We just picked our ten best Used Bikes Under $5k last month – a pretty impressive list and, for me personally, a fine financial cut-off point. You really can get a lot of reliable motorcycle for $5k, with plenty of life left.
Prying the trust fund open twice as wide, to $10k, really opens up a whole new world of possibilities, some so exotic they probably shouldn’t be explored, really. But a little judicious research and careful shopping – all of it now at the tip of your fingers thanks to the www – can uncover some pretty amazing machines. Admittedly this list skews toward the kind of bikes I like, or does it? There are no BMWs to be found, and I usually really like BMWs – but it’s like Gabe Ets-Hokin says, once you have $10,000 to spend, it opens up the door to almost any motorcycle that’s four or five years old. Five-year-old BMWs are just too easy. I tried to find some bikes you may have forgotten about and wound up with two Japanese, four Italians, three Americans, and a couple of Austrians. I hope you like V-Twins.
Note: We’ve linked out to search results for all of our selections. Because of limited and ever-changing availability, some of these links may intermittently show zero results, but it’s worth checking back from time to time.
Yamaha started building these ten years ago, when the price tag was $17,990. They’re still building them, in fact, and the cost has increased a mere $9. Which is nice. It’s a slightly impractical motorcycle, but you’re only going to roll it out on special occasions anyway, Daddy Warbucks, when you’ll savor its 1679 cc V-four complete with 197 crankshaft horsepower at 9000 rpm and 122 lb-ft of torque at 6500. Also its carbon-fiber fenders, tank cover, seat cowls and side covers. Dunno, I always wanted one. Low-mile perfect ones are now all over for less than $10k.
Torn between two lovers, feelin’ like a fool. You might find a ’93 888 SPO for under $10k with some arm-twisting – the final, beautiful apogee of Ducati’s original 851 liquid-cooled Twin. But if you can’t swing a Sport Production Omologato, there are quite a few perfect regular 888s out there for less than ten gees.
For me, it’d be tough to choose between the 888 and the ten-years-on 998 – which is, of course, the final, beautiful apogee of the 916 arc. More performance than the 888, of course, but less comfortable for parade laps around the hood. Produced from 2002 to ’04, the 998 used the new, much-improved Testastretta V-Twin. Alas, performance fades over time. But these two bikes will always knock your eyeballs out and are destined to appreciate. They’re also still a blast to ride.
While we’re busy fantasizing, it’s worth remembering the F4 1000 was available in blue and silver for a year or two. In 2005, Massimo Tamburini’s baby was bumped from 750 to 1000cc, and that radial-valve four-cylinder was and is an astounding powerplant, producing a claimed 166 hp way up high in its wide powerband. Great suspension and other components go without saying. MV has lately decided to concentrate more on its excellent Triples, but the mighty F4… for under $10k, every garage should be missing one because it’s parked in the living room. (MV will sell you a new and improved 2019 F4 model, but they start at over $20k.)
Wow it seems like only yesterday this cutting-edge $17,000 ADV bike was saving my bacon in Death Valley (with its excellent ride modes, TC, heated grips, etc.), and suddenly I see nice low-miles examples all over the interwebs for $10k. I guess everyone’s “upgrading” to the KTM 1090 or 1290 R (base price $18,499). You can pretty much go anywhere you want on this thing. Personally, I don’t know what you’d do with more power than the 1190’s got.
Speaking of 1190 KTMs, we love the superbike version too, produced from 2008 to ’15. Early bikes had a 999cc V-Twin, replaced by the RC8 R, beginning in 2010, with an 1195cc twin, titanium intake valves, space-age looks that still require some adjusting to, to go with the adjustable ergonomics. Someday KTM might make another superbike, but if they never do then this one will just be that much more collectible. New, the RC 8 R sold for about twice what you can get a low-miles 2014 or ’15 for.
Okay so maybe the 1190 SX wasn’t quite the bike the $17,000 KTM Super Duke was when we compared those two a few years ago, but as a $10,000 motorcycle, well, you’re not getting this power-to-weight ratio anyplace else in a sharp-handling naked bike for this kind of money. Yes, it is a bit rowdy and rough around the edges, but that’s part of the appeal, Snowflake. Brand new ones are on the interwebs for $9K.
The Victory Vision tourer was at least a generation ahead of its time. To create the 8-Ball, visionaries dropped the seat to 24.5 inches, lopped off the trunk, and painted it black. They left the aluminum frame, 106-inch V-Twin, air-assisted rear shock, cruise control, electric windscreen, six-gallon fuel tank… and totally unique look. These are tough to find but worth it, already collectible. In 2010, list price was $18,249.
At Honda, V-Twins are for cruisers. But when World Superbike rules favored 1000cc twins, Honda did what it had to do: Colin Edwards and the RC51 beat Ducati at its own game in 2000 and 2002 – and Nicky Hayden barged in on an RC51 to win the 2002 AMA Superbike title in the middle of six Mat Mladin Suzuki championship years. If you want a Ducati but you don’t want a Ducati, the RC51 is an excellent facsimile. It’s a kinder streetbike, easier on the maintenance, and just as capable as any sporting V-Twin of the era. You can still get a perfectly nice RC for around $5,000. But since you’ve got deep pockets, why not go for the Nicky Hayden Special Edition, with its brushed aluminum frame and special graphics? Our friends at Iconic Motorbikes want $8400 for this one, with 9000 miles. Most small-batch Hondas with “RC” in their designation go for way more.
All the coolest people I know ride Grisos. MotoGP racing guru Neil Spalding, Isle of Man TT jetsetter Andrew Capone, Shane Pacillo… and my own love life took a big spike upward when I was riding a new Griso 8V circa 2007. That was the year they gave the Griso the big new 1151cc 8-valve 90-degree transverse twin, good for 105 horsepower and 79 lb-ft of torque – in a long, low, dead sexy chassis some would call the Softail of Italy. Moto Guzzi will sell you a new Griso for $13,190, but there are quite a few 2-mile 8V SE beauties on CycleTrader.com for $7,995. Hello. And if you want something a bit more exploratory, the now-discontinued Stelvio, powered by the same suave Italian 8V twin, is also available, some with luggage, for not much more dinero. Great bikes.
The coolest Sportster ever that doesn’t say Buell on it, the X is the creme de la creme of the XRs via its Showa big-piston inverted fork and adjustable piggyback shocks out back – also floating 292mm discs up front. Look! They even put the footpegs in the right spot. On this one, you can cruise, shred, or both. Now that it looks like a replacement for the old girl is on the way, this one will have to go down as the sportiest Sportster of all time. There are a few Harley-Davidson XR1200Xs out there, asking between $6 and 9,000.