I remember the first twist of the throttle riding Yamaha’s XSR900 and the front tire floating above the pavement as I exited my first turn. My eyes widened in my helmet, my ass pinched the seat as my hands tightened on the grips. I had wanted to ride the bike for months leading up to this because I loved the styling of it, but now realizing that it’s a high-performance modern sportbike (just in a stylish package), I could tell we were going to need some serious time together and I was going to improve as a rider because of it.
Style is a natural part of motorcycling, from the gear you wear to the bike you ride. If these bikes had full fairings and looked like you should only be riding in a full-leather tracksuit, I wouldn’t be nearly as attracted to them as I am. But my time on these deceptively aggressive machines has made me a better rider, forcing me to be more conservative with my throttle hand, focus on brake feel and body positioning. While riding up until this moment had been more of a mellow cruise, these bikes make it a sport, and I wanted to keep getting better.
These five motorcycles are stylish, modern, and appeal to both the aesthetic and performance sensitivities within us. Come for the style, stay for the trackdays.