The Best Motorcycles From Each Brand [2020 Model Year]
I could argue with readers for weeks about what the best motorcycle on sale today is, but here’s the thing: that would be extremely hard to do. The best motorcycle is really a personal choice. The best bike is the one that’s best for you and how you use it. With that said, you should be able to look at the models out there objectively and make a case for the best ones.
However, then there’s the fact that every brand out there right now has at least one killer model. It’s even harder from there to analyze the bikes and choose an overall winner across brands. Because of these reasons, we decided it would be best to take a look at each of the major motorcycle manufacturers and choose the best bike from each brand—still not an easy feat, but a bit more doable.
So, with all of the lineups out there, and the information provided by the manufacturers as well as extensive knowledge from our team of experienced riders as well as my own experience and expertise, I have come up with a list of the best bikes from each major manufacturer. Here are the choices.
Aprilia RSV4 RR
I wanted to put the new RS660 here, but that bike isn’t actually on sale yet. Because of this, the choice was fairly obvious for Aprilia’s lineup. It’s the RSV4 RR. The bike is the sharp end of the stick for the sportbike lineup, though it’s not the factory racer model. The 2020 version of the bike received some evolutionary updates and those changes make it one of the best sportbikes on the market.
The motorcycle has a powerful 999cc 65-degree V4 engine that makes 201 hp and 85 lb-ft of torque. It is a force to be reckoned with and at home on a twisty canyon road or on a racetrack. If you’re an experienced rider looking for some serious thrills, this is the motorcycle for you.
BMW’s big cruiser is finally here. While the bike manufacturer has many great motorcycles, including the S1000RR and the full GS line, I’m here to argue for its large-pistoned cruiser. The motorcycle harkens back to BMWs of old in all the right ways while bringing air-cooled awesomeness into the modern age. You can disagree with me if you will about this being BMW’s best bike, but I won’t budge. It’s a stunning machine and such a good bike for North America.
The motorcycle features BMW’s new 1,802cc boxer twin engine that puts out 91 hp and 116 lb-ft of torque. The company also has a slew of parts and accessories to make this motorcycle your own. The bike is unique, interesting, still very German, and should attract a lot of attention. If I were to buy a big cruiser, this is the one I’d slap the money down for.
If you don’t think Ducati’s best bike right now is the Streetfighter V4, I’ll fight you. It’s the bike that Carlin Dunne died riding. If he hadn’t passed, he would have set a record at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. For that reason alone it’s awesome. But I can give you plenty of others, including the fact that it’s as hardcore a streetfighter as you can find, and basically an unfettered Panigale stripped nake and made more Italian-angry.
The bike features a 1,103cc Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine that will have you crapping your pants as you knife through the Italian Alps or wherever you choose to ride. The engine makes a big 203 hp and 90.4 lb-ft of torque, and the wide-set handlebars let you command this streetfighter towards inevitable thrills. It is a winner.
Harley-Davidson hasn’t been feeling the love from motorcycle buyers lately. The company is struggling, and then it made the mistake that is the LiveWire. However, it did at least a few things right in 2020, and one of them is this beauty—the Softail Standard. It’s the Softail design that HD needed.
Harley finally got wise and built an affordable Softtail. Harley guys love to customize their bikes, and this one is ready to go. It’s also a great option if you just want a simple Harley Davidson. The bike comes with the burly Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine, and there’s a long, long list of HD parts for customizing and even more out there on the aftermarket. Good job Harley.
Ready for an epic adventure? So is Honda. The Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES is the bike that will take you to the ends of the earth and back. It’s lighter, more powerful, and has more features than ever before. The standard Africa Twin is a good choice, too, but for those hardcore adventure riders, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES is the way to go.
The bike gets electronically controlled suspension, an adjustable windscreen larger fuel tank, heated grips, tubeless tires, and more. Pair all that with the 1,084cc engine that can be had with a DCT, and you have one of the best motorcycles for anywhere in the world.
Are you the coolest guy in your friend group? Do you have some extra dough to burn in the name of style and design? Then the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is the bike for you. The motorcycle looks like its straight out of a custom design house. It’s gorgeous in all the ways you’d expect from a Swedish motorcycle company.
The Vitpilen 701 features a modern 692.7cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine that makes a strong 75 hp and 53 lb-ft of torque. Husky has some other bikes coming out in the future that may bump this one out of the top spot for me, but in 2020, this is the Husqvarna that I would buy.
Indian’s FTR 1200 is a fantastic bike, but if you really want to take advantage of this unique design then may I suggest the FTR Rally? It takes the FTR to new levels and looks better, too. Indian has some other killer bikes like the Scout and the Challenger, but if I were buying an Indian the FTR Rally would be my choice.
The FTR Rally has a scrambler quality that’s different from the other FTR models, and it’s more sporty than the rest of the Indian lineup. The FTR Rally gets some Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR knobbies, ProTaper bars with a two-inch higher hand position, a rally windscreen, a new seat, and Brembo stoppers. The engine is the 1,203cc V-twin from the FTR 1200 that makes 123 hp and 87 lb-ft of torque. All told, this is a killer motorcycle.
Oh buddy, the Kawasaki H2 SX SE+. This is the fighter jet of the supercharged motorcycles from Kawasaki. It’s a legit sport-touring machine that will melt your face when you twist the throttle. It’s high tech, big, and ready for action. It’s not a bike for everyone, but a bike I would recommend everyone ride once who has the skills to do so. It’s a Machine with a big ole capital M. Sweet supercharged goodness, Kawasaki.
The motorcycle gets a 998cc four-cylinder liquid-cooled supercharged engine that makes a whopping 210 hp. The bike also has some excellent motorcycle technology, including electronic cruise control, Kawasaki corner management function, quick-shifter, launch control, electronic suspension, and integrated riding modes. It’s a beast of a sportbike.
You might be expecting to see the Super Duke R or the 890 R here, and I will say they are very good motorcycles, but the Adventure 790 R is where it’s at. The bike is the perfect all-arounder. It’s a killer adventure bike. It’s not too big. It’s not too small. It’s the goldilocks of adventure machine, and it deserves your attention.
The Adventure R is the tougher more off-road focused version of the bike. It features a 799cc two-cylinder liquid-cooled engine that makes 95 hp and 66 lb-ft of torque, a chassis designed to take a beating, and technology and features designed to help you do everything you could want to do no matter where you ride.
Meet the bike that has changed Moto Guzzi. The motorcycle company’s new adventure bike is in high demand and for good reason. It’s a killer bike. The V85 TT Adventure is the most adventurous of the V85 TT options. The company calls it the Classic Travel Enduro. I’d say that’s pretty accurate, though this is really a thoroughly modern motorcycle designed to take you anywhere.
The motorcycle gets an air-cooled transverse 90-degree V-twin engine that has a displacement of 853cc. The engine makes 80 hp and 59 lb-ft of torque. Pair that with a good chassis that’s ready for the pavement and the trails and you have one Italian adventure bike that is ready to take on anyone in the segment.
The Superveloce may have caught everyone’s attention this year, and the Rush 1000 may have got the speed-demons talking, but I still think the best MV Agusta is the Brutale 1000 RR. It’s a seriously crazy naked sportbike, and it’s something that is sure to thrill you out on the road and make your neighbor drool when it’s sitting in your driveway.
The Brutale 1000 RR is a hyper naked motorcycle, unlike the others. The bike has a four-cylinder 998cc engine that slaps out 208 hp and 86 lb-ft of torque. It is expensive, and you’ll have to decide if it’s too expensive, but if you’re looking at an MV Agusta, you know you’re buying a pricey machine and should be ready to pay big bucks.
Royal Enfield has some good little bikes, and of all of their bikes, I’d put the INT650 at the top. This bike is a killer example of simplicity. It’s a good all-around bike for the pavement. It’ll do highways speeds without issue, it’s quick and nimble around town, and there’s just not a bunch of extra crap on it. Also, the retro styling looks nice and Royal Enfield offers a killer warranty program.
The bike has a 648cc parallel-twin engine that’s fuel-injected moving it down the road. That engine is good for 47 horses and 38.3 lb-ft of torque. The bike is available in plenty of different colors all of which are supposed to be hand-painted and the bike gets ByBre brakes and Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tires. It’s not the most advanced machine out there, but then what did you expect from Royal Enfield?
Does Suzuki have more advanced bikes than the Katana? Yes. Are any of them as cool? No. The new Suzuki Katana brings retro sportbike styling into the modern age with great performance and all the street capability most folks can ask for. The bike is charming in all the right ways and badass where it needs to be. It’s a fantastic blend of sport riding and everyday usability.
When it comes to the power plant, you’re looking at a 999cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine that makes 140 hp. The bike is no slouch and it can be leaned over with the best of the sportbikes out there. If you want a sportbike, but don’t want some of the usual fare, then the Katana is a much appreciate relief from the roid-rage sportbikes that are so common.
Triumph has many great bikes, and it released many of them this year. The Rocket 3 is the greatest, most powerful, and frankly lovably ridiculous of all of Triumph’s bikes. It has the world’s largest production motorcycle engine in the world. It’s a true power cruiser, and it’s designed to be unlike any other motorcycle on the planet.
The Rocket 3 comes in R (sporty) or GT (touring) versions. Both of them get the 2,458cc inline three-cylinder engine that’s water-cooled and punches out 165 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. The bike went on a diet in its new iteration cutting out 88 pounds from the previous version of the model, allowing you to make the most of that power. It’s the Rocket 3’s uniqueness and its cool factor that set it apart from the rest of the Triumph lineup.
Yamaha has some killer bikes, but the YZF-R1 still reigns supreme. The bike was updated this year to keep pace with the competition, and it’s still one of the best and sharpest sportbikes you can buy. The bike is a true performer on the street and on the racetrack. Sure Yamaha has some other excellent bikes, but if I was buying a Yammie, I’d buy this one.
The R1 features a 998cc inline four-cylinder that’s liquid-cooled and makes 198 hp. It’s up there with all the other hardcore liter bikes, and it stands out in part because it’s been the best since 1998, with Yamaha continuing to innovate and make the most of the bike in every single way. The bike gets fully-adjustable suspension, massive brakes, Bridgestone RS11 tires, and the unique Deltabox aluminum frame. It’s the machine to have if you’re an experience sport rider.