With each new generation, motorcycles become quicker, more powerful, and more technologically savvy. But, we aren't on the hunt for what bikes look great on paper. We look for character, usability, accessibility, and which motorcycles are just plain fun to ride. It's not just about the machine, it's about what you can do with the machine.
The following motorcycles, in no particular order, are some of our favorites of 2023.
2023 Suzuki GSX-8S
Having already struck a first-inning home run with the V-Strom 800DE earlier in the year, I was eagerly anticipating the street version of Suzuki’s new parallel-twin that powers both the Strom and the GSX-8S. Swinging a leg over the 8S, it was immediately apparent the motorcycle wasn’t going to disappoint.
In fact, it took all of riding the 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S from the garage at Suzuki’s corporate headquarters in Brea, CA, to the end of the parking lot for me to begin liking the new naked.
2023 Ducati DesertX
The DesertX is a first-of-its-kind bike from Ducati and the only modern Ducati with a 21/18-inch wheel configuration under long-travel suspension. The fully adjustable suspension provides 10 whole inches of ground clearance. Ducati used a lithium-ion battery, added an adjustable rear brake lever, and perfected customizable ride modes. The Italians are off to a great start.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350
Royal Enfield has come on very strong these past few years, tapping into the generational emergence of young people buying into active lifestyles, specifically motorcycling. The company (the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world) has managed to capture the fancy of newbies with a range of accessible, unintimidating smaller displacement machines with alluring character.
The newest machine to roll out of Royal Enfield’s Chennai, India, factory is the Hunter 350. Utilizing the company’s proven J-series single-cylinder powerplant, engineers have wrapped an all-new Harris Performance chassis around the engine, giving the machine a short wheelbase for sharp handling and ease of maneuverability.
2023 Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S
Moto Guzzi, founded in 1921, is celebrating a century of building motorcycles. The company joins a very small fraternity of manufacturers that have reached this impressive milestone. Technically, the company’s 100th was already in 2021, but the pandemic spoiled the planned festivities. Being Italians, Moto Guzzi simply postponed the party. And what better way for the famed Italian marque to celebrate than to roll out a stellar example of technical evolution and innovation from the famed Mandello del Lario factory on the shores of Lake Como.
2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer
Triumph’s stable of Tiger 1200s includes five models—GT, GT Pro, GT Explorer, Rally Pro, and Rally Explorer. The three models with the GT tag are more pavement focused, rolling on 19-inch front and 18-inch rear cast aluminum wheels wearing Metzeler Tourance tires. The two Rally models are more off-road-worthy by way of their spoked, tubeless, 21-inch front, 18-inch rear wheel combo outfitted with Metzeler Karoo tires, and 0.8 inches of extra front and rear suspension travel.
2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo
With the Low Rider El Diablo, Harley-Davidson has leveled up the strange bedfellows of opulence and austerity. Parked on its side stand, the layered, faded, and pinstriped custom paint is breathtaking, highlighted by the textured black finishes of the valve covers and various other metal bits. Swinging a leg over the seat and viewing the bike from the spartan simplicity of the cockpit contrasts the motorcycle’s outward beauty in the most complementary way.
2023 Can-Am Spyder RT Sea-to-Sky
Can-Am has always marched to the beat of its own drum. A subsidiary of BRP, the company invented both the Ski-Doo snowmobile and the Sea-Doo watercraft. When it rolled out the innovative three-wheeled Spyder in 2007, many of us in the motorcycle community didn’t know what to make of it. Over the years, the Spyder has found favor with a large number of enthusiasts who ardently embrace the unique three-wheel platform, growing out the segment exponentially.
2023 QJ Motor SRT750X
The wind carries over my chest and shoulders like trustworthy, affirming hands. The engine glides me at 80 mph down the freeway on a sunny day, where the road bleeds into the blue sky. It suddenly occurs to me—I’m riding a motorcycle. Everything is good.
I’ve ridden many great motorcycles. My recent test rides are like a list of first buys after my Powerball number hits. The Kawasaki H2 SX SE, a hard-bag version of the powerful record-setting motorcycle; a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, another road-trip version of a powerful bike; and a Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE, arguably one of the nicest motorcycles on the market.
2023 BMW R 1250 RT
Are you curious about what the “RT” stands for in the name of the 2023 BMW R 1250 RT? Well, the “R” is for “Reise,” translating from German as “journey, trip, or voyage,” while the “T” means “Touring.”
For the past 20 years, the RT has routinely been one of my personal favorite motorcycles. The steady improvements and refinements have only enhanced my view of the machine as a comfortable and very capable sport-touring mount.
It’s a great daily rider, as well as an excellent choice for short or long hauls—whether alone or with luggage and a passenger.