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.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701
This bike is no joke. Despite its art-school aesthetics, the Vitpilen is a rowdy beast just waiting to be ridden hard. In fact, it hardly lends itself to riding easy. Clip-on handlebars, rearset foot controls, and an incredibly torque-rich, single-cylinder, 693cc engine will have you trying to drop a knee in corners or ride out third-gear wheelies. At 346 pounds dry, the Vitpilen is here to make skilled riders out of hipsters, and I think it’s going to work.Husqvarna

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
While this bike is designed for some dirt scrambling as well as on-road shredding, it has enough performance chops in each category to inspire riders to hop off the road on to a trail, or get a little deeper into that next turn. The bike carries its 456 pounds of wet weight well, feeling lighter than it is with reactive, nimble handling. Good ground clearance and suspension, a torque-rich 803cc L-twin and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires that grip both road and dirt surprisingly well make this bike a stylish option that most riders will grow into, rather than out of over time.Ducati

Triumph Bonneville Thruxton R

Triumph Bonneville Thruxton R
The Triumph Thruxton was born to win races, handbuilt and in very limited numbers when it was first released in 1965. The modern Thruxton R takes that same racing spirit and elevates the Bonneville platform with Öhlins suspension in the rear, Showa fork, and Brembo brakes—working with the 75 pound-feet of torque and 87.4-hp engine to make this bike as capable as it is good looking. Clip-on handlebars, rearset foot controls, and a tall, café-style tailsection give the Thruxton the most aggressive ergos in the Bonnie lineup, which is suiting as it is definitely the rowdiest bike in that bunch.Triumph

Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha XSR900
The bike that won Cycle World's Best Middleweight Streetbike of 2016 didn't do so on looks alone. Somewhere between naked sportbike and a heritage-styled model, the XSR900 will have you grinning like an idiot in your helmet as it easily pulls into wheelies but can also be tamed a bit with its multiple power-delivery modes. The inline three-cylinder engine puts out 102.82 hp in our testing.Yamaha

Honda CB1000R

Honda CB1000R
Honda’s neo-retro CB1000R is a fun, well-rounded bike, but it will kick your butt if you let it. It’s fast, nimble, and comfortable, whether you’re sending it through some tight corners or just cruising around town. We tested the CB1000R at 121.83 hp and 68.81 pound-feet of torque, and the electronics do a good job of taming that power for the street if you want them to. When you’re ready to open it up, however, this bike is ready for it.Honda