Having spent the last 25 years racing bikes and the last five years writing about them for mags and websites, I’ve been fortunate enough... “What is the best bike in the world?”
The best bike in the world?

Having spent the last 25 years racing bikes and the last five years writing about them for mags and websites, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a go on most contemporary sportsbikes (probably all of them, when I come to think of it). And plenty more besides sportsbikes; custom bikes, retro bikes, naked bikes, adventure bikes and off-road bikes. As you can imagine, it’s been an absolute blast. With that in mind, it’s a fair assumption that someone like me might be able to identify the best bike in the world. But it’s not as easy as that, and just last weekend, when I was asked this question for the millionth time, I finally realised why.

It’s because it’s not really a fair question. What does ‘best’ really mean? Surely the term ‘best’ is subjective; it’s based on personal opinions and feelings, not facts. Or does it simply mean the fastest? Does it mean the most popular? The most exciting? The quickest round a track? Who knows? The question needs to be narrowed down a little bit more if you stand any chance of answering it.

Usually when someone asks me what the best bike I’ve ever ridden is, my brain instantly harks back to the time I rode a mates original 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1, only a few years ago. I took it on track at Silverstone and then some cracking roads local to me, and loved every second of it. I think that was the most I’ve ever smiled on a bike, so since then, the ’98 R1 is at the top of my list of ‘favourite’ bikes. But it’s obviously not the ‘best’ bike in the world, not by a long stretch, and on paper it couldn’t hold a candle to any of the modern superbikes.

If you want to know what the best production sportsbike is right now, then that’s easy, it’s the BMW S 1000 RR M Sport. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best bike for you. You might not want a sportsbike. You might not want a BMW. What about the best naked sportsbike? That’s a bit trickier, but you’d certainly have to put the Ducati Streetfighter V4S and the Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory up there. That said, I’d sooner have an MT-10 SP. Sure the MT is a few years old now, but it’s still a hooligan of a bike. And I’ve just persuaded a friend of mine to buy a Triumph Speed Triple; he didn’t want a Streetfighter, a Tuono or an MT-10. It wouldn’t have been my choice, but the Triumph’s definitely the best bike for him. Horses for courses, and all that. Enjoy your Trumpet, Rick.

The point I’m trying to make is that, these days, almost all of the bikes that roll off any of the big manufacturer’s production lines are pretty bloody good (note, I did say ‘almost’ all). In fact they tend to be so good that you have to be really critical when you are pitching them against each other. One of the bikes’ throttle response might be good, but not quite as good as the others. The same with the brakes, the suspension, the comfort, bla bla bla. But no two riders are the same and we all want something slightly different from our bikes, so the ‘best bike in the world’ as far as one bloke is concerned, could be a lump of shite to the next.

That’s why you’ve got to know exactly what you want from a bike when you’re thinking of buying a new one. And it’s also why it’s nigh-on impossible to say which bike really is the best in the world.

Boothy

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ash
ash
3 months ago

The best bike in the world is the one each individual rider owns their self.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
3 months ago

Also… tyres. I’ve ridden bikes on different tyres, and with crap or worn or cheap tyres it feels like an awful bike. Then put good tyres on it, and suddenly it’s ace. I think a lot of brand new bikes that get poor reviews are often just on cheapo OEM tyres.

Stuflit
Stuflit
3 months ago

Come to think of it. Two bikes spring to mind. My last bike which was a KTM 1290 super adventure s…bloody brilliant and a Suzuki Hayabusa I had some 10 years ago

Stuflit
Stuflit
3 months ago

I’m about to move into BMW world but I can’t decide on a year old S1000 rr or a 2021 S1000 r. Nearly the same money. One side of me wants sportsbike looks and the other side is thinking more practical

Dr Colin
Dr Colin
3 months ago

I like characterful bikes. I own Moto Guzzis (no one owns 1 Moto Guzzi). I rode my least relaible Guzzi to Norway and back. I recently bought a Honda Crossrunner ‘cos sometimes a day out with your sensible mate is better than the ‘character’. I may have lost the place here (yeah I tour guzzis with maps not SatNav). The best bike is my next Guzzi.

Happy New Website!

Alf
Alf
3 months ago

The new bmw is a good bike technologically speaking. But it seems that bmw have opted to build them out of spit and tissue. Everyone I know who’s got one has had A LOT of issues with it. Not good from an alleged premium brand. It even feels cheap, the parts feel ‘proper chinese’ even compared to my old gen 3 which was also the most unreliable bike I’ve ever owned.

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

Without having ridden one, I think the Triumph Trident might well be the best all-round bike money can buy today

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave

i have a 2009 Street Triple R 675 that agrees with you.

Oli Ashby
Oli Ashby
3 months ago

Great content, love the new website!

Michael
Michael
3 months ago

I’m probably going to be all alone in here thinking the Husqvarna 701 supermoto is the best bike.
And it is for me. All I do is commute and ride the local twisties and they are tight and technical so a supermoto for me is going to be the perfect bike.

Dave
Dave
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I just bought a leftover 701 Vitpilen (they couldn’t sell them here in Canada, got it new for half list price). Curious to see how good it is. Will get it on the road in March

Alex Horky
Alex Horky
3 months ago

Aprilia Tuono 1100 V4 Factory!!

Richard Fleming
Richard Fleming
3 months ago

Best bike in the world is always the one I currently own. Which is a tenere 700. Brought mainly from your vid. Although its probably the bmw gs. It handles better than it should. Has enough real world go and the comfort and suspension are legendary.

Stu
Stu
3 months ago

Please learn the difference between bought and brought in the dictionary. They have not swapped definitions.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
3 months ago
Reply to  Stu

Be nice…

Tom
Tom
3 months ago

Can’t believe the answer isn’t a Suzuki SV650!

I kid, but 100% agree with your article – Best is subjective.

Yoeri B
Yoeri B
3 months ago

Bit disappointed you didn’t mention the KTM superduke with the other nakeds.

Lee Bridgland
Lee Bridgland
3 months ago

Couldn’t have put it better myself!
To me, the best bike in the world is my 2008 Street Triple – because I have owned it from new and constantly upgraded things like brakes, suspension, tyres and exhausts to make it perfect- for me.

ian holme
ian holme
3 months ago

Best bike in the world? Benelli 900 tornado OBVIOUSLY…!! well i love it anyway…so much so i have somehow ended up with 3 (2×900, 1×1130) Actually its quite a simple premise, owning 3 means that one may be working at any given time. I should add that i have recently had an L7 gsxr 1000r and now also have an 1199s, so in no way averse to quicker, more modern bikes, but still love them damn Tornados.
Have you ridden the 1130 tornado?