In urban conditions, the motorcycle gives an undeniable advantage in maneuverability and speed, so from year to year, the number of owners of two-wheeled vehicles is rapidly increasing.
In the ranks of motorcyclists more and more “first season riders”, many of whom ask the age-old question “what motorcycle to buy in the first place?
We tried to summarize all the exhortations of “old-timers” regarding the purchase of the first motorcycle in one big review.
Purpose of the motorcycle
First of all, you should decide what you are buying a motorcycle for. Where do you plan to ride it more often? Let’s say, to move around the city every day will be more comfortable on a small scooter than on a shiny chrome cruiser, because the image, especially in the heat, in this case – nothing.
For riding mainly on asphalted intercity routes it makes sense to pay attention to the bonneted (lined with plastic) versions of motorcycles, and for bad roads is better to choose a motorcycle with a long-running suspension – he will better cope with the bumps on the way to the cottage.
Choosing a motorcycle should be the heart, but when choosing it is also recommended to proceed from the physical data of the owner. Do not, being a two-meter athlete, consider too small equipment to buy and vice versa – it is important not to overestimate their capabilities, choosing overly powerful or heavy machinery.
The lighter the bike, the easier it is to control at low, and therefore – suitable for learning speeds. In the future, most of these nuances will be leveled by experience, but in this case, we are talking about buying the first motorcycle for 1-2 seasons.
Motorcycles can be divided into several classes, depending on their design, appearance, and purpose. Here are the main ones:
It’s easiest to start with the classic road motorcycles. On most “road bikes” you have assured a proper fit and easy to get used to the motorcycle controls. Often, road bikes have a plastic fairing and sometimes look like the so-called “sports bikes”, though, of course, they are not.
Road bikes are convenient for riding in the city and on the highway and are sometimes called “universal”. Modern models are usually equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and sometimes a directional stability system (TCS). These “electronic aids” are designed to facilitate control of the bike and prevent such dangerous situations as wheel blocking during emergency braking or, conversely – slipping off the rear tire during acceleration (“drifting”). However, such systems are often installed on motorcycles of other classes as well.
Motorcycles of Cruiser class are often mistakenly called “chopper” but unlike classic chopper with a lengthened fork and rigid rear suspension “hardtail”, cruisers are quite fit for daily use. These “limousines” are intended for unhurried driving on roads of good quality and suburban highways. However, there are also “wolves in sheep’s clothing”: uncompromising power cruisers, by acceleration and driving resembling sports bikes (however, such “steroidal jocks” cost too much according to their characteristics).
Cruisers, because of too loose landing and low maneuverability – not the best choice as a first motorcycle, in addition, some of them are quite heavy and wide to move through the narrow urban interstates. But sometimes these bikes are so consistent with the style and charisma of the owner that other than buying a cruiser there is no other options.
The scooter is a great vehicle for city riding due to its small size, the presence of a trunk under the saddle, and minimal fuel consumption. On a scooter, there is no need to work the gearbox, since most models have a variator.
The engine capacity of modern “mopeds” can be from 50 cm3 to… 800 cm3 in newer models. In addition, ABS is very common among fresh bikes. But the popularity of scooters as the first two-wheeled means somewhat decreased, as to manage even the simplest “fifty” from 2013 requires a driver’s license.
An all-terrain motorcycle will give you that feeling of freedom that seasoned motorcyclists talk about. No more need to think about the quality of the road surface or its availability in general – long-stroke suspension easily copes with all the bumps in your way.
You will have to pay for the cross-country ability with a lower cruising speed on the highway, a modest gas tank, and a high sail. We will tell only about the models dual-purpose – uncompromising “enduro” and “evil” cross motorcycles in the first season will not approach at all, except in cases where a beginner aims to use the shell exclusively on closed sites and ready to carry a motorcycle to the place “riding” in the trailer.
Sports motorcycles are the right choice for riding on the track. But riding a “sportbike” in the city can become a deadly activity for a beginner: according to the sad statistics of motorcycle accidents, most of the accidents happen to the owners of “sports” who failed to cope with the management of the “explosive” projectile. And every fall on the lightweight “plastic” motorcycle costs mountain racer in a very solid amount – a rare “sport” can be equipped with such a necessary beginner arc safety because their installation often requires violation of the integrity of the fairing.
But the aesthetics and power of sports bikes so attract beginner bikers (and what to hide – girls who love moto), that we will consider several options suitable for inexperienced motorcyclists and in this class.
Touring class motorcycles can be conditionally divided into all-road, luxury, and sport-touring.
All-road tourers are characterized by increased suspension travel, high ground clearance, and good wind protection (with their use on the real “offroad” is limited to a fairly large weight). Lux tourers combine passenger and rider comfort, luggage capacity, and a large mass, which positively affects the stability of a fast ride in a straight line. The options catalog of such bikes is usually comparable to a phone book, and the price is well outside the average budget for the first motorcycle. Well, the sport-tourist models are distinguished by a powerful engine, comfortable seating, and an unattainably high price.
Options for motorcycles suitable for the first season.
The reality is that you can get on and ride any motorcycle, absolutely any cubic capacity. However, it is important to understand that riding a powerful bike involves a high level of risk and is worth starting an acquaintance with the world of moto-friendly models.
Such motorcycles will not make surprises at a sudden opening of gas and will be predictable in driving and deceleration.
Fans of Honda will not leave without attention small-cubicature CB125. This bike is a great alternative to the famous Yamaha YBR125 – at a lower price of the CB125 has a little more torque, has a more concise design, and built-in gear indicator, which is extremely useful option for both beginners and experienced riders. Having more than the YBR, dimensions, small-cubicature Honda looks and feels less rough, which positively affects the comfort of movement.
However, the YBR125 is still the most affordable Yamaha model for a beginner, as its next model, the YBR250, is much more expensive.
Bajaj Pulsar 200NS
The Indian Bajaj has literally burst onto the market with two models, the Pulsar 200NS and its bonneted version, the RS 200. For beginners, we recommend getting the version without plastic, because in the case of a fall, the minimal cladding on the “bare” version practically will not suffer, which cannot be said about the version with a fairing.
The Pulsar 200NS is a quiet, friendly bike, with a modern injector engine and anti-lock system. Low saddle makes it possible to feel confident even for riders with a small stature.
The Bajaj Pulsar 200NS is the most affordable “two hundred” on the market. Those who prefer new brands to proven ones can advise the KTM Duke 250. The Austrian Duke is an excellent city “lighter”. For a reasonable amount of money you get a light and maneuverable motorcycle, which will not give itself in the city crowd.
Similar characteristics have Kawasaki Z250SL and its bonneted version Ninja 250SL, and also Suzuki – GW250 and GW250F in plastic. Well and if you really want to get more power for the same money as Bajaj, there is not bad in characteristics and build quality Chinese Hyosung GD250N and its racing version GD250R.
Connoisseurs of German reliability can be advised by the novelty of 2015 – the magnificent BMW G310R. This bike can become not just the first motorcycle, but also, as the company assures, “an entrance ticket to the world of BMW”.
In other words: after BMW “there is no life” and the owner will be doomed to become a fan of the brand. And not without reason – comfortable seating, ABS and low fuel consumption make this bike an ideal city machine. Costs of running the G310R will be an order of magnitude higher than on the Indian Bajaj, but a better quality level of assembly and components will be noticeable even to the naked eye, and recognition of the brand compared to the Bajaj may play a decisive role in the choice.
The novelty from BMW is available at an unbelievable price. It’s not a gimmick or a publicity stunt, but a fact: the G310R is BMW’s most budget-friendly motorcycle model of all time the brand has been on the market.
Alternatively, consider the urban KTM Duke 390, which recently underwent a significant restyling, as well as the Bajaj Dominar 400 coplatform motorcycle, which features a more relaxed character and classic shapes. Both machines boast LED headlights, anti-lock brakes, and components from the world’s leading manufacturers.
Self-confident novice riders may want to consider Honda’s best-selling road bike, the CB650F.
This bike will show itself perfectly when riding around town – 87 Japanese horses will take care of it. Power CB650F, coupled with its light weight – quite an explosive cocktail for the beginner, but if you approach the case with the head – Honda can become a true friend for many years and will not let down at the beginning of the way. Everything disposes to this – sufficient, but not superfluous power, a minimum of expensive plastic and stunning appearance.
In a difficult situation to help the neophyte will ABS, and the adherents of sports style, or those who frequently have to ride on country highways, may consider the version CBR650F, equipped with a fairing and windshield.
Other motorcycle brands also have similar roadsters. Among them are such popular and widespread models on the market as Yamaha MT-07 and Kawasaki ER6-N (or its bonneted version ER6-F).
Kawasaki Vulcan S
Kawasaki’s small cruiser is based on the ER6 platform and uses the same two-cylinder engine. The machine has a quiet character with predictable power output throughout the rpm range and good low-end torque. Thanks to the high torque, you can start without touching the throttle, which, no doubt, will be useful for those who first sat down on a motorcycle.
The Vulcan is also available with an anti-lock braking system as an option. In addition, the abundance of spare parts and consumables, and their low cost make this bike the ideal first bike for a beginner.
Suzuki Intruder C800
There aren’t many new entry-level cruisers, and often their cost is well outside the designated budget, but there are some nice exceptions, such as the Intruder C800 and its twin brother, the Intruder M800.
The simple V-engine has plenty of power for any situation, and the comfortable fit will allow you to comfortably drive quite a distance. Intruder is not equipped with ABS, so the brakes need to be handled carefully – a fall on this bike can cost a hapless chopper. To be fair – to overbrake on a motorcycle with mass center situated closer to the rear wheel is not as easy as on forward leaning sports models, also not equipped with ABS. And it will be quite difficult to skid the wheel, too.
Harley-Davidson Street 750
Those who respect traditions should pay attention to the Street 750 model from the legendary brand Harley-Davidson. In fact, “Harley” is synonymous with the word motorcycle for many people.
Street 750 is a bike of initial level in Harley-Davidson’s lineup. A small height on the saddle and a high handlebar will ensure a comfortable riding position for the drivers of the most different height and build, and a belt transmission will allow forgetting about chain cleaning and lubrication.
“The entry ticket to the world of Harley-Davidson will cost you more than a BMW. But trust us, it’s worth it.
Honda’s official dealers, as part of the crisis sales program, have begun delivering a proven global bestseller – the PCX150. The model is massively present on the roads of Asian countries, in the U.S. and on the streets of European cities. PCX accelerates well and feels confident on any city highway. On a large comfortable seat, you can comfortably cover considerable distances, and the presence of luggage capacity allows you to increase the capacity of the scooter.
There aren’t many alternatives to the Honda PCX – except for the Yamaha NM-X. But NM-X costs more and has 25 “cubes” less, but its design is not so Asian.
SYM Joymax 300
This maxi-scooter is extremely popular among city scooters. The combination of a powerful engine with a good wind protection Joymax will be convenient not only when traveling around town but also on the road. Add to this combined braking system, a large luggage capacity under the seat, as well as the air deflector and a very competitive price for a new machine and get an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced rider.
Such “limousine” will be suitable for almost any requirements for the first season – the power as of a full moto, comfort, comparable to the car and the ability to learn the basics of driving a fairly massive two-wheeled vehicle without long learning how to ride “on the handlebars.
For those who prefer Japanese brands to Korean ones, there are excellent alternatives: Suzuki Burgman 400 and a novelty from Kawasaki called J300.
Vespa GTS Super 300 I.E
For fans of the Italian classics you can find the model GTS Super 300 at Vespa dealers. The distinctive feature of the Vespa is an all-metal body, which serves as a frame. In the model lineup of Italians is more budget models with a smaller engine, but because of the severity of the current legislation regarding mopeds, buying a luxury scooter with a volume of 50 does not quite justify itself.
If the Italian design is perceived only in combination with supersovremennye technologies – you can open for yourself Piaggio MP3 – relatively budget (for the three-wheeled wonder of technology), but perhaps the most suitable for the first season of the bike, even for the novice alarmist, abandoning the wheel in any obscure situation. In the case of the MP3, he’ll just be able to get back on the handlebars later.
Aprilia RS4 125
The compact and daring Aprilia RS4 125, despite its modest 15 hp rating, offers an incomparable sense of control and ease of handling. The bike is excellent steering because of its low center of gravity and a low height on the saddle makes it convenient for girls as well.
Unleash the potential of this bike can be on a small moto track or kart track, which the new Aprilia owner will definitely want to look at. Design is made in the style of the “big brother” RS4 – Aprilia RSV4. Technical advantages include the ability to shift gears without depressing the clutch thanks to the quickshifter.
In addition, it is worth looking at the Austrian KTM RC 125 in the class of sporty compact bikes.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
The Ninja 300 from Kawasaki has become one of the most popular bikes for beginners. That’s thanks to its cool looks, optional ABS, and a wide range of colors, from classic green to anthracite, pearlescent mahogany, and matte anthracite, not Kawasaki’s usual color scheme.
Ninja 300 has a phenomenal passability in heavy traffic. Its top speed is up to 11 mph on the GPS and its sporty fairing offers great protection from the wind. That said, the Ninja’s gas tank is not inferior in volume to more serious machines and you can go just over 250 miles on a single fill-up.
It is worth bearing in mind that despite the sporty appearance and the rich sporting past of his older brothers, Kawasaki Ninja 300 is a road bike with a straightforward fit.
In the same price range lie the Honda CBR300RA, also equipped with ABS and a plastic fairing, and the YZF-R3 300 from Yamaha, similar in performance to the Ninja but without the ABS package.
Kawasaki Versys 650
All-road crossovers stand apart in the class of tourists. A striking representative of this type is the model Versys 650. Elastic inline engine will not leave you without support in difficult road situations, and maneuverability of the bike will envy many city bikes.
Long-travel suspension will allow not pay attention to the shortcomings of the road surface, and excellent ergonomics, straight landing and sufficient wind protection together with the anti-lock braking system will allow to connect the most distant points on the map without problems.
If you want to conquer country clearings on an easier motorcycle – Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS is at your service.
If you dream about big autobahns and overcoming huge distances with comfort, F800GT will be the right choice. The belt drive lets you forget about chain maintenance and the well-developed fairing keeps the rushing air out of the way for a major inconvenience on the long haul. The F800GT’s wealth of electronic assistants will make riding in tough conditions safer.
The BMW F800GT is equipped with a steering damper, ABS and electronically adjustable ESA suspension as standard. In addition to long trips, this bike is also great for the city, because the dimensions of the BMW is not much different from the average road bike.
For lovers of the classics
Yamaha YBR 125
Ask motorcyclists the question: “what to buy a beginner?” and most likely get in response: “YBR 125”.
The popularity of this motorcycle among advisors is easy to explain. It features ubiquity, simplicity of design and ease of operation. Add to that its low weight, low maintenance costs, and steady demand on the aftermarket and you have the perfect first motorcycle for the city.
YBR 125 was the starting point of more than one motorcycle life, and remains an extremely popular bike among beginners, but, rather, already by inertia, because now buying a new YBR is not as certainly a profitable investment as before.
Well and not expensive “educational” variant for sure will require investments – at least replacement of all liquids and consumables.
This motorcycle, in its time, of course, was good. Its survivability would be the envy of any motorcycle, and the firmness with which it endures hardships has created a legend of the superreliability of Honda motorcycles.
At one point, the CB400 was hardly the best machine for a beginner, but times change, the number of models is growing, so alternatives have long since emerged.
In this article, we told you about the different options when choosing your first motorcycle. Even if you don’t know anything about moto, and you’ve read to this point – you can consider yourself practically an expert.
Just choose one of the models you like, compare it by technical characteristics with other options and study the details on the profile forum.
Good luck in choosing your first motorcycle!