The 12 Best Motorcycles for Beginners to Buy

When you’re new to riding, picking out the perfect motorcycle is often the most exciting – and most important – decision you will make. Factors such as the sticker price, maintenance requirements and rideability are all worth weighing equally. When picking out your first bike, you want something that will help you develop your skills, all while saving you money and providing the most fun possible. Here are 12 of the best bikes available for beginners.

1.      Kawasaki Ninja 400

MSRP: $4,999 or $5,299 to $5,499 for ABS control

Engine Displacement: 399cc

Saddle Height: 30.9 inches

Curb Weight: 366 pounds

New and experienced riders, alike, can get everything they want in a bike, and more, from Kawasaki’s new Ninja bike. The Ninja 400 navigates just as well through traffic jams as on the open road. Beginners can learn everything they need to know in order to go fast, endure slow traffic and simply have fun on a bike. The Ninja provides an easy ride, and is faster and more economical than expected. Riders can get just about everything they need from this bike, just so long as they don’t want to go off-roading.

2.      Harley-Davidson Street 750

MSRP: $7,599

Engine Displacement: 749cc

Saddle Height: 28.3 inches

Curb Weight: 514 pounds

Harley-Davidson’s go-to beginner bikes used to be the Sportster, but ever since 2014, the Street 500 and Street 750 models have taken its place. The Street 750 is powered by a de-tuned, smaller displacement model of the VROD Revolution engine, and the bike is overall smaller, lighter weight and less intimidating than Sportsters. With this bike, you can get a well-mannered, very real Harley bike that – with a price below $10,000 – you won’t be afraid to use or potentially scratch up in the process.

3.      Cleveland Cyclewerks Misfit Gen II

MSRP: $3,495

Engine Displacement: 229cc

Saddle Height: 30.5 inches

Curb Weight: 339.5 pounds

This bike, with its Chinese-built engine and classic American styling, has been a major success for the Cleveland-based Cyclewerks company. The engine is surprisingly well-built, while also being easy to work on, making the bike an easy one to own and enjoy. The first generation of this bike was smaller, while the Gen II is sportier, larger and all around, a more refined bike.

4.      Honda CB500F

MSRP: $6,099

Engine Displacement: 471cc

Saddle Height: 31.1 Inches

Curb Weight: 423 pounds

When you are looking for a do-it-all piece of equipment, the Honda CB500F may be your best bet for powering through highway traffic or heading into the hills for some fun on mountain roads. The power and quality offered by this bike is more than you would expect, given its price tag. Overall, the CB500F is an extremely economical, yet fun bike that can rise to any occasion.

5.      Honda Rebel 500

MSRP: $5,999

Engine Displacement: 471cc

Saddle Height: 27.2 inches

Curb Weight: 408 pounds

Honda’s Rebel 500 and the smaller 300cc version have made it on many best-of lists, and for good reason. Honda’s new Rebels are the perfect replacement if you have ridden a Rebel 250 in the past. The 500cc version is stylish and smart-looking, all while being lightweight enough for safe handling, as well as a fun ride. You can’t go wrong with Honda’s longstanding reputation for reliability, either.

6.      Honda NC700X

MSRP: $7,699

Engine Displacement: 670cc

Saddle Height: 32.7 inches

Curb Weight: 474 pounds

If you’re looking for a jack of all trades when it comes to your first bike, the Honda NC700X is a great option. Its engine is based on the Honda Fit hatchback, giving the bike torque-delivered power and a desirable redline. As a result, you get great mileage at 64 mpg, and an overall easygoing ride. The NC700X is equally capable of handling tight curves in the twisties, as it is getting loaded down with gear for a cross-country road trip. With its low center of gravity and easy handling, it also performs surprisingly well as an off-road bike.

7.      Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

MSRP: $9,990

Engine Displacement: 853cc

Saddle Height: 30.9 inches

Curb Weight: 439 pounds

Italian bikes may be known by some for their high-maintenance, finicky nature, but that is just a tradeoff for the style and heritage that comes with the Moto Guzzi name. While this bike is comparable to a Bonneville, you may prefer it because it is lighter weight, has a lower seat and is chock-full of character, not to mention its lower price tag.

8.      Suzuki TU250X

MSRP: $4,399

Engine Displacement:249cc

Saddle Height: 30.3 inches

Curb Weight: 326 pounds

This small, retro-styled Suzuki is a great option if you are smaller in stature, and can’t handle a large bike with confidence. Although the TU250X is not available in California, because of the state’s emissions standards, it is a great option everywhere else in the U.S. if you want an approachable and easy-to-manage ride.

9.      Suzuki DR-Z400SM

MSRP: $7,299

Engine Displacement: 398cc

Saddle Height: 35 inches

Curb Weight: 322 pounds

If you’re mostly an urban biker, you can’t go wrong with the Suzuki DR-Z400SM, which makes traffic congestion a breeze to navigate. When you are not stuck in a gridlock, the DR-Z400SM offers a fun and carefree ride, all with great vision and riding position, due to the height of the seat.

10. Triumph Bonneville T100

MSRP: $10,400

Engine Displacement: 900cc

Saddle Height: 31.1 inches

Curb Weight: 518 pounds

Few bikes are more iconic than the Triumph Bonneville, which Marlon Brando, Fonzie, Steve McQueen and more all rode. Its classic styling also provides power and fun, all while being low-maintenance. The Bonneville doesn’t require you to mess around with drum brakes, Lucas electric systems or crankcases that leak, among other issues that interrupt your ride.

11. Yamaha SR400

MSRP: $5,999

Engine Displacement: 399cc

Saddle Height: 30.9 inches

Curb Weight: 384 pounds

If you want something between the Suzuki TU250X and the T100 Bonneville, the Yamaha SR400 is a great middle-of-the-road bike. This model has retro styling comparable to the Suzuki, but has a little more power, and is not quite as big or heavy. It’s also much cheaper than the Bonneville, but offers an equally classic look and comfortable ride. The Yamaha SR400 has been in production since the early 1970s, but doesn’t have any of the annoying quirks you would expect from a 40-year old bike.

12. Yamaha Bolt

MSRP: $7,999

Engine Displacement: 942cc

Saddle Height: 27.2 inches

Curb Weight: 542 pounds

If you have always pined after a cruiser, but don’t want to pay for a Harley, the Yamaha Bolt might be just the bike for you. The bolt is stylish and reliable, while also being safe and affordable. It also has a more comfortable ride, and is easier to use than comparable Harley models.

Honorable Mention: Royal Enfield Bullet 500

MSRP: $4,999

Engine Displacement: 499cc

Saddle Height: 31.5 inches

Curb Weight: 428 pounds

Another good beginner bike is the Royal Enfield Bullet, but it doesn’t quite make the top-12 list. Not much has changed on this bike since production began, but it still remains charming and easy to customize or ride as-is. The style is classically cool and retro, while also being easy to ride and affordable. While the bike is fairly economical upfront, you should plan on making a lot of repairs, or paying someone else to do them for you, throughout your ownership of the bike.

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