How we test motorbikes

Our highly experienced team of road testers travel all over the globe to ride the latest and greatest motorcycles first as well as grinding out the miles come rain and snow on the UK’s pothole-ridden roads!

Using years of riding and racing experience (on and off-road) our motorcycling journalists are able to assess the capabilities of a machine and translate that into understandable language to help MCN’s readers and viewers make an informed buying decision.

Using their considerable knowledge of the motorcycling market and audience, they can put a motorcycle into context and deliver a verdict that means something to anyone considering buying a particular machine, whether it be a cutting-edge, 200bhp sportsbike, a tall adventure weapon or a low-capacity 125cc machine.

Testing and reviewing motorbikes is right at the core of what we do

A first test or launch test will see our team of testers ride a new or updated model for the first time, often in foreign climes. During that initial assessment the tester is assessing a bike’s engine, handling and general quality of finish. The test rider will also be looking to rate the machine’s technical offerings, such as adaptable suspension (if appropriate), traction control, quickshifters and so on…

The tester will also be looking to give an initial opinion on how competitively priced the bike is compared to its rivals in that particular category and also how well it might fare once ridden back-to back with those rivals.

And when we do get to ride the bikes in the UK against rivals, our expert testers will then update and amend the review to add more context. When we ride the bikes in the UK we tend to do at least one full day of riding on various different types of road and in varying conditions. Our testers will then spend another day riding the bike – with rivals – to get images and video footage for our in-depth print, YouTube video and online reviews.

Testing with a pillion is only one method we use to review motorbikes

We will also, often, weigh the bikes, speed and dyno test them to check out just how accurately the manufacturer claims are in these areas to give a more empirical assessment.

Our online motorcycle reviews rate each bike out of five stars on Ride Quality and Brakes, Engine, Reliability and Build Quality, Value versus Rivals, Equipment. There is also an Overall rating (again marked out of five stars – with no halves) as well as a full and detailed spec sheet. We also describe other variations of the model on test as well as info on previous incarnations.

There is a chance for owners to have their say too, which is a valuable resource to see how reliable bikes are during real-world use.

We test bikes at night as well as during the day

MCN’s star ratings explained:

Here’s a brief rundown of what MCN’s star ratings actually mean:

  • 1 star – Poor performance in this category or overall. A bike with a single star rating has fallen below the expected standard.
  • 2 stars – Basic performance in this area of overall. A bike with a two-star rating has managed to perform to a barely acceptable level and there is room for improvement. 
  • 3 stars – An average performance in this area or overall. A bike with a three-star rating has achieved a basic level of performance and is deemed adequate if not thrilling or over-delivering in any way.
  • 4 stars – A bike has performed over and above the accepted averaged in this category or overall. A bike with a four-star rating has surpassed expectation and delivered in a particularly engaging or impressive way.
  • 5 stars – A bike has performed at the highest possible level in a particular category or overall. A bike with a five-star rating has delivered to the highest possible level, impressing the tester with its performance.
Our testers are some of the best in the business, with decades of reviewing experience between them

Our eight regular road testers have a mass of road and track riding experience between them and have covered many hundreds of thousands of miles in all sorts of scenarios.

Michael Neeves and Carl Stevens have raced at club and national level and both have race wins and championship titles to show for their efforts, while Emma Franklin and Dan Sutherland have achieved some top results in various club races.

Testing and reviewing motorbikes often leads us to some of the most incredible roads and scenery

Alison Silcox, Ben Clarke, Jon Urry, Phil West, Jim Moore are all seasoned riders with many touring trips under their belts while Michael Guy is our top off road and adventure bike rider.

Between them no bike is too big, too small, too fast or too slow to test and make some valuable judgements about!