Best commuter motorcycles - for short, long and medium trips

In this top 10, we take a look at the best commuter motorcycles you can buy for any type of commute and in any type of weather.

2023 Yamaha XMAX 300
2023 Yamaha XMAX 300

IF you are looking to buy the best commuter motorcycle there are a number of factors that you need to take into account before you hand over your cash.

The length of your commute, the time of day you will be riding and whether you wish to commute all year round are just some of the factors you’ll need to consider.

Honda CB500X.jpg
Honda CB500X.jpg

In this top 10, we are going to help walk you through the best motorcycles to use for commuting, taking into account all the factors above to help you make the best choice.

How to choose the best commuter motorcycle for your needs

One of the first things to do is to choose with your head and not your heart. If you are buying a bike purely and simply to get to work, you don’t need to have your heart leading the decision. That is easier if the commuter bike you are looking for is going to be your second bike, as the other machine can be the one you lust after, and this new bike can simply be your workhorse.

The next thing to do is consider how you are going to use the bike; as a year-round commuter bike, or simply one to use in the summer and when the weather is good. If it’s the first option, you have much more to consider, keeping warm and dry, and having some storage space to carry dry clothes being just two. If it’s the latter there is less to take into account, opening up your options and making the choice a little bit easier.

Best commuter motorycles for short commutes

For shorter commutes, things like heated kit and clothing are slightly less of a necessity, as the shorter time on the bike means there’ll be less time for the cold to creep into your bones! You might also be more inclined to go for frugal economy over outright performance on the motorway.

Honda CB500X

CB500X 2022
CB500X 2022

The Honda CB500X is a cracker of a bike in its own right and can do it all, from scratching on a B-road to hitting the trails and taking on some serious off-road work. What it does better than all of that though is get you from A to B in comfort while hardly using any fuel. Take a 25-mile-a-day commute, for instance. Take it steady on the CB500X and it’ll probably just scrape by on just one tank of fuel every five days - that’s seriously frugal commuting from a middleweight machine.

Yamaha XMAX 300 Tech Max

2023 Yamaha XMAX 300 Tech Max
2023 Yamaha XMAX 300 Tech Max

We might scoff at scooters here in the UK - especially maxi scoots - but over on the continent they absolutely love them. And really, here in the UK, we should be falling for the charms of a step-through more than anyone else. With running boards and leg shields a scooter can keep you warm and dry in a way a motorcycle simply can’t, and with decent performance, like you get with the Yamaha XMAX 300 Tech Max, you don’t have to trundle along the dual carriageway at 45mph getting overtaken by trucks!

It’s fairly cheap to buy, very cheap to run, has storage space for days under the seat and, for a scooter at least, it looks bloody great. If only more ‘bikers’ would swallow their pride and at least give them a try.

Rieju Aventura 125

Rieju Aventura 125 front side
Rieju Aventura 125 front side

If you never go near motorways or dual carriageways, you could consider a 125 as a workhorse. We think the Rieju Aventura 125 is a solid enough choice. It’s got all the good bits of an adventure bike like a commanding riding position, bags of weather protection, and room for luggage, but without any of the weight, expense, or £35 tank refills! Visordown group editor Matt recently tested the bike at a UK press event and found it to be a solid performer, if not that fast. At £4,199 though you can’t argue that it’s not good value for money, and when you add to that the potential low running costs, it all adds up to cost-effective commuting that’s still better than taking the bus.

Best commuter bikes for medium commutes

For a medium commute, we’ll assume a distance of between 50 and 100 miles a day, and for this, you might want some slightly longer legs for extended periods on dual carriageways and motorways. 

Triumph Tiger Sport 660

2023 Triumph Tiger Sport 660.jpg
2023 Triumph Tiger Sport 660.jpg

Again, another cracking little bike in its own right, the Triumph Tiger Sport 660 is scalpel-sharp on a B-road, but just as good on a schlep up the motorway. It’s comfortable, has a decent amount of wind and weather protection, doesn’t get buzzy at speed and can be specced for heated grips and a seat for riding through winter. It also has a fairly expansive 17.2-litre fuel tank and a range of around 200 miles, you can also slap on some panniers or a top box to save you from wearing a rucksack - winning!

Honda NC750X

Honda NC750X.jpg
Honda NC750X.jpg

The Honda NC750X was never going to set the world alight when its spec sheet was revealed. But what it did do (bloody well) was win over a hoard of year-round commuting fans, who love its frugal simplicity and any weather comfort. It’s also probably one of Honda’s best-selling DCT motorcycles, and if that’s not your thing there is a slightly lighter (and cheaper) manual option too. Like a maxi scoot, you get a decent amount of storage within the dummy fuel tank, and as with the Triumph above, it can be kitted out with optional heated seats, grips, and luggage is easily available.

Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer+

Kawasaki Versys 650.png
Kawasaki Versys 650.png

Now, it might seem strange that I’ve chosen the top-spec Grand Tourer+ edition of the Kawasaki Versys 650 here (given that earlier I was talking about choosing with your head not your heart), but hear me out. Basically, it comes down to economics. You see, the Grand Tourer+ edition of the Versys comes with everything you need for year-round comfortable commuting on two wheels. You get panniers and a top box, a taller screen, heated grips, fog lights, hand guards, crash protection and more. Now you try adding all that onto the standard bike and see what sort of price you come back with.

And when the working week is done, you have a machine that is still capable enough to take two people and all their luggage on a cheeky weekend away. What’s not to like about that?

Suzuki Burgman 400

Suzuki Burgman 400, Suzuki Scooter .jpg
Suzuki Burgman 400, Suzuki Scooter .jpg

One of the biggest names in the maxi-scooter game is the Suzuki Burgman 400 (or Burgervan if the Suzuki PR person isn’t listening!) and there’s a reason it’s been around for so long. It’s good value, superbly easy to ride, well specced with plenty of storage space and is slightly smaller and lighter than some of the competition. 

If you had to commute into the city from the suburbs or surrounding towns, even up to 30 miles away, the 400 is going to tick most of the boxes for you, despite the lack of flat-out performance. The original super scoot, the Old Lady of big-bore step-thrus, the Burgman 400 – she’s still a very capable contender indeed.

Best commuter motorcycles for long-distance commutes

For these bikes, we’ll assume that you’re commuting up to 200 miles a day or more and for distances like that you are going to be looking at the more premium end of the spectrum.

Honda NT1100

Honda NT1100
Honda NT1100

The Honda NT1100 is, in my mind, Honda doing what Honda does best. Like the NT models of old, the NT1100 isn’t the flashiest, sexiest, or most exciting machine in the range but it is one of the best at taking you long distances in total comfort. Beneath the sleek bodywork of the NT lies the frame and engine from one of Honda’s most famous adventure bikes, the Africa Twin, although to get on and ride, you’d never know there was any link whatsoever. It steers beautifully, has good suspension, powerful brakes and a thumping 1084cc parallel twin. With 101bhp on tap, performance is about all you’ll need on your morning commute, and the bark from the exhaust is actually sportier and more enjoyable than you’d expect.

It’s one of the more expensive options for commuting to work, but if you’re doing 200+ miles a day, a bike like the NT, and its Honda reliability, are just what you need.

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

Suzuki GSX-S1000GT
Suzuki GSX-S1000GT

Something of a leftfield option now, given that the majority of these are adventure tourers, but the sporty and attractive Suzuki GSX-S1000GT would make a very good long-distance commuter. It shares much of its DNA with the GSX-S1000 and while both of those can trace their roots back to the Middle Ages, there isn’t a hint of geriatric dementia in the way either of them handle. The GT is blessed with some beautifully set up suspension, an extremely comfortable riding position, good weather protection and all the tech and goodies you need to keep warm and heading in the right direction. It’ll also have you pulling off the motorway early to hit the B-roads, where its GSX-R heritage will shine through. It’s also probably one of the only bikes on this list that wouldn’t get totally embarrassed in the fast group on a track day.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

It might sound like overkill to be schlepping up and down the motorway on a Tiger 1200, but trust me, I’ve been doing it all year, and it’s bloody brilliant. I’ve been using a GT Pro for the majority of my 200+ mile Coventry-to-London commutes. Come rain or shine, the Tiger 1200 has kept me dry thanks to its expansive screen, warm thanks to the heated grips and seat, and going in the right direction thanks to the Bluetooth Connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation. 

Commuting on a big ADV bike, right into the heart of central London, might sound like trying to negotiate the shopping centre in an articulated lorry, but without any panniers on it, and just the cavernous top-box, you can filter through pretty much any of the gaps that the maxi-scooters and naked bikes can. It also gives you a view of what is going on around you that’s better than you get on a smaller bike. From your throne on high, you can pick out the pedestrians about to leap into the road or spot any Just Stop Oil protestors who might have glued themselves to a traffic cone.

SUZUKI GSX-S1000 GT (2022) Walk Around | Suzuki GSX-S1000GT 2022 Launch

 

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