Top ten motorcycles Visordown can’t wait to ride in 2023

With 2023 model reveals in full swing, Visordown takes a look at the new and updated motorcycles we can’t wait to ride this year

2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R. - Ducati Media

THE pre-Christmas period might have been a little quieter than normal for Visordown and its team of motorcycle road testers, although the same can’t be said for the first part of 2023. With new motorcycles arriving from a large number of manufacturers, the run-up to bike season is looking like a busy little period.

The next few months should see new motorcycle launches from brands in Europe, Asia, the USA and beyond, and there is something for everyone, from lightweight retros, heavyweight adventure motorcycles, mid-weight sports bikes and WorldSBK racers for the road.

Today we take a look ahead, at the next 12-months of launches, and some bikes that are rumoured to be arriving that we are crossing our fingers for.

Top ten motorcycles Visordown can’t wait to ride in 2023

10. Honda CL500 | Launch date March 2023

The return of the CL name to the Honda range is probably not really a surprise. The motorcycle market is still eager for lightweight, cost-effective retro scramblers and nakeds. And those first two points are things that the original CL was well-known for providing.

We know a fair bit about the little Honda CL500 after it made it’s bow at the EICMA show in Milan last November, and for those on an A2 licence (or just looking for an attractive and easy-to-manage bike) there really isn’t much to dislike.

At its heart is the same engine you can find in the CB500X, CB500F, CBR500R, and CMX500 Rebel. It’s a punchy characterful twin-cylinder, with enough power and torque to get you out of trouble should you need to. The engine is housed in a simple frame, that is mated to telescopic forks and retro-looking twin rear shocks. The whole lot is then wrapped in a retro suit that is completed with the CL’s trademark high-level exhaust.

It might not be one of 2023’s barnstorming models with high performance figures and other-worldly handling, but in terms of getting bums on seats, we think this funky looking retro might be a bit of a dark horse.

9. BMW R 1300 GS | Launch TBC

We are doing some finger in the air predicting here, as there has been no official confirmation as to when the updated 2023 R 1300 will arrive this year. What we do know is that the development of the next-gen GS is fairly well advanced, as these BMW R 1300 GS spyshots show.

We do, though, have a pretty good idea it is coming in the next twelve months, thanks to a not-so-discreet social media post released by BMW Motorrad a little while ago. So, it seems that the big-bore, water-cooled ADV is arriving in the next twelve months, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how that goes.

8. Ducati Diavel V4 | Launch February 2023

The cruiser that you aren’t allowed to call a cruiser is getting updated for 2023, as the 2023 Ducati Diavel V4 ditches its 1260 V-twin in favour of Desmosedici Stradale power and a ground-up redesign. The headline news is more power, less weight, and completely revised styling. The new engine boosts power to an arm-wrenching 168hp, while the new bike is a claimed 13kg lighter than the outgoing model.

Like the Diavel of old, the new model is dripping with tech and rider aids, and boasts three power settings and four riding modes covering Sport, Touring, and Urban, along with a new mode for wet weather riding. Each mode features bespoke cornering traction control, cornering ABS, and Ducati Wheelie Control.

We know the V4 configuration works fabulously well in the Panigale V4 sports bike, and the latest Stradale variant in the Multistrada V4 proved the concept can be adapted for an adventure machine. If Ducati is cooking up what we think they are with the latest-gen’ Diavel, the performance cruiser segment is about to get turned completely on its head.

7. Suzuki GSX-8S | Launch TBC

Some of the biggest waves at EICMA this year came from the middleweight sector, with Suzuki surprising the world with its GSX-8S 800cc naked motorcycle. It’s a bike that we’ve known was incoming for some time, with patent filings over the last few years charting the bikes development.

Power comes from a compact yet powerful 776cc, DOHC, parallel twin-cylinder engine, producing 81hp and 57lb-ft of torque. The frame and chassis of the bike is as new as the engine platform, and features KYB suspension at both ends, and Nissin stoppers front and rear.

On the electronics front, the new GSX-8S gains an up-and-down shifter and blipper, along with engine modes giving riders three throttle maps, traction control, and a neat-looking TFT dash.

6. Harley-Davidson Pan America 975 | Launch TBC

The baby Pan America might not have been officially revealed by the American brand, but if the rumours within the global motorcycle press are to be believed, there is a very strong possibility the bike will be getting released at some point in 2023.

Harley will be looking to build on the success of its Pan America 1250 with this, a smaller, (hopefully) lighter, and more accessible version of it. And if the recently-released Harley-Davidson Nightster is anything to go by, the incoming Pan America 975 should be a peach.

The two bikes are reported to be using the same engine, albeit with some minor tuning updates, and as we found on the launch of the Nightster, the more free-revving version of the Revolution Max engine is a gem. Dropping that unit into the Pan America’s capable chassis and gifting it with same electronics as its bigger sibling is a seriously exciting prospect for middleweight ADV fans.

5. Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE | Launch February 2023

Another incoming bike to whet the appetites of adventurists the world over is the all-new Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE. Based on the same engine platform as the above-mentioned GSX-8S, the new bike takes the mid-weight V-Strom concept, adding in more off-road ability than the previous V-twin 650 range.

The new bike features a proper, adventure-spec 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel, and both are shod with Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour hoops. The new, fully adjustable, Showa suspension allows 220mm of travel at both ends and gives the bike a hefty 220mm of ground clearance.

The electronics are also updated for the new model, as it benefits from a trickle-down of tech from the flagship V-Strom 1050 DE. That equates to three on-road traction control modes, as well as a “G” mode for off-road terrain that allows more spin, but not excessive slip. There are also two ABS settings, and the option to turn off the rear ABS for off-road riding. Like the GSX-8S, the new ‘Strom also features an up-and-down shifter and blipper, as well as Suzuki’s low-rpm assist system to help prevent slow speed stalls.

4. Honda XL750 Transalp | Launch March 2023

From one mid-weight Japanese adventure bike to another now, with the eagerly awaited, and much-loved Honda XL750 Transalp making a return to the Honda range. The Transalp name was a big hitter in the adventure (or dual sport) segment from when it was first released in 1987. It was always a bike that was loved by riders for its legendary reliability, genuinely capable chassis and rugged engine.

For 2023, the nameplate is getting a total revamp, with the Transalp evolving from a rugged workhorse to a high-tech and powerful middleweight adventure contender. Blessed with an electronics suite based on that of the CRF1100L Africa Twin, the bike gets four pre-set riding modes - Sport, Standard, Rain and Gravel - and a User option. Each mode adjusts the engine performance and throttle map and can be switched on the fly via the left-hand switch cube. The User mode allows the rider to tailor the bike’s electronics to their specific requirements. Bike information is displayed to the rider via a full-colour TFT screen.

The engine of the new bike is something that we have some experience with, as it is the same as the unit found in the Honda CB750 Hornet we rode before Christmas. While there are likely to be some dynamic changes to the tune of the parallel twin, in the naked at least it proved to be punchy at the bottom and middle of the rev range, with a significant rush to the redline that meant it never really felt as though it was running out of puff.

We have the launch date and while we don’t know the price, we’d expect it to be landing just under the £10,000 mark.

3. Yamaha R9 | Launch TBC

This is another of those bikes that isn’t confirmed by the manufacturer as yet, but that we think/hope/pray is arriving in 2023. The concept for the bike is fairly simple, and something we’ve already seen with the Yamaha R7. Take a class-leading naked (in this case the Yamaha MT-09), tweak the suspension, riding position, and engine tune, slap on some sports bike bodywork and clip-on bars and send it out the door. Okay, so I’m massively simplifying this, but you get the idea!

And it’s not just what the R9 is based on that makes it such an exciting prospect, but what it represents. Yes, we have the ‘new age’ of supersport bikes – see R7 and Aprilia RS660 – but the R9 doesn’t quite fit into that segment. It’s a bit bigger, a bit fiercer, and will likely be a bit more of a handful on the road and track. In some respects, it’ll bridge the gap between the sub-100bhp parallel-twin sportsbikes already on the market, and act as a stepping stone up to the full-fat, 200bhp superbikes that, for the most part, are too fast for most UK roads.

2. Triumph Street Triple 765 | Launch February 2023

Arguably the best-handling, best-looking, and highest-scoring middleweight naked on the roads is gaining its biggest update since 2019 this year, as Triumph leans even further on its Moto2 engine development program to create the most powerful Triumph Street Triple to date.

The range of Street Triples for 2023 will cover R and RS models, along with a limited-run Moto2 Edition that will have just 765 units built. The base R version will now boast 118bhp (2bhp more than before), while the RS will feature internal changes boosting power to a heady 128bhp.

The chassis of the new middleweight has also been given an extensive once-over, as it benefits from updated suspension and brakes, and an updated electronics package. The trick-looking Moto2 Edition also gains Öhlins forks (as opposed to the Showa SFF BP items found on the R and RS) and the addition of a track riding mode which dials out the electronic intervention on all fronts.

The launch for this bike is taking place at Jerez, with a day of road riding and then a day spent on what is my favourite track on the planet. To say I am massively looking forward to this launch is a huge understatement!

1. Ducati Panigale V4 R | Launch TBC

Widely regarded (by me) to be the best pound-for-pound sports bike on the planet, the Ducati Panigale V4 R is getting updated for 2023. And Ducati is cranking it up to eleven with this one, as it introduces the option to upgrade the V4 R so it can produce a stratospheric 240bhp.

Internally the engine has gained significant updates, many of which are off the back of lessons learned in WorldSBK and MotoGP. The engine now makes use of gun-drilled titanium connecting rods and DLC-treated pistons. Inertia is reduced thanks to new piston geometry, something that Ducati claims reduces their weight by two per cent or five grams across the four cylinders.

As with a few of the bikes on this list, we don’t yet have eyes on when or where the Panigale launch will be taking place, although, with a few Ducati UK motorcycle trackdays planned for this year, we’ll pushing hard for a go on the Italian marque’s homologation weapon at some point!

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