In the modern world, there are so many different companies selling the same products, that sometimes you have to wonder how important the difference between them really is. While some brands are bringing some truly unique differences to the table, many of them just feel like an imitation of the original products. This applies to motorcycles just as much, which is why you don’t want to make a mistake and buy the wrong one. So many classic and modern manufacturers have a dog in the race, and we figured that it wouldn’t hurt to put together a rundown of the best brands, and what makes them so special.
Let’s start with a brand you’re definitely familiar with, Harley-Davidson. Founded in 1903, they were some of the earliest to the marketplace, and it shows in their dedicated following. To many bikers, all other motorcycles become invisible in the presence of a Harley, and we can’t really blame them. Through a century of innovation, they still retain a classy and traditional feel that’ll make you want to grow your hair out, cover yourself in tattoos (if you haven’t already), and reminisce on the glory days. They’re also a great bike to customize, which has always garnered respect from us. If you’re looking for a classic cruiser, you can’t do much better. Fair warning though, due to their top-of-the-line nature, you can expect these to be pretty pricey.
Although founded in Bologna, Italy in the 1920’s, Ducati motorcycles are no joke. One thing that we love in a bike is powerful machinery, and that’s what Ducati is all about. The Ducati name is celebrated for engineering some of the fastest motorcycles you can buy. These babies are all about performance, and the brand primarily focuses on sports and adventure bikes because of it. If you’re just looking for a standard you can still find one here, but it’s going to be on the sleek, sportier side. Don’t expect the most luggage space in the world from these guys.
When you think of BMW, a fancy car owned by some stuck-up businessman likely comes to mind, but did you know that they make motorcycles too? Not only that, but good ones. The German manufacturer’s precision engineering that has made their cars world renowned applies just as much to their bikes. Design-wise, BMW produces everything from adventure bikes to basic cruisers, but generally have a high-tech and sporty feel. In this price range we definitely prefer the Harley, but if you’ve got some cash to burn and want to drive something on the fancier side, this is definitely the bike for you.
Speaking of car manufacturers; it’s hard not to respect just how many different kinds of engines Honda produces. In fact, their bikes are beloved by mechanical techies like us. While not the fanciest motorcycles in the world, Honda is known for accessibility, reliability, and affordability in the engineering space. This is reflected by the sheer customizability of these things. You can ride a Honda for years before it starts acting up, and when it does, it’ll only take a quick fix to get it back on the road. They manufacture most motorcycle types a person could want, and are a great brand for beginners looking to see how they feel about bikes without spending too much money.
In the same vein, there’s also Yamaha. A brand that manufactures everything from motorcycles to pianos, they are well known across industries for products that consistently bring quality and dependability. Their bikes range in style and feel, but all are exceptionally calibrated and designed for an express purpose. They aren’t the cheapest motorcycles out there, but they’re also far from the most expensive, which makes them perfect for any assured biker that wants something effective, but unpretentious.
Up next is Indian motorcycles, a brand we almost wouldn’t be talking about today if not for their acquisition by Polaris Industries. Founded in 1901, they are one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers. While they were successful and well respected for much of the 20th century, they started to flounder toward the end and into the aughts due to an increasingly competitive market. It wasn’t until the 2011 Polaris acquisition that they were able to bounce back with quality cruisers. Indian motorcycles today have a classic, vintage design that traces back to their roots, but with modern performance and engineering.
Suzuki is another brand that’s been around since the beginning, with a varied selection of premium motorcycles for sale. Their sports bikes are some of the fastest in the world, their adventure bikes are perfect for off-road exploration, and their cruisers are great for the city and the suburbs. Suzuki bikes are creative and contemporary in their design, serving as a nice contrast to the more classic motorcycle designs of other tried and true brands. If you’re an experienced rider looking for something high quality with upper-mid range pricing, Suzuki is a company worth checking out.
On the less expensive side but also from Japan, there’s Kawasaki. They may not be quite as high tech as a Suzuki, but they’re far from cut-rate. These motorcycles offer reliable performance and quality at affordable prices in a way few brands can beat. While they are most known for their sport bikes, Kawasaki manufactures all kinds of fantastic off-road and cruising motorcycles. If you’re looking to get your money's worth out of a bike, Kawasaki is a brand that should be at the top of your list.
One of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious manufacturers, Triumph delivers superior craftsmanship with old-school classic designs. The name of the game for Triumph is variety. As long as you’re looking for something powerful, they’ll have what you need regardless of skill level. Sadly, Triumph fits into the stereotype of high end European motorcycles being on the expensive side, but most who ride them agree that the price is worth it. As far as classy motorcycles go, this is definitely one of the more comfortable and esteemed brands out there.
For fans of European powersport motorcycles, it doesn’t get much better than Austria’s KTM. KTM produces some of the very best of their kind, but without the exorbitantly high pricing that European manufacturers are often known for. These bikes also feature lustrous designs that are never flashy just for the sake of it. Each of their motorcycles is engineered with attention put into performance and consistency. Any rider looking to put their skills to the test — both on and off-road — would be foolish not to at least consider KTM.
Those were ten well-regarded motorcycle brands from around the world, each with their own quirks and specialties. While many companies just try to imitate each other, we think we did a pretty good job filtering out the bad ones to give you exactly what you want. If you’ve read this and you’re still not sure what kind of motorcycle you want, there’s only one thing left for you to do: go out and try them all for yourself! Happy riding from all of us here at Lethal Threat.