For motorcycles, the city can be a tough place to call home for many reasons. For one they’re exposed to the elements when not in use (looking at you street parking) and prone to scraps, tips, and abuse from reckless drivers, parallel parkers, and late night bar punks respectively. However, the inevitable wear and tear these two-wheeled companions experience in your average concrete jungles are shadowed by their desirable high fuel economy, small stature, and minimal/stress-free commuting costs thanks to their unparalleled mobility.
It is worth noting that not all motorcycles are considered equal in this realm. For instance, certain styles of motorcycles lend themselves more to racing, long distance hauls, or off-road terrain. These options are often unnecessarily large and powerful for the city streets – not to mention expensive. Remember, the perfect urban commuter bike is one that doesn’t boast high-octane power. Instead, ideal motorcycles for the city dweller feature ergonomics made for neglected city streets and a build that’s both durable and willing to take its fair share of abuse. So out of the plentiful options available, we’ve managed to narrow them down to a handful of our favorites, getting you from A to B in your local city grid with style.
Possibly the only bike on our list that could be confused with a toy, the Honda Grom is a small motorcycle with a big personality thanks to Honda’s insistence on quality and aesthetics. The new 2017 version is just a big a hit as previous iterations but now with bodywork that’s a bit more aggressive in nature and colorways that stand out in a big way. However, the small commuter bike still hosts its 125cc air-cooled single cylinder engine, and the level of fun you can have on this little guy is as attainable as ever. It’s lightweight (229 pounds to be exact), boasts a four-speed transmission, and a gets 134 MPG, which is nice considering the tank size clocks in at 1.45 gallons.
Forever a classic commuter motorcycle for the urban rider, the TU250X boasts a timeless style riders of all persuasions can embrace. We’re talking iconic spoked wheels, a round headlight, sweptback muffler, and complete with its fair share of chrome. The TU250X is also powered by a 249cc air-cooled four-stroke single cylinder engine, along with a modest 3.2 allow fuel tank and excellent fuel economy. No matter what sort of riding you prefer, from quick A to B commuting to treks up the coastline, the comfort and ergonomic feel of this ride gets you there in style.
If you’re thinking this Yamaha TW200 looks more like a dirt bike than a small urban commuter motorcycle than consider this. Typically the city streets are ridden with potholes, sometimes garbage and who knows what else, so while the fat tires on this bike might make it out to look more like a toy than a viable option, its economic price point, lightweight profile (278 pounds) and 78 MPG fuel economy make this nifty little ride one you could almost literally wheel right into the office every morning without hesitation. Plus, it looks like one hell of a fun bike to ride which doesn’t hurt either.
Kawasaki KLR 650
A choice and reliable ride through the city streets, the KLR 650 is one of those commonly found small motorcycles that are both weekend getaway friendly as well as dependable for urban commuting. The power behind this ride come compliments of a torquey 651cc four-stroke single cylinder engine and the longer range capability (should you go exploring) is thanks to a 6.1-gallon fuel tank. Also, a rear cargo rack keeps your daily belongings in check, a windscreen reduces buffeting, and a Uni-Trak rear suspension makes those pothole-ridden city streets less of a nuisance come rush hour.
Harley-Davidson Street 750
A great American brand without a doubt, Harley-Davidson works diligently to manufacture all sorts of motorcycles for the American independent spirit. Here, we have their version of an urban commuter bike, powered by an impressive liquid-cooled 750cc Revolution X V-Twin engine. Clearly, this ride is meant to conquer rush hour traffic and carving across winding suburban highways on the way to work. The Street 750 is also both nimble and agile thanks to a tight 60.4-inch wheelbase to keep your handling razor sharp. In addition, buyers can customize each ride to their choosing through Harley-Davidson, resulting in a unique opiton built for the urban warrior.
KTM 690 Duke
Otherwise known as the Smooth Criminal, the 690 Duke is a nod to the original that was released over two decades ago. Now, the revised iteration continues to pay homage to its ancestor but comes complete with several contemporary refinements. For instance, sophisticated ergonomics and a boost in power keep you at the ready while negotiating the urban sprawl thanks to an LC4 engine pushing out 73 horses. Combine that with the lightweight – 327 pound – bike and this two-wheeled go-getter is ready to scream through the streets – when appropriate of course.
One thing that Triumph has going for them is their style and insistence on maintaining an iconic look over the years. This option, a nod to the classic ’59 Bonneville, boasts a dedicated T100 chassis and suspension that work together to provide you, the rider, with a smooth commute to work every morning. Combine with that with a powerful 900cc Bonneville engine boasting high torque and performance when you need it, and Triumph once again steals the show for their classic looks and dependability while traversing your local urban and suburban sprawl.
Ducati Urban Enduro
What’s a bike post without a famed Ducati? That was exactly our thought process when developing this list. And with many iterations to choose from depending on your wants and needs, Ducati is one of those manufacturers that simply aims to please. Here, we have an urban scrambler, fit for navigating the urban grid while also possessing the ability and agility to get you out in God’s country cruising along roads less traveled. It’s powered by an 803cc L-Twin cylinder engine with a 75HP output and comes stock with Pirelli dual sport tires, a front mudguard, teardrop fuel tank, and a ribbed seat of added comfort among a handful of other on-road, off-road friendly features.