Yes, $10,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s not 1973 anymore and you really do get a lot of motorcycle for that much now. No, buying new is not the most economical way to go, but a lot of people have no choice. Besides, interest rates are at historical lows, and the fact is that brand-new bikes are about as easy to take care of as a Toyota Camry. For every old guy who misses carburetors and “wrenching,” there are five or 10 young ones out riding around happily oblivious to what they’re missing. Listen, I’m wearing socks older than most of you, but when it comes to motorcycles, new is good. Here are are my personal top 10, from least to most expensive.
A lot of people are going to be leery of a brand-new bike from India in its first year of production, but a lot of other people are going to take one look at this beautiful bike, then at the bottom line, and then they’re going to say, “What the hell, I’ll take it.” The previous Royal Enfield Continental GT was a swell little bike let down by its antiquated and vibey single-cylinder engine. These new ones will use an all-new parallel-Twin, complete with latest-tech 270-degree crankshaft, that should make them thoroughly rideable and a huge presence in the marketplace.
Every year or two we do a middleweight naked comparison, and every year or two the Suzuki SV650 barely loses out to the Yamaha FZ-07 – even though the SV just got updated this past year. It’s always a split decision; three of us like the Yamaha against two who like the Suzuki. How do we do it? Gerrymandering! Anyway, they’re both fantastic motorcycles and the SV is even a bit less expensive – probably because the base model has no ABS. If you just like the way the Suzuki looks better, or your Yamaha dealer’s a jerk, the SV650 is a fantastic do-everything motorcycle for not much money, equally easy for beginners to learn on and for experienced riders to flog mercilessly. The poor man’s Ducati rolls on for a reason.
Yes, it’s a scooter, but it’s a scooter with a 22-horsepower fuel-injected 278cc Single that’ll get it cracking right along at freeway speeds on those 12-inch tires if you’re (wo)man enough. What won’t fit under the seat can blow in the breeze between your knees from the hook that’s there for carrying bags. Yes, it will charge your personal device while it enhances your personal life, since everybody wants to talk to you. It’s a lot of dough for a scooter, but it’s a Vespa, made of real steel – the Harley-Davidson of scooters. Your family will even think it’s cool, and will fight to please you to inherit it. I may have just talked myself into one of these… seriously, a scooter is such a convenient thing to keep around the house.
I’m on record as saying the MT-10 is the best bike Yamaha’s built in a decade, but that one’s $12,999. The MT-09 Triple is $8,999, but I never really got along with it so well. You can go “Sport Heritage” XSR700 or 900 if you want to spend more money and prefer motorcycles that look their best when it’s really dark. But, with an MSRP of just $7,599, you won’t find anything in Yamaha’s line or anyone else’s that matches the MT-07’s price/performance ratio. It barely weighs 400 pounds all gassed up, has a torquey, eager little marmot of a 689cc parallel-Twin, and loves to tear up backroads, freeways, and everything in between. Comfortably and economically.
Everybody who’s familiar with my “work” knows this is one of my top three favorite motorcycles, really at any price, for its amazing versatility and ease of use – particularly with DCT, and particularly at the gas pump, where it gets over 60 mpg. Given its built-in trunk, I lobbied for the NC to be last year’s Scooter of the Year, but was shot down. The Honda NC750X (pictured here) will be here later in the year, with a small bump in performance and price, but for now the updated-last-year 700 will do just fine.
This one knocked the Suzuki GSX-S1000 off my personal Open-class everyday-naked bike pedestal. It’s not quite as powerful as the Suzuki, nor the Z1000 Kawasaki it replaces, but 116 horses and 68 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheel always feel like plenty, especially given the discount over those other two bikes (neither of which fit under our $10k threshold). The all-new Z also looks fantastic in that green iridescent tube frame, and it’s the smoothest-running big Four we’ve ridden in a long time.
If you know where else you can get a solid ADV bike like this one, with key-matched bags and hand guards, for $8,999, let us know. The base model Versys 650 was already one of our favorite play bikes (even when we’re not playing). Kawasaki gave it rubber front engine mounts in its last redesign, and you could pretty much ride this one anywhere in complete serenity, if it didn’t encourage you to tease way more expensive sportbikes along the way. Granted the 17-inch wheels aren’t ideal for dirt roads, but a 476-pound wet weight makes up for a lot. Big Dirty Sean-approved.
We’re constantly on the lookout for synonyms for “fun” in this business, but no other word will suffice in this motorcycle’s case. Plain, stupid, high-school parking-lot fun follows it wherever it goes. Totally remodelled for 2016, this 693cc single-cylinder overachiever pumps out something like 70 horsepower, with twin counterbalancers that render it so smooth you wouldn’t know it’s a Thumper when you’re sailing easily along at 80 purrr. Throw in the fact that the KTM Duke’s claimed dry weight is 327 pounds, and you should begin to get the picture.
The only downside is that the 790 Duke Twin may be here before year’s end, and we’re told by people who should know that it may squeak in below $10k. If that’s the case, look for the 790 in this spot next year.
Indian begat the Scout in 2015. Shortly after that, it realized it needed a sub-$10k bike to compete with the Harley 883. They sleeved the Scout down to 999cc (61 cubic inches), removed one gear from the six-speed box that nobody will ever miss, slashed the price by $2000, and Bob’s your most fun uncle for $8,999. On the other hand, your Uncle 883 is also greatly improved these last few years, and still sells for the same $8,999. It’s almost a tie here, but I think it goes to the Indian.
The top-line RS version of this bike will set you back $12,500, while the Triumph Street Triple R starts at $11,200 – but the base version S can be yours for $9,900. That sounds like a bargain for this thoroughly redesigned 765cc streetfighter. A claimed output of 113 horses should be around 110 at the wheel, since the RS we dynoed here made 119 of a claimed 123. The 366-pound dry weight Triumph claims for all three Striples translated to 417 pounds with 4.6 gallons of fuel on the MO scales – remarkably light. You don’t get the upgraded suspension of the costlier Triples, nor the TFT display and onboard computer. You do get probably the sweetest sporty streetbike on the planet for under $10k.