Good bike for beginners

I’ve kinda toyed with the idea of getting a motorcycle for fair weather travel back and forth to work(5 mile round trip) and maybe to run a few errands around town. Nothing major like grocery shopping or traveling the freeways is planned right now.

While the idea of a Hayabusa sounds nice, I think it’d be roughly equivalent of driving a Porsche or Lamborghini as a first car. I’ll probably feel 16 all over again when first riding the bike, and would plan on attending riding classes as well.

Would a 500~650cc be a good starter engine size, or would that be a bit much/not enough?

650 is plenty, you could tour the US on one (folks did this for years when a 750 was a ‘big’ bike). I’ve often thought about getting a Suzuki SV-650. Great mid size bike, could be the last one you ever need.

My recommendation would be a min 650cc as they tend to have a longer frame making for smoother highway miles, as once you enjoy cycling you may move on to longer cruising, and your bike will suit the sunday drives.

Often asked question. Depends on what style of bike you want. For a sport bike that has a great rep, the Ninja 250 is a great bike at an easy entry price. The 500 Ninja is good, but has less of a following. Honda still makes the Rebel which is more of a standard. The 600 Sport bikes are NOT beginner bikes. You can find a good used previous generation Ninja 250 for under $3000

Having said that, as long as you are not a 110 5ft girl (Generally…don’t ask how I know), and ride with your head, you can start on any reasonable bike. Just about every bike forum I have been on has this topic.

A good used bike can be a great way to start. You will not feel as bad when you drop it!

First step; take a MSF course. in Mass you can get your Licence after completion.

Some articles:

Cycle World buyers guide:


You making want to get out and ride…

I bought a 200cc in the early 80’s. I would not want anything bigger. You might hate my bike and love a 1000+ bike. It is a personal thing.

Which also brings up another question. Would a heavier bike, like the Boulevard(800+ lbs), or a lighter bike like the Gladius(~450 lbs), be better for in town driving?
Looking at a few different makes, it’s harder to tell the difference between bikes than it is cars. Is it a Honda, Suzuki, Harley or what?

Thanks for the links.
I see it looks like the closest place is probably Thiel’s Wheels in Upper Sandusky Ohio for me, but the next available class isn’t until mid-July. :frowning:

A smaller bike is fine for in town riding, but if you ever want to cruise a bigger bike is essential. I really don’t think the make is a factor but wheelbase and CC’s make the difference between a touring bike and an around town bike.

I would strongly recommend against a heavy bike for your first bike. 800 lbs? Yikes!

A good bike for beginners is one that fits, is relatively light, and easy to maneuver at low speeds (such as on hills and in parking lots).

For quite a few years Suzuki made a GS500E which was an air cooled inline 2 cylinder 500cc bike. It was a good performer, reliable, and affordable. It was perfect for woman but is too small for men over 5’ 10".

For men take a look at Honda Nighthawk 750. It is easy to handle, smooth, good power and you can grow with it for a few years. If you need more power and speed you can handle more after a few thousand miles on your Nighthawk.

Whatever bike you look at check it out for size. New riders need to be able to get their feet firmly on the ground to balance the bike comfortably.

500cc to 650cc is the max for a beginner. You can always get a faster bike later. I had a 400cc Honda some years ago. It turned sub-13-sec quarter miles. That was faster than all production cars at the time. You’ll only feel slow if you ride with friends who have larger bikes. Unfortunately, engines seem to jump from 250cc to 500cc or 650cc, so you can’t get something in between unless you buy a used bike. You probably should buy a used bike anyway to reduce the cost of making a mistake if you decide you don’t like riding or you don’t like it when cars forget you exist and nearly run you over.

In 1966 when I got started with my first reasonably reliable bike (I had junky stuff before that), a starter bike was a 50, 90 or 100 cc bike. Later that moved to become a 250 and now, a 500. That is by default because there is a poor selection of 250 bikes available. A 500 now is very quick and fast. People used to tour the US on 500 cc BMW bikes. A 500 BMW in the late 1960s was not quick although I could maintain 70 mph in almost all conditions here in the midwest US. If the Chinese get their quality problems solved, then there will be good 250 cc starter bikes again.

Good point about used bikes. Unlike cars, a 1995 bike is not much different than a 2010, assuming it’s been well-maintained.

It really depends on the kind of bike.

For a cruiser for a full grown adult, I recommend at least 750 cc. This is small enough that throttle control isn’t difficult, but it is big enough that if you ever decide to, you can take it on the interstate. With less than 650 cc, you can ride on the highway, but once you add optional equipment (like a windshield, a set of saddle bags, or a passenger), you will exceed its weight capacity.

My first bike was a 750 cc metric cruiser. I still have it and I have toured on it as far west as Austin, TX, as far north as Buffalo, NY, and as far south as Miami, FL. I am glad I didn’t have to trade it in for a larger bike to load it up and go touring.

For a sport bike, 600 cc should be enough. Keep in mind that the power to weight ratio on a sport bike will be a lot higher than a traditional v-twin cruiser.

I recommend you get something with ABS and electronic fuel injection. ABS is pretty important on a motorcycle. Also, try to find something that doesn’t use a chain for the final drive. Chain maintenance (every 500 miles) is a pain. Belt final drive and shaft final drive require much less maintenance. Stepping up in displacement will give you more options for the final drive since all the smaller bikes usually have a chain.

Like cars, it’s always a gamble. One of my uncles was working on wrecked bikes and fixing them up and reselling a while back. I might check and see what he’s got going on. I think most he buys are ones that have been dropped/slid on the ground

BMW F650 or G650. They’ll go anywhere. Get the later fuel-injected version.

I second the F650 or G650. A review by an experienced rider said something like ‘I haven’t had this much fun on a bike in years.’

I am partial to the F800ST. Unfortunately, the nearest BMW motorcycle dealer is 80 miles away, and dealership has a reputation for treating its customers poorly.

That’s good, too. BMW has made it confusing: one of the ‘650’ models is actually a detuned 800 twin, the other ‘650’ is an actual 650 single. The single was the one I was talking about, simple, cheaper, and nimble. The twins (either the ‘650’ or the 800) are also excellent bikes, but more $$. Singles should be available used, they’ve been out for a while. The twins are new.

While I’m not sure it would b what you want in terms of looks or big enough of an engine, I drive a 1994 Honda Night Hawk on the occasion that is a 250cc and goes more than fast enough for me in short trips.

If you take a look at the larger engines on later models, might be something that would be both cost effective, a great entry bike, and a solid one at that.

It’s a standard bike though somewhere between cruiser and sport so that might also not be what you’re looking for, or perhaps exactly it.

Good Luck