Let’s face it, nearly every motorcycle can act as an urban commuter. Whether you’re riding to work on a 50cc dirtbike or a 1,262cc Ducati, you’re at the mercy of your city’s traffic, lights, and drivers, making your morning ride as much about luck, as it is about your bike’s capability. That being said, there are ways to ensure that your daily journey is as worry-free as possible.
These days, the best urban motorcycles are those that can navigate, cut through traffic, and place you at the head of the mid-morning rush with ease. Acceleration and speed are nice qualities to have, but they take a back seat to mobility, compactness, and fuel economy. When looking for the perfect inner-city cycle, you’ll need something that can fulfill all of the aforementioned prerequisites with ease, while also offering you a bit more in terms of safety and manageable speed. This can thin the herd relatively fast, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to round up some of the industry’s most prolific motos; paying extra attention to the ones that have been catered toward the urban environment.
Honda’s CB300R kicks off our list as one of the most forthcoming examples around, thanks to its comfortable riding ergonomics and above-average ride height. This makes the traversal of your urban environment easier than ever, thanks to an enhanced field of vision and upright seating style. When you’re commuting around town, the need for a small, compact, and punchy platform is made all-the-more apparent, giving the 289cc single-cylinder CB300R an attractive appeal when compared to other, more cumbersome bikes.
KTM 390 Duke
KTM knows how to build a motorcycle, whether they’re headed offroad, used for dual-sport purposes, or strictly street-faring. For the urban commuter, the company’s well-rounded 390 Duke is the perfect platform to tear around town, thanks to its reliable 372cc engine, a 43mm USD suspension that’s been tailored toward inner-city traversal, and a pair of high-end brakes from the likes of Brembo. The result? A well-oriented bike that’s hard to beat when it comes to control, responsiveness, and dependability. Better yet, the Duke features a slimline silhouette that makes it a surefire contender when weaving in and out of tightly-packed traffic, allowing you to persevere through those pesky traffic predicaments and arrive right on time.
BMW G310 GS
BMW’s G 310 GS is one of the most well-rounded bikes on our list, as it derives a number of its refined characteristics from the brand’s flagship adventure bike. Not only does this simplified model bring the cycle down to size for the city’s most close-cropped streets, but it also brings a quick, responsive platform to the hands of the consumer, while boasting a modern, street-ready presence that sets it apart from its competitors. The 313cc single-cylinder bike is as capable as they come if we’re talking in terms of raw ability, and thanks to the implementation of the company’s newly-adopted ABS system and high-end instruments, you’ll have no issues cruising the streets in style.
Kawasaki’s Z650 is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to speed and acceleration, boasting a powerful 649cc parallel-twin engine that complement’s the bike’s refined super-naked design. Since we’re focusing on the urban environment, the cycle’s 120 mile-per-hour top speed won’t be of much use; but don’t fret, it’s slathered in low and mid-range torque, helping you to stay ahead of vehicles, and headed toward your destination. While the Z650 isn’t as compact as some of the other offerings on this list, it’s perfect for the consumer who isn’t easily swayed by minimalistic design principles and would rather ride a moto that demands respect on the roadway. To round out its capable cycle, Kawasaki has even offered an advanced ABS model, which encompasses the company’s revered safety tech.
Yamaha’s MT-07 is a successor to the company’s respected FZ-07, and as such, it carries a number of the cycle’s most prominent characteristics. It couples a powerful 687cc parallel-twin engine with a smooth, but capable low-end, allowing its rider to accelerate in and out of traffic with ease. Like most of the urban commuters on this list, it boasts a sleek, slimline design that keeps it as compact as possible; and thanks to the bike’s exemplary performance, it’s surprisingly simple to cut through the mid-morning rush.
Moto-Guzzi V7 III Stone
At a quick glance, Moto-Guzzi’s V7 III Stone might not seem like a well-rounded commuter, but it’s among the best when it comes to underrepresented power. The cycle’s 744cc V-Twin engine doesn’t play any games when it comes to speed or acceleration, and its simplistic body style makes it a true darkhorse in regards to urban traversal. The V7 III focuses on a uniquely minimalist design principle, leaving a clean, matte black exterior and sleek appearance to do its bidding. If you’re searching for a unique urban moto that marries retro styling with an undeniable, entry-level aesthetic, look no further then the Moto-Guzzi V7 III Stone.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 701
Husqvarna has been a transcendental staple in the motorcycle industry for quite a while now, and while the company’s strengths have always seemed to lie in the off-road realm, there’s no mistaking their blacktop chops. In an interesting departure from the brand’s nostalgic design terminology, the Vitpilen 701 takes on a much more contemporary appearance, boasting a perfect blend of up-to-date linework, body panels, and peripherals. As a result, the bike is one of the best-looking models on the market, making it a head-turner for any aspiring commuter. If you’re more interested in performance, the Vitpilen 701 delivers there, as well; it features a powerful KTM 690 engine, which holds the industry title as the most powerful single-cylinder engine currently offered and comes equipped with various handling upgrades, including a WP suspension and Kiska ergo.
Ducati Multistrada 1260
Ducati’s Multistrada 1260 rounds out or list as the quintessential cycle for urban commutes. Sure, its large frame and upright position make it a capable competitor for any motorcycle list, from adventure, off-road, and dual-sport, all the way to the quick, city-savvy work bike, but it’s the Multistrada’s industry-defining style, components, and dependability that make it a top choice for the refined rider. It features a powerful 1262cc engine, a number of safety implementations — like Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), Bosch Cornering ABS + DTC, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), and adaptable drive modes — and a handful of luxurious quality-of-life additions. If you’re looking for a capable machine that’s also the veritable “king of the hill” when it comes to urban traversal, the Ducati Multistrada 1260 is hard to beat.
The 10 Best Motorcycle Riding Jeans
Taking part in the urban commute means that you’ll want to look good while doing so. If you’re a fashion-forward moto enthusiast, head over to our guide on the best motorcycle riding jeans to keep your outfit in check.