Starter: 12 Best Beginner Motorcycles to Buy as Your First Bike

Riding a motorcycle is a lot like riding a bike: you have to learn how, but once you do, you never forget. However, riding a motorcycle can be a little more difficult than learning to ride a classic bicycle. No need to be discouraged, though. Choosing your starter motorcycle wisely can help you enjoy a smoother learning experience, so you can eventually move on to premium bikes (or an entire collection!)

The problem is, there are a lot of motorcycles marketed to the “beginner rider” that aren’t all that great, and a lot of pristine bikes that are great for learning, but may not necessarily be marketed that way. It can be hard to understand all the tech-speak related to bikes, too, if you haven’t bought one before. Understanding what you need in a beginner bike will help you choose the best one for you. We laid a list of our recommendations for starter motorcycles for beginners, along with a few tips for you after the bikes below to help you make the best decision possible

Our Favorite Starter Motorcycles

We compiled the list based on things like overall performance, stability, maneuverability, total weight, and seat position. Here are our favorites for those of you that are new to the bike world:

Honda CB1100 ExHonda CB1100 Ex

This bike is an attractive option for beginners, both because of its easy maneuverability and style. Honda outdid themselves with a seamless gas tank (no visible weld) on a durable and timeless steel chassis, which makes for a clean and classic looking ride. The triple disc brakes will help you stop on a dime, and the engine takes a new spin on Honda’s famous incline-four engine by adding a cooling system and a more modern “blackout” aesthetic. This all pairs well with the classic frame, complete with chrome fenders and round headlight. This bike sits on the higher end of the middle price range but is packed with enough value and durability to be your everyday rider for a long time.


Yamaha YZF-R3Yamaha YZF-R3

Yamaha designs powerful bikes that are known for having great ergonomics and sporty frames. The YZF-R3 is a great choice for beginners because it is lightweight and easy to handle but still packs a punch with its advanced forged piston design. The seat is positioned for a sports-style riding position that is comfortable and gives you the most total control possible. The flat seat helps even beginners position their feet firmly on the ground during stops and increases balance, which is great for new riders. Disc brakes give you reliable stopping power every time. There are three color options and a slew of accessories to make this bike your own. This is one of the more affordable bikes on the market, at the bottom of the lower price range, but don’t mistake it for cheaply made.


Kawasaki Ninja 300Kawasaki Ninja 300

The Kawasaki Ninja 300 is another option that is incredibly lightweight, creating an easy ride. However, the small frame has a lot of power and includes Digital Fuel Injection technology that allows smooth throttle control and a 296cc parallel-twin cylinder engine. Enjoy great gas mileage with this bike, up to 66 mpg. The large digital multi-function display paired with the streamlined sporty look makes this bike look modern and sleek, and it’s a notably easy ride for those who are just getting their bike-legs. This bike is another affordable option for beginners, falling in the low price range.


Scrambler Ducati Desert SledScrambler Ducati Desert Sled

This bike is specifically designed for off-road but provides a smooth highway ride as well. The seat is positioned much higher than many average bikes for better control and balance. The suspension is fully adjustable and fastened to a reinforced steel frame for increased durability, even on rugged terrain. Electronic Fuel Injection paired with 6-speed straight cut gears provide a smoother and consistent ride. Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires and spoked wheels provide great stability for beginners. This bike falls somewhere in the middle price range and provides plenty of quality for the price.


Honda CRF250L RallyHonda CRF250L Rally

Honda’s bikes are all built for speed, but this bike has that and much more. An increase in fuel tank size means fewer stops to fill up, and the small frame is perfect for smaller riders or for beginners who like more maneuverability. The seat sits high enough to give you great control but low enough that you can sit upright, which makes for more comfortable long-distance commutes. The Rally includes a few luxury add-ons that the standard CRF250L doesn’t have, like handguards, a windscreen, skid plate, and increased suspension adjustments. All this, paired with extra fairing and side panels and twin headlights, creates a rally-style bike that is timeless. This bike is affordable but packs more punch than many bikes in the low price range.


Honda Rebel 300Honda Rebel 300

Honda’s Rebel 300 is a great beginners choice for value, power, and style. This bike sits lower than most bikes on the market, which makes it comfortable for cruising and commuting. The sporty engine is a lightweight, fuel injected, single cylinder model that offers midrange power and torque, making this bike easy to handle. The blackout aesthetic and steel fenders create a look that catches the eye. The widened front wheel creates a stable platform and improves stopping power, which makes this bike great for learning. Honda has been a top choice in lightweight bikes for beginners for quite some time due to their sporty aesthetics and reliability.


Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883

If you know anything about bikes, you’ve heard the name Harley, so we don’t even have to tell you that they design some of the most powerful, stylish, and reliable bikes on the market. Many Harley’s are souped-up for the pros, but that doesn’t stop the company from designing a few bikes that are easily handled by a new rider. The Sportster Iron 883 is a perfect example and features a lowered suspension that is comfortable and stable for all riders. The 883cc air-cooled engine is expected to ride for miles, thanks to Harley Davidson’s superior engineering. The drag-style, dropped back handlebars create an old-school look that turns heads. The bike is available in multiple colors and supports the anti-chrome, blacked out style. The bike sits in the middle price range, at a slightly higher price point than many other options for beginners, but with a Harley Davidson, you definitely get what you pay for.


Suzuki SV650Suzuki SV650

This bike is the epitome of an old-school sports bike, but with a touch of modern style. The bike runs on a 645cc V-twin Engine that delivers clean, consistent power. This bike provides low emissions and great fuel economy and is lightweight enough to be easy to handle during an evening cruise or a sporty terrain, even for beginners. The Low RPM Assist feature adjust the engine to help avoid stalling, which is great if you are just learning to ride.  The slim-frame motorcycle is constructed entirely of steel for a look that is stylish and a bike that is timeless. At the very top of the low price range, this bike is both affordable and high in value.


Yamaha Bolt CruiserYamaha Bolt Cruiser

This bike has a slim body and low-riding seat that provides a comfortable ride, even during long-distance trips, and is lightweight enough even for beginners to handle with ease. The bike has a large, 3.4-gallon fuel tank, which means you have to fuel up less often.The digital display and steel cut fenders paired with the stripped-down, minimal chrome aesthetic creates a bold, but modern looking ride. The bike has a lot of power packed in its tiny frame though and hosts a 642cc V-twin engine that is air cooled and fuel injected. The bike is a great base for customizations, so you can create a bike that is completely your own that still houses the speed and reliability that Yamaha offers. This Yamaha Cruiser is at the lower end of the middle price point, which gives you a pristine quality bike with plenty left in your wallet.


KTM 390 DukeKTM 390 Duke

The 390 Duke by KTM features a top-notch, single cylinder engine with optimal performance at low to medium torque, making it a great choice for first-time riders. The bike is incredibly slim and lightweight, so it is easy to handle at any speed by any driver. The seat is high and curved to provide good stability, comfort, and control. The steel frame provides durability and an attractive touch that is complemented by the bold colors and sporty, geometric style. This bike falls in the lower price range, but it doesn’t look or ride like a cheap bike.


Bonneville T120 TriumphBonneville T120 Triumph

This bike is born of the original Bonneville style bike, so it carries a look that is classic and timeless. The 1200cc twin-parallel high torque engine has plenty of power to get you where you need to go, while the seat is mid-range, meaning you get a good balance between control and a relaxed riding position. The handcrafted chrome detailing, heated grips, and 160 available accessories, this bike is no eyesore. The Bonneville T120 falls in the middle price range, and Triumph delivers plenty of quality for the price.


Yamaha V Star 250 CruiserYamaha V Star 250 Cruiser

This compact motorcycle is another lightweight option that is easy to handle and superior gas mileage that is easy on the wallet. At around 78 miles per gallon, you should get an estimated 200 miles between fill-ups. The super low-sitting seat helps provide an upright riding position that allows you to feel the bike better and increases your comfortability. If you love chrome, this bike is for you. It is capped on every end with quality chrome, including the fenders, handlebars, and stylish, low-profile mirrors. The 249cc V-twin engine provides all the power a beginner rider will need. This bike is one of the most inexpensive bikes on the market, but it doesn’t falter in quality or style.



Choosing A Bike That Fits The Script

You should consider exactly what you would like to get out of your bike in order to determine which bike is for you. For instance, you can find high powered sport bikes with a lot of torque and a high-rise seat that is great for off-roading and trick riding on rugged terrain. You can also find low-riding monster bikes that carry that old-school look and sounds that are comfortable and great for leisure cruises. If you are looking for something in between that is great for an every day rider but will also be fun for turning tricks on the weekends, there are plenty of mid-range bikes available as well. There are a few things you consider before choosing your first bike.

honda rebel beginner motorcycle

Look for Lightweight

A lightweight bike is generally recommended for beginners because it is much easier to balance and maneuver on and off the road. Lighter bikes may have a few limitations, but overall they are easier to ride and control, create less hassle when towing, loading, or unloading, and typically get better gas mileage than other, heavier options. Heavier bikes are not recommended for learning, and can more easily result in damage and injury for inexperienced riders.

Durability Over Power

While most riders look for a bike with the most powerful engines, it is important to consider that, while learning, you will rarely use all the torque your bike has to offer. As a beginner, you may want to consider a bike that will produce consistent and reliable mid to low range power and torque. Too much torque can cause difficulties for those who are learning. Often, bikes designed for optimum performance at mid to low range power will be less likely to experience hard shifts or stalling, especially when you are still starting out. After you’ve gotten experience riding, you may decide you want more power and speed, which is a good time to look for a more powerful bike for experienced riders.

Seat Positioning

Seat positioning is important but also depends on personal preference and how you intend to use your bike. Higher seat positioning gives you more complete control over your bike and your balance, while a lower seat allows for a much more comfortable ride. Therefore, if you plan to do a lot of riding on rough terrain, you may opt for higher seat positioning. If you are going to use your bike primarily for commuting to and from work, riding in town, or cruising the

highways, you may benefit from lower seat positioning, which allows you to sit more upright. A lower seat usually lets you “feel” the ride (the vibrations from the road) more thoroughly, which is appealing to many riders.

husqvarna motorcycle

What Can You Spend?

You should consider that motorcycles, especially for first-time riders, get damaged. “Dropping” or “sliding” is common, and may result in serious damage to your bike. Motorcycles range greatly in price based on their capabilities, brand, and style. Some reliable brands offer models as low as $4,000, while others charge luxury prices upwards of $100k. While some bikes in the lower price ranges (less than $7k) are not recommended, due to poor engineering, cheap parts, and unrecognized branding, there are still a few bikes in this range that are affordable and durable, as well as great for first-timers. If you want something a bit more luxury than the base model, you can always opt for something in the middle price range (between $7k and $15k), but it’s not recommended for new owners to go all out on their new bike. Remember, you can always add aftermarket upgrades to a base model, which can not only improve your bike’s power and performance, but will help you create the motorcycle aesthetic of your dreams.

Choose The One You Love

All things considered, be sure that when you zero in on a deal, you are going home with a bike that you love. Part of what makes the motorcycle community so special is their love for their machines. Even if choosing a base model to start, your love for your bike, along with a little time and a few upgrades, can flourish into a pretty fantastic ride. Choosing a bike based solely on its specs or its price may result in you wanted a new one pretty soon. If you choose carefully, not only can the right bike help aid an easy, eventful learning experience, but it will become a piece of your life that you’ll regret to replace.

ducati 949

Definitely Opt For a Warranty

We recommend that every rider opts for bikes with long-term warranties, but this applies even more so to first-time riders and beginners. Because you are still learning the ins and outs of your bike and the riding experience, there is sure to be some mishaps and maybe even damages. Either way, you will feel secure knowing that you are riding your new bike under warranty protection.

Take Time To Weigh Your Options

While you may be anxious to ride your new bike right away, you shouldn’t purchase the first one you see. Take your time to weigh out every option, shop around, and visit different dealers. Many dealers will let you sit on and even test drive the motorcycle in order to get a feel for it before you buy. Even with a warranty, your bike loses value when you drive it off the lot. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a bike you hate.