14 Best Beginner Motorcycles in 2022

August 25, 2022
By Michael Padway

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You’re fresh out of the motorcycle safety class and itching to get out there and ride. You’ve selected the gear you liked the most. A new helmet, gloves, a good jacket, and everything else to follow ATGATT. However, the one place you’re stuck is on the first motorcycle. There are many options, and here are a few simple questions to ponder as you enter the motorcycle buying process.

What is the Purpose of the Motorcycle?

Before thinking of what brand you want, the color options, or anything too in-depth, decide on the purpose of your starter motorcycle. Is it for commuting? Pleasure riding after work or on weekends? A mix of on and off-road riding? How you use the motorcycle may dictate what you should consider and avoid.

How Much Power Do You Need?

Once you decide on the type, you must refine your choices further. Most manufacturers have multiple sizes of every type of motorcycle. While you’re still learning to ride a motorcycle well, you will want a motorcycle that can meet your needs without being too powerful to handle. You don’t want something too heavy, too tall, or with more power than you’re capable of handling well as a beginner, but something to accommodate your size.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend on a Motorcycle?

Another factor to consider is how much you want to spend on your first motorcycle. Do you have an option to buy a lightly used motorcycle that can ride for a year or two and then upgrade to something larger or more in line with your long-term selection? If there isn’t a good, used motorcycle market where you live, should you buy a lower-priced new motorcycle or go straight to your long-term vision of what you want? You will most likely drop your motorcycle, gently fall over, or sometimes have an accident. How much can you afford to replace bodywork or parts, even if you have good insurance with a deductible?

Features to Look for in a Good Beginner Motorcycle

Each motorcycle has a long list of features to consider. Still, we have narrowed it down to a handful that will help you choose the best motorcycle for beginners. These are essential standard criteria to look for in each motorcycle that should help you when you’re shopping for your new adventure. If you’d like to know more about the particular types of motorcycles, please visit our Beginner’s Guide to Types of Motorcycles.

Engine Size Less than 600cc

A 600cc engine size is a general starting point for beginner riders. A 600cc cruiser may have half the horsepower of a 600cc sport bike, so it will depend on the rider to find where they are comfortable with the type of motorcycle they are interested in. Secondly, a larger rider may find a 600cc motorcycle is too small to fit comfortably. In comparison, a smaller rider may find the same motorcycle too large. Again, it is a starting point for consideration, but you, as the rider, need to find what fits and works best for you.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

Most motorcycles will have a standard braking system that doesn’t involve a computer to keep the brakes from locking with too much application. Some models you’ll find will have an anti-lock braking system as standard fare, but most will keep it as an add-on feature if you want to purchase it. Why ABS is notable is that it will keep the tires and brakes from locking and skidding if you apply the brakes too hard. As a new rider, you’ll be more likely to over-apply the brakes than worry about not applying them enough in a panic-stop situation.

Windscreen/Fairing

Having a windscreen or fairing on the front of your motorcycle will allow you to tuck behind it to stay out of the wind and weather. Having to lean forward to fight against the force of the wind as you ride, you tired on a longer ride. The higher speed also equates to more wind force, so a highway ride without a windscreen may cause more fatigue than riding with something to block the wind. A windscreen will also block small rocks and bugs as you ride, like a windshield in your car. Overall, it will keep you cleaner and more energized on your ride than riding without.

Seat Height

As a new rider, one thing to remember is the seat height and how it reflects on your inseam. When you reach a point where you need to stop and put a foot or both feet down, the seat height will need to accommodate the length of your legs. If the seat is too high, a shorter inseam will require you to lean the motorcycle over to put a foot down or possibly have to stand on your tiptoes to keep the motorcycle upright and stable. Conversely, a shorter motorcycle and a longer inseam may also be uncomfortable because touching the ground is almost too easy. Finding the balance of seat height and inseam length is needed, and most likely, they need to stay within a few inches of each other for a rider to feel comfortable with stopping and standing.

Handlebar Height

Like seat height, handlebar height affects your rider posture, which affects your fatigue level and comfort while you ride. It would be best if you reached the hand controls quickly when seated on the motorcycle. It would help if you didn’t have to reach too far to use the controls or lean too far to reach the controls. Your elbows should be slightly bent when you sit on the motorcycle and reach for the controls, allowing you to stay comfortable and alert as you ride. With all these questions looming, buying new or used is always a tough decision. Whether you’re looking for the best cruiser or sport motorcycle for beginners, we have you covered. Below are the 14 best starter motorcycles. 14 Best Beginner Motorcycles
image of the 14 best motorcycles for beginners
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Honda Monkey

Motorcycle Type: Standard (Mini)
Displacement: 125cc
Engine: Fuel-injected single cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed
Price Range: $3,999 – $4,199

The Honda Monkey was a rage in Asia in the 1960s and has kept a cult following over the last 50 years that continues to grow. The US market is finally getting its version that now comes in a base trim level available in red or yellow and an upgraded trim level with ABS brakes. The Monkey is considered mini with a small seat and could be too small for some more significant enthusiasts. However, it makes a great weekend adventure ride that allows riders to experience both on and off-road sightseeing. It’s also a fun commuter at lower speeds but does not have enough power to keep up in heavy, high-speed traffic.

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KTM Corner Rocket (390 Duke)

Motorcycle Type: Standard (Naked)
Displacement: 373cc
Engine: Fuel-injected single-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $5,299

The KTM Corner Rocket is a Standard type motorcycle with a naked frame and minimal fairing but can ride like a Sport motorcycle. The suspension is a bit more firm, as it’s meant to handle the weekend touring and sport riding heavy cornering duties. With a simple single-cylinder engine, the power is manageable for beginners and capable of reaching highway speeds. The Corner Rocket has a mid-range seat height due to its firmer suspension and won’t give under the rider’s weight too much. In addition, it has an array of accessories for purchase for extra storage space and added customization.

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Harley-Davidson Street 500

Motorcycle Type: Standard / Cruiser
Displacement: 494cc
Engine: Fuel-injected v-twin (two-cylinder)
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $6,899

The Harley-Davidson Street 500 is the first step to your American motorcycle experience. The Street 500 is low-slung with a 25″ seat height. At a svelte 500 pounds, it can be handled easily by most beginners after they have graduated from their first safety course. The Street 500 is capable of daily commuting and weekend touring. It can be an ideal long-distance touring motorcycle with options to customize it with a large front fairing and saddlebags for extra storage. It also has an anti-lock brake option, which we recommend purchasing along with the security system option. Motorcycle theft is a constant threat, especially for Harleys, so having a little extra security won’t hurt.

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Kawasaki Z125 Pro SE

Motorcycle Type: Sport (Mini Naked)
Displacement: 125cc
Engine: Fuel injected one cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed
Price Range: $3,399

The Kawasaki Z125 Pro SE I is a recent addition to the Kawasaki New Rider Endorsed lineup. The Z125 is a good motorcycle for weekend riding or daily commuting. It’s not too heavy to handle and the 125cc engine doesn’t have too much power to accommodate a beginner. One thing it doesn’t have is a front fairing, so you will feel a little more wind as you ride on your daily commute or weekend fun. The Z125 is listed as new rider friendly. It has a medium seat height of 31.7-inches tall but has adjustable components to adjust the ride taller or shorter to accommodate almost every rider well for comfort. Unfortunately, the Z125 does not have an anti-lock braking system available.

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Harley-Davidson Superlow

Motorcycle Type: Cruiser
Displacement: 373cc
Engine: Fuel injected single cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $8,699

The Harley-Davidson Superlow is the essence of a low-slung cruiser motorcycle. You don’t ride on a cruiser, you really ride in one. The Superlow shares a complete line of accessories with the H-D model line-up. It features a low 25.5” seat height that can fit most riders. With easy ergonomics, you can ride for a few hundred miles a day without getting a cramp. The Superlow features a low 25.5” seat height that fits most riders easily. You can adjust the footpegs and seat to accommodate larger riders, and it’s not a heavy motorcycle that you’ll have to worry about being too much to maneuver. The power isn’t excessive but offers enough to handle a long ride on an interstate or just a quick trip to the store.

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Honda Grom

Motorcycle Type: Sport (Mini)
Displacement: 125cc
Engine: Fuel injected single cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed
Price Range: $3,399 – $3,599

he Honda Grom may seem like a mini bike, but it has more sports features than you expect. The suspension and seat height are like a sports bike, and its affordability makes it a good starter motorcycle. The Grom doesn’t have enough muscle to do more than commute on the city streets, but it will get you there in style with a shiny blue, red, green, or orange finish. The Grom makes a good starter motorcycle as it’s more than capable of commuting and having some fun on the weekends and the taller seat height will accommodate most new riders. The Grom won’t handle highway speeds well, so be wary of trying to outpace heavy high-speed traffic. Otherwise, it’s a fun sporty ride that’s great for new riders seeking a little fun and excitement.

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KTM RC 390

Motorcycle Type: Sport
Displacement: 373cc
Engine: Fuel injected single cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $5,499

The KTM 300 is a simple, full-fairing sport motorcycle that is great for beginners. The motorcycle is capable of weekend sport riding, corner carving, or daily commuting. It’s lightweight and has enough power to keep up with traffic without being too much to handle. As with other sports motorcycles, you can expect the 300R to be slightly taller in seat height and have higher footpegs to handle the tight cornering. One extra feature available for a little more than the base price is an anti-lock braking system that adds extra stopping capability. It’s a good value for the money and recommends scooping up the ABS over the standard base model if you can.

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Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS

Motorcycle Type: Sport
Displacement: 296cc
Engine: Fuel injected two cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $4,999 – $5,299 (depending on ABS system)

The Kawasaki 300 is a simple, full-fairing sport motorcycle that is great for beginners. The motorcycle is capable of weekend sport riding, corner-carving, or daily commuting. It’s lightweight and has enough power to keep up with traffic without being too much to handle. As with other sport motorcycles, you can expect the 300R to be slightly taller in seat height and have higher footpegs to handle the tight cornering. One extra feature available for a little more than the base price is an anti-lock braking system that adds extra stopping capability. It’s a good value for the money and is a recommendation to scoop up the ABS over the standard base model if you can.

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Yamaha V Star 250 Raven

Motorcycle Type: Cruiser
Displacement: 250cc
Engine: Carbureted V-twin (two-cylinder)
Transmission: 5-speed
Price Range: $4,349

The Yamaha Cruiser line has a long history of innovation and keeping with that tradition is the Yamaha V Star 250 Raven edition. This low-slung cruiser features a stout 350cc engine that is meant to run for long periods of time. It features a plush suspension that provides you comfort through short and long rides to build your riding endurance and skills. The V Star 250 is a great first motorcycle for a beginning rider because it is low weight, low power, and has a low seat height that can accommodate most new riders. It has great fuel mileage that will give you the chance to really put some miles on the odometer and has a great lineup of accessories to match your individual style.

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Yamaha SR400

Motorcycle Type: Standard (Naked)
Displacement: 399cc
Engine: Fuel injected single cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed
Price Range: $5,999

The Yamaha SR400 features retro styling reminiscent of motorcycles back in the 1970s with a slim narrow frame and air-cooled engine. Add a fuel-injected “thumper” engine that can get an estimated 66 miles per gallon, and you have a recipe for a fun ride that will go all day. The 5-speed transmission is suitable for city and highway riding, but without a fairing, you will feel all the wind and weather during every ride. The SR400 is still an excellent motorcycle for a first-time rider, even without a fairing for wind protection. The seat height is just under 31-inches and will be comfortable for most riders on a plush wide seat. One unique feature that oozes old-school cool is a unique kick-starter true to the history books. That’s right, no push-button starter. If you don’t have a solid right leg, you might acquire one after kick-starting the SR400 before every ride. If you’d like to know more about this motorcycle style, check out our other article on the best brand-new, old-school motorcycles.

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Kawasaki Versys-X 300 ABS

Motorcycle Type: Touring (Adventure)
Displacement: 269cc
Engine: Direct fuel injected parallel twin (2-cylinder)
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $5,399 – $5,699 (depending on trim model)

The Kawasaki Versys is a taller adventure model that has a little of everything to go almost anywhere you’re ready to ride. It features a medium windscreen on the front that will block a lot of wind and weather as you ride on your commute or on the way to your favorite riding trail. The two-cylinder has plenty of torque to keep you moving forward at low speeds while out playing in the dirt, yet can keep up with highway speeds if you travel on a long weekend ride. The Versys-X makes a good beginner motorcycle for those that can ride a taller bike, as the seat height is on the upper end. It comes standard with dual hard saddlebags to hold plenty of gear, whether that’s a change of clothes, some extra jackets, or rain gear. The suspension is supple to handle on and off-road riding and keeps you comfortable in any scenario. With the fairing and windscreen, it will keep you out of the oncoming wind and allow you to ride for miles and miles as you gain more riding experience.

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Suzuki GSX250R

Motorcycle Type: Sport
Displacement: 248cc
Engine: Fuel injected two cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $4,549

The Suzuki GSXR lineup started the sport bike scene in the 1980s with the Katana model, which has continuously evolved over the three decades. Until recently, Suzuki only offered a capable sport bike in 600cc or more for the engine, but now have started to offer a capable motorcycle with a 250cc engine for entry-level riders. In addition, it features a low seat height of 31-inches and a full fairing and windscreen to divert wind around the rider. The rider ergonomics will mimic the larger displacement sport motorcycle with a slightly leaning forward style. The GSX250R also features an LCD screen that is easy to see at any time of day and has dual LED headlights that allow you to see well at night but also be bright enough for other motorists to see you at all times of the day. The reach to the hand controls is relatively short for most riders. The GSX250R does not offer an anti-lock braking option, but it does have an intelligent dual caliper system that offers excellent braking performance for new riders ready to hit the road.

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Suzuki GW250

Motorcycle Type: Standard
Displacement: 248cc
Engine: Fuel injected two cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed
Price Range: $4,099

The Suzuki GW250 is a naked standard motorcycle that is capable of handling everything you need as a new rider. The GW250 has enough power to cruise at highway speeds or navigate the suburban jungle effortlessly. A small windscreen will direct the incoming air around you and keep you energized on every ride. One great thing about the GW250 is a lower seat height that most riders will enjoy. With a lower seat height of 30.7-inches and a short reach to the hand controls, every rider should feel comfortable on the GW250. It also features adjustable brake levers for more rider comfort. With the extra supple suspension and customizable features to each rider, the GE250 has enough power and low weight that will make it a great first motorcycle for a new rider.

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Suzuki DR-Z400SM

Motorcycle Type: Super Moto
Displacement: 398cc
Engine: Carbureted single cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed transmission
Price Range: $7,299

The Suzuki DR-Z400SM is a unique motorcycle at first glance. The SM stands for Super Moto. Think of it as a blended motorcycle with 80% motocross and 20% street-riding DNA. Super Motos are designed to handle a mix of every riding with a supple suspension that can soak up the bumps and jumps of urban riding with tires capable of highway speeds. It features all the lighting and protection of a standard motorcycle but has some extra suspension to go anywhere and do anything. The Super Moto has a taller seat height of 35 inches to accommodate suspension travel. It may be too tall for some riders, but it tends to sink lower to the ground under the rider’s weight. It makes a good beginner motorcycle because it is an excellent option for urban settings that see a lot of street miles without the need for a fairing to block the wind at highway speeds. It’s scantily clad with minimal bodywork, just as a street-based motocrosser would expect. It’s lightweight, offers a torquey engine for daily riding, and it will keep you smiling every time you ride.

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There you have it: 14 good beginner motorcycles to consider. You can see how many are in various types, options, and configurations. It’s a tough choice when you start riding. Pick one type or brand that offers you more than you probably thought was out there. Each model selected has something different to offer, from accessories, upgradable features, and a little extra once you know what you’re looking for. Give each a quick review, head to your local dealer, and start sitting on a few motorcycles. You’ll find what you’re looking for in a first motorcycle. It will take research and a few seat checks to ensure you’re buying what you want. Remember to follow ATGATT and grab some gear while purchasing your first motorcycle, and remember to stay safe out there.10% Off Your First Order at RevZilla.com

Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

comments

3 Comments

  1. AMIT GAURAV

    nice blog

  2. Perte

    Been riding for over 45 years, The DRZ400 supermoto is way too much for a beginner! There are 250’s that are easily converted by installing 17 inch rims. Be safe.

    • Irving Gustavo Quevedo Herrera

      Thank you that was so helpful.