Which is the best bike under so and so price? The parameters may differ, but the people asking us these questions are almost always after the same answer. They all want to know which is the best bike for the money they want to spend. It’s a fair question, but, more often than not, there simply isn’t a clear answer.
Having replied to hundreds, if not thousands, of these questions over the years, I’ve discovered that the lower the price range of the segment in question, the higher the chances of providing a clear and satisfying answer. With affordable bikes, the customer’s expectations tend to lie in just that – affordability and value. If there is one bike that promises better efficiency, comfort, style and value and quality than the others, then hey - that’s the bike we’d recommend.
The same thing holds true for entry-level performance bikes. If you’re on a tight budget and you just want maximum thrills, then it’s simple – the best bike for you is the one that offers the most bang for the buck you can afford. I speak from experience here. My R15 from 10 years ago was a dream come true, and that was followed by my 2014 390 Duke, a machine I absolutely adored. I may have outgrown the R15’s performance fairly quickly, and I may have never comfortably fit on the Duke, but to me, those were the best bikes at that point in life.
However, we are now approaching the point where the two key words in the previous sentence are not “best bike”, but “to me”. You see, as their prices increase, motorcycles don’t simply become more luxurious ways to travel, they also gain personas. Some bikes are best experienced when the throttle is jammed against the stop, while others might create a unique and inimitable sense of euphoria at a gentle 70kph cruise. They’ll all get you to your destination, but they’ll conjure up very different feelings along the way.
If you’re at this point in your motorcycling journey, then the spec sheet must become a thing of reference rather than the absolute truth. The real truth needs to come from within. What sort of a motorcyclist am I? What sort of experience am I after? What are the things I value more highly – Style? Sound? Speed? Smoothness? Efficiency? Comfort? Handling? Something else entirely? These are the sort of questions no one can answer but yourself. And even when you do, your priorities will also almost certainly evolve with time. And that’s why there’s no such thing as the best bike, only the best bike for you at this moment.
Sure enough, some of the less experienced/aspiring motorcyclists out there might read this and exclaim, “hey, I don’t know what I want!”. Well, to you, my friends, all I’ll say is that you’ve got a wonderful journey of self-discovery that lies ahead. Enjoy the ride.