Best Motorcycle for Beginners
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.
6 Small Motorcycles & Beginner Bikes
Offered in Candy Chromosphere Red or Matte Grey Metallic, the the CB300R is the newest addition to the Honda sportbike family. The 286cc Single-Cylinder naked bike is agile, fuel efficient and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Liquid-cooled and chain driven, the simple design also makes maintenance easy and inexpensive. Being marketed as a ‘neo-sports café’, retro styling cues are mixed with modern design and materials. While the motorcycle isn’t bogged down with overwhelming techno-nannies, buttons, switches or variable rider modes to distract you from the enjoyment of the open road, the ABS system features an inertial measurement unit to intelligently distribute braking force between the front and rear brakes. In a crowded and increasingly competitive area of the market, that’s a big differentiator, particularly for a new rider.
Kawasaki Ninja 400
Available in any colour you like, as long as that colour happens to be Metallic Spark Black, the Ninja 400 is a starter bike that doesn’t look or feel like a starter bike. Even experienced riders agree that this entry-level Ninja is a blast to ride and feels more substantial than its spec sheet suggests. Offering more power, less weight and improved styling all for the same price as the 300cc model it replaces, the Ninja 400 offers a lot of motorcycle for the money. Other improvements over the 300 include better braking, beefier front forks, a slighter, shorter frame, a longer swingarm and a steeper head angle. Equally at home on the road or racetrack, handling is light and nimble, torque delivery is optimized for low-and mid-range grunt and the riding position is comfortable.
The SV650 has been a popular first motorcycle choice over the years, and with good reason. Comfortable ergonomics and ample performance from a well balanced V-twin at an approachable price point is an attractive proposition, even if its styling wasn’t. Enter the revised SV650X, offering the same versatility but with styling that won’t make you want to keep it under a tarp. Showing off a new seat, headlight cowl, braking setup, bodywork and clip-on handlebars at the Intermot show this week in Germany, the engine chassis, suspension and practical package that riders have come to know and love all remain intact.
2 Sweet Suzuki Features:
Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
If cost is less of a concern than style, few bikes will get you more attention than the Vitpilen, a motorcycle that looks like someone from another planet designed a café racer from the future. Breaking cover at the EICMA show two years ago, the production bikes vary little from the widely acclaimed concepts. Stripped of all but the most necessary elements, the design is simple and subtle yet progressive and unmistakably Swedish. Powered by a compact 373cc Single mated to a 6-speed gearbox and a ride-by-wire system, the power to weight ratio and torque curve will won’t leave you bored. Getting one of your own may require spending a few more shillings, but you’ll notice the difference in the build materials and quality construction.
Honda Shadow Phantom
Low slung, simplistic and smooth, the Shadow makes for an excellent choice for those who are new to riding or happen to be shorter on inseam. The blacked-out retro-inspired Phantom is understated and mysterious with minimalist bodywork, bobbed fenders and matte finishes. Its throaty V-Twin also sounds great and promises bullet-proof Honda reliability, offering decent power at low- to mid-range rpm while delivering impressive fuel efficiency. Its smooth shifting five-speed transmission is limited in top end capability, making it more suitable as a bar hopper or back road cruiser than a long distance highway companion. Not only does the Shadow have a reputation for quality and longevity, but it also boasts a low cost of entry that holds its value over time, making it a good investment.
Harley-Davidson Iron 883
If you’re looking to get into motorcycling and cannot avoid the distinctive appeal of a Hog, skip the Street series and opt for the Iron 883 to whet your whistle. The most popular model from the Milwaukee motorcycle maker, the blacked-out and brooding style is matched by the unmistakable sound and experience of that V-Twin rumble. It may not be as cheap or feel as refined as some of its competitors, but that’s kind of the point. Higher priced than many bikes on the market, the added cost of admission brings quality materials, reliability, limitless customization potential and a lack of depreciation.