With summer in full swing, now is the time to hit the road and start exploring your area in style.
Say goodbye to your stuffy car, and hello to a brand new motorbike.
Oh, you don’t have experience riding? No sweat. Start with a “beginner bike” and hit the road today!
Below, we’ll walk you through what makes for a good beginner motorcycle, including a complete buying guide and all the pros and cons of starting out small. After that, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute best beginner motorcycles to get you started riding today!
What Makes a Good Beginner Motorcycle?
- The 15 Best Beginner Motorcycles
- Kawasaki Versys-X 300 ABS
- Harley-Davidson Iron 883
- HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 401
- CLEVELAND CYCLEWERKS HEIST
- Yamaha V Star 250
- HONDA REBEL 500
- CAKE KALK INK
- Suzuki SV650 ABS
- KTM 390 Adventure
- HONDA H’NESS CB350
- Suzuki GSX250R
- Yamaha MT-03
- Royal Enfield Classic 350
- DUCATI SCRAMBLER SIXTY2
- HONDA CB300R
Before we dive into the list of the best beginner motorcycles, it’s important we take a moment to talk about what separates “beginner” bikes from the rest.
A beginner bike:
Weighs less – Typically, the weight will be between 300 and 400 pounds, though that’s not a hard-and-fast weight.
Costs less – You can find as cheap as $1,500, though the top-notch beginner bikes will run you more like $4,000 to $7,000.
Has a smaller engine – Beginner motorbikes will pack a 150cc to 500cc engine—plenty of power to take you where you need to go, but not so much that you risk losing control.
Reaches lower speeds – Most beginner bikes will top out around 130 to 150 MPH. For your first time riding, you really don’t need anything faster than 80 to 120 MPH. When you grow more comfortable with high speeds, you can upgrade to a proper bike.
Features Anti-Lock Brake Systems – ABS makes your bike easier to manage and gives you more “stopping power”, which you’ll need as you grow accustomed to handling the powerhouse between your legs.
Keep these in mind as you look over the list of beginner motorcycles below…
The 15 Best Beginner Motorcycles
For your next adventure on the open road, try the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 ABS! The adventure/touring bike is designed to handle both streets and trails, suitable for both beginner and advanced riders. It’s a compact, manageable bike that you’ll never have trouble handling, with a 296cc engine that delivers power enough to reach excellent top speeds without being overpowering.
The addition of ABS system is well worth the extra expense, giving you total control over your bike and improving safety for beginner motorcyclists. It’s nimble enough you can weave in and out of traffic or tackle those hairpin trail turns on a dime. For the price, you won’t find many better!
- Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled 296cc
- Weight: 385.9 lb
- Top Speed: 100 mph
This cruiser will be the perfect bike for anyone planning cross-country travel, but who may still be fairly new to biking. The style is iconic, but the forward riding position and mid-mount foot controls make for a very comfortable long-haul trip.
The V-Twin rumble makes you feel like a total badass when you’re ripping down the highway, and it rides beautifully smooth while still delivering all the power you want for a high-speed ride. It’s definitely on the heavier side for a beginner bike, but with 54 ft-lb of torque, you know it has the oomph to get you where you want to go. Just be aware: this is one of the priciest bikes on our list, but well worth the investment.
- Engine: 883cc Air-Cooled Evolution® V-Twin engine
- Weight: 564 lb.
- Top Speed: 105 mph
Take this café racer out on the open road, and you’ll always travel in style. The classic café racer style has been given a truly modern upgrade, resulting in a bike that packs all the power of a cutting-edge bike while still retaining the iconic look that has made these motorcycles such a popular choice.
The bike boasts the same chassis platform and engine as the KTM 390 Adventure, built onto an industry-leading chromium-molybdenum steel trellis frame supported by a truly epic WP suspension. Though it doesn’t pack insane amounts of power, it’s compact and zippy enough you’ll love using it for your everyday errands and trips around town, but comfortable enough for longer weekend getaways, too. You’ll love how lightweight it is—you’ll never have to wrestle with it to keep it upright and on course.
- Engine: Liquid-Cooled 373cc Single-Cylinder
- Weight: 335 lbs.
- Top Speed: 105+ MPH
The Cleveland Cyclewerks Heist delivers style in spades! The cruiser is a perfect entry-level bike for anyone who wants to hit the open road, but it’s well-suited for veteran riders, too, thanks to its high performance and classic design.
It’s far from the fastest bike on our list—a little over 70 MPH is all you’ll manage—but that’s ideal for anyone who’s just taking their first rides and doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by excessive power. It’s safe highway speeds and a design that maximizes stability and user control, delivering a much more beginner-friendly riding experience.
The design is sleek, the seat is low enough to be very comfortable as a low-rider, and best of all, the price tag is one you can definitely afford. You can even customize it to your exact specs to make it the perfect bike for you!
- Engine: Air-Cooled 229cc Single-Cylinder
- Weight: 291 lbs.
- Top Speed: 70+ MPH
The Yamaha V Star 250 delivers nimbleness and easy handling that few other bikes on our list can hope to match, which is why it’s one of our top picks. You’ll find it’s one of the smoothest rides around, and though it roars like a beast, it drives like a dream.
The small-bore cruiser looks like a full-sized bike and packs the powerful V-Twin engines, but it’s one of the most fuel-economical bikes around, perfect for commuting and long-haul travel. Shorter, lighter riders will find the low seat makes it the ideal choice, and its light weight makes it easy to manage. However, it’s got power and space enough to comfortably carry a passenger, making it a great option for couples and buddies planning to hit the open road in style.
- Engine: Air-cooled 249cc V-Twin
- Weight: 324 lbs.
- Top Speed: 85 MPH
The Honda Rebel 500 is one of the best-known entry-level bikes, a powerhouse that combines agility with smooth handling and user-friendly performance. There is the option to add on ABS brakes to give yourself more stopping power, but even without them, the motorcycle is still a newbie-compatible bike that makes every ride easier, safer, and more fun.
Honda’s proprietary slipper/assist clutch will prevent you from stalling out and keep you gliding forward smooth as silk, and the engine has power enough to keep you zipping through city streets and roaring down the highway in equal efficiency. It’s also one of the best-looking bikes around, with a wide front wheel, blacked-out engine, black diamond-stitched seat, black fork boots/covers, and a headlight cowl painted to match the color of your bike. Now that’s a beginner motorcycle worth owning!
- Engine: Liquid-Cooled 471cc Parallel-Twin
- Weight: 408 lbs.
- Top Speed: 95 MPH
As the only electric motorcycle on this list, the Kalk Ink by Cake is a game-changing bike, offering impressive fuel savings while still being powerful enough to suit the trail warrior in all of us. The engine is powered by a battery that packs premium 18650 lithium cells, with 50 Ah that can deliver up to 3 hours of smooth riding before needing a recharge.
Though it’s far from the fastest bike on our list—only reaching speeds of around 56 MPH—you’ll find it’s perfect for zipping around those off-road trails and tackling wicked jumps. Plug it in to re-charge, and it’ll be juiced up to full in 3 hours. The bike features specially-engineered upside down MX spring forks with integrated rebound adjustment that makes it perfect for handling even the harshest off-road conditions. It’s also insanely light and suited to even younger riders.
- Engine: 50Ah, 51.8V
- Weight: 174 lbs.
- Top Speed: 70 MPH
The Suzuki SV650 has been one of the most popular beginner motorcycles for over 20 years, and the iconic bike has been upgraded time and again to ensure it stays at the forefront of excellence and reliability.
The latest model has been enhanced with a chassis that can handle some “exciting” lean angles when zipping around corners, a refined powerplant that cuts emissions and fuel consumption while delivering maximum power output, and four-piston Tokico brake calipers capable of stopping the light-bodied bike with impressive speed. Pair that with the sleek, modern look for which it’s famous, and you can see why it’s such a great choice for any rider looking to knock it out of the park with their first—and perhaps, only—motorcycle. Oh yeah, and it packs a whopping 650ccs of power, so you’ll have to get good at handling a lot of bike very quickly to keep this beast under control.
- Engine: 650cc
- Weight: 437 lbs.
- Top Speed: 130 MPH
Hit the open road or city streets on the KTM 390 Adventure, and you’ll always feel right at home. This bike features a lightweight chassis paired with a 373cc single-cylinder engine, and the combination ensures you’ve got enough power to hit impressive speeds. Added to that is a Bosch 9.1MP Two Channel-ABS system—including dual modes, “Cornering” for on-road speed and “offroad” for when you want to hit the dirt track or mud trail—and you’ve got a bike perfectly suited to both speed and performance.
It may be on the pricier side compared to some of the other bikes on our list, but it’s well worth every penny to get your hands on this powerhouse of an adventure bike. Whether you take it mudding or cross-country tripping, you’ll find it can handle anything you throw at it.
- Engine: Liquid-Cooled 373.2cc Single-Cylinder
- Weight: 379 lbs.
- Top Speed: 93 MPH
The H’Ness CB350 is one of Honda’s latest offerings, and boy did they knock it out of the park with this beauty of a bike! It’s designed to look and feel like a cutting-edge motorcycle, but the handling remains true to every bike that has kept Honda firmly at the head of its industry for decades. Rev that engine and you’ll hear the roaring thump that lets you know this beast packs some serious power, but it’s built with the precision and fine attention to detail you’ve come to expect from Japanese manufacturers.
The low-mounted engine not only makes it safer and easier to handle by lowering the center of gravity, but gives it a more comfortable feel for the hours you’re sitting in the seat. Despite its massive-looking shape, it handles like a dream and delivers truly next-level performance.
- Engine: 4 Stroke, SI Engine 348.36cc
- Weight: 399 lbs.
- Top Speed: 85+ MPH
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a racing bike, the Suzuki GSX250R is the perfect entry-level option for newbie riders. Take one look at it, and you’ll see that it matches the classic “vibe” of your favorite racing bikes, complete with the larger-than-life design that makes the Suzuki GSX-R bikes some of the best on the market. However, it’s actually smaller and lighter than it looks, and it’s a much tamer ride, with just enough power to let you rip down the open road without getting out of control.
The 248cc, parallel-twin engine offers torque enough for any beginner and intermediate rider, letting you hit impressive speeds with just the twist of the throttle. Thanks to its lighter, narrower frame, you can handle its weight and keep it upright with only minimal effort. Sadly, it doesn’t come with ABS, but you’ll find Suzuki’s proprietary brakes are just as responsive and offer you excellent control over your speed.
- Engine: 248cc, parallel-twin engine
- Weight: 399 lbs.
- Top Speed: 88 MPH
The Yamaha MT-03 is one of the most affordable bikes on our list, which makes it one of the best beginner motorcycles for anyone trying to keep it cheap while still getting a quality bike. The engine is small but lively, and the lightweight frame makes it easy to manage when zipping around town or racing down the highway. The naked bike offers excellent comfort and an upright sitting position that won’t tire your back out or strain your shoulders even after hours of riding.
The bike looks like the larger Yamahas that are so popular, but the frame is just a bit more compact—thus, ideal for anyone trying to get the hang of their first few rides. It’s also available in a number of unique and ultra-cool color finishes that make it a truly stylish road bike for beginners.
- Engine: 321cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke
- Weight: 373 lb
- Top Speed: 112 MPH
This bike combines a vintage look with modern performance and cutting-edge technology, delivering enjoyable rides for years to come. Whether you’re a beginner planning your first trip or an advanced rider ready for an upgrade, this stylish adventure bike is a great option.
The throwback look brings you back to Britain in the days following World War II, complete with the teardrop tank, large wrapround front and rear fenders, and casquette helmet. The single seat is well-sized and amply cushioned, so you’ll be comfortable even after long hours spend in the saddle. The 350cc engine has power enough for beginners, but the 429-lb weight is still fairly manageable. The option of ABS makes it a great choice for newbies, as does the approachable price tag.
- Engine: 4 Stroke, Air-Oil Cooled Engine 350cc
- Weight: 429 lbs.
- Top Speed: 74 MPH
DUCATI SCRAMBLER SIXTY2
Ducati is known for making big, powerful bikes, but the Scrambler Sixty2 is one of the smaller Ducatis on the market. It’s sized right for beginners, with a smaller displacement engine but still plenty of torque to get you up to top speed in a matter of seconds, and power enough to keep you racing through the city for hours on end. Granted, it’s pricier than some of the more affordable models on our list, but what else would you expect from a leading brand like Ducati? For your investment, you can expect peerless build quality, sterling customer support, and a bike that will last you for decades of regular use.
- Engine: Air-Cooled 399cc Desmo L-Twin
- Weight: 403.5 lbs.
- Top Speed: 100+ MPH
Honda crafted this café racer specifically for anyone trying to learn, building a smaller, lighter bike with just enough displacement power to help you hit decent speeds (92 MPH) without risking being overwhelmed. The bike handles like a dream, features ABS brakes, an inverted fork to offer superior suspension, and a sleek look complete with blacked-out hardware that will turn heads everywhere you go. It’s an amazing choice for anyone looking to cut their teeth in real-world conditions, and can handle anything city and highway streets can throw at it.
- Engine: Liquid-Cooled 286cc Single-Cylinder
- Weight: 317 lbs.
- Top Speed: 92 MPH
Tips to Help You Buy a Good Beginner Motorcycle
If you’re planning on shopping for a beginner motorcycle, here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:
Tip #1: Know Your Bike Types
Bikes come in a variety of types, each with their own intended use:
- Touring bikes are all about the open road. Large, heavy, and smooth, they’re not great for beginners.
- Sport bikes are all about speed. Light, ultra-fast, and built to handle like a dream, they tend to pack a lot of power that makes them a bit too much for a beginner to handle.
- Cruiser bikes are the “chopper” style that scream badass. Heavy, bulky, and comfortable, they’re the perfect travel bike.
- Naked bikes combine the best of cruiser and sport bikes. They offer an upright ride that’s great for beginners!
- Off-road bikes are all about powering across rough terrain. They’re a performance bike designed specifically for use on mud, dirt, and gravel. Definitely a good option for newbies.
- Café races are great for short distances and high speeds. Small, light, and zippy, they’re a classic, minimalist option that will suit beginners nicely.
- Adventure bikes combine the best of off-road bikes with an on-road performance. They’re versatile enough to take anywhere, and you can find great beginner-friendly options.
Tip #2: Buy According to Your Purpose
Are you riding every day to work? Planning on long-haul trips over the summer? Looking for an inexpensive option to zip around town? Hoping to do some pleasure riding during the warmer months? Excited to tackle some dirt course or off-road trail?
Find a bike that suits your specific needs!
Tip #3: Find the Right Fit
If you’re too big for your bike or the bike is too big for you, you’ll be in for an uncomfortable ride. Plus, you’ll be at greater danger because incorrect motorcycle sizing can lead to a higher risk of crashes or spills.
Always take the bike for a test-drive before buying so you can feel how well it suits your frame. The saddle shape and seat height are crucial factors to consider, as they can’t be modified (unlike the handlebars).
Tip #4: Less Power Isn’t a Bad Thing
For those who are just starting out, it’s always wisest to consider a bike with too little power rather than too much. Less power just means you go slower and have a harder time conquering hills, but too much power means a higher risk of the bike getting away from you or reaching speeds you’re not comfortable with yet.
You can always upgrade to a higher-speed bike whenever you feel ready to add a bit more power to your ride.
Tip #5: Get a Tune-Up
No matter how well the previous owner took care of the bike, it’s always a good idea to take it to your mechanic for a tune-up before you take it out on the open road for the first time. The tune-up should include:
- Oil change
- Checking brake pads (and changing as needed)
- Checking fluids (and changing as needed)
It’s a good time to see if there are any issues that could be dangerous or a problem down the road.
Pros and Cons of Beginner Motorcycles
- More maneuverable and easier to control. The lighter bike weight makes for better handling, and the addition of features like ABS brakes and multiple ride modes help you to sharpen your skills without putting yourself at risk.
- Plenty of options, fewer dangers. Because you can’t hit insane speeds (130+ MPH) on a beginner bike, you’re at far lower risk of spinning out or crashing. However, you can still ride fast enough to take the bike out on the highway.
- Good power for a small size. Beginner bikes come with engines powerful enough to propel their lighter-weight frames forward. You’ll still be able to rock crawl, dirt bike, or race on the open road, but you won’t be trying to control “too much power” on your first rides.
- Start biking for less. Thanks to the affordable price tags, you can get out on the road on a beginner bike at a fraction of what you’d pay for a proper “grown up” bike. It’s a good way to test out the hobby for yourself and see if it’s something you’re truly interested in without investing a fortune right out of the gate.
- Short lifespan. Not that the bike will break, but you’ll quickly outgrow it (in size and skill) and have to upgrade to a bike with more horsepower. You’re better off buying a used beginner bike for the months you’ll be riding it.
- Underpowered. You’re not going to win any races or break land speed records. The bikes are built to deliver just enough power that you’ll get a feel for the road and learn how to handle a two-wheeler in preparation for upgrading to a full-sized bike.
- Compact and potentially uncomfortable. Beginner motorcycles typically feature a smaller, lighter frame, which means less room to integrate rider comfort-oriented additions. Beginner bikes are great for short rides, but will be uncomfortable on long trips.
- Less protection and cargo. The bikes are built with less rider protection and minimal cargo storage space.