Best Cheap Motorcycles for Beginners
You are fresh out of a foundation school (MSF course) and eager to go out on an adventure ride. You are equipped with all the motorcycle gears that makes you look like Marc Márquez and all set to unleash the rider within you. But now the most important question after learning to ride a bike that comes to your mind is what motorcycle you should buy as a beginner. There are multiple questions that pop out of your head; what style of bike you should consider, which one is the safest first bike, should you buy an expensive bike because your best friend has one or if you are on a low budget which would be the cheapest and best motorcycle for you.
Every individual has different choices when it comes to motorcycles. Depending on preferences, body size, riding skills and personal interests every rider has different opinion. A beginner motorcycle comes in all shapes, sizes, engine capacities, price range and brand. Besides, they come in various segments termed as naked bike, dirt bike, cruiser bike, sports bike, and adventure touring bike.
However, as much as you would like to ride a giant motorcycle, it is important to be practical and choose a light weight beginner motorcycle as your first machine. Make sure you understand the ergonomics of your bike before falling in love with a certain type of engine. A bike that looks pretty awesome and is super-fast along the hard core lines may be appropriate for a Sunday morning race, but it might be a bad choice in case you are looking to commute to and fro from your office. The style of riding you might think you’ll be doing might be a lot different than the riding you actually do. And because these bikes are constructed differently, they come in all shapes and size much like many riders. Make sure you choose the right one as per your body type.
Read here: Which Motorcycle Is Right For Me?
In today’s blog we would be discussing some of the various categories that exist in today’s motorcycle market and which bike would be most appropriate for you as a beginner.
Cheapest Motorcycles for Beginners (Under $5000)
Honda Rebel 300
With a base price of just $4,599, the all new Honda Rebel 300 has proven to be a favorite amongst beginner cruiser riders. It’s lightweight nimble frame and 27 inch seat height makes it desirable and easy to ride for anyone including the short riders.
It is ideal for riders who prefer comfort over uncontrolled speed. Similar to the Rebel 500 and Rebel 1100 counterpart, the Rebel 300 too can be accessorized and customized.
It is perfect for someone who is looking for a mix of sports bike and a dual sports bike. Besides, if you search hard enough, you will probably find a deal for around $4000. Without the struggles of a heavy weight bike, the 286 cc single-cylinder is enough to propel the bike through urban and city environments. But be warned though, the top speed is only 85 miles per hour. With a curb weight of around 360 pounds, the rebel 300 might fit your needs to stand out without being the Harley Davidson type of rider or it might help you gain much-needed experience before you go after a heavier bike.
The DR200S is possibly one of the greatest bikes ever made. It weighs around 278 pounds and produces a whopping 20 horsepower. It’s just a classic superlight dirt bike that you can ride on the streets.
Like any other small sized engine, the DR200S is not super-fast. It can reach a top speed of 60 miles per hour on a freeway. But that’s not what it’s made for, this bike is made to have fun and go anywhere you like.
Bikes like these are pretty hard to find. They work as an enduro bike and are completely street-legal. With its tiny 200 cc engine and a Mikuni carburetor it’s just your basic but awesome motorcycle for just $4,649.
KTM 390 Duke
With a single cylinder 373 cc engine, an enormous 44 horse power of torque is delivered instantly in the all new KTM 390 Duke. It’s ideal for someone looking to buy a budget friendly naked bike. The 390 Duke is built to perform wheelies without any issues and will take you over a hundred miles per hour in seconds. It makes the perfect commuter in almost any situation and gets around 60 miles to the gallon.
The bike has got really great standard upright ergonomics that’s really comfortable for street riding. Some of the noteworthy features on the 390 Duke are TFT display, a bonus for a small displacement bike, vibrations are minimal which is pretty commendable for a single cylinder engine, and a smooth gear transmission useful during low speed maneuver.
The current model of KTM 390 Duke is around $5,599 but you can still grab one of these through many of the dealers across the states for under five grand.
Low Budget Adventure Touring Motorcycles for Beginners
So you have finally decided to get out on an adventure and explore the world on two wheels. You have chosen adventure tourers (ADV) to keep the option of both on and off road riding. But this decision is not enough as you’re a new rider and not sure where to start.
Adventure bikes can be intimidating; they’re very large, heavy and need lots of accessories along with it. They are a mix of street bikes with some off-road capability. So if you’re looking for something that’s a lot more off-road focused that can also go on-road we recommend a dual sport bike.
In case you have made up your mind and are sure about choosing an adventure bike, take a look at our low budget adventure touring motorcycle for beginners mentioned below.
Kawasaki Versys X300
If you are aware about the Versys 650, chances are you are familiar with Kawasaki Versys X300 also. It has a 296 cc parallel twin engine, 39.3 horsepower a six-speed transmission, 5.8 inches of suspension travel, 7.1 inches of ground clearance, 32.1 inch seat height, curb weight of 385.9 pounds, and a 4.5 gallon fuel tank. So if you are planning to buy one, it’ll cost you around $5,899 for the abs model.
Something to know about a 300cc adventure bike is that it’s capable of going at high speeds. However, it struggles at times on a freeway. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the freeway going over 80-85 miles per hour, you may want to look at something bigger.
This being said, Versys X300 is a great motorcycle in adventure touring segment. It is comfortable, capable and a reliable motorcycle.
BMW G310 GS
Another bike about the same size to consider is the BMW G310 GS. It has a 313 cc single cylinder engine with a thumper motor, 34 horsepower with a six-speed transmission and 7.1 inches of suspension travel (that’s a lot more than the Kawasaki Versys X300).
The ground clearance is around 8.6 inches, almost similar to every adventure touring bike. It has a 3.2 gallon fuel capacity tank and retails around $5,795. It also comes with an abs as a standard.
When compared with Versys X300, the G310 GS has a lot of advantages in the off-road category.
KTM 390 Adventure
KTM 390 Adventure is relatively new bike and the upgraded version was launched in 2021. It has 373 cc single cylinder engine (slightly bigger than BMW), 43 horsepower with a 6-speed transmission, 6.7 inches of front suspension travel, 7 inches of rear suspension travel and a ground clearance of 7.9 inches.
The 33.7 inch high seating position makes it a little more comfortable and perfect for adventure touring. The fuel tank has a capacity of 3.8 gallons and retails for $6,199 in the market.
The KTM 390 Adventure is loaded with features. It has a traction control, off-road abs and a cornering abs that no other bike manufacturers provide. Besides, the KTM has impressive electronic dashboard and switches that make it way more attractive. However, KTM costs a little more than the other bikes we have mentioned before.
Unlike the aforesaid mentioned adventure tourers, the 500x has a high capacity engine. It has a 471 cc parallel twin that gives a thrust of 50 horsepower. A six-speed transmission, 5.9 inches of front suspension travel, 5.3 inches of rear suspension travel, 7.1 inches of ground clearance, 32.7 inch seat height, 4.7 gallon fuel tank and weighs around 430 pounds.
Currently there is a single model available; the non-abs model that was priced for $6,999 has been discontinued and the abs model retails for $6,999.
CB500X is quite commonly quoted to be a little brother of Honda Africa Twin. It’s reliable and very easy to ride.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
The famous Indian brand Royal Enfield produced the Himalayan especially for adventure travel. It has a 411cc single cylinder that produces 24.3 horsepower of thrust. As compared to the other adventure touring bikes we discussed, Himalayan has five-speed transmission.
Front suspension travel measures 7.9 inches and rear suspension travel measures 7.1 inches, highest among all the adventure bikes we have mentioned earlier.
It has 8.6 inches of ground clearance with the seat height of 31.49 inches (lowest in our list). It weighs around 428 pound and has a 4.9 gallons fuel tank.
Most importantly, it is the cheapest bike of all. The retail price is around $4,999 and comes with a switchable abs.
It’s the cheapest bike on the list with the most suspension travel and ground clearance, but it also has the least horsepower. So keep that in mind.
Best Sport Touring Motorcycles for Beginners
It is okay to dream about Ducati 1299 Panigale, Aprilia RSV4 RF, Kawasaki Ninja H2R or even BMW S1000RR, but honestly very few of us will be able to handle all that power that these super bikes have to offer. Chances are even less if someone wants to spend over twenty thousand dollars on a motorcycle.
However, its not impossible to get a decent sports bike on a very limited budget and this article will tackle the category of the cheapest lightweight sport touring motorcycles for both sports and naked models. Make no mistake that these bikes are any less, they promise to give you the thrills of tight cornering, fast speeds and still carry affordable prices.
Kawasaki Ninja 400
Being introduced only in 2018 this mid-level bike from Kawasaki’s Ninja sport range can be considered a newcomer compared with many established competitors on the market. If you’re in the market for a brand new small displacement bike you really can’t go wrong with the Ninja 400. It is the successor to the infinitely popular small displacement sport bike Ninja 300. Kawasaki basically redefined the segment with the Ninja 400 and they still retain the crown in our opinion of the finest small displacement motorcycle that money can buy.
Comes with a 399 cc parallel twin engine, you’ll find a lot more torque than any of the other similar displacement bikes. The styling is top-notch as well, so even if you own a relatively cheaper sport touring bike, you don’t have to compromise with the appearance.
Kawasaki engineers truly kept their focus on keeping the weight down. It sits on a slant or high tensile steel trellis frame, rides on a cast alloy 17 inch wheels and has a shortened wheelbase measuring only 53.9 inches just as the rest of the Ninja family. This 400 dose of aggressive styling comes paired with the comfy ergonomics and riding position. The non-abs version of Kawasaki Ninja 400 costs $4,999, while the abs version costs around $5,499 in the market.
KTM RC 390
RC 390 is one of the best-looking small displacement bikes and it literally rides like a super sport. This bike has its own class with a 373 CC single packs, a throaty punch with 32 kilowatts of power. KTM RC390 provides power and agility in its purest form. Longing for the racing track with its aggressive design and a 44 horsepower single cylinder engine producing 111 mph, the RC 390 is trying to satisfy the need for speed of even the most sophisticated riders.
Premium quality steel frame suspensions by WP comprise the front upside down forks and shocks at the rear. Sport handlebars ensure the bikes stability on the sporting arena or on a country road.
KTM provides a comfortable riding position with improved ergonomics ensured by the advanced windshield design. In addition, the RC 390 features sophisticated electronics and comes with a ride by wire throttle system and ABS as standard.
In terms of pricing, the bike is retailed around $5,549 in the market.
Honda CBR300R is available in standard and ABS equipped versions. The bike proves quite convincingly that small displacement motorcycles can be sporty and raced just like bigger models. Its handling is exceptional and agile while the handle bar is light and responsive. The 286 cc single cylinder 4-stroke liquid cooled engine produces 31 horse powers that deliver right when you need it.
The CBR300R is built on a steel tubular frame fitted with simple 37 millimetre fork up front. On the rear it gets adjustable Pro-Link Monoshock suspension which is a must even on the entry-level sport bikes.
The seat height is around 30 inches allowing shorter riders to feel confident on it. The model also gets single disc brakes in both wheels providing great stopping power with braking distance from 60 to 0 mph in just 138.9 feet.
With a price tag of $4,799, this motorcycle looks just like a superbike and allows the rider to stand out on the roads in style.
Yamaha YZF R3
This motorcycle has the most aggressive Moto GP bodywork in this segment and offers improved ergonomics achieved by the lower handlebar position and reshaped fuel tank.
Chassis are made from steel and fitted along an inverted fork with optimized spring and damping settings, significantly improving fork rigidity. The bike rides on 17-inch 10-spoke cast aluminium wheels with Dunlop sport tires. It comes along with LED headlights and an elegant dashboard with LCD display.
As much as we hate to admit, the R3 is a little down on power compared to the other bikes we discussed before. However, it comes equipped with a 321 CC inline twin or parallel twin motor. It is widely acclaimed for claiming the throne in beginner motorcycle segments for many years, so as a R3 owner, this is something you can be proud of. It prices pretty fairly at $5,300 MSRP and comes pre-fitted with an ABS as standard.
Suzuki GSX 250 R
Despite being all new, the Suzuki GSX 250 R doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the table. While it does have some of the most impressive looks out of any of the small displacement bikes. It comes packed with a pretty anemic engine when compared with the rivals. A 248 CC (24.7HP) parallel twin revving barely to 8000 rpm, looks pretty breathless when we see other bikes on this list.
The engine is slightly upgraded from the GW 250 though and it features redesigned valves that have a new tapered profile. A better cylinder wall finish that retains oil and rollers on the rocker arms, combine this with a chassis that has a three inches longer wheelbase than its competitors, makes it not nearly as flickable as the rest.
It weighs around 178 pounds and is retailed for $4,599 in the market.
Some good features about the GS X 250 include the elegant look of the dashboard which is up to date with other bikes and a tried and tested reliable engine.
5 Best Beginner Cruiser Motorcycles for New Motorcycle Riders
Cruisers are amazing for beginner riders. When you’re first starting out its good to have a bike that’s lightweight easy to maneuver and something you’re comfortable on. Cruisers are a good fit as long as you don’t opt for very heavy engines. That’s the reason almost all the motorcycle safety foundation centres use small cruisers as their training bikes. They have a low seat height which means that all the new riders will find it pretty easy to handle. Besides, it allows the riders to feel more comfortable and confident. Another advantage of choosing a cruiser is that they are tuned in a way that delivers the power equally throughout, so the power delivery is predictable for the new rider.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best cruiser motorcycles for beginners.
Harley Davidson Iron 883
The all new Harley Davidson Iron 883 is powered by an 883cc Air-Cooled Evolution™ V-Twin engine, but don’t let the 800 cc mark scare you as this bike only has about 50 horsepower.
The Evolution engine is one of the most reliable engines Harley has ever made. This is a type of motorcycle that can grow with you as well. Thanks to the large aftermarket support of Harley Davidson motorcycles you can add so many accessories to it.
If you feel like you’re outgrowing your Iron 883, you can get an upgrade from the aftermarket area. The bike is retailed for around $9,499 in the market.
The TU250X’s are pretty much bulletproof. They are insane and very agile, so that’s pretty ideal for a new rider. They come along with a 250 cc engine making it a lot easier to ride.
Suzuki TU250X’s are affordable (priced at $4,649) and have Japanese reliability. They are completely beginner friendly and wonderful motorcycle to get into.
If one wishes to have a bike that is in the same ballpark yet completely different from the Honda Rebel 300, this bike will prove to be the right choice.
It weighs around 300 pounds and it comes with standard controls, so it’s going to be a little bit easier for you to ride this motorcycle and will eventually boost your confidence.
Honda Rebel 500
The Rebel 500 is unquestionably the Golden Goose among beginner motorcycles. In fact, the Honda Rebel motorcycle has gotten more people started into the two wheel power sports than any other motorcycle!
Recently upgraded from the Rebel 250; these bikes are liquid-cooled, reliable and powerful enough to ride on the interstate. Yet, they are approachable enough with a 44.9 horse power engine.
As compared with the earlier version, the new Honda Rebel 500 comes with LED lights, indicators and an improved dashboard. Currently offered are three models; Rebel 500 is priced at $6,299 which is a standard motorcycle, then we have Rebel 500 ABS priced around $6,599 and Rebel 500 ABS SE which is priced around $6,799.
The Indian Scout comes in five models; Scout Bobber, Scout Sixty, Scout Bobber Twenty, Scout Bobber Sixty and Scout. All five of them are actually pretty great, but the Scout Sixty is under the $10,000 price tag.
The Scout Sixty is a 999 cc bike and is definitely on the borderline for beginners. But keep in mind; thousand cc cruisers are a lot different than a thousand cc litre bikes. The torque and the top-end power is dramatically different, so much so that you could easily find a 1000 cc twin that makes about 90 or 100 horsepower as compared with a 1000 cc inline-four on a super bike that makes 200 horsepower!
All the models available on Indian are great options. They offer low seat heights, easy customization options and the way they put out power you could find trouble on this bike if you really wanted to.
But for a responsible rider, Indian Scout is fun to ride and has a classic American Cruiser credibility.
Suzuki Boulevard S40
Boulevard S40 is one of those bikes that you buy for efficiency and practicality. You certainly don’t buy this bike for the aesthetic qualities as it does not have one. But looks aside, the Boulevard S40 is a solid bike. When a beginner hops in the saddle, the 27.5 inch low seat height makes the ride extremely comfortable. The 652 cc displacement, 5-speed transmission and a 2.64 gallon fuel tank makes this bike perfect for both city rides as well as highway rides.
Interesting thing about this bike is that if you can get past the attractiveness factor or lack thereof, the Boulevard S40 has a twin swirl combustion chamber that delivers strong low-to-mid rpm range. So we’re talking about beginner bikes with an intermediate riding potential at just $8,290.
If you’re feeling adventurous and maybe a bit older, the Suzuki Boulevard C50 is a great option with an 805 cc V-Twin you’re going to get all the classic cruiser vibes you’re looking for without any of the single-cylinder vibrations found in the S40 bike.
Tips for Buying Your First Motorcycle
Decide the motorcycle type
As soon as you have learnt to ride a motorcycle the first thing that pops your head is to buy a motorcycle. So first question to ask yourself is what you’re going to use the bike for, because it has a huge bearing on the sort of bike that you buy. Will it be just for fun in the evenings, to commute back-and-forth from your office, or is it for a long distance motorcycle touring?
Stick to smaller engines
The second thing to do is just have a little think about the engine sizes. Generally choosing an engine size comes as a split opinion. Among a group of 10 bikers, five will recommend you a heavy engine while the rest will recommend you to stick to the lighter. The wise decision would be to actually stick to a smaller engine for a start. As a beginner, you should actually build your skills and adapt to the riding challenges before you think about upgrading one. It takes time to build these skills and we suggest that it just makes more sense to build those skills on a slightly smaller bike.
Don’t go for looks
Because the bike looks good doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit for you. It may sound silly but different bikes fit different bodies differently. A super sport usually fits a medium built rider differently than the one with a huge built.
Make sure you find one that fits your body well and you can comfortably maneuver. It’s important that you place your feet flat on the ground and comfortably hold the bike between your legs at a complete stop. You don’t want to end up scratching your brand-new bike simply because it was too heavy for you or your legs weren’t enough to properly balance it.
Avoid buying your bike in the fall or spring season. The weather is amazing in most parts of the country during that time and it is considered as a bike season. Thus the demand is even higher than the supply.
So those sweet deals you’re looking for will be nearly impossible to find. Try to buy during off season if you can, you’ll end up getting a lot better bike for the money you are spending.
Be cautious while financing
If you are dead set on getting a new bike, consider how much that bike is going to cost after financing. Especially when compared with the duration you are planning to own it. Financing a motorcycle is just like financing a car, once you start financing you’re no longer paying the sticker price, you’re now paying additional taxes, banking charges, financing fees, etc.
In case you are still looking to buy through financing, the best thing would be to accelerate the pay-off schedule. You can pretty easily find out your total cost of the loan through the lender and if you’re ok with paying a little bit extra to have the bike now, then plan to pay it off sooner.
Do not forget to buy gears
It is important to make sure you have properly fitted gear before you go on any kind of ride on your new bike. Don’t spend all your money on your brand new bike. Plan your budget accordingly that covers your bike as well as the essential gears. Basic necessities include riding jacket, gloves, riding boots and definitely a sturdy helmet.
Q. Should I buy a new or a used motorcycle as my first bike?
A. If you are thinking about buying a used motorcycle, it’s going to be a lot cheaper. Not only will you save money, you will also be able to choose different models that are currently not in production. Those are the only two pros for buying a used motorcycle, everything else is pretty much cons. When you buy used bike you don’t know how reliable that bike is, you don’t know how the previous owner treated it and this goes for dealers and private parties like Craigslist as well. There are certain things even the dealers will not be able to look.
However, with a brand new bike you spend more money but there is much less of a risk involved. You buy brand new bike with an assurance that as long as you take care of it, the bike will be very economical. Besides, a brand new bike comes with a good feeling knowing that you’re the first person to ride the bike. That is kind of satisfying somehow.
So in our opinion whether you should buy used or new; new bike is better pretty much in every single way. Unless you really like an old model bike that is currently not available in the market, it’s smart to save money until you are financially strong enough to buy a brand new bike.
Q. Things to know before buying a motorcycle
A. Firstly, make sure you have a repair manual. Go on eBay or Craigslist and buy one that’s used, you don’t really need a new one. They’re anywhere between $15 and $30 depending on your brand. These manuals will pay for themselves in many different ways throughout the ownership of the bike, and have all the information you could need to work on your bike.
To be honest the chances are very less that you do not miss anything while purchasing a brand new bike. However, there are some crucial things that need to be kept in mind while you are at it.
- Make sure it’s not missing any parts.
- Check the swing arm spools.
- Make sure the chain is clean and properly waxed.
- Check the engine oil level from the sight glass.
- Check the air filter.
- Check for any missing bolts and any type of dent/scratches.
- Thoroughly check the handlebars and the foot pegs. Make sure they are tight and scratch free.
Q. Factors to consider when buying a motorcycle
A. There are few things you should consider before buying your first motorcycle.
First and the foremost thing before buying a motorcycle is to understand its usage. Think whether you are a daily commuter or a weekend getaway person. You can be cruising on a highway or hustling through the traffic on the same day, so think about the usage before purchasing.
Next comes the budget, fix a benchmark before you do your research. This will help you to sort the ones in your range.
Another important parameter is to consider the mileage. Mileage specified by the manufacturers is conducted under test conditions; real-time fuel efficiency may vary in accordance with riding style and condition. So make sure you are aware of the mileage before finalizing one.
Most buyers will forget about this but it is equally important. Make sure you select the brand that provides maintenance, servicing and has an extensive network of sales and service with readily available spare parts.