And you can add saddle bags for luggage like many of the bikes on this list.

    • Craig Washington

      I was thinking the same thing..

  • Recep Gezer

    I completely disagree with the Motorcycle.com about the 1st placement: KTM Duke 690. I have a 2017 Duke 690 and its a terrible commuter. Even though most of the things said are correct (light, nimble, etc.) they forgot to mention about the engine overheat issue in a stop and go traffic. I was thinking that issue was particular to my bike but apparently every single 690 Duke (according to my dealer and KTM itself) has insufficient cooling system for a stop and go traffic (for that matter the issue is not unique to 690). After about 10-15 minutes in traffic I get the “engine overheat” warning in my dash. I read many forum entries but could not find a definitive solution, neither my dealer. I agree that it’s a great bike for everything else but for commuting.

  • disqus_SWe1pH5gM2

    I’ve shoved a trio of Hivi bags on my 05′ SV1kS and would take it over anything on this list. If I were to be getting a new commuter bike it’d be a 650 adventure bike with a top bag and ABS. Slap winter tires on during the wet season, sporty tires on the rest of the year. Done.