There have been a lot of really great sportbikes released in this last year, but a lot of them are high dollar. When I say that, I mean more than $15,000. Even many of the new middleweight sportbikes come with a pretty high price tag.
I’m not saying that means they’re overpriced. These machines are fantastic and most of them are worth every penny of the price tag, but if you want something new for 2020 and you want a sportbike, your options decrease. With that said, there are still plenty of great sportbikes, naked sportbikes, and sport-touring machines out there that you can and definitely should consider.
With a lot of focus going to new bikes like the Ducati Panigale V2 and the Aprilia RS 660, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight a few of the fantastic 2020 motorcycles under $15,000, specifically my favorites. A few of my colleagues may have other bikes they would like to include here. They can yell at me in the comments if they want. I won’t be offended.
New or Updated Sportbikes for 2020
Overall Winner: 2020 Suzuki Katana
Ah, the Suzuki Katana. It’s a beautiful machine. It’s a bike that feeds on nostalgia while still providing you with something new and interesting. Suzuki went back to the original Katana for inspiration and created a bike that looks a lot like the old one. With that said, this is a modern motorcycle with an engine and chassis from the GSX-S1000.
In the Katana, the 999cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected four-cylinder engine makes 147 hp, which is plenty to trill most riders. The bike also gets some quality Brembo brakes and some good suspension. The bike has style beyond any of its competitors, but those competitors might be a little more refined. Despite this, I think I’d take the Katana over the competition. And for $13,499, it comes in at a reasonable price.
Best for New Riders: 2020 Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha needed an entry-level motorcycle for its Hyper Naked line of bikes, so it took a YZF-R3 supersport, stripped it of its clothes, and then outfitted it as a naked sportbike. The result is one of the best sporty small-displacement motorcycles out there that Yamaha called the MT-03.
The MT-03 has a 321cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected parallel-twin engine. The engine manages to pump out 50 hp, which is quite a lot of power for an engine of this size. The MT-03 is meant to be the entry-level naked bike, but it is sporty enough and has the power to keep even more advanced riders pretty happy. It’s no high-powered superbike, but the little sporty naked bike knows how to party on a twisty road. With a price tag of only $4,599 there’s a lot to love.
Best Newcomer: 2020 KTM 890 Duke R
The KTM 890 Duke R is a bike that has just recently come out and was a rumor for a while, but it’s going to be one of the best naked sportbikes for the money. The machine is a killer bike for the street or the occasional run around the racetrack. It’s sharp as a tack and offers a lot in terms of power, handling, and technology.
The motorcycle features an 890cc fuel-injected and liquid-cooled two-cylinder engine that makes 120 hp and 73 lb-ft of torque. The bike also gets Brembo Stylema brakes and WP Suspension, which should come as no surprise because KTM owns WP. The bike essentially takes what KTM already had with 790 Duke R and adds more displacement and more power. It’s everything people loved before but just made better. With a price tag of $11,699, it’s not outrageously priced either.
Best Value: 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 650
Kawasaki made some notable updates to the 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 650, and the bike is better than it has ever been before. The motorcycle’s chassis was updated in 2017, but for 2020, the bike gets some new bodywork and headlights, a thicker and wider passenger seat, a new full-color 4.3-inch TFT dash, Kawasaki’s Rideology App, Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires as standard, and the same price as last year.
Those updates may seem minor, and they’re not revolutionary, but they are notable. Aside from those things, the bike also gets a 649cc parallel-twin engine that makes 67 hp and 49 lb-ft of torque. The bike is an excellent sportbike for a wide range of riders. The fact that it costs a mere $7,999 makes it pretty enticing, too.
Best Non-Japanese Motorcycle: 2020 Triumph Street Triple S and RS
This one is a twofer. Triumph offers the Street Triple in S and RS forms and both of the models are new for 2020, well, updated at least. If the standard fare of Japanese sportbikes doesn’t do it for you and you want something from the UK, the Street Triple is a good choice.
Both models get the 765cc three-cylinder engine. The S makes 112 hp and 54 lb-ft of torque and the RS makes 116 hp and 57 lb-ft of torque. Both have the same naked sportbike feel to them, but the RS is more of the sporty model with adjustable Showa suspension, upgrades electronics, wider handlebars, and some other minor differences. If having the most racer-ready version is for you, you’ll pay a little more for it. The price on the S is $10,200, and the price on the RS is $12,550.
Non-New Sportbikes Still Killing it in 2020
Those are the new sportbikes I’d recommend you taking a closer look at and considering that are priced under $15,000. If you don’t have to have a new-for-2020 model, then your options open up a lot more. You can get these bikes new or you can search the used listings and save some money.
Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and basically all other motorcycle manufacturers play in this space, so you should have no trouble finding a good option. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Honda’s CBR650R was new for 2019. Built for the street and to replace the CBR650F, the CBR650R is a sporty motorcycle aimed at the street rider. The CBR650R is just a good all-around motorcycle. It could be a daily rider, you could use it as a weekend fun machine, or you could take it to the racetrack occasionally.
At the heart of this motorcycle is s 649cc fuel-injected four-cylinder engine that makes 94 hp, which is more than enough power to get yourself into trouble. This bike is about having fun and going fast, but it’s built to take the corners and twists of the road with ease and to handle the rigors of the street easily. It’s a heck of a motorcycle for its starting price of $9,699.
KTM RC 390
The KTM RC 390 is another killer motorcycle that isn’t new for this year but will be able to thrill any sportbike rider. Many will look at this model as a beginner sportbike, and it can be, but it has plenty of power and on-road and track prowess to thrill even very experienced riders. KTM knows what it’s doing with this sportbike.
The RC 390 is built for twisty roads and racetracks. It’s a pretty hardcore little bike and it’s one that deserves the respect of any sportbike rider out there. The model offers a 373cc fuel-injected single-cylinder engine that puts out 41 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque. The real merit of the bike, though, is its handling ability. Built to corner, this bike is fun. At $5,549 it won’t break the bank either.
Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
Kawasaki’s Ninja line of sportbikes offers plenty of sporty variety. You have the lowly Ninja 400, the killer supersport models, and the wild supercharged hypersport H2s, but the bike that I keep coming back to that is an awesome sportbike and really more of a sport-touring machine is the Ninja 1000SX.
Kawasaki calls this bike the best of both worlds, meaning its the best of the sportbike world and the best of the touring bike world. This is a motorcycle that can carve up a canyon road and also take you across the country when properly equipped. It features a 1,043cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder that makes 138 hp. It has a lot of nice features, too, including cornering management function, intelligent ABS, integrated riding modes, and more. It’s a design that dates back to 2011, but one that Kawasaki has kept current with updates. At $12,399, you get a lot of bike for your money.
You may laugh at this one, but the Hayabusa comes in with a price tag of $14,799. Considering it’s one of the fastest and most iconic sportbikes out there, and certainly in Suzuki’s lineup, plus the fact that the Hayabusa will likely not last much longer due to emissions standards, you should consider buying this bike.
The motorcycle has a 1,340cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine that makes a whopping 197 hp. It’s also a bike that you can easily ride long distances. Is it ugly? You bet. It looks like an alien that has taken motorcycle form, but that doesn’t keep the Busa from being one of the sportbikes that define the segment. It’s an older design, but one you can still buy as a 2020 model year motorcycle.