The 15 Best Sport Bikes You Can Ride in 2023

Suzuki Hayabusa 25th Anniversary 67 photos
Photo: Suzuki
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The world of motorcycles is a very diverse one, perhaps even more so than the one populated by four-wheeled vehicles. Depending on whom you ask, there are at least 15 kinds of motorcycles, each of them separated by scope, use, type of engine, and so on.
Today we'll be looking at a type of bike people and companies like to call sport. Like all the other (at least) 14 kinds, it too is a very loose category, because there is no organization or set of rules written in stone to guide bike makers into defining one of their products as being sport.

What is a sport bike?

Despite the disarray, bike makers did however manage to define the segment on their own. They did so thanks to that little aspect of human life called competition: one of them came out with an incredible two-wheeler, and the others followed, using pretty much the same design principles, engines playing in the same class, and targeting about the same clientele.

So, although not set in stone, we do have a general description of what constitutes a sport bike. That would be a two-wheeler designed to go fast, accelerate hard, fly around corners with ease, and brake even harder than it accelerates.

Most of the time, sport bikes have various fairings, body panels, and a windscreen, as a means to help with aerodynamics, and almost always they are devoid of unnecessary items such as comfort features, consumption-minded engines, or storage compartments, as means of getting lighter and faster.

That's about it in general terms, but sport bikes are furthermore divided into categories and sub-categories. In some cases, like say when it comes to the Triumph Daytona Moto2 765, the need to be different means they are not even included in the sport category, but in the roadster one. On the other side of the aisle, the Harley-Davidson Sportster is sold by the American company as a sport bike, but it can't really be part of that group, as it's more of a cruiser.

That's why the list below, highlighting 15 of the best sport motorcycles you can get your hands on in 2023, might seem a bit off from time to time. It's important you remember though that all these machines have a reason for being here, even the electric ones that start our list. Let's get right into it.

15. Zero SR/S – a trendsetter for other electric sport bikes

Zero SR/S
Photo: Zero
The world of electric motorcycles is, for now, dominated by startups and young companies. Established bike makers have pretty much avoided the switch to electricity, and perhaps one reason for that is the fear that a sport motorcycle powered by an electric motor would be less of a… sport motorcycle.

A company called Zero is constantly proving them wrong. The Tesla of the motorcycle industry, if you'll allow that comparison, has been around since 2006, and presently sells no less than ten distinct models.

Among them is the SR/S, the only one that can truly be likened to a sport motorcycle in the truest sense. That's because it was not solely meant to be ridden as a means of transport or enjoyment, but because it's meant to be ridden hard, to the point of racing.

Zero officially classifies the SR/S as a street racing machine, but its performance levels are on par with what old, ICE sport bikes are capable of. The 110 hp electric motor gives it a top speed of 124 mph (200 kph), while torque levels stand at a respectable 140 ft-lb. Both numbers make the SR/S the range-topping bike in the Zero portfolio.

We all know performance doesn't come cheap, and that's the case with the SR/S as well. Zero is asking for no less than $19,995 for it.

14. Energica Ego – electric racing pedigree in a street-legal bike

Energica Ego
Photo: Energica
Just four years ago electric motorcycles and their sport attributes got the recognition they deserved with the launch of their first-ever dedicated racing series. Called MotoE, it's a sort of support series for MotoGP, only riders here use electric bikes.

At the time of writing this one-make series is populated with a bike called MotoE V21L made by Ducati. The past seasons though were dominated by a less-known type of bike called Energica Ego Corsa, one that proved once and for all that electric bikes can be sport just as well as ICE ones.

In the road variant every one of us can have the bike is simply called Energica Ego. And by every one of us I actually mean the ones that can handle its blunt power: a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph, limited by the bike's maker), and an acceleration time from standstill to 60 mph of just 2.6 seconds.

And the thing can keep going for quite a distance, thanks to a battery pack capable of holding enough juice for 261 miles (420 miles) of travel.

Energica offers at the moment two versions of the Ego, the Ego+ and the Ego RS, with the latter being 0.2 seconds faster in reaching 60 mph. A third variant, Ego Tricolore, adopts an Italian flag color scheme as the thing that sets it apart.

As for pricing, depending on the dealer that serves you your Ego, the bike can set you back as much as $38,000.

13. Damon Hypersport - the range king for sport production electric motorcycles

Damon Hypersport
Photo: Damon
As far as vehicles go, if you don't take into account the factories of American carmakers present there, not much comes out of Canada. Yet, one of the few companies making transportation machines in the country constantly manages to enter lists such as the one we have here.

The company is called Damon, and it has been around for just six years. Yet the bikes it makes are so great they are definitely worth at least a look.

For the purposes of our 15 best sport motorcycles we chose the Hypersport, a bike that holds the unofficial title of best sport production electric motorcycle by range, combined. Available in four versions (SE, SX, HS, and Premier), it can travel on electric power alone for between 108 miles (174 km) and 200 miles (322 km), fueled with ions by a 20 kWh battery pack.

The bike is no joke when it comes to performance either, as the 200-horsepower electric motor it is equipped with is capable of pushing it to 60 mph from a standstill in just three seconds.

Just like the other bikes we've featured so far, except the Zero, it too is quite expensive. The Canadians are selling their wonderful piece of engineering for $40,000. And that's just the starting price.

12. Lightning LS-218 – the superlative of electric sport bikes

Lightning LS\-218
Photo: Lightning
Our previous coverage of the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to motorcycles, compiled using various criteria, had the Lightning LS-218 on the list for being the best production electric motorcycle by range and the fastest production electric motorcycle by top speed. Naturally, we can't have a list of best sport bikes of 2023 without including the superlative of electric bikes.

The Lightning has been around since 2014, impressing riders and onlookers everywhere it goes through looks, stance, and performance. Powered by a 15 kWh battery pack and an electric motor rated at 244 horsepower and 220 ft/lb of torque, the thing managed to win races at Le Mans and Pikes Peak.

The bike can shoot past at speeds of 216 mph (348 kph), and accelerates to 60 mph from standing still in under two seconds. And that's extremely impressive, considering how the machine is street-legal.

Even if it can be ridden by anyone allowed to ride a motorcycle and possesses enough skill to control the monster, not all can afford to have the Lightning LS-218 in their garage. The price tag of the thing reads almost $50,000 at the time of writing, and that definitely places it out of reach for many people.

11. Buell Freedom Edition Hammerhead 1190 – American sport motorcycle in American flag colors

Buell Freedom Edition Hammerhead 1190
Photo: Buell
The world generally agrees there are two major American bike makers out there, Harley-Davidson and Indian. Others are trying to be great, but with the exception of Buell, we can't really say they're succeeding.

Maybe it's the background of this little company's founder, former Harley-Davidson engineer Erik Buell, but looking at what these guys are doing over in Michigan makes us wonder if decades from now people won't still be riding their bikes.

At the moment there are only five Buell models regular Joes can have, and the leader of the pack is the mighty Hammerhead 1190. That's in no small part because, given how neither Harley nor Indian make such bikes, this Buell may very well be the only American-made sport motorcycle.

At the end of June 2023, as the U.S. was preparing to celebrate its 247th birthday, Buell released the Freedom Edition Hammerhead 1190. Packing the same 72.6ci (1,190cc) engine the range usually employs, it packs a mighty punch: 185 hp at 10,600 rpm and almost 138 Nm of torque at 8,200 rpm.

It also sets itself apart thanks to the red, white and blue color scheme that wraps around its body. But the honor of riding around on a two-wheeled American flag does not come cheap: Buell is charging $24,990 for one, five grand more than the usual version of the bike.

10. Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 – the sport bike that thinks it's a roadster

Triumph Daytona Moto2 765
Photo: Triumph
Like I said earlier, although the Daytona Moto2 765 has all the attributes of a proper sport bike, its maker, Triumph, doesn't officially call it that. Instead, it refers to it as a roadster – a choice we chose to ignore, because the Daytona is too good of a bike not to include in this list.

In a nutshell, this bike is the "closest you can get to a genuine Moto2 factory ride for the road," as Triumph said when it introduced the machine just a few short years ago. It was also a limited-run bike, with just 765 of them produced for the U.S. and Canada, and an equal number for Europe.

The central element of the bike was the 765cc triple Daytona engine, a derivation of the exclusive engine used by Moto2 motorcycles on the track. The powerplant is rated in its road-going configuration at 130 ps and 80 Nm of torque.

Back in 2020, when Triumph introduced this machine, it was asking $17,500 for one, but you'll probably have a very difficult time finding a new one to buy. There are plenty of used ones to be had, though, for prices a tad lower than that, making this rare machine very appealing even now, in 2023.

9. Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1100 – the superbike for the road

Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1100
Photo: Aprilia
You've been warned ever since the beginning of this piece that at times things could get a bit confusing when it comes to what category each bike fits in. Officially, for instance, the Aprilia RSV4 is a superbike, but that too is a sort of beefed up sport bike, so… you see where I'm getting at, right?

The RSV4 is the result of the Italian manufacturer's racing department, the one responsible for "54 world titles, seven of which in the World SBK championship." That not only makes it a bike to be feared, but also the bike at the top of Aprilia's offering.

Powered by a 1099cc engine that spits out an impressive 214 hp and 125 Nm of torque (while weighing just 445 pounds/202 kg), the RSV4 should have been confined to the race track. Instead, the Italians made it road legal, so you can really make people in your town eat their hearts out in envy.

In 2023 you can have two versions of the RSV4, the 1100 and the Factory 1100. The latter is the road-legal one and will set you back no less than $25,999. For reference, the simple 1100 is priced far below that, at just $18,999.

8. MV Agusta F3 – the street-legal racetrack legend

MV Agusta F3
Photo: MV Agusta
Say what you will about Italians, but they sure do know how to make machines. And I'm not talking here about industrial or four-wheeled ones, but about motorcycles – when it comes to high-performance bikes, the Italians are right up there with the Japanese.

MV Agusta is one of many high-profile bike makers originating from the Italian peninsula, even if it's considered a more niche one than say the giant that is Ducati. With a portfolio of just six models, the brand manages to stay relevant in a very competitive environment.

On the sport bike front, leading the MV Agusta charge is the F3. Born in 2012 as the company's first three-cylinder bike to be offered since the 1970s, it is also the first mid-size Supersport featuring a counter-rotating crankshaft.

Three versions of the bike are available, all sporting the same 798cc, 147 hp engine: the R, RR, and RC. All of them look insanely good, and promise incredible performance to speeds as high as 240 kph (149 mph).

The price MV Agusta is asking for one of these babies is, as expected, quite high, and starts at around $27,000. But you can't really put a price on awesomeness, now can you?

7. KTM RC 8C – one of the fastest bikes to sell

Photo: KTM
Back in 2020, Austrian bike maker KTM birthed a new supersport machine, the RC 8C. Initially announced as a batch of just 100 units, the bike needed only four minutes and 32 seconds to become sold out, despite the insanely high price of $38,999.

A quick search on KTM's lot will reveal the model is still available for purchase as a 2023 model year. This time, 200 of them are offered, and interest in it seems to have died down a bit, as you can still track down a dealer that has one in stock.

But why would you do that? Well, for performance and thrills, that's why. The LC8c engine also used on the KTM 890 Duke R, installed in a new tubular steel frame, is good for 133 horsepower, all of which have to push down the track a bike weighing only 140 kg (309 pounds) dry.

The downside of this beast is that it is not road legal, despite KTM being rumored (for a couple of years now) to be focused on making a version you can take with you to work. Until (and if) it gets here, we'll have to settle for the RC 8C on the track only.

6. Ducati SuperSport 950 S – the sport bike to build an appetite

Ducati SuperSport 950 S
Photo: Ducati
Italian bike maker Ducati describes the SuperSport as any biker's entry point into the world of sport motorcycles. On the market (with interruptions) ever since the 1970s, the range presently comprises just two models, the 950 and 950 S, but they seem like more than enough to satisfy any and all needs.

The Ducati SuperSport 950 S is our focus today, as the Italian road sport bike just got refreshed for 2023 with a new color scheme, a combination of white, grey, and red called Stripe Livery.

Underneath it all though the bike remains the same very capable sport machine. The frame wraps around a Testastretta twin-cylinder engine with some intriguing numbers in tow, 110 hp at 9,000 rpm and 93 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm.

Those figures may seem a bit small compared to what we've seen until now, but do keep in mind this is a sport bike meant for younger and less experienced riders. In fact, to make sure nobody mistakes it for anything else, a de-powered version that only develops 47 hp is also available.

And it's exactly this reason the Ducati SuperSport 950 S made it into our list, and so close to the number one spot: thanks to it, new generations of riders can slowly build an appetite for sport motorcycles, thus ensuring this type of bike stays around for the foreseeable future.

5. Yamaha YZF-R1M – the MotoGP-derived crossplane supersport

Yamaha YZF\-R1M
Photo: Yamaha
Japanese bike maker Yamaha is one of the most respected bike makers in the world. And contributing to that in a clear manner is the company's lineup of sport motorcycles, of which there are no less than four categories in its portfolio: the supersport, the sport heritage, the sport touring, and the dual sport.

The YZF-R1M is the flagship of Yamaha's supersport category. That's not only because of some corporate whim, but on account of the bike being, in essence, a road-legal derivative of the YZR-M1 the bike maker is using in the MotoGP racing series.

At the core of the two-wheeler sits the 998cc CP inline-four-cylinder engine equipped with a crossplane crankshaft and a 6-speed transmission. The unit is potent enough to deliver 198 hp and 83 lb-ft. of torque, all that for a two-wheeler that tips the scales at 448 lbs (203 kg).

Performance of this level of course does not come cheap, and the Japanese builder of thrills on two wheels is asking no less than $26,999 for one such bike. Naturally, that's the starting price, and you can expect the figure to go even higher when you choose all the right things to really make the bike your own.

4. BMW S 1000 RR - the fastest production motorcycle by top speed

BMW S 1000 RR
Photo: BMW
The BMW S 1000 RR is a relative newcomer to the world of sport motorcycles, having reached the scened back in 2009 as a means for the German bike maker to compete in the Superbike World Championship.

And it still does the rounds on race tracks in competitions like the Superbike World Championship, MotoGP CRT Class, and Isle of Man TT, despite the arrival into the world of its higher-spec variant, the M 1000 RR.

We chose the S version of the bike for our list because, despite the M stealing the headlines these days, it remains a favorite sport bike for many riders out there. And that's owed not only to its aggressive styling, but also to its impressive means of propulsion.

That would be a 4-cylinder, 4-stroke in-line engine 999cc in displacement. It is part of the select list of engines that deliver over 200 horsepower (205 to be precise, at 13,750 rpm), backed by 83 lb-ft of torque at 11,000 rpm. With these figures, the bike can reach a top speed of 188 mph (303 kph).

This makes the Superbike of Superlatives, as BMW describes it, the fastest production bike by top speed in the world (there are faster bikes than this, including the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, but those are not street legal).

Considering all of the above, the $18,295 starting price at the time of writing seems like a real bargain, especially when taking into account how much other bikes on our list go for.

3. Honda CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE SP – the trophy hunter with an impossible name

Photo: Honda
Back in 2022, an impressive bike going by the name CBR1000RR-R Fireblade turned 30 years old. Made by Honda as a machine meant to rock the superbike world, the model has been around ever since, it too tracing its roots to the premiere racing series for motorcycles, MotoGP.

To celebrate the occasion, the Japanese bike maker rolled out a special version of the bike, the SP derivation, which can still be had in anniversary clothing. As usual, anniversary clothing means just that, a special paint job, as there's really not much one can do to change mechanical perfection.

Powered by a 999cc inline-four engine, the Japanese monster is capable of punching out 215 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque while weighing just 443 pounds (201 kg). The engine's capabilities are backed by impressive pieces of hardware elsewhere, including Ohlins suspension and an Akrapovic exhaust system.

Unlike the BMW S 1000 RR, which comes in with a somewhat soothing starting price, this bike with an impossible name to pronounce (just try saying CBR1000RR-R fast) retails from $28,900 in the most basic of forms.

2. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R – the lighting on the quarter mile

Kawasaki Ninja ZX\-14R
Photo: Kawasaki
If you've been watching our coverage of the best bikes in the world these past few months, then you might have come across the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R before. After all, as the world's fastest accelerating bike on the quarter mile, it was worth at least a mention in our previous Top 15 Fastest Bikes in the World list.

Because of that, and also because it is technically a sport bike, the Japanese warrior is more than worthy of an entry in this little list of best sport bikes in the world as well. And here it is, coming in at number two.

The bike was born in 2006, and at the time was Kawasaki's most powerful sport machine. Back then, it was powered by a simply huge 1,352cc engine rated at 190 hp. But that wasn't enough for the Japanese, so this Ninja now rocks in its frame an even larger powerplant, a 1,441cc beast releasing 208 hp.

It is thanks to these numbers that the bike needs just 9.47 seconds to run the quarter mile, reaching speeds of almost 153 mph (246 kph).

If you want a taste of how that feels, you can have your own Kawasaki Ninja sport bike of this variety for prices starting at $16,599. Yes, that would make it the most affordable entry on our list.

1. Suzuki Hayabusa 25th Anniversary – the king of them all

Suzuki Hayabusa 25th Anniversary
Photo: Suzuki
Whereas the Honda CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE SP celebrated its 30th birthday last year, the Suzuki Hayabusa is turning 25 as we speak. Naturally, the Japanese company that makes it just had to release an anniversary model. And given its special nature, but also the fact that it's, well, a brand new Hayabusa, it is this model that makes it to the top of our 15 Best Sport Bikes of 2023 list.

Generally speaking, this sport bike is already one of the fastest in the world, especially when it comes to acceleration times to 60 mph. The thing only needs 2.47 seconds to get there, and keeps accelerating until it reaches the factory-limited 186 mph (299 kph).

Those numbers are made possible by the 1,340cc inline-four liquid-cooled engine hidden in the frame, a powerplant that's used not only on the stock version of the Hayabusa, but on the 25th Anniversary model as well.

What this version brings new is the color scheme, and for a bike that's already a quarter of a century old, every refresh is a welcomed one. So you can have the Suzuki Hayabusa 25th Anniversary in a special combinations of black, gray, white, blue, and red.

The bike is so new that at the time of writing the MSRP is yet to be announced. For reference though, you should know the normal Hayabusa, if there ever was such a thing, sells from $18,799.

So there you have it, our list of best sport motorcycles you can get your hands on in 2023. Before we go, we'll try to give you some answers to the most pressing questions concerning this kind of two-wheeler. Here they are below.

Are sports bikes easy to ride?

Sure, they are easy to ride, but only if you're an experienced rider. Keep in mind that sport bikes, almost all of them, trace their roots to competition machines, and that means you can't simply get your license and climb on the back of a Hayabusa. Luckily, there are some sport bikes designed to take it easy on new riders, like the Ducati SuperSport 950 S.

Are sport bikes expensive?

Just think about it: we're talking about motorcycles with racing DNA, bred for performance even on the road and even in the hands of everyday riders. So yes, sport bikes are generally expensive. In fact, they cost a lot more so than your average daily rides – around $30k. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, and the most notable is the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R, which sells for around $16,000.

Are sport bikes road legal?

There are sport bikes you can't use on public roads, like the KTM RC 8C, but the vast majority of them are road legal, yes. That's because they are meant to bring the thrills of motorcycle racing into the hands of average Joes, and not all average Joes have access to a racetrack to have fun with their bike.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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