2023 Motorcycle of the Year

10 Finalists and One Winner!

2023 Rider Magazine Motorcycle of the Year

If Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year, now in its 34th year, were a person, it would have graduated from college or completed military service, launched a career, got married, bought a house, and started a family. It would have a couple motorcycles in the garage, perhaps a cruiser or sport-tourer for the open road and a dual-sport or adventure bike for exploring the backcountry.

In other words, it would be like the rest of us: a dedicated motorcycle enthusiast.

Rider has been bringing you “Motorcycling at Its Best” for almost 50 years. We’ve tested nearly every street-legal motorcycle on the market, with an emphasis on real-world bikes that are within reach for most of us. For every $100,000 Arch 1s we review, we test dozens if not hundreds of motorcycles you’ll find in dealerships and garages across America, from sea to shining sea.

Related: 2022 Motorcycle of the Year

2022 Motorcycle of the Year Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+
Rider’s 2022 Motorcycle of the Year: The 2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+ (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Unlike car dealers, most motorcycle dealers don’t offer test rides. Demo rides are great, but they are few and far between and often involve parade-pace conga lines that don’t allow riders to experience a motorcycle’s true capabilities. We know you count on us to provide honest, in-depth reviews to help you make informed purchase decisions – or to just keep you up to date on the latest and greatest bikes on the market.

Every year, we ride as many new or significantly updated motorcycles as we can and evaluate them within the context of their intended use. Then we put our collective heads together and identify those that best fulfill their intended purpose and advance the state of motorcycle design, performance, and function.

2023 Rider Magazine Motorcycle of the Year

For 2023, there were more than 80 eligible contenders. We narrowed them down to 10 finalists and one winner.

Without further ado…

2023 Motorcycle of the Year Finalists:

1. BMW R 18 Roctane

2024 BMW R 18 Roctane
BMW R 18 Roctane (Photo by Jörg Künstle, Markus Jahn)

The fifth member of the R 18 family is a unique alternative to the ubiquitous American V-Twin. It’s powered by the BMW 1,802cc “Big Boxer” Twin and features blacked-out styling, a midrise handlebar, a 21-inch front wheel, and hard saddlebags. The Roctane has admirable curb appeal, good comfort and handling, and high-tech features including Rock, Roll, and Rain ride modes.

Related: 2024 BMW R 18 Roctane | First Ride Review  

2. CFMOTO Ibex 800 T

2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T
CFMOTO Ibex 800 T (Photo by Aaron Crane)

CFMOTO has been on the gas lately, expanding its motorcycle lineup from seven to 10 models, including two versions of the Ibex 800 adventure-tourer powered by a 790cc parallel-Twin adapted from the KTM 790 Adventure. The top-of-the-line Ibex 800 T is comfortable, capable, and packed with useful features yet retails for an accessible $10,499.

Related: 2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T | Road Test Review 

3. Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide/Road Glide

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide
Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide (Photos by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin Wing) 

For a company steeped in tradition, Harley-Davidson has taken two of its most iconic models in a decidedly modern direction. The new styling, 12.3-inch TFT color touchscreen, and liquid-cooled 121ci Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin with variable valve timing are only on the limited-production, high-priced CVO versions for now, but the significant updates have catapulted these baggers into the future.

Related: 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide and Road Glide Review | First Ride 

4. Honda SCL500

2023 Honda SCL500
2023 Honda SCL500 (Photos by Drew Ruiz)

In a nod to its iconic ’60s-era CL72 and CL77 scramblers, the new Honda SCL500 is powered by a 471cc parallel-Twin and has an upright riding position, a high-routed exhaust, block-tread tires, good suspension travel, and retro styling elements like fork gaiters and gas tank knee pads. Priced at $6,799 with standard ABS, the SCL500 brings back affordable cool.

Related: 2023 Honda SCL500 Review | First Ride

5. Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition

2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Ride Review
Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition (Photos by Sebas Romero & Marco Campelli)

After introducing the highly capable Norden 901 adventure bike for 2022, Husqvarna launched the Expedition variant for 2023 with an Explorer ride mode, upgraded suspension, a beefier skid plate, and several touring-ready features, including waterproof soft saddlebags. With a 105-hp 889cc parallel-Twin and serious off-road chops, the Expedition loves to get dirty.

Related: 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition | First Ride Review 

6. Indian Sport Chief

2023 Indian Sport Chief
Indian Sport Chief (Photos by Garth Milan)

Built on the new Chief platform launched by Indian two years ago (Indian’s Super Chief Limited was a 2021 MOTY finalist), the Sport Chief is a West Coast club-style cruiser with a bullet fairing, a tall-but-forward handlebar, and mid-mount foot controls. With a lean-and-mean stance and a rumbling 116ci Thunderstroke V-Twin, the Sport Chief won our recent comparison with Harley’s Low Rider S.

Related: 2023 Indian Sport Chief | First Ride Review

7. Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 (Photos by Brandon Bunch & Josh Shipps / 360Media)

Since 2019, the Royal Enfield 648cc parallel-Twin lineup has included the Continental GT cafe racer and the INT650 roadster. For 2023, they were joined by the Super Meteor 650, a cruiser that draws from Royal Enfield’s 121-year heritage. After testing it on India’s rough-and-tumble streets, we were impressed by the Super Meteor’s style, build quality, capability, and value.

Related: 2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 | Video Review

8. Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE
Suzuki V-Strom 800DE (Photos courtesy Suzuki)

The new Suzuki 776cc parallel-Twin, which makes a claimed 83 hp and 57.5 lb-ft of torque, powers two new-for-2023 models: the GSX-8S naked sportbike (see review on page 32) and the V-Strom 800DE adventure bike. With a 21-inch front wheel, 8.7 inches of suspension travel, 8.75 inches of ground clearance, and a gravel TC mode, the 800DE is the most off-road-capable V-Strom yet.

Related: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE | First Ride Review

9. Triumph Street Triple 765 R

2024 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
Triumph Street Triple 765 R (Photos by Kingdom Creative)

We tested the updated Triumph Street Triple 765 R and RS naked sportbikes in Spain, and as impressive as the higher-spec RS is, our reviewer favored the bang for the buck offered by the R. “It’s astonishing that a semi-exotic and highly refined motorcycle with such outsized performance capabilities can be had for less than $10K,” he said, adding that it is “one of the best values in motorcycling.”  

Related: 2024 Triumph Street Triple 765 R/RS | First Ride Review 

10. Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ 

2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ review
Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ (Photos by Joseph Agustin)

Winner of Rider’s 2021 MOTY award, the fourth generation of the Yamaha FJ/Tracer platform gets a new millimeter-wave radar that enables adaptive cruise control and a world-first radar-linked Unified Brake System as well as other useful updates. Powered by an exciting 890cc crossplane Triple, the Tracer 9 GT+ is one of the best sport-tourers available.

Related: 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ Review | Road Test

And the 2023 Motorcycle of the Year winner is…


2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (Photos by Kevin Wing)

KTM has built bikes with “Duke” monikers for nearly 30 years, starting with the 620 Duke introduced in 1994, a lightweight, single-cylinder supermoto that was a bare-knuckled street brawler. The Duke family has grown and evolved over the years, and KTM’s U.S. lineup now includes the 200 Duke, 390 Duke, 790 Duke, 890 Duke R, 1290 Super Duke R Evo, and 1290 Super Duke GT.

We’ve tested them all, but the one that has become deeply embedded under our skin like a tattoo is the 1290 Super Duke GT sport-tourer.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (Photos by Kevin Wing)

Following his first ride on the then-new 2017 Super Duke GT, former EIC Mark Tuttle – not a man known to gush – described it as “nearly flawless, the perfect sport-touring bike for a rider who doesn’t want to give up sportbike levels of engine performance and handling. It’s comfortable for all-day riding, offers decent wind protection, makes enormous power, and does indeed handle and stop like a sportbike.”

After logging 3,500 miles for our first full test, we said “the GT is designed to excite you more than pamper you. … Few bikes feel so eager, so ready to take your breath away.”

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (Photos by Kevin Wing)

It also earned a spot as a 2017 MOTY finalist: “We loved to dirty dance with KTM’s ‘Beast,’ the 1290 Super Duke R, but the GT is the version we could take home to mama. Higher, wider handlebars, wider cushier seats, lower footpegs, a bigger tank, and a nicely sized adjustable windscreen and hard bags ready the GT for long days at warp speed, all powered by that 173-hp V-Twin, which is retuned for better touring manners.”

In the years since, the 1290 Super Duke GT has only gotten better.

An update for 2019 included refinements for the liquid-cooled 1,301cc LC8 V-Twin, revised WP semi-active suspension, and improvements in lighting, wind protection, and instrumentation. It gained a few pounds, but our review stated that “the GT’s on-road performance is every bit as thrilling as it was before; it goes fast, turns fast, and stops fast with a level of precision and control that’s hard to beat.” On Jett Tuning’s dyno, it cranked out 157 hp at 10,100 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 7,400 rpm at the rear wheel.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (Photos by Kevin Wing)

We were bereft when the GT disappeared from KTM’s lineup during the Covid years, but we were excited to see it return for 2023. Updates were few, mostly styling and instrumentation, but what we loved about the 1290 Super Duke GT remained undiluted. As we wrote in our review in the May issue: “While the 1290 Super Duke GT is pretty incredible, it’s no Hulk ready to explode in a rage with one mistimed input. Rather, the GT is a well-behaved beast, one with finely tuned throttle response and easily controllable power.”

Related: 2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT | Road Test Review

We also praised the GT’s high-spec components, top-notch electronic rider aids, confident handling, ride-all-day comfort, and generous 6.1-gal. fuel capacity. Although the 30-liter hard bags are no longer standard, they are available as accessories.

“This bike is the pointy end of the sport-touring spear, and it’s sharper than ever.”

’Nuff said.

Congratulations to KTM for the 1290 Super Duke GT, Rider’s 2023 Motorcycle of the Year!

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (Photos by Kevin Wing)

To find a KTM dealer near you, visit the KTM website.


  1. Your Motorcycle of the Year, should be a repeat winner from last year! That Suzuki checks every box, with the exception of self-cancelling turn indicators.
    If thats not allowed, then HARLEY, with those new tech bikes! That should get a rise out of the “experts”….LOL

  2. I’m happy to see Honda returning to its retro-roots with the SCL 500. My first bike was a used 1972 Honda CB 100 – complete with slip-on megaphone exhaust and, for an adventurous twelve-year old, it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with two-wheeled wind therapy! I can’t wait to see what the other bikes made the finals!

  3. Motorcycle Of The Year is fun, but I’m starting to wonder more about the quality of the year than the quality of the motorcycle. Like fine wines, sometimes the year of production is more relevant than the manufacturers’ offerings. Ahhh, remember 1969 – what a year, and how about 1980 and 2009 – now those years offered bikes that still withstand the test time! Well, you get the drift . . .

    • True, some years are more notable than others for the particular motorcycles that were launched. What are your favorite bikes from 1969, 1980, and 2009?

      • 1969: Honda CB 750 (This really needs no qualification)
        1980: Honda CB 750F (The best of the 750s in a very talented 1980 class)
        2009: BMW F 800 GS (The beginning of the excellent middleweight ADV)

        Honda Gold Wing (most any given year)

        Just my thoughts…

  4. For you not the other viewers iunderstand that you are not even know the adjustment of the rear shocks in the specific bike their are for daily tour use.
    Ride it first and then speak here.

    • Did you look at the pictures? The rear seat looks to be just a little bigger than a postage stamp. Adjusting rear shocks will not make that seat any bigger or more comfortable, will it? Try to be a little nicer, OK? The folks at Rider are always nice. As readers and riders, it behooves us to be nice to each other, too.

  5. No respect for Guzzi? To me when motorcycling the riding experience- how the bike feels, the sounds, the interface between bike and rider and how the bike makes me feel is the number 1 quality that makes motorcycles unique. Plus the first water cooled production Guzzi with 21st century technology throughout and that universally praised riding experience-that makes it an awesome street bike. To not even be mentioned shows you focus on the manufacturers with large advertising and marketing budgets. Shame

    • I am sure he’s referring to the Mandello. Why wasn’t that included? I don’t think it should be because of the reliability issues that are sure to arise. Then again, you let KTM win and they are as unreliable as it gets.

  6. This is why I didn’t renew my subscription. You now cater to a different rider than the large touring bike rider. I industry moved to off the road riding which most older riders don’t do and used to be your subscribers. Good luck, but I’ll read another motorcycle magazine that’s more suited to me.

  7. When I test rode a Super Duke GT I ruled it out as a sport tourer because of intrusive engine vibration. That’s not the experience I want if I’m actually doing any touring. It appears the days of moto journalists favoring bikes that perform more like sport bikes regardless of the trade offs aren’t over. Bikes should be evaluated more within the context of their overall application, not which one rips the best. Why don’t reviews include more details about the overall vibration of the engine and it’s feel when riding. That’s as big a part of the riding experience for me as any of the other criterion that’s reviewed in detail and the single biggest element not adequately addressed in reviews.

  8. When I started riding “BIG” motorcycles… I had a 1967 Honda CL77 305 scrambler. I didn’t want anything with all the fancy upgrades the new bikes had, …..like electric starter. A few years later, I bought a year old 1972 Yamaha XS2 650 … 1st year electric start and front disk brake. Ok , I gave in to the fancy extras… but I could still use the manly kick lever! Soon my 1973 Kawi Z1, was the bike for me… I wasn’t into speed, but everyone knew you had it , but the look and the sound were mesmerizing… and it was great to have the button to start! Many bikes later… many upgrades and changes, I’m still riding,.. 55 years later, now it’s a Indian Chief Vintage.. classic old school style I like, reliability I love…and a stupid remote keyless ignition that I very much dislike, just because! Funny… no matter what I had at the time, I was loyal to, and no one could change my mind that it wasn’t the best bike . Bottom line is , if you’re a real cycle enthusiast… you just want the interest in all 2 wheel transportation to keep going. Like ‘em or hate’em, be glad there’s still a market for new product. For me,… I’ll keep riding , and if I’m lucky, maybe just one of these new fangled bikes,…will become a great old ride memory! Fast Eddie in Mn.

  9. I own a 19 SDGT. Bought it new in 2020, currently has 26000+ miles. One MTC light issue early on. Since then, on fourth set of tires, new brake pads and rotor on the rear. Otherwise, extremely reliable. Averages 50+ mpg as well.

  10. I guess lawyers prevent the Japanese from using real high pipes on their “scrambler” models.. That’s a shame. I loved the old CL Hondas from back in the day.. I never owned one because i was a two stroke enduro guy. The CLs were NOT very good off road but you couldn’t tear them up! I would like to see the Japanese look into the injected two stroke technology, but I am not holding my breath.
    I started with a Suzuki TC-100 Blazer enduro bike when I was thirteen.. i started racing MX with a ’78 RM-125C and then an ’81 RM-125X. At twenty one I destroyed my left knee which ended motocross for me. I have been fortunate enough to turn my love of motorcycles into a living (the American dream!) by owning a dealership. Motorcycles have always been my first love..

  11. KTM? Hmmm. I’ve never rode one, so they might be a great bike to ride … but I’ve chatted with maybe a dozen KTM owners over the years, and every one of them complained about their reliability and maintenance, not to mention parts availability and cost.

    I dunno. Maybe in the last couple of years they’ve improved.

  12. Two KTMs in my garage (790 ADV R and 350 EXC-F) but your choice for MOTY leaves me unmoved. IMNSHO, MOTY should represent not only a quality riding experience, but also a significant play to strengthen the industry and get more people riding. To that purpose there are only three bikes on your finalist list that meet the spec: the CFMOTO Ibex 800 T, the Honda SLC500, and the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE. From there, the choice gets a little tougher. The CFMOTO is an unknown in most of the country, but it brings a trusted KTM design, lots of features, and a beginner-friendly price. The Suzuki adds stalwart engineering for a little more money. The Honda promises to be the pick of the litter, most likely to bring new riders to the sport, with a super-attractive MSRP and at least the pretense of fire road capability. It’s up to Honda to promote the bike properly – the company that set the world on fire in the 70s has in the SLC500 to machine that will create the next generation of motorcycle enthusiasts.

    • I agree with you and even though I only like modern motorcycles and especially the water cooled ones, here I will make a concession for the mandello V100 and Stone V7 are both very beautiful and with the characteristic sound they make, yes here I would like to buy both of them I mean what I say.
      By the way congratulations to the winner KTM for lifting our community and all the readers of the page here where you all voted and won the title of the year!

  13. Great article rider magazine.
    I must come clean and say up front that I am a big fan of the KTM range, especially at the big H/P end of the range ha ha. I currently ride a 2017 1290 SDR (with 50,000 km’s on it) which I have had since new and every time I look at the latest offerings on the motorcycle market, I can’t find another all-round bike I would rather have, except perhaps the GT.

    • It may depend on where in the U.S. one lives. Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area there is one dealer network that allows test rides, but I’m sure they vent you up to make sure you are really interested. Another large dealer network called “Ridenow” is notorious for not only overcharging their customers, but they never allow test rides, at least on new bikes. I had to talk a local independent Kawasaki dealer to let me test ride a new KLR650. I ended up buying one, but not the exact one I test rode. The one I got had 1/2 mile on the odometer.

  14. The Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello was officially introduced more than a year ago, but it was first available in the US in December 2022, which definitely within the past year. Are we really DQ’ing it based on its official intro date in Europe? The real world experience of riders here in the US is that it is a new bike this year. C’mon, Rider.

  15. Am I a KTM fan boy?…. not really… do I currently own and have I owned more than 8 either KTMs or Huskys…. yep., including a ’17 and ’20 SD GT. Have they all had various model issues like fork seals, or clutch slave cylinder failures, various gd electronic suspension or lost flash memory features, or key fob issues…. yes.
    But I’ve also had a Concourse 14, a ZX 14R, various Ducatis, a Yamaha FJR…. I think I’ve owned about every brand except a Harley… and you guys got it right as far as sporty sport tourers…. I love the SD GT for 400 mile days. The back cylinder roasts your back side on 80+ deg days, but it roasts the twisties too, and puts one heck of smile on my face while doing it… and leaves me feeling well enough at the end of a 400+ mile day to bust out my AARP membership for a hotel for the night. There’s a lot of really great bikes out there…. this one is in the top for sure!!


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