Top 10 torquiest production motorcycles

Power is all very well but torque is the often-overlooked metric that can define a bike’s appeal. Here are the top ten torquiest motorcycles you can buy today!

Triumph Rocket 3 Review

OH, WHAT a difference the all-new BMW R1300GS is already making (along with a couple of EU regulations)! The German marque’s all-new, just unveiled adventure bike is not only about to put a cat among the adventure bike class pigeons, it’s also now powerful and grunty enough to make out ‘Top 10 Torquiest bikes’!

The last time we did a run-down of the Top 10 torquiest production bikes available was in 2016. Not that long ago, you might think. But with Euro4 coming into force in 2017 then Euro5 in 2021, both of which proved cataclysmic for big bore (ie torquey) engines, the effect has been to completely rewrite this line-up.

So, gone from the UK market, and thus also from this line up, is Yamaha’s gruntmeister VMAX. Gone, too, Kawasaki’s ZZR1400 and it’s farewell to other now obsolete machines such as Suzuki’s M1800R and Honda’s old interpretation of the Gold Wing. But, as that ‘old’ implies, it’s not all bad news…

And what’s this obsession with torque anyway? Simply it’s because, although any discussion about motorcycle performance tends to focus on horsepower, at some point a wise voice from the back will pipe up and suggest that torque is equally (or more) important.

In reality, of course, you actually need a balance of the two. Horsepower without enough torque leads to screaming, high-revving engines that constantly fall off their power bands, while torque without the revs needed to turn it into power will result in something that feels more like a tractor.

So, with the absence of bikes like the ZZR14 and VMAX which bikes now comes out top. To find out, we scoured the specifications to come up with a list of the 10 torquiest road bikes currently on sale in the UK.

That ‘road’ and ‘in the UK’ is important. We’re not including bikes like Kawasaki’s supercharged H2R here because it’s not road legal. We’ve also opted not to include US market bikes like Suzuki’s successor to the M1900, the M109R nor niche machines like Combat’s Wraith or Arch’s KRGT-1. You might also argue that we should include electric bikes, which are renown for their high torque but… we’re not going to.

Instead, here is our current Top 10, in ascending order, of the current torquiest production bikes we REALLY care about – the petrol-powered ones you can actually buy in the UK. And if you think of anything else – please let us know!

Top 10 torquiest production motorcycles

10. BMW R 1300 GS, 110.0lb.ft

The German marque’s brand new, just unveiled 2024 BMW R 1300 GS not only sees the biggest shake up to the adventure bike class in years it’s also a radically revised bike in its own right. Not only does its new, enlarged, yet more compact boxer twin put out an impressive 145bhp, peak torque has also been bumped up from the 105.5lb.ft at 6250rpm of the previous R1250GS to 110lb.ft at 6500rpm – enough to sneak into 10th place in our new list. On top of that the new R1300GS is also far more compact and lighter than before, in a conscious effort to move away from ever larger adventure bikes, and bristles with the latest tech and options.

9. KTM 1290 Super Duke RR, 110.6lb.ft

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the torquiest super naked of all? Well, funnily enough, it’s not Yamaha’s MT-10, nor Ducati’s now V4 powered Streetfighter, nor even Aprilia’s phenomenal Tuono. Nope. Instead, it’s the original ‘Beast’, the KTM 1290 Super Duke, in top spec RR form. Now with a whopping 177bhp from its monster 1301cc V-twin motor, the Super Duke RR also produces a tree stump pulling peak torque figure of 103.3lb.ft.

8. Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa, 110.6lb.ft.

Ah, here’s one you might remember – and expect. But things aren’t quite what they seem. Last time round Suzuki’s hyperbike extraordinaire also made our list, albeit in a lowly 10th place – but that was the OLD Suzuki Hayabusa, before its comprehensive makeover with engine updates, new electronics, bodywork and more in 2021. So, while the old ‘Busa produced peak torque of 114lb.ft at 7200, the new one, in complying with the new Euro regs, can’t quite match that as 110.6, but is every bit as exciting and far more sophisticated and classy to boot.

7. BMW R18, 116.5lb.ft

Big USA-style low revving twins traditionally come out top (or thereabouts) when it comes to peak torque so it’s no surprise that BMW’s modern take on the theme, its US-targetted, big bore, R18 cruiser, features in our top 10. In fact, the only surprise, seeing as the German marque only came out with the all-new, air-cooled design in 2020, is that it doesn’t feature higher up the list. Maybe they made it too refined, which might explain why it’s not selling as well as hoped…? No matter, the big flat twin still has an impressive amount of stump, it’s also got shaft drive, electronics and beautiful build quality. And, if you don’t fancy the pared-back cruiser look, there’s also the R 18 B bagger, full dress Transcontinental and even high-barred ‘Roctane’, too!

6. Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited, 122.4lb.ft

Oddly, Harley-D’s torquiest example of its traditional air-cooled V-twin range isn’t most interesting for its grunt, but for something else entirely. Built to celebrate Harley’s 120th anniversary in 2023, the CVO Road Glide Limited is a limited-edition full dresser conceived to be the most luxurious and lavish bike Harley had ever built. And with its biggest, 117 cubic inch engine, all the accessories H-D can muster plus a special one-off paint job including real gold leaf, it’s exactly that. What it also is, however, at just over £50K, is one of the most expensive and exclusive Harleys ever built. What was that about torque again?

5. Honda GL1800 Gold Wing, 125.4lb.ft

Another repeat inclusion from our previous 2016 list – except this one isn’t, either. Back then, the Honda Gold Wing we featured was the ‘old’ GL1800 with six cylinders and 123lb.ft at 4,000rpm. That bike, however, which was launched in 2001, was deleted in 2016 then eventually replaced by this all-new, lighter, far more sophisticated, electronics laden incarnation which also happens to have slightly more torque. Well, truth be told, it’s probably got slightly more ‘everything’. As full, dress tourers go, they don’t get much more impressive. As you’d probably expect for £30,000+…

4. Indian Chieftain, 126.1lb.ft

We mentioned earlier that you might reasonably expect to see more than a few US-style, big bore, low revving V-twins in here, and here’s another one.

Historic US brand Indian was bought in 2011 by Polaris then relaunched with a range of Harley-rivalling V-twin cruisers from 2014. Being rivals to HD naturally made them want to be bigger and better, too, which is largely the case, although the pair of them have been rebounding back forth with ever bigger/’better’ engines ever since. Indian’s ‘Thunderstroke’ motor powers the Chieftain and most of its big twin range and in its latest form puts out 126lb.ft at just 3000rpm.

3. Indian Challenger, 131.3lb.ft

In case you haven’t noticed, Indian’s been having the best of it in the US’s latest oddball race series ‘King of the Baggers’ and a big part of the reason for that is its latest, liquid-cooled big twin engine. Its Challenger bagger was launched in 2020 with the standout feature being its all-new ‘PowerPlus’ V-twin motor, which was not only liquid-cooled, but 1769cc, four-valve and produced not only a fairly impressive (for a cruiser) 120bhp, but an even more whopping 131.3lb.ft at just 3800rpm. The similarly powered Pursuit full-dresser has followed since…

2. Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide, 135lb.ft

Whatever Indian can do… Harley can do better. Sort of. (See, told you the two of them have been bouncing back and forth…) The latest addition to Harley’s line-up is arguably the Milwaukee marque’s response to the Indian ‘PowerPlus’. Although still a characteristic push-rod V-twin, its new CVOs (there’s two of them, the CVO Road Glide and CVO Street Glide, the ‘Limited’ is something different) are the biggest Harley upgrades in a generation with virtually all-new liquid-cooled heads, a crude for of VVT, electronic riding modes, big TFT screens, significantly modernized styling and more. Crucially, though, they’re better performing than ever, too, with 115bh peak power and an impressive 135lb.ft peak torque – although with both models costing well over £35,000, they’re not cheap. Is Harley finally entering the 21st century? Could be…

1 Triumph Rocket 3, 163lb.ft

But far and away the torquiest (and biggest, it has to be said) production bike currently available in the UK is… wait for it…BRITISH and it is, of course, the Triumph Rocket 3! Although Triumph first launched its Rocket III way back in 2005, as a then monster 2294cc in-line three-cylinder hot rod aimed primarily at the US market, the biggest surprise was that, after that bike fell foul of Euro4, that Triumph went to all the effort of producing an all-new, high-tech ultra-sophisticated replacement that just happened to be just as torquey as ever. The result, the now named Rocket 3, came in roadster R and GT forms, bristled with electronics and high spec cycle parts, was far lighter than its predecessor to result in an impressively fine handling machine, and yet produced even more power – 165bhp – and a monster 163lb.ft of torque. If you’re after the current ‘king of grunt’, this is it…!

Triumph Rocket 3 (2020) Video Review

Triumph Rocket 3 (2020) Video Review |