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10 Best bikes of 2022!

2022 has been a bumper year for new bikes, ranging from electric commuters to American cruisers and from high tech scooters to iconic British heritage machines. Here’s our pick of the 10 best…

Phil West

Words by: Phil West

Published on 20 December 2022 | 0 min read

Every year has its great new bikes but 2022 has been better than most. As the green revolution builds up electric bikes are getting better, cleverer and more practical. As technology ramps up conventional ICE machines are getting more potent and sophisticated. And as fashions and styles evolve, both bikes and scooters are getting more diverse, interesting and effective.
But 2022 has also been a year that’s seen a significant revival by some of the greatest historical biking names of all. Britain’s own Norton came back in a big way with a new superbikes and a fully-revised version of its classic 961 Commando, both built in an all-new factory in Solihull. While over ‘The Pond’ American icon Harley-Davidson also reinvented itself with an all-new, fully-modernised family of Sportster cruisers. Throughout it all, Autotrader’s test team has been on hand to review the latest and greatest and to give our honest, real world opinion of the new bikes to hit the street. So, which have been the standout bikes of 2022? In which categories? And why?....

1. Best full-size electric – Zero DSR/X

Only launched in the autumn, the DSR/X is California electric bike specialists Zero’s first attempt at a full-size adventure-touring machine and. Although based on Zero’s previous machines it’s taken the opportunity to use a new frame, updated version of its motor and latest powerpack.
The result is Zero’s best bike so far – and arguably the most compelling electric bike yet built. Yes, at over £25K, price is still an issue – as is range and recharging times. In standard from a range of 80-100 miles before a recharge is a little miserly while, without an extra cost fast charger, a full recharge can take up to 10 hours. That said, the DSR/X is convincingly substantial and long-legged; reasonably equipped (there’s an adjustable screen and heated grips as standard); easy and pleasing to hustle around and, best of all, as an ‘electro-head’ already knows, accelerates up to around 80 with a blistering warp drive no ‘ICE’ machine can match. Find a Zero DSR/X for sale here.

2. Best ‘new’ tourer – Honda NT1100

Honda has always been one of the most likely motorcycle manufacturers to do things differently. After all it was the Japanese giant which came up with the wacky Vultus feet-forward commuter, fully-enclosed Pacific Coast tourer and CX500 Turbo. Well, look beyond the rather grey, drab styling and the NT1100 is Honda’s latest adventure into the unknown.
It's supposedly a ‘sensible’ sports-tourer based on twin cylinder CRF1100 Africa Twin adventure bike mechanicals and, despite that unlikely marriage, for the most part it works refreshingly well. The 105bhp motor is torquey and sufficiently brisk; being a parallel twin means that, though tall and substantial, the NT’s also pleasingly slim and light for a bike of this type; there’s decent weather protection and comfort; lots of luggage options and even Honda’s clever, semi-automatic ‘DCT’ gearbox option. The NT name likens it to Honda’s previous, slightly dull, NT650 Deauville. But don’t be fooled. This is a capable, versatile, commuter/tourer that has more practicality than most. It’s not perfect – the dash is a mess, the switchgear awkward – but it’s a welcome new take on effective transport. Find a Honda NT1100 for sale here.

3. Best A2 newcomer – Honda CB300R

The latest CB300R isn’t a new bike – it’s an update on the machine first introduced in 2018 – but there wasn’t much wrong with it anyway. It’s a straightforward, stylish, unintimidating and perky single-cylinder roadster with more than a few typically Honda quality touches and yet a price, and all-round ability, that, as an introduction to A2 class motorcyling is diffciult to beat.
Its single-cylinder motor manages to produce a ‘just right’ 31bhp which is enough to cope with commuting and dual carriageways without tempting its rider into bother. Its handling, brakes, suspension and all-round manners may be nothing to crow about, but they combine for a blissfully easy ride. And, although not luxurious, its equipment, build quality and the classy assurance of the Honda badge, are all enough to give any newbie to confidence they need. Dial all that little lot into a five grand package available on very tempting PCP finance terms with a Honda warranty and rock solid residuals and, if you’re after a first time A2 bike, it’s hard to imagine anything better. Find a Honda CB300R for sale here.
Honda CB300R
Honda CB300R

4. Best electric commuter – Maeving RM1

Until now, although often worthy, most electric commuters have been tradional scooters with electric motor and battery transplants put together by unknown Chinese brands. The Maeving RM1 changes that. A British start-up by two ambitious graduates supported by a wealth of ex-Triumph engineers, Maeving’s first machine is instead a retro-inspired lightweight that’s part-electric bicycle, part 1920 board tracker and all brilliantly easy and stylish city commuter.
The RM1 isn’t particualrly fast, its large, narrow tyres give bicycle-like handling and with a solo seat and not that much spec, there’s not that much substance to it, either. But what it is, is: a stylistic talking point that grabs attention at every traffic light; a beautifully crafted alternative ‘take’ on the whole electric two-wheeler genre and a brilliantly easy and effective round-town commuter. Our test around London’s West End had me smiling more on a new bike than I can remember. Find a Maeving RM1 for sale here.
Maeving RM1
Maeving RM1

5. Best new custom/cruiser – Harley-Davidson Nightster

It’s no secret that legendary American manufacturer Harley has been through the mire in recent years: it’s classic, ‘old school’ air-cooled twins are suddenly obsolete; its ambitious LiveWire electric project hasn’t been the success hoped for and its all-new, liquid-cooled adventure bike, the PanAmerica, though able, has yet to convince both Harley traditionalists and adventure bike buyers freom other marques.
Enter, this year then, Harley’s new Sportsters – the replacements for its junior air-cooled cruiser family as based on the smaller version of the new liquid-cooled engine and with, as you might have guessed, a lot to prove. On the whole they succeed. The Sportster came first, the moody, blacked out Nightster, and so far the pick of the two, half way through 2022. The authentic, American ‘Bobber’ attitude remains; the new engine is punchy, has selectable modes, and impresses; the handling is nimble and fun and the quality and image good. Yes, the price is a little steep but then, wasn’t that always the way? And this is a worthy, authentic Harley after all… Find a Harley-Davidson Nightster for sale here.
Harley-Davidson Nightster
Harley-Davidson Nightster

6. Best ‘midi’ scooter – Honda ADV350

Yes, another bold new Honda concept – this time the ‘midi’-scooter meets adventure bike. Except the ADV isn’t new, after all. It’s a natural, junior spin-off sibling to the bonkers X-ADV Honda first launched in 2017. The surprising success of that machine – effectively a half maxi-scooter/half-adventure bike based on NC750 twin running gear – prompted this new, more junior, more affordable little brother, this time based on the proven Forza 350 scooter platform.
It works, too. The adventure-inspired styling means the ADV is substantial, comfy, has plenty of weather protection and decent luggage space; the 29bhp motor is more than capable of 85mph motorway cruising and yet its proportions and easy manageability also make it great around town, too. Again, the ADV’s not perfect. But it’s affordable, stylish, comfortable, practical and fun – pretty much, in fact, to be considered a two-wheeled SUV car– and isn’t the best we can ask of a midi-scooter commuter, after all? Find a Honda ADV350 for sale here.
Honda ADV350
Honda ADV350

7. Best adventure newcomer – Husqvarna Norden 901

Let’s get this straight from the outset – the new ‘Husky’ Norden isn’t the ‘best’ adventure bike overall – there are far too many astonishing, established rivals, ranging from BMW’s omnipresent R1250GS to Ducati’s Multistrada V4 and Triumph’s latest Tiger 1200, for things to be that simple.
But what it IS, is a refreshing and effective new take on the whole adventure bike genre from a revived, historic manufacturer, with genuine dual purpose on/off-road ability and with a pleasing, rugged style all its own. Yes, Husqvarna, now owned by KTM, has a big hand-up by basing the Norden on KTM’s established, effective and proven 890 Adventure, but the Norden has a distinctive style all its own, is somehow more substantial and long-legged than its Austrian cousin and also an appeal that side-steps the pack. Find a Husqvarna Norden 901 for sale here.
Husqvarna Norden 901
Husqvarna Norden 901

8. Best ‘retro’ roadster – Norton 961 Commando

Revived British icon Norton’s trials and tribulations over the last decade have been well-reported: relaunched in 2009, the 961, though stylish and classy, lacked development and refinement while the original concern lacked finance and eventually foundered in early 2020. It was bought out of administration by vast Indian automotive giant TVS soon after and, after investing millions into an all-new, state-of-the-art factory, hiring a credible workforce and comprehesnively re-engineering the 961.
The result is, simply, the bike it always should have been. Now available in two forms – the SP roadster and CR café racer, both for around £16K – the classic British character and authenticity remain, along with a glorious soundtrack, but is now underscored with glitch-free drive, trouble-free transmission and more than enough quality touches to truly satisfy. It's not perfect – the exhaust headers ground out too easily and steering lock is limited – but the 961’s a truly stirring 90bhp roadster, and authentic heritage machine that makes a mockery of most mere ‘retros’ and, at last, a class act worthy of the Norton name. Find a Norton 961 Commando for sale here.
Norton 961 Commando
Norton 961 Commando

9. Best middleweight – Kawasaki Z650RS

It’s tempting to pit the RS against the Norton as best ‘retro’, here – but Kawasaki’s newcomer is far, far more than that. Motivated by the success of Kawasaki’s previous Z900RS triple, a retro-restyled version of the Z900 roadster inspired by Kawasaki’s historic 1973 Z1 900, the 650RS is this time based on the already credible Z650 twin but this time with a restyle inspired by Kawasaki’s 1976 Z650.
And guess what? It works brilliantly, too. All the previous Z650 underpinnings means it’s a more than acceptable middelweight performer with 67bhp and sweet handling; as before the ‘restyle’ is beautifully done from the twin dials to the tactile tank badges and authentic ‘duck bill’ tailpiece (all of which, incidentally, also somehow makes the RS seem more substantial than the Z650 donor bike); while, arguably best of all, the 650 somehow offers something more than the 900in being at the same time a middleweight, a retro and affordable all at once. Yes, it’s spec can’t quite match that of the 900, nor, naturally, its performance, but as affordable, effective and ‘on trend’ entry into middleweight motorcycling, there’s few better. Find a Kawasaki Z650RS for sale here.
Kawasaki Z650RS
Kawasaki Z650RS

10. Best ‘budget’ bike – CF Moto 800MT

We’re being cautious with our terminology here. In truth, at over £10K, the 800MT isn’t really a budget bike. But what it is, being the latest from ambitious Chinese marque CF Moto, is by far the best bike from a country widely reviled for its budget but poor quality bikes in the past. In short: Chinese-built bikes are coming, and the 800MT is the best yet.
There’s a simple reason for that: where previous CF Motos though stylish (they’re designed by Kiska, who also do KTM) and reasonably equipped, they also seemed crude from using an old copy of a Kawasaki ER-6n engine. The 800MT, however, is the first fruits of CF Moto’s enhanced links with KTM, instead uses the Austrian firm’s ‘old’ 790 Adventure motor (CF Moto actually builds KTMs engines) and employs electronics, TFT screen and more that are also similar. It’s not cheap, budget or perfect, but the 800MT’s a credible, well-equipped, versatile all-rounder – and China’s best bike so far. Find a CF Moto 800MT for sale here.
CF Moto 800MT
CF Moto 800MT

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