Nothing beats the thrill of riding a motorcycle. It’s exhilarating, it’s liberating, and it’s the easiest way to beat the traffic. But for newbies, it can also be something slightly less appealing: dangerous. Learning how to balance, how to navigate around other vehicles, and how to keep both yourself and everyone else safe isn’t easy. It’s especially not easy when you’re dealing with something as heavy and cumbersome as a motorcycle. Fortunately, most manufacturers know that the early days are the hardest for riders, and have come up with some easy-to-ride, entry-level options that will make the learning curve a lot less steep than it might otherwise be. We’ve picked the 10 best starter motorcycles for new riders. Here they are.
10. Honda Rebel 300
Weighing just 364 pounds, the Honda Rebel 300 has the perfect proportions for a starter motorcycle. Its seat is positioned slightly lower than most bikes, adding extra safety for newer or shorter riders when they need to put their feet down. The handling is a breeze, making it perfect for navigating traffic and commuting. Comfortable, and with enough power to hit the high RPMs where needed, the Rebel 300 makes an outstanding choice for newly licensed riders.
9. KTM RC 390
KTM has a great range of starter motorcycles to its name, with the KTM RC 390 being one of the handiest for daily commuting and city riding. Its 373cc engine might be small, but the nifty intake and fuel injection design delivers power and torque in spades. The light frame and short trail and wheelbase give the bike superb manageability and easy handling. Outstanding brake performance and a smooth suspension complete the appeal.
8. Kawasaki z125
Proving that the best things really do come in small packages, the Kawasaki z125 is an excellent option for beginner riders. Featuring a 125cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, electronic fuel injection system, and 4-speed auto transmission, what the bike lacks in speed it makes up for in easy maneuverability and superb handling: if you want a motorcycle that will take twists and turns without losing an ounce of stability, this could well be the bike for you. Its low seat height makes it perfect for new or shorter riders to put their feet down when needed, while the solid, stripped-back steel frame construction lends stability without weight. As an added advantage, it comes in at just short of $3500, making it a great option for newbies who want to perfect their skills on an affordable, easy-to-ride bike before moving on to something more powerful.
7. Yamaha V Star 250
If you’re looking for a bike that delivers plenty of power but still ticks all the boxes for an entry-level bike, look no further than the Yamaha V Star 250. Affordable, blessed with retro styling, and featuring some great little touches for easy handling, this tiny cruiser delivers on all fronts. The chrome accents give it a throwback appeal that’s perfect for riders with a soft spot for old-school bikes. The advanced powertrain and petite frame make handling a breeze, even for riders who’ve only just got their wheels. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you, the very attractive base price just might.
6. Honda Monkey
If you’re looking for an affordable bike to learn on, the Honda Monkey is a great choice. Depending on the trim, you can expect to pick one up for between $3999 and $4999. A cult classic in Asia since the 1960s, the US got its own version in 2019 in a dashing red or yellow base trim and an upgraded trim level featuring ABS brakes. As a ‘mini’ bike, the Monkey’s low riding position and petite frame might not suit larger riders. If, however, you’re looking for a lightweight adventure ride that delivers enough power to let you keep up in high-speed traffic, it’s ideal.
5. Suzuki SV650
As ripsandrides.com notes, the Suzuki SV650 is a great choice for anyone looking for a bike that’s suitable for newbies, but that still delivers a powerful punch. The 645cc V-twin engine hits the high RPMs when needed to add some fun to the ride. Its lightweight frame is great to learn on, letting you navigate through city traffic with ease. Thanks to its sport-touring design, it’s also perfect for breaking into long-distance riding. Affordable, easy to maintain, and with ample power, it’s an outstanding bike with enough dynamism to give you a thrill but in a manageable enough package not to intimidate.
4. Kawasaki Z400 ABS
According to beginnerriders.com, the Kawasaki Z400 ABS is one of the best super naked redesigned motorcycles for 2021. It’s hard to disagree. With a comfortable riding position, a balanced frame, and plenty of oomph from its two-cylinder 399cc DOHC four-stroke engine, it’s well-deserving of Kawasaki’s “New Rider Friendly” approval. Even better, it’s at a price point that won’t break the bank. Expect to be able to pick up a 2021 model for just $4,999.
3. Honda CB 500F
At 415 pounds, the Honda CB 500F is a little heavier than some of our other entries, but still lightweight enough to make it an easy enough proposition for most novice riders. Its engine is a powerhouse, trotting out 47 horsepower and nudging the bike along at top speeds of 115 mph. The design is simple: if something doesn’t need to be there, it’s not. Despite the absence of frills and whistles, it’s still a handsome bike with an appealing, almost aggressive aesthetic.
2. Yamaha YZF-R3
As gorollick.com writes, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is a great beginner bike. Weighing just 368 pounds wet, it’s got a paired down, athletic style that makes navigating city traffic a breeze. Despite its slimline aesthetic, it still manages to pack a powerful punch, dolling out enough horsepower to give you a thrill. A smooth suspension and comfortable rider position complete the package.
1. BMW G 310 R
As Forbes writes, the small in size but big on fun BMW G 310 R is a handsome, entry-level bike with a stripped back, minimalist aesthetic and a lightweight frame of fewer than 350 pounds. Athletic, easy to handle, and with enough power from the 313cc engine to satisfy the power-hungry, it’s a great entry-level bike that’s perfect for city riding.