Our Favorite 2022 Model Year Sportbikes Under $15,000
2022 is shaping up to be the year that 2021 was supposed to be before the global pandemic slowed things down. Either recently released in 2021 as a 2022 model year bike, or announced as coming in 2022, there are several sportbikes that are out there that are going to be the best you can get for under $15,000.
What has been a driving force for manufacturers of late is getting the best balance of price to performance, and as such, major brands have been cutting prices to make their sportbikes more attractive. This has led to some bikes that were previously not in the right price range for this list now being widely available, albeit at the very upper edge towards the budget cap
Keep in mind, this list is just one opinion. Your bike lists may be slightly or wildly different, and if you do not like a choice on this list, there is no intent to offend. We collectively here at WebBikeWorld put our minds together to find the best that we could agree on, and we honestly expect differences in opinion to shape any such list. With that said, on to our favorites!
Overall Winner: 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7
When the Yamaha R6 was discontinued, there was much whispering and muttering between all of us here at wBW about what bike would fill the void. The R6 was the ultimate balancing act, being both a 600cc supersport on the track and a rideable daily motorcycle for the street. It was, however, not new rider friendly at all, and required an experienced hand on the throttle to not lift its front wheel unexpectedly.
So when the YZF-R7 was announced, priced competitively at $8,999, and then almost immediately went on sale in mid-2021, imagine our surprise in that not only did it borrow the excellent engine from the MT-07, the 689cc crossplane CP2 parallel twin, it also brought a much more linear power curve and easier to ride handling characteristics. It’s still a bike that will devour the track as if born for it, as it was designed to compete in the MotoAmerica Super Twins championship, yet it is much more new rider friendly for those looking for a sportbike for the street that won’t throw them off the first chance it gets.
While it is nicer to new riders, however, we still feel around the wBW staff that this is a bike to graduate up to from a 650cc sport-tourer or a 300 to 500cc sportbike after a couple of seasons. It handles superbly, has more than enough power to get the grin fully charged up, and has rider aids aplenty, but it’s still got that Yamaha edge that makes it just a tiny bit scary (which is a good thing!).
Best Sportbike For New Riders: 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 400
In “ye olde days” of sportbikes, anything under 500cc’s was often scoffed at as “not a real sportbike.” Now, in 2022, Kawasaki Motorcycle’s newly redesigned Ninja 400 is both a great mid-life refresh of a great starter bike, and also more than capable enough of bringing seasons of fun to a new rider. The biggest change since its introduction in 2018 has been the implementation, which has happened almost across the range of Kawasaki’s bikes, of the newer, easier to read TFT screen in both day and night lighting conditions, as well as the upgraded ABS and introduction of Ergo-Fit personalization options.
Powered by a 399cc parallel twin, the Ninja 400 puts out “just” 50 HP and 28 lb-ft of torque, but compared to the Ninja 300 it replaced, it went on a crash diet and comes in at a wet weight of only 370 lbs. This gives it a mighty 0.135 hp-to-lbs ratio, something a lot of high performance and even supercars can’t manage. It’s also enough, and not too much, to let a new rider get used to how a sportbike carves corners, loves canyon runs, and let them build the confidence they need to enjoy decades in the saddle.
Priced at $5,599 for under 500cc’s, it is also positioned favorably for a lower insurance tier than a 600cc supersport would be, is one of the best bikes you can get for that kind of money, and with Kawasaki’s nearly bulletproof parallel twins, as long as you keep it oiled and maintained, you’ll get tens of thousands of miles out of the bike without issue.
Best All-New Bike: 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
Take a popular naked motorcycle, the Z650. Take off all the modern, angular bodywork. Give it a slightly more robust rear spring, rework the front forks to give better road feel, and slap some 1960’s era Cafe-inspired bodywork and gauges on it. You get the 2022 Z650 RS, the newest member of Kawasaki’s retro class along with the Z900RS and the W800.
This is not to say, however, that this bike rides or goes like a retro bike. The engine, with a mild tweak over the standard Z650, produces almost right on 70 HP, and produces a healthy 48 lbs-ft of torque from its 649cc parallel twin. What really impresses, however, is how, despite using almost the same frame and the same engine from its naked cousin, the bike feels a lot more raw and connected. We put that down to the work on the forks and suspension, letting more of the road travel to your hands and to your butt in the saddle, without feeling the slight numbness that the Z650 has with its softer rear springs (in factory spec, at least).
As with 95% of Kawasaki’s model range, it is also priced perfectly at $8,999 with a whole range of goodies thrown in as standard. ABS is standard, it has two-stage dual throttle valves, an assist and slipper clutch, less aggressive footpeg position, and LED lights everywhere. They’ve even managed to put an LCD information screen between the tachometer and speedometer, giving you all the info you need, but not distracting you from enjoying the ride.
Best Value Sportbike: 2022 Suzuki SV650 ABS
If you ask any sport touring, sportbike, or supersport rider what the best bike to get that will get you the most value for your money, and also be a great new rider and experienced rider bike, the Suzuki SV650, in any of its forms, is almost always the number one recommendation. We ever put our heads together here and we all agreed that the SV650 is just that good.
It also helps that it is one of the few V-Twin sportbikes that doesn’t count as a supersport, meaning that the unique feel of two cylinders thundering away in a V, and the throaty roar that results, can be yours for just $7,749. Powered by the long-proven and kind-of-hard-to-destroy 645cc V-twin that has been around through multiple evolutions, you get a grunty 72 HP and 47 lb-ft of torque at the control of your right wrist.
As those same enthusiasts mentioned in the intro will also attest to, the SV650 ABS is ridiculously easy to ride, either as a commuter bike in traffic, or out carving the twisties on the weekend. As well, unlike the sympathetic vibrations two pistons riding up and down beside each other causes in parallel twin bikes, the V-twin gives the bike a gentle shake now and then when stopped at a light, letting you know it’s ready for more fun whenever you want to dial it up on the right handle.
Best European Sportbike: 2022 Aprilia RS660
There has rarely been a sportbike in modern history that was as anticipated and actually lived up to all the hype around it than the 2022 Aprilia RS660. A pure expression of sportbike design, race-derived electronics and suspension, an Italian flair about the whole thing, and being the most affordable of Aprilia’s stable of sportbikes and superbikes.
While it does come in at $11,299, what you get for that is, without argument, one of the best all-around bikes in the sportbike category. 100 HP at 10,500 RPM from a 659cc parallel twin that has been fettled and tuned to produce not only that power, but also a noise that is unmistakable as anything other than Italian. Add to that the rider aids that come packaged with the bike, including traction control, wheelie control, electronic cruise control, up-and-down quickshifter, intelligent variable engine braking control, multiple engine maps, and a full suite of ABS systems including cornering ABS.
Superb handling, grunty torque, a surprisingly comfortable riding position, and that low, long, lean look make this a sportbike that anyone considering both some track and street time should definitely look at. While the first batch in 2021 did have a couple of gremlins, those have been fixed in the 2022 model and it is now as reliable as any bike you could buy.
These sportbikes may not be the best in their class or be the best value, but they still deserve a look if you’re shopping around for a new sportbike that doesn’t match up with any of our choices above.
2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
Kawasaki are the kings of value for money with their aggressive pricing and full-meal-deal packages you can get that include everything, and the kitchen sink, in their standard models. For the taller and heavier rider that doesn’t quite squeeze onto a Ninja 400, or a rider that is looking for a more relaxed position more akin to standard instead of sport, the 650 ABS is your answer.
Still classified as a sportbike, the Ninja 650 ABS is more properly a sport-tourer, a bike that is designed to eat up the miles while also giving you a thrill a minute. At $8,499, it’s also immensely affordable for the new or intermediate rider, and happily rides as both a comfortable commuter and a corner-carving weekend rocket. Its 649cc parallel twin has quickly become the stuff of legends, with an accessible 70 HP and 50 lb-ft of torque giving it plenty of get up and go. It is also a great first bike for the taller or heavier rider, as the torque is very linear and the clutch is full of feel combined with a very easy pull.
2022 Honda CBR600RR
With the Yamaha R6 now discontinued, those looking for a pure supersport bike with pedigree and an engine that screams into the tens of thousands of RPM have a new champion, the venerated and long-lived Honda CBR600RR. Make no mistake, this is a thoroughbred with mirrors, a bike designed to annihilate a track and is most definitely not the most comfortable thing to ride on the streets.
At $11,999, it’s also priced fairly high, but what you get is Honda’s entire racing history distilled into a motorcycle. Four pistons, 599cc’s, a 15,000 RPM redline, and 118 HP with an aggressively close-ratio six-speed transmission will fire this road rocket down any front straightway at pace, and easily get you well into illegal speeds in first gear on the road. However, if you’re looking for a proper 600cc supersport and the Kawasaki ZX-6R or Suzuki GSX-R600 don’t tickle your fancy, then Honda has the answer for your needs.
2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT
An all-new offering from Suzuki, the GSX-S1000GT is one of those weird experiments that shouldn’t really work, but do. Taking the 999cc inline-four from the GSX-R1000R and taming it down a little, putting it into a chassis that has been modified to have a much more standard seating position, mid-mounted pegs, and a raised set of handlebars, and then slapping a windscreen in front and giving it all the newest electronics results in what can only be described as one of the most powerful naturally aspirated sport-tourers available on the market.
Priced at $13,149, you still get all the power you really need at 150 HP at 11,000 RPM, and a gutsy 78 lb-ft of torque at 9,250 RPM, yet you can hang a pair of side cases off the back, and set the electronic cruise control so you can give your wrist a rest as you ride between cities. The bike will carve any canyon you point it towards with aplomb, yet it will smooth out the bumps and lumps of a long interstate ride so you arrive without feeling fatigued. It’s one of those bikes, as stated, that really shouldn’t be as good as it is, yet it is very good at what it was designed to do.