25 Best Motorcycles of the Past 25 Years

Rider has selected a Motorcycle of the Year annually since 1990—27 bikes in all. Here we present our 25 Motorcycles of the Year for the past 25 years, from 1992 to 2016. (In case you’re wondering, the BMW K1 won in 1990 and the Honda CB750 Nighthawk won in 1991.)

To be eligible for MOTY consideration, a motorcycle must be new or significantly updated for the current model year. The winner is the one motorcycle we believe succeeds best at its intent, stokes our passion for riding and joins the ranks of truly significant motorcycles. Performance, handling, comfort, value, reliability and practicality are all important criteria, but there are also less tangible qualities, like character and soul.

Given Rider’s focus on touring, travel and “real world” motorcycling, you won’t find any track-ready sportbikes on this list, nor will you find limited-production exotics or flash-in-the-pan oddballs. Our list of the 25 best motorcycles of the past 25 years is full of sport tourers, luxury tourers, cruisers, standards and adventure bikes. One bike is so good, it’s on this list twice (in two different model generations.) Every year there were many worthy contenders, but in the end, there can be only one (per year)!



    • The problem with Harley Davidson is that they serve only the cruiser and touring markets. Secondly, they are perceived as over priced. The buyer decides that but more and more riders are buying less expensive brands which have turned out to be faster , more reliable, and less expensive. Thirdly, the image of the HD rider is not a Steller one, far too often HD riders look like gang members. I’m not suggesting that they are but many connect the two.

  1. Triumph managed to get on that list 3 times, not bad for a small company and well deserved too, they are innovative and their bikes are well made and nicely finished.

    I hope they will import the new Tiger Sport 1050 in 2017!

    • Triumph not such a small Company any more,I think I read somewhere that they are now one of the biggest bike manufactures in Europe. Small by U.S.standards maybe though?

      • Triumph is still a small company which produces around 100,000 motorcycles yearly world wide. What sets the company apart are three things, first, Triumph has been recognized as one of the best built motorcycles made today (as good as the Japanese), secondly, Triumph has been financially solid being one of the best financed smaller motorcycle companies (very good use of funds), and finally, Triumph has been very careful to build what their customers have wanted. Their lineup has been well thought out over the years. Triumph has been a model new-company doing “most” things right!

    • Not ignored Don. The 2014 “People’s Choice” podium finisher was the Chieftain… German engineering seemed to have the edge that year.

    • It tells me that the BMW engineers actively listened to current and future customers and quietly improved brand segments. Dramatic German contributions to the motoring fields in the last 25 years my friends… Not bad considering the dozen top spots won by the four Japanese engineering firms [H / K / S / Y], and the foot pegs have remain generally just behind our knees. ;^ )

  2. Have owned many rides, currently have two st1100’s always a reliable ride, and a 94 goldwing!
    My 96 st has 158000 miles on it and not afraid to do a 1000 mile day.

  3. Had Harleys, went to the dark side on a Valkyrie Interstate, and wound up on a Gold Wing. Every bike on the top 25 list deserves to be there!


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