Top 5 Affordable Motorcycles You Should Buy Right Now
There’s a glut of excellent, cheap new bikes, which means it’s time for you to buy one.
Right now might be the best time in decades for motorcycle riders to buy bikes. The market is perhaps flooded with too many excellent motorcycle options, and the best options are the affordable ones. While Honda will always have great options—the Honda CB500, for one—and you can't go with the $8,299 Kawasaki Versys, we went with our guts here and spanned the globe. This international array ranges from Italian stalwart Ducati to Swedish lawnmower maker Husqvarna.
To help navigate the hugely competitive field of motorcycle choices, we've crafted a guide that serves novices, experts, and cash-strapped riders of all stripes. Perhaps most importantly, we've tried to keep the list of affordable motorcycles at $10,000 or less.
Husqvarna is perhaps better known for the company’s line of power tools, chainsaws, and an assortment of other outdoorsy machinery. But Husqvarna’s motorcycle business is booming, though not as you’d expect as the division was sold off decades ago. The name lingered, but for much of that time, Husqvarna was content in selling off-road and race-spec motorcycles built to tackle the world’s toughest terrain.
Now under the same leadership as KTM, Husqvarna is entering the world of street-legal motorcycles built for the masses. And the company’s first foray, it developed a motorcycle that’s approachable, affordable, and has the same terrain-tackling capability as a mountain goat; meet the Svartpilen 401.
With a minimalist off-road design, as well as upright and supremely comfortable seating position, the Svartpilen is powered by a 375cc single-cylinder engine developing a spritely 43 horsepower — more than enough to scoot the Husqvarna’s 326 lb frame and rider along any dusty trail or mountain road. Furthermore, Husqvarna threw a set of off-road-ready suspension components into the Svartpilen’s recipe for added ground clearance and righteous Parts Unknown-type adventures.
Ah, the Italians. They know how to cook, to paint, to sculpt, and to build machines that don’t just take you from A to B, but transport you in such a way as you fall instantly in soulful love. The machine may set itself on fire, snap in half, or spontaneously you in a flaming tangle into the Mediterranean, but somehow, it’s all worth it. And that’s the case with Ducati’s brilliant Scrambler.
Revived in 2015, the Ducati Scrambler brand has quickly become the “it” motorcycle for the cool, "in" crowd of motorcyclists. Don't hold that against it. The Scrambler, which comes in a variety of forms, engine displacements, and hues (our favorite: the Desert Sled), is at its core a machine that embodies those vital Italian traits and does so with serious street cred.
Ducati’s most affordable Scrambler, the Sixty2, is powered by a 399cc L-Twin that generates a potent 41 horsepower. Designed to be a city dweller's perfect runabout, the Scrambler Sixty2’s small footprint and meaty tires help the Sixty2 dart and weave through traffic, hop over the occasional curb, and bomb down alleys that full-size motorcycles could never navigate.
Full disclosure, I once owned a Suzuki SV650. I put 26,000 miles on it over two years. It fit my 6’4” frame perfectly, had a shorty exhaust that gave the 645-cc V-Twin a growly demeanor, and had more than enough power to get me into John Wick-levels of trouble if I ever wanted to. I miss it dearly.
Suzuki’s latest SV650 keeps everything I loved about mine old motorcycle, but adds a more stylish and powerful package. With a naked trellis frame on full display, and centered around Suzuki’s latest and greatest 645cc V-Twin engine, the SV650 can easily transform from your weekday commuter—as mine was—to a fantastic weekend canyon carver, boulevard bruiser, or track-day toy. Whatever sort of riding you like to do, the SV650 is eager to deliver a rock-solid experience and a longing that’ll have you waiting for your next outing.
The new Suzuki’s V-Twin delivers low-down torque that’s positively addictive and an ample amount of power—69.3 horsepower to be exact. Now comes the best part, the price. Suzuki’s new SV650 can be yours for the low sum of $7,499 and will hold its value for years. Seriously, if you buy an SV650 and hold onto it for say, ten to fifteen years, you’ll still be able to command a healthy premium. So long as you kept good care of it.
I think I may have just sold myself a motorcycle?
The KTM 790 Duke isn’t a motorcycle for beginners. This is, as KTM’s marketing suggests, a motorcycle that’s “Ready To Race.” The 790 Duke is the sort of motorcycle you buy not to commute to and from your clerical job in a forgettable industrial office park, but a motorcycle that’ll spend more than half its life with just a single wheel touching pavement and the other pointed toward the heavens.
KTM’s 790 Duke is a mechanized hooligan and riders need a similar temperament. Launched recently, the 790 Duke is the baby sibling to the frenzied 1290 Super Duke R. Though racy in its personality, the 790 Duke doesn’t sacrifice overall rideability with a hunched-over superbike-like riding position. Instead, it gives riders an upright view of the road.
Then there’s the 799cc Parallel-Twin engine. In short, it’s snappy. Torque is microscopically low, which gives the 790 Duke its on-demand wheelie character. It also helps that the 790 Duke features 109 horsepower.
That said, the KTM is slightly more expensive than others on this list. However, given the 790 Duke’s predilection for hooliganism, divine power, and handling derived from KTM’s long history of performance motorcycles, the slight bump to $10,499 isn’t too much of a kick to the kidneys.
There are some machines that you instantly feel comfortable using. They engender themselves so graciously that they almost become an extension of your body. These machines fuse to your soul, limbs, and brain in such a way, you’ll never be the same after. Aprilia’s Dorsoduro 900 is one of those machines.
Though the Aprilia is another Italian and we’ve already discussed why they’re so good at building such stupendous machines, the Dorsoduro 900 does things so different compared to the previously highlighted Ducati, it must be singled out and used as the capstone of this list.
The Dorsoduro 900 is what you’d call a motard; a hybrid between a naked superbike and a more manageable dirtbike. The rider sits upright as the overall layout is dirtbike-esque. Underneath the sheet metal, however, beats the heart of a superbike. Powering the Aprilia is an 896-cc V-Twin that produces 83 horsepower and 56 lb-ft of torque. And with a 467-pound curb weight, the Dorsoduro rockets out of corners like a cocaine-infused cheetah, but does so in a way that gives the rider complete confidence in their skill to push the limits.
You’d imagine then, that Aprilia’s Dorsoduro would feature a price tag that reflects its capability and start in the stratosphere.
So, who’s ready to ride?