The Best Commuter Motorcycles for Daily Riding [2022 Update]

2022 Best Commuter Motorcycles

While many motorcycle enthusiasts ride for fun or sport, quite a few of us actually use our bikes for urban travel. No long mountain drives or highway cruises along the coast for us—just simple point A to point B commuting, along with the occasional quick trip to the corner grocery store and back.

The world is full of motorcycles, but not all of them were designed to navigate a concrete jungle. That’s why we did our research, talked with bike owners across the US, and poked through more than a few motorcycle forums to come up with a list of seven bikes that are great for city riding.

For this list, we prioritized four criteria: fuel efficiency, agility, power, and comfort. Ready to find out what we chose? Then let’s get started.

#7: 2022 Zero SR/F

2022 Zero SR/F

The electric motorcycle revolution is truly upon us all—and what Tesla did for road cars, Zero is now doing for motorcycles. What do you get when you combine intelligent packaging, collaboration with a wide range of electronics specialists, and industry shattering 2-year drivetrain and 5-year power pack warranties? The Zero SR/F, that’s what—a truly impressive feat of modern engineering.

Producing the equivalent of 140 lbs-ft of torque at literally 1 RPM, with a rated equivalent of 110 HP, the SR/F may sound a tad scary. But according to every review, video, and rider opinion we’ve seen, we have to conclude that this is actually one of the easiest bikes to ride in the market.

The SR/F has different rider modes that cater to different aspects of motorcycling. The most insane one is sport mode, which gives you all the beans this bike has to offer, all the time. I would probably ride it more in street mode, since that’s the mode that lets you have a little fun but also provides stability control, ABS, some regenerative braking, and slightly softer suspension to keep you comfy going over bumps.

So why is the Zero SR/F at the start of our list? There are two reasons. Firstly, as en electric motorcycle, it needs to be recharged—and while this year’s model makes that easier to do, it can still be a bit of a pain.

You can charge the standard model of the SR/F to 95% in just 54 minutes, but you’ll need to use a 6kW rapid charger and a 7kW Cypher upgrade. That gets you a range of about 106 miles. Since earlier versions of this bike took hours to charge (for both the standard and premium versions), this is a big upgrade on previous models.

Even so, however, new models of the Zero SR/F are expensive—almost prohibitively so, which is our second reason for not ranking it higher up on this countdown. The standard model starts at $19,495 before any taxes, delivery expenses, PDI, registration, or admin fees. The premium starts at $21,495, and only includes a few extra features.

#6: 2022 Kawasaki Z400

2022 Kawasaki Z400

Kawasaki has had a history of success with its Ninja and Z lines of motorcycles, and the Z400 continues to build on that success. While its bigger brother, the Z650, is definitely a capable standard naked, the Z400 comes out ahead as the more capable commuter of the two.

Sporting a respectable 399cc parallel-twin that produces 49 HP, the reason the Z400 punches above its weight class is that it’s infinitely agile. A lower seat height, a lot of weight slung low and close to the center of gravity, and a wheelbase of only 54 inches mean this bike can dance circles around larger, heavier naked bikes—and then zip off into the sunset with a lovely parallel-twin burble echoing behind it.

With a decent tank that can hold 3.6 gallons, the Z400 produces a real-world average of 66 MPG, giving you decent range for most commutes. It’s also very affordable, starting at $5,199.

There’s a reason it places 6th on this list, though: at higher RPMs and freeway speeds, the 180 degree crankshaft in the parallel twin leads to some vibration throughout the frame. This issue is the result of cost-cutting. Adding just a bit more buffering between the engine and the frame and cutting down on the directly-bolted-on mounting would have shot this bike way up the list.

#5: 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

While the 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is mainly marketed as a rough-and-tumble adventure bike, there’s a reason it got the “LT” tag this year—it’s also an excellent touring bike. This also makes it a superb choice for longer commutes, including those requiring some freeway travel. But why?

Let’s start with the fact that unlike many other styles of bikes, ADVs sit you upright in a standard position and give you a comfortable seat that can partially absorb bumps and lumps. That’s exactly what you might need on a slightly-less-than-well-maintained freeway. That standard seating position also helps you keep your head up high, which means you’re more able to see traffic ahead of you than you are when you’re crouched over a sport bike’s clip ons.

Furthermore, the Versys 650 LT has all the power you’ll need for commuting, with a 649cc parallel twin that pushes out 68 HP and 47 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than enough to accelerate out of a blind spot or get up to freeway speed without a mile-long starting run. And despite being a slightly heavy bike at 483 lbs wet, the Versys 650 LT is built on a frame derived from Kawasaki’s Ninja and Z series. In short, it’s effortlessly agile and steadfastly planted to the road.

Also new for the 2022 version of this bike is TFT color insturmentation with smartphone connectivity, plus Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC). That last feature helps prevent rear wheel spin in various conditions, making this an even safer bike for riding through traffic.

#4: 2022 Honda CB300R

2022 Honda CB300R

This list would not be complete without mentioning the CB300R. It may be a small bike—a hunched-up little naked—but it is an absolute joy to ride in the city. It has a 286cc single that produces a hair over 30 HP, but it’s also a featherweight at 320 lbs wet.

What does that mean for commuters? It means this bike is surprisingly quick—agile to the point of embarrassing supersports. It also has one of the most comfortable cushions you’ll ever plant your posterior on. I don’t know what dragon tears or unicorn dust they used in the seat padding, it’s truly magical.

The CB300R has a relatively tiny fuel tank at just under 2.6 gallons—but at nearly 80 MPG, you can realistically ride the snot out of this bike and it’ll easily get you 185-200 miles per tank. That’s the true secret of this motorcycle; it’s an all-rounder. Honda has given us a weekday commuter with a weekend full of fun hidden in the engine and suspension.

#3: 2022 BMW G310 GS

2022 BMW G 310 GS on city street at sunset

The G310 GS was the little gem buried in the 2021 BMW Motorrad lineup: the quiet, unassuming small bike hiding its potential in the back corner behind the big tourers and supersports. That’s still true for this year’s model, and it still rules when you give it a chance. Sporting a tiny 313cc single, the 2022 G310 GS nonetheless pushes out 34 HP and 20 lb-ft of torque, which likes to sit in the mid-to-high RPMs.

What makes this bike a superb commuter is that unlike the G310 R naked, the GS comes with a bit of adventure touring DNA. It offers a slightly higher seat with a better cushion, a small front wind deflector, ABS as standard, and an integrated rear rack ready to have a cargo box installed straight out of the showroom. Slightly retuned suspension also gives it a much smoother ride, making it less aggressive and stiff than the R but still capable of carving corners enthusiastically.

The G310 GS delivers up to 75 miles per gallon from a 2.9 gallon tank and can happily cruise at freeway speeds, with a maximum top speed of 88 MPH. And to top it off, prices for this bike start at $6,190. Not bad!

#2: 2021 KTM 390 Duke

2020 KTM 390 Duke

It was pretty much a toss-up to decide what bike would take the #1 spot for 2021, but we had to choose a winner and a loser. That loser, the 2021 KTM 390 Duke, just barely missed out, and KTM should feel no shame in earning #2 here. In fact, the 2021 390 Duke is one of the most enjoyable motorcycles we’ve seen in a long time.

Learning key lessons from the 790 Duke and the 1290 Super Duke R, the 390 Duke gets a bevy of sports features—including WP Racing shocks, brakes by Brembo with Bosch ABS, and a funky shape. What sells it as a commuter, however, is that for pretty much the first time in a decade, KTM has fitted a bike with something other than a concrete slab for a seat. The cushion isn’t as plush as those of many other manufacturers, but the fact that it could even be called comfortable is a big step up for the brand.

When it comes to performance, though, we have no complaints. There’s a barely-contained hooligan hiding inside this bike’s friendly-looking orange frame, offering effortless power and agility to help you out of dangerous situations without having to worry if the bike will respond. You also have a full-color TFT that gives you vital information at a glance.

Finally, this bike’s impressively-light weight (almost) qualifies it as a supermoto instead of a sport standard. That, plus its ability to put a smirk on your face during even the dullest commute, is why it’s #2 on our list.

#1: 2022 Suzuki SV650

2022 Suzuki SV650

You know Suzuki has a winner on their hands when it tops nearly every recommendation list and comparison test you can think of. Best beginner bike, best sports naked, best day-tripper bike—and now, best commuter.

Sitting on the new SV650 just somehow feels right. The cushion is supportive but offers a good amount of give. The suspension is stiff but supple. Controls are light and easy, despite the fact that this bike contains a 645cc V-twin with 72 HP on tap. Power delivery is linear and doesn’t overwhelm you. It also has a 3.8 gallon tank and real life reports of around 50 MPG when it comes to fuel efficiency.

The SV650 pretty much looks at the checklist of what a commuter motorcycle should be, checks off every box, and then goes off for a weekend of fun in the twisties. Better still is the fact that, as one of the most popular starter bikes in the world, parts are almost always in stock at service depots.

This bike is a bit pricier than the average commuter motorcycle (starting at $7,300), but it’s earned its price tag. If you want a true workhorse bike for commuting, this is it.