So, after all these years, you’ve finally decided to join the biker guild. Good for you. It’s clear the lifestyle, adrenaline, and freedom on the open road pulled you in, and now there’s no escaping it. Time to join the club, because once that seed is planted, there’s nothing left to do but fully commit to the ride. But here’s the catch. Where do you start? Sure you want a reliable and dependable bike but shelling out over 10K for your first may not be in your wheelhouse. Plus, you need something that will not only get you from A to B but will allow you to grow as a rider – eventually helping you step-up your game to a more advanced option.
This is where the confusion comes into play. As you’re already aware, any rudimentary online search will yield hundreds of different results making various claims about the ideal “first bike.” It can be exhausting for first-time buyers, especially for those who don’t want to look like an uninformed neophyte on the lot. We, however, understand that knowledge is power and that an informed buy will always outweigh a purchase made in ignorance. That’s why to help ease the stress involved in purchasing your first set of wheels, we conducted some research of our own and came up with six ideal beginner bikes – ranging from cruisers to sport bikes – to help narrow down the search and get you riding in no time.
First Thing’s First
There are several preliminary steps involved when purchasing your first bike and we do suggest that you take the time and seriously consider the intended use of this ride. However, before any of this even happens, you must first become a legal rider in the eyes of the law. In most states, obtaining a motorcycle license is very similar to obtaining a license to drive that sedan sitting in your driveway. However, there are some state-to-state variables to consider so we suggest a bit of independent research on your local DMV website before pressing forward.
Now, once that is all out of the way – yes you will have to pass a written and riding test to get approved – it’s time to consider the intended use of the bike. Sounds a bit pedantic we know but this will help you decide upon the best bike that will fit your needs. We’ve outlined these pertinent questions below.
What To Consider Before Buying
What is the purpose of the bike?
Are you planning on romping around in the local terrain, looking for a reliable urban commuter, or interested in taking a sabbatical from work and touring across the country? Are you into the more sporty look or is the comfort and versatility of both on and off-road prowess a meaningful trait for a bike? Understanding your intentions and what the bike represents will make this process much easier.
How much is too much?
No, we’re not talking about price here. Instead, we’re talking about how much bike can you honestly handle. There are a lot of “starter bikes” out there but many of them range in power, size, and weight. And for an inexperienced rider, too much power could easily spell disaster on the road. Remember, it’s you driving the bike, not the bike driving you. It’s important then to make sure to decide upon a bike that suits your particular needs.
Let’s talk turkey
We’re going to be real for a second. You’re not going to be a great rider on this first bike. You will drop it, maybe even lay it down (which you should learn how to do) in the process. Needless to say, spending buku bucks on a first bike might not be the best idea. You’re going to want to purchase something you’re proud of yes, but not something that doesn’t leave the garage because you’re too afraid to scuff it up. This is a learning experience, expect a significant curve here, just be sure to lean into it properly.
Now, let’s go ahead and check out some options. Keep in mind this isn’t a be-all, end-all list. Just enough to get you looking in the right direction.
Yamaha V-Star 250
Part of what makes a great beginner bike is the seat height. Sounds strange we know but being set closer to the ground allows for more stabilization when you need it, and with only 27-inches between the seat and the pavement, this V-Star is a fantastic option for beginners. It’s your classic “big things, small packages” ride. Boasting upwards of 78 miles per gallon fuel efficiency, an ultra-light build, and agile riding experience. The V-Star will be with you every step of the way, from parking lot practice to the freeways, looking the part and maintaining itself over the introductory years into the sport.
Engine: 249cc air-cooled V-Twin
Transmission: 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Weight: 326 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 2.5 gallons
Suzuki TU 250x
For that classic Triumph look without the Triumph price tag, Suzuki offers the highly reasonable TU250x, perfect for the urban commuter looking for a quick and efficient way to get to work without all the perils of traffic. It’s equipped with a 249cc 4-stoke single cylinder engine and comes complete with chrome-plated front and rear wheels and a polished crank side for a beautiful shine. Performance wise, it’s light, agile and smooth. Ideal for beginners and with a comfortable and ergonomic riding experience, you’ll get the necessary experience under your belt with this ride in no time.
Engine: 249cc air-cooled single cylinder 4-stoke
Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh
Weight: 326 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gallons
Honda Rebel 300
For those who fancy low-riding style, it’ll be tough to find a better option than the 2017 Honda Rebel 300. It boasts a blacked-out look for stylish appeal and a low-slung seat for that laid-back feel you’re looking for when it’s just you and the road ahead. The Rebel is also powered by a modest 286cc single cylinder, 4-stroke engine paired with that reliability Honda is known for. Whether a beginner looking for a smooth sailing ride or a more experienced rider interested in a tertiary purchase, the Rebel delivers the goods all around.
Engine: 286cc liquid-cooled single cylinder 4-stroke
Weight: 364 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3 gallons
KTM Duke 390
Under the slogan “one for all” the KTM Duke 390 features enough power for riders to catch that desired rush yet is beginner-friendly enough not to intimidate first-timers. In short, this ride is a starter bike that you can grow with, developing your riding skills and perfecting them along the way before stepping it up in a few years. It’s light, can handle the city streets and mountain roads thanks to a single cylinder, 4-stoke engine and is fit for longer rides as well with the help of the bike’s ergonomics.
Engine: 373cc single cylinder 4-stroke
Weight: 328 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gallons
Kawasaki Ninja 300
For those interested in a more sporty look and feel, it’s easy to be drawn to powerful sport bikes that can be a little too much to handle for beginners. However, the 296cc Kawasaki Ninja is the perfect combination of both looks and power to satisfy the road rebel in you without making the whole experience a dangerous one. The engine boasts Digital Fuel Injection technology for enhanced throttle response and outstanding fuel efficiency (up to 66 mpg). She’s a contender no doubt, but won’t be too much to handle on your first go-‘round.
Engine: 296cc liquid-cooled 2 cylinder DOHC
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Weight: 383 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallons
After taking a bit of a hiatus, the Suzuki SV650 is back in action for 2017. And with the perfect balance of power and user-friendly features, this iconic bike is slated to please both beginners and experienced riders. It’s got everything you need for a first bike, modest yet meaningful engine, a sporty personality combined with an ergonomic riding experience, and even beginner-friendly features such as Low RPM Assist that adjusts engine speed during take off and low-speed to help smooth power delivery. A handy and reliable first bike for sure.
Engine: 645cc V-Twin
Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh
Weight: 430 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gallons