10 Best Motorcycles of 2018 | Cycle World

10 Best Motorcycles of 2018

Since 1976, Cycle World has honored the Ten Best motorcycles on the market each and every year. As times change, so do our categories, so that the bikes included in Ten Best accurately reflect what is happening in the motorcycle market. Recent additions include Adventure Bikes and Lightweight Streetbikes (500cc and under), while we’ve combined Touring and Sport-Touring into a single class simply called Touring. We also melded Enduro and Dual-Sport to reflect a change in that market and because of the availability of street-legal, competition-worthy dual-purpose machines.

Some of our categories have survived much longer than others, and only time will tell what tweaks we may need to make in the future to showcase the best motorcycles of the year. But with more than 450 different motorcycles currently available in the US market, you can be assured that our Ten Best are the cream of a plentiful crop.

Each category has a criteria bikes must meet to qualify for Ten Best. Here are the basic rules for each class, and the winners of the Ten Best Motorcycles of 2018.

Best Superbike of 2018—Ducati Panigale V4 S

An ultimate, uncompromising racing-inspired motorcycle for the street that extracts the lowest lap times on the the racetrack. Superbikes are the tip of the spear when it comes to technology and performance. Features and innovations that show up here, usually trickle down to other categories.


Ducati Panigale V4 S
Read more on the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S

Jeff Allen

Best Lightweight Streetbike of 2018—Kawasaki Ninja 400

Just one rule here: A street-legal motorcycle 500cc or less. Sportbike, naked, or cruiser—if it’s a half-liter in displacement or less, it is a Lightweight Streetbike. These motorcycles typically offer exceptional value and appeal to new riders and seasoned experts alike.

Ninja 400

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400
Read more on the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

Jeff Allen

Best Middleweight Streetbike of 2018—Triumph Street Triple R

Middleweight is an expanding segment that includes motorcycles up to 899cc. Motorcycles of all types are eligible and the machines in this category often deliver the most bang for the buck. On the lower end of the spectrum, some models would appeal to riders just starting out, while at the top of the class are some of the highest performing, best balanced motorcycles on the market.

2018 Triumph Street Triple R

2018 Triumph Street Triple R
Read more on the 2018 Triumph Street Triple R

Jeff Allen

Best Open-Class Streetbike of 2018—Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

Open-Class Streetbikes have just one rule to qualify: Engine displacement must be 1,000cc or over. Anything else goes in this category. It could be a 1400cc-plus road-burner, an Adventure-inspired machine or the biggest, burliest naked bike out there.

Ninja H2 SX SE

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE
Read more on the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

Jeff Allen

Best Standard of 2018—Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

Usually fitted with a tubular handlebar rather than clip-ons and having a more upright riding position, Standard motorcycles can have nearly the same performance as a superbike without the compromise to comfort. We are looking for an exceptional do-it-all motorcycle here, one that can serve as daily rider, light tourer, or perhaps even attack the occasional track day. It's perhaps the best combination of fun and utility.

Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

2018 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR
Read more on the 2018 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

Jeff Allen

Best Touring Bike of 2018—Honda Gold Wing Tour

Traveling motorcycles with performance, comfort, and plenty of luggage space. Think luxurious and/or swift touring motorcycle with all the features to make your journey successful. Factory saddle bags are a must, but after that it is wide open as to what can quality, from V-twin luxury tourer to the highest tech sport-touring machines, Touring encompasses them all.

Gold Wing Tour

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour
Read more on the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour

Jeff Allen

Best Cruiser of 2018—Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

Inspired by the classic American style of long and low, cruisers cover a gamut of motorcycle profiles and engine displacements with styling that runs from retro to thoroughly modern. There's no displacement limit from small to large, so it could be the biggest, baddest, burliest V-twin or the lightest, easiest to ride entry machine. All it needs is excellent, category-specific performance and the right attitude.

Fat Bob 114

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114
Read more on the 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

Julia LaPalme

Best Adventure Bike of 2018—KTM 1090 Adventure R

Built to handle the rigors of traveling the globe, adventure bikes are capable on the street, off-road, and everywhere in between. You may not ever ride to Patagonia, but it’s nice to know you could. Adventure bikes are the flagship motorcycles for many manufacturers, and have become a staple type of machine for those who love to travel on two wheels. From the smallest 300cc adventure motorcycles, to the biggest liter-plus machines, a sense of wanderlust is all you need to find happiness.

1090 Adventure R

2018 KTM 1090 Adventure R
Read more on the 2018 KTM 1090 Adventure R

Jeff Allen

Best Dual-Sport/Enduro—Husqvarna TE 250i

Whether it’s street-legal or off-road only, the Best Dual-Sport or Enduro has to be able to tackle the toughest terrain and do it well. This category can include four-strokes and two-strokes in a variety of displacements. The only real requirement is that these dirt motorcycles take you farther, higher, and faster than any other machines on the market.

TE 250i

2018 Husqvarna TE 250i
Read more on the 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i

Jeff Allen

Best Motocrosser—Honda CRF450R

The Best Motocrosser is the absolute best machine to be on when the gate drops and a trophy is on the line. Displacement and engine type are wide open, just like the throttle. Few motorcycle classes are competitive as motocross, and those manufacturers in the game bring their best to come out on top every year. Typical winners come from the 250 and 450cc four-stroke classes, but the right two-stroke or motorcycle of other displacements can win.


2018 Honda CRF450R
Read more on the 2018 Honda CRF450R

Jeff Allen

Best Motorcycles Of The Year

Interested in our 10 best motorcycle lists from previous years? We’ve gathered them all right here for your convenience. And don’t forget to visit our Buyer’s Guide for more in-depth motorcycle reviews.


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