From Harley Davidson Fireblade range to the Yamaha MT-07 - discover the best-selling motorbikes of 2023 to look out for in your next bike purchase.
We may have only passed the halfway point of 2023, but here at Superbike Loans, the hot topic has already been about the best bikes to ride this year - and possibly beyond. Each year, we're treated to lots of bikes that get our hearts racing and our gears shifting, and by the looks of it, 2023 is not pulling any punches.
From the Harley Davidson Sportster to the Yamaha MT-07 - read on to find out more about the top five best-selling bikes of 2023 and everything you need to know before you go ahead and finance a motorbike from this list for your next (or first!) ride.
1. Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Forty-Eight XL1200X - 2018
In a nutshell:
- Engine: Evolution®, 4-stroke, 45° V-Twin, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder
- Fuel capacity: 7.9 litres
- Seat height: 680 mm
- Top speed: 120 mph
- Weight: 257 kg
- Horsepower: 66 bhp
- Torque: 96 Nm @ 3500 rpm
The 2018 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Forty-Eight, also known as the XL1200X, embodies some of the best physical features of Harley heritage, such as its classic design - but with a modern twist. It makes for a nice nod to the golden era of motorcycling: its robust front tyre, signature peanut fuel tank, and minimalist aesthetics have made it appeal to long-time Harley fans and the newer generation of bikers. The commanding presence of its low-slung seat, combined with forward-set footpegs and expansive handlebars, ensures riders make a lasting impression on any road they drive on.
The Sportster Forty-Eight comes with a 1200cc Evolution engine and is renowned for its durability, performance and the roar Harley fans know all too well. The Forty-Eight is a powerhouse with tons of torque, allowing a rider to gain fast acceleration - especially considering its weight at 257 kg.
Whilst it doesn't have the fastest throttle response, the acceleration is more restrained by its rev capacity rather than its raw power. This results in steady and manageable power delivery, allowing you to fully harness the Forty-Eight Special’s framework. Thanks to rubber mounting, there's no annoying vibration either. Plus, the 45-degree V-twin has a pleasing rumble when idle and becomes seamlessly smooth as you pick up speed.
Despite its aesthetic appeal and preference for early bikers, we have to point out that the XL1200X may prove challenging on the many potholes and uneven terrains of the UK. So it’s best for those who know they’ll be driving on well-maintained roads.
Looking into the Forty-Eight and Forty-Eight special? The only real difference between the two is the latter has Tallboy handlebars - which is great for taller riders. Just bear in mind that they don't curve back as much as the Harley Davidson's Mini-Ape bars. This tweak shifts the Forty-Eight's vibe, which is far lower than you’d expect when you sit on and ride the bike.
2. Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade - 2020
In a nutshell:
- Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 16-valve DOHC
- Fuel capacity: 16.1 litres
- Seat height: 831 mm
- Top speed: 186 mph
- Weight: 210 kg
- Horsepower: 201 bhp
- Torque: 113 Nm @ 12,500rpm
The Fireblade is no stranger to the scene, having had its debut in 1992. The Honda Fireblade has since represented reliable and smooth performance, and it’s the 2020 model that marks a pivotal shift by offering unmatched horsepower. The 2020 CBR1000RR Fireblade is a drastic overhaul from its 2008 predecessor, boasting a redesigned chassis, engine, electronics, and aerodynamics. Notably, its aerodynamic wings grace a Honda road bike for the first time, which blends both aesthetics and function.
Yuzuru Ishikawa, the Honda Fireblade’s project manager, wanted to emphasise that success in racing would define the look and feel of the 2020 model. It’s got a groundbreaking engine, designed with insights from the HRC MotoGP development program. With enhanced components and mechanisms, this engine promises high performance and precision.
Regarding handling and suspension, the 2020 Fireblade offers a new aluminium frame and swingarm, affecting the bike's balance and handling. Notable design elements include integrated winglets, enhancing stability and aerodynamics. The Ohlins suspension system is intricate, allowing for tailored rider preferences. Finally, we couldn’t help but notice that Fireblade's performance at the Qatar circuit had highlighted its precision, responsiveness, and potential for further fine-tuning.
Our verdict? The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade 2020 is certainly one for pro-ams and pros alike, as it’s an absolute beast for track riding and reaching the speed limit on the motorway. We can’t wait to see what upgrades come out next.
3. 2017 KTM Duke 125
In a nutshell:
- Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve
- Fuel capacity: 13.4 litres
- Seat height: 830 mm
- Top speed: 78mph
- Weight: 137 kg
- Horsepower: 15 bhp
- Torque: 12 Nm @ 8000 rpm
One of the many highlights of the 125 Duke’s release is that it is now Euro4 compliant with enhanced power distribution. New to riding? Euro4 compliance simply means there are restrictions on the amount of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). So if you want to reduce your carbon footprint whilst sporting an aesthetically pleasing bike, then you’re in luck.
The 2017 KTM Duke 125 model is perfect for tall and shorter riders alike, due to its seat positioning. It has an 830mm seat height, which balances with its slim design to cater to shorter riders especially. The current model leans slightly forward, but the 125 Duke 2017’s expansive handlebars ensure maximum comfort. This is a huge plus if you’re looking for your first motorbike and need to narrow down your choices.
In motion, the 125 Duke feels great. It boasts a smooth gearbox and a sporty, sturdy WP suspension, unlike other less robust 125s available. Plus, KTM's revamped chassis, featuring a bolt-on subframe and a design resembling the KTM Duke 690, enhances handling, placing more emphasis on the front. This gives riders heightened sensitivity in corners, yet maintains its comfort for a longer ride.
In terms of build and shock absorption, the Duke features non-adjustable WP 43mm upside-down forks and rear shock, contributing to a refined riding experience. Plus, weighing in at only 137 kg, it's suitable for city rides and outpacing traffic - great if you want to overtake cars in strong winds. Finally, we’re huge fans of the 125 Duke’s full-colour TFT dashboard, which we think adds a fresh addition that outshines traditional motorcycle displays and resonates with younger riders familiar with modern tech.
4. Yamaha MT-07 2018-2020
In a nutshell:
- Engine: 689cc 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves
- Fuel capacity: 14 litres
- Seat height: 805 mm
- Top speed: 133 mph
- Weight: 182 kg
- Horsepower: 74 bhp
- Torque: 68.0 Nm @ 6,500 rpm
The original Yamaha MT-07, despite its popularity, faced suspension issues, leading to much-reported handling problems. Yamaha didn’t ignore this - and graced us with all-improved 2018-2020 models of the MT-07.
Weighing in at just 182 kg, this model is perfect for both city rides and rough terrain on country roads, thanks to its upgraded suspension. The MT-07’s suspension received significant upgrades, notably with a 6% increase in spring rate for the 41mm Kayaba forks, plus several adjustments for the rear shock. This has ultimately made the Yamaha MT-07 2018-2020 range suitable for both beginners and pros. Another reason to support its suitability for city riding is both its clutched and clutchless shifts feel seamless. Whilst the cable-operated clutch is efficient but could benefit from regular motorbike servicing, especially for city commuters.
A design feature we couldn’t help but notice is that the mirrors are longer, which is good news for taller riders who may struggle to get a good rear view. Benefiting taller riders with a better rear view. Coupled with an 805mm high seat, with the tank rear moved forward to lengthen the rider and pillion seats - this also prevents taller riders from feeling like they need to cramp in more than they need to.
When it comes to the dashboard, it’s operated by two integrated buttons and displays essential information, and although resetting can be tricky, it's manageable without always referring to the user manual. The only downside is its under-seat storage is quite minimal and houses a relatively basic tool set. If this doesn’t bother you, then this is a highly recommended bike, particularly if you’re tall.
5. Honda CB125R 2018-2020
In a nutshell:
- Engine: Liquid-cooled 2v SOHC single
- Fuel capacity: 10.1 litres
- Seat height: 816 mm
- Top speed: 80mph
- Weight: 126 kg
- Horsepower: 13 bhp
- Torque: 10 Nm @ 8,000rpm
If you’re after a beginner-friendly bike that’s known for its well-thought-out ergonomics, then look no further than the Honda's CB125R 2018-2020 range. The motorcycle claims a 300-mile range from its 10-litre tank, which is a great start for new-to-the-scene motorcyclists.
The CB125R 2018-2020 is powered by a free-revving 124.7cc engine, which delivers 13.1 bhp at 10,000 rpm. Whilst this may be seen as quite inferior to competing bikes, its smooth clutch transitioning more than makes up for it. Its PGM-fi fuel injection ensures reliability, and despite its peak torque being at 8,000 rpm, it provides consistent power from 4,000 rpm. On A roads, it cruises efficiently, with little vibration compared to other 125s - making it an incredibly smooth ride.
In terms of accessories and design, the CB125R features a clear backlit LCD display, but it can be a little hard to decipher in strong sunlight. In optimum conditions, you can display things like speed, rpm, fuel level, and gear position, and has a stopwatch-like timer.
Handling-wise, it weighs in at a mere 126 kg, making it one of the lightest models on this list. Honda designed it this way to make it both stable on long stretches of road, and easy for commuting in busy cities. One ingenious design choice we have to note is the rear suspension attachment being paced directly to a plate at the engine's rear, allowing for a lighter frame and ultimately enhancing the bike’s dynamics.
The CB125R brings sophistication to roadsters, boasting big-bike aesthetics without the bulky weight. It also features a non-adjustable rear shock, full LED lighting, two-channel ABS, and a high-end front brake calliper - just don’t expect a lot of bite.
Ultimately, the Honda CB125R focuses on a beginner's requirements. Plus, its neo café racer design and pearl metallic paintwork make it aesthetically appealing, allowing newer riders to feel proud of their choice.
We hope you found the best-selling motorbikes of 2023 round-up useful to help you make an informed decision for your next bike. Want to finance your bike? Contact Superbike Loans to find out more about motorbike financing, as well as how we can help if you have bad credit or require 0% deposit motorbike financing.