Bikers today have a litany of choices when it comes to a potential new steed. Never have our two-wheelers been more technologically advanced, easy to handle or representative of so many different subcultures of enthusiasts. Here are four brilliant examples—ranked for design and sound on a scale from 1 to 10—from diverse sectors of the market, all devised to get you revved for the road, track or trail.
BMW S 1000 XR
Category: Sport Touring
Design: 8/10 Provides a near-perfect synergy of athleticism and touring prowess. The BMW M5 of motorcycles.
Sound: 7/10 Not as throaty as the S 1000 RR, from which it is derived, but still a powerful four-cylinder roar on acceleration.
Pros: Superbike power plant; comfortable, rangy chassis.
Cons: Buzzy motor leaves hands and feet tingling on long rides.
Base Price: $16,895
Bottom Line: Sport touring with a firm emphasis on “sport”; capable of solid lap times.
Honda Africa Twin Sports
Design: 9/10 Developed for huge miles and the ability to cross any terrain, the Honda Africa Twin fills the design brief of an adventure motorcycle perfectly.
Sound: 6/10 Parallel-twin motor leaves a little to be desired when it comes to feeling inspired.
Pros: Rock-solid Honda reliability means one less worry when far from home.
Cons: Very few, if any. The value for the money is excellent.
Base Price: $13,599
Bottom Line: It’s in the name. Intracontinental motorcycle travel can be easily undertaken with the Africa Twin.
Vespa Primavera 150
Design: 10/10 Very few 20th-century transportation designs have stood the test of time as well as the 51-year-old Vespa Primavera.
Sound: 4/10 The change from a two-stroke motor to four-stroke a few years ago took away some of the aural flair the Vespa was universally known for.
Pros: Comfort, class, charisma. It’s easy to love a Vespa.
Cons: Highway riding is a distinct no-no.
Base Price: $5,349
Bottom Line: Nothing less than an Italian style icon.
Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition
Design: 9/10 The last Ducati superbike with a V-twin motor—the power plant that built the brand. This edition is a superb send-off in appearance and performance.
Sound: 9/10 With the race exhaust, the roar will make the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention.
Pros: The ultimate evolution of the four-valve Desmodromic V-twin and, being the last of its kind, a sound investment.
Cons: You really, really don’t want to drop this gallery-worthy two-wheeler.
Base Price: $39,900
Bottom Line: It’s a rolling work of art and signals the end of an era for Ducati.