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Best Commuter Bikes That Aren’t Boring To Ride

May 11, 2024May 11, 2024

Commuter motorcycles need not be boring to ride, and these motorcycles prove it

Commuter motorcycles get a bad rep sometimes. Yes, commuter bikes need to be practical, comfortable, and manageable in city traffic, but that often leads many bikers to pick bikes that aren’t so fun to ride otherwise. Some of the most infamous examples include mopeds, maxi scooters, and bikes with small engines, unassuming looks, and a lack of character. But your commuter motorcycle does not have to be so boring; it can be fun, too.

The current market is riddled with some of the best motorcycles ever built, and it’s not hard to find commuter-friendly motorcycles that are otherwise fun to ride, whether you are a track day junkie, a laid-back tourer, or a street hooligan. There are plenty of bikes in each segment that can double up as your commuter motorcycle. Bonus points if the bike has storage and a comfortable seat, but these bikes have so much more. Here are the best commuter bikes that aren’t boring to ride.

Looking at the data from manufacturer websites and motorcycle forums, we have picked the best commuter motorcycles that don’t compromise on fun or performance for city comfort.

Related: Top 10 Urban Bikes For City Commuting

For some riders, the definition of fun rests on a character-rich motorcycle with a gorgeous sound and endless bottom-end torque, so they can putter around on city streets without stalling in every gear. And for such a rider, the best commuter is the Harley-Davidson Street Glide. It’s a quick motorcycle with dollops of torque, a low seat height ideal for SoCal traffic, and stylish enough to make you the office badass. It also has other commuter-friendly features like a supple suspension, a comfortable seat and ergonomics, floorboards, and a belt drive. And, of course, you can always skip work and start on a cross-country road trip with this one.

Forget the “adventure bike” marketing, the Kawasaki Versys 650 is one of the best street-oriented adventure touring bikes, not a proper adventure bike. It shows in its perky twin-cylinder Kawasaki engine, Showa suspension, small street rubber, and a top-heavy design. But the Versys 650 is also a terrific commuter. It’s got a comfortable seat, wide handlebars, and an approachable engine; even the suspension is excellent at absorbing bumps while keeping the bike agile. The Versys 650 has got everything you need for your fun commute — power, comfort, and agility — but it offers so much more, making it a terrific weekend companion, too.

Don’t let the Ducati badge scare you; this is one of the few practical bikes Ducati makes in their long lineup of committed (read: impractical) bikes. The Scrambler is an exciting, beginner-friendly bike that’s light, small, and quick. Yes, the seat is hard, and the fuel tank is small, but if you look past that, this is the best Ducati for urban roads. And since it’s a scrambler, it can handle rough roads without losing its bolts, so you won’t be picking fights with the city administration so often. Yes, it is expensive, but the L-twin engine and electronics elevate this bike over its competition.

Related: 10 Best Ducati Motorcycles Currently On Sale

The Ducati Scrambler is expensive and powerful, but if you want a more approachable scrambler, look no further than the Royal Enfield Scram 411 — a stripped-out version of the legendary Himalayan. This bike retains all the charm of the single-cylinder scrambler while offering it in a more road-oriented package, and while it isn’t the fastest thing on the road, it is such a joy to ride. The engine is full of character and low-end torque, the handling is agile, and maintaining it is akin to maintaining a hair dryer. And you can still take this thing off-roading on the weekends; just avoid the freeways, as it will run out of steam on the ramp itself.

The Triumph Street Twin is one of the chillest motorcycles in the market. This retro motorcycle features a liquid-cooled 900cc parallel twin engine with a 270-degree firing sequence, so the torque and sound are never compromised across the rev range. Plus, the bike’s character is laid-back without being a lazy handler, and the seating position is very commuter friendly with mid-forward pegs, a slim chassis, and low-rise handlebars. The Street Twin is a balanced, polished motorcycle that will put a smile on your face every morning.

But what if calm, laid-back motorcycles aren’t your jam, and you want something fun yet practical? The BMW F 900 R has got your back. The F 900 R, replacing the F 850, is a parallel-twin naked bike with explosive performance and practicality. The power delivery is smooth and exhilarating, and like any other BMW, the motorcycle feels precise in everything it does, whether it is commuting, touring, or cornering. And despite having 105 horsepower, the bike is a breeze to ride in the city at low speeds without feeling slow or sluggish. This is the BMW for everyday use, not the puny G 310 R, and it's one of the most underrated bikes of 2023.

Some riders will never touch anything without a fairing; for them, the Honda CBR650R is the best commuter motorcycle. This bike offers the top-end rush and handling of a supersport paired with sport touring ergonomics and character. The sub-700cc screamer will keep you entertained and keep up with superports on the weekend, but the ergonomics and an easy-going low end will keep you comfy on your commutes. This bike is so comfortable that it can be the only bike you ever own. And since it’s a Honda, maintaining it is as easy as maintaining a lawnmower, which is probably a Honda too.

For beginner riders with a low budget, who are looking for a versatile bike, the Ninja 400 will not disappoint. This 400cc sport bike by Kawasaki is heavily inspired by the Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-6R, as seen in its design, and it uses a high-revving parallel-twin engine that is fun to push to its limits. Plus, it’s an approachable beginner motorcycle you won’t outgrow in a few months. In fact, many experienced bikers are moving to this bike for its versatility and practicality, and it’s not uncommon to find these bikes giving bigger sports bikes a run for their money on the track. We only picked this over the KTM RC 390 because your commuter motorcycle needs to be fun and RELIABLE, which the KTM 390 platform is not known for.

Related: 10 Reasons Why The Kawasaki Ninja 400 Is The Best Entry Level Sports Bike

Let’s keep aside practicality and comfort for a moment and focus on absolute fun — the Ducati Hypermotard comes to mind. This radical motorcycle, designed by Pierre Terblanche, is a supermoto that’s almost too powerful for the streets; it unloads power at the slightest twist of the wrist and handles scarily sharp unless you know exactly what you are doing. Of course, it can’t do much else other than be an absolute hooligan of a motorcycle, but it belongs to the streets, and if you are brave enough, you can commute on it too. Just have control of your wrist, or you might lose a few points on your license every morning.

Let’s keep speed and performance aside and look at something purely fun — the Honda Grom and Monkey motorcycles. These two motorcycles are virtually the same but in different avatars, but they are the most fun you can have on city streets. These motorcycles are the perfect commuters: they are light and agile, easy to wheelie, ridiculously economical, can fit into the tightest parking spots, and are super light and small for the worst traffic jams in your city.

The Grom and Monkey minimotos are for riders looking for a fun alternative to mopeds but don’t want something big or expensive, but they will bring out the worst in you by encouraging you to be a straight-up nightmare on the road. Fortunately, they’re so slow you won’t lose your license even if you hit the red line in every gear.

Meet Aayush, a motorcycle-loving writer from Goa. With almost a decade of riding experience and a (not so) trusty Dominar 400, you can find him exploring the Western Ghats on Sundays or tinkering with motorcycles during his free hours. From touring tips to DIY maintenance, he's got you covered. So, grab your helmet and join the ride!