Riding a motorcycle is a hobby many people from around the world have taken up. Not a cheap hobby, but one that brings the adrenaline junkies lots of joy.
If you’re a rookie to this thrilling adventure, maybe starting off with an entry-level bike might be more feasible for you. There are many reasons why you should opt to go this way, at least until you feel comfortable enough to move on to a full sized bike.
Full-sized motorcycles are harder to control and less forgiving, so it can discourage new riders from learning how to fully enjoy this vehicle. Crashes are also more likely to happen on larger bikes, and that within the first six months of being on the road. Price is a third reason, but when you consider safety, that is really not the main reason why you should try to get a more appropriate bike when you’re still learning this new skill.
How do you find the right bike for you?
First question you should ask yourself is: what are you planning to use it for? Will it be your main means of transportation, or do you simply intend to use it for fun?
For city commuting a gas-efficient, or better yet, an electric model might work best. But for off-road riding, you might want to consider an adventure or dual-sport motorcycle.
Factors to Consider when Looking for a Beginner Motorcycle
Just because they are entry level, it doesn’t mean those bikes don’t have some amazing specs.
But which are the most important ones to consider? We summed it up for you here, in order to save you some time.
ne of the most important considerations, a new entry level bike should be fine with an engine displacement of 500cc or under. The configuration of about two cylinders will be doable as well.
Anything bigger than that, and you’re falling into the full-size bike you want to avoid when you are still learning to control a motorcycle.
Anti-lock Braking System, or ABS
The ABS system is something to consider because it keeps the brakes and tires from locking or skidding.
As a new rider, you will likely be tempted to apply too much pressure on the brakes, and the ABS will keep the over-braking under control.
What’s considered running gear? The components that allow your bike to accelerate, corner and stop. In other words, the brakes, chassis, and the suspension.
The newly-made entry level motorcycles now come equipped with some premium components that were once reserved solely to the full-sized bikes.
Seat Height / Handlebar Height
It might seem obvious, but many riders do not always remember that the seat height is an important factor. Your feet should comfortably touch the ground, and the seat should accommodate your personal needs.
The same applies to the handlebar. You should be able to reach the hand controls without too much stretch, and your posture should be comfortable.
The power to weight ratio of the motorcycle will determine how fast the bike will go. The bikes that exceed speeds of 70mph can easily ride on the freeway, and their applications will be different from those of a bike that doesn’t reach high speeds.
Many new motorcycles come equipped with lots of tech features now, such as Bluetooth connectivity, multiple ride modes, among many others. Just remember that the more add-ons you choose, the higher the overall price of the bike.
Which brings us to one of the last considerations. The price of the bike depends on all the features you pick, but most entry-level motorcycles are around the $5,000 mark.
For that price you can get a decent bike, but some manufacturers offer greater bang for your buck than others. That’s where you should do your homework and figure out which features are more important to you.
Last but not least, keep in mind that the heavier the motorcycle, the harder it is to control. That also depends on your own height and weight. A 5 foot 6¨ person that weighs around 150 lbs does not have the same needs as a six foot one, weighing in at 210 pounds, for example.
There are other considerations that apply, such as manufacturer, the windscreen or fairing, among a few others. But we covered the most important ones, the rest comes down to personal preference. Now, let’s take a look at the 20 best designer motorcycles to buy right now.
We separated them by category, so it should make your life a little easier.
Appropriate for the speed seekers, these machines offer some of the best acceleration, braking, and angling for the entry-level category. A great choice whether you’re planning to use it mainly for your commute, but you can enjoy some thrills with it on the weekends as well.
20. Kawasaki Ninja 400
The specs on this Green machine are truly remarkable. Equipped with ABS, a lightweight trellis frame and a slipper clutch, this powerful little machine will give you the adrenaline rush you’re looking for.
Boasting a liquid-cooled 399cc parallel-twin engine, it can surpass speeds of 105 mph.
19. Yamaha YZF-R3
A versatile supersport model that can reach top speeds of just over 115 mph, the R3’s bodywork is inspired by Moto GP racer. Equipped with a liquid-cooled 321cc parallel-twin engine, it has a torque of 42hp.
Because of its popularity, the aftermarket upgrades are widely available, so you can make it your own.
18. Aprilia RS125
The Italian brand replicated their flagship’s model to a tee with this smaller version of the superbike. Equipped with a liquid-cooled 124.2cc single-cylinder engine and passing 70mph, it is one of the most performant entry-level bikes in this category.
Amazing specs and boasting a chassis, this is a great option if you’re looking for a cool bike.
The classics, or standards, are traditional two-wheelers that take their inspiration from retro motorcycles. The engine and running gear is on full display, which makes the look old-school. Not the most performing, they offer a comfortable ride around town.
17. Honda H’Ness CB350
We like this model and we wanted to include it in our list, even though it isn’t available on the North American market just yet.
With an air-cooled 350cc single cylinder engine and speeds that can pass 85 mph, this game-changing machine is one to keep your eye on.
16. Suzuki TU250X
This model from Suzuki hasn’t changed much since its introduction to the market in 1994.
Considered a retro standard, it has an air-cooled 249cc single cylinder engine with 16.1 hp capabilities, and top speeds of 75mph. A reliable and minimalistic model that never grows old.
15. Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
One of the more expensive entry-level bikes, the Scrambler Sixty2 made its first appearance in the beginning of the decade whose name it carries.
Looking just like the 803cc model, this smaller version has an air-cooled 399cc Desmo L-twin engine, power of 40hp, and top speeds exceeding 100mph. A still very capable machine that is more appropriate for beginners.
Naked, or Stripped Down
For those not familiar with the bike lingo, naked, or stripped down, means that the motorcycles offer fewer fairings and a lack of bodywork. The more practical offering is a more user-friendly bike that comes with an upright riding position.
14. KTM Duke 200
This entry-level sport naked moto from the Austrian motorcyle brand comes with the same specs as its larger partner, but with a 199.5cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine.
The advanced frame, slipper clutch and the top-shelf suspension, as well as speeds reaching just under 90mph, make this bike a great option for the freeway riders.
13. Honda CB300R
If you read our Cafe racers article, you might remember that we mentioned the largest member of Honda’s Neo-sports Cafe range.
This is their smallest model that comes with a liquid-cooled 286cc single-cylinder engine, a wide range of interesting specs, and can go just past 90mph.
12. Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
The 701 Vitpilen is the larger bike we also mentioned in the same article, but we find the 401 model a little easier to handle for beginners.
The Austrian company brings you a bike that is equipped with a liquid-cooled 373cc single-cylinder engine capable of 44hp. Weighing in at 335 lbs, this lightweight motorcycle can go past 100mph.
11. Yamaha SR400
With cool retro styling, a slim narrow frame, a unique kick-starter, and the fuel-injected 399cc single cylinder engine of the Yamaha SR 400 reminds you of a 70’s bike.
With a five-speed transmission that is suitable for both city or highway driving, it makes a suitable ride for a beginner.
Dual-Sports, or ADV
Just in case it isn’t implied, dual-sports motorcycles are for both on and off-road riding. Simply put, they are dirt bikes equipped with a headlight, indicators, and a licence plate, which makes them street legal.
10. Honda CRF300L
This lightweight bike comes with razor-sharp handling and immense reliability, amongst many other qualities. Equipped with a liquid-cooled 286cc single-cylinder engine, it can reach speeds of 75mph.
With 27.3 HP, it offers quite a lot of power for a smallish machine, and you will enjoy riding it both on and off-road.
9. Kawasaki KLX 300 SM
This dual sports model from Kawasaki is great for street riding, but it can handle itself very well on rugged terrain as well.
This stellar choice has a liquid-cooled 292cc single-cylinder engine, 33hp, and although on the light side, it can reach almost 80 mph.
8. Cake Kalk INK
One of the lightest and most interesting models on the list, this Swedish-made EV is the best option for beginners that are looking to work their way to higher power modes.
Weighing in at just under 175 lbs and with a PMAC motor, it can surprisingly go all the way to 70mph. A fun machine that is safe and quite forgiving to beginners.
The learner-friendly cruiser bikes that are available on the North American market retain the look of the big names such as Harley Davidson, but come equipped with new rider-appropriate packages.
7. Cleveland Cyclewerks Heist
This stylish entry-level motorcycle is an attractive model, and it has great potential for customization.
Equipped with an air-cooled 229cc single-cylinder engine and weighing in at just under 300 lbs, it can reach maximum speeds of 70mph.
6. Yamaha V-Star 250
This authentic smaller sized cruiser boasts an air-cooled 249cc V-Twin engine, something rarely seen in a motorcycle of this size.
Bring it around town for your commute or go touring, this bike can handle both with top speeds reaching 80mph.
5. Honda Rebel 500
This urban-friendly sport cruiser is the perfect compromise for new riders that are adventurous enough to handle the freeway.
The smallest from the generation of Rebels, this liquid cooled 471cc parallel-twin engine gives the bike 40hp, and it can reach top speeds of 95mph.
4. Harley-Davidson Street 500
Whether you’re looking for a daily commuter or a weekend touring bike, this offering from Harley Davidson is one of your best bets.
With a fuel-injected 494cc V-Twin engine, this bike is as close as it gets to the real full sized motorcycles.
They allow for unlimited exploration, and they are able to handle both on and off-road riding. One of the most popular categories out in the entry-level biking world.
3. Royal Enfield Himalayan
This back-to-basics design brings you some new features such as the Tripper Navigation system, or the switchable dual-channel ABS.
Weighing in at 438 lbs, it has a 411cc air-cooled single cylinder engine, and can reach top speeds of 80mph. One of the larger entry-level bikes on our list.
2. BMW G 310 GS
German brand’s Gelande-Strasse models are some of the most popular adventure bikes in the world. This small-displacement GS is equipped with a 313cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that has capabilities of 34hp.
Although the smaller version of the R80 GS, it can do both touring and light off-roading.
1. KTM 390 Adventure
Recent release 390 Adventure has been an anticipated off-road adventure bike that is equipped with crash protection and long-travel suspension.
With a liquid-cooled 373.2cc single cylinder engine and top speeds of 93mph, this powerful adventure motorcycle is one of the fastest on the market. Although on the lighter side, it can handle almost all terrains its big brother does.
There you have our comprehensive list of the best beginner motorcycles you can buy right now. We hope you can choose one that suits your lifestyle and needs best.
- How do you find the right bike for you?
- Factors to Consider when Looking for a Beginner Motorcycle
- 20. Kawasaki Ninja 400
- 19. Yamaha YZF-R3
- 18. Aprilia RS125
- 17. Honda H’Ness CB350
- 16. Suzuki TU250X
- 15. Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
- 14. KTM Duke 200
- 13. Honda CB300R
- 12. Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
- 11. Yamaha SR400
- 10. Honda CRF300L
- 9. Kawasaki KLX 300 SM
- 8. Cake Kalk INK
- 7. Cleveland Cyclewerks Heist
- 6. Yamaha V-Star 250
- 5. Honda Rebel 500
- 4. Harley-Davidson Street 500
- 3. Royal Enfield Himalayan
- 2. BMW G 310 GS
- 1. KTM 390 Adventure