Track and Thrilled | Top 10 BEST Sportbikes of 2023 [1000cc +]

The big sportbike game has come far over the decades, but which in our Top 10 BEST Sportbikes of 2023 heads straight to the top of the podium?

2023 Honda CBR1000RR-R 30th Anniversary.png

Let’s face it, when it comes to motorcycles, the ton-plus sportbikes are the dream.

Sure, your reality might be more affordable, have space for more than a pair of undies and demand fewer trips to the chiropractor but when it comes to sensory stimulation, only sportbikes will ripple through each one the moment you twist the throttle.

A category that has delivered numerous veritable icons over the decades - the Ducati 916, the Honda RC30, Suzuki GSX-R and Yamaha FZR for example - sportbikes are more powerful, more advanced and more exciting to ride than ever before.

So, while class numbers have shrunk in recent years, certainly quality trumps quantity… but which sportbike currently tops our podium? Check out Visordown’s Top 10 BEST Sportbikes of 2023…

10 - Norton V4 SV

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£44,0001200cc V4185bhp125Nm @9,000rpm193kg836mm15 L

Everyone loves a comeback story and the revival of Norton has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster.

However, while the turnaround has already come a long way, Norton is still a little way off working towards its ambitious (electric) dreams for the future. It means the first model of ‘new Norton’- the Norton V4 SV - is more of a repackaged, rebooted update of its flagship sportbike, rather than a fresh entry.

This is both a good and a bad thing. On the plus side, the V4 SV remains a sleek, stylish and quintessential British sportbike with grandeur dialled up to 11, while underneath is still a meaty 1200cc V4 engine generating 185bhp and 125Nm @ 9000rpm of torque.

As promised, it also feels far better screwed together and Norton have evidently gone to lengths to ensure the ownership experience matches the still rather extortionate £44,000 price tag. However, the V4 SV is feeling its age against more sophisticated competition, while the riding experience could use some polish to impress as much as that chromium dress.

Visordown Review | Norton V4 SV [2022]

9 - Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£17,9501160cc Triple178bhp125Nm @9,000rpm199kg830mm15.5 L

OK, so we’re stretching the definition of sportbike to include the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR but in the absence of any defined fully-faired model in the British firm’s current range, the RR will do fine.

Truthfully, the Speed Triple 1200 RR doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up, cramming influences of sportbikes, cafe racers and neo-retro into its distinctive, albeit rather divisive look. 

Like the STR 1200 RS stops just short of the ‘hypernaked’ tag, the RR isn’t quite as rorty as a full-fat sportbike, though at £17,950, it is certainly priced like one. With 178bhp on tap from the characterful 1160cc triple, the RR feels powerful without being intimidating and is easy to ride thanks to that generous three-pot pick up in the mid-range.

Think of it as the gentleman’s sportsbike… at least until Triumph gives us a proper one. One day (pleeeeeease…?).

Visordown Review | Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR

8 - Energica Ego +

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£28,29013.4kWh EV171bhp222Nm260kg810mmN/A

The alt-sportsbike for a modern generation, the Energica Ego goes a long way to proving that electric power can be offer a very different, yet exhilarating experience.

A model that has evolved over the last few years as EV technology continues to take big strides quickly, the Ego will accelerate off the line quicker than any sportbike thanks to the 171bhp being generated from its 13.4kWh battery. 

At 260kg, the Ego - which was recently retired from use in the MotoE World Cup - is still more unwieldy to handle but it remains an involving riding experience, and though it doesn't quite have the elegance of Italian rivals Ducati and Aprilia, it feels special nonetheless.

You'll likely know you want to Ego before you buy it - rather than agonise between the choice of it and a Fireblade or BMW S1000 RR - because at £28,290, you'll surely know you really, really want electric for that premium 

7 - Suzuki GSX-R1000R

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
N/A999cc Inline-4199bhp117Nm @10,000rpm201kg825mm16 L

The slow departure of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 from the Japanese firm's range was a sad way to bid a fond farewell to one of the greatest sportbike monikers of all time, so while it means the last of the Gixxers is probably not long for this ranking either, you might still be lucky to get one of the last off the forecourt.

While it was certainly showing its age long before its exit, the GSX-R1000 fundamentals remained solidly competitive throughout its tenure, proving a hoot to ride, as useable on the daily run as it is on a track day and powerful enough to keep up with newer competition too.

A worthy final flourish for an iconic line of Suzuki sportbikes, let's hope this isn't the last goodbye forever...

Visordown Review | Suzuki GSX-R1000 [2017]

6 - Kawasaki ZX-10R

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£17,499998cc Inline-4200bhp115Nm @11,400rpm207kg835mm17 L

From motorsport minnow to a multiple title-winning powerhouse in Superbike series’ around the world, the Kawasaki ZX-10R is more of a sporting icon these days, than a mere super sportbike.

While dubbed as a ‘new generation’ model when it was launched in 2020, the ZX-10R is broadly an evolution of the existing model but draws on its WorldSBK title-winning success, especially with the more honed flagship track day special, the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

With power clicking to just over 200bhp, the 998cc inline-four has a more refined power delivery than previous generations, making it more usable day-to-day, while a focus on front-end stability makes the ZX-10R feel more assured under braking.

It’s up to you if you appreciate the Darth Vader helmet-esque front-end - especially when it’s been dipped in Kawasaki’s lime green hues - but so long as you don’t mind your Ninja to be very un-Ninja like and turn heads, then enjoy the attention.

Visordown Review | Kawasaki ZX-10R & Kawasaki ZX-10RR [2021]

5 - Aprilia RSV4

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£17,0001099cc V4217bhp125Nm @10,500rpm202kg845mm18 L

The thinking man’s sportbike, the Aprilia RSV4 hasn’t changed too much since it was first launched back in 2010 but the Italian firm’s stallion remains a class act among the freshest competition.

Boasting smart, albeit understated looks, the RSV4 was recently brought close into line with the styling direction debuted with the RS 600, though it doesn’t stir the soul quite like its key Italian rival, the Panigale V4.

On the road and track, however, the Aprilia remains a force to be reckoned with the 1099cc V4 engine now generating 217bhp, while it also benefits from a host of electronic gadgets trickling down from the manufacturer’s race-winning RS-GP MotoGP effort.

Refined, sophisticated and premium, the RSV4 is arguably the sportbike of choice for track day enthusiasts

Visordown Specs & Details | Aprilia RSV4 [2022]

4 - Yamaha R1

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£18,810998cc Inline-4197bhp113Nm @11,500rpm201kg855mm17 L

The Yamaha R1 is beginning to feel its age in its current guise compared with the competition but regular updates ensure the latest generation of the firm's venerable flagship sportsbike remains competitive.

Distilling all of Yamaha's sportsbike know-how over the years into arguably its most rounded iteration yet, the R1 may not have the headline power figures of its long-time Honda Fireblade rival right now, but the 999cc inline-four remains flexible and syncs up perfectly with the nimble chassis. 

Easy-to-ride day-to-day, the R1M retains that mid-corner stability of the old model, the is less demanding than its rivals, is well built and comes with a host of electronic gadgets to keep you shiny side up, including Launch Control System (LCS), Engine Brake Management (EBM) as well as Brake Control (BC).

Visordown Review | Yamaha R1 [2020]

3 - BMW S 1000 RR

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£17,150999cc Inline-4210bhp113Nm @11,000rpm197kg848mm16.5 L

Now, just over a decade on, the third generation BMW S 1000 RR has just landed with a small increase in power to 210bhp, which now revs to 13,750rpm.

It’s also inherited some of the technical wizardry that originated on the ‘hyper’ BMW M 1000 RR, which sharpen the riding experience, while the ‘M Chassis Kit’ - which features an adjustable swingarm, revised rear shock and Dynamic Damping Control - is now standard rather than an option.

Arguably the most practical sportsbike to live with, the S 1000 RR isn’t intimidating at high speeds and is smooth at the lower end, so while the S 1000 RR perhaps won’t stir your soul as a Ducati would, your rational self will appreciate its more understated nature as a day-to-day sportsbike.

2 - Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£19,999999cc Inline-4215bhp113Nm @12,500rpm202kg831mm16 L

Arguably the most iconic sportsbike of them all, the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade has evolved its traits over 30 years  as the ‘everyman’ sportsbike designed to be as adept popping down the shops for a pint of walk as it is shaving those hundredths off your lap time.

However, the latest generation CBR1000RR-R - for all of its Rs - is the biggest step yet into ‘hyper’ territory with a big hike in performance over its predecessor to 215bhp, all of which feels manageable with its nine-level HTSC electronics package designed to give a smoother throttle response and better mid-range punch.

At £19,999 in base trim, the CBR1000RR-R’s value has also ‘evolved’ with the times, but it’ll come with Honda’s well-proven quality, engineering expertise and reliability built-in as standard. And if you’re feeling particularly misty-eyed, you can even specify the glorious 30th Anniversary white, red and blue paint scheme too.

Visordown Review | Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade [2022]

1 - Ducati Panigale V4

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
£22,2951103cc V4216bhp124Nm @9500rpm199kg850mm17 L

As the Ducati Panigale V4 dominates on the race track the world over, so does the road going model in the competitive sportsbike class.

The latest in a long line of Ducati sportsbikes that can be found in motorcycling's Hall of Fame, the Panigale V4 makes a strong argument as the best yet.

With Ducati giving the lineage a shot in the arm by developing it around a brand-new V4-powered architecture, the Panigale is riotously fast, a thrill to ride and will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention with each twist of the throttle.

With even the base model offering up 216 on tap, rising to an eye-watering 237bhp with the extraordinary Panigale V4 R, recent updates include tweaks to the gearbox and electronics to tone down some of its edginess.

It makes the V4 a more compliant out-and-out motorcycle, rather than a wild animal trying to adjust to being a domestic pet, even if you can be absolutely certain show you its teeth when you do take it out on track...

Visordown Review | Ducati Panigale V4 S [2022]

*Prices correct at time of writing [May 2023]

 Top 10 BEST Sportbikes of 2023 | Key Specifications and Technical Details Comparison

 PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat H'tFuel
10Norton V4 SV£44,0001200cc V4185bhp125Nm @9,000rpm193kg836mm15 L
9Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR£17,9501160cc Triple178bhp125Nm @9,000rpm199kg830mm15.5 L
8Energica Ego +£28,29013.4kWh EV171bhp222Nm260kg810mmN/A
7Suzuki GSX-R1000RN/A999cc Inline-4199bhp117Nm @10,000rpm201kg825mm16 L
6Kawasaki ZX-10R£17,499998cc Inline-4200bhp115Nm @11,400rpm207kg835mm17 L
5Aprilia RSV4£17,0001099cc V4217bhp125Nm @10,500rpm202kg845mm18 L
4Yamaha R1£18,810998cc Inline-4197bhp113Nm @11,500rpm201kg855mm17 L
3BMW S 1000 RR£17,150999cc Inline-4210bhp113Nm @11,000rpm197kg848mm16.5 L
2Honda CBR1000RR-R£19,999999cc Inline-4215bhp113Nm @12,500rpm202kg831mm16 L
1Ducati Panigale V4£22,2951103cc V4216bhp124Nm @9500rpm199kg850mm17 L