RiDER Power: The world's best handling motorcycles aren't sportsbikes

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In the 2008 RiDER Power survey, the bikes rated highest for handling and suspension aren’t Japanese. Even more surprisingly, they’re not even sportsbikes…

As Ben Miller writes in this month’s RiDE magazine, “For motorcycle engineers on an island on the other side of the world, the latest RiDER Power survey must have made uncomfortable reading”.

That’s because in the handling category the top 5 places went to bikes from the UK, Austria, Germany and the US. The highest ranked Japanese bike (and sportsbike for that matter) was the Suzuki GSX-R750, placed sixth by supposedly sportsbike-mad British bikers. 

So this month RiDE magazine asks the important question- ‘What is good handling?’. Then they put a 2008 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade up against the RiDER Power top 5 handlers to answer it.

The tests take place on road and track with the help of 5 readers and includes an analysis of the vital ingredients for good handling as well as tips on how to make your bike handle. For the full feature pick up a copy of RiDE magazine at your local newsagents.

Here’s the top 5 handling bikes according to RiDER Power 2008:


Triumph Speed Four

1- Triumph Speed Four
“That engine isn’t perfect, it’s a bit snatchy around town but, out in the open, it’s a dream. Alongside that handling and those brakes, you’re in for one hell of a ride on board the Speed Four. Incredibly capable and beautifully built, its distinctive looks are ideal for those who don’t want to go with the flow. And it sounds amazing…”


KTM 950 Supermoto

2- KTM 950 Supermoto
“With the KTM 950 Supermoto finally someone delivers on the supermoto promise, combining the agility, low-down woof and rugged can-do with mile-after-mile reliability, comfort and higher speeds of a top-quality road bike. It’s a big capacity V-twin bad boy that, finally, really can shake its tail at sportsbikes in the twisties…”


KTM 990 Super Duke

3- KTM 990 Super Duke
“If all of life were like a KTM Super Duke it would be a short, barely glimpsed blur of action-packed vignettes. There is surely nothing more frenetic on two-wheels than the KTM 990 Super Duke short of sticking a nitrous kit, a jet turbine and a flame-thrower into the frame of a fold-up bicycle…”


Buell XB12X Ulysses

4- Buell XB12X Ulysses
The Ulysses is an adventure touring incarnation of the XB12S lightning, kind of like a stumpy American answer to the BMW GS. Buell claim the Ulysses provides great handling on and off the tarmac. Clearly owners are impressed…


BMW K1200S

5- BMW K1200S
“The BMW K1200S has Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa rivalling power but comfort and practicality too. Some radical engineering and plenty of proven technology. The latest Japanese hyper motorcycles are edging again on power – but the BMW K1200S is never short of shove…”


What do you think? What does ‘good handling’ mean to you? Are there other bikes that deserved to make it into the top 5? Let us know by commenting on this article below.

James Keen

By James Keen