Best Motorcycle for Beginners

Let common sense prevail when choosing that first motorcycle

Before You Buy, Remember These 3 Things:

Most inquiries from new or prospective riders are so similar that they have become cliché on forums and Facebook groups. Second only to the inquiry of where one can access the cheapest possible insurance, is undoubtedly what the best starter bike is. There are many variables to consider, not the least of which are the cost implications to purchase, insure and properly maintain. But drown out the noise and keep this in mind before shopping:

1. Put Your Ego Aside

Concerned about what their friends will think or how quickly they will grow bored of a small displacement mount, many inexperienced riders often scare themselves by going to big too soon then abandoning the hobby altogether. Considering that super sport litre bike you’ve had your eye on has a similar power to weight ratio an an F1 car, maybe impressing your friends shouldn’t be your number one priority.

2. Size Matters

Aside from budget and aesthetics, which are no doubt important elements, consider your size, strength and proportions along with the kind of riding you plan on doing. Learning to ride on a 700kg bagger in the city is not worth the stress and a 250cc starter bike with a 5L tank is not going to be comfortable on long highway trips. I always recommend attending the local motorcycle show when it comes to town so you can sit on as many bikes as possible, comparing and contrasting models in an identical environment. Lift it off the stand to feel the weight of the steering and whether you’d be comfortable holding it up at stoplights or in stop-and-go-traffic.

3. New Motorcycle vs Used

Years ago, my own riding instructor assembled those who passed his course to offer advice on the topic of the first motorcycle. “Don’t go out tomorrow and buy your dream bike,” he said, “You will likely drop or scratch it and be more concerned with the bike than how to properly ride it. It is easier to start small and work your way up.” It’s good advice I have shared many times over the years. Purchasing a used vehicle of any kind can be a challenge, but especially questionable when it comes to motorcycles so you can be forgiven for wanted the peace of mind associated with a bike that’s collision or maintenance history is unquestionable. Well maintained motorcycles tend to retain their value, so there is little harm in buying a bike you’ll only ride for a season or two before selling it and moving up.


Summarized in a handy, dandy sharable graphic:

6 Small Motorcycles & Beginner Bikes

Keep these models on your shortlist

Honda CB300R

Price US$4,649 | C$5,499
  • Engine Type: 286cc liquid-cooled 20º single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Bore And Stroke: 76mm x 63mm
  • Induction: Fuel injection w/ 38mm throttle body
  • Ignition: Full transistorized
  • Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
  • Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
  • Clutch: Multiplate wet

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Price US$4,999 | C$5,799
  • Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, water-cooled
  • Displacement: 399cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 70.0 x 51.8mm
  • Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
  • Fuel System: DFI with 32mm throttle bodies (2)
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
  • Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
  • Final Drive: Sealed Chain
  • Electronic Rider Aids: ABS

Suzuki SV650X

Price US$7,099 | C$8,299
  • Engine: 645cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90˚V-twin
  • Bore x Stroke: 81.0 mm x 62.6 mm (3.189 in. x 2.465 in.)
  • Compression Ratio: 11.2:
  • Fuel System: Suzuki fuel injection with SDTV
  • Starter: Electric
  • Lubrication: Wet sump
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Wet, multi-plate type
  • Final Drive: Chain, DID520V0, 112 links

2 Sweet Suzuki Features:


Angry Bee: A 1971 Suzuki Stinger Motorcycle Feature

A swarm of angry bees couldn’t part Stu McColl from his Suzuki Stinger.

2002 Suzuki SV650 Motorcycle Feature

Some folks collect stamps. Others collect coins. This 2002 Suzuki SV650 explains it all.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

Price US$6,299| C$6,999
  • Design: 1-cylinder, 4-stroke engine
  • Displacement: 373 cm³
  • Bore: 89 mm
  • Stroke: 60 mm
  • Power in kW: 32 kW
  • Starter: Electric starter
  • Lubrication: Wet sump
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Primary Drive: 30:80
  • Secondary Gear Ratio: 15:45
  • Cooling: Liquid cooled
  • Clutch: PASC antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
  • EMS: Bosch EMS
Husqvarna 401 Motorcycle Concepts

Husqvarna 401 Motorcycle Concepts

Although they are not available for purchase yet the Husqvarna 401 motorcycle concepts are well on their way towards production.

Honda Shadow Phantom

Price US$7,899
  • Engine Type: 745cc liquid-cooled 52 degrees V-twin
  • Bore And Stroke: 79mm x 76mm
  • Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 34mm throttle body
  • Ignition: Digital with 3-D mapping, two spark plugs per cylinder
  • Compression Ratio: 9.6:1
  • Valve Train: SOHC; three valves per cylinder
  • Transmission: Wide-ratio five-speed
  • Final Drive: Shaft

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Price US$8,999 | C$11,499
  • Engine: 1 Air-cooled, Evolution® BORE 3 in.
  • Stroke: 3.811 in.
  • Displacement: 883 cc (53.9 cu in)
  • Compressions Ratio: 9:01
  • Fuel System: 3 Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
  • Exhaust: Black exhaust headers and black mufflers

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