The 9 Best Motorcycles for First-Time Buyers

9 Best Beginner Motorcycles

Nothing can quite match the open-air experience of a motorcycle. With the pleasantly warm weather and roads being somewhat clear these days, we wouldn’t blame you if you’ve suddenly become overwhelmed with the idea of buying a bike. Whether you just caught the bug or have been thinking about getting into the world of motorcycling for a while, starting with the right bike is a crucial step.

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Choosing your first bike can be daunting. Not only do you have to decide on what kind of motorcycle you want, but you’ll also have to consider pricing, weight, speed, and repairs. For the most part, light, small-displacement bikes make the best beginner motorcycles. Since they’re light and down on power, they allow riders to get the hang of riding and perfect the mechanics before adding more power and extra weight.

While we highly recommend going down the used Craigslist route for your first bike, there’s always a chance you’ll wind up with something in need of hefty repairs or sketchy driving characteristics. That’s not what you want with your first bike.

Don’t worry, once you’re out on the open roads, things get a lot easier. The hard part is finding the right motorcycle and getting all of the necessary paperwork done to actually go riding. These are our top choices for the best beginner motorcycles.

KTM 390 Duke

KTM 390 Duke.

KTM is best known for its racing pedigree and for making motorcycles that can tear up both asphalt and dirt. The brand’s 390 Duke naked motorcycle is a strong option for new riders because it has a dry weight of just 329 pounds, which makes it easy to handle. The single-cylinder engine pumps out 44 horsepower, a respectable figure that feels sprightly on such a light motorcycle. Light, nimble, and good-looking, the KTM 390 Duke comes with all of the brand’s strengths in a fun package.

Yamaha YZF-R3

Yamaha YZF-R3.

While we don’t think sportbikes are the best options for new riders, since they tend to have a lot of power, have an awkward seating position that a lot of people find uncomfortable, and are expensive to run, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is a great beginner bike. The YZF-R3 tips the scale at just 375 pounds and comes with a two-cylinder, 321cc engine, making it easy to come to terms with. The YZF-R3 also features a comfortable riding position, a flat seat that makes it easier for riders to put their feet flat on the ground at stops, and an affordable price tag. 

Honda Rebel 300

2021 Honda Rebel 300.

For a change of speed, the Honda Rebel 300 is an entry-level cruiser from a brand that knows how to build bikes. The Rebel 300 not only looks great, but the bike also has features that make it comfortable and easy to ride. The cruiser has a low seat height that makes it easier for shorter riders to put their feet down when needed. Despite being a cruiser, which is usually excessively large, the Rebel 300 is one of the lighter cruisers with a weight of roughly 360 pounds. A wide stance and chunky tires help the Rebel 300 be stable, plush, and compliant on the road.

Suzuki SV650

Suzuki SV650.

Since 1999, the Suzuki SV650 has continually stood out for being one of the best beginner motorcycles on the market. The SV650’s popularity goes beyond its styling to include its torquey V-twin engine, lightweight chassis, and relaxed seating position. Suzuki also offers the SV650 with nifty features like Low RPM Assist, which helps avoid stalling. This, without a doubt, is a great feature for new riders to have, as you’re sure to stall your bike quite a few times.

Honda CRF250L

Honda CRF250L motorcycle.

Not all riders are looking to go riding on smooth asphalt. For riders that prefer to tackle dirt on two wheels, and the occasional road, there’s the Honda CRF250L. The dual-sport bike is prepared to hit trails and still be comfortable in regular traffic thanks to its long-travel suspension and upright seating position. Riders really looking to go off-roading should look into the CRF250L Rally that comes with a larger fuel tank, handguards, bodywork that was inspired by Dakar, more suspension travel, and a skid plate.

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2.

Ducati bikes tend not to be good new-beginner motorcycles because they’re expensive to repair and maintain. They’re also powerful, exotic, and gorgeous. The Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is one of the newer additions to the brand’s lineup and gives new riders a large amount of flexibility. Ducati offers the Sixty2 with multiple styles of seats, an ergonomic handlebar, and different body panels to allow owners to take the blank canvas and turn it into something unique. The Ducati’s 399cc engine puts out 40 horsepower, while the bike carries a dry weight of 368 pounds.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Harley-Davidson Iron 883.

Harley-Davidson may not be nearly as popular as it once was, but the iconic American brand still makes some of the best-looking bikes on the road. The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is the smallest and most affordable motorcycle in the lineup but still features a legendary design. Power for the Iron 883 comes from an 883cc V-Twin engine, which may sound like a lot, but the bike weighs roughly 540 pounds. So, it’s a manageable amount that will appeal to both beginners and more advanced riders. With a forward riding position, a low height from the ground, and mid-mount foot controls, the Iron 883 is a motorcycle that’s easy to ride.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Kawasaki Ninja 400.

Kawasaki makes some of the fastest bikes in the world, but the brand hasn’t forgotten about beginners that are just starting out. The Kawasaki Ninja 400 is the smallest bike the manufacturer sells, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the aggressive design. The sportbike offers thrilling handling thanks to a design that’s borrowed from the Ninja H2 super sportbike and a trellis frame. Despite being a sportbike, the Ninja 400 offers riders a raised riding position for added comfort. The bike’s multifunction dash, light clutch with an assist function, and standard anti-lock brakes should give riders the confidence to hop on and get comfortable right away. 

Honda Grom

Honda Grom.

While the majority of motorcycle riders enjoy tackling the open road or a windy stretch of tarmac, some consumers may be looking for something for city use. If that’s the case, the Honda Grom should fit the bill. The Grom starts at just $3,399, making it one of the more affordable options on this list. The motorcycle has a wheelbase that’s just 47.2 inches long, while the seat height measures in at 30 inches. These two things make the Grom a breeze to ride and park in the city. With a 123.9cc single-cylinder engine, the Grom isn’t exactly powerful, but it’s incredibly light and agile. That’s the ideal combination for new riders.

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