We know it can be a big leap from your current transportation—whatever it is—to the motorized two-wheeled world. But technology has come a long way, and there are plenty of bikes out there for every skill level. Buy the right one, and you might become a member of a wonderful world of fun and function for years to come. Since we all have to start somewhere, here are The 10 Best Beginner Motorcycles.
10. Yamaha FZ-07
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC, 8-valve V-twin
This inline twin cylinder has a unique linear torque curve, giving the rider a smooth feeling in throttle response. Equipped with dual front brakes and a compact wheelbase, this bike can handle a lot. With a comfortable yet sporty riding position, the FZ-07 is a versatile bike for city use as well as longer trips. It is not an absolute beginner bike, but can be enjoyed by riders with a variety of experience. It will not be outgrown.
9. Hyosung GT250R
Engine: 4-stroke, air/oil cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, V-twin
Somehow we forgot about Hyosung last time, but we sure wish we hadn’t. The GT250R looks like a much larger displacement bike because of the larger frame. With dual front disc brakes, it is like a slower 600, which makes for an excellent teacher especially for larger beginner riders who are interested in sport bikes. It is a very light and nimble V-twin that should be more forgiving than its bigger brothers.
8. Moto Guzzi V7 II Stone ABS
Engine: 4-stroke, V-twin
We wanted to offer another naked, retro-style bike, this time from Italy. The V7 Stone ABS is inspired by vintage V7s from Moto Guzzi’s rich history, only with modern technology and lighter-weight materials (the bike comes in at 417lbs). It has the classic V-twin with the cylinder heads jutting out the sides. But be warned, Moto Guzzi owners can become lifers! So it’s very useful that V7 has a large fuel tank (5.8 gallons), which will help you get to those Moto Guzzi Owner’s Club meetups with fewer stops.
7. Triumph Bonneville
Engine: 4-stroke, air-cooled, DOHC parallel twin
Once again the Bonneville has made the list, because it’s a classic. Avoid the headache of owning a vintage bike and just enjoy this bike as if you bought it in the ’70s. It is comfortable and fun and well-behaved. It provides all the basics, which is so important for beginners. Not the best bike for long trips on highways, but it certain can make the trip.
6. Honda CBR 500R
Engine: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled liquid-cooled parallel twin
We were ecstatic when Honda announced the CBR 500R. It’s great fun for almost any rider—although we don’t suggest this bike for an absolute beginner, but rather a more mature beginner. The parallel-twin, four stroke has more grunt on a lightweight bike. It is, as Honda says, “enough engine for everything.” Stay tuned for our own test ride.
5. KTM 390 Duke and 200 Duke
Displacement: 373cc (390)
Engine: 4-stroke, water-cooled, 1-cylinder
KTM has been on fire the last couple of years with a very exciting range of new models. We last suggested the 125 Duke, but that was before KTM introduced the 200 and the 390. All three bikes are excellent first rides. There isn’t much on the moto market like the Duke family. Both the 200 and 390 are single-cylinder 4-strokes. Highlights include “upside down forks” and large Brembo brakes. Both bikes offer a smaller displacement, but are still solid and aggressive looking.
4. Suzuki DR 200
Engine: 4-stroke, air-cooled, OHC
The all-new redesigned DR 200 is the newest offering in the DR family which has been a reliable staple in the dual sport world for a long time. The new stylings take cues from Suzuki’s RM-Z series (their full-on MX bikes.) The new seat design makes for a more comfortable ride, and a hefty new 3.3 gallon gas tank allows the rider to make it from the city to the hills and back, no problem.
3. Yamaha SR400
Engine: 4-stroke, 1-cylinder, air-cooled SOHC
The people spoke and Yamaha listened. This 399cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled 4 stroke has gorgeous retro stylings, and a kickstart. But it is electronically fuel-injected and easy to start. This is the answer for anyone looking to have the vintage look and feel without the constant hassle of breakdowns and scavenger hunts for parts.
2. Kawasaki KLX250S
Engine: 4-stroke, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC
The beloved KLR is a cult of Kawasaki. Owners become lifers. Lucky for beginners, it has a little brother, the KLX250S. This dual-sport is perfect for the adventurous beginner. Weighing just under 300 lbs, this on and off-road street legal bike can have its fun in the mud and still go out to supper. This thumper has a 11.0:1 compression ratio, is much less twitchy than most motocross-specific bikes, but has some pop with smooth acceleration that will help the rider prepare for more aggressive off-road riding if desired.
1. Suzuki GW250
Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, SOHC
Transmission: 6 speed
This parallel twin, 4-stroke is a stylish, entry-level standard bike. With a super-comfortable seat and extra-low seat-height at 30.7,” the bike’s mass is very manageable, especially for beginners negotiating weight distribution and leaning. It’s a forgiving city bike with agility and good geometry. The 6 speed gearing is also helpful when learning how to shift properly.