The 20 Fastest Motorcycles You Can Buy

Apr 24, 2020

Category: Rides

Having been around for well over a century, motorcycles have experienced massive technological leaps and bounds over the course of their existence, with refinements in metallurgy, powertrain technology, and chassis engineering over the years allowing for the creation of increasingly capable machines. Even in modern times, this evolution continues, with the industry birthing quicker and quicker models year after year, culminating in today’s crop of ultra-high-performance bikes. And, having witnessed a myriad of benchmark-setting models over the last few years, now seemed like the perfect time to unpack which generation of today’s motorcycles are the fastest, and in what order.

While one would think putting this list together would be a fairly straight-forward task, the level of contradictory information and false claims floating around online complicates things greatly. So, to sort through all the misinformation out there, we’ve reached out to technical directors and media reps from the manufacturers of today’s fastest bikes to bring you a definitive and concrete guide to the 20 fastest motorcycles that you can buy right now.

Photo: 2020 Kawasaki Z H2

The Speed Wars

A modern history of the world’s fastest motorcycles

While it’s admittedly a function of a motorcycle that seldom gets used, top speed is nonetheless an intriguing metric, and one that manufacturers know helps sell bikes. Though it wasn’t always like this. Since the inception of the motorcycle, the machine evolved over the years, with several watershed models popping up along the way that redefined the performance benchmarks in the industry. After the release of Suzuki’s groundbreaking GSX-R750 in the mid-’80s, race replica machines became increasingly popular, as these track-derived models — which were essentially detuned race bikes with headlights — represented the pinnacle of performance on two-wheels, and for the first time were accessibly-priced, readily-available, and 100% road-legal.

Other manufacturers fired back at Suzuki, and the performance of sport bikes continued to evolve over the next half-decade or so until the dawn of the 1990s when manufacturers started releasing models specifically engineered for mind-blowing top speeds and little else. Model’s like Kawasaki’s ZX-11R was soon overtaken by Honda’s CBR1100XX Super Blackbird in 1996, with each boasting a faster and faster top speed. A few years later, Suzuki clapped back at Big Red with the release of its even faster GSX-1300R Hayabusa — with the “Hayabusa” monicker being the Japanese word for “peregrine falcon:” a bird of prey that happens to feed on blackbirds.

It was becoming abundantly clear that speed was the name of the game, and increasingly breakneck speeds were becoming one of the primary focuses of sportbike manufacturers, especially in Japan. As the story goes, politicians and regulatory bodies in several of the western markets started becoming increasingly concerned over the safety issues posed by these triple-digit speed machines. When rumors of an outright ban in Europe reached the boardrooms in Japan, it was decided that something drastic needed to be done to avoid what could be a catastrophic blow to the Japanese motorcycle industry.

The answer came in the form of an informal gentlemen’s’ agreement between the main manufacturers, with each agreeing to govern and/or cap top speeds at 300km/h (or 186.4mph). This allowed these marques to focus on the development of other performance aspects and components, without having to worry about losing sales to a competitor solely due to one of their model’s top speed. This agreement ultimately put an end to what became known as “the speed wars of the 1990s,” though products of it still remain in existence today.

A decade later and fears of a ban had subsided, prompting a number of firms to start dabbling in models that violated the earlier gentlemen’s agreement, first with sleds that could exceed 300km/h, but had their speedometer readings cut off after that number — a method that some companies still employ today – and then eventually with bikes that openly broke the 300km/h barrier. And while today, manufacturers are more focused on shaving down lap times, refining advanced electronics setups, and component and chassis development than they are outright speeds, the ridiculous level of power generated by modern machinery has allowed for some truly incredible top speeds.

Photo: 2020 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro

What Makes A Motorcycle Fast?

Unpacking the elements that add up to speed

Below, we’ll explore the primary factors that determine a motorcycle’s top speed, both in terms of the bike itself, and the conditions its riding in.

Track & Weather Conditions: Though it doesn’t play as crucial a role as the other factors here, track and weather conditions do still have a part in a scoot’s top speed. Smoother tracks and surfaces allow for less friction and therefore more speed. Weather conditions can also affect top speed, as the thickness of or amount of moisture or humidity in the air can mean more resistance for the bike. Wind direction and precipitation obviously play a part, as well, and even your elevation starts to matter when you get high enough above sea-level (as gas-powered engines have less oxygen to work with).

Power: One of the biggest factors that goes into a motorcycle’s top speed is its engine, and how powerful it is. While these figures don’t directly correlate to hair-raising speeds by themselves, you’ll notice a distinct pattern that every bike on this list lands at the higher end of the spectrum in terms of horsepower and torque.

Weight: While power is important, the speed it’s able to achieve is limited by how much weight it has to carry, which is why a bike’s power-to-weight ratio tells you much more than just its power or weight alone. And, not only does the weight of the bike affect its top speed, but so too does the weight of the rider and their riding gear.

Aerodynamics: When coupled with a power-to-weight ratio, designs with low drag coefficients typically allow for faster speeds, as the vehicle can cut through the air with less resistance and friction build-up. Previously, the world’s fastest bikes were all of the full-faired variety, as these are the most aerodynamic, though the insane 200hp+ output of modern naked bikes have allowed a number of streetfighter-style bikes to make it onto this list. A rider being in a full race-tuck also allows for a bit of added speed, compared to a normal upright stance that catches markedly more wind.

Gearing: When discussing the top speed of a stock motorcycle, gearing is probably the single most important element — especially the height of the gearing in sixth gear (or whatever the highest gear is). Gearing can be adjusted to allow for better acceleration at the cost of a lower top speed or can be geared for higher top speeds at the price of poorer acceleration. As a result, the stock gearing on a bike plays a pivotal role in its speeds, as most OEM’s bestow bikes with gearing that prioritizes acceleration and torque over top speeds, which makes sense considering faster acceleration is far more favorable (and practical) on the street.

Photo: 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S

Technical Disclaimer

Defining the criteria for qualification

The term “motorcycle” is a broad one, that encompasses all manner of motorized two-wheelers, including drag racing and land speed bikes. For the sake of this list, we’ll be limiting entries to production models that are currently available for purchase from the current or previous model years. This also includes models from boutique makes, as well as homologation specials. And while these machines can obviously benefit from modifications and upgrades that make them markedly faster, this list will only be looking at motorcycles in their bone-stock form (i.e. exactly as they were when leaving the factory). So, without further adieu, let’s get into it…

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M

185.7 MPH

While it may appear at the bottom of this list, Yamaha’s YZF-R1M is certainly no slouch, representing the top-shelf, track-spec version of the Tuning Fork Company’s flagship R1 superbike. As such, the M-spec of the R1 boasts electronic Ohlins race suspension and upgraded brakes fore and aft, bi-directional quick-shifter, and a heavily upgraded, track-oriented electronics package. With styling directly inspired by Yamaha’s YZR-M1 MotoGP bike, the R1M also distinguishes itself from the base model via a full set of carbon fiber bodywork bolted onto the thing.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 83.2FT-LBS / 200HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $26,099

2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

186mph+ (restricted speedo)

Released as a special homologation version of Kawasaki’s already-highly-potent ZX-10R superbike, the ZX-10RR takes Team Green’s liter-sized flagship to the next level, bestowing the Japanese four-banger with a bi-directional quick shifter, electronic throttle valves, launch control mode, a redesigned head, and titanium connecting rods, just to name a few of the double-R’s upgrades. If looking for proof of this machine’s seriously-capable performance prowess, look no further than the WSBK Championship where the ZX-10R has bagged six of the last seven titles (just like Repsol Honda in MotoGP).

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 85FT-LBS / 201HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $24,899

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

186mph+

With KTM having dropped its 1190 RC8 superbike from its lineup half-a-decade-or-so-ago, its highest performance model is currently its 1290 Super Duke R. Powered by an even more refined version of the Austrian outfit’s LC8 V-Twin, the latest full-size Super Duke R packs an all-new Chromoly tubular space frame and revised composite subframe, WP APEX suspension front and back, a TM slipper clutch and PANKL gearbox, and four-pot Brembo Stylema calipers, all in a sharp, striking, aggressive, KISKA-designed package.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1,301cc, DOHC, 75° V-Twin
Power: 103FT-LBS / 180HP
Origin: Austria

Purchase: $18,699

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP

186mph+ (restricted speedo)

While Honda was once a force to be reckoned with in the production liter-sized superbike realm, the CBR1000RR is no longer seen as the class leader it once was. So, after spending several models years having its flagship superbike being viewed as long in the tooth, Honda is aiming to re-establish itself in the superbike sector with the all-new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. Deriving much of its componentry from Honda’s premier class-dominating RC213V MotoGP bike, the extra-R SP-spec packs an advanced, modern electronics suite, an ultra-potent 215hp engine, and sleek, fully-redesigned bodywork with integrated aerodynamic winglets.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 999cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 83FT-LBS / 215HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $28,500

2020 Suzuki GSX-R1000R

186.4mph

Suzuki’s GSX-R range stands as one of the iconic motorcycle lineups of all time, with a long history of envelope-pushing performance. This particular iteration is the top-shelf R-spec GSX-R1000, which is an even more track-oriented take on the already-performance-focused machine. Much like the Honda SP, this machine came after a long-awaited five-year update that gave way to major improvements. Of course, it still retains elements from the base model like the variable valve timing, six-directional, tri-axis IMU, advanced twin-spar aluminum frame, and Showa race suspension setup.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 999.8cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 87FT-LBS / 199HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $17,699

2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R

187mph+

Kawasaki’s answer to the modern Hayabusa, the ZX-14R (ABS) differs from most other entries on this list as it’s a sport-touring model rather than a straight-up superbike. Consequently, it boasts a larger displacement powertrain and a wider wheelbase that makes it extremely stable at speed, and thus extremely-conducive to touring. It’s also outfitted with some solid stock equipment such as Brembo brakes married to steel-braided lines, traction control and multiple power modes, and a cleverly-designed aluminum monocoque chassis.

Engine: Liquid-Cooled, 1,441cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 115FT-LBS / 200HP+
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $14,999

2020 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro

188.9+mph

Before MV Agusta rolls out a new production model in mass, it releases a small batch of ultra-high-end “Serie Oro” (Italian for “Gold Series”) versions, and shortly before releasing its latest naked flagship: the Brutale 1000RR, MV Agusta launched 300 units of an ultra-exclusive Serie Oro-spec Brutale 1000. Touted upon its release as being “the fastest naked bike in the world,” the Brutale 1KSO sports a wildly unique, aggressive, and unmistakably Italian design, with radiator shrouds that double as down-force-generating winglets, a new four-cylinder engine pushing more than 200hp, and one of the brand’s trademark drop-dead gorgeous exhaust setups (made by Arrow).

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 86FT-LBS / 208HP
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $45,998

2020 BMW S1000RR

192mph

When BMW Motorrad released the S1000RR superbike in the late aughts it utterly revolutionized the segment, raising the bar several times over with a cutting-edge superbike with a sophisticated electronics package that was like nothing that had ever come before it. And over the last decade, BMW has managed to keep the double-R on the forefront of superbike performance, with numerous model updates culminating in the fully-redesigned model for 2020. The first-ever BMW motorcycle offered with an optional M-Performance package, the 2020 S1000RR ditches its predecessor’s asymmetrical headlight setup for a new LED arrangement complimenting the rest of its all-new body and framework.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 999cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 83FT-LBS / 205HP
Origin: Germany

Purchase: $16,995

Suter Racing MMX 500

192.62mph

Before the current generation of liter-sized four-stroke machines, MotoGP saw racers used to campaign half-liter two-stroke bikes. And Suter’s MMX 500 is a return to these glorious, nostalgia-evoking, oil-burning racers of yesteryear, albeit with a thoroughly modern twist, ultimately resulting in one of the most unique motorcycles produced in recent times: a 190mph+, 195hp, 576cc, fuel-injected, two-stroke, V-4 with all-carbon-fiber bodywork and top-of-the-line componentry, all in a package that tips the scales at just 280lbs wet. Entirely built by hand and equipped with custom Akrapovic expansion chambers and two-stroke pipes, the Swiss outfit is limiting production to only 99 units of these insanely-potent two-stroke track weapons.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 576cc, two-stroke, DOHC, V-4
Power: 195HP
Origin: Switzerland

Purchase: $123,500

2020 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-1300R

193.86mph

A leftover remnant of the ‘90s speed wars, the Hayabusa is one of the most iconic models in production today, with the bulbous-bodied behemoth being widely known even by the non-motorcycling public. And, though it’s undergone a number of tweaks and updates over the years, Suzuki has always managed to retain the core aspects and elements that have made this Japanese motorcycle so popular. The latest version still boasts this distinct character and charm, though it is markedly more refined, with a more sophisticated electronics and suspension package.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1,340cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 114FT-LBS / 197HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $14,799

2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S

195mph+

Ducati previously offered a naked version of its flagship superbike models in the mid-to-late aughts, though for the last few years it hasn’t been part of the firm’s lineup. So, not long after Ducati unveiled its MotoGP-derived V-4 platform, rumors immediately began swirling of a naked, Streetfighter version of the new fully-faired flagship. And, much to the delight of Ducatistas everywhere, the Bologna firm came through. Like the rest of Ducati’s models, the S-spec represents the top-shelf version of the Streetfighter V4, and as such boasts Ohlins suspension, and a number of other top-shelf upgrades. And, while beauty is subjective, it’s hard not to look at the Streetfighter V4 and see one of the most attractive motorcycle designs in recent years.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1,103cc, DOHC, 90° V-4
Power: 90.4FT-LBS / 208HP
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $23,995

2020 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory

198.8mph

As a direct competitor to Ducati’s world-famous superbikes, you can be sure Aprilia makes one hell of a motorcycle, and its flagship RSV4 is far from an exception. And while the RSV4 is incredibly potent in its base trim, the Noale firm nonetheless offers a top-of-the-line, race-derived Factory-spec of the Italian V-4 with a host of high-end upgrades including carbon fiber bodywork and a carbon heat-shield for its Akrapovic race exhaust, and integrated carbon fiber MotoGP-style aerodynamic winglets, among many others. And with a matte black livery completing the package, this is one modern superbike that ticks all the boxes: looks good; sounds great; and goes even greater.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1,078cc, DOHC, 65° V-4
Power: 90FT-LBS / 217HP
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $26,495

2020 Ducati Panigale V4 R

198.8mph

When Ducati rolled out its 1,100cc Stradale V4 platform in 2017, it marked the first Ducati model in decades not to utilize the brand’s hallmark L-Twin engine, though the 1.1L displacement barred the new Duck from WSBK competition. To skirt this issue, Ducati released a sub-1,000cc race-ready version of the bike with the Panigale V4 R superbike model. Sporting the sculpted bare-aluminum tank of previous Ducati homologation specials, this machine is one of the highest-performance motorcycles on earth, not just based on its top speed and power output, but on its ability to fire-off insanely impressive lap times. The V4 R’s engine is also Ducati’s most powerful (production) powertrain of all time.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, 90° V-4
Power: 83FT-LBS / 221HP (234HP w/ race exhaust)
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $40,000

Damon Motorcycles Hypersport Premier

200mph (claimed)

Though it has yet to hit showrooms, if Damon Motorcycles’ claims come to fruition, the Hypersport Premier (and HS) will be one of, if not the highest-performing electric motorcycle on the market, with a claimed 200-mile range, three-hour charge times, a sub-3-second 0-60mph time, and integrated GoPro-style cameras and a 4G-connected smart auto-pilot system, all in a sub-440lb package that offers 200hp outputs and a supposed top speed of 200mph. If Damon manages to deliver on these promises, the Hypersport will be nothing short of a revolution in the electric motorcycle segment.

Engine: Liquid Cooled PMAC
Power: 148FT-LBS / 200HP+ (claimed)
Origin: Canada

Purchase: $39,995

2020 Kawasaki Z H2

200mph+

Kawasaki already offered a robust line of naked Z machines, all ranging in displacement and engine type while maintaining the flagship’s naked aggressive looks. And this year, Kawasaki decided to add to that lineup with a forced-induction version, taking the supercharged four-cylinder engine from the NINJA H2 and dropping it into a new, naked package. With the benefit of a factory-installed supercharger, the Z H2 manages to deliver some insanely-impressive performance capabilities — made all the more impressive by the model’s lack of bodywork and surprisingly accessible MSRP.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, supercharged, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 101FT-LBS / 197HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $17,000

2020 Ducati Superleggera V4

200mph+

Ducati has managed to deliver the absolute pinnacle of superbike performance with the new Superleggera V4, taking the 234hp mill from the V4 R and stuffing it into a chassis made entirely from carbon fiber, before adorning it in all-carbon bodywork, and outfitting it with all-carbon wheels — all of which come together to allow for a superbike with the most impressive power-to-weight ratio ever seen. The liberal use of carbon fiber also adds a degree of lightness that enables the Superleggera to achieve even higher speeds than the V4 R. Italian for “Super Light”, the Superleggera V4 is the epitome of two-wheeled exotica and moto-exclusivity.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC, 90° V-4
Power: 87.7FT-LBS / 234HP
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $100,000 (approximately)

2020 Kawasaki Ninja H2

209mph+

Aside from the turbo wars of the 1980s — another worthwhile piece of motorcycling history that we’ll have to save for another day — the motorcycle industry hadn’t seen a turbo or supercharged model for decades. That was until Kawasaki released the NINJA H2 in 2015. On top of being decked out in a sleek, futuristic design, the H2 distinguished itself from the rest of the market by offering levels of performance that nobody else in the industry could come close to, with almost 100ft-lbs of torque and 200hp at the rear wheel.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, supercharged, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 98.5FT-LBS / 210HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $29,000

2020 Lightning LS-218

218.63mph

Electric motorcycles are widely recognized today for their stellar performance capabilities and unrivaled amounts of torque, and Lightning is in large part to thanks for that. Early on in the two-wheeled EV story, Lightning developed a bike that wouldn’t just become the fastest electric bike upon its release, but the fastest motorcycle in the world, period. Named after its top speed of just over 218mph, the LS-218 is an ultra-high-performance machine, with one example previously being used to shatter the outright motorcycle record at Pikes Peak.

Engine: Liquid-cooled IPM electric motor
Power: 168FT-LBS / 200HP
Origin: America

Purchase: $38,888

2020 Kawasaki NINJA H2R

248.5mph

Alongside the road-legal NINJA H2, Kawasaki also unleashed an even more bonkers, track-only version of the supercharged scoot, known as the NINJA H2R. Uninhibited by road-going restrictions, the H2R is unlike anything else on the market in terms of raw performance, generating more than 300hp and 100ft-lbs of torque. Draped in all-carbon-fiber bodywork, the H2R sports a unique design with aerodynamic winglets that are needed to produce downforce when the bike is nearing its top speed. This one sounds as unique as it looks, too.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, supercharged, 998cc, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 115FT-LBS / 310HP
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $55,000

2019 MTT 420RR

273.4mph (claimed)

MTT first introduced its Y2K Turbine superbike around the turn of the millennium, though not content with the original model’s 320hp and 250mph top speed, the American outfit has in recent times returned with an even more ludicrous turbine-powered two-wheeler with the MTT 420RR. With the 420 denoting its horsepower output and the RR being short for “Race Ready,” this track-only machine packs an even crazier Rolls Royce Allison – 250-C20 Series gas turbine engine, as well as carbon fiber bodywork, and an aluminum alloy chassis. Tipping the scales at 500lbs, the claimed top speed of this race-ready American quarter-million-dollar motorcycle is theoretical, with the manufacturer’s website listing its top speed as “Faster Than You Will Ever Dare To Go.”

Engine: Rolls Royce Allison – 250-C20 Series Turbine
Power: 500FT-LBS / 420HP (claimed)
Origin: America

Purchase: $249,900

The 20 Fastest Cars In The World

Now that we’ve gone over the fastest motorized machines on two-wheels, why not check out the planets quickest four-wheeled specimens in our definitive guide to the fastest cars in the world.

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