Ever since the first superbike rolled off the assembly line, and virtually destroyed an entire motorcycle industry, we've been obsessed with them. By today's standards, the venerable Honda CB750 isn't all that fancy. Because these days, superbikes have grown a reputation worldwide for their track-derived tech, speed and an overwhelming amount of power.
These are not the bikes you commute to work on, or use for a cross-country road trip. You wouldn't be doing them justice, going traffic light to traffic light. No, these machines are razor sharp scalpels, made to slice up tracks and curvy roads. And perhaps that's what the CB750 was, back in 1969, for those riders that were used to slow, outdated British bikes. And today, these new atomic weapons are just as exciting to ride, regardless of where the winding road ends up taking you.
Updated May 2023: The motorcycle world can never get enough of superbikes. They're just too cool with their bleeding edge racing tech and exclusive price tags. And because manufacturers release new and updated models all the time, and to keep our readers up to speed on all these developments, we'll be updating this list from time to time.
10 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-1300R - 188 horsepower
The Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-1300R rocked the motorcycle world when it first hit the market in 1999, up until then, bikes could only go so fast. This is one of the bikes that led to the informal gentleman’s agreement among Japanese manufacturers to limit the maximum speed of production street-legal bikes.
However, this agreement has not stopped the engineers at Suzuki from continually improving upon this impressive machine. With over two decades under its belt, and three generations, it may not be the fastest anymore, but its performance can still impress. These days, the Hayabusa can hit an electronically limited 186 miles per hour, but with some aftermarket tinkering, you can easily make it go much faster.
9 BMW S 1000 RR - 205 horsepower
The BMW S 1000 RR is technically BMW's first sport bike. It has been around for well over a decade now and its spectacular debut has been followed up with continuous development and refinement. It comes packed with the class leading electronics and more power than anyone can actually use.
Without the rider assist features turned on, it is very likely that you will unintentionally pop a wheelie. If this isn’t your bag, BMW included wheelie control that can help you out. Once you get past the acceleration phase, the bike levels out, and you’ll enjoy a smooth power delivery.
8 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R - 208 horsepower
Kawasaki's Ninja clan has grown quite a bit, since its debut in the 80s. The range of options is certainly wide enough, from beginner motorcycles, all the way to high-powered race bikes. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R is one of the latter, and is one of the few bikes that Hayabusa’s could consider as a rival.
The two machines went back and forth for years, taking turns being the fastest production bike in the world. The ZX-14R's claim to fame is the ability to go 0-60 in 2.5 seconds. The only thing holding this bike back is the electronic limiter and its overall weight. That extra size comes in handy, though. You’ll find this bike to be more comfortable to ride long distances than other supersports on this list. However, you aren’t here for ergonomics; you’re here for the 1,441cc DOHC inline-four engine that pumps out incredible power.
7 Honda CBR 1000RR-R Fireblade - 215 horsepower
If you want a bike that embodies MotoGP technology but is also street-legal, then take a closer look at the Honda CBR 1000RR-R Fireblade. Its status, ever since its inception back in the early 90s, is legendary, to say the least. And in its modern form, it feels and performs like a race bike, with all the controls necessary to make it well-mannered for the street.
The 999cc DOHC inline-four engine is lightweight and compact, maximizing the power-to-weight ratio. The engine tuning makes it rider-friendly, instilling confidence in those who may not have superbike experience. Take it through some tight turns, and you’ll find that it maintains control without losing any of its power. The maturity in the performance makes this machine one to be reckoned with both on and off the track.
6 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory - 217 horsepower
In case you weren't aware, but Ducati isn't the only Italian motorcycle manufacturer. They may get most of the mainstream attention, but true superbike enthusiasts know that Aprilia is one to pay attention to. While the brand has dealt with reliability issues over the years, it has also had a solid decade of racing success.
The result is a bike like the Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory. It is sleek, sophisticated, and has a bit of an attitude. The 1,099cc DOHC liquid-cooled V4 engine comes tuned with innovative developments taken from the circuit. Twist the throttle and feel your stomach drop as the bike rockets away from the line. You just need to do your best to hold on.
5 Kawasaki Ninja H2/H2 Carbon - 228 horsepower
Did we mention that Kawasaki has a lot of Ninjas in their stable? Carrying on the torch for the ZX-14 is the Kawasaki Ninja H2 and H2 Carbon as the flagship fastest bike in the world. Kawasaki makes each bike to order and requires a hefty deposit to ensure you have the right level of commitment.
The smaller overall size of the H2s makes it more agile and thrilling than the hefty ZX-14 and Hayabusa. This lets you get full enjoyment out of the 998cc DOHC inline-four engine. Real-world tests with aftermarket bolt-on upgrades in Mojave, CA, have the bike reaching 226.9 miles per hour. This is mind-bending, and definitely more bike than anyone needs for riding on the road.
4 Ducati Superleggera V4 - 234 horsepower
Ducati doesn't seem to know how to make a slow motorcycle. It's not in their DNA. Everything they make, cranks it up to 11. And so is the case with this extremely exclusive Superleggera V4. Only 500 of them were ever produced, and each came with a certificate of authenticity.
With the racing kit installed, it weighed in at only 335 lbs, and could produce 234 hp. Everything about the design of this machine screamed speed. It was wrapped in carbon fiber, included downforce winglets to help stabilize it at high speeds, and had an enviable electronics package that included riding and power modes, cornering ABS, traction and wheelie controls as well auto tire calibration, among other premium features.
3 Ducati Panigale V4 R - 240.5 horsepower
Aprilia may be an exciting Italian brand, but let's face it, it's really hard to compete with Ducati, when they're firing on all four cylinders. Which brings us to the Panigale V4 R, a sophisticated work of art that also happens to be a high-speed machine.
Engineers painstakingly agonized and analyzed each component to ensure maximum performance. From the materials used, to the production method and final design, to the unmatched attention to detail. The result of all that fussing is a bike that can dominate championships and be worthy of the title “The World’s Most Powerful Production Motorcycle.” Helping this bike to slice through the air but not take flight are subtle winglets. While rider geometry could be better, it is good enough to have fun taking this superbike a few laps around the track.
2 Kawasaki Ninja H2R - 326 horsepower
The true king of superbikes is not a street-legal motorcycle. Now that we got that out of the way, the Kawasaki Ninja H2R is a track-only bike and comes ready annihilate the competition with outstanding performance specs. It has a 988cc liquid-cooled DOHC supercharged four-cylinder engine that can go 0-6 in 2.93 seconds and 0-100 in just 5.12 seconds. This makes it the fastest-production motorcycle on the market.
Unfortunately, as is the case with a lot of these exclusive, high-performance machines, the cost of ownership is pretty high. Yes, you can still pick one up, for a very reasonable price of $57,000. And for that price, you'll never be able to take it out anywhere but the track. But of course, riding it on the street would be a total waste of all its track-derived racing technology anyway.
1 MTT 420 RR - 420 horsepower
The MTT 420 RR is an insanely fast bike from a company that doesn’t specialize in motorcycles. Marine Turbine Technologies (MTTT) makes high-performance turbines for marine purposes. Except for that one time, when they decided to put one in a motorcycle. These are not high-volume production motorcycles. Instead, you get a bike custom-built to your specifications. The MTT 420 RR can reach a theoretical top speed of 273 miles per hour thanks to the Rolls-Royce Allison 250-C20 Series Gas Turbine engine. An aluminum frame holds this behemoth of an engine, and then carbon fiber fairings wrap around it all. This bike looks and feels massive, but it has to be to keep you grounded with all of that power.