What are the best motorcycles for commuting?

The best motorcycles for commuting are safe, match your experience level, and perform as needed in different riding environments. Some of the top motorcycles for commuting, according to Motorcyclist Online, include the Kawasaki Versus 650 LT, the Honda CB300R, the Yamaha Tracer GT, and the BMW 1200R. Choosing your commuting motorcycle depends on a variety of factors, including the distance of your commute, where you're riding, and how often you ride. For example, the best motorcycle for long commutes on the freeway will be different from a bike used for navigating the streets of a big city.

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How do I choose the best commuter motorcycle?

Consider factors such as, safety, distance, environment and riding frequency when you're figuring out which motorcycle is best for your commute.

Motorcycle safety

Whether you're a new motorcyclist or an experienced rider, choosing a commuter motorcycle that matches your experience level increases safety for you and everyone else on the road.

If you're buying your first motorcycle, start by considering motorcycles for beginners. These bikes include modern safety features that prevent accidents and protect the rider, including:

  • Traction and stability control

  • Adaptive headlights

  • Tire pressure monitors

  • Anti-lock brakes

  • Automatic shift/clutch

If you're a more experienced rider, you can consider a broader range of bikes with more specialized features, including: fuel efficiency, style, engine size and power.

Pro tip:

If you're buying a bike for the first time, remember: You can buy a motorcycle without insurance, but it's illegal to ride it without your state's minimum motorcycle coverage limits. Learn if you need motorcycle insurance and what motorcycle insurance covers.

Commute distance

Long-distance commutes require a motorcycle that's safe on the open road, protects riders from the wind, and emphasizes comfort over style. Motorcyclist Online recommends a Kawasaki Versys 650 LT as a suitable choice for longer commuting, offering stability, comfort, and room for storage.

For shorter motorcycle commutes, you may need a bike that offers advanced control features for maneuvering on busier streets. Consider the Zero S, an electric bike that Motorcyclist Online says offers the handling and throttle response needed for short rides to the office.

Riding environment

Every commute is different, and some riding environments call for more specialized bikes. For higher traffic areas in a city environment, the best commuter motorcycle is lightweight and compact, allowing riders to move freely and rest comfortably at stoplights. The Honda CB300R is a single-cylinder motorcycle that's a great fit for city riding, as noted by Motorcyclist Online.

When riding on wider, more open roads where speeds are higher, consider a bike that's larger and offers updated safety features. Motorcyclist Online recommends the Yamaha Tracer GT, a top selection for the open road with its adaptive cruise control and integrated ride modes.

Riding frequency

The best motorcycle for commuting to work on a daily basis will differ from the best one for seasonal touring. For daily use, consider a motorcycle with good fuel efficiency and durability. A BMW R1200R, according to Motorcyclist Online, is a great pick for a bike that can take the beating of the day-to-day.

For seasonal use, you can focus more on style or personal tastes such as power or storage. Autoweek suggests the iconic Honda Gold Wing, a large comfortable touring motorcycle that offers plenty of space for luggage.

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