The Top 10 biggest-capacity motorcycles in 2023

Is bigger better? Take a look through our list of the biggest-capacity motorcycles you can buy today and decide for yourself

Rocket 3 GT Triple Black studio shot

With the arrival of BMW’s biggest-ever version of its best-selling GS, the all-new R1300GS, it begs the question: ‘Is bigger really better?’ It also prompts us to assume that bike engine capacities are generally getting bigger and bigger. But is either really the case?

For the former, in the GS’s case at least, it does pan out, but that’s not just because the engine is larger, but also because the rest of the bike is much smaller, lighter and more compact than before.

As regards the latter – are bike engines getting bigger – for the most part, that’s actually not the case. Successively tightened emissions regulations have put paid to many big cruisers, such as the Yamaha XV1900, Kawasaki VN2000, Triumph Thunderbird 1600 and Moto Guzzi 1400 California –although there are some exceptions. But, on the other hand, we have seen the recent revival of a significant number of classic ‘big’ bikes, such as Suzuki’s reinvented Hayabusa hyperbike and Triumph’s all-new Rocket 3.

And so, we’ve been wondering: which are the current biggest capacity production motorcycles? As before, when we last did this list, we’ve steered clear of one-off machines, such as US-built, 2000cc S&S-powered customs. So, just proper production bikes in showroom spec here. Second, we’re avoiding car-engined machines; even if, theoretically, a 6200cc Boss Hoss is a ‘production’ motorcycle, its engine comes from a Chevrolet, so it’s out.

10: KTM 1290 Super Duke – 1301cc

Ironically, although BMW’s new R1300GS prompted our investigation into this list, the 1300cc machine doesn’t make the cut for the ‘top 10’ – but only just. Bigger by just 1cc is KTM’s original ‘Beast’, the 1290 Super Duke, although actually, its monster 173bhp V-twin measures a full 1301cc. Of course, as they use the same engine, we could also have included KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure or even the brilliant sports-tourer version, the Super Duke GT, but we’re sticking with the original here.

Soon, this bike will be squeezed out of the list thanks to the arrival of KTM’s incoming ‘1390’ V-twin.

9: Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa – 1340cc

Second up, and as alluded to in the intro for this feature, is Suzuki’s all-new GSX1300R Hayabusa hyperbike, as reintroduced in 2021. Despite what the name suggests, it displaces 1340cc, enough for a whopping 187bhp, providing straight-line acceleration like little else but now backed up by modern electronics and brakes to keep it all under control. Interestingly, its 2007-2014 predecessor didn’t make this list last time we did this list, which is a sign of how the number of ‘big bikes’ has been reduced…

8: BMW K1600GTL – 1649cc

You’d expect six-cylinder motorcycles to figure in any ‘big bike’ list and they don’t disappoint, with both current examples featured here. The first and ‘smallest’ is BMW’s brilliant, whistlingly smooth and fast transverse six, the K1600 as first introduced in 2011 in full dress GTL and GT forms. Both produce a blistering 160bhp and are slathered in luxury and comfort and have also been updated twice since. Better still, there’s now also the more US-orientated K1600B bagger and K1600 Grand America versions, too, as if the originals weren’t excessive enough!

7: Indian Challenger – 1768cc

When it comes to ‘big’ bikes, nobody does it better than the Americans and, as you’ll see further down this list, they’re not short of representation here. First up, though, is something of a surprise – Indian’s Challenger. 

Introduced in 2020, it has an all-new, liquid-cooled V-twin engine that’s Indian’s torquiest and most powerful so far and was intended and was intended as an alternative to the brand’s air-cooled ‘Thunderstroke’ unit. That said, it’s slightly smaller, too, if 1768cc could be described as ‘small’…

6: BMW R18 Transcontinental - 1802cc

Think BMW’s massive six-cylinder K1600 is the Bavarian marque’s biggest offering? Think again. The all-new, air-cooled, boxer-twin-powered R18 was introduced in 2020 as BMW’s take on a Harley-style US cruiser and, in terms of capacity, style and quality it was certainly a valid alternative, even if the very idea of a BMW cruiser remains something of an anomaly. Since then, it’s grown into an entire family of US-style bikes (although its engine size remains unchanged) including the R18 Classic, R18B bagger, R18 Transcontinental full-dress tourer picked out here and, most recently, the R18 Roctane.

5: Honda GL1800 Gold Wing Tour – 1833cc

Yes of course Honda’s massive six-cylinder, full-dress tourer is again in this list – although it’s not the same model as we featured last time. The ‘old’ 1832cc, 116bhp GL1800 which ran from 2001 to 2015 was replaced in 2018 by an all-new, far more modern, lighter, more powerful and 1cc larger 1833cc version which, in every respect is better, if not exactly bigger, than before. And if you want it even smaller, there’s the standard GL1800 Gold Wing, without a top box, that’s a little bit lighter and cheaper, too!

4: Indian Chief – 1890cc

We warned you that American bikes would figure heavily in this list and here’s the second example, again by revived Harley rival Indian. Its base cruiser, the Chief, was updated for 2022 and uses an updated version of the firm’s traditional, air-cooled V-twin which now displaces 1890cc and produces a respectable 89bhp along with a hefty 120ftlb of torque. 

Again, a variety of derivatives are available ranging from the Chief Dark Horse to Sport Chief and Chieftain bagger and all make classy alternatives to the traditional Harley.

3: Harley-Davidson CVO Limited – 1923cc

Ah, yes, Harley-Davidson. You might have been starting to wonder when the historic Milwaukee-made V-twins might feature here and we’re not going to disappoint, with not one, but two new big-bore V-twin cruisers, all of which have grown significantly in terms of displacement in recent years. First up is the flagship, limited edition version of the old ‘Big Twin’. The CVO Limited is an ultra-limited-edition version of Harley’s Road Glide full dresser with the biggest version of the Milwaukee Eight V-twin and all the goodies Harley can muster, all adding up to £50,000.

2: Harley-Davidson CVO Street/Road Glide – 1977cc

If the limited is a bit ‘too much’ and yet also, somehow ‘not enough’ Harley has also in 2023 undergone arguably its biggest transformation in recent years to come up with the virtually all-new CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide pictured here. Both have significantly updated engines with extended liquid cooling, rudimentary variable valve timing and the biggest capacities yet. 

The bikes also feature, pioneeringly, switchable riding modes, big 11-inch TFT dashes, radial Brembo brakes, inverted forks and more making them also the most advanced Harleys so far. Whether that makes them worth the near-£40K Harley is asking for them is a different matter…

1: Triumph Rocket 3 R/GT – 2458cc

Which leaves… yes, you guessed it, Britain’s own Triumph’s monster 2000cc+ Rocket as the world’s biggest production bike – except, this time it’s a different bike. The old Rocket which placed first last time around was in production from 2005 to 2017, displaced 2294cc and produced between 120 and 146bhp, depending on the model. 

In 2020, Triumph came out with an all-new version with a new, bigger 2458cc three-cylinder engine, a lighter, tighter chassis with far improved handling and brakes, a suite of new electronic rider aids and even improved quality. The overall result is not just big – but brilliantly capable, too!