Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati has written a long, rich chapter in sport bike history, but, until the '93 release of the aptly named Monster, maintained a low profile stateside. With its 916cc, twin-cylinder power source, five-spoke wheels, carbon fiber body panels, sensuous exhaust tone, and flickable 423-pound dry weight, the Monster S4 builds on the eight-year history of the model, while remaining true to the original badass, do-it-all-and-do-it-in-style personality. True, it's not exactly cheap, but the S4 combines performance, style, personality, history, and soul like no other motorcycle on the planet.

Honda CBR600F4i
$8,199
www.hondamotorcycle.com; (310) 783-2000

To many enthusiasts, Honda's middleweight, street fightin' CBR600F4i is the perfect physical incarnation of the term "sport bike." The bike certainly has history on its side; after all, Honda redefined the class way back in '87, with the CBR's predecessor, the original 600 Hurricane, and the competition has been forced to follow in its smoking tire track ever since. This year, the CBR ditches its bank of carburetors in favor of fuel injection (resulting in a 5 percent increase in power at the engine's screaming 12,500 rpm peak), gets sleeker bodywork, and adds a no-BS go-ahead-punk-make-my-day black-on-silver paint option. Note to the competition: Stock up on smoke masks.

Triumph Bonneville
$6,999
www.triumph.co.uk;
(770) 631-9500