I remember the day I saw a Ducati motorcycle for the first time. It was a late ’90s Ducati Monster M900 (I had to look it up at the time). The red hulking beast of a bike looked like no other motorcycle I’d ever seen before, and its rider was almost as menacing, clad in all black with a matching helmet. The most dramatic things about the bike were its massive tank and prominent trellis frame. The visual presence, the sound of the engine and the exhaust, and the way it took off from a standstill–the M900 burned in my brain, and I would never look at motorcycles the same way again. It made me want to learn how to ride, and that’s exactly what I did but on a much tamer motorcycle.
There’s just something special, almost intangible about Italian motorcycles. Just like Italian sports cars, Italian motorcycles are some of the best and most charismatic in the world. Passion and beauty are trademark Italian descriptors, and those labels apply to cuisine, fashion, leather goods, cars, as well as motorcycles. Every country has its own distinct moto flavor, and Italian motorcycles boast some of the best two-wheeled performance around. They’re not just great performing machines, but they’re also some of the best-designed motorcycles around, including ADVs, sport bikes, and cafe racers.
If youre’ looking for an Italian motocycle or jsut something that’s a fun ride, these are the bikes to turn to.
MV Agusta Rush
MV Agusta’s Rush looks downright otherworldly. The hyper-naked bike was a concept back in 2019, and now it’s here to kick ass and take names in full production form. Based on the MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR, the Rush is just that much more in almost every way. There are gobs of carbon fiber everywhere, including the rear wheel, engine cover, and the carbon and titanium exhaust system. Other high-end components are CNC machined The Rush also features a custom carbon/titanium exhaust setup as well as some small details such as CNC machined pedals and levers. The engine didn’t need replacement because the 1000cc inline-four borrowed from the Brutale RR is a monster of a mill to back up the utterly menacing looks that will have bystanders agape just when it’s standing still. It’s a seriously pricey steed, but the price point for this beast seems warranted.
Aprilia RS 660
This Italian-flavored member of the competitive 600cc segment is more than just racy looks and speed. It’s also stunning and remarkably flexible, comfortable, and practical for a supersports bike. It looks all business with its streamlined fairing, frame, and rear cowl, and the look is arresting with triple headlights, a slick LED DRL signature, bright colorways, and red wheels. The RS 660 can handle the rigors of track duties, but its engine isn’t so wild and raucous that it can’t manage the flexibility of regular street riding. It’s also ergonomically better than most in this segment making it more appealing to ride more often. It also boasts some of the best riding tech for the money, including cornering ABS, traction control, 5 ride modes, quickshifter, anti-hop clutch, and even cruise control.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S
The Multistrada is one of the most capable motorcycles on the planet, regularly garnering rave reviews from all corners of the motorcycling community. The V4 S is the apex of the model, and it boasts elegant Italian design typically not found on adventure bikes that tend to look more rugged and singular in purpose. The V4 S also ramps up the riding dynamics and comfort thanks to a completely electronically-assisted ride height. There’s also adaptive cruise control via 360-degree onboard sensors that detect surrounding traffic. Power comes from a big 1158cc V4 engine with 170 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque. Riding the bike off or on road is an utter thrill, and its Italian styling will elicit oohs and ahhs from even the non-motorcycling public.
Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Centenario
The Moto Guzzi V7 Stone is a limited edition old-school standard motorcycle that celebrates Moto Guzzi’s 100th anniversary and with it keeps purist tradition of the riding experience sans driver’s aids. While most modern riders might balk at the idea, the result is a back-to-basics approach. The chunky styling has strong presence with big tank, single round LED headlight with eagle-wing signature, and the twin blacked-out exhausts that match the mirrors, headlight surround, bars, and wheels. The bike also happens to provide a comfortable upright riding position for longer time in the saddle. The bike might seem Spartan in terms of tech, but it does have the right components in the form of Brembo disc brakes, Marzocchi forks, and Weber Marelli electronic fuel injection. The sound of the 853cc transverse V-twin is unmistakable, the 65 horsepower is smooth and sufficiently powerful to enjoy day in and day out.
Ducati Monster Plus
You can’t have a list like this without the legendary Ducati Monster, the second model from the brand in this illustrious set. Having established itself decades ago, the Monster continues to be one of the best motorcycles available today, regardless of segment. It’s better than ever with 2021 improvements that carry over to the current Monster Plus naked bike. Power comes from the 937cc Desmodromic Testastretta V-twin engine that’s good for 111 horses and 69 lb-ft of torque. It also benefits from a 100% race-grade aluminum trellis frame, improved center mass, and an astounding sub-400-pound wet weight. Perhaps most importantly, the Monster hasn’t lost its muscular bison-back tank and resulting seriously intimidating looks.
An Italian electric motorcycle is tantamount to a Ferrari SUV, yet both manage to exist. The Energica Experia bucks tradition by building a quiet, fast, and ferocious motorcycle that’s powered by a 75 kW motor at 7,500 rpm with 101 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque. That motor is paired with the biggest battery found on an electric motorcycle, 22.5 kWh maximum (19.6 kWh nominal).
The adventure-styled bike happens to provide the carving abilities and comfort levels of a sport tourer, which are monumental achievements. It’s so good to ride, the Experia has even been compared to the original Ducati Multistrada. It also provides a tremendously long 261-mile range, besting some of the longer-range gas-powered motorcycles made today. The looks are more futuristic than traditional Italian, but the intimidating front fairing and angular bodywork set the right tone for this electric motorcycle that’s changing conventional wisdom about Italian bikes.