by Kate A December 21, 2018


One of the most common questions we get from new riders is “What’s the best beginner bike?” It’s not an easy question to answer because the truth is, there is no “best” beginner bike. The best beginner bike will be determined by what’s right for YOU and it drastically varies from person to person. The one thing we can confidently say is that your first bike shouldn’t be your dream bike. Leave that to your second or third bike. While you shop for your first motorcycle, here are some things to consider and a few bike recommendations based on your needs.

First, figure out what style of motorcycles entice you. Sport bikes, cruisers, dual-sport/adventure bikes, standard and naked are the basic categories. If you don’t have a strong preference, look at standard bikes, which are “all-around” bikes that are about as generic as two wheels and an engine. Figuring out what style of bikes you like will help you narrow down your search.

Another thing to consider is what type of riding you are planning to do on your bike. If your goal is to go on long distance road trips, a sport bike would not be ideal. If you want to shred at the track, getting a cruiser is probably not the best idea (although I’ve definitely seen a few cruisers at the track before). Pinpointing your primary use for the bike will again help you narrow down the choices.

Also consider your age, size and weight. If you are 6 feet tall and over 200 lbs, perhaps a little 250cc bike is not the best choice for you. Comfort on a bike is crucially important so if your elbows are hitting your knees as you ride, you did not make the right choice of a bike.

Once you’ve narrowed down what style and size of bike you want, start browsing Craigslist classifieds to see what kind of deal you can find on a used motorcycle. If your budget allows, you can buy new but considering how much value a bike loses the minute it leaves the dealership lot and considering that as a new rider your first bike purchase is very temporary since you’re still learning and trying to figure out what you really want / need / like, we always recommend buying used first. If you are worried about buying a bike that’s falling apart since you don’t know enough about bikes to make a good call, arrange a pre-purchase inspection at a local dealer or independent motorcycle shop. It’s fairly inexpensive to do and will buy you a piece of mind that you’re buying a mechanically solid motorcycle.

Here are some bike options to consider:

Adventure / Dual-Sport

  • CSC Motorcycles RX3 Adventure: A very affordable small adventure bike option. This is a Chinese made 250cc motorcycle that retails for under $5k. We’re not certain about the reliability of this motorcycle but a few of our customers can’t stop raving about this model.


  • BMW G310 GS: This is a newly released model from BMW. A small engine, premium quality adventure bike. Weighing in at just 375lbs, this is a great introduction into the world of adventure bikes. Oh and this bike gets about 70mpg!


  • Suzuki DRZ400: The DRZ 400 is more of a dual sport bike rather than an adventure bike. It is extremely light weight and easy to maneuver. It can be found with either dual sport tires if you’re planning to take the bike on a few off-road adventures or a Supermoto type set up with smaller wheels and street only tires. Plenty of used ones available for a reasonably low price.


  • Honda CB500x: This is a midsize adventure style bike. I actually got to ride one on a trip to Ireland and I was very impressed with how easy it is to ride. Plenty of power for long rides on the highway and easy to maneuver through traffic. Since it’s a 500, you won’t have to worry about outgrowing the bike for a while.


  • Kawasaki KLR650: This is probably one of the most popular and well known dual sport bikes. It might not have all the bells and whistles of a modern adventure bike, but it will easily take you on adventures through the toughest terrains and conditions. This model’s been around since the 80’s so there are plenty of used ones for sale fairly cheap. Comparable bikes to consider in this category are the Honda XR650L or Suzuki DR650SE.


  • Suzuki V-Strom 650:  This is about as close to a full size adventure bike as a beginner should get. This bike has plenty of power even for experienced riders so it might take some getting used to as a beginner but it’s completely manageable.



  • Kawasaki / Honda / Suzuki 250 / 300: I’m lumping all these into the same category because there really isn’t a huge difference between the models. They are all small, light and easy to manage as a new rider. I don’t think any sport bikes are the easiest to start with but if your heart is dead set on starting on one, the Ninja 250 / 300, CBR 250 / 300 or GSX 250r are all great options. They are priced well, easy to find used and hold a really good resale value.


  • Yamaha R3: The R3 is a newer beginner sport bike that is actually incredibly capable. It’s more powerful than the 250’s and 300’s I mentioned earlier and offers more advance handling.


  • KTM RC390: The RC390 is another great “not so beginner” sport bike for those who want to start on something with a little more power.


  • Kawasaki Ninja 400: For even more power and modern electronics, check out the all new Ninja 400. This bike will be harder to find used as the model is newly released but if you were to get one new, you can ride it for a while before feeling like you’ve outgrown it.


  • Honda CBR 500R: If you feel like a 400 a still not enough power, check out this Honda. It’s got more than enough power for a beginner but the power is delivered gradually and it’s not as “torqie” as modern day 600’s. The riding position on this sport bike is also not as aggressive as a typical sport bike which makes it a bit easier to ride.



  • Honda CB300 R / F: Personally, I believe that naked bikes are the best bikes for learning. They are usually compact and very easy to maneuver and they also have minimal fairings so if you drop it (and let’s be honest, that’s very likely to happen) you don’t have to worry about too much cosmetic damage. The CB300 is an awesome small engine displacement naked bike. It’s cheap to buy and cheap to repair if you do happen to damage a few parts while learning.



  • BMW G310R: This is a fairly new model from BMW. We use these BMW’s at my riding school and although the bike is pretty powerful, it’s easy to manage with a bit of skill and confidence. It’s super fun to ride and I wouldn’t mind having a bike like this in my garage for short trips around town.


  • KTM 390 Duke: This is another small naked bike I absolutely love. Although it’s a bit more powerful than the BMW G310r, it’s also slightly lighter in weight. It has a slightly higher seat height and taller handle bars so it could comfortably accommodate taller riders looking to start on a smaller bike.


  • Kawasaki Z400: This Kawi is another newly released model. It is a bike that’s slightly more powerful than the 300’s but still pretty easy to learn on. These won’t be easy to find used as the model is pretty new but because it’s a 400, most new riders can own it for a while before they feel “bored” and ready for something bigger.


  • Honda CB500F: I rarely see these bikes on the road and that’s a shame because this bike is pretty awesome. Because it’s a 500, it’s better suited for new riders who feel fairly confident with their riding abilities. But it is by no means “too much” for a new rider to handle.


  • Honda CB650 F /R, Suzuki SV / SFV 650, Kawasaki Z650: Again, lumping a few bikes together because they are all very similar. Suitable for new riders who feel very confident with their riding abilities. Great all around bikes for both, short trip around town rides and long excursions. Powerful but relatively forgiving so good option for developing your riding skills. Definitely capable of being fun long into your riding career.


  • Yamaha FZ / MT 07: This could be an ok bike for total beginners but it’s more suitable for riders who are maybe coming back to riding after a long break or who already have some sort of experience under their belt. Easy to ride but the power band could get you in trouble if you’re still just learning basic control. 



  • Yamaha V-Star 250, Honda Rebel 250 / 300: These cruisers are awesome for new riders who want to start with something small and for those who are vertically challenged. Cruiser style motorcycles typically have the shortest seat height so most riders can have both feet firmly planted on the ground.



  • Honda Rebel 500: Another great cruiser for beginners with a slightly more powerful engine. The Rebels are one of the most popular choice for training bikes at riding schools because they are easy to ride and because they are reliable and cheap to fix.


  • Harley Davidson Street 500: I actually don’t think any Harley is a great bike for beginners because they are heavy (Over 80lbs heavier than a Honda Rebel 500) and expensive but if your heart is set on the Harley lifestyle, go for the Street 500. It’s Harley’s smallest bike and although it’s still fairly big, it’s a whole lot easier to maneuver around than their Sportster or Dyna models.


  • Suzuki Boulevard S40: A cool cruiser from Suzuki that’s in the 600cc engine range. The bike is extremely light (about 380lbs) and minimalistic. Great option for a beginner friendly cruiser in a larger size that’s not a Harley.


Standard / Touring

  • Suzuki TU250: This my personal favorite bike for beginners. It is the easiest bike I’ve ever ridden and I think it looks pretty freakin cool. It has a vintage café racer look without actually being vintage and having all the issues that come along with having a vintage bike. I used this bike for commuting for a while and even though it’s a 250, it has absolutely no issues keeping up with freeway traffic.


  • Suzuki GW250: This is not the best looking bike but it’s a great starter for new riders. Very inexpensive to buy, very low seat height and minimal plastic fairings which makes it easy to drop without significant damage.


  • Kawasaki Versys 300: This bike is a bit of a hybrid between a touring bike and a small adventure bike. It is well suited for slightly taller riders and comes equipped with great modern electronics like ABS. Great for around town or longer touring trips.


  • Ducati Scrambler Sixty2: Ducati is not particularly known for having beginner friendly bikes. Most of their models are expensive and very powerful. But their 400cc Scrambler model is a great choice for beginners. It’s not cheap for a 400 but it is a Ducati afterall so you’re paying premium for a top quality brand.


  • Kawasaki Versys 650: The Versys 650 is an amazing touring bike. Suitable for confident new riders or those with a bit of riding experience already under their belt. The bike has a very smooth throttle that’s easy to manage even as you’re getting used to the bike. Opt for the ABS model as it well definitely come in handy when  you’re trying to quickly stop this 475lbs machine.


Don’t be afraid to start small. The less you have to be worried about or afraid of the bike, the more you can focus on yourself and your surroundings. Starting with a big bike is possible but it will definitely slow down your learning process. Small bikes are cheap to buy and easy to sell as there are always other beginners looking for them.

If you have the option to buy a bike with modern electronics such as ABS or Traction Control, do it. We are lucky to be living and riding at a time where these awesome safety features are an option so why not utilize them?

We know picking your first bike could be overwhelming and we are always eager to help new riders with their first bike choice. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding your first bike purchase and we’ll be happy to help as much as we can.

Happy shopping!

Kate A
Kate A


As a matter of fact, I do know what I'm talking about.

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