Whether you’re a veteran motorcycle enthusiast or new to the world of motorcycles, you’ve probably heard of or come across different brands of motorcycles. Each brand is unique in reliability, level of comfort, and overall bike quality.
Knowing which brand delivers the best quality bikes is thus an important consideration when shopping for either a used or new motorcycle.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best motorcycle brands in the world today that you can count on. Some are obvious brands you’ve likely come across, while others are less-known brands with impressive specs that’ll draw your attention.
But first, let’s discuss things you should consider before deciding on a motorcycle brand.
What to Consider Before Deciding on a Motorcycle Brand
Brand plays a significant role when shopping for a motorcycle or any product. It offers comfort and satisfaction and gives you peace of mind, especially if the product consistently delivers a positive experience.
Below are essential points to remember before settling on a motorcycle brand.
Engine performance varies by design and capacity. For instance, inline-6 engines are larger, more powerful, and have less vibration than inline-4 engines. Plus, bikes with larger engines—350 to 500cc are generally more stable than their low-capacity counterparts.
Motorcycle brands like Honda are generally famous for their outstanding engine performance regardless of size. Research engine performances, including durability from different brands, before buying.
Parts and Accessories
Spending an entire week or month looking for a motorcycle part or service station can be stressful. It can be worse if you depend on the bike as the primary means of transport. Unfortunately, that’s the case for some motorcycle brands.
Some may be due to a global shortage of manufacturing materials, like the recent shortage of microchips. Others are due to a limited number of bikes of a particular motorcycle brand in the market.
On the other hand, some people want a motorcycle brand they can customize to match their personality, style, and riding needs. Such accessories may include a custom exhaust, a windscreen, a backrest, or a saddlebag.
Most motorcycles, especially popular brands, have easily accessible parts and are easy to customize. Choose your ideal brand depending on how you intend to use the bike, including personal style.
Also, consider the long-term budget, like the bike mileage and how frequently you may need to replace specific parts. Some motorcycle brands have more durable parts than others.
Some motorcycle brands are famous for their raised designs, while others are more laid back. For instance, Suzuki is the most popular brand that produces dirt bikes. These bikes are famous for their raised seats.
On the other hand, Harley-Davidson is known more for manufacturing low-seat motorcycles.
However, that should not be a minor determinant since Honda has both the high-seat design and the Grom, which tends to be lower. Go for a brand that’s well-known for a specific design.
Of course, you should also consider how you intend to use the bike. Dirt bikes are more raised, making them specifically suitable for off-road riding. Cruisers from Harley are more comfortable, making them an ideal choice for touring.
Remember, you can always find different bike sizes within the same brand. What matters is your body size and a bike that feels comfortable when you hit the road.
Top 10 Motorcycle Brands in the World
Motorcycles come in many different brands. Each differs in the level of workmanship and, in some instances, construction materials. Here we look at the top ten reliable motorcycle brands available today. (The list is in no specific order.)
Honda is one of the most inspiring motorcycle brands ever in the world of motorcycles. Founded around 1949 as the sole manufacturer of piston rings, Honda has evolved to become a major manufacturer of luxury motorcycle brands around the globe.
Today, the Japanese company produces all motorcycle varieties, automobiles, and power tools sold worldwide.
Honda boasts more than 400,000,000 million motorcycle productions since 1949. The company has outsold all other major motorcycle brands ever to exist. Honda has its headquarters in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, with different wings distributed globally.
Honda Activa 5G and Honda Shine are the most popular models from Honda that you may want to check out.
Triumph may not be as famous on a global scale as other brands on this list, yet it remains one of the most cherished bikes by motorcycle enthusiasts. Founded in 1983 in the UK by John Bloor, Triumph made its first motorized motorcycle in 1902.
Many motorcycle enthusiasts love Triumphs’ modern-day styling that features a long wheelbase, muscular fuel tank, and beefy suspension. The bikes are comfortable and with a rich heritage from their country of origin.
The company previously underwent rough financial struggles and receiverships before its breakthrough into the motorcycle industry.
Triumph Motorcycle Ltd has its headquarters in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, where it has produced its motorcycles and clothing, and motorcycle parts.
The company has maintained its legacy as the most dominant and trusted bike manufacturer in the UK for decades. Triumph is 100% UK-owned and produces more than 130,000 motorcycles each year.
Yamaha comes top among the most trusted brands in the world of motorcycling. The brand was established in 1954 by Genichi Kawakami.
Their famous motto, “If you are going to make it, make it the very best there is”, stamps the brand’s determination to produce the most reliable motorcycles possible.
Yamaha’s first model—the YA-1, debuted in 1955. The bike participated in a Japanese motorcycle road race the same year and won positions one, two, and three.
The bike drew international attention, and by 1960, Yamaha had become an international motorcycle sensation exporting its bikes to the US and other parts of the world.
The brand is famous for on and off-road sporting cyclists. Yamaha bikes are more aligned to fun and off-road adventures than long-distance applications.
Yamaha is active in all major riding sectors, including electric, motocross, enduro, and trail. The company boasts more motorcycle sales since its inauguration in 1955, only second after the giant Honda.
Harley-Davidson is an iconic American motorcycle brand founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1903. William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, and Walter Davidson built the first engine they tried on a regular bike.
Unfortunately, the invention was not so successful at the first attempt forcing the three brothers to retreat to the drawing board.
The brothers didn’t give up and embarked on a further modification of the now popular vintage appeal of the modern Harleys we see today.
The American motorcycle brand is famous for its revolutionary engine and durable, easy-to-find parts.
Initially, Harley marketed their heavyweight cruiser motorcycles with more than 700cc before expanding their offerings to contemporary and idle-weight motorcycle brands.
The company headquarters remain in the founding Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but with other manufacturing operations in York, Pennsylvania, Bawal, India, Pluak Daeng, Thailand, and Manaus, Brazil.
Maisto Harley Motorcycle and Fat Boy are the most popular cruisers from Harley.
Suzuki is no new name in the motorcycle industry. The Japanese company is one of the leading motorbike manufacturing companies founded in 1909 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, by Michio Suzuki.
Suzuki is famous for manufacturing both Suzuki cars and dirt Suzuki motorcycles. However, it’s noteworthy that the company produced motorcycles first.
Suzuki’s first motorcycle was in 1952, while its first vehicle came in 1955. Today, Suzuki is famous for its road racers and off-road bikes that have acclaimed many accolades over the years.
The company also produces some of the most renowned street bikes, including the cruiser Boulevard series and the legendary GSX-R series sports bikes.
Hayabusa is one of the fastest Suzuki bike models with a staggering speed of up to 310 km/h, thanks to its 1340cc engine. Clymer Suzuki DR250-350 is yet another high-performance off-road bike from Suzuki manufacturers that you may want to check out.
Bavarian Motor Group (BMW) is a well-known brand producing premium cars. Although their bikes are not so popular, BMW manufactures top-of-the-range motorcycles on the market today.
Founded in 1916 in Munich, Germany, BMW initially specialized in manufacturing airplane engines used in World War I.
BMW produced the first M2B15 flat-twin petrol engine in 1920. This was the genesis of the BMW motorcycles, solely focused on releasing high-performance motorcycles for use during wars. Their first flat-engine motorcycle debuted in 1923.
A series of premium BMW motorcycles, including Roadster, Heritage, Touring, sports, and Adventure motorcycles, followed until the end of World War II when their operations slowed down.
Although the company has struggled with its comeback, it has lately recorded a significant increase in its total annual motorbike sales.
Many people love BMW bikes due to the quality materials used in constructing all their automobiles. Their motorcycles still feature the flat-twin boxer engine design used in their first motorcycles more than 100 years ago.
Kawasaki is among the most respected high-performance motorcycle brands to ever exist in Japan. Their bikes are now spread all over the world. Founded a little earlier in the late 80s by one Kawasaki Shozo, the first mass production of Kawasaki bikes was in 1953.
Kawasaki produces all the major motorcycles, including Dual sports, off-road, street bikes, adventure, and Motocross motorcycles. The company also manufactures recreation vehicles, aircraft, and water boats.
Kawasaki bikes stand out for their high performance, dependability, and attractive green color in all their models.
The giant Japanese motorcycle manufacturer uses pure silver in their popular Ninja brands, making them more elegant and durable. The bikes are also fun to ride on long road trips with friends, thus their famous slogan, “let the good times roll.”
Despite being a famous brand in Japan during the early days, Kawasaki quickly gained international recognition, leading to the establishment of a major production wing in Chicago, USA.
Ducati is a popular brand among motorcycle racing enthusiasts. The company manufactures bikes for non-racers too.
The iconic Italian motorcycle brand was founded by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati in 1926 with his sons—Bruno, Marcello, and Adriano, in Bologna.
The company initially sold vacuum tubes before venturing into the manufacture of engines in 1944. Fast-forward, Ducati started manufacturing different types of bikes, including:
The Cucciolo was Ducati’s first motorcycle. The bike propelled Ducati to fame after featuring in many racing competitions around 1951.
Although Ducati manufactures some of Italy’s most elegant and high-performance motorcycles today, some users complain about their high price tag.
The company is a subsidiary of the Ducati firm and is owned by Volkswagen Group through its affiliates—Audi and Lamborghini. Ducati’s headquarters lie in Bologna Panigale, Italy, to date.
KTM started as an auto repair shop in Mattighofen, Austria, in the 1930s. The official launch of KTM was in 1957 by the founder, Hans Trunkenpolz, who was also an engineer.
The company previously operated under the name KTM Sportmotorcycle AG before going bankrupt in 1991 and rebranding in 1992 to KTM under the new acquisition.
KTM has maintained back-to-back production of off-road motorcycles ranging from Enduro, Cross-country, and Motocross.
The Street bike segment from KTM includes Adventure, Sports, Supersports, Superbikes, and Super motors. KTM motorcycles are particularly famous for their high-performance engine and ready-to-race build.
KTM currently has its headquarters in Mattighofen, Austria, under Stefan Pierer as the CEO.
Like KTM, Aprillia is not as popular among cyclists as other motorcycles in this list. However, the brand remains one of the most trusted in the motorcycle industry across the globe and particularly in Italy.
The company produced bicycles in its early years before moving to motorcycle manufacturing. The brand started by manufacturing scooters before entering the standard motorcycle market.
Although Aprilia produces a wide variety of motorcycles, the brand enjoys wide followership from sports and racing enthusiasts. Aprilia manufactures some of the most renowned road-racing motorcycles with more than 1000cc power output.
Aprilia caters to motorcycle enthusiasts who love speed. The bike may not be your ideal choice for a whole day of riding, but you can count on it to get you to your destination within the shortest time possible.
The Best Motorcycle Brands for Beginners and Pros
Motorcycles come in different brands and designs. They differ in performance, ergonomics, and application. Some bikes are more comfortable for long-distance riding and easy to control than others.
Depending on the experience level, knowing what suits you is crucial for your safety and a better riding experience. Here is a detailed look (not in any specific order) at the best bikes for beginners and pros.
11. Royal Enfield
Royal Enfield offers more of an adventurous and relaxed feel. The Indian motorcycle brand was founded in 1955 and, to date, has its major manufacturing plant in Chennai—the company’s headquarters.
Royal Enfield is famous as one of the oldest Indian and global motorcycle brands that have maintained their heritage and continuous production.
Royal Enfield bikes were first produced in the UK before their partnership with India’s Madras Motors later in 1955. The Interceptor 750 was the fastest Royal Enfield bike ever to exist. The motorcycle was produced while the company was still in the UK.
The brand has gained international recognition over the years. At some point, Royal Enfield outpaced industry veterans like the Harley in sales with their models like the Bullet 500.
Mahindra is a new name in the motorcycle manufacturing industry. Founded in 2008, the brand is barely a decade old but has made a name for itself as one of the most trusted brands among many beginner riders.
Before venturing into motorcycle production, the company was initially known for manufacturing farm implements and heavy-duty lawnmowers.
The Indian motorcycle brand is owned by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited and manufactures scooters and motorcycles. The company now distributes its bikes worldwide.
Vespa is an Italian term that means wasp. Enrico Piaggio, the founder of the motorized scooter, named it after he saw the first bike with a closely-related design in 1944.
Enrico was the son of the original Vespa founder—Rinaldo Piaggio. Vespa has undergone multiple modifications since its debut in the 1940s’.
However, the scooter maintained its wasp shape to what it looked like when it first introduced the first Vespa, MP5 Paperino, in 1945.
The Piaggio Group of Companies manufactures more than Vespa scooters. Other motorized designs include Gilera, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, and Scarabeo.
Today Vespa is available in different designs and options, including electric, manual, and CVT. The modern Vespa electric scooters are more powerful and can cruise a whooping 100km on a single charge.
Vespa scooters are famous for the pressed steel unibody that combines the unified structural unit with an enclosed engine to protect it from dirt. The scooter has a flat floorboard for the footrest and a prominent fore fairing to shield you from the wind.
The company has its headquarters in Pontedera, Tuscany, Italy, where major manufacturing occurs.
Beta is an Italian brand that majors in off-road motorcycle manufacturing. Like many motorcycle manufacturers, the brand has a humble beginning as a producer of bicycles before upgrading to motorbikes.
The company manufactured push bicycles between 1904 and 1948 when it produced the first motorized bike. Since then, the company has experimented and succeeded with various on and off-road bikes and engines.
Beta bikes have also featured engines from industry giants like KTM and Suzuki DR. Beta Trial bikes such as the Evo 80 Senior are among the world’s most competitive mountain-climbing bikes, with all engines built in-house.
Although most Beta Enduro motorbikes manufactured between 2004 and 2009 feature KTM engines, Beta is now making most of its Enduro bikes with Beta engines.
You can never go wrong with a Beta if you love dirt bikes. These bikes have all the features that make a great mountain and off-road dirt bike, including:
- Electric starting
- Hydraulic clutch
- Oil injection
Most Beta bikes are also relatively easy to maintain compared to other motorcycles in the same category.
Hero is arguably the largest motorcycle and scooter manufacturer in India and the second largest worldwide. Hero makes about 46% of all motorcycles and scooters in India.
The company focuses on making affordable motorcycles and scooters for every Indian household. The bike is easy to maintain, reliable, and with an impressive fuel consumption rate.
Founded in 1984 by Brijmohan Lall Munja, today Hero has its headquarters in New Delhi, where most manufacturing takes place.
Hero initially partnered with Honda and worked under the name Hero Honda before parting ways in 2011 to adopt its name Hero Motocorp.
The company recently announced its plans to venture into adventure touring bike productions, where it plans to make 300cc and 400cc motorcycles.
16. SYM Motors
SYM Motors is an Asian motorcycle brand not so popular among many riders globally. The brand was founded in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1954.
SYM Motors specializes in the manufacture of motorcycles and scooters. Although the primary production of SYM motorized bikes occurs in Taiwan, the company also has plants in China and Vietnam.
Since its inception, the company has sold more than 16 million motorcycles and scooters and earns more than $1 billion in revenue yearly.
SYM Motors may not be your high-performance machine, but they are reliable and are also loved for their beauty. It’s one of the best beginner motorcycles with a comfortable seat, spacious under-seat storage, and an effective digital dash.
Bajaj is among the leaders of motorcycle sales in India after Hero. It’s also the world’s biggest maker of motorized three-wheelers. It’s an economical motorcycle brand with a great focus on mileage performance and styling.
Bajaj produced its first motorcycle in 1986. Since then, the company has produced almost all types of bikes in the motorcycle touring segment.
Bajaj motorcycles are attractive, economical, and low maintenance, making them the best choice for beginner motorcycle riders.
The bike became more popular in Asian countries after launching an air-cooled 150cc/180cc Pulsar that mainly targeted the youth. The Pulsar had an outstanding performance only comparable to the then-dominant Hero Honda CBZ.
TVS is a familiar name in the motorcycle industry. It’s the third largest Indian motorcycle company after Hero and Bajaj. The name TVS is coined from the founder’s name Thirukkurungudi Vengaram Sundram Iyengar.
Founded in 1978, the now multi-million company has produced high-quality motorized bikes for more than five decades now.
TVS produces various motorized bikes, including scooters, motorcycles, mopeds, and three-wheelers.
In 2002, TVS won the Deming Application Prize—one of the major TQM awards given to key players and contributors in Total Quality Management.
Apart from the DAP award, TVS recently won the Outstanding Design Excellence Award (ODEA) from the National Institute of Design in India and Business World Magazine.
TVS’ star HLS 100cc was also recognized during the Feed the World grand tour for its outstanding performance and durability.
TVS is especially famous for its affordability and fuel economy.
Bimota is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1973. The name Bimota is derived from the founders’ first two surname initials—Bianchi, Morri, and Tamburini.
Tamburini was a chief-designed who played an essential role in developing the high-quality Bimota motorcycle chassis. He also contributed to other design works for Italian bikes, such as Ducati 916 and Ducati Passo.
Bimotas’ major international recognition was in 1980 in a moto racing competition. John Ekerold won the world championship using a Yamaha-powered Bimota.
The company thrived but unfortunately suffered major financial setbacks from the late 1990s until the early 2000s. However, the rebirth under new owners was even stronger.
Bimota now produces some of Italy’s most exclusive and high-quality motorcycles today.
20. MV Agusta
MV Agusta is another iconic Italian motorcycle brand produced in Milan in Cascina Costa in 1945. The motorcycle brand is a branch of the Agusta aircraft company.
The MV in the brands’ names denotes Meccanica Verghera, the hamlet where the first MVs were produced.
MV Agusta pays close attention to its motorcycle-manufacturing process to ensure they give the best riding experience to the brand loyalists. Their bikes feature a mixed combination of hand and advanced technology construction.
The final product guarantees quality and care, and a personal human touch.
Norton is an older company founded in 1898 as a parts and accessories store. The company was founded in Birmingham, England, by James Lansdowne Norton. The first motorcycle by Norton manufacturers was in 1902.
Some of the most acclaimed motorcycles from Norton over its years of operations include Dominator, Commander, Interpol 2, Commando 961 Sport MKII, and Classic.
Norton bikes combine a unique mix of craftsmanship, innovation, and leading industry technology to offer reliable bikes that give the rider the best experience possible.
22. Moto Guzzi
Moto Guzzi boasts a 90° V engine—the brand’s best-selling of all time. The company has used the same framework until now to design its V7 range motorcycles.
The production shot up tremendously in 2004 after partnering with the Piaggio group. The following year—in 2005, Moto Guzzi launched a series of high-end motorcycles, including the 1200 Sports, Griso 1100, and Breva.
Moto Guzzi has affordable, genuine, and easily accessible parts all over Italy and in most online shops. Many users are satisfied with Moto Guzzi’s tough construction that won’t total easily during a crash.
Moto Guzzi bike models have incredible sounds and plenty of torque. You won’t fail to notice if one is around.
Benelli is an Italian motorcycle brand and one of the oldest in the world’s history of motorcycle manufacturing. The history of Benelli dates back to 1911, in Pesaro, Italy, the founding city. Benelli was founded by Teresa Boni Benelli and her children.
Teresa had lost her husband and invested the family capital in motorcycle manufacturing to support her six sons. She even sent two of her sons to Switzerland to study engineering.
The company was already operating as a motorcycle and bicycle repair shop in Italy. During that time, they also made and sold spare parts. The first complete Benelli engine was built in 1920. The first motorcycle by Benelli came out in 1921.
In 2005, the company was acquired by a Chinese company, Geely Holding Group, operating under Qianjiang Motorcycles. All Benelli marketing activities now occur in Italy, while production occurs in China.
Benelli motorbikes are famous for producing commendable, high-quality engines for maximum pleasure and riding experience. Many people who buy Benelli motorcycles admit their fuel efficiency, outstanding engine performance, and excellent gearbox.
With the synergy between China and Italy, Benelli lovers can look forward to more sophisticated motorcycle variants across different riding segments.
The brand currently offers a wide range of motorcycle models from 135cc to 300cc, 500cc, 600cc four-cylinder, and 750cc twin-cylinder.
24. Indian Motorcycle
Indian Motorcycle is the closest ’rival’ of Harley-Davidson. Although the bike has undergone many modifications over the years, you can trust an Indian for the best cruiser motorcycle on the market today. It’s a little heavier than the Harley, yet so comfortable.
Indian is an American motorcycle brand founded in 1901 in Springfield, Massachusetts, by George M. Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom. Some of the company’s bikes were once named the fastest and most comfortable American motorcycle brand.
At some point, the bike became so popular among Americans that many people were fascinated by the simple stamp of the brand’s iconic logo.
Indian Motorcycle has a wide offering, including cruisers, baggers, elite, standard, electric, and touring motorcycles. Many people are taken aback by the Indian signature style, innovative engineering, and performance-packed technology.
Many Indian lovers still prefer the original version of the bike to the newly rebranded version. The brand has undergone multiple receiverships after experiencing financial difficulties but still retains its heritage.
Today, the company’s headquarters are in Medina, Minnesota, the US, where most manufacturing takes place, but it distributes its bikes worldwide.
Victory is an iconic American motorcycle brand that was founded in 1997. Victory almost toppled the then-dominant Harley-Davidson from the American market but unfortunately closed its doors in 2017 after struggles with market share and limited profitability.
The introduction of Victory bikes by Polaris was informed by the success of Harleys. Victory’s first motorcycle—the V92C, was in 1997 but began selling officially in 1998.
The brand focused more on performance in all its bikes, with major competitors being sport-touring and cruiser motorcycle versions. Many people who love speed would agree Victory offered nothing less than that.
Although the company no longer produces Victory bikes, you’ll still spot Victory motorcycles on the US streets.
All the motorcycles on this list have a different story. Each is also unique in how they offer customer experience.
However, choosing the right motorcycle is more of a personal choice than the brand itself. Consider how you intend to use the bike, your experience level, and the aesthetics you want in a bike.
For instance, Suzuki, Aprilia, or KTM would be the best choice for motorcycle racing enthusiasts than most brands in this list. Think Ducati or BMW for a luxurious experience.
Otherwise, Harley-Davidson, Indian Motorcycle, among other bikes on the list, are your go-to types of motorcycle if you’re into standard, classic motorcycles.
People Also Ask
Choosing the right motorcycle from hundreds of available types and designs takes work. Here we answer the top three questions many people ask about motorcycles.
What Is the Most Reliable Brand of Motorcycle?
Each motorcycle brand on the market claims to have the most reliable bikes. However, according to many surveys carried out among riders, Honda is the most reliable and trusted motorcycle brand, followed loosely by Yamaha and Suzuki.
Is Kawasaki Better Than Yamaha?
You can never go wrong with either Kawasaki or Yamaha. Both are great brands and big players in the motorcycle industry. However, what makes you choose one over the other may depend on what you want on a bike.
While Kawasaki bikes are known for their performance-approach designs, Yamaha emphasizes value for the money more.
How Long Do Motorcycles Last?
A motorcycle’s longevity depends more on how you maintain it. Most motorcycle brands are known for their durable and reliable construction materials. An adequately maintained motorcycle can last up to 100,000 miles or even a lifetime if you keep it as a classic.